Category Archives: News

10 kitchen dangers and how to avoid them

Who knew that slicing bagels was the fifth most treacherous task in the kitchen?

“Approach love and cooking with equal abandon,” advises the Dalai Lama, but emergency room doctors beg to differ. Although spending time in the kitchen can be magic for the soul, it can be brutal for the body. Most of us know we are supposed to handle razor-sharp knives and searing hot pans with care — but we persist in misusing them, not to mention all of the other dangers awaiting us in the kitchen. Consider the following:

1. Playing with fire

FEMA reports that cooking equipment, most often a range or stovetop, is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. The agency, which notes that the leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking, offers some tips for avoiding being a statistic:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners and oven clean.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

2. Contact burns from equipment

The oven is magic. No longer do we have to sear our food on an open fire like our ancestors did; we have a nifty box that keeps the heat contained and cooks our food to perfection. But all that heat combined with metal components and cookware leads to loads of burns. Quick tips (which are obvious, but good to keep in mind): Always use oven mitts, replace them when they’re old; don’t use a wet towel as an oven mitt; don’t reach your arm in to check baked goods, pull out the rack to test; don’t touch the stovetop; and stir simmering food with a wooden spoon, not a metal one, which will get hot.

3. Food burns

Some of the worst kitchen burns come from hot food, so avoid scalding yourself by following these rules:

  • Use back burners when possible, or turn pot and pan handles in towards the counter when on the stove so that they can’t be knocked into and over by a passerby.
  • Use a potholder when removing tops from cooking food to prevent the dreaded steam burn.
  • Take caution with hot foods in the blender; they have a tendency to explode and splatter.
  • Keep liquid away from hot oil; it will cause the oil to splatter.
  • It may sound obvious, but always take extreme care with super hot food; it’s dangerous. For example, burn doctors hate instant soup because so many children end up in the hospital with serious burns from the hot broth and noodles from tipped instant soup cups.
broken eggs on kitchen floorsTake the time to clean up spills as they happen. (Photo: wernimages/Shutterstock)
4. Spills lead to spillsWhen things are getting critical in the heat of preparing a meal, there’s the temptation to leave messes for cleaning up after the meal has been eaten. But spills on the floor should be tackled immediately, lest they cause you to take a spill. It may not be convenient, but prompt attention to messes, especially ones on the floor, is the best attack.

5. Watch your step

The cousin of slipping from spills is falling from trying to grab something on a high shelf. When going for something out of reach, use a sturdy step ladder; do not use the nearby wobbly stool, crate, box, office chair or any other surface that may lead to a loss of balance.

6. Clutter hurts

When it comes to pantries, cupboards and refrigerators: Don’t pack them too full. You need room to be able to rummage around, and anything too close to the front risks the chance of falling out onto the floor, potentially leading to broken glass and/or broken toes, not to mention wasted food and a big mess.

7. Know your knives

Of course, one of the great dangers in the kitchen are those blades of honed steel created to slice through produce and flesh: your kitchen knives. There are too many tips to list here; there are whole classes dedicated to knife safety. But with some basics in mind and a review of more comprehensive knife safety guidelines, you can lessen your risk of injuring yourself or ditching a digit. The National Food Service Management Institute has a good list, including these basic tips:

  • Always use sharp knives.
  • Do not hold food in your hand while you cut it.
  • Always cut on the cutting board. (Use a non-slip one, or place a damp dishtowel beneath it to prevent it from slipping.)
  • Always keep fingers on top of the blade in case it slips.
  • Keep knife handles free of grease or other slippery substances.
  • Keep knives away from the edge of the counter to lessen the chance of being knocked off.
  • Never try to catch a falling knife!
  • Wash knives immediately after use. Do not leave knives in a sink of soapy water where they cannot be seen. Keep the sharp edge of the knife away from you when washing.
Bonus tip: More than 7,000 people were injured by blenders in 2011; never put your hand in a blender.

chopping chili peppersDon’t touch your eyes (or any other body part) after touching hot chili peppers. (Photo: Odua Images/Shutterstock)

8. Feel the burn: Hot peppers

Humans have a strange love for spicy food, and in fact, we’re the only animal to find pleasure in the pain. But preparing raw hot chili peppers can provide a distinctly unpleasant and altogether different kind pain than you had in mind, especially if you touch your pepper-juice-delivering fingers to your eyes, nose, or, you know, any other sensitive parts. Long-lasting harm probably won’t occur, but the burn can be painful while it’s happening. When cutting hot peppers, either avoid actual contact with them or wear gloves.

