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How has California’s Shelter-in-Place Order due to COVID-19 and the Resulting Reduction in Human Activity Affected Air and Water Quality?

Everitt et al. | Feb 15, 2021

How has California’s Shelter-in-Place Order due to COVID-19 and the Resulting Reduction in Human Activity Affected Air and Water Quality?

As the world struggled to grapple with the emerging COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many countries instated policies to help minimize the spread of the virus among residents. This inadvertently led to a decrease in travel, and in some cases, industrial output, two major sources of pollutants in today's world. Here, the authors investigate whether California's shelter-in-place policy was associated with a measurable decrease in water and air pollution in that state between June and July of 2020, compared to the preceeding five years. Their findings suggest that, by some metrics, air quality improved within certain areas while water quality was relatively unchanged. Overall, these findings suggest that changing human behavior can, indeed, help reduce the level of air pollutants that compromise air quality.

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Capturing Harmful Air Pollutants Using an Electrospun Mesh Embedded with Zinc-based Nanocrystals

Doppalapudi et al. | May 12, 2020

Capturing Harmful Air Pollutants Using an Electrospun Mesh Embedded with Zinc-based Nanocrystals

Zeolithic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8) is a specific metal-organic framework that has favorable qualities for use in an air filter and is known to be capable of adsorbing particulate matter. Therefore, the objective of this experiment was to determine the effectiveness of ZIF-8 in adsorbing polar, gaseous air pollutants, specifically nitrogen dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. In order to determine effectiveness, the percent change in concentration for various gases after the application of ZIF-8 crystals was measured via Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The work highlights crystals as a potentially promising alternative or addition to current filter materials to reduce atmospheric pollution.

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Thermoelectric Power Generation: Harnessing Solar Thermal Energy to Power an Air Conditioner

Lew et al. | Jul 06, 2021

Thermoelectric Power Generation: Harnessing Solar Thermal Energy to Power an Air Conditioner

The authors test the feasibility of using thermoelectric modules as a power source and as an air conditioner to decrease reliance on fossil fuels. The results showed that, at its peak, their battery generated 27% more power – in watts per square inch – than a solar panel, and the thermoelectric air conditioner operated despite an unsteady input voltage. The battery has incredible potential, especially if its peak power output can be maintained.

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The relationship between macroinvertebrates, water quality, and the health of Stevens Creek

Li et al. | Aug 18, 2021

The relationship between macroinvertebrates, water quality, and the health of Stevens Creek

Stevens Creek, which flows through Santa Clara County in California, provides a crucial habitat for federally designated threatened steelhead trout, with a portion of the trout’s diet being dependent on the presence and abundance of macroinvertebrates that inhabit the creek. In this article, the authors investigate how the water chemistry within the creek was associated with the abundance and diversity of macroinvertebrates, and subsequently the creek’s health. They conduct qualitative analysis of macroinvertebrates and water quality to obtain a general understanding of the health of Stevens Creek.

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Developing a Portable, Reusable, and Inexpensive Magnesium-Air Fuel Cell

Tota et al. | Mar 28, 2019

Developing a Portable, Reusable, and Inexpensive Magnesium-Air Fuel Cell

One of the greatest challenges we face today is the sustainable production, storage, and distribution of electrical power. One emerging technology with great promise in this area is that of metal-air fuel cells—a long-term and reusable electricity storage system made from a reactive metal anode and a saline solution. In this study the authors tested several different types of metal to determine which was the most suitable for this application. They found that a fuel cell with a magnesium anode was superior to fuel cells made from aluminum or zinc, producing a voltage and current sufficient for real-world applications such as charging a mobile phone.

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Effect of Fertilizer on Water Quality of Creeks over Time

Chen et al. | May 02, 2021

Effect of Fertilizer on Water Quality of Creeks over Time

Fertilizers are commonly used to improve agricultural yield. Unfortunately, chemical fertilizers can seep into drinking water, potentially harming humans and other forms of life. Here, the authors investigate the effect of fertilizer on the water quality of Saratoga Creek over time. They find that fertilizers can alter the acidity of the creek's water, which can be harmful to aquatic species, as well as increase the levels of nitrates temporarily.

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The Effect of Interactive Electronics Use on Psychological Well Being and Interpersonal Relationship Quality in Adults

Belkin et al. | Apr 19, 2018

The Effect of Interactive Electronics Use on Psychological Well Being and Interpersonal Relationship Quality in Adults

In recent years, usage of interactive electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets has increased dramatically. Many studies have examined the potential adverse effects of excessive usage of such devices on children and adolescents, but the effects on adults are not well understood. In this study, the authors examined the relationship between adult usage of interactive electronic devices and a variety of clinical measures of psychological well-being. They found that according to some metrics, higher usage of interactive electronic devices is associated with several adverse psychological outcomes, suggesting a need for more careful consideration of such usage patterns in clinical settings.

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