Health costs of air pollution from agriculture clarified

Ammonia pollution from agricultural sources poses larger health costs than previously estimated, according to NASA-funded research.Harvard University researchers Fabien Paulot and Daniel Jacob used computer models including a NASA model of chemical reactions in the atmosphere to better represent how ammonia interacts in the atmosphere to form harmful particulate matter. The improved simulation helped the scientists narrow in on the estimated health costs from air pollution associated with food produced for export — a growing sector of agriculture and a source of trade surplus.”The ‘cost’ is an economic concept to measure how much people are willing to pay to avoid a risk,” Paulot said. “This is used to quantify the cost for society but also to evaluate the benefits of mitigation.”The new research by Paulot and Jacob calculate the health cost associated with the ammonia emissions from agriculture exports to be $36 billion a year — equal to about half of the revenue generated by those same exports — or $100 per kilogram of ammonia. The study was published December 2013 in Environmental Science & Technology.The new estimate is about double the current estimate by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which suggests a cost of $47 per kilogram of ammonia. The scientists say the new estimate is on the high end of the spectrum, which reflects the need for more research into characterizing the relationship between agricultural ammonia emissions and the formation of the harmful fine particulate matter — a relationship that’s not as straightforward as previous estimates assumed.”The effect of ammonia on fine particulate is complex, and we believe that the models previously used in the United States to price ammonia emissions have not captured this well,” Paulot said.Manure from livestock and fertilizer for crops release ammonia to the atmosphere. In the air, ammonia mixes with other emissions to form microscopic airborne particles, or particulates. The particulates that pose the greatest health risk are those that measure no more than 2.5 micrometers across, or about 1/30 the width of a human hair, which when inhaled can become lodged deep within the lungs. Long-term exposure has been linked to heart and lung diseases and even death. As such, the particles are on the list of six common air pollutants regulated by EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards.An increase in ammonia, however, does not translate to an equal increase in particulates. …

Read more

In grasslands remade by humans, animals may protect biodiversity: Grazers let in the light, rescue imperiled plants

A comparative study of grasslands on six continents suggests there may be a way to counteract the human-made overdose of fertilizer that threatens to permanently alter the biodiversity of the world’s native prairies.The solution is one that nature devised: let grazing animals crop the excess growth of fast growing grasses that can out-compete native plants in an over-fertilized world. And grazing works in a way that is also natural and simple. The herbivores, or grazing and browsing animals, feed on tall grasses that block sunlight from reaching the ground, making the light available to other plants.That’s the key finding of a five-year study carried out at 40 different sites around the world and scheduled for online publication March 9, 2014 in the journal Nature. More than 50 scientists belonging to the Nutrient Network, a team of scientists studying grasslands worldwide, co-authored the study.”This study has tremendous significance because human activities are changing grasslands everywhere,” said study co-author Daniel S. Gruner, associate professor of entomology at the University of Maryland. “We’re over-fertilizing them, and we’re adding and subtracting herbivores. We have a worldwide experiment going on, but it’s completely uncontrolled.”Gruner, a member of the Nutrient Network (which participants have nicknamed NutNet) since its founding in 2006, helped plan the worldwide study and analyze its results. Elizabeth Borer of the University of Minnesota was the study’s lead author.The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that grasslands cover between one-fifth and two-fifths of the planet’s land area and are home to more than one-tenth of humankind. But like all plant communities, grasslands are suffering from too much fertilizer.As humans burn fossil fuels, dose crops with chemical fertilizers, and dispose of manure from livestock, they introduce extra nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil, air and water. …

