Move over, solar: The next big renewable energy source could be at our feet
October 20, 2016 02:56 PM - Will Cushman
Flooring can be made from any number of sustainable materials, making it, generally, an eco-friendly feature in homes and businesses alike.
Now, however, flooring could be even more “green,” thanks to an inexpensive, simple method developed by University of Wisconsin–Madison materials engineers that allows them to convert footsteps into usable electricity.
Potentially harmful chemicals widespread in household dust
September 30, 2016 11:02 AM - George Washington University via EurekAlert!
Household dust exposes people to a wide range of toxic chemicals from everyday products, according to a study led by researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University. The multi-institutional team conducted a first-of-a-kind meta-analysis, compiling data from dust samples collected throughout the United States to identify the top ten toxic chemicals commonly found in dust. They found that DEHP, a chemical belonging to a hazardous class called phthalates, was number one on that list. In addition, the researchers found that phthalates overall were found at the highest levels in dust followed by phenols and flame retardant chemicals.
Healthcare costs for infections linked to bacteria in water supply systems are rising
September 12, 2016 10:38 AM - Tufts University via EurekAlert!
A new analysis of 100 million Medicare records from U.S. adults aged 65 and older reveals rising healthcare costs for infections associated with opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens--disease-causing bacteria, such as Legionella--which can live inside drinking water distribution systems, including household and hospital water pipes.
A team led by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and Tufts University School of Medicine found that between 1991 and 2006, more than 617,000 hospitalizations related to three common plumbing pathogens resulted in around $9 billion in Medicare payments--an average of $600 million a year. The costs may now exceed $2 billion for 80,000 cases per year, write the study authors. Antibiotic resistance, which can be exacerbated by aging public water infrastructure, was present in between one and two percent of hospitalizations and increased the cost per case by between 10 to 40 percent.
Tropics told to ban coral-killing sunscreen
September 8, 2016 06:57 AM - Inga Vesper, SciDevNet
Tropical island nations should team up to ban coral-killing sunscreen products, following the example of Hawaii, a conference has heard. Chemical compounds in sunscreen lotions cause irreparable damage to reefs, which are crucial to the livelihoods of 500 million people in the tropics, scientist and policymakers said at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on 3 September. Hawaii is leading a legistlative effort to ban the use of sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or similar harmful agents at its beaches.
Toxic air pollution nanoparticles discovered in the human brain
September 7, 2016 09:46 AM - Oxford University
A team involving Oxford University scientists has, for the first time, discovered tiny magnetic particles from air pollution lodged in human brains – and researchers think they could be a possible cause of Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers led by Lancaster University found abundant magnetite nanoparticles in the brain tissue of 37 individuals aged three to 92 who lived in Mexico City and Manchester. This strongly magnetic mineral is toxic and has been implicated in the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the human brain, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease.
The results have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Climate change could make coffee extinct by 2080
September 5, 2016 09:56 AM - Laurie Balbo via Green Prophet
The sun may be setting on a popular morning brew. According to a new report issued by the Climate Institute, global warming will underpin an estimated 50 percent drop in coffee production by 2050. Bad news for coffee lovers, but catastrophic for the 120 million people in dozens of mostly developing nations who depend on the coffee trade to make ends meet.
Motivating Eco-Friendly Behaviors Depends on Cultural Values
September 2, 2016 07:13 AM - Association for Psychological Science
The specific cultural values of a country may determine whether concern about environmental issues actually leads individuals to engage in environmentally friendly behaviors, according to the new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
The findings suggest that individual concern is more strongly associated with motivation to act in countries that espouse individualistic values, while social norms may be a stronger motivator in collectivistic societies.
Selenium status influence cancer risk
August 31, 2016 04:36 PM - Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin via EurekAlert!
As a nutritional trace element, selenium forms an essential part of our diet. In collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that high blood selenium levels are associated with a decreased risk of developing liver cancer. In addition to other risk factors, the study also examines in how far selenium levels may influence the development of other types of cancer. Results from this study have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. *
Selecting the right house plant could improve indoor air
August 24, 2016 07:30 AM - American Chemical Society via EurekAlert!
Indoor air pollution is an important environmental threat to human health, leading to symptoms of "sick building syndrome." But researchers report that surrounding oneself with certain house plants could combat the potentially harmful effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a main category of these pollutants. Interestingly, they found that certain plants are better at removing particular harmful compounds from the air, suggesting that, with the right plant, indoor air could become cleaner and safer.
The researchers are presenting their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world's largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics. A brand-new animation on the research is available at http://bit.ly/ACSindoorairpollution.
"Buildings, whether new or old, can have high levels of VOCs in them, sometimes so high that you can smell them," says Vadoud Niri, Ph.D., leader of the study.
Investing in Walkable Neighborhoods
August 22, 2016 07:24 AM - Nithin Coca, Triple Pundit
According to Redfin, several American cities – some the usual progressive suspects, but others quite surprising – are making moves to build more homes in walkable neighborhoods. Other, however, are stuck in the past, building more of the distant suburbs.
Why do we need more walkable cities? Quite simply because walkable cities are, by definition, sustainable cities. Transportation remains a major source of greenhouse gas pollution, and, unlike electricity or agriculture, the United States remains firmly stuck on a fossil-fuel dependent transport infrastructure. When we live in spread out suburbs, far from work, shopping, schools, and cultural centers, we have to drive. Often, we drive inefficient, single-occupancy vehicles, burning more fossil fuels, and creating more traffic.