Through environmental stewardship, hospitals can preserve and protect health

July 10, 2018 by  
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Catholic Health Initiatives argues that the call to action never has been stronger or more important in the face of a changing climate.

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Through environmental stewardship, hospitals can preserve and protect health

A better approach to economic development for indigenous communities

June 23, 2018 by  
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This new model can holistically measure the health and wealth of communities — and that’s critical for First Nation communities.

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A better approach to economic development for indigenous communities

How to make American cities bike-friendly

June 19, 2018 by  
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If you live in a city, riding a bike can be a great option to get you where you need to go. More and more people are opting for bicycles instead of cars, but most American cities are lagging behind when it comes to offering safe roads for bicyclists. Many cities ban cyclists from riding on the sidewalk and expect them to share the road with passing cars. What can we do to encourage American cities to be more bicycle-friendly? America’s best cycling cities Not all cities fall short when it comes to bike-friendly roads — some of the best cycling cities in the world are right here at home. Atlanta took some of its unused urban railways and created “The BeltLine,”  a 22-mile-long loop for pedestrians and bicyclists. City planners are extending it another five miles in the coming year, and more than a million people have used it since its opening. Chicago has dedicated bike routes to help keep cyclists safe and out of the way of passing drivers. Baltimore has an electric-assisted bike-sharing program to make it easier for riders to navigate the sometimes-hilly terrain. Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike Moving away from car dependence Most people don’t think twice about hopping in a car and driving to work, even if work is only a few miles down the road. We need to change our underlying infrastructure to move away from car-dependent transportation. That’s not to say we all need to stop driving our cars — people who commute long distances, carry cargo or transport other passengers will find it difficult or impossible to do these things on a bicycle. Infrastructure changes give cities more control over traffic — both vehicles and bicycles — and allow them to separate or prioritize one or the other, depending on the conditions. Just adding bike lanes to the sides of existing roads isn’t enough — nor is expecting bicyclists to share the road with nothing to separate them from motorized vehicles. Related: 6 cycling accessories every bike commuter needs Separating cars and bikes When it comes down to it, a bicycle is never going to win in a fight with a car. In 2015, more than 800 cyclists were killed in accidents with vehicles. That’s more than two accidents every single day. The easiest way to prevent these collisions is to keep cars and bikes separate. Bike lanes with planters or plastic bollards provide a barrier between cyclists and drivers and may help keep people safe. Cities can install a temporary setup for a reasonable amount of money to study how well it works, and if it turns out to be a good option for the city, city planners and officials can move forward from there. Learn from cycling cities When transitioning American cities to be safer for cyclists, planners can turn to cities around the world for inspiration.  Europe has great ideas when it comes to making cities more cycling-friendly. For the Netherlands recently opened an 11-mile cycling highway that connects the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen. This is a “fast path” for bicycling commuters between the two cities. There are slower roadside paths as well for intercity travel. It isn’t just the infrastructure that the Netherlands has changed — it’s the “ psychology of the commute .” By giving cyclists a direct and convenient route that keeps them separate from cars, it has allowed more people to ride bikes. The bicycling highway has even encouraged people to reconsider transportation for their regional trips. Cycling is one of the best things we can do to help reduce our carbon footprint , so it’s important to make crowded cities safer for people who choose to leave their cars at home and opt to use bicycles. It’s better for your health and better for the environment, as long as we can keep cyclists safe during their daily commutes. City planners should stop thinking about cars and start focusing on public transportation and cycling as the primary forms of transportation for their citizens. Via  Atlanta ,  Biz Journals ,  Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center ,  Wired  and  CityLab Images via Vishal Banik , Paul Krueger (1 , 2) , Daniel Lobo  and Jonny Kennaugh

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Uranium-contaminated groundwater found throughout India

June 8, 2018 by  
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A new study from Duke University reports that uranium contamination in groundwater from aquifers is common in 16  Indian states. While much of the uranium contamination is natural in its origin, groundwater-table decline and nitrate pollution from agriculture also contribute to the widespread public health problem; high levels of uranium in drinking water have been linked to chronic kidney disease. “The results of this study strongly suggest there is a need to revise current water-quality monitoring programs in India and re-evaluate human health risks in areas of high uranium prevalence,” study co-author Avner Vengosh told Phys.org . “Developing effective remediation technologies and preventive management practices should also be a priority.” The research team gathered its data from 324 wells in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, as well as 68 previous studies on groundwater geochemistry in the same areas. Uranium is often found naturally in rocks , which, under varying environmental conditions, allows it to more easily seep into surrounding water. Much of the gravel, clay and silt that are found in India’s aquifers were brought there through the weathering of the Himalayan mountains, the rocks of which contain high levels of uranium. As India’s aquifers are over-harvested to support agricultural industry, oxidation of these rocks enable uranium to escape and contaminate its surrounding environment. Related: 26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell Although the World Health Organization has established an interim safety standard for uranium content in drinking water , a similar regulation has not been adopted by the Bureau of Indian Standards’ Drinking Water Specifications. “One of the takeaways of this study is that human activities can make a bad situation worse, but we could also make it better,” Vengosh said.”Including a uranium standard in the Bureau of Indian Standards’ Drinking Water Specification based on uranium’s kidney-harming effects, establishing monitoring systems to identify at-risk areas and exploring new ways to prevent or treat uranium contamination will help ensure access to safe drinking water for tens of millions in India.” + Duke University Via Phys.org Images via Nithi Anand (1, 2)