Read more

Climate change: Improving heat tolerance in trees

Is it possible to improve tolerance of trees to high temperatures and other types of stress derived of climate change? A research group of the Universidad Politcnica de Madrid (UPM), led by Luis Gmez, a professor of the Forestry School and the Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP), is studying the tolerance of trees using molecular and biotechnological tools. The research work was published in the last issue of the journal Plant Physiology.The obtained poplars in this project, with the collaboration of the Universidad de Mlaga, are significantly more tolerant to high temperatures than the control trees. These trees are also more tolerant to drought, to the presence of weed-killer, to in vitro and ex vitro crops, to contamination and other ways of abiotic stress that have an applied interest for forestry. This work is a continuation of a project started by of a research team of the UPM a decade ago. This study focuses on mechanisms that plant cells use to protect themselves from stress factors.Due to the human pressure on forests, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is promoting intensive plantations as an alternative to meet the global demand of wood and other products. Besides, plantations have social and economic benefits (job creation, wealth and rural development). This model change has significant ecological consequences.The role of forests is essential for climate change mitigation and biodiversity preservation, amongst others. A documentary “El Bosque Protector,” co-produced by the UPM and available on “A la Carta” of RTVE shows the result of this study. Tree farming plantations as a realistic alternative will be possible if the current yield significantly increases. …

Read more

Lou is coming to Washington for ADAO’s Asbestos Awareness Conference

I am going to Washington! Below is the recent announcement released in a statement by Linda Reinstein, Co-Founder/CEO at Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)’I am so excited to announce that Lou Williams will be attending the 10th Annual ADAO International Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Asbestos Awareness Conference on April 4 – 6, 2014 in DC!!! ADAO sends our sincere thanks to the Asbestos Safety & Eradication Council for funding Lou’s flight to Washington, DC. Geoff Fary and Peter Tighe. Together, change is happening and I believe in magic!!♥ Ellen TunkelrottLou Williams shared Linda Reinstein’s photo.A big thank you to Linda Reinstein, ADAO and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council in Australia for believing in me – I am just so so thrilled to be coming and to …

Read more

Molecular aberration signals cancer: Role of small non-coding RNAs in protein production, cancer cells

Several scientists, including one at Simon Fraser University, have made a discovery that strongly links a little understood molecule, which is similar to DNA, to cancer and cancer survival.EMBO reports, a life sciences journal published by the European Molecular Biology Organization, has just published online the scientists’ findings about small non-coding RNAs.While RNA is known to be key to our cells’ successful creation of proteins, the role of small non-coding RNAs, a newly discovered cousin of the former, has eluded scientific understanding for the most part. Until now, it was only surmised that most of these molecules had nothing to do with protein production.However, scientists at SFU, the University of British Columbia and the B.C. Cancer Agency have discovered that many non-coding RNAs are perturbed in cancerous human cells, including breast and lung, in a specific way. The disturbance, which manifests itself as shorter than normal molecular messaging, also occurs at a specific spot on genes.”These two identifiable characteristics give cancer-causing non-coding RNAs a chemical signature that makes it easy for scientists to identify them in the early stages of many different types of cancer,” says Steven Jones.The SFU molecular biology and biochemistry professor is this study’s senior author, and the associate director and head of bioinformatics at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre.”These molecules’ existence can also be used to classify cancer patients into subgroups of individuals with different survival outcomes,” adds Jones. “While the precise reason why a tumor would change the behaviour of genes in this way is not known, it is likely that it represents a mechanism by which the cancer can subvert and takeover the normally well controlled activity of our genes.”This study uncovered non-coding RNAs’ cancerous role by using high-throughput sequencing techniques to analyse reams of genetic information on normal and diseased tissue as part of the Cancer Genome Atlas project.The Cancer Genome Atlas is an ambitious project to characterize the genetic material of more than 500 tumors from more than 20 different cancers. The project provides a goldmine of data for bioinformaticians such as Jones.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Simon Fraser University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

South African healthcare workers face greater risk for TB, HIV

A large-scale survey of South African healthcare workers has revealed major gaps in workplace protection against tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis, according to a University of British Columbia health researcher.Presenting findings today at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Dr. Annalee Yassi says issues such as confidentiality, stigma, technological capacity and staff training need to be addressed while improving hospital resources and protocols.Preliminary results of the 2012 baseline survey of more than 1,000 healthcare workers in three hospitals show that more than 68 per cent of patient care staff had never been screened for TB; nearly 20 per cent were not vaccinated against hepatitis; and 55 per cent did not wear respiratory protection when needed. Despite South Africa’s high TB and HIV rates — 18 per cent of its adult population is HIV-positive — and risk of hepatitis transmission, recapping of used needles before disposal and washing and reusing of gloves were common, with more than 20 per cent surveyed reporting needlestick injury or unprotected exposure to bodily fluids.Yassi, who is helping South Africa implement occupational health guidelines developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), says healthcare workers in developing countries face greater health challenges while serving significantly more patients.”In addition to massive workloads, healthcare workers in developing countries are more likely to get sick from the workplace,” says Yassi, a professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, noting that healthcare workers in South Africa are at three times the risk of contracting TB than other South Africans, and more than seven times more likely to be hospitalized for drug-resistant TB. A 2013 WHO estimate showed South Africans were almost 300 times more likely to contract TB than Americans.”Considerable progress is being made, including better standard operating procedures and screening,” says Yassi. “But there’s much more we can do to ensure a healthy workplace for the international health care workforce.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Weight loss surgery increases social acceptance, but body remains problematic

