Water. Turn on the faucet and it is always there. Without it we perish. But how safe is tap water? In this episode, we investigate what happened in Flint, Michigan when local officials changed the city’s water source to save money, but overlooked a critical treatment process. As the water pipes corroded, lead leached into the system, exposing the community—including thousands of children—to dangerous levels of poison. Ordinary citizens and independent scientists exposed the danger lurking in Flint’s water and confronted those who turned a blind eye. Join us as we uncover the science behind this manmade disaster—from the intricacies of water chemistry, to the biology of lead poisoning, to the misuse of science itself. Still, there is a disturbing truth that reaches far beyond Flint. How can we protect ourselves from poisoned water?
Just imagine there were “superplants”. Plants that are quite normal in appearance but possess almost magical abilities. Little plants, which could help us mitigate problems like environmental pollution, shortages of raw materials and poverty. And these superplants do exist! Hyperaccumulators are plants that store so many heavy metals in their leaves that can decontaminate soil. Others can even be used to gather the accumulated raw materials. In the jungle of the South Sea paradise of New Caledonia, open-cast nickel mining has left huge scars in the landscape. Phyllanthus balgooyi, an unremarkable little plant, helps scientists restore this contaminated wasteland. Meanwhile in Albania, farmers are purposely harvesting nickel-accumulating plants for the first time. Plants that have been regarded as useless weed, can now open up new ways of sustenance for them.