Reusable, Sugar-Based Polymer Purifies Water Fast

Clean water is essential, yet in certain parts of the world, it’s very difficult to obtain. Unfortunately, our limited water resources are being polluted by chemicals from industrial plants, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Adsorbant materials composed of carbon are often used to remove many of these organic pollutants. However, they act slowly, typically miss hydrophilic micropollutants, and can be difficult to reuse.

Scientists working on developing inexpensive materials that can purify water quickly have been working with an insoluble polymer called β-cyclodextrin (β-CD)—a big loop of linked sugar molecules. Recently, they’ve discovered a way to cross-link β-CD using aromatic groups forming a porous, cross-linked complex. The porous, cross-linked β-CD has an increased surface area that significantly speeds the removal of pollutants.

Source: Reusable, sugar-based polymer purifies water fast

Cyclodextrin is a well known material that basically traps materials in its interior core. It’s actually one of the main ingredients in Febreze because it can trap small odor causing materials and “deactivate” it which is why febreze works for odor elimination (as opposed to perfume based products which just cover it).

The unique science here is the cross-linking effect which solves some of the issues with cyclodextrin by making it bigger, less water soluble, bigger surface area, etc. It however still doesn’t solve some of the other issues with cyclodextrin, such as its general preference for hydrophilic materials (which is ok if its designed for water based systems), loading rates (one molecule of cyclodextrin can’t hold much), size limitations (has to fit inside the core which means big molecules are out, and etc other issues (there’s a reason cyclodextrin is not being used everywhere already).

Cool results but would like to see how it truly performs in a real use scenario with many more varied and complex pollutants. For example – antibacterial/parasite effects is in general more important than trace amounts of BPA for the regions/use they’re targeting. Most of the people who need clean water are much more worried about dysentery than they are about trace BPA…

If it’s cheaper than carbon, could this potentially something that could scale to an affordable whole-house water filter?

Stop Peeling Your Root Vegetables

I have a confession that would make my culinary school instructor (a mildly terrifying Frenchman from Corsica whom we called “Chef X”) get red in the face, shout, and pelt me with potatoes: I don’t always peel my vegetables. In fact, I rarely do. Carrots? Yeah, right. Beets? Absolutely not. Potatoes? I would never! Squash? Well, depending on the variety, I don’t even peel those babies, either. Not only is it much easier to skip that step, but the skin is where all the good stuff—i.e. fiber—is at.

Source: Nope, You Don’t Have to Peel Carrots, Beets, or Even Squash

If you’re concerned about pesticides, then you should peel your veggies.  But you’ll ingest the pesticides anyways – root vegetables would have absorbed them as part of growing and would have very little on the surface.  Given that synthetic pesticides are safer to consume than organic ones by virtue of being designed as such…you really have nothing to worry about.

Teen Contracts Hepatitis After Trying to Lose Weight With Green Tea

Here’s something to think about next time you get one of those “miracle green tea” emails in your inbox: doctors treating an unidentified British teenager say she contracted hepatitis and jaundice as a result of her attempts trying to lose weight by drinking diet green tea. And the scary thing is she’s not the only person to suffer this fate.

Source: Teen Contracts Hepatitis After Trying to Lose Weight With Green Tea

The tea is believed to be the vector, not the actual cause.  Additives and/or pesticides are believed to be the actual cause, due to overdosing on green tea.  Read the directions, when in doubt – ask.

I’ve been there, trying to offset the hunger or desire to eat for various reasons.  Rushing does not help, and incrementally making adjustments to your diet will allow you to adopt a new lifestyle easier.  There really aren’t shortcuts.

The Biggest Concerns About GMO Food Aren’t Really About GMOs

Everyone from Chipotle to the Food Babe rails against genetically modified ingredients, and laws to label GMO foods are making progress in some states. But the laser focus on GMOs is misguided, because most of the concerns people raise about them aren’t really about GMOs.

Source: The Biggest Concerns About GMO Food Aren’t Really About GMOs

Some people are using the term “GMO” as a proxy for a bunch of (sometimes) correlated agriculture practices that had nothing to do with whether the seeds were genetically modified with the modern methods or with older methods.

Study: Pesticides May Be Killing Off Your Sperm

Men who consume the pesticide residue found in many fruits and vegetables may have nearly 50 percent lower sperm count, according to a paper published in the journal Human Reproduction. The study, conducted by a team of Harvard researchers, is the first to examine the link between pesticide consumption and reproductive health.

Source: Pesticides May Be Killing Off Your Sperm

They didn’t actually address pesticides directly. They asked each man what he ate, then went to a USDA database to estimate their pesticide consumption based on what fruits and vegetables they ate Different fruits and vegetables have different amounts of pesticides residues. No specific pesticide was measured or estimated, just pesticide residue in general.

The men were also selected in a biased fashion, as they were all a part of couples seeking fertility treatment.  The observed sperm count was 50 % lower with men estimated to have consumed the most pesticides, so it was a pretty pronounced effect. This finding is consistent with other studies that showed that agricultural workers who work directly with pesticides have a lower sperm count.  However the study size was small (~150 men), and they did not actually measure pesticide exposure or pesticide metabolites.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Organic Based on the “Dirty Dozen” List

Switching to organic apples because they top the “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the most pesticides? You may want to reconsider. It turns out the “Dirty” foods are fairly clean, and organic foods aren’t free of pesticides anyway.

The “Dirty Dozen” list, which aims to rank the fruits with the most pesticide residue, comes from the Environmental Working Group, and they publish their methodology on the report’s website. They basically download the test results from the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, which samples produce for pesticide residues, and come up with a ranking score for each fruit or vegetable based on six criteria relating to the number of different pesticide residues seen on produce of that type, the percentage of samples with pesticide residues, and the total amount of pesticide detected.

Source: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Organic Based on the “Dirty Dozen” List

This isn’t a suggestion to avoid organic produce entirely – it’s to be more aware because you can’t always trust what the label tells you.

Is There A Limit To How Big Vegetables Can Grow?

The first thing to note is that giant vegetables truly are gigantic. Any amateur can grow a pumpkin bigger than himself, but today’s giant pumpkins are closer in size to a Volkswagen Beetle. “I remember back when I first started growing giants,” Stelts, who started competing in the nineteen-seventies alongside his dad, said. “Two hundred pounds was like, wow! But the lowest you’ll see at these contests today is a thousand pounds. Over a thousand means you’re serious.”

The British have traditionally excelled at giant-vegetable cultivation. They hold world records for the heaviest red cabbage, leek, cucumber, parsnip, and zucchini, as well as the longest beetroot. But the hobby is gaining popularity in the United States—the number of officially sanctioned weigh-offs has more than doubled in the past decade, going from twenty-two in 2004 to fifty-five in 2014.

Source: Growing the Great Pumpkin

But how does it taste?  You could get one of those giant squid, but it won’t make calamari…