All of a sudden the once obese women are treated with respect in society. But underneath the clothes the skin is saggy and it takes a long time to become familiar with the “new” stomach.Food which was easily digested one day makes them sick the next. The slimmer they get, the more loosely hangs the skin on their body. They get looks from men which they didn’t get before. They used to be morbidly obese and super visible, yet completely invisible.They used to have to shout in order to be heard at work. Today, people ask their opinion. It is provoking. And it is nice. It feels ambivalent, and it is a challenge. And if everything used to revolve around food before, it certainly does so now.In her doctoral thesis, Karen Synne Groven at the University of Oslo has interviewed 22 women who have been through the bariatric surgery gastric bypass, in which the stomach is reduced significantly and part of the small intestine is re-routed in order to reduce the intake of food.The interviewees are between the age of 24 and 54. …

Read more

Dental care in school breaks down social inequalities

A new survey conducted by the University of Copenhagen and the World Health Organization (WHO) is highlighting the role of schools in work to promote health and prevent disease.”Children in Scandinavia generally have healthy teeth and gums, largely on account of dental care in schools for all children, the arrival of fluoride toothpaste on the market, a healthy lifestyle and high living standards. But the situation in the poorest countries of the world is very different to that in Scandinavia. However, it is positive to note that the WHO’s Health Promoting Schools Initiative are gaining ground at global level, and that they are gradually wiping out the social inequities in dental health,” says Poul Erik Petersen, Professor at Department of Odontology at the University of Copenhagen, and a Global Health Specialist.From Myanmar to Madagascar”We have collected data based on questions about health and dental care from 61 countries that run health programs in schools. Our findings reveal that those schools that have set up healthy school environments — and which offer all children education in dental health and disease prevention — are generally well-placed to set children on a path to a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives, with regard to issues such as diet, physical exercise, tobacco, alcohol and HIV control.”Around 60 per cent of the countries that took part in the study run formalized teaching in how to brush teeth, but not all countries have access to clean water and the necessary sanitary conditions. This constitutes a major challenge for the health and school authorities in Asia, Latin America and Africa in particular.”Countries in these regions are battling problems involving the sale of sugary drinks and sweets in the school playgrounds. Selling sweets is often a source of extra income for school teachers, who are poorly paid,” explains Poul Erik Petersen.He continues: “This naturally has an adverse effect on the children’s teeth. Many children suffer from toothache and general discomfort and these children may not get the full benefit of their education.”The biggest challenges to improved dental health in low-income countries are a lack of financial resources and trained staff. Schools in the poorest countries therefore devote little or no time to dental care, and they similarly make only very limited use of fluoride in their preventative work. Moreover, the healthy schools in low-income countries find it harder to share their experience and results.Social inequality is a serious problemSocial inequality in dental health and care is a serious problem all over the world:”However, inequality is greater in developing countries where people are battling with limited resources, an increasing number of children with toothache, children suffering from HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases — combined with a lack of preventive measures and trained healthcare staff,” says Poul Erik Petersen, before adding:”Even in a rich country like Denmark, we see social inequalities to dental care, despite the fact that dental health here is much improved among both children and adults. The socially and financially disadvantaged groups of the population show a high incidence of tooth and mouth complaints compared with the more affluent groups.”The Danish model for municipal dental care was principally built up in the 1970s and 1980s. …

