Aclima

Until now. Beginning in 2015, a pair of Google Street View cars, equipped with high tech “mobile labs” developed by San Francisco–based startup Aclima, crisscrossed the streets of West Oakland taking second-by-second samples of the area’s air. They tested for nitrogen dioxide and a type of pollution known as black carbon (bad for your heart and lungs, not to mention the planet), as well as nitric oxide. The cars hit every stretch of pavement, from tiny cul-de-sacs to truck-choked Peralta Street, multiple times, taking millions of measurements.

There are three stationary air pollution monitors for all of Oakland, which reveal the city’s air quality as a whole. But the Street View cars can tell you what the air is like at, say, the corner of Market Street and Grand Avenue—basically anywhere you can drive a Street View car. They can even tell you how the air varies from one end of a single block to the other for a truly hi-res view of the problem.The result: one of the largest and most granular data sets of urban air pollution ever assembled in the world.

Quoting Google’s interview on Aclima: “We visited each block on between 20 and 50 different days over the course of a year,” says Joshua Apte, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin. In the process, they were able to identify patterns they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. “If pollution spikes for an instant, it may or may not be such a bad thing. But if pollution is consistently high, that’s something we really should care about.”

Imagine what difference awareness on air pollution can make when this information becomes more accessible!

Visit https://aclima.io/ for more information!

Eco Friendly Fireworks

In spirit of America’s Independence Day celebration, let’s talk about fireworks!

Around 8 years ago, scientists have discovered eco-friendly chemical components for pyrotechnics. But not for the reasons you might expect.

It’s not just dogs and small children who are wary of firework displays. Some environmental activists have been labelled “killjoys” for seeking to ban them. Fireworks, as one campaigner put it, “spray out a toxic concoction that rains down quietly into lakes, rivers and bays.” But there may be a solution that doesn’t spoil the fun: green fireworks.

A team of scientists at the US Army’s Pyrotechnics Technology and Prototyping Division at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, USA, has found more eco-friendly replacements for one of the troublesome chemical components of fireworks, the so-called oxidizer that sets off the explosion.

As you might imagine, the researchers, led by Jared Moretti and Jesse Sabatini, are concerned less with the civilian pyrotechnics unleashed on 4 July in the US and 5 November in the UK, or at every conceivable opportunity in China, and more with military applications such as battlefield flares, which tend to use similar chemical formulations. But Moretti says that their new formulations also “have tremendous potential for civilian fireworks applications.”

Oxidizers are chemical compounds rich in oxygen, which they can relinquish to set the mixture burning. The most common types are nitrates and chlorates or perchlorates. Potassium nitrate is the ‘saltpetre’ used in old recipes for gunpowder, while sodium chlorate is a herbicide notorious for its use in homemade ‘sugar/weed-killer’ bombs. Many civilian and military pyrotechnic devices now use either potassium perchlorate or barium nitrate as the oxidizer.

Both of these chemicals have drawbacks for the environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are scrutinizing the use of perchlorate because it can substitute for iodide in the thyroid gland, disrupting the production of hormones. It can also cause growth abnormalities in embryos. The strict limits placed on perchlorate levels in drinking water by the EPA has hampered military training in the US, and also threatens to cause problems for civilian firework displays.

Visit the source link here for more information on how to celebrate the 4th with green fireworks!

Here is a supplementary article as well from the ACS.

Photo credit: James Solomon

Acceleration of Climate Change

Human activity is changing Earth’s climate 170 times faster than natural forces, according to scientists who claim they have devised an equation that shows people are behind global warming.

According to researchers, global temperatures decreased by 0.01C per century over the last 7,000 years—the “baseline” rate. But in the last 45 years it has increased by the equivalent of 1.7C per century, and the 12 warmest years on record have come since 1998, they said.

While “astronomical and geophysical” as well as biospheric forces have driven change in the “Earth system” over its four billion-year existence, human activity has “driven exceptionally rapid rates of change” that the authors of a new study have represented in an “Anthropocene equation”.

Anthropocene is the name given to a proposed new geological era in which the impact of human activity starts having a measurable impact on the environment.

Writing in New Scientist, the study’s co-author Owen Gaffney said: “The rate of carbon emissions to the atmosphere is arguably the highest in 66 million years, when the (non-avian) dinosaurs slipped off this mortal coil.

“The staggering loss of biodiversity in recent decades prompted researchers in 2015 to argue that the Anthropocene marks the third stage in the evolution of Earth’s biosphere, following on from the microbial stage 3.5 billion years ago and the Cambrian explosion 650 million years ago.

