The invisible clean-up crew: Engineering microbial cultures to destroy pollutants
February 22, 2017 07:59 AM - University of Toronto

University of Toronto engineering professor Elizabeth Edwards is internationally recognized for using biotechnology to clean up industrial solvents in soil and groundwater. Her technique earned her the prestigious Killam Prize in 2016 and has already been used to restore more than 500 sites around the world.

Winners, losers among fish when landscape undergoes change
February 21, 2017 04:41 PM - University of Washington

As humans build roads, construct buildings and develop land for agriculture, freshwater ecosystems respond - but not always in the ways one might expect.

Researcher Unveils Tool for Cleaner Long Island Sound
February 21, 2017 11:56 AM - Kim Krieger via University of Connecticut

A new model released this week by UConn ecologist Jamie Vaudrey pinpoints sources of nitrogen pollution along Long Island Sound, and shows municipalities what they might do to alleviate it. Vaudrey presented her research Feb. 19 at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston.

Long Island Sound is an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean bordered by Connecticut to the north, New York City to the west, and Long Island to the south. The Sound is home to dozens of species of birds, 170 species of fish, and more than 1,200 species of invertebrates. Historically it has supported rich recreational and commercial fisheries for lobster, oysters, blue crabs, scallops, striped bass, flounder, and bluefish.

Fluorescence method detects mercury contamination in fish
February 21, 2017 11:25 AM - Plataforma SINC

Researchers from the University of Burgos (Spain) have developed a fluorescent polymer that lights up in contact with mercury that may be present in fish. High levels of the metal were detected in samples of swordfish and tuna. According to the conclusions of another Spanish study, mercury exposure is linked to reduced foetal and placental growth in pregnant women.

The presence of the toxic metal mercury in the environment comes from natural sources, however, in the last decades industrial waste has caused an increase in concentrations of the metal in some areas of the sea. In the food chain, mercury can be diluted either in organic form as methylmercury (MeHg+) or as an inorganic salt, the cation Hg2+.

Why a Southern California Refinery Explosion Could Kill Thousands
February 17, 2017 02:58 PM - Laura Goldman, Care2

One morning in February 2015, I felt a rumble. Was it an earthquake? No. It was an explosion at the ExxonMobil oil refinery a few miles away. The refinery is located in the middle of a residential area of Torrance, Calif.

Fish affected by Deepwater Horizon spill give clues to air pollution heart disease
February 17, 2017 02:25 PM - Manchester University

A study by Manchester and Stanford scientists into the effects on fish of a 2010 oil disaster could shed new light on how air pollution affects humans’ hearts.

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster resulted in a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, an area of water which is heavily populated with fish species. In a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, the team analysed the effects of individual components of crude oil on the hearts of fish.

Four-Stroke Engine Cycle Produces Hydrogen from Methane and Captures CO2
February 17, 2017 10:46 AM - Georgia Institute of Technology

When is an internal combustion engine not an internal combustion engine? When it’s been transformed into a modular reforming reactor that could make hydrogen available to power fuel cells wherever there’s a natural gas supply available.

By adding a catalyst, a hydrogen separating membrane and carbon dioxide sorbent to the century-old four-stroke engine cycle, researchers have demonstrated a laboratory-scale hydrogen reforming system that produces the green fuel at relatively low temperature in a process that can be scaled up or down to meet specific needs. The process could provide hydrogen at the point of use for residential fuel cells or neighborhood power plants, electricity and power production in natural-gas powered vehicles, fueling of municipal buses or other hydrogen-based vehicles, and supplementing intermittent renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics.

NIST Quest for Climate-Friendly Refrigerants Finds Complicated Choices
February 17, 2017 10:23 AM - National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have just completed a multiyear study to identify the “best” candidates for future use as air conditioning refrigerants that will have the lowest impact on the climate.

Unfortunately, all 27 fluids NIST identified as the best from a performance viewpoint are at least slightly flammable, which is not allowed under U.S. safety codes for most end uses. Several fluids among the list of refrigerants are highly flammable, including propane, the fuel for outdoor grills.

Underwater seagrass beds dial back polluted seawater
February 16, 2017 05:27 PM - Melissa Osgood via Cornell University

“The seagrass appear to combat bacteria, and this is the first research to assess whether that coastal ecosystem can alleviate disease associated with marine organisms,” said lead author Joleah Lamb of Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, where she is a Nature Conservancy NatureNet fellow.

'Resurrecting' tiny lake-dwelling animals to study evolutionary responses to pollution
February 16, 2017 01:21 PM - University of Michigan

A University of Michigan biologist combined the techniques of "resurrection ecology" with the study of dated lake sediments to examine evolutionary responses to heavy-metal contamination over the past 75 years.

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