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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.

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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.

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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.

Early exposure to bisphenol A might damage the enamel of teeth

June 10, 2013 12:53 pm | News | Comments

Are teeth the latest victims of bisphenol A (BPA)? Yes, according to the conclusions of a team lead by researchers in France. They have shown that the teeth of rats treated with low daily doses of BPA could be damaged the chemical.

Solar-powered nanofilters pump in antibiotics to clean contaminated water

June 5, 2013 11:51 am | News | Comments

Using the same devious mechanism that enables some bacteria to shrug off powerful antibiotics, scientists in Ohio have developed solar-powered nanofilters that remove antibiotics from the water in lakes and rivers twice as efficiently as the best existing technology. They say their “vesicle”-like technology is an improvement on existing activated carbon filters.

EU recommends testing of US wheat after GM find

May 31, 2013 9:34 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The European Union is urging its 27 member states to test certain wheat shipments from the United States after unauthorized genetically modified grains were found on a U.S. farm, officials said Friday. The move came after Japan halted imports Thursday of some types of wheat from the U.S. following the discovery of an experimental strain that was tested by Monsanto but was never approved.

Safer, eco-friendly flame retardant has first-of-its-kind dual effects

May 15, 2013 11:13 am | News | Comments

Amid concerns over the potential health effects of existing flame retardants for home furniture, fabrics and other material, are reporting development of an “exceptionally” effective new retardant that appears safer and more environmentally friendly. The key is a nanocoating made with a relatively benign polymer that creates a “gas blanket,” preventing oxygen from fueling a fire.

Bacteria adapt, evade nanosilver's sting

May 8, 2013 8:22 am | News | Comments

Researchers have cautioned that more work is needed to understand how microorganisms respond to the disinfecting properties of silver nanoparticles, increasingly used in consumer goods and for medical and environmental applications. Although nanosilver has effective antimicrobial properties against certain pathogens, overexposure to silver nanoparticles can cause other potentially harmful organisms to rapidly adapt and flourish.

Nanomaterial toxicity study sets stage for policies to address health risks

May 6, 2013 7:41 am | News | Comments

For the first time, researchers from institutions around the country have conducted an identical series of toxicology tests evaluating lung-related health impacts associated with widely used engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). The study provides comparable health risk data from multiple laboratories, which should help regulators develop policies to protect workers and consumers who come into contact with ENMs.

Decades-old question: Is antibacterial soap safe?

May 3, 2013 9:15 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer | News | Comments

t's a chemical that's been in U.S. households for more than 40 years, from the body wash in your bathroom shower to the knives on your kitchen counter to the bedding in your baby's basinet. But federal health regulators are just now deciding whether triclosan—the germ-killing ingredient found in an estimated 75% of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S.—is ineffective, or worse, harmful.

On-site asbestos detector IDs fibers in real-time

May 2, 2013 12:46 pm | News | Comments

Asbestos was banned in the many industrialized countries in the 1980s, but the threat lingers on in the ceilings, walls and floors of old buildings and homes. Now a team of researchers in the U.K. has developed and tested the first portable, real-time airborne asbestos detector. The device uses a laser-based light scattering technique to identify harmful fibers.

Germ-zapping robots: Hospitals combat superbugs

April 29, 2013 10:49 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

They sweep. They swab. They sterilize. And still the germs persist. In U.S. hospitals, an estimated 1 in 20 patients pick up infections they didn't have when they arrived. This causes hospitals to try all sorts of new approaches to stop their spread, including machines that resemble "Star Wars" robots and emit ultraviolet light or hydrogen peroxide vapors.

Air pollution linked to hardening of arteries

April 25, 2013 11:03 am | News | Comments

Long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to heart attacks and strokes by speeding up atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries," according to a University of Michigan public health researcher and colleagues from across the U.S.

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