Drinking water for 170 million Americans tainted by radiation

January 12, 2018 by  
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Up to 170 million Americans in all fifty states may be exposed to radiation-tainted drinking water . Using data from 50,000 public water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that more than 22,000 utilities reported the presence of radium in treated drinking water between 2010 and 2015. Although only a small number of these systems had radium levels that exceeded the legal limits put in place by the EPA in 1976, these guidelines are in need of an update to ensure the public is aware of potential risks — which should be minimized. Perhaps unsurprisingly, President Trump ‘s nominee to be the White House environmental czar, Kathleen Hartnett White, does not even believe in the science behind the EPA’s current, insufficient standard for radium monitoring. Although the amount of radiation in the drinking water is minimal, there is a risk to public health, particularly if standards and policy are not based on the latest science. “Most radioactive elements in tap water come from natural sources, but that doesn’t take away the need to protect people through stronger standards and better water treatment,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s senior science advisor for children’s environmental health. “Millions of Americans are drinking water with potentially harmful levels of radioactive elements, but the outdated federal standards mean many people don’t know about the risk they face when they turn on the tap.” In Texas, about 80 percent of the water tested contained detectable levels of two radium isotopes. While Trump nominee Kathleen Hartnett White was the Lone Star State’s top environmental regulator, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would alter the numbers to make it seem that tap water in Texas met federal standards. Related: “Raw water” craze draws concern from health professionals During an 2011 investigation, Hartnett White admitted that she did not believe in the science that supported the EPA guidelines. When asked by a reporter what would come if Harnett White was wrong and the EPA was right, she simply said that “it would be regrettable.” After Harnett White admitted to the United States Senate that Texas did indeed alter data, her nomination was rejected. Nonetheless, the Trump White House decided to renominate her in hopes that senators would let her negligence slide. “Putting someone in charge of CEQ who deliberately falsified data to get around federal regulations is outrageous, and the fact that her deception left people at serious risk of cancer is even more alarming,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s vice president of government affairs. “The Senate should reject this radioactive nominee.” Via EWG Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Drinking water for 170 million Americans tainted by radiation

Rundown 1970s A-frame cabin transformed into light-filled modern getaway

January 12, 2018 by  
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Proving that a little sweat and ingenuity makes for great design, this formerly outdated A-frame cabin in Big Bear, California underwent a major transformation at the hands of its owner. Courtney Poulos loved her 880-square-foot cabin – but not its 1970s look – so she gave the space a modern makeover the preserves its rustic charm. Reforming the 1973 wood cabin would not be an easy task, principally because of budget and time restraints. Working with $40,000 and five weeks time, the rehabilitation of the space was even more complicated thanks to the fact that all of the materials had to be hauled up the mountainside. Related: Renovated 1960s A-frame cabin proves that clever design triumphs over square footage With a little interior design help from Nicole Palczynski of Vein Design , Poulos began the project with a few key focus points to guide the design theme, “We wanted to create a handsome space full of butterscotch and whiskey undertones, dark woods, and light accents,” she remembers. Starting in the interior, the ceiling’s high wood beams were painted a dark ebony that made the other features such as the light wooden paneling on the walls and the hearth’s brick base stand out. The kitchen also has a new look thanks adding a fresh coat of paint to the existing solid wood cabinets. A fun, bohemian theme was used to update the bedrooms using patterned textiles and saturated colors. The renovation also focused on bringing as much natural light to the interior as possible. After the project was finished, Poulos was amazed at how much she could do on a limited budget, “You don’t necessarily need to limit your creativity to a conventional cabin design,” she says. “It was a treat to maintain the balance between the vintage architectural space and the modern finishes for a covetable end result.” + Courtney Poulos Via Dwell Images via Courtney Poulos

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Rundown 1970s A-frame cabin transformed into light-filled modern getaway

