Day: August 30, 2011

Study Finds Scented Laundry Products Emit Hazardous Chemicals Through Dryer Vents

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

The same University of Washington researcher who used chemical sleuthing to deduce what’s in fragranced consumer products now has turned her attention to the scented air wafting from household laundry vents.

Findings, published online this week in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health, show that air vented from machines using the top-selling scented liquid laundry detergent and scented dryer sheet contains hazardous chemicals, including two that are classified as carcinogens.

Full citation for article: Anne C. Steinemann, Lisa G. Gallagher, Amy L. Davis and Ian C. MacGregor (2011). “Chemical emissions from residential dryer vents during use of fragranced laundry products.” Air Quality, Atmosphere, and Health published online before print. DOI: 10.1007/s11869-011-0156-1.

Abstract: Common laundry products, used in washing and drying machines, can contribute to outdoor emissions through dryer vents. However, the types and amounts of chemicals emitted are largely unknown. To investigate these emissions, we analyzed the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) both in the headspace of fragranced laundry products and in the air emitted from dryer vents during use of these products. In a controlled study of washing and drying laundry, we sampled emissions from two residential dryer vents during the use of no products, fragranced detergent, and fragranced detergent plus fragranced dryer sheet. Our analyses found more than 25 VOCs emitted from dryer vents, with the highest concentrations of acetaldehyde, acetone, and ethanol. Seven of these VOCs are classified as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and two as carcinogenic HAPs (acetaldehyde and benzene) with no safe exposure level, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. As context for significance, the acetaldehyde emissions during use of one brand of laundry detergent would represent 3% of total acetaldehyde emissions from automobiles in the study area. Our study points to the need for additional research on this source of emissions and the potential impacts on human and environmental health.

Researchers at UC-Irvine Produced Fuel from Sewage

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

Imagine being able to get the equivalent of 70 miles per gallon in your car, keep your home cool and power your computer – all from sewage. Thanks to technology developed by University of California-Irvine’s National Fuel Cell Research Center and partners, that’s now possible.

After 10 years of research – led by center associate director Jack Brouwer, in a project at the Orange County Sanitation District in Fountain Valley – a unique fuel cell generator simultaneously and continuously converts gas created in wastewater digesters to hydrogen used for zero-emission vehicle fuel, electricity and heat in a highly efficient manner.

Green Mail Delivery Saves Postal Service Millions

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

Delivering more than 40 percent of the world’s mail and reaching every business and residential address in America six days a week requires the dependable, ubiquitous vehicle fleet of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The world’s largest civilian fleet delivers more than 167 billion pieces of mail to more than 150 million addresses, along 230,000 routes, logging 4 million miles a day, with 215,000 postal vehicles, of which more than 44,000 are alternative fuel-capable.

Gotham Greens Lifts Fresh Veggies to New Heights

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

Nestled between towering skyscrapers and the Brooklyn Bridge, rests a vegetative oasis ripe for the picking.

Gotham Greens, a hydroponics greenhouse facility, sits on a warehouse rooftop and brings new meaning to the phrase “locally grown” – especially atop a 15,000-square-foot manufacturing building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Founded by Viraj Puri and Eric Haley in 2008, Gotham Greens has been fully operational since June 2011. Because of its rooftop positioning and location, the “farm in the sky” can harvest 365 days a year.

New Company Brings Produce From the Roof to the Supermarket Aisle

Read the full story at Good.

Growing produce on your roof is a productive way to take advantage of the space, but is it possible to make it commercially viable on a larger scale? A new company’s business model may show the way. New York-based BrightFarms, which builds rooftop greenhouses, hopes to turn a profit while cutting shoppers’ “food miles” down to zero by growing vegetables where people buy them: the supermarket.

Energy Star Now Available for New Multifamily High-Rise Buildings

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that new multifamily high-rise residential buildings are now eligible to qualify as Energy Star. Expanding the Energy Star eligibility to such properties will not only help EPA strengthen energy-efficiency initiatives, across the nation, which save money and help protect the environment, but also provide property owners the opportunity to increase the asset value and offer tenants comfortable homes.

To qualify for Energy Star, new or substantially rehabilitated multifamily high-rise buildings must meet energy-efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and be designed to be at least 15 percent more energy-efficient than buildings that meet the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers energy use standard. Qualified buildings feature a combination of energy–efficient improvements including:

  • Effective insulation systems
  • Properly sized heating and cooling equipment
  • Tight construction and ducts
  • Energy Star qualified lighting and appliances
  • High–performance windows

An independently licensed professional engineer or architect is required to verify that the program’s requirements are met through on-site testing and inspections conducted throughout the construction process. In the past, only single family homes and units in low-rise multifamily buildings were eligible to earn the Energy Star.

Energy Star was started by EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy-efficiency. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved about $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles.

More information on Energy Star qualified multifamily high-rise buildings: http://www.energystar.gov/mfhr

Turning algae into aviation fuel

Watch the video from SmartPlanet.

At TEDxNASA in San Francisco, Bilal Bomani, a senior scientist with NASA’s biofuels program, discusses the space agency’s study of algae and halophytes as the next generation of aviation fuel.

AUNE Walkways Replaced with Innovative Pavement

Read the full story from Antioch University New England.

Antioch University New England (AUNE) is replacing the rest of the walkways to its main entrance with pervious pavement, which is better for the environment than conventional asphalt. The installation follows a demonstration project last summer in which the first two walkways were replaced.

Old Panther Cards to be recycled

Via Florida International University.

FIU is switching from the Panther Card to the FIU One Card. The One Card is the new official on-campus identification card. With more than 50,000 people at FIU transitioning to the One Card, one student asked a very good question: Can the old cards be recycled? After seeing this comment, the University Sustainability Office did some digging to see if they could be recycled.

They found a company that takes old plastic cards, like the Panther Card, and recycles them to make new cards for purchase by other companies. FIU Business Services and Wells Fargo agreed that it would be great to recycle the 50,000-plus cards with this company instead of throwing them into a landfill. In the future, FIU will have the option to purchase cards from recycled Panther Cards.

Taking Stock of Campus Sustainability

Read the full post at NYT Green.

Colleges and universities across the country have quickly taken to measuring their environmental footprint: energy efficiency, consumption levels, renewable energy targets, number of green buildings, recycling rates, water use and even the prevalence of sustainability curriculums. But in this rush to go green, two of the three sustainability pillars have remained largely in shadow.

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