95% of the world’s population breathes unsafe air

April 17, 2018 by  
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Are you breathing clean air ? A new air pollution study suggests you might not be. It found that almost 95 percent of people in the world live in areas with higher fine particle levels than the World Health Organization ‘s air quality guidelines. According to The Guardian , poor communities are taking the brunt of the burden. The Health Effects Institute recently published the State of Global Air/2018 report. They drew upon satellite data and improved monitoring to discover that the majority of us could be breathing unhealthy air. According to the report , “An estimated 95 percent of people live in areas where ambient (outdoor) fine particulate matter concentrations (small dust or soot particles in the air) exceed the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guideline of 10 µg/m3. Almost 60 percent live in areas where fine particulate matter exceeds even the least stringent WHO interim air quality target of 35 µg/m3.” Related: New map reveals world’s most toxic countries The 2018 report also delves into household air pollution. More than one third of the world’s population is exposed to polluted air from the burning of solid fuels for heating or cooking indoors. Reportedly, “For them, fine particulate matter levels in the home can exceed the air quality guidelines by as much as 20 times.” Air pollution has been connected to sickness and early death — just last year, exposure to polluted air played a role in over six million deaths around the world, according to experts. Half of the deaths were in India and China . And the gap between the most and least polluted countries is increasing: it’s now 11-fold compared to six-fold in 1990, Health Effects Institute vice president Bob O’Keefe told The Guardian. But, he said even though countries may have a ways to go on cleaning the air, there are reasons for hope — such as India’s focus on electrification. O’Keefe said China “seems to be now moving aggressively,” as they put stronger controls in place and work to cut coal . You can explore the data from the State of Global Air/2018 on the report’s website . + State of Global Air/2018 Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2 )

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95% of the world’s population breathes unsafe air

White Castle is now offering ‘bleeding’ vegan Impossible Burger sliders

April 17, 2018 by  
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Iconic fast-food chain White Castle is now offering a vegan version of its signature sliders, with the “beef” provided by Redwood City-based start-up Impossible Foods . It’s the first time that a major chain has offered the meatless burger alternative and marks a shift in what consumers are demanding these days. The Impossible slider re-creates the sensation of eating meat, complete with “blood,” in hopes to bridge the gap between the dry veggie burgers of yore and real meat. While the Impossible Burger is offered at 1,300 different restaurants in the United States, including Fat Burger, Umami Burger, and Momofuko Nishi, its featured debut at White Castle, the largest chain to partner with Impossible Foods, is a landmark for the companies involved. Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown hopes that the White Castle partnership will help the burgeoning vegan “meat” company better understand how to “popularize plant-based meat with mainstream burger lovers.” Founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, White Castle is credited as the first fast-food chain as well as the inventor of the slider. It also has been owned and operated by the Ingram family for four generations. White Castle CEO Lisa Ingram cites the strong relationship that the company has with its customers as a primary reason to explore a vegan burger option.  “It really starts by listening to our customers as we try to do with all of our innovations,” Ingram told Marketplace . “We also have some customers that grew up on White Castle but have decided to be vegetarians… This was a natural evolution for us when we found out that Impossible Foods was creating a plant-based product that looked and tastes like beef both for the people that like meats and for the people that are choosing to have a vegetarian diet.” Related: NYC’s first vegan butcher shop set to open this spring Founded in 2011, Impossible Foods opened its first high-volume production facility in Oakland , California in the fall of 2017. Despite this facility’s taking up a full city-block, the demand for Impossible Foods “meat” has become so high that the company is looking double its production in the near future. The Impossible Burger slider at White Castle costs $1.99, in contrast to the $.77 per beef slider, and is available in select stores in New York, New Jersey and the Chicago area. If this trial run proves to be a success, consumers may soon be able to enjoy the Impossible slider at White Castles across the United States . Via Grub Street and Marketplace Images via Impossible Foods and White Castle

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White Castle is now offering ‘bleeding’ vegan Impossible Burger sliders