Dubai’s new self-sufficient floating villas can withstand rising seas

January 12, 2018 by  
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Millions of people will be displaced by rising sea levels – but these floating homes are designed to weather the storm. Waterstudio is building a community of 33 villas to float on top of the water so that they won’t be inundated by sea rise. Construction of the community – dubbed Amillarah – starts this month with developer Dutch Docklands off the coast of Dubai. Sea levels could rise 3 feet by 2100, which could flood a good portion of the United Arab Emirates. These buoyed homes are designed to float on top of the water, and they wouldn’t lack the luxuries of your typical villa. Each one will feature a swimming pool complete with patio, trees, and landscaping. Each artificial island will vary from 150,000 square feet to 450,000 square feet. Related: INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Koen Olthuis of WaterStudio.nl talks about design for a Water World Leave your car on land, because the only way to reach these homes is via seaplane or boat. If you want to take advantage of ocean-front property without the flooding risk, you’d better start saving your pennies, because they start at 23 million dollars each. Waterstudio says the concrete base of each villa is built to last 100 years and the bases can help create an underwater habitat for sea life. Buyers can design their own island, and each one is self-sufficient. Waterstudio is well-known for their floating architecture , which includes a floating neighborhood in Amsterdam and

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Dubai’s new self-sufficient floating villas can withstand rising seas

This solar startup wants to help you and your business kick the water bottle habit

January 10, 2018 by  
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If the electric grid can be decentralized, why can’t the water system?

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This solar startup wants to help you and your business kick the water bottle habit

Kuli Kuli: A superstar of superfoods

January 10, 2018 by  
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First in a monthly series highlighting women-led ventures in the green economy.

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Kuli Kuli: A superstar of superfoods

Scientists made the coldest liquid water ever – and it’s crazy weird

January 9, 2018 by  
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Water freezes at zero degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, right? While that’s water’s freezing point, under certain conditions liquid water can be supercooled – and still be liquid . Two groups of scientists recently uncovered new details about supercooled water, showing there could still be a lot we don’t know about this fairly common substance. Water just got weirder. We know supercooled water drops can exist naturally in the planet’s atmosphere , at temperatures as low as negative 35 degrees Celsius, according to Gizmodo . It isn’t easy for scientists to measure the temperature of supercooled water droplets, but a team led by Goethe University Frankfurt pioneered a new technique – for drops as small as a micrometer – that shows liquid water can exist at negative 42.55 degrees Celsius. Their research was published in Physical Review Letters earlier this month, with scientists at institutions in Germany, Italy, France, and Spain contributing. Related: Scientists discover water has not one, but two liquid phases Meanwhile, Stockholm University published other groundbreaking research on supercooled water last month in Science – and here’s where things get really weird. The scientists found that at normal pressure and a temperature of negative 44 degrees Celsius, water “can exist as two distinct liquids with different ways to bind the water molecules. The water can not decide what shape to be in without fluctuating between these two,” per the university’s press release . They explained it’s similar to how we may be unable to make up our minds on a decision and go back and forth over different options. They discovered many of water’s weird properties “reach a maximum at negative 44 degrees Celsius.” Supercooled water may be a cool topic, but why should you care? Physics said in their synopsis of the Goethe University Frankfurt research, “Knowing when water freezes and when it stays liquid at these low temperatures could improve understanding of atmospheric ice formation and help researchers develop more reliable climate models.” Via Stockholm University , Physics , and Gizmodo Images via chuttersnap on Unsplash and Stockholm University

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Scientists made the coldest liquid water ever – and it’s crazy weird