Read more

Avian flu variant stalks Egypt

Since its first identification in Asia, highly pathogenic avian influenza — H5N1 — has caused significant alarm in the scientific community. While the virus’ primary target is birds — tens of millions have already died from it — it is capable of infecting mammals, including humans, causing serious illness and a frightening rate of mortality.In a new study, Matthew Scotch, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, tracks the spread of an H5N1 variant in Egypt — a country recently identified as a major epicenter for the virus. In results recently appearing in the journal BMC Genomics, Scotch tracks the spread of H5N1 cases using a technique known as phylogeography.The authors hope that studies of this kind will significantly enhance efforts by public health officials to identify viral outbreaks, limit their spread, coordinate vaccination efforts, reduce mortality and better inform the public of risks.”Egypt represents an epicenter for H5N1 and there are new variants that have emerged since it was first discovered there in 2006, “Scotch says. “We used phylogeography and influenza genome sequences to model diffusion and evolution of the virus.”Phylogeography was born out of the fields of biogeography and phylogenetics or molecular evolution. By combining viral sequence data and geographical information over time, as well as evaluating features associated with viral carriers, researchers can better understand how viruses spread across a landscape through animal and human populations.Phylogeography has already been established as a powerful technique for investigating viral dispersal for human diseases, including dengue fever, rabies, influenza and HIV. Recent application of phylogeographic methods to the study of avian influenza promises to significantly improve fine-grained mapping of viral origin and spread.Avian flu H5N1 is a form of influenza A — an RNA virus — first identified in Hong Kong in 1997. The initial cases of H5N1 were apparently not transmitted efficiently among birds. In 2002 however, new isolates of H5N1 appeared, causing acute disease in ducks, resulting in neurological dysfunction and death.Infected birds transmit H5N1 to one another through nasal secretions, saliva, feces and blood. Other animals, including humans, may become infected with the virus through direct contact with avian bodily fluids or through contaminated surfaces.Human cases of H5N1 often result from contact with infected poultry, particularly in live bird markets and farms, which are believed to be major reservoirs for the virus. Avian H5N1 however, is also carried by migratory species of birds, which further spread H5N1 to other parts of the world.In 2004, researchers discovered that H5N1 is a more potent pathogen than originally assumed, attacking waterfowl, chickens, crows, pigeons and ducks, as well as mammals, yielding a high mortality rate. …

