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Bizarre Mouthpiece Allegedly Turns Polluted Air into Clean, Mineral-Infused Air

Treepex is a portable barrel-like device that allegedly uses living tree cells compressed in replaceable cartridges to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, emulating a tree’s ability to transform polluted air into mineral-enriched air. It sounds like a game-changer for sure, but nobody knows if it actually works, plus, it looks kind of funny.

Developed by a Georgian, Tbilisi-based, startup with the same name, Treepex claims to provide a real solution to the world’s growing air pollution problem. Using a new technology called CRISPR, the company was apparently able “to extract the DNA of actual trees to recreate the living cells that are responsible for photosynthesis”, and compress them into cartridges that absorb polluted air and release clean fresh air for the user. All you have to do is plug a cartridge into the tubular Treepex, stick it into your mouth, and breathe.

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Real-Life Blue Dogs Spotted in India

A number of blue dogs have been spotted near Navi Mumbai’s Taloja industrial area, in India, and initial reports that untreated industrial waste dumped into the nearby Kasadi River may be to blame.

Remember Huckleberry Hound, the adorable cartoon character created by Hanna/Barbera? He was a blue dog, but no one seem to find that weird. Then again, he was only a fictional cartoon character, whereas the blue dogs of Navi Mumbai are very real, which makes their unusual color a lot more disturbing. Photos and videos of several canines whose fur had turned bright blue went viral all around the world a couple of days ago, leaving people scratching their heads as to whether they had been doctored. Unfortunately, the Navi Mumbai Animal Protection Cell soon confirmed that blue dogs actually exist in Mumbai, and are the cause of excessive pollution.

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This Uninhabited Tropical Island Has the World’s Highest Density of Plastic Pollution

One of the last things you would normally expect to find on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific is plastic, and yet the beaches of Henderson Island are riddled with nearly 40 million pieces of plastic, ranging from toothbrushes to shopping bags and bottles.

According to a recent report published in the in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” journal, Henderson Island currently has zero inhabitants and around 17 tonnes of plastic trash, with around 13,000 pieces washing up on its shores every single day. The tiny patch of land has been found by marine scientists to have the highest density of debris recorded anywhere in the world.

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Chinese Students Are Forced to Take Tests Outdoors in Thick Smog

A school principal in China’s Henan province was recently suspended for making young students take tests outdoors in smog so thick that they could barely see their papers, despite receiving orders to close the school.

On December 20th, 480 students from the No. 1 Middle School in Linqi town, Linzhou, were forced to take their tests on the school’s an outdoor football field, in heavy smog. Photos taken by concerned parents and later sent to local media outlets show the children struggling to make out the writing on their papers, but the principal apparently decided that the smog was not “severe”.

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These Floating Trashcans Could be the Answer to Cleaning Polluted Oceans

A couple of Australian surfers have come up with a creative solution to clean up polluted oceans – they’ve designed an automated trashcan that can suck up floating garbage, right from plastic bottles, to paper, oils, fuel, detergent and more.

Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, who spent their childhood around the ocean, said they were frustrated with the increasing amount of rubbish they encountered in the water. So they quit their jobs to design a prototype bin in Perth, with the help of seed investors Shark Mitigation Systems. Once ‘Seabin’ was ready, they introduced it in Mallorca, Spain, the marina capital of Europe. They’re now trying to raise more money through crowd funding for commercial production. The idea’s been very well received – they’ve already raised over $70,000 and a Seabin promo video has attracted over 10 million views.

So how does it work? Seabin, a cylinder made from recycled materials, is fixed to a dock with a water pump running on shore power. It floats upright with the open end level with the water’s surface. The pump creates a flow of water into the bin, sucking in all the floating rubbish into a natural fibre bag and then pumping clean water back out. “It essentially works as a similar concept to a skimmer box from your pool filter,” explained Richard Talmage, a spokesperson for ‘Seabin’. “But it’s designed on a scale to work and essentially attract all that rubbish within a location within a marine harbour.”

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Chinese Artist Vacuums Beijing’s Polluted Air, Creates Solid Brick from It

Have you ever imagined air so thick that you could literally vacuum the dirt out of it? Well, believe it or not, a Chinese artist has actually gone and done that in a bid to raise awareness about environmental protection. He used an industrial vacuum cleaner outdoors during smoggy days in Beijing and eventually made a brick out of all the dust he collected.

The man, who goes by the name ‘Brother Nut’, said he came up with the idea after he was shocked to read news reports about the quality of air in China’s capital city. So he started a 100-day ‘Dust Plan’, just to show people how dust is affecting their daily lives. He got a 1,000-watt vacuum cleaner that absorbed 100 grams of a mixture of “dust and smog” from the amount of air inhaled by about 62 people in four days.

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This Environment-Friendly Bathing Suit Cleans Polluted Water as You Swim

Thanks to this cool new two-piece bathing suit, cleaning up the world’s oceans might actually become the ‘in’ thing to do during the hot summer months!

The 3D-printed Sponge Suit bikini is made of flexible, carbon-based filler materials that function like a sponge, absorbing all sorts of pollutants from water. So you put it on, wade into the water, and end up cleaning the seas “one stroke at a time”. It’s supposed to be absolutely safe for the wearer. 

The sponge filler was invented by a group of engineers led by electrical engineering professor Mihri Ozkan. But instead of just dumping it into water, they wanted to find a fun way of getting people involved in the cleaning process and add an eco-friendly element to the leisure activity of swimming. So they enlisted the help of design firm Eray Carbajo to convert the material into a functional, wearable swimsuit that’s economically sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

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India’s Lake of Toxic Foam Is So Polluted It Sometimes Catches Fire

Despite its tropical climate, parts of Bangalore city in southern India have been experiencing what looks like snow. Except, it’s not actually snow, but a toxic foam from a severely polluted lake!

