Category: Health

5 Innovative Ways to Make Urban Farming More Sustainable

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Urban farms are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. Creative farming models are now being cultivated in a diverse range of urban spaces, from rooftops to within tall, enclosed buildings. These innovative growing methods prioritize sustainability, which plays a key role in making sure that our urban creations have the least negative impact on the environment. Here are 5 ways to maximize sustainability in your urban farm.

Rooftop Farming

One literally ‘top’ trend in urban agriculture is rooftop farming. This method makes clever use of an urban space that is typically unused and has been praised for its positive environmental impact. Rooftop farms provide extra insulation for buildings, lower temperatures in summer and maintain heat in the winter. These factors translate to less use of heating and cooling systems, which saves significant amounts of energy and money.

Plants grown on rooftops capture moisture in the air, which means that rooftop farms also help reduce the storm water flow that can pollute waterways and overwhelm sewage treatment facilities.

Vertical farming

Vertical farms produce crops in vertical layers in a controlled environment. Most vertical farms are created with tall enclosed structures, using height to maximize growth. This innovative approach to urban farming can help to maintain crop production all year round, without relying on favorable weather conditions, soil fertility, or excessive water use.

Establishing vertical farms in urban areas can ultimately help to create a more sustainable environment by contributing to less abandoned buildings, a cleaner atmosphere, better water conservation, and a positive impact on the health of the surrounding communities.

Shipping Container Farming

Recently, using shipping containers as urban farms has become increasingly popular. There is an abundance of shipping containers that are left unused every year, free to be used as indoor farms. These steel structures are durable, versatile, portable and stackable: ready to be placed as a container farm on any site with a strong, level surface.

The versatility of shipping containers provides a range of opportunities to create an enclosed ‘farm’ in any location, from your backyard to corporate campuses. Compared to traditional fixed structures, container farms can be set up in a relatively short period of time.

Using Hydroponic Systems

Innovative new growing techniques have played a key role in the sustainability of urban farming. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil, a technique commonly used in vertical farming. This method has been shown to have some environmental benefits.

The controlled and closed environment of hydroponic systems usually eliminates the need for pesticides, meaning less poisonous chemicals on the food and plants grown. Hydroponic systems can also recycle water and nutrients, putting less strain on water systems. This sustainable style of growing has become a top choice for many large-scale greenhouses.

Using Aquaponic Systems

Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable methods of urban agriculture. Simply put, this method combines traditional aquaculture with hydroponics. Many farmers have embraced this method to become more environmentally responsible and promote good health within their local communities.

Aquaponic systems can grow many types of food without consuming too many resources. Only a few pieces of equipment in this method actually require power – and in most systems, the water is circulated rather than disposed of after use. Using this style of indoor urban farming, you can ultimately grow more food while using less water, labor and land.

Storage of Household Chemicals: A Guide

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Being environmentally conscious means you should buy eco-friendly products whenever possible. However, there are some cases in which a “green” substitute may not be readily available. As hard as you may try to avoid them, we sometimes need to rely on harsh chemicals for many of our housekeeping tasks.

Household chemicals, such as cleansers, drain cleaners, deodorizers and other products have the potential to not only harm the ecosystem, but also our health if not handled properly. It is essential to know the basics of storage of household chemicals that can be found in and around the house, in order to safeguard public health as well as the environment.

One of the most important principles is to read the label prior to usage/storage. Certain cleaners need to be kept in specific conditions or temperatures to avoid hazardous situations. Proper organization is also key when it comes to using these products responsibly. Re-label any containers that have been around long enough to where original labels are faded or missing.

Homeowners should know the location(s) of their local hazardous material disposal stations, as well. Proper handling of these materials will help prevent them from getting into the mainstream environment, where they can cause public health and ecological issues.

Going green means choosing all-natural products as often as you can. When it’s not possible, you need to take extra care. The accompanying guide details what you should know about the correct ways to store and handle household chemicals.

 

Household Chemical Storage Guide from SolvChem Custom Packaging Division

7 Negative Effects of A Used Car On The Environment

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Despite the fact that used cars are pocket-friendly and easy to buy, they leave bad imprints on the environment in one way or the other. If you are unaware of them, please check these 7 negative effects of a used car on the environment.