9. Death to the pathogens

The most insidious of all dangers, perhaps, are the germs lurking in your food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. The top five culprits sending Americans to the hospital are salmonellanorovirusCampylobacter spp., Toxoplasma gondii and E.coli – but much can be done in terms of proper food handling, cooking and storage to help prevent these pathogens from causing illness.

10. Beware the bagel!

Americans eat an estimated 3 billion bagels at home each year, resulting in some 2,000 trips to the emergency room thanks to bagel-related injuries. By the logic at, that makes bagel-cutting the “fifth most dangerous activity in the American kitchen.” Slicing a bagel is no task for the faint of heart; their circular shape and dense texture lead to more sliced fingers than potatoes, pumpkins and cheese.

kitchen dangers – Source –

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Dust Monitoring Queensland coalmines

Up to four Queensland coalmines could be closed

Mines at Oakey and Moranbah may close

UP TO FOUR Queensland coalmines could be closed after they allegedly failed their dust monitoring obligations.

The allegations relate to Glencore’s Oaky North and Oaky No.1 in central Queensland, along with Anglo’s Moranbah North and Grosvenor.

State Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the underground mines had failed to meet their obligations during the second quarter of this year.

“I have been advised that the levels of non-compliance vary. However in my view, any failure to meet their safety and health obligation is not acceptable,” he said.

Source – The Morning Bulletin

Black lung disease: Tougher coal dust monitoring needed, new report finds

Tougher coal dust monitoring standards are needed in Australia to prevent the “unacceptable” spread of the deadly black lung disease, a new study has found.

In Queensland, there are seven cases of the disease, which was thought to have been eradicated three decades ago.

A clinical focus published on Monday in the Medical Journal of Australia recommended an industry-funded screening program for at-risk workers every three years and mandatory reporting of cases to a register.

Co-author of the report, Associate Professor Deborah Yates, said one tougher standard of exposure limit was also needed in Australia to help eradicate the disease.

Current coal dust exposure limits vary between states and show considerable variations of monitoring protocols between sites.

In Queensland, 3 milligrams of coal dust per metre cubed is allowed, whereas in New South Wales it is 2.5mg.

“And there have been calls nationally and internationally by occupational hygiene and medical experts to reduce that level to as low as one milligram per metre cubed,” Dr Yates said.

“It is unacceptable that any new cases of [pneumoconiosis] should be occurring in Australia in 2016.”

The report found NSW had probably been more stringent when it came to the regulation and implementation of screening.

Dr Yates, from Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, said there had been recent reports which suggested a potential decline in exposure control could be behind the resurgence.

Dr Yates said a study by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate found long-wall miners were exposed to equal amounts or greater than the coal dust exposure limit.

The article comes two months after a Senate committee called for a national coal dust exposure standardand an industry fund to cover medical costs.

Better ventilation, dust suppression needed

Steve Smyth from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) wanted independent monitoring.

He also said the cutting speed of machines needed to be slowed down as well as having better ventilation, water spraying and dust suppression.

“Workers being able to feel they can raise concerns around safety, and not be disciplined or action taken against them, which is occurring now,” he said.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the industry was shocked by the resurgence of the disease.

He said the first step was prevention and if there was non-compliance with dust levels it was appropriate the Mines Inspectorate act and enforce the regulations.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of mine workers,” Mr Roche said.

Source –

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

How Hearing Works

The Mechanics of the Ear: How Hearing Works


Having a basic understanding of how hearing works can make treating hearing loss a less stressful process. Look for a hearing care provider or audiologist who offers workshops, educational resources, or uses tools that provide the patient clarity and control over the quality of their care.

Below are the basic elements of how sounds are received and interpreted as hearing.

  • The outer ear collects sound waves and directs them into the external auditory canal.
  • The ear canal carries sound waves to the eardrum (tympanic membrane).
  • Sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate.
  • The bones in the middle ear (malleus, incus, and stapes) pick up vibrations from the  eardrum.
  • The bones in the middle ear amplify the sound and transmit it to the inner ear.
  • Vibrations pass through the oval window to the inner ear, setting the fluid inside the cochlea in motion.
  • Special nerve cells (hair cells within the cochlea) then turn the sound waves into electrical impulses.
  • The auditory nerve sends these electrical impulses to the brain’s central auditory cortex, where it is processed as sound.