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Uranium-contaminated groundwater found throughout India

Broccoli powder could pack a veggie punch in smoothies, soups and lattes

June 7, 2018 by  
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Do you consume the recommended serving of vegetables every day? Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study finding only one in 10 adults eat enough vegetables or fruit. Scientists in Australia — a country where the average person also isn’t getting the recommended daily veggie intake — came up with a possible solution: broccoli powder . A Melbourne-area cafe, Commonfolk Coffee , recently tested it out with a latte. How do you take your coffee? Milk, sugar…broccoli powder? There's a new latte shaking up Melbourne's coffee culture. #TenNews @CaryRachel pic.twitter.com/FBMv0JYkkq — Ten News Melbourne (@tennewsmelb) June 6, 2018 Australian science agency  Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Hort Innovation developed broccoli powder that provides one serving of broccoli in two tablespoons. They created it using what CSIRO called imperfect-looking broccoli — produce that otherwise might have been trashed. Related: Korean barista creates incredible works of latte art The Melbourne cafe’s broccoli lattes received mixed reviews — in a Ten News Melbourne video , one person said it wasn’t bad; another person said they liked it but described the taste as “milky broccoli.” But there are other uses for the powder for those who can’t stomach a broccoli latte, like in soups, smoothies or baked goods, according to Hort Innovation CEO John Lloyd. “With a rising trend in healthy eating across the board, Australian growers are always looking at ways to diversify their products and cut waste while meeting consumer demand,” Lloyd said in a statement . “Research shows the average Australian is still not eating the recommended daily intake of vegetables a day, and options such as broccoli powder will help address this.” ?????????… …nah but drink whatever floats your boat. Although can you really go past a sustainable and ethical single origin espresso *sans broccoli* ????? > > > #broccolatte #broccocino #coffee #cafe #cafes #melbourne #instacoffee #coffeeoftheday #coffeelovers #vsco #vscocam #vsco_hub #vscobest #vsco_best #vscogood #vscocamphotos #vscofeature #liveauthentic #MKexplore #neverstopexploring #letsgosomewhere #shootaward #igmasters #justgoshoot A post shared by C O M M O N F O L K (@commonfolkcoffee) on Jun 6, 2018 at 1:15am PDT Whole broccoli goes into the 100 percent broccoli powder, which is made through pre-treatment and drying processes. The final product keeps the nutrient composition, color and flavor of fresh broccoli, according to CSIRO. Lead researcher Mary Ann Augustin said broccoli’s high fiber and protein content, as well as bioactive phytochemicals, means the vegetable is an ideal candidate to turn into powder. John Said, managing director of leading broccoli producer  Fresh Select , seems to be on board, describing the project as “the emerging new food trend.” He said farmers in Australia “will have access to an alternative market whilst improving farm yields and sustainability.” + CSIRO Image via CSIRO

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Asheville, North Carolina proclaims 7-Day Vegan Challenge

June 5, 2018 by  
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Asheville, North Carolina has announced a week-long vegan challenge. The City of Asheville 7-Day Vegan Challenge invites residents and businesses to eat plant-based foods between June 4 and 10 “to promote good health, animal justice, social justice, environmental justice, and climate justice,” according to a proclamation signed by mayor Esther Manheimer. The city of Asheville describes the effort as the “first ever ‘city-proclaimed’ vegan challenge in the US.” A no-kill animal rescue organization, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue , is spearheading the movement to try out vegan living for a week in Asheville. They’ve made it easier for people to test out veganism by working with Mission Health Weight Management to create a guide with a seven-day meal plan , grocery store shopping list, and tips for going vegan. Sample meals include dishes like a Quinoa Green Goddess Bowl, Carrot Cake Overnight Oats, or Veggie Fajitas. Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Brother Wolf Animal Rescue is presenting the Asheville VeganFest on June 8 to 10, so the seven-day vegan challenge leads up to the festival. The event’s theme is “to bring awareness to the impacts of global animal agriculture on mass species extinction , climate change , and human health,” according to the challenge’s website, and speakers will discuss “how the transition to the vegan diet is the single most effective change we can make as individuals to help mitigate these crises.” The rescue shelter hopes other cities get involved, too — they’re offering a 7-Day Challenge Start-up Kit including a sample press release, marketing plan, and proclamation; a custom challenge website they’ve created; a guide to securing partnerships and sponsorship; and access to a training webinar. If your city is interested, you can find out more on the 7-Day Vegan Challenge website . + City of Asheville 7-Day Vegan Challenge + City of Asheville Proclamation Images via Depositphotos

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Asheville, North Carolina proclaims 7-Day Vegan Challenge

How are millennials preferences changing the food industry?

