Day: October 8, 2013

Ammonium nitrate sold by ton as U.S. regulation is stymied

Read the full story in the Dallas Morning News.

For more than a decade, U.S. efforts to tighten controls over ammonium nitrate fertilizer have repeatedly failed, bogged down by bureaucratic gridlock and industry resistance. Regulations approved years ago remain unenforced and unfinished. Mere talk of safer substitutes has been blocked by those with profits at stake.

In fact, just 13 days before the West disaster, the only two remaining U.S. manufacturers of ammonium nitrate fertilizer pleaded for Washington’s help to preserve their $300 million annual market. Company executives bemoaned the “terrible toll” of regulation and the “pressure” of increased competition from nonexplosive substitutes.

SUNY Sullivan Hops Report

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Our project involved the development of an experimental hop garden that features regionally-appropriate varieties of hops. Local microbrewers had expressed an interest in locally-grown hops to the College, and our hope was that this garden would help local farmers and brewers better understand the future potential for organic hop farming in Sullivan County. SUNY Sullivan students built three pole-centered systems that included 4 x 4 inch cedar posts that were locally harvested and donated to the project. Around each pole, the students prepped holes with compost and planted 10 rhizomes of a given variety: Cascade, Willamette, or Centennial. We also developed two back-up plots in raised beds. The productivity and quality of these different varieties was tracked through student projects.


Indiana county builds on identity of sustainable pioneers

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Indiana’s Monroe County government keeps getting leaner and greener with little fanfare.

Early last year, the county – home to Bloomington and Indiana University – made headlines when it received a grant to create one of the largest solar panel systems in the state. Now it is a little more than a year into what county officials say is one of the most comprehensive energy plans in government.

Insight: energy consumption model assesses cooling demand in cities

Read the full story at Environmental Research Web.

Researchers at Arizona State University, US, have presented the first comparison between model simulation results and real observations of the amount of daytime electricity used by air conditioning (AC) systems during a number of extremely hot summertime periods in a rapidly urbanizing semi-arid metropolitan area.

A Site For Borrowing Power Drills, Kitchen Equipment, And Anything Else You Can Think Of

Read the full story at FastCo.Exist.

Daan Weddepohl created–a site for borrowing stuff–after a series of traumatic experiences. First, his apartment burned down. Second, his girlfriend dumped him. Then, his mother became seriously ill.

He was forced to stay with friends and get by without all the things he had normally. “At first, having nothing was terrible thing, but after a while I started accepting it and realizing that it was okay. It helped me create very strong human connections. People were happy to help me out, and they felt really good when they shared.”

CropMobster: An Early Warning System For Food That’s About To Be Wasted

Read the full story at FastCo.Exist.

Thirteen boxes of kale, 75 pounds of certified organic heirloom tomatoes, 65 pounds of Ambrosia cantaloupe melons. These are just some of the more recent entries at, an early warning system for food that’s about to go to waste. There are also 15 (egg laying) White Leghorn hens needing a home, and dozens of meat morsels that will spoil unless someone collects them. Best of all, much of this lovingly produced produce is heavily discounted, or even free. All you need to take advantage of it is a car.

CropMobster is the creation of Nick Papadopoulos, a farmer from Petaluma, California, who has had enough of food waste. Earlier this year, he was standing in the vegetable cooler on his farm when he realized he had to do something. “For the last eight months, I’d been watching perfectly edible, nutritious, premium vegetables go to the chickens and the compost pile,” he says. “We had all this unsold stuff we’d taken to farmers markets, or over-harvested the week before. It just hit my brain finally that this was a massive problem for our farm, so I got to work.”

Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Applied to Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Flame-Retardant Coatings in Upholstery Textiles: A Case Study Presenting Priority Research Gaps for Future Risk Assessments (Final Report)

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This final report presents a case study of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs); it focuses on the specific example of MWCNTs as used in flame-retardant coatings applied to upholstery textiles. This case study is organized around the comprehensive environmental assessment (CEA) framework, which structures available information pertaining to the product life cycle, environmental transport and fate, exposure-dose in receptors (i.e., humans, ecological populations, and the environment), and potential impacts in these receptors. A group of experts representing multiple disciplines and multiple sector perspectives used an earlier draft of the case study in conjunction with a structured workshop process to identify and prioritize research gaps that, if pursued, could inform future MWCNT assessment efforts. The final report is not a health, risk, or exposure assessment and as such does not draw conclusions about potential risks, or present an exhaustive review of the literature. Rather, it presents the MWCNT research priorities that experts identified in this application of CEA in order to aid research planning throughout the scientific community. The outcomes of these research efforts may subsequently inform long-term MWCNT assessments.

Alternative Flame Retardants Detected In Outdoor Air

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

Manufacturers have used organophosphate esters for more than 40 years as flame retardants in items such as upholstered furniture, electronics, and plastics. The chemicals’ use has increased over the past decade as manufacturers have phased out brominated flame retardants due to environmental and human health concerns. A new study measures organophosphate flame retardants in outdoor air at levels 100 to 1,000 times higher than the brominated flame retardants they are replacing (Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/ez400034n). The study suggests that organophosphate esters, which also have raised health concerns, are more persistent and get transported more easily in the environment than once thought.