Study shows presence of any calcified plaque significantly raises risk of heart disease for people under age 50
February 8, 2017 01:08 PM - Vanderbilt University Medical Center

A major report led by Vanderbilt investigators found that the mere presence of even a small amount of calcified coronary plaque, more commonly referred to as coronary artery calcium (CAC), in people under age 50 — even small amounts — was strongly associated with increased risk of developing clinical coronary heart disease over the ensuing decade.

Drought identified as key to severity of West Nile virus epidemics
February 8, 2017 10:53 AM - Tim Stephens via University of California - Santa Cruz

A study led by UC Santa Cruz researchers has found that drought dramatically increases the severity of West Nile virus epidemics in the United States, although populations affected by large outbreaks acquire immunity that limits the size of subsequent epidemics.

The study, published February 8 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, involved researchers from UC Santa Cruz, Stanford University, and the New York State Department of Health. They analyzed 15 years of data on human West Nile virus infections from across the United States and found that epidemics were much larger in drought years and in regions that had not suffered large epidemics in the past.

University of Toronto scientist says diesel trains may expose passengers to exhaust
February 8, 2017 08:29 AM - University of Toronto

A new U of T study finds that diesel trains may expose passengers to elevated levels of certain pollutants, especially if they are sitting directly behind the locomotive.

University of Toronto scientist says diesel trains may expose passengers to exhaust
February 8, 2017 08:29 AM - University of Toronto

A new U of T study finds that diesel trains may expose passengers to elevated levels of certain pollutants, especially if they are sitting directly behind the locomotive.

Air pollution linked to heightened risk of Type 2 diabetes in obese Latino children
February 7, 2017 04:52 PM - Zen Vuong via University of Southern California

Latino children who live in areas with higher levels of air pollution have a heightened risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new USC-led study.

Scientists tracked children’s health and respective levels of residential air pollution for about 3.5 years before associating chronic unhealthy air exposure to a breakdown in beta cells, special pancreatic cells that secrete insulin and maintain the appropriate sugar level in the bloodstream.

High Selenium Levels Found in Fish in N.C. Lakes Receiving Coal Ash Waste
February 7, 2017 04:47 PM - Duke University

A new Duke University study has found high levels of selenium in fish in three North Carolina lakes receiving power plants’ coal ash waste.

“Across the board, we’re seeing elevated selenium levels in fish from lakes affected by coal combustion residual effluents,” said Jessica Brandt, a doctoral student in environmental health at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study.

Campus natural gas power plants pose no radon risks
February 7, 2017 10:13 AM - David Kubarek via Penn State

When Penn State decided to convert its two power plants from their historic use of coal as a source of energy to natural gas, there was concern about radon emissions. Although radon is known to exist in natural gas, now Penn State research indicates that it does not escape from these two power plants in harmful amounts.

By converting the West Campus Steam Plant on the University Park Campus, Penn State reduced its greenhouse gas emissions at the plant by nearly 40 percent, but the University wanted to make sure that the conversion was not causing a significant increase of radon levels in the atmosphere. Penn State also operates a second power plant on the East end of campus near its football stadium.

NASA Highlights Science Launching on Next SpaceX Cargo Mission
February 7, 2017 08:27 AM - NASA

NASA will host a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 8, to discuss research investigations launching aboard the next SpaceX commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station. Among the investigations are experiments with potential to fight human disease and a new autonomous spacecraft docking technology for testing.

SLAC Study Helps Explain Why Uranium Persists in Groundwater at Former Mining Sites
February 6, 2017 10:13 AM - SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Decades after a uranium mine is shuttered, the radioactive element can still persist in groundwater at the site, despite cleanup efforts.

A recent study led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory helps describe how the contaminant cycles through the environment at former uranium mining sites and why it can be difficult to remove. Contrary to assumptions that have been used for modeling uranium behavior, researchers found the contaminant binds to organic matter in sediments. The findings provide more accurate information for monitoring and remediation at the sites.

The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2014, researchers at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) began collaborating with the DOE Office of Legacy Management, which handles contaminated sites associated with the legacy of DOE’s nuclear energy and weapons production activities. Through projects associated with the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act, the DOE remediated 22 sites in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico where uranium had been extracted and processed during the 1940s to 1970s.

Change in astronaut's gut bacteria attributed to spaceflight
February 3, 2017 10:33 AM - Megan Fellman via Northwestern University

Northwestern University researchers studying the gut bacteria of Scott and Mark Kelly, NASA astronauts and identical twin brothers, as part of a unique human study have found that changes to certain gut “bugs” occur in space.

The Northwestern team is one of 10 NASA-funded research groups studying the Kelly twins to learn how living in space for a long period of time -- such as a mission to Mars -- affects the human body. While Scott spent nearly a year in space, his brother, Mark, remained on Earth, as a ground-based control.

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