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Lowe’s Joins Home Depot to Tackle Toxic PFAS in Carpets

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Lowe’s Joins Home Depot to Tackle Toxic PFAS in Carpets

In a win for public health, the home improvement giant Lowe's announced that it will stop selling carpets and rugs containing toxic PFAS chemicals in the United States and Canada by January 2020. Home Depot recently made a similar commitment, signaling that stores are starting to take this health crisis seriously.


"Lowe's is making home improvement safer for families by eliminating carpets and rugs made with chemicals linked to cancer and other serious health threats," says Sujatha Bergen, director of health campaigns at NRDC.

The family of per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances is ubiquitous, used in everything from stain- and water-resistant clothing, carpets, and furniture to nonstick cookware and grease-proof food packaging to firefighting foam. Dubbed "forever chemicals," PFAS don't break down easily in the environment and can accumulate in the bodies of people and their food. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), PFAS can now be found in the blood of virtually every American, which can lead to issues like immune system dysfunction, hormone disruption, infertility, cancer, and more.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has failed to set enforceable health-protective standards for PFAS. Just two of these chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have a non-enforceable health advisory, leaving thousands of other PFAS chemicals unregulated and without guidance. The EPA's health advisory was also 10 times higher than the thresholds proposed by the CDC.

"Policymakers should follow the lead of retailers like Lowe's by taking strong action to rid our homes of toxic PFAS chemicals," Bergen says.

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This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

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One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

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