• Cooking Stoves in Developing Nations Linked to Pneumonia

    In many developing nations around the world, cooking is primarily done over a wood-burning fire pit. It is estimated that this is the primary cooking and heating source for 43% of the global population, about 3 billion people. A team of international researchers have found that pneumonia is linked with young children who are continuously exposed to the smoke from cooking fires. They found that if smoke-reducing chimneys are used on the cooking stoves, cases of severe pneumonia can be reduced by one-third. >> Read the Full Article
  • The hidden costs of gold: mercury poisoning blights mining communities

    The high price of gold has sent thousands into the informal mining sector and exposed workers and the environment to the devastating effects of mercury poisoning. Trembling and irritable, at times psychotic, the hat makers of 19th
 century England were know to be a bit odd, at best. Separating fur from animal skins, they washed them in a compound
 called mercury nitrate a process that released vapors into steaming 
air already choked with fumes. >> Read the Full Article
  • Thai floods recede in places

    The center of Thailand's capital, Bangkok, looks like it will escape the flooding that has hit some suburbs and provinces to its north, but evacuation orders are still issued each day in outer districts and many residents face weeks of hardship. The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said Monday 562 people had died in the flooding since late July and that 22 of Thailand's 77 provinces were still affected. Flooding is receding in parts of Bangkok but remains high on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river, swollen by high tides in the Gulf of Thailand, and to the east of the capital, where authorities have diverted run-off floodwater from the north to try to protect the heart of densely populated Bangkok. Kawin Prachanukul, a 21-year-old student at Bangkok's Thammasat University, decided to stay with his dog in his home in Nong Kham district in the west of Bangkok, when it flooded in early November. "My food supplies are starting to run out. Now I've just got some packs of instant noodles left. But it's not too bad for me -- at least I'm able to walk through the knee-deep water in my street to the main road, where there are a few food vendors," he said, adding that only a few men remained in his neighborhood. >> Read the Full Article
  • Key malaria parasite discovery raises vaccine hopes

    [LONDON] Hopes for a vaccine that would be effective against many different types of the deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, have been raised by research published today. Researchers have discovered a single mechanism that the parasite relies on to invade human red blood cells. >> Read the Full Article
  • Lead Air Quality

    It has long been understood that lead in water is not good. Well neither is lead in the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that available air quality information indicates that 39 states are meeting the health-based national air quality standards for lead set in 2008. Based on 2008 to 2010 air quality monitoring data, EPA also determined that Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and Puerto Rico each have one area that does not meet the agency’s health based standards for lead. Exposure to lead may impair a child’s IQ, learning capabilities and behavior. >> Read the Full Article
  • Second Hand Smoke at Home

    Strong clean indoor air laws are associated with large increases in voluntary smoke free home policies both in the homes with and without smokers according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. These results support the hypothesis of norm spreading of clean indoor air laws. There has been concern that such laws might encourage smokers to smoke more in their homes or other private venues. Children living in a home with an adult smoker may be up to twice as likely to take up smoking themselves. The present study of the U.S. uses the individual-level data from the Tobacco Use Supplements to Current Population Survey to investigate the influence of smoke free workplace and public place laws on the presence of smoke free rules in U.S. homes. >> Read the Full Article
  • Thai PM pledges flood relief as fight for Bangkok goes on

    Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged more than $4 billion on Wednesday to help Thailand recover from the worst floods in half a century, as workers slowed the flow of water threatening the commercial heart of the capital, Bangkok. Evacuation orders have spread to a third of Bangkok's districts, mostly in the north of the densely populated city of 12 million people, since late October, as floodwater strewn with trash slowly seeps in from northern and northeastern provinces. Yingluck, a political novice elected this year, said about 120 billion baht($3.9 billion) had been set aside for a flood recovery effort, a figure that rises to 130 billion baht ($4.2 billion) when local government funds are added. On the streets of Bangkok, few see an end to the slow-moving disaster that began after tropical storm Nock-ten battered Southeast Asia in late July. Since then, at least 529 people have been killed, many electrocuted or drowned, in floods that have affected 63 of Thailand's 77 provinces. >> Read the Full Article
  • After Images

    Here is a strange thought/illusion to consider. When we gaze at a shape and then the shape disappears, a strange thing happens: We see an afterimage in the complementary color. Now a Japanese study has observed for the first time an equally strange illusion: The afterimage appears in a complementary shape—circles as hexagons, and vice-versa. "The finding suggests that the afterimage is formed in the brain, not in the eye," the author, Hiroyuki Ito of Kyushu University, wrote in an email. More specifically, the illusion is produced in the brain’s shape-processing visual cortex, not the eye’s light-receiving, message-sending retina. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science. >> Read the Full Article
  • Oklahoma earthquake causes damage

    Fourteen homes were damaged late on Saturday in the largest earthquake to hit Oklahoma on record, emergency management officials said on Sunday. The 5.6-magnitude earthquake's epicenter, located 44 miles east of Oklahoma City, was felt as far away as Wisconsin and South Carolina, but there were no serious injuries, officials said. The Oklahoma health department reported two minor injuries, neither requiring hospitalization. The largest earthquake previously recorded in Oklahoma was a 5.5-magnitude tremor in 1952, according to the Geological Survey. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has warned people to expect more aftershocks, said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the state emergency management department. Saturday's quake rippled north through Kansas and into Missouri, rattling windows and waking sleeping residents, though there were no reports of damage or injuries there. >> Read the Full Article
  • Waterlogged Thailand will struggle to prevent future floods

    As waterlogged Thailand struggles to contain the worst floods in decades, it faces a simple truth: not a whole lot can be done to avoid a repeat disaster in the short term even with a new multi-billion dollar water-management policy. City dwellers and farmers displaced since the floods began in July, killing 427 people, and foreign investors waiting to pump out factories could face the same thing when the rainy season rolls around again in the middle of next year. But there are short-term steps to reduce the risk, including better cooperation between agencies with over-lapping responsibilities and an improvement in the management of dams that feed water down into the central flood plain. At times since the crisis began unfolding, rivalry between different arms of government exacerbated by divided political loyalties has appeared to derail efforts to stop the deadliest flooding in half a century. "A main weakness in the system is coordination and that can be improved if people set aside their egos. It has to be non-partisan," said Chaiyuth Sukhsri, head of faculty at the Water Resources Engineering Department at Chulalongkorn University. >> Read the Full Article