1. Destruction of natural resources

Natural resources are the gifts of nature, which we should care about. Despite being the most brainy creature on this planet, we share the maximum part in the destruction of the natural resources available on earth. While producing cars and other automobiles, it uses a large amount of steel, iron, plastics, rubber and other materials. Similar, most of such products are created to make the car look dashing. Even the production processes also consume a great portion of energy which directly or indirectly affects the environment.

Most of the major players are changing their manufacturing strategies with new cars, but an option of a used car is still available which implants a significant effect on the surrounding environment.

2. Global warming

Either it’s a brand new car or any used car, they both run by consuming fuel and energy. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are the major constituents in the exhausts released by the cars. The new cars are made up of better engines in accordance to the latest norms of pollution controls. On another hand, used cars are responsible to release more carbon contents as they are made up with the earlier technologies.

Basically, the engines get worn up with time and they are unable to burn the fuel in the required ratio. This inability leads to the yield of carbon monoxide which harms the ozone layer leading to global warming.

3. Air, soil and water

Car pollutants create a bad impact of the natural resources like air, water, and soil. It depletes the quality of these resources very badly. Pollutants, like nitrous oxide, harms the ozone layer, which is essential and protects from the ultraviolet radiations from the sun.

Other pollutants like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide when mixed with rainwater, leads to acid rains. Acid rains badly damage the crop quality, forests, plantation, other vegetation, and buildings. Engine oils, brake oils, and other such lubricants are thrown on the soil or in water resources like river, sea, lakes which contaminates the water and also leads to the death of the water animals.

4. Affecting human health

Human health is badly affected by the used car emitted particles, like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and other car pollutants which are considered bad. The diesel engines are responsible for emitting a high level of pollutants which act as airborne particles like soot and metals.

These particles generally cause irritation and allergies to skin and eyes. Even fine particles are often inhaled by the people which lead to respiratory problems affecting the lungs. Ozone is beneficial for the upper layer in the atmosphere but when one inhales it, it causes problems like chest pains, cough and is very difficult to breathe in. Even the noise produced by the cars causes noise pollution which is bad for the ears as well and often leads to physiological problems.

5. Used car produce more carbon content

Every product produced comes with an expiry date and using it beyond this time can be very harmful in for the user. Similar way, cars to have a working age, in which they perform their best with creating minor effects on the environment. Manufacturers have to produce cars with respect to the pollution norms and by conducting tests, they deduce the working life of the car.

Used cars have a detrimental impact on the environment and public health

Relying on used cars can affect the environment badly as they release major harmful pollutants. These pollutants have different effects on the surroundings which are not good for the humans and the surrounding environments.

6. Toxic battery acids

The car batteries are made up of toxic materials like nickel and they are responsible to produce fumes of harmful gases as well. Most of the car users forget the timely replacement of these batteries and some indulge in burning the used batteries. On burning these batteries emits toxic fumes which can cause respiratory problems and affect the lungs.

Leaking batteries too are dangerous when the electrolyte comes in contact with the body. It badly damages the skin, eyes and other parts of the body.

7. Consume more fuel

Fuel is the major source which drives the vehicle. Cars provide mileage with respect to their engine properties and consume fuel to give better performance. The way one drives a car plays an important factor in the fuel consumption but in the case of used cars, they generally consume more fuel than the latest versions of hybrid cars.

Conclusion

In conclusion, cars are an essential mode of transportation and they really help a lot in reducing a major part of human efforts. But in one or the other way, cars have a major impact on the surrounding environment. In this post, you can check some negative effect of a used car on the environment.

Tips to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar

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Raise your hands: Do you love coffee? A whole lot of people do. They either drink it first thing when they wake up to get their day going, or they sip cups of joe throughout the day (maybe because they like it, maybe because they need a little energy boost). But to all the naysayers who say coffee isn’t good for you, tell them that research shows otherwise. In fact, coffee may benefit the liver and gall bladder, and it is full of antioxidants.

