Recyclemania, ‘Healthy’ Asian Carp, and the Best Barrier

1 – There’s another kind of March Madness.

The 14th annual Recyclemania tournament began this month. It pits colleges and universities against each other, competing to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The competition goes for eight weeks, running concurrently with the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

This year, students, faculty and staff at more than 461 schools are participating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, according to organizers.

Participating schools in Michigan include Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. As of Thursday morning, CMU was ranked 35th in the Competition Division, out of 86 schools.

Schools compete in any of 11 categories targeting commonly recycled or composted materials such as paper and paper-based packaging, aluminum, plastics bottles, electronics and food organics.

Ranking are published online, to allow schools to track their progress and standings against rival colleges.

Last year, 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered during the event.

For more information, see Recyclemania.org.

asian-carp-recycle-logo
Asian carp recycling? Credit: LouisvilleUSACE and StockMonkeys.com.

 2 – If we want to eat our way out of the Asian carp crisis, they’re not all that bad.

Researchers at the Prairie Research Institute in Illinois have found that overall, concentrations of arsenic, selenium, and mercury in bighead and silver carp from the lower Illinois River do not appear to be a health concern for a majority of human consumers.

Results of the study have been published in the journal Chemosphere.

Asian carp impact the ecosystem and fishing industry by out-competing native fish for resources.

Commercial harvest of bighead and silver Asian carp has been proposed to help contain the spread of the highly invasive fish, which are already in the Illinois River, which is connected to the Great Lakes via the Chicago Waterway System.

Researchers say the average mercury concentration in fillets of fish they studied was below U.S. screening values for recreational anglers. Overall, investigators say the carp are low in mercury in comparison to many other commercially available fish.

Arsenic and selenium concentrations in bighead and silver carp fillets examined also didn’t pose a risk to human consumers. MMM MMM Good.

3 – Speaking of Asian carp, another study says placing dam-like structures in Chicago waterways would be an almost foolproof method of preventing the fish from reaching Lake Michigan.

According to the research,  physically separating the lake from the Mississippi River watershed would prevent 95-100 percent of Asian carp incursions, while an electric barrier system would have a success rate of 85-95 percent. Using a combination of sounds, bubbles and strobe lights could prevent 75-95 percent of Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

The study was conducted by the University of Notre Dame, the U.S. Forest Service and Resources for the Future, an independent research institution. Their conclusions were based on a survey of experts.

The news follows the January release of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report to Congress, which outlined eight possible scenarios for preventing Asian carp passage through the Chicago area waterway system.

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

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