Ringing in your Ears?

Are you hearing ringing, whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing sounds?
You may be suffering from tinnitus. (Pronounced: tin-NIGHT-us or TIN-it-us.)

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition characterized by persistent ringing in one or both ears which can only be heard by the affected individual. It has also been described as whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing in the ear.

These sounds may come and go; however, most experience symptoms 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The effects range from a slight annoyance to a severe disruption of everyday life. In fact, tinnitus is the number one complaint from United States Veterans and grows at 18 percent per year, and the American Tinnitus Association estimates that over 50 million Americans experience symptoms from tinnitus.

In many cases the distressing combination of tinnitus and hearing loss can be relieved with hearing aid technology. While worn, hearing aids can restore environmental sounds and help reduce the effects of tinnitus.

Other tinnitus treatment options are available through hearing care providers and audiologists including Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and Tinnitus Retraining Instruments (TRI).

TRT combines low-level, steady background noises played through a device with counseling. It “retrains” the way a patient hears, helping them ignore the symptoms of tinnitus. TRI’s may be used in conjunction with TRT when deemed appropriate. These instruments fit within the ear and produce a faint but audible sound that can alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus.

Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, many reputable hearing care providers and audiologists are experienced at providing individual solutions on a case-by-case basis. If ringing in your ears bothers you, please schedule an appointment with your provider to begin creating goals and solutions to improve your quality of life.

Hearing Loss – Source –

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Queensland mines top list of Australia’s biggest coal dust polluters

Seventeen of Australia’s 20 dustiest coal mines, including the entire top nine, were in Queensland, according to the federal government’s latest National Pollution Inventory.

The data, which covered emissions in the 2015-16 financial year, showed the Peak Downs mine was the biggest generator of airborne pollution, with 30,576 tonnes of PM 10 particulates (10 micrometres or less in diameter) entering the atmosphere near Moranbah.

The Blackwater mine (28,135 tonnes) was second, with another Moranbah mine – Goonyella Riverside – third with 22,336 tonnes.

Blackwater produced the most PM 2.5 particulates (2.5 micrometres or less in diameter) in Australia, with 480 tonnes, followed by Peak Downs (418 tonnes) and Saraji, near Dysart, with 403 tonnes.

Clean Air Queensland spokesman Michael Kane said the nine mines in the national top 10 accounted for 40 per cent of the state’s industrial air pollution and something had to be done.

“The level of air pollution caused by the coal industry in Queensland is unacceptable and continues virtually unregulated,” he said.

“The re-emergence of black lung in Queensland coal workers highlights the problems we are facing in holding the government and the coal industry accountable.”

Black lung disease, once thought to have been eradicated, has had a resurgence in Queensland, with the CFMEU blaming poor dust management at mine sites.

The resurgence has prompted a government inquiry, which has heard details of systemic failures in the management and diagnosis of the disease, more formally known as coal miner’s pneumoconiosis.

“It is not just miners being exposed to elevated concentrations of coal dust,” Mr Kane said.

“Communities throughout the Queensland are being exposed to undisclosed and unregulated fine particle pollution concentrations.

“In south-east Queensland alone we have a situation where 40,000 children are attending school within one kilometre of millions of tonnes of uncovered coal trains as they make their way to the Brisbane port.”

Mr Kane said there needed to be more stringent dust mitigation regimes to protect the public from coal dust.

“We don’t need another inquiry or study, we need action,” he said.

“I think it’s clear that communities are facing a similar situation to workers in regards to regulatory failure on air pollution. I am very concerned about the tens of thousands of Queenslanders who live near coal mines, stockpiles, coal ports and uncovered coal transports.

“(Environment) Minister (Steven) Miles needs to significantly expand the state’s air pollution monitoring network, improve community access to monitoring data, review the pollution licences held by coal mines and other major polluters, and demand best practice pollution controls such as covering coal wagons and stockpiles.”

Dr Miles was not available for comment, but a Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokeswoman said the NPI was not a measure of community exposure to pollutants.

“Many additional factors, including weather conditions and distance from emission sources, influence ambient air quality – the air-pollutant levels people are exposed to,” she said.

