Health

Can outdoor activity be BAD for you?
September 5, 2014 10:13 AM - Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, via EurekAlert

Residential geography, time spent in the sun, and whether or not sunglasses are worn may help explain why some people develop exfoliation syndrome (XFS), an eye condition that is a leading cause of secondary open-angle glaucoma and can lead to an increased risk of cataract and cataract surgery complications, according to a study published on Sept. 4 in JAMA, Ophthalmology. Despite improvements in understanding the cause of this common yet life-altering condition, more work needs to be done. "The discovery that common genetic variants in the lysyl oxidase-like 1 gene (LOXL1) are associated with 99 percent of XFS cases represented a significant advance in our understanding of this condition," said the study's lead author, Louis Pasquale, M.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and director of the HMS Glaucoma Center of Excellence and Mass. Eye and Ear Glaucoma Service and Telemedicine Service. "However, 80 percent of control individuals also harbor these variants and that ratio of cases to control individuals with trait-related variants is fairly similar in regions where XFS is very prevalent and in regions where the condition is relatively rare; this suggests that other genetic or environmental factors contribute to XFS."

More benefits of green neighborhoods
September 4, 2014 02:32 PM - Oregon State Universtity

Mothers who live in neighborhoods with plenty of grass, trees or other green vegetation are more likely to deliver at full term and their babies are born at higher weights, compared to mothers who live in urban areas that aren’t as green, a new study shows. The findings held up even when results were adjusted for factors such as neighborhood income, exposure to air pollution, noise, and neighborhood walkability, according to researchers at Oregon State University and the University of British Columbia.

Office Plants Increase Productivity by 15%
September 2, 2014 02:26 PM - Editor, ENN

Do you have any plants in your office? What about at home? It may take a green thumb to keep these potted floras alive and well, but studies show that indoor plants have multiple benefits and are worth the care and attention. Some benefits include helping us breathe easier, purifying air and improving health, and even sharpening our focus. According to a new study, plants can even make work environments more productive. Researchers claim that 'green' offices with plants make staff happier and more productive than 'lean' designs stripped of greenery.

Bike sharing benefits
September 2, 2014 07:27 AM - Raz Godelnik , Triple Pundit

While the sharing economy seems to have a growing number of fans, it also seems to generate more questions about its economic and social impacts. Interestingly, one part that is still missing from these discussions (well, not entirely) is the environmental impacts of the sharing economy. The general notion is that the sharing economy has a positive environmental impact as it promotes a greater use of underutilized assets. But is this true?

Wine may be better for you if you exercise!
August 31, 2014 10:03 AM - European Society of Cardiology, via EurekAlert

Wine only protects against cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people who exercise, according to results from the In Vino Veritas (IVV) study presented at ESC Congress today by Professor Milos Taborsky from the Czech Republic. Professor Taborsky said: "This is the first randomised trial comparing the effects of red and white wine on markers of atherosclerosis (1) in people at mild to moderate risk of CVD. We found that moderate wine drinking was only protective in people who exercised. Red and white wine produced the same results."

Dengue reported in Japan
August 28, 2014 06:23 PM - Dennis Normile, Science

After reporting the country's first domestically acquired case of dengue fever in nearly 70 years yesterday, Japan's health ministry today confirmed finding two more patients. The initial patient, a girl in her teens, had a sudden onset of high fever on 20 August and was hospitalized in Saitama City, near Tokyo. Hospital staff, suspecting dengue, on 26 August sent blood samples to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, which confirmed the diagnosis.

A Fukushima-Sized Problem
August 27, 2014 11:45 AM - Karl Grossman, The Ecologist

A newly-exposed report by Diablo Canyon's lead nuclear inspector shows that the twin reactors are unsafe, writes Karl Grossman. An earthquake on nearby geological faults could trigger a Fukushima-scale accident causing 10,000 early fatalities. The owner's response? Apply to extend the site's operation for another 20 years. As aftershocks of the 6.0 Napa earthquake that occurred Sunday in California continued, the Associated Press revealed a secret government report pointing to major earthquake vulnerabilities at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plants which are a little more than 200 miles away and sitting amid a webwork of earthquake faults.

Uncontrolled Trash Burning Significantly Worsens Air Pollution
August 26, 2014 04:20 PM - UCAR AtmosNews

Unregulated trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research estimates that more than 40 percent of the world's garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.

How Cutting Emissions Pays Off
August 25, 2014 04:28 PM - Audrey Resutek, MIT News

Lower rates of asthma and other health problems are frequently cited as benefits of policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, because these policies also lead to reductions in other harmful types of air pollution. But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions?

Fracking's Chemical Cocktails
August 22, 2014 09:15 AM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy. Environmental engineer William Stringfellow and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific told the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco that they scoured databases and reports to compile a list of the chemicals commonly used in fracking.

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