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Denim Microfibers Pervade Waterways

Demin Jeans

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The American Chemical Society reports that blue jeans, a popular wardrobe choice during the COVID-19 pandemic due to an increase in telecommuting, creates a unique type of environmental pollution. This denim is processed with synthetic indigo dye and other chemical additives. Researchers in Canada have detected indigo denim microfibers in wastewater effluent, lakes and even remote Arctic marine sediment, as noted in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

Washing denim releases microfibers that are mostly removed by wastewater treatment plants, yet some still enter the environment through wastewater effluent. The researchers estimate that the wastewater treatment plants in their study discharged about 1 billion indigo denim microfibers per day. In laundering experiments, they found that a single pair of used jeans could release about 50,000 microfibers per wash cycle. The researchers did not study the effects that these microfibers have on aquatic life—perhaps a topic for future inquiry. In the meantime, washing jeans less frequently may reduce denim pollution.
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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