But what can make coffee unhealthy are the sugary additives that many of us also favor. Sugar can add calories and lead to a host of health conditions such as diabetes and liver disease. If you find plain coffee boring, then perhaps you might want to consider some flavor additions that aren’t sugar focused. What are those? This graphic offers some ideas to start to sip with your coffee.

 

8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar
“8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar” on Health Perch

Ways to Tackle Water Scarcity

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How many people do you think are affected by lack of water? Unfortunately, it’s probably more than you realize. In fact, about 500 million people on the planet live someplace where the water they depend on for daily life is consumed at about twice the rate that they get it back via rain.

And it’s not just the lack of replenishment that’s affecting people. The quality of water is also something of grave concern to hundreds of millions of people, especially in developing countries.

Take this number: Over 800,000 people die, each and every year, from diarrhea that they contracted after drinking water that was unsanitary. Of all the children under age 5 who die each year, one out of four of them die because of an illness that they contracted due that was in water. And water costs lives, and it also costs people billions of dollars—in access, in lost business, in lost food.

Scientists forecast that the problem is only going to get worse, too. More and more people aren’t going to be able to access the water they need for daily work and daily living needs, and more and more people are going to suffer from economic impact due to that lack of water, especially vulnerable groups like refugees. What do you need to know about this important issue? This infographic explains it.

 

Please include attribution to www.waterlogic.com/en-us/ with this graphic.

How People All Over The World Are Resolving to Reduce Water Scarcity

Environmental Impacts of MSW Incineration

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Incineration-based processes for municipal solid waste (MSW) treatment are a subject of intense environmental debate around the world. In the absence of effective controls, harmful pollutants from MSW incineration plants may be emitted into the air, land and water which may be detrimental to public health and the environment. Thus, it is essential to have strict controls to prevent negative impacts of waste-to-energy plants, especially incineration.

What is MSW Incineration?

Incineration is the controlled combustion of waste with the recovery of heat to produce steam that in turn produces power through steam turbines and any other CHP system. Incineration is the predominant technology for MSW-to-energy plants, which involves burning the trash at high temperatures. Similarly to how some facilities use coal or natural gas as fuel sources, power plants can also burn MSW as fuel to heat water, which creates steam, turns a turbine and produces electricity.

A modern air pollution control system is essential for all MSW incineration facilities.

The most common type of incineration plant is called a mass-burn facility and the most common incineration technology is moving grate system. These units burn the trash in one large chamber. The facility might sort the MSW before sending it to the combustion chamber to remove non-combustible materials and recyclables. Mass-burn systems use excess air to facilitate mixing, and ensure air gets to all the waste. Many of these units also burn the fuel on a sloped, moving grate to mix the waste even further. These steps are vital because solid waste is inconsistent, and its content varies.

Environmental Issues

The incineration process produces two types of ash. Bottom ash comes from the furnace and is mixed with slag, while fly ash comes from the stack and contains components that are more hazardous. In municipal waste incinerators, bottom ash is approximately 10% by volume and approximately 20 to 35% by weight of the solid waste input. Fly ash quantities are much lower, generally only a few percent of input.

Emissions from incinerators can include heavy metals, dioxins and furans, which may be present in the waste gases, water or ash. Plastic and metals are the major source of the calorific value of the waste. The combustion of plastics, like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gives rise to these highly toxic pollutants.

Toxics are created at various stages of such thermal technologies, and not only at the end of the stack. These can be created during the process, in the stack pipes, as residues in ash, scrubber water and filters, and in fact even in air plumes which leave the stack. There are no safe ways of avoiding their production or destroying them, and at best they can be trapped at extreme cost in sophisticated filters or in the ash. The ultimate release is unavoidable, and if trapped in ash or filters, these become hazardous wastes themselves.

The pollutants which are created, even if trapped, reside in filters and ash, which need special landfills for disposal. In case of energy recovery, it requires heat exchangers which operate at temperatures which maximize dioxin production. If the gases are quenched, it goes against energy recovery.

