After a fire, your drinking water may be contaminated even if your house was saved

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In one California community, researchers found benzene, a carcinogen, at 40 times the state’s standard for drinking water. When wildfires swept through the hills near Santa Cruz, California, in 2020, they released toxic chemicals into the water supplies of at least two communities. One sample found benzene, a carcinogen, at 40 times the state’s standard for drinking water . Read Full Story

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Map: Killer heat and humidity is spiking decades sooner than we feared

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At a ‘wet bulb’ temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, a human can’t survive for more than six hours, even in shade and with water. We’re starting to see those conditions more and more frequently. If heat and humidity cross a certain extreme threshold—a “wet bulb” temperature of 35 degrees Celsius—the human body can’t survive long outside. It’s a scenario that some researchers had predicted becoming common later in the century, when climate change may make some regions essentially unlivable. But a new study suggests that dangerous, previously unprecedented levels of heat and humidity are already beginning to occur. Read Full Story

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This tech is bringing water to Navajo Nation by pulling it out of the air

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Zero Mass Water’s Source hydropanels use sunlight to absorb water vapor from the air. In the Navajo Nation, where running water is scarce and COVID-19 is surging, they’re providing a lifeline. In the Navajo Nation, sometimes a single spigot on an empty road is the only water source around for hundreds of residents. Others have to drive from their rural homes into towns miles away to buy all the water they need for cooking, drinking, cleaning, and livestock, because there’s no infrastructure to bring it through pipes. About 40% of households in the Navajo Nation live without running water. But now, at a few houses, panels positioned on the ground pull moisture from the air, connecting to a tap inside the home and providing up to 10 liters of water—or about 20 16-ounce bottles—a day, at no cost to the family. Read Full Story

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It’s stupidly easy to get people to drink less soda

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As it turns out, it’s easier to impact public health than you’d think. Sweet beverages like soda and energy drinks are terrible for our health. Consuming all of this diluted sugar is strongly correlated with a myriad of health risks , including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, gout, and even early death. But soda is cheap and delicious; it can even be less expensive than bottled tap water! Put bluntly: Soda is irresistible by design, so of course we continue to drink it. Read Full Story

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This biotech startup is cleaning up laundry detergent

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Dirty Labs wants to solve the problem of water-polluting chemicals common in laundry detergents. When a typical laundry detergent washes down the drain, it carries chemicals such as 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen that can’t be removed by standard water treatment plants and that can end up in drinking water. Other common ingredients, such as the somewhat unpronounceable methylisothiazolinone or benzisothiazolinone, can harm the environment. These chemicals have various purposes; methylisothiazolinone is a preservative, for example. Dioxane isn’t used in detergent intentionally but is a by-product of another process. A biotech startup called Dirty Labs is taking on the challenge of cleaning up such cleaning products. Read Full Story

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It’s time to redesign travel for the age of COVID-19

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We’re designing travel wrong for pandemics. But the good news is, travel can be fixed. When Qingyan Chen, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, explains the overlooked danger of airborne pathogens, he offers a simple analogy. “I hold a cup of water. I take a drink. Would you drink? You definitely say no. But in a room, I breath out air. We’re staying in the same room. Can you hold your breath? No.” Read Full Story

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This burger doesn’t require land or fresh water to produce: It’s made with kelp

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Kelp farms are enormous carbon sinks, so kelp jerky company Akua is looking for ways to get people to eat more seaweed. In an effort to lower the carbon footprint of your diet, maybe you’ve swapped out a beef burger for one made from plants. But growing crops like peas and potatoes can still be resource-intensive, requiring lots of land, fresh water, and fertilizer, the abundant use of which is degrading our soil and polluting the water and air. Instead of looking to replace meat with plants, food startup Akua is looking to the ocean with the launch of its kelp burger. Read Full Story

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