Registration now open for 2014 Illinois Water Conference

Registration is now open for the 2014 Illinois Water Conference. Register before September 15 for the early bird rate. The conference will be held October 14-15 at the University of Illinois Illini Union.

Urban Air Toxics Down Across US

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Coal-fired power plants and other manmade sources have reduced toxic mercury emissions about 60 percent since 1990, according to the EPA’s Second Integrated Urban Air Toxics Report to Congress.

Industry Groups Streamline Green Building Tool Development

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

ASHRAE, the International Code Council (ICC), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) have signed a memorandum to collaborate on the development of Standard 189.1, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and the LEED green building program.

Oddly sustainable: a gold-rush retailer’s thoroughly modern social impact move

Read the full story in The Guardian.

In this week’s blog about the strange side of sustainability, Nordstrom’s breaks for a new frontier, SeaWorld tries to reclaim the environmental ground and an inventor unveils a water bottle that fits in your pocket.

Antibacterial Soap Exposes Health Workers to High Triclosan Levels

Read the full story from the University of California-San Francisco.

Handwashing with antibacterial soap exposes hospital workers to significant and potentially unsafe levels of triclosan, a widely-used chemical currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a study led by researchers from UC San Francisco.

Direct Transformation of Edible Vegetable Waste into Bioplastics

Ilker S. Bayer, Susana Guzman-Puyol, José Alejandro Heredia-Guerrero, Luca Ceseracciu, Francesca Pignatelli, Roberta Ruffilli, Roberto Cingolani, and Athanassia Athanassiou (2014). “Direct Transformation of Edible Vegetable Waste into Bioplastics.”
Macromolecules 47 (15), 5135-5143. DOI: 10.1021/ma5008557

Abstract: Bioplastics with a wide range of mechanical properties were directly obtained from industrially processed edible vegetable and cereal wastes. As model systems, we present bioplastics synthesized from wastes of parsley and spinach stems, rice hulls, and cocoa pod husks by digesting in trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), casting, and evaporation. In this way, amorphous cellulose-based plastics are formed. Moreover, many other natural elements present in these plants are carried over into the bioplastics rendering them with many exceptional thermo-physical properties. Here, we show that, due to their broad compatibility with cellulose, amorphous cellulose can be naturally plasticized with these bioplastics by simply mixing during processing. Comparison of their mechanical properties with that of various petroleum based synthetic polymers indicates that these bioplastics have equivalent mechanical properties to the nondegrading ones. This opens up possibilities for replacing some of the nondegrading polymers with the present bioplastics obtained from agro-waste.

BPA-Free Plastic Containers May Be Just as Hazardous

Read the full story in Scientific American.

Animal studies find that a replacement compound for the estrogen-mimicking chemical bisphenol A may also be harmful to human health.

Scientists Discover 56 Active Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater Treatment Plants

Read the full story from Elsevier.

Scientists have identified 56 active pharmaceutical ingredients in effluent samples from 50 large wastewater treatment plants across the USA, according to a report published in Environmental Pollution. The study is as well covered in a recent article in the Daily Mail.

Extreme weather becoming more common, study says

Read the full story from EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

Extreme weather like the drought currently scorching the western US and the devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010 is becoming much more common, according to new scientific research.

Can Urban Agriculture Work on a Commercial Scale?

Read the full story at Atlantic CityLab.

An urban farm in Montreal is scaling the industry “with more software than farmers.”