C.F. Mllers Storkeengen tackles climate challenges in a Danish town

January 5, 2018 by  
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The modern age’s best landscape architecture projects aren’t one-trick ponies. C.F. Møller Landscape takes this to heart in their recent design for Storkeengen (Stork Meadow), a multipurpose nature park that offers recreation, beauty, and strengthened protection against storm floods. Located in the Danish town of Randers, Storkeengen aims to “resolve the city’s current and future climate chal-lenges” and bring the townspeople closer to nature and to Denmark’s longest river, the Gudenå River. Created in collaboration with Randers Vandmiljø, Randers Municipality, and Orbi-con, Storkeengen is envisioned as a pioneering project combining water purification , recreation, and climate adjustment. According to C.F. Møller, the riverside town of Randers is threatened by the effects of climate change due to its low-lying position next to the Gudenå River. Thus, the city has developed a vision to protect the town called ‘The City to the Water,’ with the implementation of Stor-keengen as the first step. The 83-hectare Storkeengen is designed to function like a wetland meadow. C.F. Møller designed “cloudburst routes” that direct stormwater runoff into the park, where it’s then naturally filtered in wetland meadow areas before being dis-charged in the river. A dyke will also be installed between the park and the river to protect the nearby residences from flooding and provide new connectivity be-tween Randers and the park. Related: Denmark just opened the “world’s most humane” maximum security prison “Storkeengen is a climate adaption project on Nature’s own terms – also when it comes to the project’s technical wastewater solutions, which are designed to strengthen the nature qualities of the wet meadows,” wrote C.F. Møller. “To in-crease accessibility and enhance the nature experi-ence, new pathways and ac-tivity plateaux are created, so that Storkeengen’s unique flora and fauna, and the wet meadows’ changing habitat, can be experienced at close hand. The plateaux also make it possible to get up close to the area’s grazing cattle, enjoy the sun-set, or navigate the Gudenå stream by canoe.” The project will break ground this fall and is slated for completion in 2021. + C.F. Møller Images via C.F. Møller

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Double whirlpool spotted in nature for the first time

December 27, 2017 by  
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Scientists at the University of Liverpool have observed “double whirlpools” in the natural world for the first time. Until now, the unusual fluid dynamics phenomenon had only been theoretically envisioned. While eddies, whirlpools that can span hundreds of miles in the open ocean , are not uncommon, two connected eddies spiraling in opposite directions was previously unheard of. “Ocean eddies almost always head to the west, but by pairing up they can move to the east and travel ten times as fast as a normal eddy, so they carry water in unusual directions across the ocean,” said Chris Hughes, study lead-author and University of Liverpool oceanographer. The double-whirlpools are known as modons and were suspected to exist for decades, though scientists had never acquired hard evidence of their existence. This changed when Hughes began to closely study satellite footage of the ocean surrounding Australia . “I happened to notice one little feature down in the Tasman Sea [between Australia and New Zealand] that was behaving very strangely compared to everywhere else,” Hughes told Popular Science . “Almost all these eddies drift slowly westwards, but this little feature was going quickly eastwards.” Related: Scientists find the Earth’s constant hum is coming from the ocean floor After further investigation, Hughes and his team learned that modons are not actually as rare as once thought. Satellites had been recording images of the phenomenon for decades, though scientists had not known where to look for them. Although there is still much research to be done, scientists believes that a double-whirlpool may form when two whirlpools collide with each other in the ocean. It is also possible that modons emerge as a result of friction impacting a whirlpool close to the coast. After formation, a modon casts a U-shaped underwater vortex and can endure for up to six months. Given their size and speed, modons may play an important role in ocean ecology. “My thinking is that these linked, fast moving eddies could ‘suck-up’ small marine creatures and carry them at high speed and for long distances across the ocean,” Hughes said. “You would get particular blobs of water where the biology and the conditions are totally different from the surrounding area. It’s quite possible there are shoals of particular types of fish following these eddies for their special conditions. Fish would actually actively follow the eddies by choice because of what’s in them.” Via ScienceAlert Images via DepositPhotos , NASA , University of Liverpool and Depositphotos

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Double whirlpool spotted in nature for the first time

Saudi Arabia casts an allure for sustainability

December 22, 2017 by  
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Observations from the “Davos of the Middle East” come as the nation reaches an inflection point.

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Saudi Arabia casts an allure for sustainability

Report Report: Water, energy, forestry, the SDGs and the circular economy

December 21, 2017 by  
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A monthly wrap-up of recent research on sustainable business and clean technology.

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Report Report: Water, energy, forestry, the SDGs and the circular economy

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