New Water Purifier Made Of Paper Could Bring Clean Water to Parched Areas

By Amanda Froelich

Using nothing more than paper and water, scientists have found a way to sanitize water at record-breaking rates. The process is similar to a technique described by the Greek philosopher Aristotle over 2,000 years ago.


The researchers developed a method for using sunlight to generate green energy with near-perfect efficiency. How? By draping black, carbon-dipped paper in a triangular shape. As GoodNewsNetwork reports, the bottom edge of the paper hangs in a pool of water. As it soaks up fluid, the carbon coating absorbs solar energy and transforms it into heat for evaporation.


“Our technique is able to produce drinking water at a faster pace than is theoretically calculated under natural sunlight,” said lead researcher Qiaoqiang Gan, associate professor of electrical engineering in the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.


“Usually, when solar energy is used to evaporate water, some of the energy is wasted as heat is lost to the surrounding environment. This makes the process less than 100% efficient. Our system has a way of drawing heat in from the surrounding environment, allowing us to achieve near-perfect efficiency,” Gan added.


Because the technology is low-cost, the team believes it could help provide drinking water in drought-stricken regions, or where natural disasters have struck.


Rather than wait for the technology to be funded, Gan and colleagues founded the startup Sunny Clean Water. After gaining support from the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research Program, the company started integrating the new evaporation system into a prototype of a solar still (sun-powered water purifier).


The project is genius, no doubt. There’s just one big problem: even the latest solar still models are inefficient at vaporizing water. To counter this, Gan’s team cooled down their own evaporation system, thereby improving its efficiency.


According to Gan, the paper’s sloped triangular shape keeps it cool by weakening the intensity of the sunlight illuminating it. And because the carbon-coated paper stays under room temperature, it can draw heat in from the surrounding area. This step compensates for the usual loss of solar energy that takes place during the vaporization process.


With this set-up, the researchers were able to evaporate the equivalent of 2.2 liters of water per hour for every square meter of area lit up by the regular sun. That’s higher than the theoretical upper limit of 1.68 liters.


“Most groups working on solar evaporation technologies are trying to develop advanced materials, such as metallic plasmonic and carbon-based nanomaterials,” Gan says. “We focused on using extremely low-cost materials and were still able to realize record-breaking performance,” said Gan.


“Importantly, this is the only example I know of where the thermal efficiency of the solar evaporation process is 100 percent when you consider solar energy input. By developing a technique where the vapor is below ambient temperature, we create new research possibilities for exploring alternatives to high-temperature steam generation.”

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9 places you shouldn’t forget to clean

Paying attention to these details will take your house from looking clean to feeling spotless.

Details matter so much. Think of a house that looks clean, but doesn’t really feel clean. It’s because of those grit-filled corners that were missed by a broom, the greasy kid fingerprints on a glass door, or the gunk that accumulates around the drain. Paying attention to these small details can transform your house from tidy to spotless, and make a big different to your mental state.

So, the next time you’re cleaning, take note of the following often-overlooked spots. Make sure they’re scrubbed and dusted, then enjoy the sense of total spotlessness that ensues… until the next cleaning day, of course.

Door knobs and drawer pulls: These get handled multiple times a day, and yet get wiped down much less than, say, a countertop or table. Be sure to give these a spray with vinegar and water, then wipe aggressively with a cloth.

Stair bannister: Once, I wiped down the stair bannister and my cloth came away black. I realized in horror that this was something I should clean more often. Give it a spray with natural cleaner and wipe thoroughly with a cloth.

Curtains: Curtains collect dust over time, both from within the house and by blowing through an open window. Depend on their weight, vacuum with a fabric attachment or toss in the laundry for an annual refresh. Same goes for shower curtains; always buy fabric ones to avoid the off gassing from plastic, and launder occasionally. Always let it dry outside the tub/shower after use to avoid mold growth.

Lamp shades: Run your finger along a lamp shade and you might be shocked at the line that’s left. Whether it’s a fabric shade or a wall fixture, these require regular dusting with a dry cloth.

