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Organic apple orchard floor maintenance techniques
Organic apple farming starts from the ground up. Maintaining a healthy orchard floor is the key to preventing weeds and keeping soil healthy. Researchers compared three methods of orchard floor maintenance; alfalfa hay mulch treatment, applied by hand in the spring and fall; a flame burning technique in which a propane burner was used to heat the weeds and the Swiss sandwich system, which leaves a strip of vegetation to grow in the tree row. (2009-09-04)

Catching grease to cut grill pollution
A team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students have designed a tray that when placed under the grates of a backyard grill reduces by 70 percent the level of a harmful pollutant produced during cooking. (2014-07-21)

Film found on windows after 9/11 reveals higher level of pollutants
Pollutant levels in lower Manhattan after Sept. 11 may have been higher than those reported by previous researchers, according to Canadian scientists. Six weeks after the World Trade Center attacks, window films within one kilometer of Ground Zero revealed high levels of PCBs, flame retardants and other organic pollutants. Concentrations of the chemicals were up to 10 times greater than New York City's normal background levels and possibly 100 times higher than surrounding rural areas. (2004-06-03)

Study: Flame retardant 'Firemaster 550' is an endocrine disruptor
The flame-retardant mixture known as (2012-10-24)

Reading Kafka improves learning, suggests UCSB psychology study
Reading a book by Franz Kafka -- or watching a film by director David Lynch -- could make you smarter. According to research by psychologists at UC Santa Barbara and the University of British Columbia, exposure to surrealism enhances the cognitive mechanisms that oversee implicit learning functions. (2009-09-15)

Flame retardants prove ineffective on fresh-cut Christmas trees
This Christmas season, think twice about spending money on a commercial flame retardant for your Christmas tree. The good, old-fashioned method -- keeping your tree in a container of fresh water -- is probably all you need to keep your tree green and healthy. Researchers have determined that some flame retardants don't work on cut Christmas trees; in fact, in several cases the chemical retardants sped up the drying process and made trees more flammable. (2008-12-12)

'Jammed Networks' may clear the way for better materials
Jammed networks may cause upheaval in phone systems, but among wispy carbon nanotubes or nanofibers, a similar phenomenon may greatly improve flammability resistance and, perhaps, other properties in polymers, report researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Pennsylvania. (2005-12-01)

Environmental pollutant has sex-skewing effect
Women exposed to high levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls -- a group of banned environmental pollutants) are less likely to give birth to male children. A study published today in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health found that among women from the San Francisco Bay Area, those exposed to higher levels of PCBs during the 50s and 60s, were significantly more likely to give birth to female children. (2008-07-15)

New PVC additives can make vinyl more fire-retardant without toxic heavy metals
One of the most widely used plastics in the world -- PVC -- could be on the verge of becoming more fire retardant and environmentally friendly. Organic chemist William H. Starnes, Ph.D., of the College of William and Mary will describe new, more benign additives at the upcoming 228th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, Aug. 22-26. (2004-08-23)

Technique controls nanoparticle size, makes large numbers
Pratim Biswas of Washington University in St. Louis conducts research on nanoparticles, which are the building blocks for nanotechnology. For the first time, Biswas has shown that he can independently control the size of the nanoparticles that he makes, keeping their other properties the same. He's also shown with his technique that the nanoparticles can be made in large quantities in scalable systems, opening up the possibility for more applications and different techniques. (2007-12-04)

Prototype NIST method detects and measures elusive hazards
A chemist at NIST has demonstrated a relatively simple, inexpensive method for detecting and measuring elusive hazards such as concealed explosives and toxins, invisible spoilage in food or pesticides distributed in soil by wind and rain. (2009-09-09)

Worldwide ban on flame retardants
The flame retardant HBCD may no longer be produced or used. This was decided by representatives from over 160 countries in late May at a UN conference on chemicals in Geneva. Empa's extensive research on HBCD, formerly used as a flame retardant for plastics, electronics and textiles, and especially for insulation panels in buildings, contributed to the new regulation of HBCD under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). (2013-08-26)

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