“In Queensland, ambient air quality is measured by the Queensland government’s statewide network of 28 fixed air-monitoring stations.”

The spokeswoman said “significant” air monitoring had been done around coal transport rail lines.

“Coal loads are covered with veneer prior to transport, a biodegradable substance that forms a crust on top of coal loads to prevent coal dust being blown off,” she said.

“Air monitoring has demonstrated that Queensland is meeting ambient air quality objectives adjacent to rail lines.”

The monitoring of mine sites themselves, the spokeswoman said, was performed by the mine operators.

“Air monitoring required under environmental authorities is designed to inform on off-site risks to air quality,” she said.

“It is not intended to address workplace health and safety issues such as black lung. Black lung disease is a workplace health and safety issue dealt with at a workplace level.”

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the overall figures were much less dramatic.

“Over the past two years, the NPI data has shown both national and Queensland emissions have been steadily reducing in both PM 2.5 and PM 10,” he said.

“Queensland has a rigorous and transparent system of compliance with dust monitoring levels and companies implement stringent measures to reduce emissions.

“The top priority is the health and safety of mine workers and the resources sector is committed to their protection.”

Coal Dust Polluters – Source – Sydney Morning Herald

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.


Lack of dust makes China’s air pollution much worse

air pollutionImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionStudies suggest that the deaths of 1.6 million people a year in China are linked to air quality

Airborne dust is normally seen as an environmental problem, but the lack of it is making air pollution over China considerably worse.

A new study suggests less dust means more solar radiation hits the land surface, which reduces wind speed.

That lack of wind in turn leads to an accumulation of air pollution over heavily populated parts of China.

The researchers found that reduced dust levels cause a 13% increase in human-made pollution in the region.

Sands from the Gobi

Hundreds of millions of people across China continue to be impacted by air pollution from factories and coal-fired power plants.

Studies suggest that the dirty air contributes to 1.6 million deaths a year, about 17% of all mortalities.

But this new research says that the human-induced pollution is being made worse or better by naturally occurring dust that blows in from the Gobi desert.

Using models to simulate 150 years of wind and dust patterns in the region, the researchers found that the dust deflects significant amounts of sunlight.

Without it, more heat from the Sun hits the land. Differences in the temperatures between land and sea cause the winds to blow. Without the dust, the land warms up more and that changes the temperature differential with the sea leading to weaker breezes – and more air pollution.

China dustImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption – Researchers say there’s a link between the amount of dust in the air and the levels of air pollution

“There are two dust sources. One is the Gobi and the other is the highlands of north-west China, but we found the Gobi had much more influence,” said lead author Yang Yang, from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State, US.

“Less dust in the atmosphere causes more solar radiation to reach the surface. It weakens the temperature difference between the land and the sea and impacts the circulation of the winds and causes a stagnation over eastern China and that causes an accumulation of air pollution.”

Small change, big impact

The decreases in dust emissions are considerable, varying by almost a third. The impact on winds speeds are quite small by comparison, a reduction of barely more than one-tenth of one mile per hour.

However, when this takes place on a large scale over a wide region, the small change in speed means a 13% increase in the amount of air pollution over eastern China during the winter.

Another study has recently shown a link between declining Arctic sea ice and a major air pollution event in China in 2013.

The authors of the new study believe that both theories could be true.

“Our study has the same mechanism: the weakening of winds causes more pollution, and what is behind this needs to be studied,” said Yang Yang.

“We have two views on this kind of weakening of wind. They found the sea ice, we found the dust-wind interaction can also lead to weakening of the wind. I think both of them are important.”

The researchers believe that the study may inform broader questions about how natural and human-created aerosols interact.

Many parts of the world, in addition to China, are now suffering from increased levels of air pollution and understanding how dust, winds and emissions work together may help limit some of the worst impacts of dirty air.

One of the key lessons from this study is that the absence of dusty conditions could mean the air you are breathing is worse for you, not better.

“You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” said Prof Lynn Russell from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

“Dust emissions can impair visibility, but they are not so harmful in terms of air quality,” she told BBC News.

“If it’s not a dusty year, you may be happy and spending more time outdoors because you don’t have this dust in the way, but you are actually going out to spend more time in more toxic air.”