Around the trash can: This is a nasty area that deserves regular attention. Food bits might miss the trash, especially when kids are doing the dishes, so be sure to pull out the bin, vacuum and wash all around, and deodorize with baking soda if needed. Wash and air out the trash can in the sunshine whenever possible.

Ceiling fans: You don’t see the upper surface of fan blades, so these are easy to forget. Over time they pick up cooking grease (if in the kitchen) and dust, then spray it all over when turned out. Give fan blades a good wipe-down with mild detergent.

Under the sinks: What is it about under-sink cabinets that makes them such dirty junk traps? A cleaning professional once told me this is the place she tackles first, and she’s right that it makes a big difference. Clean out the sub-kitchen and bathroom sink areas, creating space and collecting loose stuff in boxes and caddies.

Artwork & display surfaces: When a framed painting or photo gleams on the wall, it looks wonderful. Be sure to dust these regularly, especially on the top surface and the front glass. Wipe down any display surfaces and items sitting on them.

Your cleaning equipment: People often forget to clean the very tools that they’re using to clean. Make it a habit to toss rags and mop heads in the wash after every cleaning session, otherwise you might end up spreading old dirt and bacteria around as you go.

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Do you know how to clean a mattress?

We spend a third of our lives in bed, which means you’re sleeping on a heap of sweat, hair, and dust. Time to get cleaning!

You’re probably used to changing the sheets on your bed every week or two, but how often do you remember to clean the actual mattress? Melissa Maker, the expert at Clean My Space, reports that the average person sweats a half-pint of perspiration every night, which means a whole lot of undesirable liquid entering the sleep surface where you spend one-third of your life.

Ready for some spring-cleaning? Here is a step-by-step process for scouring that mattress and making it as good as new.

1. Vacuum: Strip off the bedding and mattress protector and vacuum thoroughly using a clean upholstery attachment. This removes dead skin cells, hair, dust, and other debris.

2. Deodorize: Sift baking soda over the mattress and let sit for 30 minutes. You can mix in 5 drops of essential oil before sifting if you want a nice scent that will linger for a few nights. Vacuum to remove the baking soda.

3. Remove spots and stains: It’s best to tackle stains when they’re fresh, but if you haven’t, don’t despair! Most stains found on mattresses are protein stains, such as blood, urine, vomit, and other bodily fluids. These will set in hot water, so be sure to use cold water when cleaning. Use a stain-removing mixture (Maker recommends a paste of salt, baking soda, and water). Apply and leave for 30 minutes, then blot with a cool wet cloth. Press, don’t rub. If the stain is very stubborn, you can try Maker’s extra-tough stain remover — 2 parts hydrogen peroxide, 1 part dish soap. Rub it in with a cleaning toothbrush and leave 5 minutes.

For old urine stains, Housewife How-Tos recommends: “If the stain persists, wait until the area is dry then whisk together 3 tablespoons dry laundry detergent powder (NOT Oxiclean or anything containing oxygenated bleach) and 1 tablespoon water to make a dry foam. Lightly spread this on the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes.”


Avoid water. Mattresses and water do not mix well, which is why Maker does not recommend a steamer or deep cleaner, unless done by a professional. Moisture is especially terrible for a memory foam mattress, which can trap the liquid in the cell structure. “Be stingy with water and blot like a madman or woman.”

Turn and/or flip your mattress regularly. The usual recommendation is to do it four times a year, with the turn of each season.

Air it out. When you change your sheets, leave them off for the day. If you can get it outside into the backyard, do that. Let some fresh air and sunshine get at that mattress.

Use a protector. This is a no-brainer because it makes your job incredibly easy. Launder when you wash your sheets, or at the very least, whenever you flip your mattress.

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Want to take a road trip to clean up our waterways?

