Health

Light rail-based air quality monitoring study launched in Salt Lake City
January 31, 2015 09:33 AM - University of Utah

A team of University of Utah researchers has launched an air pollution monitoring project that will result in a better understanding of air quality across the Wasatch Front.

Utah researchers Logan Mitchell, Erik Crosman, John Horel, and John Lin of the University of Utah’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences are a few months in to the ongoing project, in which data are being gathered from sensors mounted on TRAX trains, in coordination with several partners in the community.

The project seeks to measure pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ozone and greenhouse gases, as well as meteorology using instruments installed on the Utah Transit Authority’s light rail train (TRAX) that travels through the Salt Lake Valley. 

ADHD linked to pesticide exposure
January 29, 2015 06:57 AM - Rutgers University

A commonly used pesticide may alter the development of the brain’s dopamine system -- responsible for emotional expression and cognitive function – and increase the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, according to a new Rutgers study.

Mice exposed to a commonly used pesticide in utero and through lactation exhibited several features of ADHD, including dysfunctional dopamine signaling in the brain, hyperactivity, working memory, attention deficits and impulsive-like behavior.

The research published Wednesday in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), by Rutgers scientists and colleagues from Emory University, the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Wake Forest University discovered that mice exposed to the pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin in utero and through lactation exhibited several features of ADHD, including dysfunctional dopamine signaling in the brain, hyperactivity, working memory, attention deficits and impulsive-like behavior.

New analysis explores trends in global plastic consumption and recycling
January 28, 2015 03:35 PM - Gaelle Gourmelon, Worldwatch Institute

For more than 50 years, global production of plastic has continued to rise. Some 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012. Recovery and recycling, however, remain insufficient, and millions of tons of plastics end up in landfills and oceans each year, writes Gaelle Gourmelon, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Worldwatch Institute, in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online article.

Pollution Blamed as Leading Cause of Death in Developing World
January 28, 2015 08:51 AM - Alexis Petru, Triple Pundit

In 2012, pollution – in the form of contaminated soil, water, and both indoor and outdoor air – was responsible for 8.4 million deaths in developing countries, finds Pollution: The Silent Killer of Millions in Poor Countries. That’s almost three times more deaths than those caused by malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined: Malaria claimed 600,000 lives in 2012, HIV/AIDS caused 1.5 million deaths and tuberculosis killed 900,000 individuals.

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.

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