Apr 24, 2009 | 5
Catalytic converters have been an environmental success, but not an unqualified one. The tailpipe devices reduce the toxicity of auto emissions and cut down on the formation of smog, but they also output greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Now a new study faults widespread adoption of catalytic converters for another environmental issue, albeit one without a clear immediate impact: osmium pollution.
Osmium is an extremely hard metal that exists in seawater and in the Earth's crust—and, crucially, in ores extracted and processed for platinum, which is commonly used in catalytic converters. (Platinum also finds use as a catalyst in fuel cells, another green technology.) Smelting those ores can produce osmium tetroxide, a toxic chemical, but that's not the real issue with osmium pollution, says lead study author Cynthia Chen, a graduate student in the department of Earth sciences at Dartmouth College. "I don't think we need to worry about it from a human health standpoint," Chen says, as osmium's concentrations, even as elevated by platinum production, are extremely small.
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Conventional washing machines cause excessive damage and wrinkling to clothes primarily during the water removal step. With the introduc
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The Dow Chemical Company is the leading producer of polyalkylene glycols (PAGs) used in synthetic fluids and lubricants where petroleum,
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