You don’t always smell fresh after a road trip. So it’s fair to say that a 2 month long road trip—focused specifically on picking trash out of streams, rivers, lakes and oceans— might present, shall we say, a hygienic challenge. But it also sounds like a whole lot of fun. As I mentioned before, outdoor clothing retailer United By Blue [UBB] has already removed over 1,000,000 lbs of trash from US waterways, and they are aiming to add 500,000 lbs to that number in the coming year alone.

One of the main ways they are going to do that is with an epic road trip, hitting up the 23 states that they’ve yet to host a clean up in—working with local conservation charities and outdoor retail outlets to mobilize an army of volunteers and engage folks in taking care of the health of our waterways.

And you could join the crew. Specifically, UBB are looking for two energetic, idealistic and organized people to join their clean up road crew for the summer. (Applications due by April 19th.)

Now, whether it’s my original post about UBB, or a 20,000 strong clean up in Bali, write ups about litter picking inevitably attract criticism about end-of-pipe solutions, and addressing the symptoms not the causes. But I’m not so sure that’s fair. Alongside their clean up efforts, UBB are extremely diligent about both plastic-free packaging and using responsible, often recycled, fibers.

Yes, a summer clean up road trip isn’t going to rid us of the plastic scourge. But it is an effective and fun way for people to engage directly with the impact of our plastic habits, and I’m increasingly seeing clean up efforts (like the excellent #2MinuteBeachClean) also standing on the forefront of advocacy and protest too.

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5 reasons to spring clean like a Swede

Minimalist blogger Jenny Mustard points out the life-enhancing benefits that come from scouring and freshening your home.

If anyone knows a thing or two about spring cleaning, it’s the Swedes. They put up with months of darkness and minimal sunshine, so by the time the days lengthen and the air warms, they are ready to fling open those windows, shake out the rugs, and spruce up their dwellings in celebration of spring.

Minimalist blogger and YouTuber Jenny Mustard, who is originally from Sweden but now resides in Berlin, recently posted a video on how spring-cleaning like a Swede can improve your life. Illustrated by images of her gorgeous stark white apartment, you’ll want to grab a garbage bag and a few gallons of paint after watching this.

Mustard (who probably doesn’t have little hooligans running around the house like I do) urges you to spring-clean for the following reasons:

1. It’s a clean slate. Think of it like New Year’s Eve 2.0. We’re a few months into the new year, but you can still start over with a tidy, organized space. Give yourself a boost and turn your living space into a literal version of that clean slate. It will prepare you for the season’s changes and developments.

2. Your home is an extension of who you are. And if you’re not happy about what your home is saying about you, then change it to reflect who you want to be. This is an interesting concept. Mustard asks, “What does that ideal person’s home look like?” Chances are, we all want to have some degree of organizational skill, decorating talent, and cleanliness, and it’s easier to be that person if our homes already play the part.

3. It helps maintain focus. “A clean space is relaxing and helpful at making us more creatively focused.” Need anything more be said?

4. It will save you time. Yes, cleaning and organizing takes time, but think how much more time you’ll save in the long run once your space is organized. It’s easier to cook in a neat kitchen, easier to get dressed with an organized closet, quicker to pay bills using carefully-filed paperwork.

5. It offers happiness. Mustard urges you to think of the feeling of deep contentment that comes from walking around a perfectly organized home on a Friday evening, with sunshine streaming in the windows and a fridge full of food. You’ll have a huge smile on your face, guaranteed, and you’ll be thinking, “I made this happen. This is my place.”

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The cost of clean-up: Oil spill responders in the Gulf of Mexico exposed to chemical dispersants now have health issues

Image: The cost of clean-up: Oil spill responders in the Gulf of Mexico exposed to chemical dispersants now have health issues

(Natural News)
Cleaning up oil spills is always a dirty and dangerous job, but a new study revealed its hidden health cost. According to Environmental Health Perspectives, two of the chemical dispersants used to clear up the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 have been linked to numerous health problems reported by oil spill response crews after the event.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH) study looked at the link between potential exposure to Corexit dispersants used during the clean-up and health complaints by oil spill workers.

