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Innovation kills waterborne microorganisms, produces safer drinking water

October 24, 2013 8:56 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Purdue Univ. have developed prototypes of a water disinfection system to take advantage of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, which is plentiful in many areas where clean water is lacking. Their water disinfection system pumps water through a UV-transparent pipe placed on a parabolic reflector, effectively magnifying the effect of UV radiation, which damages microorganism DNA.

"Killer apps" that could keep you healthy

October 22, 2013 12:38 pm | News | Comments

For those wanting to keep their distance from health threats like E. coli-contaminated lettuce or the flu, there are two upcoming apps for that. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory hosted a competition last summer where graduate students used Android development tools and web-based analytics to design mobile apps that could help fight the threats of food-related illnesses and the flu.

FDA lays out rules for some smartphone health apps

September 24, 2013 8:32 am | News | Comments

With the rise of the iPhone, Android and other mobile devices has come a flood of applications designed to help people stay healthy. Food and Drug Administration officials say they will now begin regulating applications and gadgets that work with smartphones to take medical readings and help users monitor their health.

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Higher lead levels may lie just below surface

September 18, 2013 2:54 pm | News | Comments

A study of data from hundreds of soil samples taken around six old water tower sites in southern Rhode Island finds that even when lead levels on the surface are low, concentrations can sometimes be greater at depths down to a foot. The findings inform efforts to assess the effect of lead paint from old water towers on surrounding properties.

Scientists reveal how organic mercury can interfere with vision

September 12, 2013 10:43 am | News | Comments

More than one billion people worldwide rely on fish as an important source of animal protein, consuming low levels of methylmercury. Methylmercury compounds specifically target the central nervous system, but now researchers have combined synchrotron x-rays with methylmercury-poisoned zebrafish larvae to learn that they may also affect our vision.

Study: Changes in river chemistry affect water supplies

August 26, 2013 11:58 am | News | Comments

Human activities are changing the basic chemistry of many rivers in the Eastern U.S., with potentially major consequences for urban water supplies and aquatic ecosystems, a Univ. of Maryland-led study has found. Over time spans of 25 to 60 years, two-thirds of the 97 streams and rivers reviewed in the study had become significantly more alkaline and none had become more acidic.

Scientists analyze the extent of ocean acidification

August 26, 2013 8:11 am | News | Comments

In a new study, biologists have compiled and analyzed all available data on the reaction of marine animals to ocean acidification. From this collection of 167 studies with data from more than 150 different species, they found that while the majority of animal species investigated are affected by ocean acidification, the respective impacts are specific and can vary widely from species to species.

Study: Toxic nanoparticles might be entering human food supply

August 23, 2013 9:13 am | by Diamond Dixon, Univ. of Missouri | News | Comments

Over the last few years, the use of nanomaterials for water treatment, food packaging, pesticides, cosmetics and other industries has increased. A growing concern is that these particles could pose a potential health risk has prompted a large number of studies, including recent work at the Univ. of Missouri that showed the retention of silver nanoparticles in pear skin, even after repeated washing.

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Plasma-treated nano filters could help purify world water supply

August 21, 2013 12:56 pm | News | Comments

An international team of researchers have recently showed that water purification membranes enhanced by plasma-treated carbon nanotubes are ideal for removing contaminants and brine from water. The study may lead to the next generation of portable water purification devices, which could be rechargeable and the size of a teapot.

Sensor-equipped construction helmet can detect carbon monoxide

August 19, 2013 10:38 am | News | Comments

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a significant problem for construction workers because it can build up quickly in enclosed spaces from use of gasoline-powered tools. New research calls for the use of a wearable computing system installed in a helmet to protect construction workers from this type of poisoning.

Looking for hazardous pollutants in your kitchen

August 7, 2013 2:22 pm | Videos | Comments

For decades, teams of Berkeley Lab scientists have investigated the ways that indoor air quality affects human health. In Berkeley Lab's test kitchen scientist Brett Singer and his team are measuring the pollutants emitted by cooking foods and evaluating how effective various range hoods are in capturing the pollutants.

China, Russia halt some imports in botulism scare

August 4, 2013 9:52 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

China and Russia have halted imports of some New Zealand dairy products in response to a botulism scare, according to New Zealand government officials. New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra announced Saturday that up to 1,000 tons of infant formula, sports drinks and other products sold in seven countries could be tainted after tests turned up bacteria in whey protein that could cause botulism.

When writing antibiotic prescriptions, doctors favor strongest drugs

August 1, 2013 1:55 pm | News | Comments

A study at the Univ. of Utah finds that more than 60% of antibiotic prescriptions are for types that kill multiple kinds of bacteria. Unfortunately, in more than 25% of cases such prescriptions are useless because the infection stems from a virus, which cannot be treated with antibiotics. This overuse of antibiotics has a number of downsides.

