Parisian canals now open to swimmers

Paris, France is making good on its promise to reopen long polluted waterways to bathers.

Up to three hundred people at any time can use the lifeguard-protected pools, although the pools only have locker space for 80. Located in a part of Paris already popular as a place to stroll in fine weather, the new bathing spot is likely to prove a major hit in an already hotter-than-average summer. Early reports suggest that the water is indeed delightful, though a small residuum of green algae does make a post-bathe shower a good idea.

How did Paris pull this off? The city’s been working on cleaning up the waters here for decades. Paris’s canals here were once unsurprisingly filthy, running as they do through a former industrial area once packed with cargo barges and polluted by sewage. Since the 1980s, however, regulations managing industrial run-off have tightened substantially, while Paris has invested heavily in wastewater treatment and in preventing sewage from being discharged into the canal during periods of high water. Two years ago, following a concerted clean-up, bacteria levels dropped below safe levels, and rogue bathers have been jumping in the water here for a while. Meanwhile, the Canal Saint Martin, which runs downstream from the basin down to the Seine, was entirely drained and cleaned in 2016, a process that sent a powerful visual message to Parisians that the area’s historic filth was being swept away.

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That EPA push to ban a pesticide that harms babies' brains? Dropped after Trump EPA chief Pruitt met with Dow CEO

Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration’s top environmental official, privately met with the CEO of Dow Chemical just before reversing the EPA's efforts to ban a widely used Dow pesticide. Multiple scientific studies showed chlorpyrifos can damage the brains of children.

Today's Associated Press story is a clear case for why the Environmental Protection Agency and its appointed leader matter to American lives.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s schedule shows he met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris on March 9 for about a half hour at a Houston hotel. Both men were featured speakers at an energy industry conference. Twenty days later Pruitt announced his decision to deny a petition to ban Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide from being sprayed on food, despite a review by his agency’s scientists that concluded ingesting even minuscule amounts of the chemical can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said Tuesday that Pruitt was “briefly introduced” to Liveris at the conference.

“They did not discuss chlorpyrifos,” Bowman said. “During the same trip he also met with the Canadian minister of natural resources, and CEOs and executives from other companies attending the trade show.”

EPA released a copy of Pruitt’s March meeting schedule earlier this month following several Freedom of Information Act requests. Though his schedule for the intervening months has not yet been released, Bowman said Pruitt has had no other meetings with the Dow CEO. There was a larger group meeting that Pruitt attended which also included two other Dow executives, but she said that didn’t involve chlorpyrifos.

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'From the Ashes' examines coal's environmental devastation

As the Trump Administration works to take America back to the coal age, From the Ashes takes an unflinching look at the industry's profound effect on the environment, with a focus on Appalachia. Read the rest

Beautiful popsicles made from polluted water

National Taiwan University of Arts students created this genius piece of activist art, popsicles made from the water of polluted local sources. From the translated project description:

We personally take Taiwan’s 100 polluted water sources, made it into popsicles, because the popsicles are not easy to save, we will re-engrave the likeness into a 1:1 poly model to do the show, through the beautiful packaging and content of the sense of contrast to convey that pure water is important, and Then we would like to ask you is: would you want to eat a beautiful frozen polluted puddle?

Polluted Water Popsicles (Facebook via Laughing Squid)

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That sea salt you bought probably has microplastics in it

Congratulations to humanity for contaminating sea salt! A new study found all but one of 17 commercial sea salt brands from eight different countries contained microscopic plastic particles. Microplastic: it's what's for dinner! Read the rest

Before there was an EPA we had Tom Lehrer

A reminder of where things were headed without environmental protections. Read the rest

Colorful children's respirators make breathing poisoned air fun

The WOOBI is a sad sign of the times. It's a toylike respirator system designed for the 300 million children living in severe air pollution. Read the rest

Here's what Chinese smog does to a high-speed train

Chinese social media has been blowing up this year with images of high speed trains that have passed through heavy smog on their routes. Here's the same train when it's clean: Read the rest

Timelapse of dangerous Beijing smog rolling in

On January 2, YouTuber Chas Pope captured a noxious cloud of Beijing smog rolling toward his building.

I made this earlier today - a bank of AQI400+ smog arriving in Beijing within the space of 20 minutes. It's already gone viral on the Chinese internet, let's see what happens internationally...

Luckily, Beijing subways have the answer: your own anti-smog rebreather!

Beijing Airpocalypse Arrival (YouTube / Chas Pope) Read the rest

Beijing subway ad for an anti-smog rebreather

Bloomberg Asia journalist David Ramli tweeted this photo of a bicep-mounted anti-pollution filter for joggers, displayed on the wall of a Beijing subway station, the day after Beijing posted record pollution levels, 24X the WHO recommendations, with 24 other cities issuing red alerts. (via JWZ) Read the rest

Yoplait cup tossed in sea 40 years ago, looks brand new

ArkadiusBear posted this photo to Reddit, saying:

This thing is 40 years old. It looks like it was thrown away yesterday. When you throw away plastic, it will basically never go away, ever. IF it breaks down, it breaks down into smaller and smaller micro plastic beads. It may even end up back on your plate some day when ingested by fish.

Again, this thing is 40 years old, and it will look almost the same in another 40 years. In fact, some types plastic trash can take up to 450(!) years to decompose.

This piece of plastic, thrown into the sea in 1976, still hasn't degraded at all
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How Audi cheated emissions tests: if (steering) then (pollute)

A report in BILD am Sonntag claims that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has uncovered the secret test that Audis were programmed to perform to determine whether to pollute like crazy or to pretend that they were low-polluting, legally compliant vehicles. Read the rest

300 Million Children Breathe Highly Toxic Air, reports UNICEF

“Almost one in seven of the world’s children, 300 million, live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution – six or more times higher than international guidelines” UNICEF said today, in releasing a new report on how air pollution around the world affects our most vulnerable.

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Gallery of hermit crabs with garbage shells

The hermit crab housing shortage of empty shells is forcing some crabs to use marine waste, as documented by Okinawa-based photographer Shawn M. Miller. Read the rest

Amazing video demonstrates levels of light pollution

Lost in Light is Sriram Murali's simple yet beautifully-crafted demonstration of levels of light pollution from worst to best, and how much gets lost in the night sky.

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Mumbai Beach clean-up highlights marine waste epidemic

The shocking amount of marine waste washed up on Mumbai's Versova Beach led UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh to publicize a long-term cleanup project. Mountains of garbage, mostly plastic, have been hauled away by thousands of volunteers. Read the rest

Video: Guys whose boss made them illegally dump hazardous chemicals in the desert

On March 3, a worker shot this video of him and his co-workers illegally pouring HOCUT 795-B out on the Nevada desert floor, then burning out the residue, at the insistence of their (unnamed) employer. Read the rest

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