This is the first study to distinguish the potential health effects of dispersants from those of crude oil exposure. Previous studies lumped them all together.

Furthermore, existing research on chemical dispersants focused on their effect on marine species instead of humans.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the biggest disaster of its kind in U.S. history. Cleaning it up required around 1.8 million gallons of Corexit dispersants, as well as other oil spill mitigation techniques.

Oil dispersants reduce the surface tension that prevents oil and water from mixing together. Their surfactant action allows large oil slicks to be broken down into much smaller groups that can be scattered by wind and wave action.

These chemicals first saw use in the 1960s. But even the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 did not require the massive amount of dispersants employed during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“It is important to understand the potential toxicity of any chemical released in such large volumes to which workers or the public may be exposed,” explained environmental toxicologist Bernard Goldstein, who studied the potential ill effects of chemical dispersants on human health.

Workers exposed to chemical dispersants reported more symptoms

The NIH study conducted a telephone survey of at least 27,659 workers from 2011 to 2013. The participants belonged to an active study of long-term health outcomes for Deepwater Horizon clean-up crews.

Participants were quizzed about health symptoms they experienced during and after the clean-up. If they worked directly with Corexit products, worked on a ship that deployed the chemicals, or worked with related equipment for more than half the time, they were classified as “exposed to dispersants.”

Researchers also factored in time, work location, and estimated co-exposures to crude oil and other chemical decontaminants. (Related: Severe “ecological injury” has already been caused by the Sanchi oil spill, which is now threatening reefs, protected marine areas and the fishing industry.)

According to the researchers, workers with potential exposures to chemical dispersants showed higher likelihood of reporting negative symptoms during the clean-up. They found a weaker link between potential chemical exposure and symptoms that took place months after the event.

“It was reassuring that many of those who reported symptoms during the spill no longer had them one to three years later,” remarked Dale Sandler, the leader of the NIH research team.

“We were surprised to see that some of the workers who were exposed to oil dispersants and did not report having symptoms while they were working on the cleanup reported having them when they enrolled in the study,” she added.

According to Sandler, this result could be attributed to people being more able to report accurately on what they are currently feeling compared to recalling what they experienced in the past. She also theorized that part of the link between dispersant exposure and current symptoms can be traced to people over-reporting their symptoms.

Furthermore, she said that the effect of the symptoms on long-term health are still unknown.

“We do not yet know whether exposures during the oil spill will be associated with clinical disease down the road,” she noted.

Keep abreast on oil pollution-related news at

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Motives and funding of a Clean Label Project lab study that condemns over 100 protein powders now called into question

Image: Motives and funding of a Clean Label Project lab study that condemns over 100 protein powders now called into question

(Natural News)
A recent study released by the Clean Label Project condemning more than a hundred protein powders might be alarming on the surface, but a closer look at the report is leaving experts with a lot more questions than answers.

In the study, the group looked at 134 of the top-selling protein powders and found that many plant-based options contain higher levels of heavy metals as well as other toxins. According to their findings, 75 percent of the plant-based proteins they studied had “measurable” levels of lead, and they claim the plant-based powders had roughly twice the amount of lead as other products on average. In addition, they reported the presence of arsenic, mercury and cadmium. In contrast, only 10 percent of whey proteins had lead, while none of the egg-based proteins did.

However, the group has not been forthcoming in providing the raw data from its study, such as the actual ppb of the elements they allegedly found, so it’s hard for scientists and other experts to make conclusions. They’ve also failed to share their methodology, making it hard to replicate their findings, and their report was not peer-reviewed.

“The Clean Label Project is practicing dishonest ‘black box’ science that is grossly misleading consumers and falsely condemning protein powders which are very clean,” stated Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, lab science director of a leading analytical food science lab ( and author of the No. 1 bestselling science book Food Forensics. “The claim that elements are ‘measurable’ is quack science nonsense. All foods contain measurable levels of lead if your instrument is sensitive enough. What counts isn’t whether elements are ‘measurable” but the actual concentrations,” Adams explained. “When conducting tests via ICP-MS, raw concentration numbers in parts per billion are readily available to the science lab, yet the Clean Label Project is deliberately withholding these data from the public while gaining publicity and donations by spreading a false scare story that would be readily contradicted by those data if they were released,” Adams warned.

