A Breath of Fresh Air for Astronauts and Miners alike

Hey Everyone!

As you should know by now, I’m really interested by NASA and their many projects. Well, this week I decided that I wanted to discuss one of their newest projects with you guys! This might be my favorite project/lab I’ve read about and researched so far!

Astronauts, as you know, work in highly hazardous conditions. Thus, a new team at NASA has been working together to figure out how to combat the life-threatening gases astronauts must worry about and create new ways to enhance safety for the agency’s future human spaceflight endeavors.

One of the new items that the team has begun utilizing in tests is a smaller, biomedical “liquid air” bag called a “Cryogenic Refuge Alternative Supply System” or CryoRASS for short. These nifty bags have the potential to store more than twice the amount of breathable air than traditional compressed gas systems previously created and utilized.

Despite the obvious need for something of this ilk, funding for the project testing has been limited. That is until the “National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health” (NIOSH) provided funding for NASA’s projects. Why, you may ask? The two groups are hopeful that these bags could not only change the way astronauts live and work while in space, but also for those a little closer to home- coal miners. This new cryogenic technology is most recently being looked at in terms of rescue operations for miners.

Saving the lives of those who work in such dangerous conditions as do miners and astronauts surely should be important to us. This is why I think this project is so interesting and relevant to all of us- these bags are not just a commercial necessity, but also could be highly important for future crewed missions to outer-space. Although cryogenic research is not a new thing, these smaller bags seem to be making a big fuss in and out of this world.

I waste, you waste, e-waste

When it comes to technology, we’re constantly upgrading. It felt like only a month after I’d bought a Samsung Galaxy phone that the shinier, larger, improved version of it came out. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading, but with the limited life spans of our electronics, most of us are just throwing away old electronics without thinking of the whether that’s the best method of disposal. Most discarded electronic products end up in landfills or exported to other countries where their toxins are released into the air, soil, and water.

Electronics waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but makes up 70% of overall toxic waste. Almost all electronics contain toxic materials that can be harmful to people and the planet like lead and mercury. Smartphones and laptops even contain heavy metals like cadmium, beryllium, or arsenic, which can build up in our bodies and the environment. The disposal of electronics from the United States is rarely handled within the country but instead sent to developing countries where the metal is extracted or burned producing dangerous toxins.

Some companies are moving in the right direction and removing certain toxins from their products, and others have started take-back programs that aren’t merely green washing but showing sincere changes.

These are great steps, but you can also get involved by holding an e-waste collection drive like my local elementary school or even handing down or reselling your technology. As consumers of these products, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our gadgets are being handled properly after they’ve served their purpose and that they’re also being made with less toxins before they enter out eager hands.

Last Chance to Create a Video for Clean Air—Enter the Young Lungs at Work Art Competition!

There are just a couple days left to enter The Clean Air Campaign’s Young Lungs at Work Art Competition. Submissions are due April 16.  And you don’t have to have a fancy studio or expensive camera to be the next Steven Spielberg. Just grab your Smartphone, hit record, and make your very own video tackling the question of how we can act now for clean air.

Remember what’s in it for you!

  • Recognition! Winning videos will be featured on The Clean Air Campaign’s website, YouTube channel, and Facebook and Twitter pages.  Winners will also be featured on the OnAir blog, Facebook page and Twitter page. That gives your video exposure to potentially over 100,000 people across the U.S.!
  • Notoriety! The Clean Air Campaign and OnAir blog staff will visit your school to present special prizes.
  • Money! Donations will be made to each winner’s school science, environmental or art program.
  • Points! Once you submit your entry, remember to apply for AirCreds points and continue to work your way up the leaderboard to some pretty cool prizes.

Again, the submission due date is April 16, 2012. For full details and further rules, click here.