Lifestyle

Nuclear waste site near St Louis threatened by landfill fire
November 3, 2015 07:49 AM - VĂ©ronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio, NPR

Imagine you are a parent, and that out of the blue, you get a letter from your child's school telling you not to worry — that they're ready to evacuate or shelter in place if an underground fire at a nearby landfill reaches radioactive waste on the same property.

That's pretty much what happened recently in suburban St. Louis.

Landfill fires are pretty common. But this one is different: It's only about a thousand feet away from nearly 9,000 tons of nuclear waste — and there's no barrier in between.

Dancing makes you feel good and help bond with others
October 28, 2015 08:49 AM - Universtiy of Oxford

Dancing in time with others raises your pain threshold, Oxford University researchers have found.

A team from the University's Experimental Psychology and Anthropology Departments wanted to see whether our feelings of social closeness when dancing with others might be linked to endorphins – the body’s 'feel good' chemicals.

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that form part of the brain’s pain control system, but they are also implicated in social bonding. Dr Bronwyn Tarr explained: 'Dance is an important activity around the world, and it could be a way to connect with other people and feel socially bonded. We wanted to see the effect of high and low energy, and synchronised and unsynchronised dancing had on both pain threshold and the sense of bondedness to fellow group-members.'

Is tattoo ink safe?
October 16, 2015 11:35 AM - Smithsonian News

Tattoos really are more than skin deep—and that raises questions about their safety.

Many people enjoy the aesthetic beauty of tattoos. But the brightly colored inks that make tattoos so vibrant and striking also carry health concerns, report authors of a new paper related to tattoo safety.

According to the Pew Research Center, 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo; roughly $1.65 billion is spent on tattoos each year in the U.S.

Solar powered water purification
October 8, 2015 06:48 AM - Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office

Deep in the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula, residents of the remote Mexican village of La Mancalona are producing clean drinking water using the power of the sun.

For nearly two years now, members of the community, most of whom are subsistence farmers, have operated and maintained a solar-powered water purification system engineered by researchers at MIT.

The system consists of two solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity; these, in turn, power a set of pumps that push water through semiporous membranes in a filtration process called reverse osmosis. The setup purifies both brackish well water and collected rainwater, producing about 1,000 liters of purified water a day for the 450 residents.

The Gypsies problem in Europe
October 4, 2015 07:34 AM - Dan Allen, University of Salford, The Ecologist

Under new planning rules, Travellers and Gypsies must be able to prove they are actually traveling to qualify for limited planning benefits to create new sites. But for many, it's impossible to do that. Not only to remain in employment, or education - but precisely because there are so few sites, that they are unable to travel.

Living on an unauthorised campsite carries a heavy weight of suffering and disadvantage. Travellers contend daily with the risk of criminalisation and eviction, as well as limited access to basic services such as running water and sanitation.

Any attempt to subsume diverse groups under one label is going to be fraught with tension - and this is certainly true in terms of the word 'Traveller'.

Do you favor hotels that ask you to reuse your towels?
October 2, 2015 06:40 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

Hotels across the globe are increasingly encouraging guests to embrace green practices. Yet while guests think they are supporting the environment by shutting off lights and reusing towels, they may in fact be victims of "greenwashing," a corporation's deceitful practice of promoting environmentally friendly programmes while banking the extra profits.

Greenwashing practices, such as a sign that reads "save the planet: re-use towels," coupled with claims of corporate social responsibility, have soiled the trust of American consumers who are increasingly recognizing hotels' green claims may be self-serving. This could cause hotels to lose valuable repeat customers.

Cancer drug found to sharpen memory, potential for Alzheimer's treatment
October 2, 2015 06:13 AM - Robin Lally, Rutgers University

Can you imagine a drug that would make it easier to learn a language, sharpen your memory and help those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by rewiring the brain and keeping neurons alive?

People with a dementia such as Alzheimer's disease lose their memory when brain cells shrink and die because connections can no longer transfer information.

New Rutgers research published in the Journal Neuroscience found that a drug – RGFP966 – administered to rats made them more attuned to what they were hearing, able to retain and remember more information, and develop new connections that allowed these memories to be transmitted between brain cells.

The Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal and it's potential impact on VW owners
October 1, 2015 06:53 AM - YUKI NOGUCHI, NPR

Out of the 250 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads, the impending recall at Volkswagen will involve just a half-million of them. But VW's emissions cheating scandal is receiving outsize attention because many of the company's customers feel duped. Now those customers are weighing what it will take to make them feel whole again.

David Chien of Williston, Vt., was looking for a bigger, fuel-efficient car that could power its way through Northeastern snow. He says the 2013 Jetta SportWagen he bought "seemed to check all the boxes."

Insect protein and our food
September 27, 2015 07:00 AM - Laurie Balbo, Green Prophet

A start-up business focused on finding new ways of using insect protein in food products is a finalist in this year’s MassChallenge, the Boston-based start-up competition and world’s largest accelerator program. Get over your squeamishness, because bug-based foods will soon infest our markets.

The “elevator pitch” for Israel-based The Flying Spark states their intent to manufacture protein powder based on insect larvae that can be added to a wide range of food products, replacing today’s protein powders – commonly made from whey, soy, or casein. Insects contain extremely high protein, fiber, micro-nutrients and mineral content. They’re also naturally low in fat, and cholesterol-free. The tipping point for this product’s potential is that insect protein will cost less to produce than any other source of animal protein.

Pesticide use leads to endocrine disrupters in French lettuce
September 25, 2015 07:33 AM - Journal de environnement by Romain Loury translated by Samuel White via EurActiv

An investigation has found that the majority of French lettuce contains traces of hormone disrupting chemicals, some of which are banned. Journal de l Environnement reports. 

The French NGO Générations Futures released the results of an inquiry into chemical contamination in food products on Tuesday (22 September). After examining the contaminants in strawberries in July 2013, the NGO published a report this week entitled EXPPERT 5, examining lettuce, the fourth most popular vegetable in France.

The findings were less than impressive: of the 31 products bought in supermarkets in the French departments of the Oise and the Somme, grown on conventional farms, over 77% contained traces of at least two pesticides, and only 19% were pesticide-free.

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