Some Corals Prefer To Eat Microplastics

Read the full story in Forbes.

Plastic pollution is especially threatening to the health of coral reefs. Plastics can affect the feeding and cleaning mechanisms of certain stony corals. For cold-water corals, they can create physical barriers for corals that prevent corals from capturing food, thereby slowing their growth rates. Plastic pollution in coral reefs has also been associated with increased rates of disease. And, a new study published earlier this week suggests that some corals can even consume such high volumes of microplastics that the synthetic particles outnumber natural foodstuffs in the corals’ guts.

The photographer who showed the world an environmental crisis now wants to give us hope

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Chris Jordan captured iconic, disturbing photos of birds dying from eating plastic. Now he wants to use the beauty of nature to add some calm to the panic about environmental crises.

Home Improvement Expert™ Checklists

Home Improvement Expert fact sheets and checklists compile best practices from industry leaders and national laboratories for twenty-one home improvements related to energy efficiency. 

All homeowners have to do to hold projects accountable to these standards for excellence is include one or more of the appropriate checklists in their vendor contracts. In doing so, homeowners will act in their best self-interest to optimize energy efficiency, comfort, health, durability, and safety.

Study: Washing clothes on cold setting can reduce microplastics in local waters

Read the full story in the Charleston Post and Courier.

New research from the College of Charleston sheds more light on an overlooked source of plastic pollution: the water sent to sewage plants. 

Wastewater doesn’t just include what’s flushed down a toilet. It incorporates any water that goes down a household or business’s drain.

The main source of plastic in that water from a home comes from washing machines: Laundering gradually breaks down synthetic fabrics.

That leaves tiny plastic fibers in the water that are washed away and end up at sewage treatment plants, said Barbara Beckingham, a professor at the College of Charleston.

Beckingham, along with four other authors, recently published a peer-reviewed study comparing how well area wastewater plants were able to filter out the plastics. 

Simple, accurate and inexpensive: A new method for exploring groundwater

Read the full story from the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT).

Water is a vital resource for people and the environment. One of the most important sources is groundwater which is renewed from precipitation or surface water. Population growth as well as agriculture and industry strongly influence the quantity and quality of groundwater. To be able to investigate groundwater resources more easily, cost-effectively and comprehensively than in the past, researchers have developed a new method.

Students chowing down tuna in dining halls are unaware of mercury exposure risks

Read the full story from the University of California – Santa Cruz.

Some students are helping themselves to servings of tuna well beyond the amounts recommended to avoid consuming too much mercury. Researchers surveyed students on their tuna consumption habits and knowledge of mercury exposure risks, and also measured the mercury levels in hair samples. Hair mercury levels were closely correlated with how much tuna the students said they ate. And for some, the measurements were above what is considered a ‘level of concern.’

How to improve corporate social and environmental responsibility

Read the full story from the University of California-Riverside.

New research shows NGOs are more likely to sway companies into ethical behavior with carefully targeted reports that consider a range of factors affecting the companies and industries. The report also finds that too much pressure can actually backfire. The study suggests that vertical integration, where companies own and control all steps of the production process, can be economically feasible and promote responsible sourcing throughout an industry.

Rethink environmental regulations in Africa, study urges

Read the full story from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Conflict over resource extraction is rampant in sub-Saharan Africa, with small-scale miners violently pitted against multinational mining corporations — and the state security forces that protect them — for access. Attempts to solve the problem by imposing Western environmental systems and regulations aren’t working. But it’s not for the reasons most experts might suspect, according to a new study.

Immediate, science-based community action can mitigate insect decline

Read the full story from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Environmentalists in Germany collected 1.75 million signatures for a ‘save the bees law.’ Citizens believe they can stop insect declines by halting habitat loss and fragmentation, producing food without pesticides and limiting climate change.

Ghosts of our consumption: Plastic art on display at Myrtle Beach museum

Read the full story in the Post and Courier.

For Pam Longobardi, art is a form of reparation.

“I travel all over the world to high-impact beaches and I collect ocean plastic from those beaches,” she said. “We are haunted by the ghosts of our consumption, especially when we see them coming back from the dead.”

We throw away the plastic containers and wrapping, she said, little aware that they will not disappear, that our trash will return to us, often in a different form. As microplastics we ingest. As carpets of refuse covering our beaches. As poisonous weapons that kill wildlife.

“I want to take that material out of the space where it doesn’t belong and bring it back into a social space, where it can do its work, which I think is to deliver us a message.”

Longobardi’s art installations have been shown around the world. Now she has work in a show called “Can’t You Sea? Ocean Plastic Artifacts,” on view through Sept. 8 at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach.