Accidental nanoparticles in the environment: the nanoplastic pollution problem

When you hear the term “plastic pollution,” what do you think of? If you’re like me, you might picture a pile of garbage on a beach, or microplastic beads inside a fish. Most of us are aware that plastic pollution can be found everywhere. But you might be surprised to learn that "everywhere" in this …

Celebrating Science at a Science Fiction Convention

I am a second-generation science fiction fan; my parents have been Star Trek fans since the ‘60s, and I grew up on PBS reruns of Doctor Who in the ‘80s. Like so many others, my appreciation for science fiction definitely played a role in developing my interests in real-world science. One of my favorite ways …

Emerging Technology in Air Pollution Sensors: EPA Wildland Fire Sensors Challenge

Landsat

California’s autumn 2018 Camp Fire wildfire was the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history and the deadliest wildfire in the US in the past century.1,2 Eighty-five people have been confirmed dead with over 153,336 acres burned; the 2017 Tubbs wildfire, the second most destructive fire in the state’s history, burned through 36,807 …

Agricultural Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and What is Being Done About It

A lot is being said these days about pollution in waterways, how to prevent it, and how to clean up pollution that started decades ago. During a summer spent doing scientific research here in Baltimore, I was able to see the effects of pollution on the Chesapeake Bay firsthand. I visited the Inner Harbor in …

Engineered Nanoparticles Change Shape in Soil and Groundwater

Engineered nanoparticles (NPs) are now components of thousands of consumer products, including personal care products, sporting goods, solar panels, and next-generation batteries. In fact, demand for electric car batteries (built using lithium-nickel-cobalt nanosheets) might cause lithium prices to skyrocket in the coming decade, and completely change the way in which the element lithium is recovered …

Ep 10. Why Were Plastic Mirobeads Banned? Marine Debris and Sustainable Plastics

Sustainable Nano Podcast cover image

Plastic debris in our water is a huge pollution problem, and just one source of that pollution is the tiny microbeads that have been widely used in personal care products. In this episode of the podcast, we interview Dr. Richard Thompson, a Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University and an expert on the effects of plastic debris in the marine environment. We discuss the recent federal ban on microbeads and what consumers can do to be more sustainable in our day-to-day use of plastics.

Why Do Parks Care What Sunscreen We Use?

flamingos

Earlier this year I went to Mexico for spring break. During my trip I visited sinkholes (called cenotes) and Xcaret, an eco-archeological park. Xcaret is a combination of an ecological park (open spaces for plants and animals that have built in modifications for human activities) and a cultural park (areas where visitors can observe traditional …

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Fluorescence

Our last blog post featured lighting technology powered by algae, and this week is all about a different example of green-colored water: the Chicago River. Every year since 1962, the Chicago River has been dyed green for the downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade. So how does this amazing color transformation relate to the Center for Sustainable …

The Roof Coating that could Reduce Smog

In 2012 around 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure according to the World Health Organization. Air Pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save lives around the globe and our own buildings could be a solution. The air is a vital part of …