The Radioactive Lake Karachay Is The World's Most Polluted Place
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A picturesque lake has been the inspiration of plenty of family vacations and weekend getaways. Just imagine it: nature, serenity, and peace. Oh, and radiation. Lots and lots of radiation. Enough radiation to kill you within a few hours of exposure. That's if you were ill-informed enough to plan a trip to Lake Karachay, anyway. This Russian lake is considered the most polluted place on the planet. And, no, it is definitely not a place you should have on your travel wish list.
Key Facts to Know
93% of all humans who have ever lived are dead today. 0:03
You wouldn't just burn if you fell into molten lava, you would turn into an explosive mini eruption. 3:04
Lake Karachay in Russia was named the most polluted spot on Earth. 6:07
ByFusion Turns Pollution Into Eco-Friendly Construction
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In 2014, scientists estimated that there were 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Though many organizations are regularly investing time and energy into cleaning up the plastic on their shorelines and waterways, it has been a challenge to figure out what to do with all that trash. Recycling is one solution, but that often produces more plastic goods that can be discarded, only to end up right back in the ocean again. To solve that problem, the company ByFusion has created technology to recycle all that plastic into durable construction blocks. When the trash is used for something as permanent as construction materials, it's less likely to come back to pollute the oceans again. The machinery to create the blocks is self-contained and easy to transport, and can be programmed to create blocks of customized shapes and densities. The blocks are also a good building material: plastic makes for great acoustic and thermal insulation. And unlike your neighborhood recycling pickup, ByFusion doesn't discriminate: no matter the type, if it's plastic, they can use it. Explore the issues of plastic pollution in the videos below.
How Some Air Purifiers Actually Pollute The Air
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It seems obvious that people buy household air purifiers to purify the air, whether in order to remove odors or ease allergies and asthma. In fact, a good number of air purifiers actually do the opposite: they pollute the air with ozone. Though you may have heard of ozone as a good thing, that always depends on whether it's high up in the ozone layer or down in the air you breathe. The EPA coined the phrase "good up high, bad nearby" to define which is which: in the upper atmosphere, ozone helps protect the planet from UV radiation; in the atmosphere that surrounds us, it can cause irritation and inflammation in the lining of your respiratory system. Elevated or repeated exposure can cause permanent lung damage and even death, leading the state of California to ban ozone-producing air purifiers from the market. But why do these devices produce ozone in the first place? Manufacturers claim that because ozone is a highly reactive molecule, it easily neutralizes contaminants in the air and leaves only oxygen, water, and carbon dioxide behind. The science shows that the byproducts of these chemical reactions are not always so harmless, sometimes producing toxic chemicals such as aldehydes and formic acid. Even when they don't produce toxic chemicals, the reactions can take months or years, not minutes. Beyond that, research shows that ozone is ineffective at cleaning the air when it's at levels that don't harm human health. So what's a consumer to do for fresh, clean air? Consumer Reports suggests you stay away from air purifiers that use electrostatic or ozone-generating technology, and go for devices that rely on HEPA filters instead. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.
The Smog Free Tower Helps Turn Smog Into Jewelry
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Not only is Rotterdam's Smog Free Tower the "largest smog vacuum cleaner in the world," it's also a jewelry manufacturer. Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde created this tower after a 2014 trip to Beijing left him shocked by the amount of air pollution he saw. Roosegaarde designed a seven-meter-tall tower that can clean around 30,000 cubic meters of air every hour. It does so by running on just 1,400 watts of power, which is no more than a tea kettle requires. Besides creating pockets of air that are 75% cleaner than they were initially, the tower collects smog that is later turned into jewelry. Roosegaarde's team takes the smog and compresses it for 30 minutes before sealing it within a resin cube that can be worn as a ring or cufflinks. The first 1,000 sold out quickly due to high demand. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.
Paris Is Going "Car-Free" Once A Month To Tackle Air Pollution
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Major world cities are facing serious pollution issues, because with more people almost always comes more pollution. The "Paris Breathes" campaign is looking to reverse some of the air pollution caused by its high volume of cars by instituting one car-free day a month in many neighborhoods. The campaign launched in May 2016 after a very successful test run on September 27, 2015. On that day, there was a 40% drop in nitrogen dioxide levels in some parts of Paris. As part of the campaign, more than a dozen sections of the city go car-free the first Sunday of every month. Certain zones will be car-free for specific periods of time, ranging from four to 10 hours on those days. A few of the neighborhoods will only go car-free once a month for the summer months. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo hopes the campaign will significantly decrease the air pollution and smog in the city. These first Sundays also coincide with free admission days to the city's national museums. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.