Top Stories

When you stop at a red light you are exposed to higher levels of air pollution

UK commuters spend an average of about 1.5 hours a day at the wheel. Road vehicles in particular are known to emit polluting nanoparticles which contribute to respiratory and heart diseases. Now, researchers at the University of Surrey have found that where drivers spend just 2% of their journey time passing through traffic intersections managed by lights, this short duration contributes to about 25% of total exposure to these harmful particles. 

The team monitored drivers' exposure to air pollutants at various points of a journey. Signalised traffic intersections were found to be high pollution hot-spots due to the frequent changes in driving conditions.

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New study calculates magnitude of plastic waste going into the ocean

A plastic grocery bag cartwheels down the beach until a gust of wind spins it into the ocean. In 192 coastal countries, this scenario plays out over and over again as discarded beverage bottles, food wrappers, toys and other bits of plastic make their way from estuaries, seashores and uncontrolled landfills to settle in the world's seas.

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Children in cities have increased risk of neurological damage due to air pollution

Pollution in many cities threatens the brain development in children. Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Calderón-Garcidueñas’ findings are detailed in a paper titled “Air pollution and children: Neural and tight junction antibodies and combustion metals, the role of barrier breakdown and brain immunity in neurodegeneration.” 

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How much sleep do you really need?

Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researcher Lydia DonCarlos, PhD, is a member of an expert panel that's making new recommendations on how much sleep people need.

The panel, convened by the National Sleep Foundation, is making its recommendations based on age, ranging from newborns (who need 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day) to adults aged 65 and up (7 to 8 hours per day).

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Dead wood helps to balance habitats and manage wildfires

Healthy forest ecosystems need dead wood to provide important habitat for birds and mammals, but there can be too much of a good thing when dead wood fuels severe wildfires. A scientist with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) compared historic and recent data from a forest in California's central Sierra Nevada region to determine how logging and fire exclusion have changed the amounts and sizes of dead wood over time. Results were recently published in Forest Ecology and Management.

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Plant turns cow manure to ethanol

Tulare County, California, recently surpassed nearby Fresno County as the top agriculture-producing county in terms of economic value within the U.S. It’s also the country’s top dairy producing county. The result has been more investment and economic growth in a rapidly booming area already home to 450,000 people.

But there is also a downside to the local dairy industry’s continued surge: The San Joaquin Valley suffers from some of worst air pollution in the U.S., and cow effluent is a threat to the region’s already troubled watersheds.

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19,500 square miles of polar ice melts into oceans each year

Sea ice increases in Antarctica do not make up for the accelerated Arctic sea ice loss of the last three decades, according to the stark findings of a new NASA study. As a whole, the planet has been shedding sea ice at an average annual rate of 13,500 square miles (35,000 square kilometers) since 1979, the equivalent of losing an area of sea ice larger than the state of Maryland every year. Sea ice increases in Antarctica do not make up for the accelerated Arctic sea ice loss of the last three decades, according to the stark findings of a new NASA study.

 

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New Study Predicts Plant Responses to Drought

A new U.S. Geological Survey study shows how plants’ vulnerability to drought varies across the landscape; factors such as plant structure and soil type where the plant is growing can either make them more vulnerable or protect them from declines. Recent elevated temperatures and prolonged droughts in many already water-limited regions throughout the world, including the southwestern U.S., are likely to intensify according to future climate model projections.

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'Stressed' young bees could be to blame for colony collapse

Researchers have tracked the activity of bees forced to begin foraging earlier in their lives due to stress on their colonies and found that they collect less pollen and die earlier, accelerating the decline and collapse of their hives. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a major threat to bee colonies around the world and affects their ability to perform vital human food crop pollination. It has been a cause of urgent concern for scientists and farmers around the world for at least a decade but a specific cause for the phenomenon has yet to be conclusively identified.

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Autoimmune disease risk found related to mercury exposure

One of the greatest risk factors for autoimmunity among women of childbearing age may be associated with exposure to mercury such as through seafood, a new University of Michigan study says.

The findings, which appear in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that mercury - even at low levels generally considered safe - was associated with autoimmunity. Autoimmune disorders, which cause the body's immune system to attack healthy cells by mistake, affects nearly 50 million Americans and predominately women.

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