Study finds 90 percent of table salt contains microplastics

October 18, 2018 by  
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According to a new study that observed sea, rock and lake salts, 90 percent of the table salt brands sold around the world contain microplastics. Several years ago, researchers discovered that microplastics were in sea salt, but no one was certain just how extensive the problem was until now. National Geographic reported that researchers in South Korea and at Greenpeace East Asia tested 39 salt brands, and 36 of them contained microplastics. This study — published in this month’s journal of Environmental Science & Technology — is the first of its kind to look at the correlation between microplastics in table salt and where we find plastic pollution in the environment. Related: Study suggests the average person consumes 70,000 microplastic bits every year “The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region,” said Seung-Kyu Kim, a marine science professor at Incheon National University in South Korea. The salt samples came from 21 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The three brands that did not contain microplastics were refined sea salt from Taiwan, refined rock salt from China and unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation in France. The density of microplastics in salt varied among the different brands. The study found that the tested Asian brands of salt contained the highest amounts, especially in the salt sold in Indonesia. An unrelated 2015 study found that Indonesia suffered from the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world. Researchers found that  microplastic levels were highest in sea salt, followed by lake salt and rock salt. This latest study estimates that the average adult consumes about 2,000 microplastics each year through salt. But how harmful that is remains a mystery. Because of knowledge gaps and a mismatch of data in more than 300 microplastic studies, there is limited evidence to suggest that microplastics have a significant negative impact. Microplastics could be detrimental to our health and the planet, or the focus on microplastic could be diverting attention from worse environmental problems. + Environmental Science & Technology Via National Geographic Image via Bruno

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Study finds 90 percent of table salt contains microplastics

Clean energy-producing Light Up wins the 2018 LAGI competition in Melbourne

October 18, 2018 by  
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New York-based NH Architecture and Seattle architectural practice Olson Kundig placed first and second respectively in the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition in Melbourne, Australia. Sponsored by the State of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Action Plan with clean energy targets of 25 percent by 2020, the international competition sought large-scale works of public art that generate renewable energy in visible ways for St. Kilda Triangle in the City of Port Phillip. NH Architecture’s winning proposal, named ‘Light Up,’ harnesses solar, wind and microbial fuel cell technologies to produce 2,200 MWh of energy annually — enough to power nearly 500 homes. NH Architecture’s winning Light Up proposal consists of a lightweight tensile shade structure topped with 8,600 efficient, flexible solar photovoltaic panels envisioned over Jacka Boulevard. Designed with the aim of “maximizing the public realm” without compromising views, the design makes use of tested components available on the market. The clean energy power plant was also designed to harness wind energy and uses microbial fuel cells to tap into energy from plant roots. Olson Kundig’s second-place submission ‘Night & Day’ also taps into the power of solar with 5,400 square meters of solar panels. The solar system is combined with two Pelton turbines and a hydro battery to operate 24 hours a day and produce 1,000 MWh annually. As an ideas competition, LAGI 2018 has no plans of realizing the winning submissions. The Light Up team will receive $16,000 in prize money while the runners-up will receive $5,000. Related: Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy “LAGI 2018 is a window into a world that has moved beyond fossil fuels — a world that celebrates living in harmony with nature by creating engaging public places that integrate renewable energy and energy storage artfully within the urban landscape,” said LAGI co-founders Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry. “Light Up and Night & Day are power plants where you can take your family for a picnic. They both show how beauty and clean energy can come together to create the sustainable and resilient infrastructure of the future city. These artworks are cultural landmarks for the great energy transition that will be visited by generations in the future to remember this important time in human history.” + LAGI Images via LAGI

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Clean energy-producing Light Up wins the 2018 LAGI competition in Melbourne

Arctic sea ice is filled with record levels of microplastics

April 25, 2018 by  
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Even the Arctic can’t escape plastic pollution . Scientists gathered ice samples from five distinct regions in the Arctic Ocean , and some of those samples contained over 12,000 microplastic particles per liter of ice – a record-breaking amount. All told, they uncovered 17 different kinds of plastic , including paints and packaging. A team of 9 scientists at Alfred Wegener Institute recorded record levels of microplastics, or plastic fragments between a few micrometers to under five millimeters big, in sea ice collected in the Arctic. They gathered these samples aboard the research icebreaker Polarstern in 2014 and 2015. They utilized a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer to scrutinize the ice samples layer by layer to light up microparticles; particles reflect varying wavelengths depending on their ingredients so the scientists could determine their substances. Related: New study reveals plastic pollution in the Antarctic is 5x worse than expected Their methods helped them discover minuscule particles. Scientist Gunnar Gerdts, who runs the laboratory where the researchers carried out measurements, said in a statement , “In this way, we also discovered plastic particles that are tiny 11 microns in size. This is roughly a sixth of the diameter of human hair and was also the key reason why, with more than 12,000 particles per liter of sea ice, we were able to detect two to three times higher plastic concentrations than was the case in a previous study.” 67 percent of the particles in the ice samples fell in the 50 micrometers and below category: the smallest one. Biologist Ilka Peeken said, “We found out in our study that more than half of the microplastic particles trapped in the ice were smaller than one-twentieth of a millimeter and thus easily eaten by Arctic microorganisms such as crayfish, but also copepods.” This is concerning, she said, because “so far no one can say to what extent these tiny plastic particles harm the sea dwellers or end up even endangering humans.” The journal Nature Communications published the research this week. + Alfred Wegener Institute + Nature Communications Images via Tristan Vankaan , Mar Fernandez , and Stefan Hendricks

