Save money and the planet: Turn your old milk jugs into 3-D printer filament

Making your own stuff with a 3D printer is vastly cheaper than what you’d pay for manufactured goods, even factoring in the cost of buying the plastic filament.Yet, you can drive the cost down even more by making your own filament from old milk jugs. And, while you are patting yourself on the back for saving 99 cents on the dollar, there’s a bonus: you can feel warm and fuzzy about preserving the environment.A study led by Joshua Pearce of Michigan Technological University has shown that making your own plastic 3D printer filament from milk jugs uses less energy — often a lot less — than recycling milk jugs conventionally.Pearce’s team did a life-cycle analysis on a run-of-the-mill milk jug made from HDPE plastic. After cleaning it and cutting it in pieces, they ran it through an office shredder and a RecycleBot, which turns waste plastic into 3D printer filament.Compared to an ideal urban recycling program, which collects and processes plastic locally, turning milk jugs into filament at home uses about 3 percent less energy. “Where it really shows substantial savings is in smaller towns like Houghton, where you have to transport the plastic to be collected, then again to be recycled, and a third time to be made into products,” said Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering. Then the energy savings skyrocket to 70-80 percent. And, recycling your own milk jugs uses 90 percent less energy than making virgin plastic from petroleum.Pearce also compared the cost of making your own filament with buying it.”Filament is retailing for between $36 and $50 a kilogram, and you can produce your own filament for 10 cents a kilogram if you use recycled plastic,” he said. “There’s a clear incentive, even if you factor in the cost of buying the RecycleBot.”Commercial variants like the Filastruder cost under $300.HDPE plastic isn’t ideal. “It shrinks slightly as it cools, so you have to take that into account,” said Pearce. “But if you are making something like a statue or a pencil holder, it doesn’t matter.”This new recycling technology has caught the eye of the Ethical Filament Foundation, which aims to improve the lives of waste pickers, who scour other people’s trash for items to sell or recycle. “In the developing world, it’s hard to get filament, and if these recyclers could make it and sell it for, say, $15 a kilogram, they’d make enough money to pull themselves out of poverty while doing the world a lot of good,” he said.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. …

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Poor rural youth in Haiti are rich in family ties, rooted in their own culture

Oct. 16, 2013 — Haitian teens, especially those who live in the country’s rural areas, are among the poorest persons in the Western Hemisphere, but they are rich in their family relationships and strongly rooted in their own culture, a University of Illinois study finds.”It’s true that rural Haitian teens didn’t directly suffer the major trauma of the 2012 earthquake, but they deal daily with the effects of poverty — not enough food, no money to go to school, a lack of electricity much of the time, little access to clinics or hospitals,” said Gail M. Ferguson, a U of I professor of human development and family studies who studies the cultural identity and well-being of adolescents in the Caribbean, including the effects of exposure to U.S. culture.In the course of a lifetime, chronic exposure to poverty can have the same impact as an earthquake-sized trauma, she said.”However, these teens report having a strong sense of family obligation and an attachment to Haitian culture, which probably protects them and contributes to their resilience,” she said.In the study, the researchers used a survey to measure strength of family obligations and cultural orientation among 105 early adolescents (10 to 14 years) in rural Haiti. Among other findings, she learned that teens, especially boys, believe very strongly that they should respect and obey their parents and assist them when they need help without being paid for it.”Can you imagine how helpful that would be for a family with few resources? That attitude in itself contributes to a close parent-child relationship, which is a positive factor in adolescent development,” she said.Affinity for the teens’ own culture, which has been found to be a protective factor in other populations, was nearly three times as high as American orientation among survey participants.”Haitian culture is known for its creativity and its close community bonds. The arts, particularly visual arts and a love of story, provide an emotional outlet for Haitian youth, helping to channel their emotions, desires, and needs,” she said.This connection to Haitian culture is strong despite the influence of U.S. culture through migration, trade, and technology. The U.S. is the primary destination for Haitian emigrants who continue to communicate with relatives and friends back on the island. …

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Treating TB: What needs to be done to improve treatment rates

July 2, 2013 — People with tuberculosis (TB) in China often delay going to see a doctor for more than two weeks, finds research in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine. Reasons for this include a poor understanding of TB, increasing costs of treatment not covered by health insurance, and using traditional approaches first. Even after going to a clinic there were still delays in treatment, especially in rural areas, due to a lack of qualified medical staff.Share This:Worldwide TB remains a leading cause of death, and China has the second largest TB epidemic with the most number of people infected with multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains per countries. Delay in being treated increases the risk of spreading TB, and contributes to the development of MDR-TB. To reduce these risks it is important to understand why delays occur.This meta-analysis of behaviour in seeking diagnosis and treatment for TB included almost 40,000 patients. Patients who delayed going to see a doctor by more than two weeks were more likely to live in rural areas, to be less educated or female. Poverty, lack of health insurance, rising costs of excess payments or treatments not covered by the insurance, as well as a poor understanding of TB were cited by patients in contributing to their delay in seeing a doctor. What seems to happen is that people would first try traditional Chinese medicine, as this was also a risk factor for delay.Rural patients were also more likely to be subject to delays due to limited resources at the health care facility, such as a lack of qualified health care workers or ability to do appropriate tests.Prof Shenglan Tang, from Duke University, and Dr Ying Li, from the Third Military Medical University, who carried out this study explained, “Inadequate and late detection of TB remains a challenge especially in rural China. By understanding the reasons behind this we can try to begin to change health intervention programs to ensure that these problems are addressed. There is also a stigma associated with TB which needs to be removed by better health promotion and by empowering individuals with TB to change how others view this disease.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by BioMed Central. …

