Discovered in Green: A cheap and easy way to clean water, lead dust turns children into violent adults, glowing fish and a way to recoop wasted energy.
- Fresh news and ideas about our planet's future See full coverageA better way to get clean water. All you need is sunshine and lime juice. "The preliminary results of this study show solar disinfection of water combined with citrus could be effective at greatly reducing E. coli levels in just 30 minutes, a treatment time on par with boiling and other household water treatment methods," explains researcher Kellogg Schwab In addition, the 30 milliliters of juice per 2 liters of water amounts to about one-half Persian lime per bottle, a quantity that will likely not be prohibitively expensive or create an unpleasant flavor." The lack of actual filtration system compromises some benefits, but not bad for a technique that costs about $1. [American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene]
- Lead dust is turning children into violent adults. Lead exposure is bad for all sorts of reasons and here's another one to add to the list. Lead dust, from leaded gasolines and paint put out into our atmosphere between 1950 and 1985 (oops!), has been linked to aggravated assault behavior. "Children are extremely sensitive to lead dust, and lead exposure has latent neuroanatomical effects that severely impact future societal behavior and welfare," explains researcher Howard W. Mielke. "Up to 90 per cent of the variation in aggravated assault across the cities is explained by the amount of lead dust released 22 years earlier," he continues. 90 percent! [Tulane]
- These glowing fish show everything that's wrong with their environment. No, pollution didn't turn these fish green. Science did! Some lab-people engineered these fish to better illustrate the parts of the body that are ruined by the dirty environment. The parts that glow are responding to unnatural chemical exposure. "This is a very exciting development in the international effort to understand the impact of estrogenic chemicals on the environment and human health. This zebrafish gives us a more comprehensive view than ever before of the potential effects of these hormone-disrupting chemicals on the body," explains researcher Charles Tyler. "By being able to localise precisely where different environmental estrogens act in the body, we will be able to more effectively target health effects analyses for these chemicals of concern. While it is still early days, we are confident that our zebrafish model can help us better understand the way the human body responds to these pollutants," he continues. So, the glowing fish now might help us prevent glowing fish later. [Exeter]
- Turning lost energy back into useful energy. So, when factories make stuff, they lose a lot of the energy to heat and other processes. "The ugly truth is that 58 percent of the energy generated in the United States is wasted as heat," explains researcher Yue Wu. "If we could get just 10 percent back that would allow us to reduce energy consumption and power plant emissions considerably." Wu and his team have discovered a possible fiber that could harvest energy from hot factory parts turning it into electrical current. [Purdue]