Scientists call for a worldwide ban on the ‘global hazard’ of glitter

December 4, 2017 by  
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You know microbeads are terrible for the planet, but have you ever considered the environmental impact of glitter? The ubiquitous party supply is made up of tiny plastic particles , and are every bit as bad as microbeads, which have been banned in many places across the world. Now, scientists say that it’s time to ban the glittery stuff as well. Microplastics make their way from waterways and landfills into the ocean, where sea life consumes it. Fish have been found to actively seeking out plastics , mistaking it for food, and a third of fish in the UK contain plastics. This is not only deadly for wildlife, but it could be dangerous for humans who consume fish as well. Related: Microplastics are killing fish faster than they can reproduce Glitter has become more and more common, appearing in cosmetics , clothing, and bath products, (not to mention the trend of putting on beards and hair) in addition to the party supply aisle. Scientists say that it should be treated like microbeads since it is essentially no different when it comes to the environment, and are calling for a ban. Via Fox Images via Deposit photos and Unsplash

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Scientists call for a worldwide ban on the ‘global hazard’ of glitter

Antony Gibbon’s Helix House is a twisting tiny home that towers amidst the forest

December 4, 2017 by  
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Designer Antony Gibbon is known for his nature-inspired designs , each of which is more jaw-dropping than the last. His latest masterpiece is the Helix House – a beautiful twisting tower clad in wooden slatted beams that seamlessly blends into the forest. At just 100 square feet, the home is tiny, but the majestic design is straight out of a fairy tale. Like all of Gibbons’ designs, the Helix House was inspired by nature. The rising twisted form allows the structure blend in quietly with the surrounding forestscape. Clad in wooden beams, the home’s design is not only gorgeous, but the unique shape was also strategic to hiding all the structural support and access into the low-impact home. Related:Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone A tiny home in tower form, the one-bedroom home is less than 100 square feet. On the inside, the first floor has a kitchenette and a small bathroom. The second floor houses the bedroom, which has a beautiful glazed wall that provides natural light and stellar views of the surrounding environment. + Antony Gibbon Designs Images via Antony Gibbon Designs

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Antony Gibbon’s Helix House is a twisting tiny home that towers amidst the forest

215 pterosaur eggs unearthed in biggest collection ever found

December 4, 2017 by  
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Scientists recently uncovered the largest group of fossilized pterosaur eggs ever. In a 10-foot-long sandstone block in northwest China , they came across 215 eggs – 16 of which have embryonic remains. Discoveries of pterosaur eggs are exceedingly rare. The only previous discoveries with an intact embryo and well-preserved 3D structure include three in Argentina and five in China , so researchers around the world are especially thrilled with this latest find. Pterosaurs may have been around on Earth up to 225 million years ago, but vanished with the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago. This new discovery of pterosaur eggs from the species Hamipterus tianshanensis reveals the reptiles – the first creatures following insects to evolve powered flight – actually couldn’t soar right away after they were born, requiring care from parents. Paleontologist Alexander Kellner of the Museu Nacional at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro told AFP, “Since these are extremely fragile fossils , we were very surprised to find so many in the same place. Because of this discovery, we can talk about the behavior of these animals for the first time.” Related: Ancient flying reptile was around the size of a small plane The eggs are an estimated 120 million years old, from pterosaurs that as adults would have been around four-feet-tall with an 11-foot wingspan. Researchers unearthed partial skull and wing bones , and even one entire lower jaw, filling in some of the gaps in our knowledge about the pterosaur life cycle. The baby pterosaurs would have had functional hind legs not too long after hatching, but weak chest muscles. Kellner said they “could walk but not fly…This is one of the biggest discoveries we have made.” Scientists also found some adult pterosaur bones in the vicinity, leading them to think adult pterosaurs may have come back to the same nesting spots. The journal Science published the work this month. 17 scientists from institutions in China and Brazil contributed; paleontologist Xiaolin Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences led the study. He said there could be as many as 300 eggs at the excavation site – there appear to be some buried beneath the exposed ones. Via Phys.org , EurekAlert! , and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Images via Xinhua/Wang Xiaolin/Chinese Academy of Sciences and Alexander Kellner (Museu Nacional/UFRJ) ( 1 , 2 )

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215 pterosaur eggs unearthed in biggest collection ever found

