Health

Research shows loss of pollinators increases risk of malnutrition and disease
January 27, 2015 08:15 AM - Joshua E. Brown, University of Vermont

A new study shows that more than half the people in some developing countries could become newly at risk for malnutrition if crop-pollinating animals — like bees — continue to decline. Despite popular reports that pollinators are crucial for human nutritional health, no scientific studies have actually tested this claim — until now. The new research by scientists at the University of Vermont and Harvard University has, for the first time, connected what people actually eat in four developing countries to the pollination requirements of the crops that provide their food and nutrients.

Ebola impacting Chimps and Gorillas even more than humans
January 25, 2015 08:38 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

While the whole world is aware of the many human fatalities from the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa, you may not realize that the disease has claimed hundreds of thousands of other victims in the area. Unfortunately, Ebola is simultaneously working its way through gorilla and chimpanzee populations with no sign of stopping. In the past 25 years, Ebola has wiped out 33% of all apes, reports the Daily Beast.

Apes are already up against a number of obstacles that threaten their lives like poaching and habitat destruction. The last thing they need is to have a highly fatal disease reduce their numbers further. It’s even more devastating when you reflect on the fact that many of these primate species that are ravaged by Ebola were already officially listed as endangered.

Mystery Goo is Killing Seabirds in the San Francisco Bay
January 22, 2015 04:03 PM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Rescuers are working diligently to save birds who are being killed by a “mysterious goo” that has appeared in the San Francisco Bay, while officials remain perplexed about what the substance is and where it came from.

Coffee found to reduce malignant melanoma risk
January 21, 2015 06:15 AM - OXFORD UNIVERSITY via EurekAlert

Both epidemiological and pre-clinical studies have suggested that coffee consumption has a protective effect against non-melanoma skin cancers. However the protective effect for cutaneous melanoma (malignant and in situ) is less clear, according to a study published January 20 in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute

To determine if there is an association between coffee consumption and risk of cutaneous melanoma, Erikka Loftfield, M.P.H., of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, and colleagues used data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Information on coffee consumption was obtained from 447,357 non-Hispanic white subjects with a self-administered food-frequency questionnaire in 1995/1996, with a median follow-up of 10 years. All subjects included in the analysis were cancer-free at baseline, and the authors adjusted for ambient residential ultraviolet radiation exposure, body mass index, age, sex, physical activity, alcohol intake, and smoking history. 

Global wheat yields threatened by warming with serious consequences
January 19, 2015 08:23 AM - Paul Brown, The Ecologist

Just one degree of global warming could cut wheat yields by 42 million tonnes worldwide, around 6% of the crop, writes Paul Brown - causing devastating shortages of this staple food.

Market shortages would cause price rises. Many developing countries, and the hungry poor within them, would not be able to afford wheat or bread.

How the environment shapes our immune system
January 15, 2015 04:32 PM - Emily Conover, Science/AAAS

Why did you get the flu this winter, but your co-workers didn’t? The answer, according to a new study of twins, may have less to do with your genes and more to do with your environment—including your past exposure to pathogens and vaccines. Our immune system is incredibly complex, with diverse armies of white blood cells and signal-sending proteins coursing through our veins, ready to mount an attack on would-be invaders. Everyone’s immune system is slightly different—a unique mixture of hundreds of these cells and proteins. But the main driver of this variation is unclear. Although scientists know that our immune system can adapt to our environment—that’s why vaccines work, for instance—it is also built by our genes.

Did Palm Oil Expansion Play A Role In The Ebola Crisis?
January 15, 2015 04:32 PM - Emmanel K. Urey, MONGABAY.COM

TThe Ebola outbreak in West Africa may have been the result of complex economic and agricultural policies developed by authorities in Guinea and Liberia, according to a new commentary in Environment and Planning A. Looking at the economic activities around villages where Ebola first emerged, the investigators analyzed a shift in land-use activities in Guinea's forested region, particularly an increase in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) cultivation.

Study Finds New Toxic Contaminants In Oil And Gas Wastewater
January 14, 2015 12:21 PM - Clickgreen Staff, ClickGreen

Scientists have discovered high levels of two potentially hazardous contaminants, ammonium and iodide, in wastewater being discharged or spilled into streams and rivers from oil and gas operations.

Levels of contamination were just as high in wastewater coming from conventional oil and gas wells as from hydraulically fractured shale gas wells.

January Marks National Radon Action Month
January 8, 2015 03:56 PM - US EPA Newsroom

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designated January as national Radon Action Month, a perfect time for you to protect your family by testing your home for radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, so testing is the only way to know if radon is present in your home or school. Test kits are available in home improvement centers, hardware stores and online. They cost approximately $20. The kits are simple to use with easy testing and mailing instructions. 

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products Could Taint Pools
January 6, 2015 01:01 PM - Purdue University

A new study suggests pharmaceuticals and chemicals from personal care products end up in swimming pools, possibly interacting with chlorine to produce disinfection byproducts with unknown properties and health effects. Chlorination is used primarily to prevent pathogenic microorganisms from growing. Previous research has shown that many constituents of urine including urea, uric acid, and amino acids, interact with chlorine to produce potentially hazardous disinfection byproducts in swimming pools. However, chemicals from pharmaceuticals and personal care products, or PPCPs, also could be interacting with chlorine, producing potentially harmful byproducts. 

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