Water quality improvements likely using new understanding of ion interaction

Read the full story at Physorg.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have discovered new ways that ions interact with mineral surfaces in water, opening a door to new knowledge on how contaminants travel in the environment. The insight, published in today’s issue of Physical Review Letters, leads to a better understanding of the factors that determine water quality.

Visualizing the Environment

From Science Magazine.

Whether you’re looking for a nugget of information or a compelling diagram for your next lecture, burrow into this cache of graphics gathered from the United Nations Environment Programme’s publications and Web sites.

The 750 maps, graphs, and other illustrations include everything from trends in nitrogen concentrations in the Baltic Sea to projected habitat loss for African great apes over the next 3 decades. To enter the collection, click on the “Maps and Graphics Library” tab at the upper left of the home page.

This is a really cool resource. Be sure to explore some of the other categories on the left menu bar. This site is a treasure trove of global environmental information.

Green Chemists

Read the full article in Science Magazine.

The chemical industry is facing some tough challenges in Europe. European legislation is about to tighten the way chemicals are regulated and make chemical companies responsible for proving the environmental safety of the chemicals they produce. Even before legislation provided a specific impetus for cleaning up their act, chemistry companies and researchers were becoming aware of the need to replace common products, production methods, and feedstocks with substitutes that have less impact on the environment. Sustainable products and processes are being developed that should eventually replace the old ones. An army of “green chemists” is coming on stream that aims to continue the trend. “We need green chemists in at the start, designing processes from first principles,” says Jeff Hardy of the United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Chemistry.

Agricultural Pesticide Use and Hypospadias in Eastern Arkansas

This article is currently in-press.

“Agricultural Pesticide Use and Hypospadias in Eastern Arkansas.” Meyer KJ, Reif JS, Veeramachaneni DNR, Luben TJ, Mosley BS, Nuckols JR. 2006. Environ Health Perspect: doi:10.1289/ehp.9146. [Online 6 July 2006]

Cholesterol Lighting: Old Made New

Via Treehugger.

Cholesterol is a clever new light designed by Shoko Cesar, Greg Ball, and Darryl Barton. Made from reused clear plastic egg cartons, the design debuted at the THAW 2006 show, which just wrapped up earlier this week.

Say the designers, “North America’s rich and over-indulgent culture generates millions of tons of waste that flow into the landfill every year. Cholesterol lighting helps to block the flow of waste by adding beauty to our devalued waste products. By reusing material that is on its way to the landfill, Cholesterol adds aesthetic value to a disposable material and asks the user to reconsider: what materials are disposable, and what materials can be reused for their aesthetic value.”

For the first time this year, all THAW entrants had to incorporate sustainability into their forward-looking designs. ::IDEA via ::MoCo Loco

Apple Lags Behind In Recycling and Toxicity

Via Treehugger.

Apple makes greats computers, but the iLife isn’t quite as harmonious as it might seem. The company lags behind in its recycling program for older computers, and in the elimination of toxic components in new computers.

Apple will not recycle its older computers for free, they will only do so if you are buying a new Apple. Even Dell recently announced that, starting in the fall, they will take back all Dell products from individuals worldwide, even if you are not buying a new Dell product.

Another important step for Apple would be to facilitate recycling at any of its Apple Stores, instead requiring customers to mail in their computers. As for Apple’s newer products, they are mostly free of heavy metals, but their components still contain PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), TBBA (tetrabromobisphenol A) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). See Apple’s own statement on materials for details. See also these articles Social Funds and Computer TakeBack Campaign.

Wattson: Monitor Your Home's Energy Usage

Via Treehugger.

Wattson is a clever device that monitors the energy usage in your home. Turning any appliance of, off, or switching it to standby creates an immediate effect, showing how much power the appliance takes to run, and how much money it costs to keep it running.

There are two parts to Wattson; a sensor that lives near the home’s electricity supply, and the wireless, handheld display that can be taken anywhere in the home, so you can tell if the microwave or toaster uses more electricity.

iPod-esque styling makes it easy to leave it on the coffee table or in the kitchen without causing an eyesore, and the two modes (instantaneous power consumption and overall cost per year) help equate electricity usage with spending money. To wit: a 100W light bulb left on for a year might cost $130; switching it to a 18W low-energy bulb would drop it to about $33.

Connect Wattson to a computer, and you can become part of an online community, collaborating to see how individual energy savings are making a big difference as a collective. We think it’s a great way to help contextualize your home’s energy usage — it really adds up. ::Wattson via ::Hugg