New genetically engineered yeast that could clean up heavy metal pollution

July 18, 2017 by  
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A genetically engineered version of the fungus in your bread and beer could help clean up the environment . A team of seven scientists at institutions in Romania and Norway developed yeast that could clean up heavy metal pollution – and their research revealed the most effective strains are able to soak up 80 percent of metal ions. Bioremediation , or using plants , microbes, or fungi to remove pollutants, is one ideal way of cleaning the environment, but there’s a few issues with the method when heavy metals are involved. Some plants just don’t grow big enough to do the job, and they can’t clean contaminated water. But heavy metal contamination poses a threat to wildlife and humans. So a team of scientists led by Lavinia Liliana Ruta at the University of Bucharest genetically engineered yeast to mop up toxic metals. Related: 7 Species That Eat Pollution for Breakfast The genes the researchers created are comprised of a cell membrane anchor, green fluorescent protein, and a metal-binding peptide. Different types of peptides aided the yeast in cleaning up different types of heavy metals; for example, cysteine peptides best scooped up cadmium and silver. Histidine peptides were up to the task for nickel and cobalt. But it could still be several years before yeast is deployed as a cleanup tool. According to the American Council on Science and Health, the next step would be to take the genetically engineered yeast from the laboratory to the real world, like in a water treatment plant. Another obstacle to yeast clean-up becoming more common is how to dispose of that yeast once a site is restored. The journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology recently published the team’s research online . Ruta was joined by colleagues at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the Institute of Biochemistry of the Romanian Academy . Via Engadget and American Council on Science and Health Images via David Burn on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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New genetically engineered yeast that could clean up heavy metal pollution

Magical Cape Cod-style cottage perched on NYC rooftop goes on sale for $3.5M

July 18, 2017 by  
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If you have a cool $3.5 million lying around, you could live in one of NYC’s most mysterious and envy-inducing rooftop homes . This sweet East Village cottage – which just so happens to be perched on top of a building at 72 East 1st street – has just been put up for sale. As for the price, the property does come with a slight catch – the beautiful rooftop studio also comes with the massive duplex underneath. The cedar-shake structure is a beautiful rooftop studio whose ownership was a mystery for years until the NY Post unveiled the current owner as Gale Barrett Shrady. Shrady’s late husband, Henry Merwin Shrady III, bought the entire walk-up building in the 80s and renovated it to sell, but he kept the fourth and fifth floors as a duplex for his family. He subsequently added the Nantucket-style studio years later, complete with French doors, a tower and even a horse weathervane. The one-bedroom, one-bath apartment opens out into an envy-inducing wraparound terrace . Related: Philip Johnson’s secret brick and glass home in Manhattan, NYC After years of living in the large space, Mrs. Shrady is selling their duplex and cottage together. Although the small studio is obviously a truly unique gem, the rest of the home isn’t too shabby. The 2,000-square-feet, four-bedroom duplex has high ceilings with exposed beams, spacious living and dining rooms, and a great room balcony on the second floor. There is a grand total of 22 windows that flood the interior with natural light and two wood-burning fireplaces, perfect for NYC’s chilly winters. Via NY Post and Curbed Photos via Compass  

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Magical Cape Cod-style cottage perched on NYC rooftop goes on sale for $3.5M

World’s first solar-powered hot air balloon visits UK school

July 18, 2017 by  
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Schoolchildren living in the coolest city in the UK just got a glimpse of one of the coolest energy sources in action with the arrival of the world’s first solar -powered hot air balloon. The balloon actually took its maiden voyage back in 2015 , but on Monday youngsters from the Hannah More Primary School got to learn about how renewable energy can power global transport — even a hot air balloon. The balloon is made of lightweight polyurethane coated nylon. The air inside the balloon is heated by the sun instead of a propane burner, causing it to rise. The black side of the balloon faces the sun, collecting heat, while the silver side prevents the heat from escaping. The balloon is technically a hybrid because it is fitted with propane burners as a back up in case the sun hides behind the clouds when the balloon is up in the air. Related: The world’s most efficient 5-seater car is powered entirely by the sun The balloon is owned by Bristol Energy and developed by Cameron Balloons . “It’s this kind of very simple science that gets people, young and old, excited about green energy,” said Simon Proctor, Bristol Energy’s Origination Manager. “We have incredibly powerful natural resources that can heat our homes, power our cars, and fly hot air balloons too! It’s now crucial that we support renewable energy, so we can create a sustainable energy future for the next generation.” Via Bristol Post Images via YouTube ,  Bristol Energy  and  Balloon Fiesta 2015

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World’s first solar-powered hot air balloon visits UK school

Researchers find dangerous amounts of lead in fidget spinners

May 31, 2017 by  
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Fidget spinners are having a moment – practically everywhere you go someone has one twirling on a fingertip or tucked into a pocket. But environmental activist Tamara Rubin recently tested a variety of spinners for  lead  and mercury, and the results will shock you. Rubin, an independent lead poisoning prevention advocate, first tested three fidget spinners sent to her by a friend with an XRF instrument. Two were lead-free, but one had very high levels of lead and some mercury . She then disassembled a fidget spinner with LED lights and found both lead and mercury. She found 19,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead and 1,000 ppm of mercury. Related: Oakland has an even worse lead problem than Flint, Michigan These numbers are sobering because scientists consider under 90 ppm of lead to be the safe threshold in children’s toys, according to Rubin. But the paint on the LED light spinner contained 334 ppm of lead and 155 ppm of mercury in one test. The unpainted metal base contained 1,562 ppm of mercury and 2,452 ppm of lead. Rubin later tested six more fidget spinners and found a $31 from Yomaxer that contained 42,800 ppm of lead. She noted ordinary consumers won’t have access to an XRF instrument, which can cost around $50,000. She recommends avoiding fidget spinners available for purchase and instead making your own , such as a fidget spinner out of LEGOs . In an email about her results, Rubin said she’s very concerned about the high levels of lead discovered in random testing as the toys are so popular. So far she’s tested 11 fidget spinners in total and found two with exceedingly dangerous levels of lead. You can read more about Rubin’s testing methods here . Via Tamara Rubin ( 1 , 2 ) Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 )

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Researchers discover toxic heavy metals in Portland’s trees and air

April 6, 2016 by  
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We don’t often think about whether there are toxins in the trees around us, but researchers in Portland, Oregon recently made a very unsettling discovery. Common tree moss in the area contains dangerous  heavy metals  like arsenic, and it isn’t just in the trees – it’s in the air, too. Read the rest of Researchers discover toxic heavy metals in Portland’s trees and air

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5 Species That Eat Pollution for Breakfast

August 13, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of 5 Species That Eat Pollution for Breakfast Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bacteria , Bioremediation , bracken fern , brownfield , fiddelhead fern , heavy metals , industrial site , oyster mushroom , phytoremediation , Pollution , pseudomonas , remove toxicity , Rinorea niccolifera , S.H.R.I.M.P. , sugar cane

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5 Species That Eat Pollution for Breakfast

Beware! How 10 Dangerous Materials Are Recycled

March 8, 2013 by  
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Trash is always messy, but what happens when recycling gets downright dangerous? From heavy metals to undetonated explosives, check out the ways Americans are recycling perilous materials into useful new products. Homepage Image: Shutterstock

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Heavy Metals Now Dangerously Contaminate Snow & Soil Atop Mount Everest

December 3, 2010 by  
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photo: Rupert Taylor-Price / Creative Commons Is there no place on the planet where human-caused pollution has not reached? Scientists have discovered that both the snow and soil on Mount Everest now contains dangerous levels of arsenic and cadmium, most brought to the roof of the world thanks to the

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Heavy Metals Now Dangerously Contaminate Snow & Soil Atop Mount Everest

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