This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water

April 17, 2018 by  
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Through the magic of moss , anything is possible. Scientists at the University of Stockholm have discovered that  Warnstofia fluitans , or floating hook moss, is capable of extracting arsenic from water. The miracle moss is quick, too – it can make water safe to drink in just an hour. Scientists hope to use the breakthrough to develop wetland areas that can filter out arsenic from mining waste to make water clean for people, agriculture and animals downstream. “Our experiments show that the moss has a very high capacity to remove arsenic,” said research assistant and study co-author Arifin Sandhi . “It takes no more than an hour to remove 80 per cent of the arsenic from a container of water. By then, the water has reached such a low level of arsenic that it is no longer harmful to people.” Native to northern Sweden, floating hook moss offers a green, locally-based solution to a problem plaguing its native habitat. “We hope that the plant-based wetland system that we are developing will solve the arsenic problem in Sweden’s northern mining areas,” said study leader Maria Greger , commenting on the environmental legacy of the Swedish mining industry. Although the use of arsenic compounds in wood products was banned in 2004, the deadly element still infiltrates drinking water through mining, which exposes the water table to natural arsenic found deep within Sweden’s bedrock layer. Related: Gooey cactus guts remove arsenic and bacteria from polluted water Arsenic also poses a threat to agriculture , in which crops absorb arsenic-tainted water through their roots. “How much arsenic we consume ultimately depends on how much of these foods we eat, as well as how and where they were grown,” explained Greger. “Our aim is that the plant-based wetland system we are developing will filter out the arsenic before the water becomes drinking water and irrigation water.” The researchers envision the moss being applied to specific areas through its deliberate cultivation in streams and other bodies of water that pose a high risk of arsenic. Lessons learned in Sweden may then serve other parts of the world that also suffer from arsenic-tainted water. Via Treehugger Images via  Arifin Sandhi and Maria Greger

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Brazil unleashes millions of genetically modified mosquitoes to combat Zika

October 31, 2016 by  
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Mosquitoes are an annoyance to nearly everyone who encounters them, and the little buzzers are responsible for spreading diseases like malaria, yellow fever and, of more recent note, Zika virus . Now scientists in Brazil are fighting back by releasing millions of genetically modified mosquitoes that, ideally, will mate with their wild counterparts and produce offspring with very short lifespans, thus causing disease-carrying family lines to die out within a few generations. Since mosquitoes only live a short time, this could greatly reduce the population of mosquitoes spreading infectious diseases in just a few weeks. British biotech firm Oxitec is the company leading the charge on the development of genetically modified male mosquitoes belonging to the Aedes aegypti species, which are responsible for the spread of a slew of diseases. The company launched the Friendly Aedes aegypti project in April 2015 in the town of Piracicaba, where some 60,000 people live under daily threat of diseases like dengue fever and Zika virus . Oxitec has been releasing its “self-limiting” mosquitoes across the city, and reporting huge reductions in cases of diseases those mosquitoes spread. After being released into the wild, the male mosquitoes breed with disease-carrying females and produce offspring that die quickly. The company reports that this technique can bring mosquito populations down by 90 percent, according to the results of five field tests conducted between 2011 and 2014. Related: Zika virus found in US mosquitoes for the first time Despite that good news, there were early concerns that releasing genetically modified mosquitoes may somehow contribute to the spread of viruses like Zika, rather than combat it. Many people blamed Oxitec for the recent Zika epidemic in Brazil, claiming that the aforementioned field tests actually caused the problem. However, experts at the World Health Organization have dismissed that notion in part because the field tests were not conducted in the same region as the Zika hotspot and, while the strategy is controversial, many epidemiologists believe this is the fastest and most effective way to reduce the spread of mosquito-born diseases. Oxitec is still waiting for approval from the Brazilian government to release their next batch of genetically modified mosquitoes, which would number in the millions. The company contracted with the town of Piracicaba in a $1.1 million deal, and erected what it claims is the “first and biggest factory” for genetically modified mosquitoes there, producing 60 million GM mosquitoes per week. (That’s three times the output of China’s largest mosquito factory, which is working on a similar project.) While Piracicaba is Oxitec’s only customer in Brazil, the company has worked in other parts of the world, doing exactly the same thing in an effort to stamp out mosquito-born diseases that are difficult to treat and, sometimes, deadly. Earlier this year, millions of the company’s little buzzers were released in the Cayman Islands and in Florida as well, two other places where Zika has spread. Via Gizmodo Images via Shutterstock and Oxitec

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Brazil unleashes millions of genetically modified mosquitoes to combat Zika

