Wednesday, November 18, 2015

E-waste industry leaders ECS Refining: clean, efficient, domestic

Recently I wrote a piece for the Berkeley Engineer alumni mag on a subject I've rarely covered over the last decade or so: e-waste. The subject of the story was ostensibly engineering alum Glen Langstaff, but effectively it was the broader field of e-waste recycling, with ECS Refining, the Stockton-based firm where Langstaff serves as manager and vice president of operations, in the spotlight. ECS takes all of UC Berkeley's e-waste, and that of many other institutions, organizations, and corporations, processing 50,000 tons of material annually at its state-of-the-art flagship Stockton facility alone. Nothing is scrapped, and nothing is shipped overseas. Technology and efficiency are key to the company's success in Stockton, and it plans to not only continue pushing the envelope there (through the addition of self-learning, collaborative robots) but also export that model to its other plants nationwide and facilitate the spread of its model to other companies, with the ultimate goal of 100 percent recycling of all US-generated e-waste. Read the full story here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Between Extremes: Health Effects of Heat and Cold

My latest feature for Environmental Health Perspectives, on the cover of the November issue, addresses the relationship between temperature, human health, and climate change -- and in so doing, uncovers some unexpected details, such as the fact that moderate cold is associated with more deaths worldwide, on the whole, than extreme heat. While extreme heat waves can be highly dangerous (in some historic examples resulting in tens of thousands of deaths), in the scheme of things they're few and far between. The story also looks at how climate change is likely to impact temperature-related illness and death in the future, how health effects of temperature are highly relative and dependent on region, neighborhood, residence style/quality, demographics, and other elements of individuals and their behavior. Finally, it covers future research directions, including the targeted, individualized interventions that will become increasingly crucial to mitigate temperature-related health effects during an era of climate change. Read the full story here.