One plastic teabag can release billions of microplastics into your cup

September 30, 2019 by  
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The next time you are craving tea , choose the paper teabag or loose-leaf tea in a reusable infuser — just steer clear of the plastic teabag. Why? A recent McGill University study found that just one plastic teabag can leach billions of microplastic particles into your beverage. Professor Nathalie Tufenkji, of the McGill University Chemical Engineering Department, was surprised to find that premium teabags, made of plastic , were offered at her local Canadian coffee shop. For research purposes, she then asked graduate student Laura Hernandez to purchase several plastic teabags from a number of different brands. Next, the research duo collaboratively ran tests and analyses in the laboratory to discover the amount of microplastics being released after steeping the teabag. Related: Have your plastic and eat it, too — average American ingests 50,000 microplastic particles a year Results alarmingly showed that as many as 11.6 billion microplastic particles and 3.1 billion nano-sized particles were contaminating the tea. Nano-sized particles are small enough to enter the human bloodstream and human cells. These numbers were considerably above-average — in fact, thousands of times higher — relative to other food products and beverages. Tufenkji said, “you’re literally adding plastic” into your cup each time you steep a plastic teabag. Microplastics are everywhere, contaminating the oceans and the marine organisms that live there, and often making their way into our food chain. A joint study — published earlier this year by the University of Newcastle in Australia and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and available for viewing here — announced that humans are ingesting about 5 grams of plastic per week, which is about the size of a credit card. Consuming tea brewed from plastic teabags could very well increase that collective annual amount. Currently, the two types of plastics linked to adverse effects on the human body are Bisphenol A ( BPA ) and Phthalates. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued warnings on BPA exposure creating negative effects like metabolic disease, birth complications and other health problems. Phthalates, meanwhile, are known to disrupt the body’s natural endocrine functions. Even more worrisome, regarding ingestion of microplastics, is that microplastics act as “toxic rafts” that pick up other environmental pollutants around them. In other words, microplastics attract environmental pollutants, concentrate them and carry them. Ingesting these microplastic “toxic rafts” rife with concentrated pollutants therefore increases the risks to your health. Unfortunately, there is no study yet that examines the actual danger that the plastic teabags, made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and nylon, pose to humans. Instead, more research is required to understand the long-term impact that various microplastics can have on human health . “There’s really no research,” Tufenkji said. “But this really points to the need to do those studies. Think of people who drink one or two or three cups of tea a day, every day.” Tufenkji moreover emphasized that these plastic teabags are just another example of single-use plastics that are fomenting more environmentally destructive trouble than they are worth. It is up to consumers to fight for alternative packaging and to urge government policymakers to regulate plastic production and plastic use. Decreasing plastic packaging will not only improve the environment, but it could also safeguard one’s health as well. + Environmental Science & Technology Via EcoWatch Image via Conger Design

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One plastic teabag can release billions of microplastics into your cup

More than half of Europes native trees face extinction

September 30, 2019 by  
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Europe’s endemic trees are threatened by extinction, states a recent International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessment on biodiversity. The unfortunate decline is due to the combination of three paramount factors: problematic invasive species , unsustainable deforestation from logging and wood harvesting and urban development. According to the IUCN’s European Red List , there are 454 native European tree species, of which 265 species are found nowhere else on the planet except in continental Europe, and 252 species are found only in the 28 European Union (EU) member-states. Of these, 168 species (or 42 percent) are regionally threatened with extinction. Related: Ireland will plant 440 million trees in 20 years Circumstances adversely affecting European trees include changes in forest and woodland management. More poignant is the significance of ecosystem modification, as in the case of forest fire, land abandonment, agricultural encroachment, livestock farming and even tourism. But the three most hazardous are invasive species, deforestation and urban development. “It is alarming that over half of Europe’s endemic tree species are now threatened with extinction ,” said Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the IUCN Red List Unit. “Trees are essential for life on Earth, and European trees, in all their diversity, are a source of food and shelter for countless animal species, such as birds and squirrels, and play a key economic role. From the EU to regional assemblies and the conservation community, we all need to work together to ensure their survival.” The IUCN report calls for more data gathering and analysis, especially regarding overlooked species. By improving knowledge of all these “overlooked” European species, the continent’s biodiversity can be better managed and protected. Tree species , unfortunately, are rarely prioritized in conservation planning and policy making. But it is hoped that the recent disclosure of the IUCN’s European Red List findings will change that. Growing public awareness can help galvanize urbanization control, conservation action and sustainable management. “This report has shown how dire the situation is for many overlooked, undervalued species that form the backbone of Europe’s ecosystems and contribute to a healthy planet,” explained Luc Bas, director of IUCN’s European Regional Office. “We need to mitigate human impact on our ecosystems and prioritize the protection of these species.” + IUCN Images via Noël Zia Lee

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More than half of Europes native trees face extinction

Award-winning biodegradable agar packaging could replace plastic

April 12, 2016 by  
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A group of designers from Japan have created a prototype design that could completely change the way we deal with product packaging. The design group, AMAM, calls their project Agar Plasticity, which explores the use of a seaweed -derived substance called agar as a biodegradable substitute for conventional plastic packaging. The group found that by boiling certain types of algae and dehydrating the resulting soup, it’s possible to create a variety of shapes and textures that could replace plastic film or foam packaging. For example, the frozen solution takes on a soft, cushioning structure, and when it’s compressed, it forms a plastic-like film. Read the rest of Award-winning biodegradable agar packaging could replace plastic

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LEGO is investing $150 million to make better, more sustainable toy bricks

June 22, 2015 by  
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Whether they’re used in architecture or animal prosthesis , we have an enduring affection for LEGO bricks —but they do have a nagging problem; the blocks and all their packaging are made of plastic, which is pretty darn horrible for the environment. While some folks have tried to offer sustainable alternatives—notably the rather drab-looking Earth Blocks —LEGO hasn’t stepped forward with their own eco-friendly alternative. But that is set to change, as the company just announced that they will invest $150 million to build a sustainable materials research center at their headquarters in Denmark. LEGO is hiring over 100 specialists in material science to shape the new, green future of everyone’s favorite building brick. Read the rest of LEGO is investing $150 million to make better, more sustainable toy bricks Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ego , green toys , Lego bricks , lego denmark , lego environment , lego green , lego sustainability , lego sustainable materials , materials research , materials science , plastic alternatives , sutainable materials

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The US just declared all captive chimps to be endangered

June 22, 2015 by  
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Chimpanzees are now officially considered an endangered species , according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service , and will be designated as such under the Endangered Species Act . The move comes after activist Jane Goodall, The Humane Society and other groups submitted a petition for the classification. The idea is to remove the distinction between captive chimpanzees , who were previously listed as threatened and their wild counterparts who are deemed endangered. The rules went into effect on June 16 and include a 90-day grace period, and won’t be enforced until September 16, 2016. Read the rest of The US just declared all captive chimps to be endangered Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: captive chimpanzees , captive chimpanzees now endangered , chimps for research , endangered chimps , endangered species , endangered species act , humane society , Jane Goodall , lab chimps , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service , wild chimpanzees

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The US just declared all captive chimps to be endangered

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