Health

Water quality alerts do not seem to deter some surfers
August 16, 2014 07:23 AM - Oregon State University

Nearly three in 10 surfers admit they knowingly surf during health advisories — nearly the same amount that chooses not to surf during periods of elevated bacteria. About 40 percent of surfers said they were unaware if they had ever surfed during an active health advisory. The data can help public officials better warn surfers of potential health risks, said Anna Harding, co-author of the study and professor in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. "Beach advisories for bacteria are not having their intended effect of dissuading surfers," Harding said. “The lack of awareness about advisories — and willingness to take risks surfing in water that may be contaminated — suggests the need to educate surfers about behaviors that make them vulnerable to illness."

Herbicide Use To Increase Dramatically
August 15, 2014 10:50 AM - Editor, The Ecologist

The US is poised to 'deregulate' GMO corn, soybean and cotton varieties resistant to the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba. The result will be a big increase in the use of those herbicides, as high as 600%. Only a huge public outcry can now stop the GMO-herbicide juggernaut. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and proposed approval for new GMO corn and soybean varieties genetically engineered to be resistant to the toxic herbicide 2,4-D.

Chinese Traditional Medicine Threatens Turtle Populations
August 11, 2014 08:53 AM - Erin Crandall, MONGABAY.COM

For thousands of years turtles have been used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments and diseases. Originally published in the journal Radiata and recently republished HerpDigest David S. Lee and Liao Shi Kun write, "[In Chinese culture] turtles are symbolic of long life, personal wealth, fertility, strength, and happy households."

Can water-polluting drugs have a positive effect on fish?
August 8, 2014 08:13 AM - Editor, ENN

Many studies have shown that personal care products, like toothpaste, shampoo, and other drugs that we use and get into our wastewater have negatively affected fish populations, disrupting their endocrine systems. But can there be any positive effects? A new study shows that one antianxiety drug that made its way into a lake in Sweden has in fact, positively affected the Eurasian perch population, making them bolder, less social, and more active than unexposed fish, ultimately reducing their mortality rates.

How Did Ebola Zaire Get To Guniea?
August 6, 2014 04:13 PM - Daniel Stiles, MONGABAY.COM

Is the great ape trade responsible for the current outbreak of Ebola? The vicious Ebola virus outbreak that has already killed more than 800 people this year, in addition to sowing panic, fear and confusion throughout West Africa, was not a strain endemic to the region as initially believed. Instead the University of Edinburgh found that the strain is the same as the Ebola Zaïre found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaïre. TheRobert-Koch Institute in Germany confirmed the finding.

The Danger of Solar "Super-Storms"
August 5, 2014 01:45 PM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Watch out George Lucas fans, a Death Star may be in our horizons — and one would only have to look as far as our nearest stellar neighbor: the Sun. According to Mr. Ashley Dale of the University of Bristol, solar "super-storms" pose an imminent threat to the earth by disabling electricity and communication system — or worse. Thus, the celestial body that illuminates the world may very well be responsible for sending it into darkness. In this month's issue of PhysicsWorld, Mr. Dale writes: "Without power, people would struggle to fuel their cars at petrol stations, get money from cash dispensers or pay online. Water and sewage systems would be affected too, meaning that health epidemics in urbanized areas would quickly take a grip, with diseases behind centuries ago soon returning."

Toledo, Ohio water problems
August 3, 2014 09:14 AM - Codi Kozacek, Circle of Blue

The City of Toledo has issued a "Do Not Drink" advisory for residents served by Toledo Water after chemical tests confirmed the presence of unsafe levels of the algal toxin Microcystin in the drinking water plant’s finished water. The advisory, spanning three counties in Ohio and one in Michigan, leaves more than 400,000 people in the Toledo area without drinking water. "Do not drink the water," Melanie Amato, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Health, told Circle of Blue. "You can shower in it, bathe in it, but do not try to ingest it. That means no washing dishes; you can brush your teeth with it as long as you don’t swallow any water, but we recommend using bottled water for that as well."

Importance of Air Quality and Employee Productivity
July 30, 2014 09:19 PM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

A number of credible studies have shown that indoor air quality can have a significant effect on employee productivity. And we're not just talking about air that's so bad that you can't see or breathe. Generally speaking, OSHA takes cares of those (though I could tell you a story about an agricultural processing job I once worked in Arkansas). What we're talking about here is much more subtle than that.

Do "Fat taxes" work?
July 28, 2014 02:55 PM - EurActiv

Specific taxes on sugar, salt or fat do cause reductions in consumption, the European Commission found in a new report. But higher taxes may also merely encourage consumers to go for cheaper products, it warned. The precise impact of such "fat taxes" on the competitiveness of the European agriculture and food sector still needs to be fully assessed, the report added.

Groundwater depletion and western US water supply
July 24, 2014 04:34 PM - NASA and UC Irvine

A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought. This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.

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