Read more

Tighter economic regulation needed to reverse obesity epidemic, study suggests

Governments could slow — and even reverse — the growing epidemic of obesity by taking measures to counter fast food consumption, according to a study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization today.The study, by a team of researchers based in the United States and Ireland, is the first to look at the effects of deregulation in the economy, including the agricultural and food sectors, and the resulting increase in fast food transactions on obesity over time. It suggests that if governments take action, they can prevent overweight and obesity, which can have serious long-term health consequences including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.Rather than looking at the density of fast food outlets or self-reported fast food consumption as researchers have done in the past, the authors took the novel approach of taking data on the number of fast food transactions per capita from 1999 to 2008 in 25 high-income countries and compared them with figures on body mass index (BMI) in the same countries over the same time period as an indication of fast food consumption.A person with BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight, while one with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.The authors of the study found that while the average number of annual fast food transactions per capita increased from 26.61 to 32.76, average BMI increased from 25.8 to 26.4. Thus, each 1-unit increase in the average number of annual fast food transactions per capita was associated with an increase of 0.0329 in BMI over the study period.”Unless governments take steps to regulate their economies, the invisible hand of the market will continue to promote obesity worldwide with disastrous consequences for future public health and economic productivity,” said lead author Dr Roberto De Vogli from the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis, in the United States.The study focuses on high-income countries, but its findings are also relevant to developing countries as “virtually all nations have undergone a process of market deregulation and globalization — especially in the last three decades,” De Vogli said.The BMI figures also reveal how widespread the problems of overweight and obesity are and that people living in the 25 countries are, on average, overweight and have been for the last 15 years.The average number of annual fast food transactions per capita increased in all 25 countries. The sharpest increases were in Canada (by 16.6 transactions per capita), Australia (14.7), Ireland (12.3) and New Zealand (10.1), while the lowest increases were in countries with more stringent market regulation, such as Italy (1.5), the Netherlands (1.8), Greece (1.9) and Belgium (2.1).They also found that the intake of animal fats and total calories changed only slightly at a time of a sharp increase in obesity.Taking data from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, the authors found that the intake of animal fats decreased slightly from 212 kcal per capita per day in 1999 to 206 in 2008 and that the caloric intake increased slightly for six of those years with 3432 calories per capita per day in 2002 compared to 3437 in 2008. Yet, most men and women do not need more than about 2500 and 2000 calories respectively a day.”This study shows how important public policies are for addressing the epidemic of obesity,” said Dr Francesco Branca, director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at WHO.”Policies targeting food and nutrition are needed across several sectors including agriculture, industry, health, social welfare and education,” Branca said, adding: “Countries where the diet is transitioning from one that is high in cereals to one that is high in fat, sugar and processed foods need to take action to align the food supply with the health needs of the population.”The new study echoes a growing body of literature providing evidence for measures that governments could take to reverse the obesity epidemic by hindering the spread of ultra-processed foodstuffs. Such measures include:economic incentives for growers to sell healthy foods and fresh food items rather than ultra-processed foods and subsidies to grow fruit and vegetables; economic disincentives for industries to sell fast food, ultra-processed foods and soft drinks such as an ultra-processed food tax and/or the reduction or elimination of subsidies to growers/companies using corn for rapid tissue growth, excessive amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals and antibiotics; zoning policies to control the number and type of food outlets; tighter regulation of the advertising of fast food and soft drinks, especially to children; trade regulations discouraging the importation and consumption of fast food, ultra-processed foods and soft drinks; and more effective labelling systems especially for ultra-processed foods, including fast food and soft drinks. WHO’s 194 Member States agreed on the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases at the World Health Assembly in May 2013. One of the plan’s nine voluntary targets is to “halt the rise in diabetes and obesity.” It also proposes measures that countries can take to tackle obesity, including increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and managing food subsidies and taxes to promote a healthy diet.

Read more

Workers Memorial Day–Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living

In recognition of Workers Memorial Day 2013,Worthington & Caronwould like to acknowledge all of the working men and women who have been hurt, taken ill or have died in pursuit of their piece of the “American Dream”. This, of course, includes hundreds of thousands of workers who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis as a result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established on April 28, 1971 with the mission of assuring safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance. The anniversary of this day has been designated Worker’s Memorial Day, a day to honor all men and women who have been injured or have lost their lives …

Read more

Heavy air pollution in Canadian area with cancer spikes

Oct. 22, 2013 — Levels of contaminants higher than in some of the world’s most polluted cities have been found downwind of Canada’s largest oil, gas and tar sands processing zone, in a rural area where men suffer elevated rates of cancers linked to such chemicals.The findings by UC Irvine and University of Michigan scientists, published online this week, reveal high levels of the carcinogens 1,3-butadiene and benzene and other airborne pollutants. The researchers also obtained health records spanning more than a decade that showed the number of men with leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was greater in communities closest to the pollution plumes than in neighboring counties. The work is a dramatic illustration of a new World Health Organization report that outdoor air pollution is a leading cause of cancer.While the scientists stopped short of saying that the pollutants they documented were definitely causing the male cancers, they strongly recommended that the industrial emissions be decreased to protect both workers and nearby residents.”Our study was designed to test what kinds of concentrations could be encountered on the ground during a random visit downwind of various facilities. We’re seeing elevated levels of carcinogens and other gases in the same area where we’re seeing excess cancers known to be caused by these chemicals,” said UC Irvine chemist Isobel Simpson, lead author of the paper in Atmospheric Environment. “Our main point is that it would be good to proactively lower these emissions of known carcinogens. You can study it and study it, but at some point you just have to say, ‘Let’s reduce it.’ “Co-author Stuart Batterman, a University of Michigan professor of environmental health sciences, agreed: “These levels, found over a broad area, are clearly associated with industrial emissions. They also are evidence of major regulatory gaps in monitoring and controlling such emissions and in public health surveillance.”The researchers captured emissions in the rural Fort Saskatchewan area downwind of major refineries, chemical manufacturers and tar sands processors owned by BP, Dow, Shell and other companies in the so-called “Industrial Heartland” of Alberta. They took one-minute samples at random times in 2008, 2010 and 2012. All showed similar results. …