The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Lack of dust makes China’s air pollution much worse – Source –

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Scientists make plastic from Christmas trees

Most current plastics are made from oil, which is unsustainable. However, scientists from the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) at the University of Bath have developed a renewable plastic from a chemical called pinene found in pine needles.

Pinene is the fragrant chemical from the terpene family that gives pine trees their distinctive “Christmas smell” and is a waste product from the paper industry.

The researchers hope the plastic could be used in a range of applications, including food packaging, plastic bags and even medical implants.

Making renewable plastics from trees

Degradable polyesters such as PLA (polylactic acid) are made from crops such as corn or sugar cane, but PLA can be mixed with a rubbery polymer called caprolactone to make it more flexible. Caprolactone is made from crude oil, and so the resulting plastic isn’t totally renewable.

The researchers publishing their results in the journal Polymer Chemistry, used pinene as the raw material to make a new type of plastic that can be used in the place of caprolactone.

Helena Quilter, PhD student at the CSCT, explained: “We’re not talking about recycling old Christmas trees into plastics, but rather using a waste product from industry that would otherwise be thrown away, and turning it into something useful.

“So if we can make a plastic from sustainable sources, it could make a big difference to the environment.”

Replacing fossil fuels

Professor Matthew Davidson, Director of the CSCT and Whorrod Professor of Sustainable Chemical Technologies, added: “This research is part of a wider project that looks at using bio-based chemicals like pinene as a sustainable starting material for making a range of useful products, in the place of petrochemicals. This reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and provides a renewable feedstock that has the potential to revolutionise the chemical industry.”

The project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is also investigating using other terpenes, such as limonene from citrus fruit, as a substitute for petrochemicals to make a range of products from plastics to pharmaceuticals.

The research is still at the early stages – only a few grams have been made so far—but the scientists aim to scale up the process to produce larger quantities in the near future.
Read more at:

How orange peel could replace crude oil in plastics

Orange juice, both delicious and nutritious, is enjoyed by millions of people across the world every day. However, new research indicates that it could have potential far beyond the breakfast table. The chemicals in orange peel could be used as new building blocks in products ranging from plastics to paracetamol – helping to break our reliance on crude oil.

Today’s society is totally reliant on the chemicals and materials that are obtained from our diminishing supply of fossil fuels. As such, there is an increasing global focus on the development of renewable chemical feedstocks from a variety of sustainable sources such as sugarcane and fatty acids in the production of biofuels. And the chemically rich essential oils contained within waste citrus peels are another such source that is being investigated with real zest.

This is promising, as the orange juice industry uses highly inefficient and wasteful juicing processes, with almost 50% of the fruit thrown away. This gives a real opportunity, then, to develop a sustainable supply of chemicals from the diverse and plentiful molecules locked within the peels.

Limonene – a versatile building block

Recent figures estimate around 20m tonnes of citrus is wasted each year. As some 95% of the oil extracted from these waste rinds is made up of limonene molecules, a colourless liquid hydrocarbon known as C10H16, this waste could yield around 125,000 tonnes of limonene a year.

Current extraction methods rely on distillation, passing steam through the waste solids and simply collecting the resulting oil. But recently, researchers at the University of York began investigating microwave extraction techniques as a greener alternative. The team simply placed orange peel and an organic solvent into a microwave and heated for 30 minutes. Within the peel, the water molecules start to boil, rupturing the cells and allowing the limonene to leach out. The results are favourable; the process is much faster, less energy intensive, produces a higher quality of limonene and in a yield twice as good as conventional methods.

But what is it that makes limonene so useful? As a simple hydrocarbon, it shares many similarities with the chemicals we obtain from fossil fuels, such as its liquid nature and boiling point. Therefore the technology we currently use on petrochemical feedstocks can be directly used on limonene to turn it into useful products. We can do this by exploiting limonene’s two carbon double bonds for a variety of chemical transformations.

Renewable plastics

How orange peel could replace crude oil in plastics
Limonene structural formula. Credit: Jü/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

Perhaps limonene’s greatest potential is as a building block for the polymer industry. Chemists are always looking for new ways to join molecules into long polymer chains so they can be used in a range of products, such as the polypropylene (a chain of propylene molecules) fibres that we use in carpets, or polyethylene (a chain of ethylene molecules) for making plastic bottles.