June 1, 2018 by  
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Millennials are dramatically disrupting the way food is produced, packaged, marketed and served. As a highly vocal group, millennials have given food producers little option but to listen to their demands, resulting in changes to not only food choices, but farming techniques and restaurant services as well. These changes have reverberated throughout the food industry, creating a food landscape vastly different from the one experienced by millennials’ parents. Healthy Has a New Look Millennials have altered what it means for food to be healthy. While older generations may have contented themselves with vague “low-fat” or “healthy” labels, millennials have higher expectations, especially when it comes to GMOs. While it’s estimated that 70 percent of processed foods contain GMOs, more than  60 percent of millennials want non-GMO food options, and 68 percent pay more for organic products. It’s likely that demand for these products will only increase, and the food industry is becoming more transparent in order to meet this demand. Localized Food Production Increases Millennials don’t just want to avoid GMOs; they want to know exactly which ingredients are included and where those ingredients come from. This desire for increased transparency has led to a preference for local food brands over national ones, both at the level of production and consumption. Whether buying food at the grocery store or eating out, millennials seek out locally sourced food. Some millennials have taken this trend a step further and started to grow their own food in urban and rooftop farms. Take, for example, the farm on top of the Method Products manufacturing plant in Chicago . One of the world’s largest, this rooftop farm can produce up to 10 million crops each year. And it doesn’t stop there—all the vegetables and herbs on the farm are pesticide-free and grown sustainably. Using rooftops in place of traditional farms helps make better use of available land and provides urban dwellers with access to the locally grown produce that millennials seek out on a regular basis. Eating out Is More Popular Another major change to the food industry includes the increased popularity of eating out. In 1970, only 25.9 percent of consumers ate out , as opposed to 43.5 percent today. Though millennials don’t account for the entirety of this increase, they have contributed significantly to it. According to a recent USDA report , millennials consumed 2.3 percent of their meals in restaurants, which equates to eating out about twice a month. Technology also plays a major role in making restaurants more popular with younger generations. With apps like the Humane Eating project that combine millennials’ love of technology with sustainable eating, it’s no wonder that more people are exploring new places to eat. And apps aren’t the only thing that appeals to millennials—restaurants with guest WiFi and tablet point-of-sale systems tend to draw in younger crowds as well, which suggests these methods may become standard restaurant practice within the next decade. Despite their youth, millennials have already had a strong influence on the food industry. From its focus on healthy eating to its interest in locally sourced and sustainably grown food, this group is poised to turn food production and service around, which could have positive consequences for a world fighting obesity and other health concerns. However, only time will tell if the impact millennials have on the food industry will have long-lasting effects on other facets of life, from the economy to government policy and public health. + Food Industry Executive + Forbes + Organic Trade Association + QSR Magazine + USDA Images via Pexels (1) (2) , Pxhere , and Pixabay

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How are millennials preferences changing the food industry?

UN creates a new global climate change coalition

June 1, 2018 by  
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Earth has a “30-year window of opportunity” to tackle climate change, according to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) secretary-general Petteri Taalas. He called for greater urgency in carrying out the Paris Agreement as the leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) together with WMO launched a brand-new climate change coalition. Every year 12.6 million people perish due to environmental risks — air pollution in particular — and the group aims to lower that number. Average temperatures in 2017 were 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to the UN, while global average concentrations of carbon dioxide were greater than 400 parts per million (ppm). Taalas said climate change is impacting developing countries — the cost of natural disasters reached a new record in 2017. The three UN organizations already work together, but under the new coalition will strengthen action on guarding health from climate change- and environment -related risks. Taalas, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and UNEP executive director Erik Solheim came together to form the coalition and spoke to delegates at the World Health Assembly about opportunities and challenges to come. Related: 95% of the world’s population breathes unsafe air Air pollution is one such challenge. Around seven million people die prematurely each year from diseases related to air pollution, such as respiratory illness, cancer, heart disease, or strokes. According to the UN, in many of the world’s major cities, air pollution is higher than WHO air quality standards. Pollutants which threaten human health also contribute to climate change and damage the environment — examples are waste incineration or black carbon from diesel engines. The UN said lowering what they called short-lived climate pollutant emissions coming from agriculture, traffic, industry, or cookstoves, for example, “could help trim the rate of global warming by about 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.” Solheim said, “If we speed up on renewable energy solutions, fewer people will die from air pollution. Let’s create a pollution-free environment.” One of the coalition’s first outcomes will be a Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health , which will take place at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland from October 30 to November 1. + United Nations Climate Change Images via Depositphotos

