Sunday, March 16, 2014

New filtration membranes for cleaner industrial water

Many industries need plenty of water for different processes. The water used for these processes compounds of different metals and minerals, meaning that this is not clean water that can be used for drinking.

The scientists from all over the globe are working on potential solutions that could effectively remove various pollutants from industrial water and turn it into a clean water.

The latest interesting research on this topic comes from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, where researchers were able to develop energy-efficient methods for reuse of water in industrial processes, the ones that also allow extraction of metals and valuable minerals.

The current treatment methods of water in purification plants and industrial facilities require enormous amounts of energy. In most cases,  water recycling and seawater desalination processes use filtration membranes that consume plenty of energy. VTT scientists on the other hand developed intelligent membrane materials, that require significantly less energy, and are based on osmosis technology.

The VTT scientists also developed sensor technology that allows easy and rapid detection of pollutants. They also announced that their technology will be ready for production use within the next few years.

It also has to be said  that many researchers are already testing various biological extraction methods by which metals are recovered from mining, metal and recycling industry waste by using the combination of microbes and chemical reactions. These new methods and technologies are predicted to appear on the market within the next few years.

We all know that clean water is becoming scarcer with each new day. Cleaning industrial water is certainly something world should aspire to in order to tackle the clean water issue.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wildfires to further degrade air quality on our planet

Wildfires have become much more frequent over the last few years and this trend is set to continue even further, the latest study done by the US scientists suggests that by the year 2100, emissions from wildfires in California alone will grow by 19 to 101 percent.

The main reason behind this expected growth of emissions is climate, which is fast changing as our planet becomes hotter due to rapid increase in man-made carbon emissions.

One of the major environmental damages done by more frequent wildfires will be degraded air quality because this will lead to a much higher level of air pollutants in the air leading to adverse effects to human health causing aggravated respiratory conditions.

Climate change is almost certain to impact the number and severity of wildfires, meaning that already concerning air pollution issue will likely grow even further in not so distant future. The science still hasn't proposed the way on which people can better prepare for the future and perhaps lessen the effects of these wildfires.

It's not just air pollution that is worrying scientists but also risk of damage to buildings and homes in hot areas such as American West. People will quickly need to learn how to mitigate these effects in wildfire-prone regions in order to protect their homes and their health.

Air pollution coming from wildfires is not just major health issue, it will also likely lead to lower crop yield, and forest health could suffer, doing damage to many ecosystems that depend on forests.

Monday, January 13, 2014

How to reduce the effects of radioactive pollution in Fukushima area?

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident caused major radioactive pollution in the area, and Japanese scientists are still gathering the data to fully determine the impact of radioactive contamination on wildlife in the area. There is no doubt that the total impact was huge as the large quantity of radioactivity has been released into the atmosphere, and scientists now also need to come up with the fast solutions to reduce the effects of radioactive pollution in Fukushima area.

There is one latest study by the Japanese scientists from the University of Tsukuba that has gathered plenty of attention. In this study the researchers named seventeen microalgae, aquatic plants and algae species that are able to efficiently remove radioactive cesium, iodine and strontium from the environment.

Adding these species in the equation together with existing bioremedial options could help decrease the effets of radioactive pollution in the Fukushima area.

The researchers have also reported that the amount of water polluted with radioactive elements is increasing at daily level because of the continuous injection of cool water and the incurrent of underground water into the still defective reactor.

The researchers are convinced that using these algae species could help decontaminate highly polluted water stored in Fukushima's nuclear reactor building because these algae species have the ability to accumulate cesium on its cell surface.

Before actually using these algae species the researchers need further studies on the mass cultivation and efficient coagulation though they are convinced that using algae species could be one of the most important solutions to decrease the effects of radioactive pollution in the Fukushima area.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mozambique lacks access to safe drinking water

Mozambique is one of the countries where large percentage of total population still lacks access to safe drinking water. The worst part in the whole story is that the country has enough water resources to cover for their needs if not for the growing water pollution issue.

The main culprit responsible for growing water pollution in the country is effluent from households, agriculture and industry. Add to this a growing exploitation of natural gas, metals and other resources in the coastal areas of the country, and the increase in the runoff of nutrients into surface water, and there is really no surprise why majority of the population still lacks access to safe drinking water.

These factors have lead  to the blooming of cyanobacteria. The large number of these species of bacteria produce substances called cyanotoxins. The largest family of cyanotoxins are called microcystins and they can have a negative effect on human health such as serious damage to liver. The exposure to these substances is done by either drinking polluted water or via direct skin contact and inhalation.

To counter these issues, developed countries have established effective management of the drinking water systems, by first of all monitoring the levels of cyanobacterial blooms and their toxins, in order to prevent them from spreading and affecting the water quality.

Olivia Carolina Narciso Pedro, has in her doctoral research measured he occurrence of microcystins in freshwater used for drinking in Mozambique. She discovered that the concentrations of microcystins were far higher than WHO's recommendations for the safe drinking water.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ocean acidity expected to rapidly grow this century

Ocean acidification is one of the worst forms of pollution affecting our oceans, and by the current looks of it, the situation will become lot worse in years to come. A group of renowned ocean experts recently issued warning that the acidity of the world's ocean could increase by around 170% by the end of the century. This will not only result in major environmental damage but will also bring devastating economic losses.

The summary will be launched at the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Warsaw, 18 November, for the benefit of policymakers because climate change is the main reason behind the excessive and fast-growing ocean acidification as oceans sink carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Sadly, the capacity of the oceans to act as a carbon sink decrease as they become more acidic.

The increased ocean acidity will no doubt lead to major changes in marine biodiversity. It will likely cause declines in shellfish aquaculture and the degradation of tropical coral reefs which will affect the entire marine food chain leading to major environmental and economic losses.

Reducing the rate of carbon dioxide emissions can slow acidification but world leaders are yet to agree on serious carbon offset targets as there is still a major difference in opinion between developed and developing countries.

Acidification is just one of the issues troubling world oceans these days. The others include deoxygenation, pollution and overfishing.

These ocean stressors are yet to be taken seriously by world leaders, being very low at global political agenda, despite the countless scientific warnings.