Back in 2006, scientists at Cornell University first showed the how fruitful this strategy could be. By reacting limonene oxide – a limonene molecule including an oxygen atom – with carbon dioxide in an alternating pattern, they could create polyesters, used in many woven or knitted fabrics. This groundbreaking work has been followed up in recent years through a variety of other polymer-forming reactions. This has included other forms of polyesters by replacing carbon dioxide with alternative building blocks.

Polyurethanes are a family of synthetic polymers that have found their ways into many of our homes from foam cushions to shoe soles. Currently the raw materials are obtained from fossil fuels, however limonene-based replacements have been recently identified. For instance, researchers in Germany have produced a family of new polyurethane-like plastics with limonene at the centre. The properties and hardness of these materials could be easily tuned to make a range of household products.

The development of limonene-based materials does not stop at everyday consumer products. Advanced optical materials have been recently been prepared by using limonene as a binder to make thin luminescent films.

The production of medicines from limonene may also one day be a reality. My team at the University of Bath is investigating the production of paracetamol using limonene’s carbon skeleton at its core. Through a series of chemical transformations combined with state-of-the-art engineering, we hope to turn waste orange peels into this widely used pain relief drug.

Hurdles to overcome

How orange peel could replace crude oil in plastics
A new player may be about to enter the market. Credit: Kumar’s Edit/Fickr, CC BY-SA

Limonene certainly has the potential to become an important component of a bio-based chemical industry. The field however is still in its infancy with no commercial limonene-based plastics on the marketplace. Issues that need to be addressed include a finding a reliable supply and greener processing – many of the above processes for manufacturing polymers using limonene still require petrochemicals as additives.

Limonene and its wider family (called terpenes) are only one piece of the renewable feedstocks puzzle. For example polylactic acid, a sustainable polymer derived from corn starch has been commercially available for the past decade primarily as disposable packaging. Other plastic building blocks have being sourced from plant materials such as Coca Cola’s PlantBottle technology. These alternative renewable sources can contain large amounts of oxygen atoms giving the resulting polymers different but complementary properties to limonene-based plastics.

The availability of limonene is also dictated by the weather in Florida and Brazil and by our desire to drink orange juice. Even if all of the currently available limonene from citrus waste was made into polymers it wouldn’t make a dent in global levels of plastic production.

However, if we could make the most of all the citrus that gets wasted, the amount of available limonene would increase. More efficient extraction methods will also boost availability as will advances in biotechnology. My team is also investigating how to modify bacteria to feed off municipal waste and excrete limonene as its only product. These sort of advances may be a way off but they are important first steps to breaking our dependence on crude oil – molecules such as limonene will no doubt be a bright part of our future.

Read more at:

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How the Lungs and Respiratory System Work

You usually don’t even notice it, but twelve to twenty times per minute, day after day, you breathe — thanks to your body’s respiratory system. Your lungsexpand and contract, supplying life-sustaining oxygen to your body and removing from it, a waste product called carbon dioxide.

The Act of Breathing

Breathing starts at the nose and mouth. You inhale air into your nose or mouth, and it travels down the back of your throat and into your windpipe, or trachea. Your trachea then divides into air passages called bronchial tubes.

For your lungs to perform their best, these airways need to be open during inhalation and exhalation and free from inflammation or swelling and excess or abnormal amounts of mucus.

The LungsAs the bronchial tubes pass through the lungs, they divide into smaller air passages called bronchioles. The bronchioles end in tiny balloon-like air sacs called alveoli. Your body has over 300 million alveoli.

The alveoli are surrounded by a mesh of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Here, oxygen from the inhaled air passes through the alveoli walls and into the blood.

After absorbing oxygen, the blood leaves the lungs and is carried to your heart. Your heart then pumps it through your body to provide oxygen to the cells of your tissues and organs.

As the cells use the oxygen, carbon dioxide is produced and absorbed into the blood. Your blood then carries the carbon dioxide back to your lungs, where it is removed from the body when you exhale.

The Diaphragm’s Role in Breathing

Inhalation and exhalation are the processes by which the body brings in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide. The breathing process is aided by a large dome-shaped muscle under the lungs called the diaphragm.

When you breathe in, the diaphragm contracts downward, creating a vacuum that causes a rush of fresh air into the lungs.

The opposite occurs with exhalation, where the diaphragm relaxes upwards, pushing on the lungs, allowing them to deflate.

Clearing the Air

The respiratory system has built-in methods to prevent harmful substances in the air from entering the lungs.

