High PFAS levels associated with breastfeeding issues

September 17, 2021 by  
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A study of 1,286 pregnant women found that those with high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ( PFAS ) in their bodies are 20% more likely to stop breastfeeding early. Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, research also found that PFAS affect pregnancy outcomes, growth and development into puberty and other aspects of reproductive health. PFAS are synthetic chemicals commonly used in oil- and water-resistant materials. Common products that may contain PFAS include carpets, textiles and cookware. While common in the manufacturing field, PFAS are dangerous to the human body. These chemicals do not easily break down and thus accumulated over time. Related: Indoor air contains concerning levels of forever chemicals Dr. Clara Amalie Gade Timmermann, a co-author of the study and professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Copenhagen, Denmark, says that the findings must be taken seriously Almost everyone is exposed to PFAS and the risks associated with the chemical. “Our findings are important because almost every human on the planet is exposed to PFAS. These man-made chemicals accumulate in our bodies and have detrimental effects on reproductive health ,” said Timmermann. In the past, lack of breast milk in the early stages of breastfeeding was associated with stress. The study authors now say that, while mental and emotional health is important, other factors must be considered. “Early unwanted weaning has been traditionally attributed to psychological factors, which are without a doubt important, but hopefully our research will help shift the focus and highlight that not all mothers can breastfeed despite good intentions and support from family and healthcare professionals,” said Timmermann Researchers analyzed blood samples and collected information about each participant’s breastfeeding habits through mobile phone questionnaires. The researchers found that those with high levels of PFAS in their system were more likely to stop breastfeeding early. “Because breastfeeding is crucial to promote both child and maternal health, adverse PFAS effects on the ability to breastfeed may have long-term health consequences,” Timmermann said. Via Newswise Lead image via Pexels

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The Gulf Stream may be near collapse

August 6, 2021 by  
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The  ocean  current commonly known as the Gulf Stream is hurtling towards a terrifying tipping point, according to scientists in an article published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Its collapse could threaten civilization as we know it. The strong current, which scientists call the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), has been compared to a conveyor belt bringing warm surface water from the Gulf of Mexico north into the  Atlantic Ocean . It simultaneously sends cold, deep, low-salinity water southwards. Related: Ice melt releases ‘forever chemicals’ into Arctic Ocean “The study method cannot give us an exact timing of a possible collapse, but the analysis presents evidence that the AMOC has already lost stability, which I take as a warning that we might be closer to an AMOC tipping than we think,” said Levke Caesar, a postdoctoral researcher at Maynooth University in  Ireland . Caesar was not involved in the research. The AMOC influences the climate of the east coast of North America and the coasts of northwestern Africa and western Europe. If it failed, sea levels would rise on the U.S.’ Atlantic coast, threatening cities. This could also decimate the world’s food supply, as it would affect rainfall from South America to  India  and West Africa. Additionally, the Antarctic ice sheets and the Amazon rainforest would be in even more trouble than they already are. Niklas Boers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in  Germany  was surprised by what he found in his recently published research. “The signs of destabilisation being visible already is something that I wouldn’t have expected and that I find scary,” he said, as reported by The Guardian. “It’s something you just can’t [allow to] happen.” As the title of Boers’s paper states, “Observation-based early-warning signals for a collapse of the AMOC.” Boers analyzed ice-core data from the last 100,000 years and discovered that the AMOC has a fast, strong state and a slow, weak state. For millennia, AMOC moved fast. But as global temperatures rise, the AMOC could suddenly go sluggish. This might happen in 10 years. Or maybe 50. Nobody knows, because how much CO2 is necessary to destroy AMOC is unknown.  “So the only thing to do is keep  emissions  as low as possible,” said Boers. “The likelihood of this extremely high-impact event happening increases with every gram of CO2 that we put into the atmosphere.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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The Gulf Stream may be near collapse