Read more

The Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013 – Yet Another Obstacle to Banning Asbestos in the U.S

TheChemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 1009)(CSIA) is a bill currently before congress. The legislation is designed to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. Many public health advocates who support TSCA reform do not support the CSIA as it is currently written, believing that the chemical industry is behind the draft legislation.On July 31, 2013, Linda Reinstein, President of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, and a long-time leader in the effort to ban asbestos in the U.S., testified before the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee (EPWC) at a hearing in support of TSCA reform. According to Ms. Reinstein, the CSIA as currently drafted would do more harm to public health and the environment than good. As detailed in the ADAO position paper, the …

Read more

Asbestos in the Drinking Water?

Asbestos in the Drinking Water?When reading material about the uses of asbestos and mesothelioma-linked materials, you will mostly encounter facts about asbestos in the environment that can become airborne and lead to mesothelioma. However, largely because of the decay of cement water mains and the erosion of natural deposits, asbestos can also contaminate drinking water. Water suppliers are required by law to conduct routine monitoring to make sure that water levels are below the maximum contaminant level (MCL). According to the EPA, the MCL for asbestos in drinking water is 7 MFL. While MFL is not defined in the Basic Information about Asbestos in Drinking Water on the EPA website, the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, as printed in the EPA publication, “Water On Tap: What …

Read more

Analysis of herbal products shows contamination is common

Oct. 10, 2013 — Most herbal products, available to buy as alternative medicines, may be contaminated. Reporting in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine researchers demonstrate the presence of contamination and substitution of plant species in a selection of herbal products using DNA barcoding.Share This:There is currently no best practice for identifying plant species in herbal products. Traditionally plants are identified through the appearance of the whole plant. This method is not useful though when analyzing processed plant material. DNA barcoding analyses a short genetic sequence from the plant’s genome and identifies small differences that allows species identification. In this new study the researchers used barcoding to examine the plant species found in a sample of herbal plant products.The results showed that 59% of the products contained plant species not listed on the labels. Over two thirds of the products tested had plant species present which were a substitution for the plants listed on the label and a third of products also contained other species that may be a filler or contamination.According to the World Health Organization, the adulteration of herbal products is a threat to consumer safety. In this current analysis the researchers detected plant species that could pose serious health risks when consumed. The results revealed plant species with known toxicity, side effects and/or negatively interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications were present in some products.The authors concluded that the contamination and substitution dilute the effectiveness of otherwise useful remedies, lowering the perceived value of all related products because of a lack of consumer confidence in them. …

Read more

Youth more likely to be bullied at schools with anti-bullying programs

Sep. 12, 2013 — Anti-bullying initiatives have become standard at schools across the country, but a new UT Arlington study finds that students attending those schools may be more likely to be a victim of bullying than children at schools without such programs.The findings run counter to the common perception that bullying prevention programs can help protect kids from repeated harassment or physical and emotional attacks.”One possible reason for this is that the students who are victimizing their peers have learned the language from these anti-bullying campaigns and programs,” said Seokjin Jeong, an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at UT Arlington and lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Criminology.”The schools with interventions say, ‘You shouldn’t do this,’ or ‘you shouldn’t do that.’ But through the programs, the students become highly exposed to what a bully is and they know what to do or say when questioned by parents or teachers,” Jeong said.The study suggested that future direction should focus on more sophisticated strategies rather than just implementation of bullying prevention programs along with school security measures such as guards, bag and locker searches or metal detectors. Furthermore, given that bullying is a relationship problem, researchers need to better identify the bully-victim dynamics in order to develop prevention policies accordingly, Jeong said.Communities across various race, ethnicity, religion and socio-economic classes can benefit from such important, relevant Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice research, said Beth Wright, dean of the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts.”This important discovery will result in improvements in health, in learning, and in relationships, with unlimited positive impact,” Wright said.A growing body of research shows that students who are exposed to physical or emotional bullying experience a significantly increased risk of anxiety, depression, confusion, lowered self-esteem and suicide. In addition to school environmental factors, researchers wanted to know what individual-level factors played a key role in students who are bullied by peers in school.For their study, Jeong and his co-author, Byung Hyun Lee, a doctoral student in criminology at Michigan State University, analyzed data from the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children 2005-2006 U.S. study. The HBSC study has been conducted every four years since 1985 and is sponsored by the World Health Organization. The sample consisted of 7,001 students, ages 12 to 18, from 195 different schools.The data preceded the highly publicized, 2010 “It Gets Better” campaign founded by syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage and popularized by YouTube videos featuring anti-bullying testimonials from prominent advocates.The UT Arlington team found that older students were less likely to be victims of bullying than younger students, with serious problems of bullying occurring among sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. The most pervasive bullying occurred at the high school level.Boys were more likely than girls to be victims of physical bullying, but girls were more likely to be victims of emotional bullying. A lack of involvement and support from parents and teachers was likely to increase the risk of bullying victimization. These findings are all consistent with prior studies.Notably, researchers found that race or ethnicity was not a factor in whether students were bullied.