Such projects disperse incinerator ash throughout the environment which may enter our food chain and cause havoc with human health as well as other ecosystems. These facts make it essential for every incineration-based waste-to-energy plant to have a modern air pollution control system which may trap all harmful pollutants from going into the atmosphere, which may help in public acceptability of waste-to-energy plants.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

Key Technologies for Medical Waste Treatment

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The growing quantum of medical wastes (also known as biomedical wastes or healthcare wastes) is posing significant public health and environmental challenges across the world. The situation is alarming in developing countries due to improper disposal methods, insufficient physical resources, and lack of research on medical waste management. The key technologies for medical waste treatment include steam sterilization, advanced steam sterilization, microwave treatment, dry heat sterilization, alkaline hydrolysis, biological treatment and plasma gasification.

Steam sterilization

Steam sterilization (or autoclaving) is the most common alternative treatment method. Steam sterilization is done in closed chambers where both heat and pressure are applied over a period of time to destroy all microorganisms that may be present in healthcare waste before landfill disposal. Among alternative systems, autoclaving has the lowest capital costs and can be used to process up to 90% of medical waste, and are easily scaled to meet the needs of any medical organization.

Advanced autoclaves

Advanced autoclaves or advanced steam treatment technologies combine steam treatment with vacuuming, internal mixing or fragmentation, internal shredding, drying, and compaction thus leading to as much as 90% volume reduction. Advanced steam systems have higher capital costs than standard autoclaves of the same size. However, rigorous waste segregation is important in steam sterilization in order to exclude hazardous materials and chemicals from the waste stream.

Schematic for disposal of medical wastes in sanitary landfills

Microwaves

Microwave treatment is a promising technology in which treatment occurs through the introduction of moist heat and steam generated by microwave energy. A typical microwave treatment system consists of a treatment chamber into which microwave energy is directed from a microwave generator. Microwave units generally have higher capital costs than autoclaves, and can be batch or semi-continuous.

Chemical processes

Chemical processes use disinfectants, such as lime or peracetic acid, to treat waste. Alkaline digestion is a unique type of chemical process that uses heated alkali to digest tissues, pathological waste, anatomical parts, or animal carcasses in heated stainless steel tanks. Biological processes, like composting and vermicomposting, can also be used to degrade organic matter in healthcare waste such as kitchen/food waste and placenta.

Plasma gasification

Plasma gasification is an emerging and promising solution for medical waste management. A plasma gasifier is an oxygen-starved reactor that is operated at the very high temperatures which results in the breakdown of wastes into hydrogen, carbon monoxide, water etc. The main product of a plasma gasification plant is energy-rich syngas which can be converted into heat, electricity and liquids fuels. Inorganic components in medical wastes, like metals and glass, get converted into a glassy aggregate.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org.

Menace of Used Lead Acid Batteries

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Lead-acid batteries are used on a mass-scale in all parts of the world. Lead-acid batteries contain sulphuric acid and large amounts of lead. The acid is extremely corrosive and is also a good carrier for soluble lead and lead particulate. Lead is a highly toxic metal that produces a range of adverse health effects particularly in young children.

Recycling of Used Lead-Acid Batteries (ULABs) is a profitable business in developing countries. Many developing countries buy ULABs from industrialized countries (and Middle East) in bulk in order to extract lead. ULAB recycling occurs in almost every city in the developing world where ULAB recycling and smelting operations are often located in densely populated urban areas with hardly any pollution control and safety measures for workers.

Usually ULAB recycling operations release lead-contaminated waste into the environment and natural ecosystems.  More than 12 million people are affected by lead contamination from processing of Used Lead Acid Batteries in the developing world, with South America, South Asia and Africa being the most affected regions.

The problems associated with recycling of ULABs are well-documented and recognized by the industry and the Basel Convention Secretariat. As much of the informal ULAB recycling is small-scale and difficult to regulate or control, progress is possible only through cleanup, outreach, policy, and education.

For example, Blacksmith’s Lead Poisoning and Car Batteries Project is currently active in eight countries, including Senegal, the Dominican Republic, India, and the Philippines. The Project aims to end widespread lead poisoning from the improper recycling of ULABs, and consists of several different strategies and programs, with the most important priority being the health of children in the surrounding communities.