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Arctic sea ice is filled with record levels of microplastics

The EPA wants to limit what science can be used to create regulations

April 25, 2018 by  
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Just weeks after this year’s March for Science ,  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is taking a shot at science — “secret science,” in his words . Pruitt recently proposed a rule that would limit the kinds of research the agency could draw on in crafting regulations. Reuters described the move as “an apparent concession to big business” which has angled for the restrictions for a long time. Pruitt’s proposal would mean the EPA wouldn’t be able to use scientific research based on confidential data. That means the agency would only be able to draw on studies that make all their data publicly available for everyone to scrutinize, according to NPR . The administrator said in a statement, “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end. The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of rulemaking process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.” The EPA’s statement said the proposal is consistent with scientific journals like Nature and Science ‘s data access requirements. Related: Leaked memo shows that EPA staffers were told to downplay the reliability of climate science But some scientists are worried — the move could place crucial data off limits. NPR quoted Sean Gallagher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science ‘s senior government relations officer, as saying, “Our concern with this is they are quite literally limiting the best available science that can be used by the EPA.” Epidemiological studies are often utilized in the agency’s regulatory decisions, and Gallagher said, “Those studies involve people like you and me, signing confidentiality agreements that the scientists doing the studies won’t reveal my personal health information, like my vital statistics, or my death certificate, if I die during the course of the study. This is the kind of science that the EPA relies on, whether it looks at chemicals or particulates and their mortality or health effects. It involves private data.” The proposal won’t enter into force yet; Reuters said there will be a 30-day comment period and the proposal would need to be finalized. + Environmental Protection Agency Via Reuters and NPR Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and NRDC pix on Flickr

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Shimmering Solar Arch to generate power for a post-industrial Connecticut town

April 25, 2018 by  
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A giant gleaming arch clad in solar panels is set to transform the waterfront of downtown Willimantic. This spectacular energy-generating artwork, called Rio Iluminado, was revealed today as the winner of Land Art Generator Institute’s most recent design competition. Designed by Pirie Associates Architects in collaboration with architect Lindsay Suter and sculptor Gar Waterman , the public artwork is capable of generating 25.5 MWh of clean energy a year for a 3.4-acre remediated brownfield. Developed as part of an initiative to reclaim and beautify the Willimantic waterfront , Rio Iluminado aims to reconnect the community with the river and generate renewable energy in a beautiful way. Located on the riverbank, the site-specific Solar Arch will be covered in a 900-square-foot solar array while the underside is finished with polished stainless steel panels. The artwork’s curvature was designed to follow the path of the sun and to reflect its surroundings. In addition to the Solar Arch, the Rio Iluminado will include a River Well in the Tree Copse that demonstrates the daily sun cycle with a solar-powered pump that only draws underground water during the day; an interactive Spiral Channel that moves the water from the River Well to the River Platform; and the 3,400-square-foot River Platform, decorated with murals and other art, that gradually fills with water while overflow is channeled into a two-stage bio-swale system. In the winter months, the River Platform will be transformed into an ice-skating surface. Related: Land Art Generator Initiative Santa Monica winners address California’s energy needs and drought Rio Iluminado was developed in close collaboration with the community, whose comments helped inform the final design. “Rio Iluminado cleverly addresses how to bring the river closer to the community—and vice-versa,” says WWP President James Turner. “We are thrilled to have a project design that will result in such an intricately conceived and strikingly executed work of art for the community to enjoy and be inspired by for years to come.” The project will now enter the next phase, where the winning team will focus on design development, cost estimates, and prototyping, followed by the final design fabrication and installation. + Land Art Generator Institute Images via Land Art Generator Institute

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Shimmering Solar Arch to generate power for a post-industrial Connecticut town

