Day: July 19, 2013

The Copper Conundrum: Do Other Anti-Fouling Paints Work as Well?

Read the full post from PPRC.

For the past decade, copper has been the go-to metal to prevent boat hulls from fouling. A biocide, copper kills or deters marine life from sticking to boat bottoms. But studies suggest that copper, like its predecessor tributyltin (TBT), damages aquatic systems and species even at low levels like 2 ppb. In poorly circulating bays and marinas, copper reaches much higher levels. In San Diego’s Shelter Island Yacht Basin, an estimated 2.5 tons of copper leaches from the bottoms of 2,000 boats each year.

Western states are leading the campaign against copper bottom paints. A state of water conscious citizens, Washington became the first state to ban copper based paints, though this ban hasn’t yet taken effect. Beginning in 2020, owners of recreational boats (under 65 feet) cannot buy bottom paint that contains over 0.5% copper. And starting in 2018, recreational boats on the market need to be stripped of copper paint or sealed. In California, a similar bill to ban copper paints in recreational boats has been shelved in the Senate until later this year.

If you’re a marina manager, boatyard employee, boat painter, or simply a boat owner, it may be time to look for a new anti-fouling paint. What other options exist for those that want to do minimal harm to aquatic species without sacrificing cost and performance? Dr. Katy Wolf of the Institute for Research and Technical Assistance (IRTA), has made it her goal to find out. Wolf conducted a series studies at West Coast ports and boatyards to determine both the highest performance non-biocide paints, and the most cost-effective application methods.

Stuff gets new life in artwork

Read the full story in the San Antonio Express-News.

She’s surrounded by a maze of cardboard boxes stuffed with a dizzying array of items. There are faded Christmas ornaments, old paint brushes, tarnished trophies, baggies of beads, upholstery swatches, wads of tulle, cookie tins, Formica samples, toilet paper rolls and empty glass jars. Then there are the random objects that defy immediate classification.

But where some might see an emergency trip to the city dump, Cantú sees the makings of art. About two years ago, the petite 34-year-old who teaches at the International Academy of Design & Technology launched spare parts (Cantú doesn’t capitalize the name), an organization that combines her dual passions for arts education and creative reuse. With the help of a network of volunteers, Cantú collects donations of recyclable materials throughout the year, then distributes them free to public school teachers around the city.

As plastic trash mounts, a push in Hong Kong to drink tap water

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

“Isn’t it strange that we are willing to pay a thousand times too much for something which actually runs from our faucet at home?” said Merijn Everaarts, environmental activist and founder of water-bottle company Dopper, during a TEDx event in Hong Kong, an independent offshoot TED Talks.

Everaarts has made it his mission to grow awareness about the oceans’ “plastic soup,” choking clusters of plastic that in large part are made up of disposable bottles. One crucial factor contributing to this waste is the unnecessary consumption of bottled water in developed countries, where tap water is just as good to drink.

Making Cities More Bird-Friendly With Nesting Bricks

Read the full story in Atlantic Cities.

City dwellers might consider sparrows an inexhaustible species – pecking at sidewalk hotdog buns and taking dust-baths in parks, the mundane brown birds are seemingly everywhere.

But in the U.K., the creatures are actually in the middle of a survival crisis. Urbanization is taking away their nesting sites and the insects they feed upon, and in the past three decades the country’s sparrow population has dropped by as much as 71 percent. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds now considers them among the most endangered species in the region, warning that their continued existence depends on “urgent action.”

Enter Aaron Dunkerton, a 22-year-old graduate of London’s Kingston University who has a clever idea: If we’re not going to stop throwing up habitat-negating structures, why not at least make them more friendly to wildlife? Dunkerton’s idea to save the sparrows is to manufacture bricks with lacunae inside accessible by a hole in the brick – both “specifically designed to meet the requirements of sparrows,” he says. That way, the birds can fly into them and build a nest, with humans strolling by remaining little the wiser.