Pollution

Chance find has big implications for water treatment's costs and carbon footprint
March 27, 2017 01:15 PM - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

A type of bacteria accidentally discovered during research supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) could fundamentally re-shape efforts to cut the huge amount of electricity consumed during wastewater clean-up.

The discovery has upended a century of conventional thinking. The microorganisms - 'comammox' (complete ammonia oxidising) bacteria - can completely turn ammonia into nitrates. Traditionally, this vital step in removing nitrogen from wastewater has involved using two different microorganisms in a two-step approach: ammonia is oxidised into nitrites that are then oxidised into nitrates, which are turned into nitrogen gas and flared off harmlessly.

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Google Street View Cars Are Now Helping to Track Methane Leaks
March 23, 2017 02:32 PM - Yale Environment 360

Google Street View cars have driven millions of miles across the globe, capturing 360-degree images of roadways and communities on all seven continents. Now, scientists and environmentalists are teaming up to add pollution trackers to the vehicles so they can monitor natural gas leaks as they drive.

The new project, detailed this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, is being led by researchers at Colorado State University, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Google Earth Outreach.

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SPOTLIGHT

The Dangers Behind Fast Food Packaging

Susan Bird, Care2

We’ve all known for a long time that eating fast food is bad for you. It’s greasy, fatty, high in sodium and the calorie count is obscene. Now comes news that even the packaging that food comes in might be dangerous to your health.

A new study found dangerous chemical compounds in almost half of the 400 fast food containers it tested from 27 fast food franchises. Packaging tested in this study came from the Big Four: McDonald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Starbucks and Yum! Brands, Inc., which operates Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and WingStreet.

The substances in question are perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). That’s the same stuff that once was used to make Dupont’s Teflon before it had to be removed from the market. It’s also used in carpeting, furniture, clothing and cosmetics because of its water-repellant and stain-resistant qualities. We’re exposed to it every day.

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