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​​The Hidden Costs of Cement: What are the Environmental Impacts? 

By: Mercer Weis - Jan 9, 2020

To many U.S. citizens, cement is just a construction material. It is used to construct buildings, bridges, watersheds, dams and many other necessities, thus fueling urbanization. However, it is often untold that cement poses an environmental threat. With our climate changing at such a rapid rate, it is worth taking some time to explore the harsh truths of cement. 

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Obama's Lifesaving Mercury Regulations Are Coming to an End

By Mercer Weis - 7/28/19

After seven years of saving lives from the reduction in mercury pollution, the Trump Administration recently dealt a blow to public health. In 2011, the Obama Administration established a regulation called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Environmental groups have estimated that we have cut mercury emissions by 85% since the United States enacted the standards. Sadly, earning millions of dollars in health benefits was not enough to keep the standards alive. The Trump Administration claims that they will be investing in cleaner energy alternatives instead of cutting mercury emissions. However, our nation needs to focus on the problem at hand and address the harms from fossil fuels. The value of these standards has been very clear. They have contributed to cleaner power plants, improving the health of Americans, and reduced toxic pollution. 

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The Impacts of Marine Plastics
By Shahir Masri - 7/22/13
Ocean contamination by plastic pollution is a growing problem worldwide.  Since plastics don’t biodegrade, they persist and accumulate in large ocean gyres (rotating ocean currents).  As many of these plastics float near the surface, they are often mistaken for food by birds and fish.  Plastic ingestion can lead to choking, starvation, and drowning of marine species as well as introduce organic toxicants into the food chain. The bioaccumulation of toxic pollutants in fish and other marine species through plastic ingestion also has indirect implications for public health due to our consumption of these species.  In this blog, I’ll highlight the main points surrounding plastic pollution in the hopes that by increasing awareness we can collectively begin to curb our use of plastic and improve public health and the environment.  

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Disappearing Honeybees: What’s Happening and Are We at Risk Too?
By Shahir Masri - 10/9/12
Colony collapse disorder, or CCD, struck the United States during 2006-2007 and other countries soon after.  Characterized by the sudden disappearance of honeybees from their otherwise healthy beehives, CCD emerged as an unexpected and highly alarming phenomenon.  Before long, CCD was making headlines as beekeepers in 24 U.S. states were reporting honeybee losses of up to 80%, occurring sometimes overnight!  The importance of honeybees stretches well beyond preservation for the sake of preservation or even for the sake of honey production.  Rather, because they can pollinate a wide variety of crops, can persist throughout the growing season, and can be concentrated in large numbers when needed, honeybees have become the dominate pollinators of a number of major crops including apples, avocados, almonds, pears, sunflowers, melons, etcetera, and are therefore critical to the agriculture industry.  

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Pesticides: Natural vs. Synthetic
By Shahir Masri - 9/15/11
Pesticides can be both synthetic as well as natural in origin.  Also known as botanical pesticides, natural pesticides are those which plants have evolved as a defense to ward off threatening organisms.  As a result, such pesticides can have a variety of different sources in the environment, depending on the species of plants from which particular pesticides originate, and the prevalence of those plants in the environment.  Aside from in nature, natural pesticides are also formulated in factories and marketed to the public for use in home gardens, farms, etc. Consequently, sources of such pesticides are crops or plants which either naturally produce or have been sprayed with these chemicals, including much of the produce which winds up in our local markets.

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