He also stated that he’s authoring an upcoming article on that will expose the “science deception” of the Clean Label Project, and what he calls, “a sloppy food smear science con” being perpetrated by the Clean Label Project. (Adams is the pioneering food scientist who first sounded the alarm on heavy metals in rice protein nearly five years ago. In doing so, he publicly released the raw ppb concentration numbers of toxic elements found in various protein powder brands, which have since been reformulated thanks to an industry agreement negotiated by Adams with protein powder manufacturers.)

Even more suspiciously, the group has refused to reveal its sources of funding for this particular study, so questions are inevitably arising about who stands to gain from painting plant-based proteins in such a negative light. After all, the egg- and dairy-based protein powders fared far better in the study, and it’s precisely these industries that have been taking a hit in recent years as consumers gravitate toward plant-based options.

Searches for “plant-based” items at online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart tripled between March 2016 and July 2017. Is it just a coincidence that this shady study has suddenly emerged to strike panic in people’s minds?

Trace amounts of some heavy metals occur naturally in soil

The Natural Products Association (NPA) has sent a cease and desist letter to the group to keep them from circulating the questionable report. The NPA’s executive director said their use of the term “detectable levels” was an attempt to make their findings appear “scandalous and salacious.” He added that their statements are defamatory.

It’s important for consumers to keep in mind that “detectable” levels of contaminants aren’t necessarily dangerous. The Council for Responsible Nutrition’s Dr. Andrea Wong said that it’s not at all surprising to find certain naturally-occurring compounds in plant-based proteins because plants naturally absorb the minerals from the soil where they grow. Because the group is refusing to release its raw data, no one can say for sure whether the levels they found are dangerous or not.

Dr. Wong added that she’d like the group to explain its apparently “subjective” star rating system. They used a scale of one to five to assess the brands studied. One brand, Vega, scored well on three out of four measures, including nutritional completeness, but was nevertheless given a one-star rating.

Consumers are understandably wary of the chemicals found in their foods. In recent years, reputable labs like CWC Labs have been very transparent in sharing their findings regarding dangerous levels of heavy metals and other toxins in foods and supplements. Those who use protein powders tend to be more concerned about their health than the general population, so it’s only natural that this body of consumers would want to ensure they aren’t putting anything toxic into their bodies.

However, this appears to be little more than a scare tactic to help dairy- and egg-based proteins recoup some of the ground they’ve lost to their plant-based counterparts in recent years. The huge lack of transparency here makes their findings essentially worthless.

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Irish border mess shows why a ‘clean UK break’ is impossible

Anti-Brexit protest


The Battle of the Boyne may have taken place in 1690, but it has cast a long shadow across both Great Britain and Ireland. Now, 328 years later, it threatens to scupper English dreams of leaving the EU.

I think I can tell you the exact moment Brexit died. It was June 26, 2017: the day the British Conservatives made a pathetic little deal with Ulster’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to stay in power.

The very moment Theresa May shook hands with Arlene Foster in Downing Street, ‘Little Englanders’ dreams were dashed. And, barring a few exceptions, none of them fully understood the stupidity of the Prime Minister’s actions at the time. And, over eight months later, very few even get it now.

Because the DUP defy all modern, Western, political logic. They are a party supported by people willing to sacrifice their own economic and social self-interests in order to maintain a status quo that impoverishes them and leaves their region divided, backward and in terminal decline. And all because of a conflict their forefathers won in 1690: known as the “Battle of the Boyne.”

Back then, forces led by Dutch King William of Orange and his German sidekick Frederick Schomberg defeated the armies of the English King James and Irish military leader Richard Talbott in the County Meath townland of Oldbridge. The outcome was a victory for Protestantism over Catholicism, and it also meant James would be the last English monarch with an allegiance to Rome.

