• Giant, Toxic Weed Poses Health Risk

    It's exotic and beautiful, a 15-foot tall plant with clusters of dainty white flowers and human-sized leaves -- resembling, it is often said, Queen Anne's Lace on steroids. But giant hogweed is an invasive species that is spreading around much of the northern United States. Even worse, its sap is extremely poisonous, with the potential to cause blistering burns and even blindness. >> Read the Full Article
  • Johnson & Johnson Launches "Healthy Future 2015," Its Citizenship and Sustainability Goals

    NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Jul. 14 - As 2011 marks the 125th year of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), today the company announced the launch of Healthy Future 2015, a five-year strategic roadmap for its citizenship and sustainability priorities. Healthy Future 2015 encompasses the broadest and boldest goals to date for Johnson & Johnson in both environmental and non-environmental areas. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Coming Global Phosphate Crisis

    Phosphate is a mineral that is used in fertilizer to boost agricultural productivity. It is greatly responsible for the "green" revolution and the increased output of farms around the world. Unfortunately, the world will be coming to a point, if certain trends hold, where we will run out of phosphate. The mineral is widely used, but utterly unrecycled. Like fossil fuels, phosphate may come to a point where it is too costly to use, and world hunger may be the consequence. >> Read the Full Article
  • Mosquitos love Florida budget cuts

    James David's job of controlling mosquitoes in a part of Florida that Spanish explorers once dubbed "Los Mosquitos" is often futile. But this year, the fight "feels like a sort of hand-to-hand combat," said David, the mosquito control and coastal services director for St. Lucie County in southeast Florida. In the past two years, David's local government has cut 42 percent of mosquito control funding and a quarter of his staff. This year, the state slashed its contribution to local mosquito control by half. Just weeks ago, with a line-item veto, Republican Governor Rick Scott closed a university mosquito lab that David had relied on for pesticide research. All this comes as most local mosquito control officials agree the mosquito situation is the worst they have seen since 1998, when El Nino caused rampant rains and the pesky insects that come with them, said Shelly Redovan, executive director of the Florida Mosquito Control Association. "It's a bad mosquito year," Redovan said. "And when you've also got reduced funding, it's going to be tough." >> Read the Full Article
  • Advice to drink 8 glasses of water a day 'nonsense,' argues doctor

    The recommendation to drink six to eight glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration "is not only nonsense, but is thoroughly debunked nonsense," argues GP, Margaret McCartney in this week's BMJ (British Medical Journal). There is currently no clear evidence of benefit from drinking increased amounts of water, she says, yet the "we-don't-drink-enough-water" myth has endless advocates, including the NHS. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chemicals Found in Household Products Linked to Thyroid Hormone Disruption

    Phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA) are chemicals that are commonly found in plastics and household products such as solvents and cleaners. Being common in places that people live and eat, they will eventually make their way into the body. A new large study out of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has linked the abundance of these chemicals in the human body with thyroid function. Disrupting the thyroid's proper functioning can affect many important body systems such as reproduction, metabolism, and energy levels. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hungary introduces 'fat tax' to boost nation's health

    Food considered to be unhealthy, including crisps, soft drinks and chocolate bars, are now subject to a new tax in Hungary. The new law, introduced on 11 July, is aimed at "improving the health of the nation". Initially called 'the hamburger tax', the measure was dubbed 'crisps tax' or 'fat tax' after the Hungarian government decided that it would not affect fast food restaurants. >> Read the Full Article
  • Incredible: The Gift of Regaining Sight!

    High up in the mountains of Nepal, life seems idyllic. Rising up from lush cloud forests at lower altitudes, to bare summits that literally take your breath away. Yet living at altitudes of over 4,000meters (13,000feet) the proximity to nature is so close, that the mountain people who live there are being effected by a factor that only ever seems beneficial: light. In Human Planet's Mountains episode, the BBC Earth team trekked up high into the impressive landscape to document the work of two Doctors who were literally changing people's lives, in just 24 just hours. Through dedication and sheer ingenuity, Drs. Ruit, Tabin and their team developed a procedure that can see the cataracts that have left large numbers of people blind for two years or more, can be removed and replaced. Allowing them to see their homes, families and friends once again. >> Read the Full Article
  • Yellowstone River water not toxic from spill, according to EPA

    Water downstream from a ruptured Exxon Mobil pipeline that leaked oil into the Yellowstone River showed no detectable levels of toxic petroleum chemicals, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents released on Saturday. But Montana environmental officials told Reuters that in the week since the spill at least five people have been treated at local hospital emergency rooms for symptoms including dizziness and respiratory distress after being exposed to fumes from oil. "There could be many more," said Mary Ann Dunwell, spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Reports of spill-related illnesses are being compiled by the state's epidemiologist. >> Read the Full Article
  • Africa drought endangers 500,000 children

    The lives of half a million children in the Horn of Africa are at risk, international aid agencies said on Friday, as the worst drought in decades forces thousands of people to flee their homes each day. High food prices and the driest years since the early 1950s have pushed many poor families in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti into desperate need, UNICEF said. "We have over two million children who are malnourished. Half a million of these children are in a life-threatening condition at this stage -- a 50 percent increase over 2009 figures," UNICEF spokesman Marixie Mercado told a news briefing. Child malnutrition rates in some camps are at least 45 percent, triple the emergency threshold, Mercado said. Child mortality rates are also very high. "At one camp in Ethiopia it is above the emergency threshold of four deaths per 10,000 children per day and that is also the case in the Turkana district of Kenya," she said. >> Read the Full Article