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Controlling contagion by restricting mobility

July 31, 2013 7:50 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

In an epidemic or a bioterrorist attack, the response of government officials could range from a drastic restriction of mobility to moderate travel restrictions in some areas or simple suggestions that people remain at home. Deciding to institute any measure would require officials to weigh the costs and benefits of action, but at present there’s little data to guide them. However, a new study comparing contagion rates may come in handy.

Battelle team wins DARPA sepsis medical device contract

July 25, 2013 6:23 pm | News | Comments

As many as 10% of combat wounds result in life threatening infections that ultimately lead to septicemia and/or sepsis. Battelle, in partnership with NxStage Medical Inc. and Aethlon Medical, has won a nearly $23 million contract from DARPA to develop a new medical device that would holistically treat for sepsis by removing blood and cleaning it in a manner similar to dialysis.

Off-grid sterilization

July 23, 2013 7:40 am | News | Comments

Rice Univ. nanotechnology researchers have unveiled a solar-powered sterilization system that could be a boon for more than 2.5 billion people who lack adequate sanitation. The “solar steam” sterilization system uses nanomaterials to convert as much as 80% of the energy in sunlight into germ-killing heat.

Chemicals that break down water contaminants pass safety test

July 22, 2013 11:59 am | by Jocelyn Duffy, Carnegie Mellon | News | Comments

A family of molecules developed at Carnegie Mellon Univ. to break down pollutants in water is one step closer to commercial use. Recently published study results show that the molecules, which are aimed at removing hazardous endocrine disruptors from water sources, aren't endocrine disruptors themselves. They proved to be non-toxic to developing zebrafish embryos.

Electronic monitoring systems can improve hygiene compliance

July 18, 2013 3:34 pm | News | Comments

GOJO Industries, a maker of hand hygiene and skin health and inventors of Purell Hand Sanitizer, conducted an independent research study at the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas to determine the impact on hand hygiene compliance rates when the hospital hand hygiene program included an electronic compliance activity monitoring system. The research showed a 92% hand hygiene improvement.

Study provides details on portable generator emissions

July 12, 2013 10:11 am | News | Comments

Despite warnings to the contrary, many people continue to operate portable generators indoors or close to open windows, resulting in more than 500 deaths since 2005. And each year, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to exposure to toxic levels of carbon monoxide. A new computer modeling study scrutinizes the deadly relationship between carbon monoxide emissions and occupant exposure.

Study: Air pollution cut northern China lifespans

July 9, 2013 8:53 am | by LOUISE WATT - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A new study links heavy air pollution from coal burning to shorter lives in northern China. Researchers estimate that the half-billion people alive there in the 1990s will live an average of 5½ years less than their southern counterparts because they breathed dirtier air.

Chemist bringing low-cost, inkjet-printed water quality test strips to Pakistan

July 1, 2013 5:48 pm | News | Comments

On Monday, the National Academy of Sciences announced a three-year grant to chemist Vincent Rotello at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to develop, test and deploy new, sensitive, reliable and affordable inkjet-printed, nanoparticle-based test strips for detecting disease-causing bacteria in drinking water.

Hospitals seek high-tech help for hand hygiene

June 28, 2013 12:19 pm | by Jim Salter, Associated Press | News | Comments

Hospitals have fretted for years over how to make sure doctors, nurses and staff keep their hands clean, but with only limited success. Now, some are turning to technology—beepers, buzzers, lights and tracking systems that remind workers to sanitize, and chart those who don't.

Israel-Chicago partnership targets water resource innovations

June 25, 2013 8:01 am | News | Comments

Following a meeting between top scientists, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Israeli President Shimon Peres, the University of Chicago and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced they will begin funding a series of ambitious research collaborations that will apply nanotechnology to make clean, fresh drinking water more plentiful and less expensive by 2020.

New MERS virus spreads easily, deadlier than SARS

June 20, 2013 8:46 am | by MARIA CHENG - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than SARS, doctors reported Wednesday after investigating the biggest outbreak in Saudi Arabia. More than 60 cases of what is now called MERS, including 38 deaths, have been recorded by the World Health Organization in the past year.

Papaya-clay combo could cut cost of water purification

June 12, 2013 2:35 pm | Product Releases | Comments

Technology exists for removing heavy metals from drinking water, but often is too costly in developing countries. Scientists are now reporting the development of an inexpensive new material made of clay and papaya seeds removes harmful metals from water and could lower the cost of providing clean water to millions of people in the developing world.

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