A new Yale University study argues that seawater desalination should play an important role in helping combat worldwide fresh water shortages once conservation, reuse and other methods have been exhausted. The study also provides insights into how desalination technology can be made more affordable and energy efficient.
A biomedical engineering professor at Columbia University has spent that last four years testing his mobile microfluidic chip, or mChip, on hundreds of patients. The inexpensive chip requires a tiny finger prick of blood, and in less than 15 minutes delivers quantitative assays.
After earning an R&D 100 Award in 2010 for its continuous water quality analysis software system, aptly dubbed CANARY, Sandia National Laboratories reports that a number of cities from Cincinnati to Singapore are now using it, and they believe the free software could benefit a great many more utilities.
Quantum dots made from cadmium and selenium degrade in soil, unleashing toxic cadmium and selenium ions into their surroundings, a University at Buffalo study has found. The research demonstrates the importance of learning more about how quantum dots interact with the environment after disposal.
Dutch scientist Dr. Bart Knols first discovered mosquitoes were attracted to foot odor by standing in a dark room naked and examining where he was bitten. For the last 15 years, researchers have struggled to put the knowledge to use. But now an affordable, inexpensive trap that employs foot odor may soon reach market.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a University of Florida (UF)-led team more than $6.5 million to study the environmental and psychological effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on communities along the Gulf coasts of Florida and Alabama.
In Europe, where there are an estimated 300,000 contaminated sites that require testing and treating before further development, a new portable tester that uses live bioluminescent bacteria to assess toxicity has proven popular. With tests taking only 12 to 15 minutes per sample, the device could be used to find out, in less than a day, whether a field contains carcinogenic toxins, and map precisely where the hot spots of the pollution are.
Los Alamos, both the town and the laboratory of the same name, remains evacuated as a major wildfire spreads has reached the roadway just outside some of the laboratory’s property. Top lab officials and fire managers said they're confident the flames won't reach key buildings or areas where radioactive waste is stored, but some residents remained concerned for the safety of their families and nearby communities.
An international team of scientists using Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron facility, has successfully solved the complex 3D structure of the human Histamine H1 receptor protein. The breakthrough, which involved Scripps Institute researchers, lets scientists begin work on third-generation anti-histamine drugs that reduce side effects.
The liver is the primary organ in the human body that metabolizes foreign compounds such as drugs, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and environmental chemicals. Using the liver as an alarm system, researchers are starting to better understand the different levels of toxicity from these compounds and their effects on the human body.
According to an extensive investigation by the Associated Press, federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards. The report claims that nuclear regulatory officials have often decided original regulations are too strict and has argued that safety margins could be eased without peril.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it easier to find data about chemicals. EPA is releasing two databases—the Toxicity Forecaster database (ToxCastDB) and a database of chemical exposure studies (ExpoCastDB)—that scientists and the public can use to access chemical toxicity and exposure data.
Certain types of carbon nanotubes could cause cancer in the lining of the lung, University of Edinburgh research recently shows. The study in mice found short carbon nanotubes appear relatively harmless if they entered lung cavities, but longer nanotubes could get stuck and cause mesothelioma. The study suggests production line workers might be at risk.
Nanoparticles are, potentially, either one of the most promising or the most perilous creations of science. Or perhaps both. The jury is still out on the safety side of things, but NIST has come up with a new electric method attracting and capturing metal-based nanoparticles on a surface and releasing them at the desired moment. The technique could speed assessments of their effect on tissues.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it plans to obtain information on nanoscale materials in pesticide products. Under the requirements of the law, EPA will gather information on what nanoscale materials are present in pesticide products to determine whether the registration of a pesticide may cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and human health.
Cucumbers may be out of favor on earth, but a Japanese astronaut said this week that he plans to harvest the vegetable on board the International Space Station. Satoshi Furukawa said he would be growing cucumbers as part of ongoing studies on how future space explorers will be able to harvest their own food. Unfortunately, like most Europeans right now, Furukawa will not be eating them.
An international team of researchers led by the Univ. of Florida has created a new way to analyze the spread of dangerous viruses. The method uses sets of mathematical rules to do something software cannot easily accomplish—analyze subtle DNA difference to more fully understand health threats such as HIV, hepatitis, or even influenza.
Some scientists have debated the actual severity of the nuclear power plant incident at Fukushima Dai-ichi, but its impact on the ocean is no question much greater than that of Chernobyl. Now, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are starting to build a global database of baseline levels of marine radionuclides so they can be more accurately tracked in the future.
Wood from trees is typically used to produce liquid smoke, which is added to meat and other foods for a smoky taste. But other types of plants can also be burned to make the popular seasoning, and rice is a prime candidate. Researchers in Korea have discovered that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties carried over to the liquid smoke.
Natural gas drillers have been under intense scrutiny since reports of fouled drinking water emerged several years ago. Now, research is resolving some of the questions surrounding hydraulic fracking, including the actual risk of methane contamination of water wells and the effect of highly-saline wastewater on watersheds.
While mine-clearing protocols have improved substantially since World War II, the technology used to locate buried landmines has changed little. Harvard Univ. computer scientists have designed a new system that ties in smartphones to assist humanitarian de-miners by augmenting the information supplied by their metal detectors.
Chemists in China have built titanate nanosheets and nanotubes into cigarette filters, claiming that they are more efficient at blocking a great range of harmful compounds including tar, nicotine, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, selected carbonyls and phenolic compounds.
The world's most seismically charged region is undergoing a nuclear renaissance as it struggles to harness enough power for its huge populations and booming economies. But China, Taiwan, India and several other countries have made little use of new science to determine whether these areas are safe. At least 32 plants in operation or under construction in Asia are at risk of one day being hit by a tsunami, nuclear experts and geologists warn.
Radiation experts in Japan are now recommending that blood cells from workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex should be stored immediately in case later treatments for radiation overdosing are needed. Blood cell transplants are a common treatment for leukemia, although some experts said such transfusions might not be as helpful for radiation.
A newly sequenced bacterial genome, unlocked at the Joint Genome Institute by a team led by Oak Ridge National Lab, could contain clues as to how microorganisms produce a highly toxic form of mercury. Until now, methylation of mercury by certain anaerobic bacteria was a topic of debate for decades.