Respiratory SystemHairs in your nose help filter out large particles. Microscopic hairs, called cilia, are found along your air passages and move in a sweeping motion to keep the air passages clean. But if harmful substances, such as cigarette smoke, are inhaled, the cilia stop functioning properly, causing health problems like bronchitis.

Mucus produced by cells in the trachea and bronchial tubes keeps air passages moist and aids in stopping dust, bacteria and viruses, allergy-causing substances, and other substances from entering the lungs.

Impurities that do reach the deeper parts of the lungs can often be moved up via mucous and coughed out or swallowed.


Source – WebMD

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.


How To Use A Fire Extinguisher

Have a look at this tutorial and learn how to use a fire extinguisher…


fire extinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations. It is not intended for use on an out-of-control fire, such as one which has reached the ceiling, endangers the user (i.e., no escape route, smoke, explosion hazard, etc.), or otherwise requires the expertise of a fire department. Typically, a fire extinguisher consists of a hand-held cylindrical pressure vessel containing an agent which can be discharged to extinguish a fire. Fire extinguishers manufactured with non-cylindrical pressure vessels also exist, but are less common.

A stored-pressure fire extinguisher made by Oval Brand Fire Products

In the United States, fire extinguishers in all buildings other than houses are generally required to be serviced and inspected by a fire protection service company at least annually. Some jurisdictions require more frequent service for fire extinguishers. The servicer places a tag on the extinguisher to indicate the type of service performed (annual inspection, recharge, new fire extinguisher).

A British fire extinguisher with ID sign, call point and fire action sign

There are two main types of fire extinguishers: stored-pressure and cartridge-operated. In stored pressure units, the expellant is stored in the same chamber as the firefighting agent itself. Depending on the agent used, different propellants are used. With dry chemical extinguishers, nitrogen is typically used; water and foam extinguishers typically use air. Stored pressure fire extinguishers are the most common type. Cartridge-operated extinguishers contain the expellant gas in a separate cartridge that is punctured prior to discharge, exposing the propellant to the extinguishing agent. This type is not as common, used primarily in areas such as industrial facilities, where they receive higher-than-average use. They have the advantage of simple and prompt recharge, allowing an operator to discharge the extinguisher, recharge it, and return to the fire in a reasonable amount of time. Unlike stored pressure types, these extinguishers use compressed carbon dioxide instead of nitrogen, although nitrogen cartridges are used on low temperature (-60 rated) models. Cartridge operated extinguishers are available in dry chemical and dry powder types in the U.S. and in water, wetting agent, foam, dry chemical (classes ABC and B.C.), and dry powder (class D) types in the rest of the world.

Wheeled fire extinguisher and a sign inside a parking lot

Fire extinguishers are further divided into handheld and cart-mounted (also called wheeled extinguishers). Handheld extinguishers weigh from 0.5 to 14 kilograms (1.1 to 30.9 lb), and are hence, easily portable by hand. Cart-mounted units typically weigh more than 23 kilograms (51 lb). These wheeled models are most commonly found at construction sites, airport runways, heliports, as well as docks and marinas.

Source – Wikipedia

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

The most toxic town in USA,

Picher, Oklahoma: The most toxic town in USA, which was deliberately left to Nature

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The ghost town of Picher is located in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, United States of America. The town was founded in the days when the United States entered into World War I. Picher, situated at the middle of the Tri-State Mining District, an area covering more than 2500 square miles in southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma, became a leading national center of the lead and zinc mining industry.

In September 2009, the year after the town was struck by an EF4 rated tornado, the residents of Pitcher left the town. But the tornado wasn’t the main reason why this once thriving community became completely deserted, although it took eight lives and damaged 150 houses. The real problem was, and still is, the lead and other heavy metals in the drinking water and the soil. The Environmental Protection Agency of USA categorized the small town of Picher as the most toxic town in America.

The birth of Picher was in 1913, during the growth of the Tri-State mining district, when Harry Crawfish staked a claim to the lead and zinc ore at this location. A flourishing community started to grow literally overnight around the new mines and soon developed into a new town, which was incorporated as a municipality in March 1918. It was named Picher after O. S. Picher, the owner of Picher Lead Company.