Read more

Mosquito bites deliver potential new malaria vaccine

Sep. 11, 2013 — A study published in Vaccine could provide hope for new live-attenuated malaria vaccineThis study suggests that genetically engineered malaria parasites that are stunted through precise gene deletions (genetically attenuated parasites, or “GAP”) could be used as a vaccine that protects against malaria infection. This means that the harmless (attenuated) version of the parasite would interact with the body in the same way as the infective version, but without possibility of causing disease. GAP-vaccination would induce robust immune responses that protect against future infection with malaria.According to the World Health Organization, there were 219 million documented cases of malaria in 2010, causing the deaths of up to 1.2 million people worldwide. Antimalarial treatments are available to reduce the risk of infection, but as yet there is no effective vaccine against the disease.Last month, a team of scientists announced the results of a trial with a new kind of malaria vaccine, a whole-parasite preparation weakened by radiation. The trial showed promising results, but the method of vaccination was not optimal, requiring intravenous administration and multiple high doses. This current paper outlines a method of attenuation through genetic engineering rather than radiation, which offers hope for a more consistent vaccine that gives better protection.”Malaria is one of the world’s biggest killers, and threatens 40 percent of the world’s population, yet still no effective vaccine exists,” said Stefan Kappe, Ph.D., lead author of the paper and professor at Seattle BioMed. “In this paper we show that genetically engineered parasites are a promising, viable option for developing a malaria vaccine, and we are currently engineering the next generation of attenuated parasite strains with the aim to enter clinical studies soon.”For the first time, researchers created a weakened version of the human malaria parasite by altering its DNA. They tested the safety of the new modified parasite by injecting six human volunteers through mosquito bites. Five of the six volunteers showed no infection with the parasite, suggesting that the new genetic technique has potential as the basis for a malaria vaccine.”Our approach offers a new path to make a protective malaria vaccine that might overcome the limitations of previous development attempts. …

Read more

Stress may lead to false confessions

Sep. 11, 2013 — Imagine if you were wrongly accused of a crime. Would you be stressed? Anyone would be, but Iowa State University researchers found the innocent are often less stressed than the guilty. And that could put them at greater risk to admit to a crime they didn’t commit.To better understand what leads to false confessions, Max Guyll, an assistant professor of psychology, and Stephanie Madon, an associate professor of psychology, measured various indicators of stress, such as blood pressure, heart rate and nervous system activity. In the study, published in Law and Human Behavior, stress levels increased for all participants when they were first accused. However, the levels for those wrongly accused were significantly lower. Researchers said that’s a concern because it can make the innocent less likely to vigorously defend themselves in a real interrogation.”The innocent are less stressed because they believe their innocence is going to protect them and they think everything is going to be OK, so there is no reason to get worked up over this accusation,” Madon said. “But if you’re going into a police interrogation and you’re not on your guard, then you could make decisions that down the line will put you at risk for a false confession. Because once you talk to police, you’re opening up the chance that they’re going to use manipulative and coercive tactics.”Minimization is one of those tactics used in interrogations and the tactic Madon and Guyll used in their study. …