Amazon deforestation threatens harpy eagles

July 1, 2021 by  
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A new study published in the journal  Scientific Reports has found that young harpy eagles are dying in the Amazon due to deforestation. The harpy eagle, one of the world’s largest eagles, has almost “zero” chances of surviving if Amazon deforestation continues. The study has established that harpy eagles are dying of starvation in areas where significant deforestation has occurred. The Amazon is the last remaining hope for the survival of harpy eagles, with almost 90% of the birds currently residing there. The study warns that the geographical range of the eagle is continuously being limited by continued deforestation. Related: Monarch butterfly population declines due to climate change and logging Professor Carlos Peres of the University of East Anglia, U.K. and co-author of the study said, “Considering that harpy eagles have the lowest life cycle of all bird species , their chances of adapting to highly deforested landscapes are nearly zero.” The adult harpy eagle females grow to 10 kilograms, making them one of the largest raptors in the world. They are native to the tropical forests of Central America to northern Argentina. Unfortunately, due to human interference and widespread deforestation, the eagles have disappeared from large parts of their native range. Currently, the biggest threat to the survival of the birds is deforestation . However, other factors, such as hunting, are also threatening their existence. In some countries, including Brazil, Panama and Suriname, the harpy eagle has legal protections. Unfortunately, enforcement of the laws in these regions has remained a big challenge. The study was led by Everton Miranda of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In their study, the researchers monitored 16 nests in the Brazilian Amazon using cameras. They found that eagles in the region mainly feast on two-toed sloths, brown capuchin monkeys and grey woolly monkeys. From bone fragments observed around nesting areas, the researchers established that the eagles could not find alternative food where there was deforestation. The most alarming observation was that in areas with 50% to 70% deforestation, at least three eagles died from starvation over the period of the study. In areas with deforestation over 70%, there were no nests to be found. Via BBC Image via cyrusbulsara

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Amazon deforestation threatens harpy eagles

Amazon deforestation threatens harpy eagles

July 1, 2021 by  
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A new study published in the journal  Scientific Reports has found that young harpy eagles are dying in the Amazon due to deforestation. The harpy eagle, one of the world’s largest eagles, has almost “zero” chances of surviving if Amazon deforestation continues. The study has established that harpy eagles are dying of starvation in areas where significant deforestation has occurred. The Amazon is the last remaining hope for the survival of harpy eagles, with almost 90% of the birds currently residing there. The study warns that the geographical range of the eagle is continuously being limited by continued deforestation. Related: Monarch butterfly population declines due to climate change and logging Professor Carlos Peres of the University of East Anglia, U.K. and co-author of the study said, “Considering that harpy eagles have the lowest life cycle of all bird species , their chances of adapting to highly deforested landscapes are nearly zero.” The adult harpy eagle females grow to 10 kilograms, making them one of the largest raptors in the world. They are native to the tropical forests of Central America to northern Argentina. Unfortunately, due to human interference and widespread deforestation, the eagles have disappeared from large parts of their native range. Currently, the biggest threat to the survival of the birds is deforestation . However, other factors, such as hunting, are also threatening their existence. In some countries, including Brazil, Panama and Suriname, the harpy eagle has legal protections. Unfortunately, enforcement of the laws in these regions has remained a big challenge. The study was led by Everton Miranda of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In their study, the researchers monitored 16 nests in the Brazilian Amazon using cameras. They found that eagles in the region mainly feast on two-toed sloths, brown capuchin monkeys and grey woolly monkeys. From bone fragments observed around nesting areas, the researchers established that the eagles could not find alternative food where there was deforestation. The most alarming observation was that in areas with 50% to 70% deforestation, at least three eagles died from starvation over the period of the study. In areas with deforestation over 70%, there were no nests to be found. Via BBC Image via cyrusbulsara

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Amazon deforestation threatens harpy eagles

Amazon deforestation threatens harpy eagles

July 1, 2021 by  
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A new study published in the journal  Scientific Reports has found that young harpy eagles are dying in the Amazon due to deforestation. The harpy eagle, one of the world’s largest eagles, has almost “zero” chances of surviving if Amazon deforestation continues. The study has established that harpy eagles are dying of starvation in areas where significant deforestation has occurred. The Amazon is the last remaining hope for the survival of harpy eagles, with almost 90% of the birds currently residing there. The study warns that the geographical range of the eagle is continuously being limited by continued deforestation. Related: Monarch butterfly population declines due to climate change and logging Professor Carlos Peres of the University of East Anglia, U.K. and co-author of the study said, “Considering that harpy eagles have the lowest life cycle of all bird species , their chances of adapting to highly deforested landscapes are nearly zero.” The adult harpy eagle females grow to 10 kilograms, making them one of the largest raptors in the world. They are native to the tropical forests of Central America to northern Argentina. Unfortunately, due to human interference and widespread deforestation, the eagles have disappeared from large parts of their native range. Currently, the biggest threat to the survival of the birds is deforestation . However, other factors, such as hunting, are also threatening their existence. In some countries, including Brazil, Panama and Suriname, the harpy eagle has legal protections. Unfortunately, enforcement of the laws in these regions has remained a big challenge. The study was led by Everton Miranda of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In their study, the researchers monitored 16 nests in the Brazilian Amazon using cameras. They found that eagles in the region mainly feast on two-toed sloths, brown capuchin monkeys and grey woolly monkeys. From bone fragments observed around nesting areas, the researchers established that the eagles could not find alternative food where there was deforestation. The most alarming observation was that in areas with 50% to 70% deforestation, at least three eagles died from starvation over the period of the study. In areas with deforestation over 70%, there were no nests to be found. Via BBC Image via cyrusbulsara