The wartime demand for metal production was answered by the Tri-State district. During World War I more than fifty percent of the zinc and metal used in the war was produced by the Picher district, and during both World Wars combined, 75 percent of all the bullets and bombshells used by American soldiers were produced from metals mined in the region.  Before the discovering of zinc in the area around Picher, Germany had monopoly of the zinc industry, because they controlled the zinc mines in Belgium.

The population of Picher kept on growing, from 9000 inhabitants in 1920 to approximately 14,ooo at it’s peak population in 1926. The mines employed 14,000 miners plus another 4000 people working in mining services. Many workers came to work in Picher from the near towns, but also from as far away towns as Joplin, Missouri and Carthage. Production fell throughout the 1930s as the Great Depression swept the country meaning that many employees were laid off and people started to leave the town, but World War II brought Picher another boom.

By 1967 the mining came to an end and so water pumping from the mines ended. The contaminated water left behind in approximately 14000 abandoned mine shafts, 70 millions of mine crushed rocks and 36 million tons of mill sand and mud became a huge environmental problem. Many man-made mountains of mining waste, known as chat piles, formed of crushed limestone, dolomite and silica-laden sedimentary rock and about 300 feet high had accumulated after the years of extracting the metal ore.

The town in the 1970s had nearly 2000 inhabitants and the chat piles became an essential part of the town’s culture. People would go onto the chat piles for picnic and kids were biking on them. But, at the end of the 1970’s they started to realize that their health was in danger.  Pollution from heavy metals from the chat piles became apparent. Waters began running red and people started to get sick very often. The town slowly became hazardous.

It was also discovered that because of years of unregulated mining operations, numerous large tunnels had been carved under the town. Sinkholes started to appear as mines were abandoned leaving many of the town’s structures unstable. Officials realized that the safety of the inhabitants couldn’t be guaranteed. They determined that 86 percent of town’s structures were dangerously eroded and the town was at risk of collapse at any time.

Source – Abandoned Spaces

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Communities left to choke on legacy of bad mining practice

JOHANNESBURG – When Rose Plaatjies, 63, was moved to Riverlea Extension 1, Johannesburg, about 40 years ago by the apartheid government, she had no idea the deadly chemicals from mines in the area would make her terminally ill.

Plaatjies, who requires an oxygen machine for up to 16 hours a day to stay alive, is among thousands of Johannesburg residents who suffer from respiratory infections as a result of mining, according to a report released by the Bench Marks Foundation.

“The toxic dust is the truth. My lungs can’t help me to breathe any more. “Our children have eczema and eye problems and they are born with disorders,” Plaatjies told journalists this week. Plaatjies was speaking in Riverlea during the launch of the Bench Marks Foundation report titled Waiting to Inhale, focused on four mine-affected communities, Riverlea, Diepkloof, Meadowlands and Doornkop.

The report found that 56.1percent of Soweto residents had identified sinus, asthma and tuberculosis as their most persistent ailments, with 4percent saying they suffered from eye problems. David van Wyk, lead researcher for Bench Marks, the non-profit, faith-based organisation owned by the churches in South Africa, said the situation was dire due to acid mine drainage.

Van Wyk charged that acid mine drainage was the result of over a century of abusive mining practice which had become a real threat to the wellbeing of residents. “The government should stop putting poor people in an unsafe and unhealthy environment.” He said that acid mine drainage severely degraded water quality, killed aquatic life and made water virtually unusable. “Mining, by its very nature consumes, diverts and can seriously pollute water, air and soil resources.

“Negative impacts can vary from sedimentation caused by poorly built roads during exploration to the disturbance of water during mining construction.” The study said that Soweto was in a basin to the south and south-west of Johannesburg and was directly below the mines of the central rand – from Langlaagte and Crown Mines in the east through to Durban Roodepoort Deep and Doornkop in the west.

Riverlea Community Forum representative, Reece Rosenberg, believed that working with Bench Marks would help the affected communities find alternative ways to improve their living conditions. Rosenberg said the government had forced the health-hazard mining operation on the community. “We are covered with dust and we live with that on a daily basis. “Clinics cannot cope with the amount of people going there will all these illness.”

This year the Bench Mark Foundation marks 10 years of reporting on the impact of mining on near-mine communities on the platinum belt in the North West and Limpopo, the diamond fields along the west coast of South Africa, and the coal fields in Mpumalanga.

Communities left to choke on legacy of bad mining practice – Source – IOL

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