First cases of Zika-related microcephaly confirmed in Thailand

October 3, 2016 by  
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Health officials just confirmed the first two cases of microcephaly linked to the Zika virus in Southeast Asia . The cases were both in Thailand , although officials haven’t said exactly where in the country. Zika outbreaks across Southeast Asia prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to warn people, especially pregnant women, against traveling to the area. Out of three cases tested, laboratory tests linked two to the Zika virus in Thailand. Statistics collected by health officials reveal that since the start of 2016, there have been 349 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the nation; 33 of those cases were pregnant women. Some experts have said Thailand has not been forthcoming about the presence of the Zika virus in the country to protect tourism, but Department of Disease Control adviser Prasert Thongcharoen said “Thailand is not hiding anything and is ready to disclose everything.” Related: Zika outbreak declared in Miami Beach The World Health Organization said governments and locals should work to control mosquitoes , said to transmit the Zika virus as well as other illnesses Thailand faces such as dengue , chikungunya, and malaria. Other health officials in the region said they would be monitoring, but they think the number of people who have the Zika virus is likely higher than they know. Philippines health secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubia told Reuters, “We do not test everybody, we test only those who are symptomatic. Yes, we are positive that the number is higher because we are not testing everyone.” Around 80 percent of infected people don’t have any symptoms of the Zika virus. In Singapore , there have been 393 cases of Zika, including 16 pregnant women. The CDC said tourists should think about postponing trips to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Maldives, Laos, Philippines, Brunei, Timor-Leste, and Myanmar. There is already an Alert Level 2 travel notice in place for Singapore. Via The Los Angeles Times and Reuters Images via Pixabay and screenshot

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First cases of Zika-related microcephaly confirmed in Thailand

WHO finds 92% of the world’s population exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution

October 3, 2016 by  
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A new air quality model by the World Health Organization shows that practically all of the world’s population is breathing air that exceeds the limits set by WHO. While most of us may not think of our cities as particularly dangerous, the truth is that roughly 3 million deaths a year can be attributed to outdoor air pollution – and that number doubles when poor indoor air quality is taken into account. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths were linked to air pollution total, making up a shocking 11.6% of all global deaths. This new model is the most detailed of its kind ever reported by the WHO, using health data from satellite measurements, air transport models, and ground station monitors in more than 3,000 urban and rural locations around the world. The data is broken down country by country, making it easy for readers to see how their home stacks up against neighbors and the rest of the world. (If you’re interested in the full report, you can read it here .) The majority of the diseases caused by air pollution are non-communicable, with 94% composed of issues like cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer . However, it’s important to note that air pollution also increases the risk of developing serious respiratory infections as well. About 90% of these pollution-linked deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, including Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region. Related: Dangerous air pollution particles found in human brain tissue WHO has found that the major sources of this pollution are related to human activity – inefficient methods of transportation , household fuel, waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and various industrial activities. However, dust storms, wildfires, and other natural phenomena can also contribute. If you’re curious to learn where your city or country falls on the new scale, WHO has created an interactive map that allows users to explore their data and compare it to other areas. You can view it here. Via Science Daily Images via World Health Organization and Andrew Hart

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WHO finds 92% of the world’s population exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution

No, the Zika Virus wasn’t caused by genetically engineered mosquitoes

February 10, 2016 by  
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The World Health Organization and other global health groups have responded to rumors that the recent outbreak of Zika virus stemmed from the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Brazil. Experts are dismissing the notion, saying there is no evidence to support that GM mosquitoes had anything to do with the rampant spread of the virus, which causes birth defects. Although the rumor has all the sensationalism of a science fiction thriller, the facts simply don’t add up. Read the rest of No, the Zika Virus wasn’t caused by genetically engineered mosquitoes

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No, the Zika Virus wasn’t caused by genetically engineered mosquitoes

Monsanto files suit to keep California from declaring Roundup carcinogenic

January 25, 2016 by  
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Business has been tough for Monsanto in the past year: first, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared the herbicide glyphosate (sold under the brand name “Roundup”) a probable human carcinogen . The company has been dogged by lawsuits by people alleging that its products caused their cancer. And the government of France even went so far as to completely ban sales of Roundup. Now, the state of California is trying to force the company to warn consumers of the potential health risks of using Roundup before they buy. Read the rest of Monsanto files suit to keep California from declaring Roundup carcinogenic

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Monsanto files suit to keep California from declaring Roundup carcinogenic

Esk’et: a tiny house that stands apart with an extraordinary curved roof

January 25, 2016 by  
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Esk’et: a tiny house that stands apart with an extraordinary curved roof

Bacon causes cancer, according to the WHO

October 26, 2015 by  
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The World Health Organization just officially declared that bacon, hot dogs, and other preserved meats cause cancer. 22 international experts reviewed over 800 studies to produce the new report, which classifies processed meats alongside other known carcinogens such as cigarettes, alcohol, asbestos and arsenic. The report is expected to receive vigorous backlash from the United States beef industry, which brings in $95 billion each year. Read the rest of Bacon causes cancer, according to the WHO

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