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Heroic sanitation workers save abducted, 10-year-old girl while on their trash route

"I was just doing my job man. I was just doing my job and actually came across somebody who needed help."

Heroic sanitation workers save abducted, 10-year-old girl while on their trash route
via Dion Merrick / Facebook

At 1:30 am on a Monday morning in February, an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.


The sanitation workers thought it was suspicious that a silver sedan was parked alone in a field in St. Martin Parish.

"Something told me, like just look, I said what is that car doing in that field like that? What the car doing? Guess what, that's the dude with the little girl," Merrick said in a Facebook Live video. "That's God."

The video has been seen over 1.5 million times since it was posted on Monday morning.

To prevent the possible kidnapper from escaping, they parked the large sanitation truck the wrong way on the highway to "Make sure they couldn't get out," Merrick said. Then, they called 911.

When police arrived they arrested Michael R. Sereal, the man whose car was mentioned in the AMBER Alert. The police were also able to safely recover the girl who appeared unharmed. She was later taken to the hospital to be evaluated by medical personnel.

The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department's online sex offender registry has a Michael Roy Sereal but authorities wouldn't confirm it's the same man.

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The young girls' family got in touch with the two men who saved her and have shown amazing gratitude. "I'm just so happy and blessed that I have actually seen the car and we actually responded like we were supposed to respond," Merrick told KHOU.

Merrick hopes that his actions will inspire others to be proactive as well. "Don't be scared if you see something. If you know something is wrong, report it," Merrick said. "Call authorities because it could save someone's life."

via Office of the Louisiana Attorney general

The two men were applauded by the St. John Parish's Sheriff, who offered to buy them lunch.

"I was just doing my job man. I was just doing my job and actually came across somebody who needed help," Merrick said. "Got me tearing up."

The AMBER Alert system was created in 1996 after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered while riding her bike in Texas. Since its inception, nearly seven in 10 AMBER alert cases have resulted in children being successfully reunited with their parents.

In 17% of the cases, the child's recovery is a direct result of the alert.

As of December 2020, 1,029 children rescued specifically because of the system.


This article originally appeared on 02.09.21

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

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Not a dry eye in the house

When two people marry, they bring not only each other into their lives, but also any children from previous relationships. It’s been a growing wedding trend for grooms to also give vows to these children, offering them unconditional love, support, protection and ultimately pledging to be a parental figure in their lives.

Recently a groom named Eldridge Buchanan gave some special vows to his new seven-year-old-son Kayden during his wedding to Asia Green Buchanan.

The touching moment, captured and shared to Instagram by the wedding’s photographer and videographer Daka David and A Love Experience, shows Buchanan stands in front of little Kayden, as tears begin flowing.
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Joy

Gen X has hit 'that stage' of life and is not handling it very well

We are NOT prepared for Salt-n-Pepa to replace Michael McDonald in the waiting room at the doctor's office, thankyouverymuch.

Gen X is eating dinner earlier and earlier. It's happening.

The thing about Gen X being in our 40s and 50s now is that we were never supposed to get "old." Like, we're the cool, aloof grunge generation of young tech geniuses. Most of the giants that everyone uses every day—Google, Amazon, YouTube—came from Gen X. Our generation is both "Friends" and "The Office." We are, like, relevant, dammit.

And also, our backs hurt, we need reading glasses, our kids are in college and how in the name of Jennifer Aniston's skincare regimen did we get here?

It's weird to reach the stage when there's no doubt that you aren't young anymore. Not that Gen X is old—50 is the new 30, you know—but we're definitely not young. And it seems like every day there's something new that comes along to shove that fact right in our faces. When did hair start growing out of that spot? Why do I suddenly hate driving at night? Why is this restaurant so loud? Does that skin on my arm look…crepey?

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An influecer showing off at the gym.

There is a growing backlash against people who film themselves in public for social media content, whether dancing in an airport, posing in a crosswalk, or lip-synching in the middle of a retail store.

One place where influencers love to film themselves is the gym. Some people will briefly film themselves to ensure they have the proper form. But so many people are filming themselves for TikTok and Instagram videos that gyms are starting to ban filming equipment.

People who film themselves at the gym are a distraction and they make people uncomfortable because they don’t want to be filmed, especially without consent. A study out of the UK found that people who film themselves working out and post to social media are likely to be narcissists.

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Cat learns to run on two feet after front leg amputations

Babies are really adaptable. The same can be said for baby animals and it's likely because they just don't know any other way of life so they just go with it. But even knowing that, it's still hard to imagine a kitten getting around with no front legs.

Cats essentially use everything from their whiskers to their tails to balance, so how would one walk without two of it's four legs? The answer is, carefully at first. Duck is a kitten that had to have both of her front legs completely amputated after she was rescued and while she was wobbly at first, she quickly adapted.

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Family

Overwhelmed new mother hears the perfect parenting advice from her mom on doorbell cam

Monica Murphy was just one month into welcoming her third child into the world.

@monica_murphy/Instagram

Sometimes mom knows just what to say

“How on earth can one person do it all?”

This is a question so many mothers ask themselves. Especially after giving birth, when life seems to expect them to take care of their newborn, get their body back, return to work and keep a clean house all at the same time.

It’s a question that had completely overwhelmed Monica Murphy, only one month into welcoming her third child, while still recovering from a C-section and taking care of her other children, who were also nursing, according to Today.com.

Luckily for Murphy, her mom had the perfect piece of advice to ease her troubled mind. And luckily for us, it was all caught on the family’s doorbell cam.
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