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Archive for April, 2009

By John Earl
OC Voice

Courtesy Susan Worthy

ORIGINAL OWNERS: Charles Letterman and wife, Allie, with their two children, Gladys and Claude, standing in front of their downtown Huntington Beach home about 1901. Photo: Courtesy Susan Worthy

SUSAN WORTHY and her husband, Guy Guzardo, had been trying for decades to save and restore their small two-story, eastern-style, cottage and its accompanying large commercial building, both located at the corner of 6th and Walnut streets in downtown Huntington Beach. After years of fighting redevelopment politics and searching for funding, they began a full restoration of the two buildings about a year ago.

H.B. residents might appreciate their perseverance because the structures are extraordinary and vital to understanding the city’s history. The 1200 square foot house and the 5,000 square foot commercial building date prior to 1904, the year that electricity first came to the city and it officially took the name Huntington Beach.

Both buildings are in the National Register of Historical Places because they retain their original materials and structure (the Newland home is the city’s only other un-remodeled historical structure) and due to their direct connection to two of the city’s founding settlers-Matthew and Mollie Helme, Susan’s great grandparents.

“There’s nothing that looks like it in all of southern California,” Worthy says. Although small, the home started out with four bedrooms and an outside bathroom. In 1907 walls were knocked down to create two bedrooms. Today, one of those rooms is the bathroom, leaving only one bedroom. (more…)

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Sarah S. Mosko
OC Voice

For the nine in ten Americans who know next to nothing about nanotechnology (NT), there is little time to waste in getting up to speed because, ready or not, the NT revolution is well underway with new nano-engineered consumer products entering the market weekly.

Multi-walled carbon nanotubes exhibit unique properties. Photo courtesy of PEN.

Multi-walled carbon nanotubes exhibit unique properties. Photo courtesy of PEN.

Another reason, as voiced by consumer protection, health, and environmental organizations, is that NT products are being sold without adequate safety testing and government oversight.

The actual number of NT products in commerce is unknown because there is no labeling or reporting requirement, but over 800 have been tabulated by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), an online inventory of manufacturer-identified NT goods funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In 2007, at least $147 billion in global manufactured goods incorporated NT, encompassing such varied products as cosmetics, clothing, food, food packaging, and dietary supplements.  PEN estimates that figure will reach $2.6 trillion by 2014. (more…)

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By Sarah Mosko
OC Voice

It’s not much of a stretch to liken America’s relationship with cells phones to a once sizzling romance that ends in good bye.

Given all the environmental costs of cell phones, certainly the most eco-friendly cell is the one you already own.

Given all the environmental costs of cell phones, certainly the most eco-friendly cell is the one you already own.

Fated love affairs typically begin with blind infatuation and fiery passion before reality sets in, cooling the embers enough to allow more guarded, sometimes less attractive aspects of the self to surface. Interest wanes until the love object is abandoned or replaced by an alluring new one.

Americans relate to cell phones in much the same way. An old phone, with once novel features that drew fascination, is discarded with hardly a thought when an updated model makes it seem obsolete.

That consumers replace cell phones about every two years–with Californians purchasing in a single year nearly one new cell for every two state residents–makes this analogy seem less silly.

A parallel can be drawn too between the innards of a cell phone and what is revealed when one person lets another peek inside:  it’s not all pretty. Some nasty materials lurk behind the bright shiny casing, making cell phone disposal a knotty environmental issue, analogous to ending, with minimal damages, a relationship gone sour. (more…)

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By Sara Mosko
OC Voice

surfers

Surfing might seem like an earth-friendly sport, but a closer look reveals that the environmental impact may be more than you realize. Photo c1967 at Old Man’s Beach, San Clemente, California.

At first glance, surfing might seem like an inherently earth-friendly sport. Surfers paddle out and catch waves by sheer force of will and muscle. No need for fossil fuel-burning speed boats to get around. And, surfers have a reputation for caring about ocean pollution.

But a closer look reveals that, like most human activities, the environmental impact is far from nil and, consequently, there’s a nascent movement within the surfing industry to clean up it its act.

The Essentials
The bare necessities of surfing are surfboard, wetsuit, good waves and wheels to and fro. The waves are courtesy of Mother Nature, but the choices surfers make to otherwise outfit themselves determine the toll on the environment.

Lightweight polyurethane (PU) boards swathed in fiberglass cloth and polyester resin have been the industry mainstay since heavy wood boards were ditched in the 1950s. Because both PU and polyester are petrochemicals, the enviro impact starts with environmental degradation during petroleum extraction.

Then there’s the emission of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) during PU synthesis from two petrochemicals-a  ‘polyol’ plus a highly volatile and toxic compound called TID. The foam molding stage eats up plenty of energy and more air polluting VOCs are given off when the board is glassed. (more…)

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