“In the equation, astronomical and geophysical forces tend to zero because of their slow nature or rarity, as do internal dynamics, for now. All these forces still exert pressure, but currently on orders of magnitude less than human impact.”

The risks of human impact on the biosphere includes polluted water and soils as well as a warmer climate, Mr Gaffney said.

He added: “While it would seem imprudent to ignore the huge body of evidence pointing to profound risks, it comes at a challenging time geopolitically, when both fact-based world views and even international cooperation are questioned. Nowhere has this been clearer than in the US in recent weeks.”

(Visit the source link from Independent here)

The Death Toll of Air Pollution

Pollution is no joke and the whole world involved is listening.

Pollution and environmental risks are responsible for 1.7 million deaths of children below the age of five, according to two World Health Organization (WHO) reports released Monday.

The reports reveal that 570,000 of children’s deaths each year are attributed to respiratory infections, like pneumonia, caused by both indoor and outdoor air pollution, as well as second-hand smoke. Additionally, 270,000 children a year die in their first month from conditions due to air pollution and lack of sanitation, according to the WHO.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one — particularly for young children,” Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, said in a press release. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

Chan has previously called pollution “one of the most pernicious threats” to health around the world — far greater than the threat of HIV/AIDS or Ebola, BBC reports.

In addition to the deaths, the WHO found that 11–14% of younger children worldwide report asthma symptoms and nearly half (an estimated 44%) of those cases result from the environmental factors.

(Visit the source article on Fortune for more information!)

(Photo credit: Witch Kiki)

Victory for Standing Rock!

nodapl_victoryAfter four months of active demonstrating, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has brought the push of the Dakota Access Pipeline to a halt. A victory that resonates with tribes and supporters across the globe.

“Today, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News. “Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes.

Tribe members and environmentalists feared damage to local water supplies and the desecration of sacred land.

They argued in court that the pipeline “crosses areas of great historical and cultural significance” and “crosses waters of utmost cultural, spiritual, ecological, and economic significance.”

The tribe successfully mobilized national support, with demonstrators marching in Washington DC and elsewhere to pressure the government to abandon the construction. (Source: BuzzFeed)

Follow the source link above for more detailed info on the win!

Edible 6-Pack Rings

edible6packringSaltwater Brewery out of Florida has come up with a possible solution to the extreme waste of plastic we find in the ocean from beer rings. Make the rings not only biodegradable but edible!

They say that the United States consumes roughly 6.3 Billion gallons of beer each year, 50% in cans, which means a significant amount of the plastic 6-pack rings end up in the ocean. Sea life, whether it be birds or aquatic life get trapped in the plastic try eating it but are unable to digest so it gets stuck in their stomachs. Some people think that the idea of cutting or ripping the plastic rings will solve the problem, but the animals can still take them in not knowing the plastic material is harmful.

Imagine if the cost to manufacture edible plastic rings dropped because more companies opted to use them? It could mean a significant drop in plastics finding their way into the ocean.

Watch a video here to find out more about Saltwater Brewery‘s vision for cutting down on plastics in the ocean!

Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

pioppino_mushroomsPaul Stamets of British Columbia is a mycologist who has discovered some fascinating results in his research on the fungi we call mushrooms!

Pioppino mushrooms have been shown to induce tumor regression, reversing cancer in lab mice. Oddly enough, this same species also controlled blood sugar in diabetic mice.

There are mushrooms which can clean up the oil from oil spills, beehive-like Agarikon dangles that can provide a defense against weaponized smallpox. It is amazing to think about what potential tools we can find to reverse the damage we’ve done to the planet–and they are all naturally occurring in nature.

Stamets also has written a book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.  He believes that these particular mushrooms can serve as revolutionary tools in the fields of medicine, forestry, pesticides and pollution control. To find out more information check out this link to a full on article with Stamets.

Purple Air: Real-time Air Quality Map

purpleair_airqualitymap(Above) A look at the PurpleAir Map broadcast of air quality in different city regions of the US.

According to their website, PurpleAir states that they are creating “an air quality monitoring network built on a new generation of Laser particle counters. PurpleAir Sensors use WiFi to report local air quality in real time to the PurpleAir Map.”

purpleair_aqi_unhealthy

As you can see above, the readings range from green (good) to a deep purple (hazardous). Keep in mind that these readings of the AQI (Air Quality Index) are real-time and often can vary between Good and Moderate or Warning and Unhealthy for example. They also provide charts to show the change over hours and days among other information you can check out on their website.

PurpleAir has available to purchase and register your own PA-II Dual Laser Air Quality Sensor to contribute to the data that is being reported real-time through a network of sensors.