Scientists discover cheap method to identify "lost" 99% of ocean microplastics

December 1, 2017 by  
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The world’s oceans are awash with hazardous microplastics that are largely invisible to the naked eye. These tiny plastic fragments, which are less than 5 millimeters in diameter and originate from the breakdown of synthetic clothing fibers, polyester from disposable bags and bottles, and so-called “microbeads” from facial scrubs and other exfoliants, mostly go undetected, according to scientists. In fact, previous surveys suggest only 1 percent of marine plastic waste is identifiable. To suss out the “missing” 99 percent, researchers from the University of Warwick in England decided to shine a light on the problem—quite literally—by using fluorescent dyes. Gabriel Erni-Cassola and Joseph A. Christie-Oleza from Warwick’s School of Life Sciences, who spearheaded the research, claim that the new technique can detect microplastics as small as 20 micrometers—about the width of a single human hair. Because the dye they created binds only to plastic, the “tagged” microplastics show up easily among other natural materials when viewed under a fluorescence microscope. Related: Is synthetic clothing causing “microplastic” pollution in our oceans? Testing the method on samples of surface sea water and beach sand from the coast around Plymouth, the scientists said they were able to extract a far greater number of microplastics than they would have with traditional methods. “Using this method, a huge series of samples can be viewed and analysed very quickly, to obtain large amounts of data on the quantities of small microplastics in seawater or, effectively, in any environmental sample,” said Erni-Cassola in a statement.”Current methods used to assess the amount of microplastics mostly consist in manually picking the microplastics out of samples one by one—demonstrating the great improvement of our method.” Meanwhile, the team at Warwick discovered that the largest quantity of microplastics less than 1 mm in diameter was polypropylene, the ubiquitous polymer found in plastic bags and takeout containers. This finding proves that “our consumer habits are directly affecting the oceans,” the scientists said. Related: Which personal-care brands are still polluting the oceans with microbeads? The research is still in its early days, Christie-Oleza insisted, but it’s a beginning. “Have we found the lost 99 percent of missing plastic in surface oceans?” he said. “Obviously this method needs to be implemented in future scientific surveys to confirm our preliminary findings. It is important to understand how plastic waste behaves in the environment to correctly assess future policies.” + University of Warwick Top image by by Gaetano Cessati on Unsplash

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Scientists discover cheap method to identify "lost" 99% of ocean microplastics

Green-roofed Kew Gardens Hill Library lures patrons indoors with a lifted facade

December 1, 2017 by  
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A branch library in New York City is luring the community indoors with a clever facade that lifts up at the corner to reveal glimpses of the happenings inside. Local firm Work Architecture Company recently announced the long-awaited opening of the Kew Gardens Hill Library, a key institution in the diverse Queens neighborhood. The renovation and expansion project is filled with natural light and topped with a large green roof. The new 10,000-square-foot Kew Gardens Hill Library is a renovation and 3,000-square-foot expansion of the 1966 Lindsey Library. Custom glass fiber-reinforced concrete panels that clad the facade are molded into a rippled pattern of vertical folds. The curtain-like panels appear to be lifted up on the north corner of the building, where large exterior windows let in ample amounts of natural light and beckon passersby indoors. The concrete is exposed indoors and reflects indirect light from the south- and east-facing clerestory windows . “Not only expressive and functional but also structural, this concrete band acts as a 200-foot-long beam to support the green roof without interrupting the open interior,” write the architects. “Two columns are the only supports for this beam.” Related: This adorable red ‘train’ carts books around the New York Public Library “The new façade is a physical and metaphoric lifting up of the library’s exterior walls in order to broadcast the activities of the library to the outside.” From the glazed corner, the angular facade begins its descent to provide privacy at the staff and book drop areas behind before tilting upwards to form a second, smaller peak at the children’s corner for “child-sized views” to the south. The facade also dips down on the north side for privacy in the teen study area. The library opened to the public on September 6. + Work Architecture Company Images by Bruce Damonte

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Green-roofed Kew Gardens Hill Library lures patrons indoors with a lifted facade

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

Microplastics are killing fish faster than they can reproduce

June 8, 2016 by  
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There are 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating around in the Earth’s oceans, many of which are microplastics no larger than 5 mm large. These tiny particles are being gobbled up by fish and killing them faster than they can reproduce . A new study found that consuming the plastic pieces also slows fish down and interferes with their natural abilities to sense oncoming predators. The study , published in Science , observed perch larvae and their eating habits. When in the presence of microplastics, such as microbeads , the little guys actually preferred eating these harmful morsels over their usual meals of plankton. Ingesting the plastics slowed down development and interfered with the chemical signals the fish rely upon to sense when deadly predators are near. When pike were introduced into habitats where perch had been munching on microplastics, the perch were four times more likely to be eaten than those in a more natural environment. Related: Sea turtles face growing danger due to plastic trash in Australian waters Not only does ingesting plastic impede digestive systems with the fish, as well as with seabirds and other creatures, it seems there are longer-lasting effects on how the fish behave. All of these effects combined lead to increased mortality rates. In fact, all of the fish exposed to microplastics in the study were dead within 48 hours. Oona Lönnstedt, one of the study’s authors, told The Guardian , “If early life-history stages of other species are similarly affected by microplastics, and this translates to increased mortality rates, the effects on aquatic ecosystems could be profound.” Via  The Guardian Images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Microplastics are killing fish faster than they can reproduce

Microplastic Beads from Face Scrub Clog US Waterways and Poison Fish

January 31, 2014 by  
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   Image © Shutterstock Your toothpaste, facial scrub, or body wash may be clogging waterways with tiny plastic particles — without you even realizing it. One bottle of facial cleanser may contain as many as 300,000 plastic microbeads, which are used to help exfoliate and cleanse the skin. While these beads are harmless to human health when used as part of a beauty regimen, once they’re flushed down the drain, they can end up in local waterways where they attract toxins and end up in the bellies of wildlife. Read the rest of Microplastic Beads from Face Scrub Clog US Waterways and Poison Fish Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: boiaccumulation , great lakes , microbeads , microplastics , personal care products , plastic microbeads , Pollution , polyethylene , polypropylene , water pollution , Wildlife        

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Microplastic Beads from Face Scrub Clog US Waterways and Poison Fish

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