It is essential to stop the export of used lead-acid batteries to developing countries.

There is no effective means of tracking shipments of used lead-acid batteries from foreign exporters to recycling plants in developing world which makes it difficult to trace ULABs going to unauthorized or inadequate facilities.

An effective method to reduce the hazards posed by trans-boundary movements of ULABs is to encourage companies that generate used lead batteries to voluntarily stop exporting lead batteries to developing countries. These types of voluntary restrictions on transboundary shipments can help pressure companies involved in recycling lead batteries in developing to improve their environmental performance. It may also help encourage policy makers to close the gaps in both regulations and enforcement capacity.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

Syrian Refugees and Water Security

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Water scarcity is a stark reality in the Middle East, the world’s most scarce region. The region is home to 6.3 percent of world’s population but has access to only 1.4 percent of the world’s renewable fresh water.  In the Middle East, refugees from Syria have been resettled in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. Most of the Syrian refugees (more than half a million) have migrated to Jordan in search of safe shelters.

Large-scale influx of Syrian refugees has precipitated a water crisis in many areas which may worsen in the coming years unless the Syrian conflict is resolved. The water shortages are particularly serious in Jordan which is one of the dried countries worldwide and has very limited natural water resources at its disposal.

There have been several cases where refugees in Jordan have been forced to relocate to other countries due to endemic water shortages in overcrowded refugee camps, such as Zaa’tari and Azraq.

Countries like Jordan and Turkey, which hosts a vast majority of Syrian refugees, are experiencing tremendous strain on their limited natural resources such as water and land. As of now, there have been no serious reports of civil unrest against refugees in these countries but local people are becoming frustrated as they have to share meager water and agricultural resources with hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Some of the steps being taken to reduce water shortages include digging of new wells, water conservation awareness programs for refugees, development of wastewater treatment facilities and recycling of wastewater.  As most of the refugees have settled in the more water-rich region of Northern Jordan, the government and NGOs working in the region are trying to implement stronger conservation efforts.

The horrific humanitarian crisis being faced by Syrians leaves neighboring nations, like Jordan and Turkey, no other option except to allow refugees to come in. I think the responsibility for rehabilitation of Syrian refugees lies with world powers who have allowed the situation to deteriorate to the worst possible extent.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

Open Burning of Tyres: Impacts on Public Health

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Burning of tyres as a cheap source of energy is common in many developing countries, such as India.  While burning tyres does provide a cheap and efficient source of energy, the harmful effects of such burning far exceed the benefits.

Emissions from open tyre burning include “criteria” pollutants, such as particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also include “non-criteria” hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and metals such as cadmium, nickel, zinc, mercury, chromium, and vanadium.

Both criteria and non-criteria pollutants can cause significant short and long term health effects.  Depending on the length and degree of exposure, these health effects could include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, central nervous system depression, anxiety and cancer.  Dioxin is a highly toxic compound which may cause cancer and neurological damage, and disrupt reproductive systems, thyroid systems, respiratory systems etc.

Uncontrolled tyre burning has been proven to be 16 times more mutagenic, i.e capable of inducing genetic mutation, than traditional residential wood combustion in a fireplace, and 13,000 times more mutagenic than coal-fired utility emissions with good combustion efficiency and add-on controls.

Uncontrolled tyre burning is highly dangerous for public health and environment

Especially troubling is the exposure that children living within these communities are inadvertently being subjected to. Children, foetuses, nursing babies, elderly, asthmatics, and immune suppressed individuals are all much more vulnerable to the pollutants released burning tyres. Even a nursing woman can transfer the pollutions she inhales to a baby through the fat in her breast milk.  During breast-feeding, infants are exposed to higher concentrations of organic pollutants than at any subsequent time in their lives.

Saving money on fuel by burning tyres should not take precedence over public health. Unfortunately, in small villages and other underdeveloped areas where tyre burning kilns sustain much of the local economy, exposure to these toxins is inevitable with the current practices being employed. The need of the hour is to promote sustainable scrap tyre management systems such as pyrolysis and crumb rubber production.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

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