5 Terrible Things That Happen When You Don’t Recycle

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, America produces over 258 million tons of waste every year ― which is close to a ton of trash per American citizen. The EPA believes as much as 75 percent of that waste to be recyclable or reusable, but instead of properly disposing of unwanted goods, many Americans choose to carelessly toss anything and everything into the garbage can. The results of this behavior are quickly becoming disastrous, impacting not only natural environments but also urban areas and human livelihoods. Here are a few ways failing to recycle negatively impacts the world around us.

1. Landfill Growth
Nearly all of America’s trash goes into landfills, which are essentially gigantic midden heaps that are eventually covered with soil and potentially used for urban development. The positive idea behind landfills is that trash will eventually decompose and settle, turning into fertile land. The problem is that much of our waste is not biodegradable; plastics require between 10 and 1,000 years to begin breaking down, and even then, the chemicals used in them can leach into groundwater and destroy surrounding environments.


2. Marine Pollution

Not all garbage is safely tucked into a landfill. At least 10 percent of all plastics created have found their way into the oceans, creating enormous gyres where the non-biodegradable waste is more plentiful than plankton. Most of the pollution comes from poor waste management on land, but some is dumped by unscrupulous ocean liners. The plastics wreak havoc on marine environments, as animals ingest or become entangled in the waste.

3. Incineration

For many, burning trash seems a viable solution to land and water pollution. However, incineration might be even more disastrous than landfills. For one, many products and packaging materials are made using toxic chemicals that are released into the air during the burning process. For another, glass as well as many plastics do not burn except at exceedingly high temperatures, which requires excessive amounts of fuel ― which itself releases dangerous emissions. Studies have found that air pollution causes all sorts of terrible diseases, from chronic asthma and cancer to birth defects.

4. Resource Waste

It isn’t just the items or materials themselves that are wasted when you throw something away; all the effort and energy used to create those items are also squandered. Between 2.5 and 4 percent of U.S. energy consumption is devoted to the manufacturing of plastic and plastic products; what’s more, at least 24 gallons of water is used to create just one pound of plastic, and about 2.5 million plastic bottles are produced every hour. Those resources could be diverted to more beneficial endeavors if everyone recycled more.

5. Economic Trouble

Though it might seem an economic advantage to create disposable goods that must be repurchased, pollution actually hinders economic advancement in notable ways. For example, many beaches experience lower tourism because the sand and water is covered in trash; fishing and shipping industries have reportedly suffered losses of $365 million and $279 million thanks to debris-clogged waterways. Less trash is almost synonymous with more profit for much of the economy.

How to Reduce Trash the Right Way

Though some waste is inevitable, it is possible to drastically reduce the amount of trash you personally produce. For example, one woman committed to a minimal-plastic lifestyle and managed to produce less than 16 ounces of waste over a two-year period. Not everyone has the luxury of avoiding plastic and packaging so thoroughly, but there are a number of effective ways you can increase your recycling efforts.

• First, you should strive to reduce the amount of purchases you make. This doesn’t necessarily mean becoming minimalist; instead, you should merely consider investing in a few well-designed and manufactured products rather than many cheap and disposable ones.

• Next, you should research what objects around your home can be reused. In fact, most things can find new life, and many charities gladly pick up or take in items you don’t want to sell. Some of these items will directly improve the lives of the needy, but others, especially valuables like digital devices on up to larger items like broken-down cars or boats, can be refurbished and sold for funds to benefit charities.

• Finally, you should learn more about recycling services in your area. Not all cities have the resources to recycle all types of materials. Instead of tossing any paper, plastic, or glass good in the recycling bin, you might need to find facilities designed to recycle specific goods. Items that are improperly recycled are likely to end up as pollution.

The E-Waste Problem and How to Help created by Digital Doc
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Strange bedfellows oppose new polluter subsidy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Green Scissors, a coalition of free market, taxpayer, and environmental groups, sent a letter to the Senate today opposing an extension and expansion of the tax credits for carbon capture and sequestration. The letter cited both fiscal and environmental concerns in opposing Senator Heitkamp’s amendment on the 45Q tax credit as part of a proposed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

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Although the measure faces an uncertain future as part of the FAA bill, Senator Heitkamp’s amendment is part of a concerted effort by industry and some environmentalists to expand the 45Q tax credit. The effort is mirrored in the House by Rep. Conaway’s HR4622.

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“Private investment in clean coal is the only way to ensure that these technologies will find a place in the future energy market,” said Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy at the R Street Institute. “We talk a lot about not using tax policy to pick energy winners. The same should apply here.”

“Taxpayers cannot afford to keep throwing good money after bad on clean coal. Subsidies for this failed technology have wasted billions of dollars over the last few decades,” said Autumn Hanna, senior program director at Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Whether it’s on the FAA bill, some end of year omnibus package or another bill, lawmakers should reject this proven money loser.”

“We are calling this plan what it is,” said Lukas Ross, a climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, “A subsidy for Big Oil masquerading as a climate solution.”

Clean Air Partners creates funny air quality videos- Have You Listened to Your Lungs Today?

What do Larry, Lola, Chad, and Brad have in common? They are lungs that remind us to be mindful of the daily air quality.

Although air quality may be unhealthy year-round, it is typically more of concern during “ozone season” (May through September) when ground-level ozone and particle pollution are at their highest. That’s the premise of four quirky new spots, promoting the importance of knowing the daily air quality.

