Enn Original News
Survival of Fish with Antifreeze in Antarctica
February 16, 2012 12:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A unique group of fish that has evolved to live in Antarctic waters thanks to anti-freeze proteins in their blood and body fluids is threatened by rising temperatures in the Southern Ocean, according to a new study by Yale. The development of antifreeze glycoproteins by notothenioids, a fish family that adapted to newly formed polar conditions in the Antarctic millions of years ago, is an evolutionary success story. The three species of fish are an example of the diversity this lineage achieved when it expanded into niches left by fish decimated by cold water environment. Now the same fish are endangered by warming of the Antarctic seas.
Coal-Power in China Makes Electric Vehicles More Polluting
February 16, 2012 11:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
China produces electricity for its burgeoning economy with its ample coal reserves. A full 80 percent comes from coal-burning power plants, and new plants are being constructed all the time. The country's reliance on coal power, while causing very dirty pollution, also has an interesting side effect. It takes away the "greenness" of electric vehicles. A new study from a team of University of Tennessee researchers has found that the power generated to fuel electric cars produces much greater emissions of particulate matter (PM) than gasoline-powered cars. Perversely, this also makes driving an electric car in China a greater public health hazard than driving a gasoline car.
Organic Brown Rice and Arsenic
February 16, 2012 06:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
A new study by Professor Brian Jackson, director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth has found alarming levels of Arsenic in Organic Brown Rice and Brown Rice Syrup. This is particularly alarming since Brown Rice Syrup is being sought by health conscious consumers as a "healthy" alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Dartmouth researchers and others have previously called attention to the potential for consuming harmful levels of arsenic via rice, and organic brown rice syrup may be the latest culprit on the scene. With the introduction of organic brown rice syrup into food processing, even the health conscious consumer may unknowingly be ingesting arsenic. Recognizing the potential danger, Brian Jackson and other Dartmouth researchers conducted a study to determine the concentrations of arsenic in commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup including infant formula, cereal/energy bars, and high-energy foods used by endurance athletes.
Budget Woes and Ozone
February 15, 2012 08:00 AM - Editor, ENN
Budgets are being cut all over. So something has to be hurting. U.S. scientists are raising the alarm about Environment Canada saying cuts in the department could go far beyond ozone monitoring. Programs tracking pollution wafting into Canada from Asia, Europe and the U.S. are also being hit, they say. And itâ€™s an open question if Canada will be able to fulfil its obligations under several international agreements if more cuts go ahead, five leading atmospheric scientists write in the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union, which has 61,000 members in 148 countries.
Mariana Trench Clam Fields
February 15, 2012 07:22 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Clam can be used in several different ways: one, as a general term covering all bivalve molluscs. The word can also be used in a more limited sense, to mean bivalves that burrow in sediment, as opposed to ones that attach themselves to the substrate (for example oysters and mussels), or ones that can swim and are migratory, like scallops. Scientists have long marveled at the unusual life forms thriving at high temperature hydrothermal vents of the deep ocean. Now the discovery of clam communities near the lower temperature vents in the Mariana Trench is providing information about both the biogeography of the clams and the extent of the serpentinite vents that sustain them. A team of scientists from the United States and Japan discovered the vesicomyid clams while conducting deep sea dives from the Japanese R/V Yokosuka to study the geology of the southern Mariana.
February 14, 2012 01:51 PM - Editor, ENN
Many new medicines have been found by analyzing old folklore and herbal remedies. For roughly 2,000 years, Chinese herbalists have treated malaria using a root extract, commonly known as chang shan, from a type of blue evergreen hydrangea that grows in Tibet and Nepal. More recent studies suggest that halofuginone, a compound derived from this extractâ€™s bioactive ingredient, could be used to treat many other autoimmune disorders as well. Now, researchers from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine have discovered the molecular secrets behind this herbal extractâ€™s power.
Coal Tar Sealant Health Hazards
February 14, 2012 01:04 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Coal tar is a brown or black liquid of extremely high viscosity, which smells of naphthalene and aromatic hydrocarbons. Coal tar is incorporated into some parking-lot sealcoat products, which are marketed as a means of protecting and beautifying underlying pavement. Sealcoat products that are coal-tar based typically contain 20 to 35 percent coal-tar pitch. Coal-tar-based sealants are emitting polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) into the air at rates that may be greater than annual emissions from vehicles in the United States, according to new reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, published in the scientific journals Chemosphere and Atmospheric Environment. Children living near coal-tar-sealed pavement are exposed to twice as many PAHs from ingestion of contaminated house dust than from food, according to a separate new study by Baylor University and the USGS, published in the journal Environmental Pollution. Several PAHs are probable human carcinogens and many are toxic to fish and other aquatic life.
Ice Caps and Glaciers Contend for Biggest Loser Award
February 14, 2012 10:27 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
There are few things on Earth that have undergone a more dramatic weight loss than the world's ice caps and glaciers. According to a recent study, they have lost about 150 billion tons per year from 2003 to 2010. Such a large quantity of ice has translated to a 0.4 millimeter rise in sea levels each year. At this rate, it will take 2,500 years for sea levels to rise one meter. However, indications point towards accelerated ice loss in the future. Plus, if including ice lost from the major land-based ice sheets, sea level rise is much worse.
Magma Phase Changes within Planets
February 13, 2012 07:58 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
There is a weirdness deep inside planets. There are intense pressures and temperatures during their formation. Just as graphite can transform into Just as graphite can transform into diamond under high pressure, liquid magmas may similarly undergo major transformations at the pressures and temperatures that exist deep inside Earth-like planets. Using high-powered lasers, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and collaborators discovered that molten magnesium silicate undergoes a phase change in the liquid state, abruptly transforming to a more dense liquid with increasing pressure. The research provides insight into planet formation.
Tetrachloroethylene Toxicity EPA Risk Assessment
February 13, 2012 11:04 AM - Editor, ENN
Tetrachloroethylene, also known under its systematic name tetrachloroethene and many other names, is a chlorocarbon. It is a colorless liquid widely used for dry cleaning of fabrics and is sometimes called "dry-cleaning fluid". It has a sweet odor detectable by most people at a concentration of 1 part per million (1 ppm). It is also used in the cleaning of metal machinery and to manufacture some consumer products and other chemicals. Confirming longstanding scientific understanding and research, the final EPA risk assessment characterizes this material as a likely human carcinogen. The assessment provides estimates for both cancer and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to it over a lifetime.