Biocompatible plastics and their importance in the medical device industry

Read the full story at MultiBriefs.

Plastics have paved their way into every aspect of human life due to their unique properties of malleability, easily changeable shapes and forms and low cost of production. Significant developments in plastics technology have coincided with the advent of innovative medical devices — pacemakers, stents and hip-replacement devices — which have enabled medical solutions for all kinds of ailments and impairments. Despite their ease of use, plastics can bring the risk of health and environmental hazards that can undermine all medical efforts unless treated minutely at first. Hence, the need for biocompatibility which can reduce these risks and enable us to fully derive the benefits.

Impacts of biochar on bioavailability of the fungicide azoxystrobin: A comparison of the effect on biodegradation rate and toxicity to the fungal community

Fatima Sopeña, Gary D. Bending (2013). “Impacts of biochar on bioavailability of the fungicide azoxystrobin: A comparison of the effect on biodegradation rate and toxicity to the fungal community.”  Chemosphere, online ahead of print. Online at

Abstract: There is great interest in using biochar (BC) as a soil amendment to provide a long-term repository of carbon to mitigate climate change. BC can have major impacts on soil biogeochemical cycling processes, largely by the sorption and protection of organic matter from microbial turnover. Application of BC to agricultural soil could also affect the efficacy, fate and environmental impact of pesticides. In the current study we investigated the effect of BC on bioavailability of the fungicide azoxystrobin in soil. We found that application of BC had no effect on sorption or degradation of azoxystrobin, even at a rate of 2% w/w. While azoxystrobin reduced dehydrogenase activity, BC addition greatly increased dehydrogenase, although the inhibitory effect of azoxystrobin was still evident in BC amended soil. Using Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism of fungal SSU rRNA gene ITS regions it was found that azoxystrobin altered the structure of the soil fungal community, although this effect was dampened by BC addition. BC application had minor effects on fungal community structure. We conclude that measurement of the effect of BC on pesticide bioavailability by analysis of biodegradation rate and non-target effects on fungal community structure gave contrasting conclusions.

Wastewater Could Be Used in Cellulosic Ethanol Production

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Treated wastewater effluent could be a viable alternative to potable freshwater for cellulosic ethanol production, according to a study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The study, “Use of Treated Effluent Water in Cellulosic Ethanol Production,” was funded in part by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

Plastic pollution not just a problem in oceans, but in Great Lakes

Listen to the interview at Great Lakes Echo. For more information on the issue, see

Scientists have conducted extensive research on the plastic-filled gyres of the ocean. This past summer, however, researchers decided to look inland for the first time and measure plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Some of the groups’ water samples had concentrations of plastic greater than those found anywhere else. The study has resulted in several other projects. Chemistry professor Dr. Sherri Mason discusses the plastic pollution in the basin.

How to Map the New Economy in Your City

Read the full post at Shareable.

Groups all over the world are resisting the status quo of profit maximization by putting society’s happiness, health and the Earth first. This work, though, is often overshadowed by big business with its bloated advertising budgets and economic monopolization, which makes alternatives seem insubstantial if not nonexistent.

New economy projects are mostly unconnected, so each one struggles alone rather than supporting each other. One result of this is that awareness remains low.  The US Solidarity Economy Network (USSEN) and its international counterpart, RIPESS, are working to change this by implementing a mapping and economic integration tool to connect groups with one another to build a cooperative, just and sustainable economy.

The Weather Channel Is Changing The Climate Change Conversation

Read the full story at FastCoExist.

Everyone’s source for weather news is starting to make sure it is clear with its viewers about what effect changes to the planet’s environment are having on weather patterns.

Can tall buildings ever truly become carbon-neutral?

Watch the video at Architectural Record.

Can tall buildings ever truly become carbon-neutral? In its monthly video series, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat asked a promintent group of designers to answer the question. The tower-builders who responded include Adrian Smith, Matthias Sauerbruch, Chris Wilkinson, Craig Webb and John Bowers of Gehry Partners, and Toby Blunt of Foster + Partners, among others.