A Giant Hangover

And, while the rest of Ireland (and Britain) has long since moved on, the DUP’s electorate, and its leadership, just can’t let it go. Even today, they cannot countenance getting closer to an Irish state where the vast majority of citizens are ethnically Catholic, even if most, outside of weddings and funerals, haven’t seen the inside of a church for years.

And this is what has destroyed any hope of a real Brexit. Because in a normal world, Northern Ireland’s largest party would agree on the most rational solution to the Irish border question. That is, to make the Irish sea the customs frontier and allow the good people of Ulster to enjoy the benefits of the common market and open trade access to their larger, and vastly more prosperous, southern neighbour.

After all, that is what folks actually voted for. Yes, you read that right, by a considerable majority (56% to 44%), the statelet’s electorate rejected Brexit. Most likely because they knew that any prospect of a border with the south was suicidal. Which, of course, it is.

But the DUP don’t care. And don’t expect them to budge, either. For the same reason that despite oodles of scientific evidence proving the contrary, most of the party’s leaders believe the world is only 6,000 years old. And if the discovery of billion-year-old fossils can’t force them to concede that point, they won’t relent on anything that they perceive as diluting as their position in the United Kingdom.

There was only one reason May chose the DUP as coalition partners, and it was desperation. The Prime Minister shot herself in the foot by calling, and almost losing, a snap election, and her only option to remain in office was to get in bed with the Ulster extremists. Thus, the Tories chucked £1 billion at their new comrades and agreed to “never be neutral in expressing support” for the Union (of Britain and the north of Ireland), words which immediately dismantled London’s status as a neutral, non-partisan actor under the Belfast Agreement: a 1998 treaty that ended a 30-year civil war in the United Kingdom.

Shake Hands with the Devil

Today, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, claims he’s trying to protect peace with his position on the UK/Ireland Common Travel Area. And British pundits are all at sea, trying to find a compromise. As journalist Paul Mason has put it, “In (the) Tory bubble – a kind of golf clubhouse of the mind – the Republic is pictured as a rural backwater – not (a) vibrant globalist economy…In fact, all Irish business, banks and politicians ask me: do these ****ers understand modern Ireland? Mainly no.”

“To be clear,” Mason adds. “May has signed up to an economically united Ireland, but (is) relying on sectarian loons of DUP to stay in power... so the fantasy of hard Brexit crystallises around the fantasy of Eire (sic) “reuniting” somehow w(ith the) UK, or folding in the negotiations… The Tory golf club vision of Ireland – where half the population of NI (the north of Ireland) don’t matter and (Ireland) is just (a) neo-colony, just collided with reality.”

In December, May agreed that there would be no hard border between the two Irish jurisdictions. And the EU spent a couple of months enshrining the deal in legal text while London disappeared into a fog of wishful thinking. Now, the onus is on the British to offer a solution, but instead of engaging, they are just foaming at the mouth towards Brussels. Or they are talking down to Irish people, who are flabbergasted at how a country that once boasted a very capable and tricky establishment, ended up with the current rabble.

Tuesday evening on British state TV offered a case in point. Neale Richmond, a senator from Dublin’s governing Fine Gael party, was bombarded with angry questions by BBC anchor Evan Davis. The hapless politician sat wide-eyed as the English host berated him with increasing desperation. Indeed, you half expected him to exclaim: “alas, poor Yorick, I knew those Paddies, fellows of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. They hath borne me on their back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!”

The following afternoon, at Prime Minister’s Questions, May appeared to insist that there would be no hard border in Ireland and also no hard border between Britain and Northern Ireland. But she also claimed there would be no customs union between the UK and the EU. However, it’s impossible for all three of these scenarios to happen.

Right now, Dublin has the upper hand. It’s backed by every other EU state that isn’t the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party sniffs blood because the DUP won’t accept any fudge that separates them from the rest of Britain. And this is why there will be no Brexit.

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