News and events

Are Antibacterial Soaps Safe?

February 17, 2016

An article in The Wall Street Journal asked: "Is the quest for clean doing more harm than good?” “That’s the question at the heart of a debate between cleaning-products makers, researchers and environmental advocates. The outcome could affect millions of Americans who use antibacterial soaps, body washes and shower gels to fight germs—as well as the companies that supply the $5.5 billion market for soap, bath and shower products.” “In September, the Food and Drug...

Everyday Hazards: How to make healthy and green purchases

January 20, 2016

Buyer beware, some of the products we use every day to keep us clean and healthy, might contain ingredients that are really causing us and the environment harm.  Whether it’s cosmetics to look our best, shampoos, or antibacterial soaps to rid our homes from germs, how do we know which ones are safest and most effective? And how can we make better and more informed decisions when purchasing these products? “There are a few tips consumers can follow, e.g., read the labels and avoid...

More than face value? The environmental cost of microbeads

January 6, 2016

President Obama signed a bill that will ban the production and sale of microbeads - tiny plastic beads that are used as exfoliants in cosmetics like face and body scrubs, and toothpaste. The legislation, H.R. 1321, the “Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015,” states that plastic microbeads cannot be manufactured after July 1, 2017 and cannot be sold after July 1, 2018. “[The ban] is a really good step in the right direction,” said ASU graduate student Charlie Rolsky who studies...

Pregnant Women in Brooklyn Have Highest Levels of Certain Preservatives Used in Cosmetics

October 26, 2015

Brooklyn, NY - Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Arizona State University have published the first study of levels of parabens - antibacterial substances commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and other products - in human cord blood samples. The researchers found that a cohort of pregnant women in Brooklyn predominantly of Caribbean- and African-American descent had the highest level worldwide of methyl paraben and propyl paraben. The results were published online in the...

Wall Street Journal: ASU Scientists Strike Gold....In Poop

August 12, 2015

The Wall Street Journal's Samantha Solomon recently profiled the work of Rolf Halden and Paul Westerhoff, who have struck gold in the grimiest of locales: our poop-filled sewers.  'It might make you do a double take, but it’s true. Paul Westerhoff, a professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering and The Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU), unexpectedly discovered a buildup of gold particles while examining sewage.   Westerhoff made the...

Antibiotics as Environmental Pollutants

July 22, 2015

Presented by Hansa Done, Graduate Research Associate, Biodesign’s Center for Environmental Security. This is a doctoral dissertation defense.    

Biodesign researcher garners Fulbright scholar award

April 8, 2015

Hansa Done, Ph.D. candidate, will be performing sustainability research in Norway under the prestigious U.S. Fulbright scholar student program. Done, who plans to complete her ASU Biological Design doctoral program in the fall of 2015, was chosen to go to Norway for 10 months, and will begin her fellowship in August 2015. “My current research work is focused on aquaculture, the commercial farming of seafood,” said Done.  “Norway is the number one exporter of Atlantic salmon. There...

Can marine plastic pollution end up on our dinner plate?

February 3, 2015

When you hear the phrase, 'What's for dinner?,' the furthest answer from anyone's mind would be toxic plastics. Yet investigators are researching whether consumption of plastic debris by marine organisms translates back into our food chain as toxic exposures for people who eat seafood.   In a feature article in the NIEHS' flagship publication, Environmental Health Perspectives, Nate Seltenrich examined the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean, tracing the path from plastic pollution,...

ASU research finds gold in sewage sludge

January 20, 2015

Mining for gold---in sewers? In turns out a group of ASU researchers has found there's literally million of dollars worth of gold, silver and other precious metals found in sewage sludge, the gooey stuff left behind from treating sewage.  Freelance journalist Warren Cornwall, in a feature article in Science magazine, explores new ASU research led by Paul Westerhoff, Rolf Halden and others, that looked at the monetary haul from society's detritus.  "The upshot: There's as much as...

Halden NY Times op-ed addresses making chemistry green

November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014 In an op-ed published in the New York Times, ASU professor Rolf Halden addressed a critical societal issue affecting our soils, water and food—the active ingredients of antimicrobial products such as soaps and toothpaste. The key question for society is, in our zest to rid itself of pesky germs, are we trading off our long-term health and the health of our planet? The active ingredients in more than 2,500 consumer products, representing a multi-billion dollar...