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Fireworks banned due to heat in parts of western US

July 1, 2021 by  
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The U.S. has long prized personal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of sparkly stuff to set on fire come the Fourth of July. But this year,  fire  chiefs in some cities across the West Coast are saying no to fireworks. Excessively hot and dry conditions plus amateur pyrotechnics equals a terrifying  wildfire  season for western states. Fireworks have started major wildfires in the past, including the 2017 Eagle Creek fire outside Portland, which was started by a 15-year-old boy and burned 50,000 acres. A 2020 gender reveal party in California started a wildfire that killed a firefighter. Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year Portland , Oregon, broke heat records last Monday with a sizzling 116 degrees. In response, the Portland Fire Department has prohibited all fireworks until further notice. Fire departments in nearby Tualatin, Oregon, have banned fireworks through July 9. “If we don’t take this proactive step now, I fear the consequences could be devastating,” said Portland fire chief Sara Boone in a statement. “It is not easy to make a decision like this so close to our national  holiday , but as fire chief I feel I have a higher responsibility to sometimes make unpopular decisions during unprecedented times to protect life, property and the environment.” City officials in Yreka,  California , which is only thirty miles from the currently raging Lava Fire, have also banned fireworks until further notice. Some Utah, Washington and Montana towns have banned private fireworks this year. Steamboat Springs, Colorado, canceled its official public fireworks show. Clark County, in southwest Washington state, banned the sale and use of fireworks from June 29 through midnight on the Fourth of July. “We recognize that this decision will cause some hardship to some residents’ celebration plans as well as businesses and non-profit organizations that sell fireworks,” said Eileen Quiring O’Brien, the county council chair, according to KATU. “We empathize with all who are affected, but we must follow county codes. They are in place to protect the welfare and  safety  of Clark County residents.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Fireworks banned due to heat in parts of western US

Fireworks banned due to heat in parts of western US

July 1, 2021 by  
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The U.S. has long prized personal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of sparkly stuff to set on fire come the Fourth of July. But this year,  fire  chiefs in some cities across the West Coast are saying no to fireworks. Excessively hot and dry conditions plus amateur pyrotechnics equals a terrifying  wildfire  season for western states. Fireworks have started major wildfires in the past, including the 2017 Eagle Creek fire outside Portland, which was started by a 15-year-old boy and burned 50,000 acres. A 2020 gender reveal party in California started a wildfire that killed a firefighter. Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year Portland , Oregon, broke heat records last Monday with a sizzling 116 degrees. In response, the Portland Fire Department has prohibited all fireworks until further notice. Fire departments in nearby Tualatin, Oregon, have banned fireworks through July 9. “If we don’t take this proactive step now, I fear the consequences could be devastating,” said Portland fire chief Sara Boone in a statement. “It is not easy to make a decision like this so close to our national  holiday , but as fire chief I feel I have a higher responsibility to sometimes make unpopular decisions during unprecedented times to protect life, property and the environment.” City officials in Yreka,  California , which is only thirty miles from the currently raging Lava Fire, have also banned fireworks until further notice. Some Utah, Washington and Montana towns have banned private fireworks this year. Steamboat Springs, Colorado, canceled its official public fireworks show. Clark County, in southwest Washington state, banned the sale and use of fireworks from June 29 through midnight on the Fourth of July. “We recognize that this decision will cause some hardship to some residents’ celebration plans as well as businesses and non-profit organizations that sell fireworks,” said Eileen Quiring O’Brien, the county council chair, according to KATU. “We empathize with all who are affected, but we must follow county codes. They are in place to protect the welfare and  safety  of Clark County residents.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Fireworks banned due to heat in parts of western US

Scientists just discovered evidence of a hidden chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza

November 2, 2017 by  
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Legend says that there are undiscovered chambers hidden within the Great Pyramid of Giza — a monument which has existed for over 5,000 years. Scientists recently announced a startling discovery supporting this notion, which was previously passed off as myth. Using cosmic rays, researchers confirmed the presence of a large empty space — a void which might signal the presence of a hidden chamber. The Great Pyramid of Giza was built around 2500 B.C. and is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Until now, no one knew the hidden void even existed — which his why scientists are so baffled. The void is located above a tall, cathedral-like room known as the Grand Gallery. According to a report in the journal Nature , the room is about 100 feet long. Said Peter Der Manuelian , an Egyptologist at Harvard University who did not take part in the research: “All we know is that we have a void, we have a cavity, and it’s huge, which means possibly intentional and certainly worthy of further exploration .” He noted that it is unknown whether or not there is more than one chamber. “In that sense it’s obviously frustrating,” Manuelian added. “On the other hand, as an architectural discovery, something we didn’t know about the interior of the Great Pyramid, it’s absolutely big news.” This is the first significant internal structure found within the Great Pyramid since the 19th century. Related: Ancient papyrus scroll offers insight into Great Pyramid of Giza mystery Mehdi Tayoubi , with the HIP Institute in Paris, said that the goal was to investigate the pyramid using non-destructive analytical techniques. He and his colleagues settled on a type of imaging that involves muons, tiny particles similar to electrons . NPR reports that muons are formed when cosmic rays from deep space hit the atoms of the upper atmosphere. As they rain down, they pass through materials — like the thick stones of the pyramid — and lose energy. When the researchers placed muon detectors in strategic locations, they were able to create a kind of picture that reveals whether the material above is dense — like stone — or an empty space. Said Tayoubi, “The first reaction was a lot of excitement, but then we knew that it would take us a long, long time, that we needed to be very patient in this scientific process . The good news is the void is there. Now we are sure that there is a void. We know that this void is big. I don’t know what it could be. I think it’s now time for Egyptologists and specialists in ancient Egypt architecture to collaborate with us, to provide us with some hypotheses.” The researcher is eager to see if small robots might somehow enter the space through tiny cracks or holes to reveal more information. + Nature Via NPR , Gizmodo Images via ScanPyramids Mission

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Black butterfly wings provide inspiration for superior solar cells

October 23, 2017 by  
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Researchers took cues from butterflies to design thin film solar cells that can better absorb light. The rose butterfly, common to India, has soft black wings that help keep the insect warm with the sun’s heat. Mimicking the design of the butterfly’s wings, the scientists created a solar cell that The Verge reports can gather light twice as efficiently. California Institute of Technology and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology researchers went to nature for inspiration for improved solar power technology. They scrutinized butterfly wings under an electron microscope and discovered the wings’ scales were pockmarked with holes, which are under one millionth of a meter wide, according to The Verge. These holes not only allowed the wings to be lighter, but scattered light so the butterfly can absorb more heat. Related: Bio-inspired wind turbines with flexible blades are 35% more efficient The holes are random in shape, size, and distribution, according to Radwanul Siddique, lead author of a study recently published online in the journal Science Advances . Computer models helped the scientists realize the shape wasn’t important for absorbing light, but position and order did matter. The scientists utilized hydrogenated amorphous silicon sheets, according to Phys.org, to create similar structures. A top layer had small holes that could scatter light, allowing it to hit the silicon base. This design collected around twice as much light as others. They were able to create their solar cells with a five- to 10-minute process. Thin film solar cells could be more efficient than traditional solar panels , according to Phys.org, if they could operate for longer time periods. This new research could move thin film solar technology forward: The Verge reports solar panels with the butterfly wing- inspired design could allow the panels to produce more power during the day. Via The Verge and Phys.org Images via Wikimedia Commons and Radwanul H. Siddique, KIT/CalTech

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Black butterfly wings provide inspiration for superior solar cells

Herzog & de Meuron are upcycling a historic gasometer into a stunning residential tower

October 23, 2017 by  
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A former industrial area in Stockholm is on its way to a stunning makeover. Several old gasometers in Hjorthagen are being  repurposed into a vibrant new residential area called Gasklockan at the hands of several talented designers. For one tower, Swiss architects, Herzog & de Meuron will convert the old brick building into a soaring residential tower, while Piet Oudolf and LOLA Architects  will create a lush green space that snakes through the development. Besides being a local landmark, the late 19th century buildings have quite a bit of historical value to the city, representing 100 years of gasworks in the area. Accordingly, the master plan for renovating the area focuses on integrating the beloved gasometers into the newly revamped residential area. Related: INTERVIEW: Walking the High Line with its garden designer Piet Oudolf The team behind Herzog & de Meuron will be converting the tallest gasometer into a 330-feet-high residential tower with 45 floors while the smallest gas holder will be turned into an art gallery (konsthall) for exhibitions. The remaining buildings will be rearranged to coexist with several new social areas around the complex, including a sculpture park, cafes and restaurants, as well as plenty of green space . Not only will the development count on amazing architecture, but will boast an equally stunning landscaping design . Led by renowned architect Piet Oudolf and LOLA Landscape Architects, the landscape design will focus on providing ample green space and a central plaza for residents and visitors to come together. According to the project description, the landscaping scheme will focus on creating a sustainable , natural environment that will enhance the climate around the complex and be accessible throughout the year, in every season. At the heart of the project will be an expansive meadow garden with a 300-feet long sun bench. Several walking paths will wrap around the meadow and snake between the buildings, creating a seamless connection between nature and the manmade. + Herzog & de Meuron + Piet Oudolf + LOLA Architects

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