Urban Ecologist and Professor, Dr. Marijke Hecht shares how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in cities across the country and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Courtesy photo)

Better nature, better relationship, better planet — A conversation with a Pittsburgh urban ecologist

Are discussions about the non-human natural world relevant to folks outside of climate change and environmentalist circles? After listening to Pittsburgh urban ecologist Marijke Hecht, you’ll understand how everyone plays a role in creating the environment. For episode 6, we’re reviewing a Science Magazine article on how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in your neighborhood. Do you see more weeds or butterflies where you live? Hecht discusses her work as an urban ecologist and how community design, race and mental health are all related in Pittsburgh’s environmental ecosystem.

Microplastics found in waterways across PA, including 7 in Allegheny County. Why it’s dangerous and what you should know.

Microplastics were found in major waterways across Pennsylvania, according to a study released on March 3 by PennEnvironment. Researchers found microplastics, which are fragments of plastic less than 5 millimeters in length, in all 300 water samples taken from 53 waterways in the state, including seven waterways in Allegheny County. The study found microfibers from clothing and textiles in all of the waterways sampled. Microfilm from flexible plastics like bags or packaging was found in 94% of samples, and 87% of the waterways had microfragments present from harder plastic products. One body of water had microbeads from cosmetic products. 

In Allegheny County, five of the waterways — the Allegheny River, Nine Mile Run, Ohio River, Sewickley Creek and Turtle Creek — had fiber, fragment and film microplastics present.