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Alzheimer’s Disease and Lead Exposure
December 10, 2013 07:10 AM - Science
Researchers striving to understand the origins of dementia are building the case against a possible culprit: lead exposure early in life. A study spanning 23 years has now revealed that monkeys who drank a lead-rich formula as infants later developed tangles of a key brain protein, called tau, linked to Alzheimer's disease. Though neuroscientists say more work is needed to confirm the connection, the research suggests that people exposed to lead as children—as many in America used to be before it was eliminated from paint, car emissions, water, and soil—could have an increased risk of the common, late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease. Even in small doses, lead can wreak havoc on the heart, intestines, kidneys, and nervous system. Children are especially prone to its pernicious effects, as it curbs brain development. Many studies have linked early lead exposure with lower IQs. Researchers estimate that one in 38 children in the United States still have harmful levels of the metal in their systems, but evidence linking this exposure to dementia later in life has been tenuous.
Research shows the skin can communicate with the liver
December 7, 2013 08:57 AM - University of Southern Denmark via EurekAlert
Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have discovered that the skin is capable of communicating with the liver. The discovery has surprised the scientists, and they say that it may help our understanding of how skin diseases can affect the rest of the body. Professor Susanne Mandrup and her research group in collaboration with Nils F√¶rgeman's research group at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark was actually studying something completely different when they made the groundbreaking discovery: That the skin, which is the body's largest organ, can "talk" to the liver.
COLLEGIATE CORNER: State boundaries based on watersheds
December 6, 2013 02:56 PM - Catherine Manner, University of Delaware, class of 2015
In 1872, John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the Colorado River to explore unknown canyons. In his report he spoke about potential for water resources development and stated that irrigation would be the key factor to settlement of the western U.S. He promoted the idea that the western state boundaries should be made around watersheds, preventing interstate water arguments.
Meat Consumption on the Rise
December 6, 2013 09:20 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
A new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has measured the "trophic level" of human beings for the first time. Falling between 1 and 5.5, trophic levels refer to where species fit on the food chain. Apex predators like tigers and sharks are given a 5.5 on trophic scale since they survive almost entirely on consuming meat, while plants and phytoplankton, which make their own food, are at the bottom of the scale. Humans, according to the new paper, currently fall in the middle: 2.21. However, rising meat-eating in countries like China, India, and Brazil is pushing our trophic level higher with massive environmental impacts.
Triple insulated windows: Baby, it's cold outside!
December 4, 2013 11:20 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Boasting a savings of 12% whole house energy consumption savings it is tempting to immediately order new highly insulated windows for the whole house. But before you do, consider the payback. Sure, you will be snug as a bug inside the house but according to the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), it takes two decades or more for these highly insulated windows to provide a utility bill return on investment.
Developing technology for the developing world: Earthquake detection via smartphone
December 2, 2013 01:01 PM - Fred Furtado, SciDevNet
Countries that do not have or cannot afford earthquake detection systems may soon have an alternative thanks to a new technology being developed in the United States and discussed last week at the 6th World Science Forum (WSF), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
COLLEGIATE CORNER: Consumer Awareness and Micro Plastics
December 2, 2013 11:10 AM - Madeline Valinski, University of Delaware, Environmental Studies, 2015
Micro plastics are some of the worst water pollutants; they not only harm the local wildlife, but also accumulate into fish that humans consume and cause major health problems. These micro plastics are accumulating not only in oceans, but also freshwater areas, like the Great Lakes. In fact, a 2012 study conducted by the Burning River Foundation found approximately 80,000 particles of micro plastic per km2 in Lake Erie. This high concentration of micro plastic particles is highly concerning for human health and the health of local ecosystems.
Clean water filtration: basic necessity
November 27, 2013 01:30 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Clean water is a vital concern as many parts of the world struggle with its availability. Kenya is a prime example of a country on the edge. Kenya's people have long struggled with lack of availability of fresh water creating hazardous health conditions. According to the World Bank, the country's population is well over 43 million people. The country is one of the poorest on the earth with one of the most arid climates. Only a small portion of the land is suitable for agriculture. Further, Natural resources available to Kenya do not support adequate or equitable delivery of water forcing people to spend many hours of each day, procuring water for basic sustenance.
Ammonia threatens national parks
November 27, 2013 09:09 AM - ENN, Staff
Ammonia emissions have become a serious concern for scientists at Harvard University. Of particular note, thirty eight U.S. national parks are experiencing “accidental”Ě fertilization”Ě at or above a critical threshold for ecological damage according the study recently published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
80,000 acres swallowed up
November 25, 2013 02:58 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
The United States has lost approximately 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands between 2004 and 2009 according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Much of this loss is blamed on development and has occurred in freshwater regions. Additionally, more than 70% of the loss is from the Gulf of Mexico. According to the EPA wetland loss in the eastern U.S. is happening at a rate double that of what is being restored.