Read more

The eyes have it: How organic mercury can interfere with vision

Sep. 11, 2013 — More than one billion people worldwide rely on fish as an important source of animal protein, states the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. And while fish provide slightly over 7 per cent of animal protein in North America, in Asia they represent about 23 per cent of consumption.Humans consume low levels of methylmercury by eating fish and seafood. Methylmercury compounds specifically target the central nervous system, and among the many effects of their exposure are visual disturbances, which were previously thought to be solely due to methylmercury-induced damage to the brain visual cortex. However, after combining powerful synchrotron X-rays and methylmercury-poisoned zebrafish larvae, scientists have found that methylmercury may also directly affect vision by accumulating in the retinal photoreceptors, i.e. the cells that respond to light in our eyes.Dr. Gosia Korbas, BioXAS staff scientist at the Canadian Light Source (CLS), says the results of this experiment show quite clearly that methylmercury localizes in the part of the photoreceptor cell called the outer segment, where the visual pigments that absorb light reside.”There are many reports of people affected by methylmercury claiming a constricted field of vision or abnormal colour vision,” said Korbas. “Now we know that one of the reasons for their symptoms may be that methylmercury directly targets photoreceptors in the retina.”Korbas and the team of researchers from the University of Saskatchewan including Profs. Graham George, Patrick Krone and Ingrid Pickering conducted their experiments using three X-ray fluorescence imaging beamlines (2-ID-D, 2-ID-E and 20-ID-B) at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, US, as well as the scanning X-ray transmission beamline (STXM) at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon, Canada.After exposing zebrafish larvae to methylmercury chloride in water, the team was able to obtain high-resolution maps of elemental distributions, and pinpoint the localization of mercury in the outer segments of photoreceptor cells in both the retina and pineal gland of zebrafish specimens. The results of the research were published in ACS Chemical Biology under the title “Methylmercury Targets Photoreceptor Outer Segments.”Korbas said zebrafish are an excellent model for investigating the mechanisms of heavy metal toxicity in developing vertebrates. …

Read more

Strain of MERS coronavirus engineered for use in a vaccine

Sep. 10, 2013 — Scientists have developed a strain of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that could be used as a vaccine against the disease, according to a study to be published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The mutant MERS virus, rMERS-CoV-ΔE, has a mutation in its envelope protein that makes it capable of infecting a cell and replicating its genetic material, but deprives it of the ability to spread to other tissues and cause disease. The authors say once additional safe guards are engineered into the virus, it could be used as the basis of a safe and effective live-attenuated vaccine against MERS.”Our achievement was a combination of synthetic biology and genetic engineering,” says co-author Luis Enjuanes of The Autonomous University of Madrid (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid).”The injected vaccine will only replicate in a reduced number of cells and produce enough antigen to immunize the host,” he says, and it cannot infect other people, even those in close contact with a vaccinated person.Since MERS was first identified in June 2012, the World Health Organization has been notified of 108 cases of infection, including 50 deaths. Although the total number of cases is still relatively small, the case fatality rate and the spread of the virus to countries beyond the Middle East is alarming to public health officials. If the virus evolves the ability to transmit easily from person to person, a much more widespread epidemic is possible. Diagnostic assays and antiviral therapies for MERS have been described, but reliable vaccines have not yet been developed.Enjuanes and his team applied what they had learned from 30 years of research on the molecular biology of coronaviruses to synthesize an infectious cDNA clone of the MERS-CoV genome based on a published sequence. They inserted the viral cDNA chromosome into a bacterial artificial chromosome, and mutated several of its genes, one by one, to study the effects on the virus’ ability to infect, replicate, and re-infect cultured human cells.Mutations that disabled accessory genes 3, 4a, 4b and 5 did not seem to hinder the virus: mutant viruses had similar growth rates as the wild-type virus, indicating that the mutations do not disable the virus enough to deploy the mutants in a vaccine. Mutations in the envelope protein (E protein), on the other hand, enabled the virus to replicate its genetic material, but prevented the virus from propagating, or infecting nearby cells.A large amount of the rMERS-CoV-ΔE virus would be needed for a live attenuated MERS vaccine. A virus that can’t propagate itself would be unable to grow the volume needed without help. …

Read more

Utilizzando il sito, accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra. maggiori informazioni

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close