In the Lab: Parking Lot Pollution, Ethanol's Magnetic Boost, Diesel's Health Hazards

Parking Lot Pollution: Besides car emissions, it turns out automobiles are indirectly causing yet another environmental problem: parking lot pollution. Researchers at Purdue University say giant parking lots raise urban temperatures and add to water pollution. Parking lots accumulate pollutants such as oil and heavy metals that cannot be absorbed by their surfaces; the pollutants are then washed into rivers and lakes by way of rainfall. They also contribute to the “urban heat island effect,” a phenomenon that is estimated to lift temperatures by some 2 to 3 degrees Celsius in the Midwest. (release)

Ethanol’s Magnetic Boost: A Brazilian research team has shown that exposing yeast-based fermentation of sugarcane (Brazil’s ethanol crop) to low-frequency electromagnetic waves, boosted ethanol production by 17 percent. And the ethanol production itself took two hours less than when using standard fermentation methods.(American Chemical Society via Science Daily.)

Diesel’s Health Hazards: Diesel exhaust kills throat cells in humans, while biodiesel exhaust has “little effect” on them, according to a recent study. Researchers at Australia’s Deakin University said the particulate matter from diesel exhaust stimulated what they called a “death pathway” response used by the body to dispose of damaged cells. The biodiesel particulates, meanwhile, resulted in hardly any cell death at all.


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