The spots can be previewed here:

#1: Lola tells Chad and Brad the fitness nuts that since it’s a Code Yellow air quality day, they should do their workouts inside. They’ll have to wait until a Code Green day to get jacked AND tan. http://bit.ly/1DU484R

#2: Larry completely loses it when he finds out it’s a Code Red air quality day, until Lola reassures him. http://bit.ly/1dPJn5o

#3: It’s a Code Orange air quality day, and Lola’s grandpa is insistent on going for a walk despite the risk to his health. http://bit.ly/1zOmycc

#4: After a rough week of poor air quality, it’s finally a Code Green day for Larry and Lola Lung. A party ensues. http://bit.ly/1Pr4uGW

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During a forecasted Code Orange or Red day, sensitive groups should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Sensitive groups include individuals with heart and/or respiratory disease (asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or cardiovascular disease), children, older adults (65+), and those who are active outdoors. On Code Red days, the general public should limit prolonged outdoor exertion as well.

Some quick facts:

· Ground-level ozone pollution can reduce lung function by as much as 20 percent.
· Air pollution claims 70,000 lives a year, nearly twice the number killed in traffic accidents.
· With nearly 109,500 asthma sufferers under the age of 18, asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness and the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15.
· 90 percent of Americans live in areas that have unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

There ARE health risks associated with poor air quality and the simple actions individuals can take to protect their health, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse as emissions.

FROM: Christel Ghattas on behalf of Clean Air Partners

A mile deep, ocean fish facing health impacts from human pollution

A digital image of an “intersex” fish organ

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Deep-water marine fish living on the continental slopes at depths from 2,000 feet to one mile have liver pathologies, tumors and other health problems that may be linked to human-caused pollution, one of the first studies of its type has found.

The research, conducted in the Bay of Biscay west of France, also discovered the first case of a deep water fish species with an “intersex” condition, a blend of male and female sex organs. The sampling was done in an area with no apparent point-source pollution, and appears to reflect general ocean conditions.

The findings have been published in Marine Environmental Research, by scientists from Oregon State University; the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in the United Kingdom; and other agencies. It was supported by the European Union.

TheA digital image of an “intersex” fish organ research is of particular interest, OSU researchers said, when contrasted to other studies done several years ago in national parks of the American West, which also found significant pollution and fish health impacts, including male fish that had been “feminized” and developed eggs.

“In areas ranging from pristine, high mountain lakes of the United States to ocean waters off the coasts of France and Spain, we’ve now found evidence of possible human-caused pollution that’s bad enough to have pathological impacts on fish,” said Michael Kent, a professor of microbiology in the OSU College of Science, co-author on both these research projects and an international expert on fish disease.

“Deep in the ocean one might have thought that the level of contamination and its biological impact would be less,” Kent said. “That may not be the case. The pathological changes we’re seeing are clearly the type associated with exposure to toxins and carcinogens.”

However, linking these changes in the deep water fish to pollution is preliminary at this time, the researchers said, because these same changes may also be caused by naturally-occurring compounds. Follow up chemical analyses would provide more conclusive links with the pathological changes and man’s activity, they said.

Few, if any health surveys of this type have been done on the fish living on the continental slopes, the researchers said. Most past studies have looked only at their parasite fauna, not more internal biological problems such as liver damage. The issues are important, however, since there’s growing interest in these areas as a fisheries resource, as other fisheries on the shallower continental shelf become depleted.

As the sea deepens along these continental slopes, it’s been known that it can act as a sink for heavy metal contaminants such as mercury, cadmium and lead, and organic contaminants such as PCBs and pesticides. Some of the “intersex” fish that have been discovered elsewhere are also believed to have mutated sex organs caused by “endocrine disrupting chemicals” that can mimic estrogens.

In this study, the health concerns identified were found in black scabbardfish, orange roughy, greater forkbeard and other less-well-known species, and included a wide range of degenerative and inflammatory lesions that indicate a host response to pathogens, as well as natural cell turnover. The fish that live in these deep water, sloping regions usually grow slowly, live near the seafloor, and mature at a relatively old age. Some can live to be 100 years old.

Partly because of that longevity, the fish have the capacity to bioaccumulate toxicants, which the researchers said in their report “may be a significant human health issue if those species are destined for human consumption.” Organic pollutants in such species may be 10-17 times higher than those found in fish from the continental shelf, the study noted, with the highest level of contaminants in the deepest-dwelling fish.

However, most of those contaminants migrate to the liver and gonads of such fish, which would make their muscle tissue comparatively less toxic, and “generally not high enough for human health concern,” the researchers wrote.

The corresponding author on this study was Stephen Feist at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in Weymouth, England.

In the previous research done in the American West, scientists found toxic contamination from pesticides, the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture, industrial operations and other sources, which primarily found their way into high mountain lakes through air pollution. Pesticide pollution, in particular, was pervasive.

Together, the two studies suggest that fish from some of the most remote parts of the planet, from high mountains to deep ocean, may be impacted by toxicants, Kent said.

Source: OSU College of Science
3-25-15, http://bit.ly/1CPn6xP

New Nanofiber Filter Could Help Residents Breathe Easier on Smoggy Days

By: Txchnologist

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A new filter can capture many times its weight in hazardous air pollution while letting air and light pass through easily. The material is made of a polymer called polyacrylonitrile, the same ingredient used to make acrylic yarns for clothing, some boat sails and surgical gloves. Using a fiber-pulling process called electrospinning, the liquid polymer is converted into nanofibers each a thousand times thinner than a human hair.

The Stanford University engineers who made the filter say its surface chemistry and the positioning of the fibers lets it absorb more than 95 percent of the smallest particulate matter (PM) in air pollution while remaining 90 percent transparent.

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“The fiber just keeps accumulating particles, and can collect 10 times its own weight,” says Chong Liu, a materials science and engineering graduate student and lead author of a paper published this week in the journal Nature Communications. “The lifespan of its effectiveness depends on application, but in its current form, our tests suggest it collects particles for probably a week.”

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For the entire story
Top two gifs created from video courtesy of Stanford University. Bottom gif created from video courtesy Liu et al./Nature Communications