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Flawed recycling results in dangerous chemicals in black plastic

May 31, 2018 by  
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Unsafe recycling of electronic waste has resulted in the distribution of dangerous chemicals into new products made out of black plastic . Published in Environment International , a new study documents the presence of bromide and lead in 600 consumer products made out of black plastic and clarifies its potential negative impact on human and ecological health. “There are environmental and health impacts arising from the production and use of plastics in general, but black plastics pose greater risks and hazards,” explained study lead author Andrew Turner in a statement . “This is due to the technical and economic constraints imposed on the efficient sorting and separation of black waste for recycling, coupled with the presence of harmful additives required for production or applications in the electronic and electrical equipment and food packaging sectors.” Although black plastics compose fifteen percent of domestic plastic waste in the United States , they are particularly difficult to recycle. As a result, hazardous chemicals that were originally used as flame retardants or for color are being processed back into new products. “Black plastic may be aesthetically pleasing, but this study confirms that the recycling of plastic from electronic waste is introducing harmful chemicals into consumer products,” explained Turner. “That is something the public would obviously not expect, or wish, to see and there has previously been very little research exploring this.” Related: Biotech company Nanollose could offer plant-free alternatives for the textile industry Of particular concern is black plastic’s wide usage in food service, with the majority of black plastic being used in food trays or packaging. The black plastic also risks poisoning marine life as its dangerous chemicals seep into the ocean through microplastics. However, the presence of dangerous chemicals, such as the potentially cancer-causing bromine, is not limited to food products; it is also found in plastic jewelry, garden hoses, Christmas decorations, coat hangers and tool handles at high, and possibly even illegal, levels. Given the health risks, the industry must reform. “[T]here is also a need for increased innovation within the recycling industry to ensure harmful substances are eliminated from recycled waste and to increase the recycling of black plastic consumer products,” said Turner. Via Ecowatch Image via Depositphotos

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Flawed recycling results in dangerous chemicals in black plastic

Energy company ditches plan to install a possible tar sands oil facility in New York

May 24, 2018 by  
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Environmentalists celebrated a victory in New York state after an energy company tossed out a 5-year-old plan to install a facility that could have handled Canadian tar sands oil. The plan had clear environmental risks and posed a threat to area residents. After resistance from environmental groups and the public,  Global Companies  decided to abandon the plan. Erin Doran, senior attorney at Riverkeeper , an environmental organization devoted to protecting the Hudson River , said in a statement , “The proposal threatened the health of neighboring communities and would have placed the Hudson River at a greater risk for a disastrous oil spill .” Massachusetts-based Global Companies had requested boilers capable of handling heavy crude at the Port of Albany back in 2013 — Times Union pointed out the company did not indicate the facility would be used for tar sands oil, although it could have — and a legal battle ensued. Company spokesperson Liz Fuller told the Times Union, “We are withdrawing that request and plan to resubmit a renewal application with modifications later this year. The changes to the permit will include a reduction in the amount of crude oil handled through the terminal and will not include a system for the heating of crude oil.” Related: Extreme fossil fuel financing has surged to $115BN under Trump Doran said this is the second major victory in 2018 for Hudson River protection, “…coming after the defeat of industry’s request for new anchorage grounds to facilitate the transport of more crude oil.” She said since 2014, together with other partners, Riverkeeper had been battling the plan in court. She called on New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to approach Global Companies’ next submission “as a new application and to ensure that the operations at this facility finally undergo a comprehensive environmental review.” According to the Times Union, Global Companies sued that department back in 2015 for failing to issue a permit for the boilers, and DEC won an appeals court ruling earlier this year upholding its decision that the energy company’s permit application lacked sufficient information. This week, DEC said it was pleased that Global Companies withdrew its plan. Earthjustice lawyer Chris Amato described this development as “a huge victory for the families that live, work, and go to school in Albany’s South End…Global’s proposal would have spewed more toxic pollution into the air, endangering the health of South End residents, including hundreds of children who live and attend [Giffen Elementary] school in the shadow of the Global facility. This has been, and continues to be, a fight for environmental justice .” + Riverkeeper Via the Times Union Images via Bill Morrow and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Energy company ditches plan to install a possible tar sands oil facility in New York

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