The 9,000-acre Bellandur lake is the largest one in the city, and also the most polluted. Decades’ worth of untreated chemical waste and sewage in the lake get churned into a white froth that’s as thick as shaving foam, every time it rains. This froth contains effluents like grease, oil, and detergents that sometimes catch fire, leading to one of the rarest sights in the world – a flaming lake.  

Many local residents are unnerved by the unnatural phenomenon. “Every time it rains and the water flows, the froth raises and navigating this stretch becomes risky,” said Visruth, who lives 30 meters away from the lake. “Due to the froth, visibility is reduced and the area also smells bad. Cars and bikes that pass this area get covered with froth.”

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Russia’s Lake Karachay – The Most Contaminated Place on Earth

Although breathtakingly beautiful, Russia’s Lake Karachay is probably the last place on earth you’d want to choose for a lakeside retreat. Just standing next to the picturesque shore for an hour would give you a radiation dose of 600 roentgen, more than enough to kill you. At its height, the lake was putting out more than 200,000 times the normal amount of radioactivity, due to poor waste disposal practices.

Nestled deep in Russia’s Ural Mountains, close to the modern Kazakhstan border, Lake Karachay falls within the Mayak Production Association, one of the country’s largest (and leakiest) nuclear facilities. Built in the 1940s, immediately after World War II, Mayak was one of Russia’s most important nuclear weapons factories and was inaccessible to foreigners for 45 years. But when President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree in 1992 that opened up the area, visiting scientists who gained access immediately declared it the most polluted area on the planet. It seems that in its long period of obscurity, Mayak was the site of numerous nuclear-related accidents, some almost as devastating as the Chernobyl meltdown.

Nuclear engineers at Mayak apparently dumped radioactive waste into the nearby Techa river quite regularly. The watered down waste that they discarded rather carelessly was a mixture of radioactive elements such as Strontium-90 and Cesium-137, each with a half-life of approximately 30 years.

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You Know China’s Smog Issue Is Serious When People Line Up to Sample Free Bags of Fresh Air

It’s no secret that China is one of the most polluted countries in the world. But things have gotten so bad that a few cities actually have free ‘fresh air stations’, stocked with individual bags of fresh air that users can breathe out of. These stations have become so popular that they are crowded with visitors lining up for just a whiff of fresh, clean air.

One of the stations is located in Zhengzhou city in central China’s Henan province. According to sources, Zhengzhou is one of the most polluted cities in China, with an AQI (Air Quality Index) of 158. In comparison, Bakersfield (the most polluted city of America) has an AQI of just 45. The air at Zhengzhou’s station is sourced from Laojun Mountain, a scenic spot in Luanchuan County consisting of 80 percent green land. Photographs show large crowds of locals waiting patiently at the station. When it’s their turn, a uniformed air hostess hooks them up to oxygen masks.

Feng Lin, a 75-year-old user, said: “The air is really good, but the time is too short. I had to stop too soon but it was really great until then.”

“I felt my baby move right when I breathed in,” said one pregnant woman. “I would love to walk in the mountain’s forests after my child is born.”

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Smog-Covered Hong Kong Installs Clear Skyline Banners for Vacation Photos

Hong Kong has one of the world’s most stunning skylines. The problem is it’s becoming barely visible behind the dense curtain of smog that has engulfed several of the city’s districts, and even harder to capture in vacation photos. Unable to fix the air pollution problem, tourism authorities have instead decided to install clear skyline banners where tourists can have their pictures taken.

This week, Hing Kong’s Air Pollution Index reached “very high” levels in Central and Western District, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, with very high concentrations of toxic ozone and nitrogen dioxide recorded by local monitoring stations. Apart from the obvious health-related issues, the heavy smoke covering the island city is also hurting the local tourism business. According to Chinese newspaper China Daily, the frequent air pollution has contributed greatly to the decline in tourist numbers, with a recent survey revealing a rise in “complaints focused on the environment at scenic spots” around China. After all, what good is a city’s magnificent skyline if you can barely see it? Luckily, Hong Kong authorities have come up with a novel solution to this problem – they installed a number of panoramic banners displaying a clear view of the city at various scenic spots. Here, people can take smog-free photos of the skyscraper-studded waterfront, to have as souvenirs.

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Florentine Artist Fights Pollution by Painting with Smog

If you’re ever in Florence, Italy, and see a grown man on a ladder wiping the dust off statues and building, don’t worry, it’s just Alessandro Ricci gathering material for his famous smog paintings.

40-year-old Ricci is not your average artist, and I don’t say that just because he used smog as the main medium of his artworks. Unlike other painters seeking fast recognition of their talent, he doesn’t really care about “being this big artist”. Instead he is more concerned about bringing attention to how much smog there really is in his home town and how it’s destroying both its monuments and people. Although he did take a couple of art classes a few years back, he is mainly self-taught, doesn’t work in a studio, donates most of his work, and refuses to play by the rules of the Florentine Art Gallery, which he considers corrupt. Alessandro Ricci believes selling his smog paintings  would not only compromise his principles, but also contradict the very thing he’s trying to do – raise awareness about smog pollution in this great Italian city.

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The Trash Temple of Rotterdam

Judging by the amount of trash we generate every day, it’s no wonder people are beginning to build structures using it.

100 tons of PET bottles, pressed into bales, were used to create the Temple of Trash, presented at the 2007 Follydock Festival, in Rotterdam. The idea behind this project by Salzig Design is future generations might actually end up believing human kind worships the trash it produces and dumps into landfills.

The Temple of Trash was a temporary installation, but, although it’s not standing anymore, it can still be admired on the official site of Salzig Design

via Treehugger

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