New study reveals plastic pollution in the Antarctic is 5x worse than expected

June 19, 2017 by  
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We know about plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean , and even in the Arctic Ocean . But scientists thought the Antarctic was relatively free of that particular type of pollution until a recent study from the University of Hull , Científica del Sur University , and the British Antarctic Survey . Researchers discovered the levels of microplastics in the area are much greater than expected. Microplastic levels in the Antarctic are five times greater than anticipated, according to the international team. Microplastics are those tiny particles less than five millimeters in diameter found in personal care items like toothpaste and shampoo, but they can also come from clothing fibers or be created as larger pieces of plastic in the ocean break down. Related: One of the world’s most remote islands is also the most polluted The researchers found the plastic around the Antarctic continent and in the Southern Ocean , which is around 8.5 million square miles large. They think plastic originating outside the area may be coming in over the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which scientists in the past considered nearly impassible. University of Hull scientist Catherine Waller, lead author on a study published this year in Science of the Total Environment , said the ecosystem of the Antarctic is very fragile, and the area was thought to be isolated. It’s populated with krill that might eat the microplastics, and in turn be consumed by larger marine mammals like whales . Co-author Claire Waluda of the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement, “We have monitored the presence of large plastic items in Antarctica for over 30 years. While we know that bigger pieces of plastic can be ingested by seabirds or cause entanglements in seals, the effects of microplastics on marine animals in the Southern Ocean are as yet unknown.” The scientists called for urgent international monitoring of the plastic in the Antarctic. Via British Antarctic Survey Images via Catherine Waller and Claire Waluda

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New study reveals plastic pollution in the Antarctic is 5x worse than expected

Ingenious hand-pumped Scorkl lets you breathe underwater for 10 minutes

June 19, 2017 by  
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Scuba  diving may seem like too much of a hassle, what with all the equipment, training and money you need to make it happen. A new product – that’s like something straight out of a James Bond movie – called  Scorkl  opens up the underwater world by combining the best of scuba diving with the ease of snorkeling. A hand pump refills the underwater breathing device that’s roughly the size of a water bottle, giving you 10 minutes of uninhibited exploration. The Scorkl is a lightweight device you put to your mouth to breath in air while underwater – no scuba diving certification necessary. The Australia -based company says their cylinder is manufactured to the same standards and specifications as a cylinder you’d use to scuba dive, but it can be refilled with a Scorkl hand pump. The device also comes with a scuba tank refill adapter so it can be refilled from a scuba tank. A pressure gauge on the Scorkl lets users know how much air they have left – they’ll be able to swim freely through the water for around 10 minutes. Related: The Easybreath Snorkel Mask Lets You Breathe Comfortably Through Your Nose Underwater Scorkl is crowdfunding on Kickstarter , and it appears there are a bunch of people out there who are drawn to the freedom offered by the device – the company set their goal at $22,765 but have already raised over $370,000. One Scorkl costs $199 – that’s 33 percent off the retail price. A Scorkl and pump are being offered at a discount price of $398. At this point you’re probably wondering about safety . The company says the Scorkl is safe and can be used by anyone, but untrained divers should be cautious when swimming with it, and shouldn’t go below 9.8 feet in depth or use it more than five times in a single day. Trained divers should be able to go further than 9.8 feet drawing on what they learned during their certification process. The device is accompanied by an information kit warning users and offering tips to avoid pulmonary damage. The company says the Scorkl is designed for shallow diving , and they recommend not using it below 32 feet, even though it technically can go to depths of around 65 feet. You can check out the campaign here . + Scorkl Images via Scorkl Facebook

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Ingenious hand-pumped Scorkl lets you breathe underwater for 10 minutes

Xerox Washing Machine Uses Nylon Polymer Beads Instead of Water to Clean Clothes

February 21, 2014 by  
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While most modern washers cut down on the massive amount of time and physical labor they used to require, they still hog a great deal of electricity, water, and detergent . The Xeros washing machine developed by Stephen Burkinshaw at the University of Leeds , however, trades buckets of water for specially formulated nylon polymer beads that help suck away dirt and grease. The beads can be used up to 100 times (or for about six months) and save the consumer up to 47 percent in electricity costs and reduce water usage by 72 percent. Read the rest of Xerox Washing Machine Uses Nylon Polymer Beads Instead of Water to Clean Clothes Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , hyatt hotels , microplastic pollution , north america , polymer plastic beads , stephen burkinshaw , UK , university of leeds , washing machine , wwf , xeros        

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RARE Architecture Restores Historic London Building with a Modern Patterned Skin

February 21, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of RARE Architecture Restores Historic London Building with a Modern Patterned Skin Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: aluminum skin , Bethnal Green Town Hall , green renovation , historic building , hotel , London , luxury , parametric , Rare architecture , sustainable renovation , Tower hall hotel        

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RARE Architecture Restores Historic London Building with a Modern Patterned Skin

Local Motors to Debut First 3D-Printed Electric Vehicle at the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show

February 21, 2014 by  
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Unlike other automakers that mass produce their vehicles, Local Motors co-creates vehicles with a global community of designers, engineers and enthusiasts. So far the group has produced one car, the Rally Fighter, and now it has signed a contract to build a 3D-printed electric version of the vehicle for the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). Read the rest of Local Motors to Debut First 3D-Printed Electric Vehicle at the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show , Association for Manufacturing Technology , crowdsourced , crowdsourcing , electric car , green car , green transportation , local motors , Local Motors Rally Fighter , Rally Fighter        

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Local Motors to Debut First 3D-Printed Electric Vehicle at the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show

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