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Pneumonia revealed in a cough: Coughs give vital clues to the presence or absence of pneumonia in children

June 27, 2013 — A new method, which analyzes the sounds in a child’s cough, could soon be used in poor, remote regions to diagnose childhood pneumonia reliably. According to Udantha Abeyratne from the University of Queensland in Australia and colleagues, this simple technique of recording coughs with a microphone on the patient’s bedside table, has the potential to revolutionize the management of childhood pneumonia in remote regions around the world.Their work is published online in Springer’s journal Annals of Biomedical Engineering.Pneumonia is the leading killer of young children around the world. Since it is largely a disease of poverty, the vast majority of deaths occur in resource-poor regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and remote areas of China. The lack of laboratory testing facilities and trained healthcare personnel in these regions mean difficulties in the timely diagnosis and adequate treatment of childhood pneumonia.At the moment, community workers in these regions use the World Health Organization’s simple clinical algorithm to diagnose pneumonia. However there are some limitations, including the high rate of false positive results which lead to over-prescription of rare antibiotic stocks.Abeyratne and team’s work identifies an easy-to-use alternative that addresses these challenges, in the form of new technology which analyzes cough sounds to diagnose pneumonia. Indeed, cough is a main symptom of pneumonia and carries vital information on the lower respiratory tract — consolidation of the lungs and secretions in particular. These markers of infection alter the acoustic properties of coughs helping to identify pneumonia-specific features.The researchers analyzed 815 cough events recorded from a total of 91 hospitalized children with and without pneumonia, at the Sardjito Hospital of Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. Cough sounds were collected by microphones placed on nearby bedside tables. Coughs were classified as either pneumonic or non-pneumonic. The researchers used the overall clinical diagnosis provided by pediatric respiratory clinicians — aided with routine diagnostic technologies — to validate the sound analysis. …

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Cost of resiliency in kids uncovered

May 30, 2013 — Children living in poverty who appear to succeed socially may be failing biologically. Students able to overcome the stress of growing up poor are labeled “resilient” because of their ability to overcome adversity, but University of Georgia researchers found this resiliency has health costs that last well into adulthood.

“Exposure to stress over time gets under the skin of children and adolescents, which makes them more vulnerable to disease later in life,” said Gene Brody, founder and director of the UGA Center for Family Research.

Looking at a sample of 489 African-American youths from working poor families in south Georgia, Brody evaluated the overall poverty-related risks experienced by children annually at ages 11 to 13 as well as teacher-reported competence. Allostatic load, a measure of wear and tear on the body, was taken for each child at age 19. Allostatic load is a measure of stress hormones, blood pressure and body mass index.

The results, which were published May 30 in the journal Psychological Science, found kids 11 to 13 who experienced high levels of stress and whose teachers evaluated them as performing well emotionally, academically and socially had a high allostatic load at age 19.

“The children who are doing good at school, playing well with friends, have high self-esteem and don’t have behavior problems are often thought of as beating the odds or being resilient in the face of adversity,” said Brody. “We hypothesized maybe at one level they are resilient, but looking at their biology and asking what is the cost, we find a physiologic toll to attaining behavior resilience.”

The body adapts to stressful situations through the activation of neural mechanisms, including the release of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, which have both protective and damaging effects on the body. Short-term, these hormones are important for adapting to stress, particularly stress associated with financial hardship. When used frequently over time, stress hormones can compromise immune system functions and other bodily systems, potentially speeding up disease processes-meaning that they can end up with chronic diseases at a much younger age.

“We used to assume that cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer just happen to people as they get older,” Brody said. “But, we see the success-oriented, highly active coping style these youth employed in the presence of high risk is associated with cumulative wear and tear on their bodies that increases the risk for these young adults for the chronic diseases of aging.”

The findings support the suggestion that poor health and health disparities during adulthood are tied to earlier experiences. Youths who don’t cope as well, have low self-esteem and struggle in school and with friends show elevated levels of stress hormones, blood pressure and body mass index, or BMI, as well.

About 10 percent of the population surveyed in Brody’s research fell into this category. These health markers are risk factors for early onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension and cancer.

“For kids who are doing well and have outwardly beaten the odds, it is very important for them to be monitored and have yearly checkups so that if they have elevations in these risk factors they can be attended to,” he said.

Consistent with the research at the Center for Family Research, Brody is now researching the impact of prevention programs on at-risk youth. Tianyi Yu, Edith Chen, Gregory Miller, Steven Kogan and Steven Beach co-authored this paper.

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