Study shows links between prenatal exposure to air pollution and behavioral disorders

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More proof that air pollution is bad for children (and other living things). Photo via the Creative Commons.

Long-term research tracks structural brain changes in young children exposed to PAHs

Staff Report

FRISCO — Prenatal exposure to common pollutants from auto emissions, power plants and other sources may be a big factor in the rising tide of behavioral disorders in children, researchers say.

After tracking 40 children from before birth until 7 to 9 years of age, the researchers say they found a powerful link between exposure to PAHs and disturbances in parts of the brain that support information processing and behavioral control.  Continue reading

Environment: What’s the true cost of fossil fuels?

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

‘We’re making decisions based on misleading costs’

Staff Report

FRISCO — The costs of burning fossil fuels are much higher than official estimates when the environmental and human health toll is factored into the equation, according to Duke University scientists who took a close look at the numbers and published their findings in the journal Climatic Change.

When those costs are factored in, a gallon of gasoline costs about $3.80 more than the pump price. The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles; and coal-fired electricity more than quadruples. Solar and wind power, on the other hand, become cheaper than they initially seem. Continue reading

Advisory panel eyes shift to more sustainable diet in U.S.

‘Sustainability has to be core to dietary guidelines’

Spicy cashew-nut salad. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Can federal guidelines help Americans choose a healthier diet?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Guided by an advisory panel, federal health experts last week set the stage to nudge American consumers toward a more sustainable diet that’s higher in plant-based foods and lighter on animal-based foods.

In the long-term, the changes would improve individual health and result in a smaller environmental footprint, according to panel, which submitted its recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The new scientific report spelled out the fundamental realities of diet and health. About half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, and about two-thirds of U.S. adults — nearly 155 million individuals — are overweight or obese, patterns that have persisted for more than 20 years. Continue reading

No surprise: Global warming speeds up tick season

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Warmer global temperatures will have a big effect on the spread of insect-carried pathogens.

‘If this persists, we will need to move Lyme Disease Awareness Month from May to April …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Disease-carrying ticks in the northeastern U.S. are moving up in elevation and farther north, raising concerns about the spread of Lyme disease and other pathogens, according to a comprehensive field study on how environmental conditions influence vector-borne disease risk. Continue reading

Global warming speeds spread of infectious diseases

Shifting climate brings new exposure risks

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Climate change will shift the world’s disease zones.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to hasten the spread of infectious diseases to new geographic areas and new host species, scientists warned in a recent study, urging health experts to think ahead as they consider the effects of various pathogens on plants, animals and humans.

“We have to admit we’re not winning the war against emerging diseases,” said Daniel Brooks, a zoologist with the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “We’re not anticipating them. We’re not paying attention to their basic biology, where they might come from and the potential for new pathogens to be introduced.” Continue reading

Study: Pollinator decline poses huge human health risks

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

New study links decline of bees with malnutrition, especially in developing countries

Staff Report

FRISCO — Declines of crucial crop pollinators like bees is likely to put huge numbers of people in developing countries at risk for malnutrition, according to a new study that bolsters links between ecosystem stability and human health.

The research by scientists at the University of Vermont and Harvard University tested the claim that pollinators are crucial for human nutritional health by connecting what people actually eat in four developing countries to the pollination requirements of the crops that provide their food and nutrients. Continue reading

Study links Ebola outbreak to fruit bats

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A CDC map shows infection levels in West Africa.

Children’s play area near bat colony eyed as possible source of infection

Staff Report

FRISCO — A research team suspects that the recent West African Ebola outbreak may have started  from contact between humans and virus-infected bats, perhaps as children played near a  large colony of free-tailed insectivorous bats housed in a hollow tree near the village where the outbreak started.

In a study published this week in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, the scientists said that may have resulted in ” a massive exposure to bats.” Continue reading

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