Time Out for Crystal Chemistry

Silicon has four valence electrons in its outermost orbit that bond with each other to form a crystal. In a crystalline solid, each silicon atom normally shares one of its four valence electrons in a covalent bond with each of four neighboring silicon atoms. In this way, the solid consists of units of five silicon atoms the original atom plus the four other atoms with which it shares valence electrons. In a crystalline silicon cell, two thin layers must be sandwiched together to create an...

Solar Power

The sun in the morning, and solar power can the sun provide For atmospheric scientists, the sun may be a globe of gas, but that globe, that star, around which our planet wanders, is our source of light, heat, and life. Undeniably, the light and heat from that fiery furnace whose surface tempera ture reaches 9.981 F (55.27 C) has made life on earth sublimely comfortable, as only 1 kW of energy, a minuscule amount of its radiant heat, falls on a square yard of earth each day. Over the course of a...

Energy Sources The Wind at Our Backs

Wind is energy in motion, and wind power, the extraction of kinetic energy from wind and its conversion to useful energy, most often electrical, is also a form of solar energy as wind is created by the sun's heating the earth unevenly. As the sun heats the earth, hot air rises and cooler air rushes in, creating a pressure differential that drives air from one point or location to another, causing wind to blow. The magnitude of the blowing wind is the consequence of the pressure gradient between...

Prelude To Renewable Energy Sources

Electricity has become an integral and essential part of our lives, which we cannot live without. This became dreadfully apparent when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas in 2005. Not only did the lights go out on streets, in homes, and in offices but refrigeration went along with it. Perishable foods perished quickly, as did frozen foods along with them. Electrically driven pumps could not deliver gasoline at gas...

Sources

Strongly held opinions often determine what kind of facts people are able or willing to perceive. Robert Waelder Electrical energy and the American way of life are inextricably linked. Abundant and inexpensive fossil fuel has been the cornerstone of our prosperity. But our insatiable demand for ever-increasing amounts of energy is exceeding our ability to meet that demand, which triggers the twin forces of supply and demand, sending oil prices soaring. Since the end of World War II, our energy...

References

Lufburrow, R.F.,Antoine HenriBecquerel, EncyclopediaAmericana, International Edition, Scholastic Library Publishing, Danbury, CT, Vol. 3, p. 429 see also (http 2. Radiation, People and the Environment, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria, IAEA PI A 75 04-00391, Feb. 2004. 3. Goldstein, R., Charles Sweeney, 84, pilot in bombing of Nagasaki, dies, New York Times (Obits) (July 19, 2004). 4. Shigematsu, I., and Mendelsohn, M. L., The Radiation Effects Research Foundation of...

An Attitude Problem

Earlier, I suggested that a change of attitude vis a vis NPPs, if it is to occur, may have little, if anything, to do with the need for more studies and proof of safety. Considering that there is good reason to believe that unrelated issues are at work in the war against the atom for that is what it has been this past 25 years, and as the disputes rage, especially over such issues as waste management, the economics and safety of nuclear power compared with other sources of electricity, the...

Heat for Homes and Industry

There is yet another dimension to NPPs that is unfamiliar to a great many people its capability to deliver heat for homes and commercial buildings. Since the early days of nuclear power development, the direct use of heat generated in reactors has been employed by a dozen European countries, India, Japan, and China for district heating in addition to electricity generation. After all, what nuclear plants do is generate heat. But here in the United States, the hot water generated in the reactors...

Insurance

If nuclear power plants are as safe as they are said to be, why can't they get insurance This question is frequently asked, and this myth needs exploding. Nuclear power plants are insured they - ve always been insured, not by the usual, run-of-the-mill private insurance companies, but by an agency of the federal government. To ensure that funds would be available to settle liability claims in the event of an accident at one of the country' s NPPs, resulting in either environmental damage or...

The New Generation

As of mid-2005, 440 nuclear power units were operating worldwide. Together, they supply about 16 of the world -s electricity. More than half of these reactors are in North America and western Europe. Fewer than 10 are in developing countries, where the greatest growth in energy demand is expected to occur in this century. Of the 31 units currently under construction, 18 are located in India, Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan. Twenty of the last 29 to come online are also in the Far East and...

The Nuclear Power Industry Generating Electricity via Nuclear Energy

Let us now visit a nuclear power plant. Let us step inside. No, this is not a giant teakettle, but it certainly acts like one. Nuclear power plants and teakettles share a common characteristic. They boil water, and produce steam. With steam, a kettle can whistle to indicate that it's ready. The steam in a nuclear power plant turns a turbine that spins a generator that produces electricity that lights our homes when we flip a switch. That's it. Generation of electricity is the name of the game....

Radiation Effects among Workers In the Nuclear Power Industry

Why would anyone work in a nuclear facility Isn't that throwing caution to the wind, taking inordinate risks to life and limb Perhaps. Perhaps not. One of the earliest studies of nuclear power industry workers, and to this day one of the most remarkable epidemiologic studies, was conducted by the Department of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. In 1980, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Dr. Genevieve M. Matanoski, the principal investigator, a 10...

The Hanford Thyroid Disease Study

From 1944 to 1957, large amounts of radioactive substances were released into the atmosphere at Hanford, Washington. The Hanford Nuclear site occupies some 560 square miles in southeastern Washington State, and was the world's first large-scale plant for the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Over the course of years, large amounts of radioactive nuclides were released into both the Columbia River and the atmosphere. Iodine-131 was carried by winds to surrounding areas and deposited...

Health Effects of Radiation Exposure Natural and Anthropogenic

With the first use of atomic bombs in warfare in 1945, what have we learned about the adverse effects of radiation, over the past 61 years To assist in understanding, and aid in decisionmaking, we begin with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then consider two nuclear power plant accidents, and follow that with studies of occupational exposures to nuclear industry workers. Finally, we examine the health of populations living in areas of the world with unusually high natural radiation backgrounds.

Electric Power For The People

Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852-1908) was clever. He had to be to win a Nobel Prize. How did he do it He wrapped heavy sheets of opaque, black paper around light-sensitive photographic plates and placed them in opaque envelopes. He then placed the envelopes in a desk drawer with lumps of uranium salts sitting on the envelopes, or with metal coins or a metal Maltese cross sitting between the envelope and the uranium salts. For one trial he left the envelope undisturbed in the dark drawer for...

Can Emissions Be Curtailed

Lovens, cofounder and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Snowmass, Colorado, thinks so, but he's been trying unsuccessfully for decades to show us how. Ten years ago Lovens couldn't get arrested today he may be our deliverer. Lovens wants us to change our profligate ways and become energy - efficient, an idea we have firmly resisted. For Lovens, saving fossil fuels is a lot cheaper than buying them. He maintains that both sides in the warming debate have it wrong. Experts on one side...

And What Of Human Health

As part of a Congressionally mandated national study of the impacts of climate variability and change in the United States, a team of 12 experts from universities and government agencies across the country assessed the potential impacts that climate change could cause by 2030 and 2100. However, before dealing with each of the five groups of potential adverse health effects, a caveat is in order. The Committee, headed by Professor J. A. Patz, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and...

Evidence For A Warming Trend

Model predictions indicate that the major impact of global warming will be felt in the arctic. Temperatures in the arctic have risen almost twice as fast as those in the rest of the world. Models have certainly been correct on this. Although most of the sun's energy hits the tropics, the atmosphere and oceans redistribute the tropical energy north and south to the poles. In the tropics, much of the energy ends up as evaporation. In the arctic, the energy warms the atmosphere. In November 2004,...

Ozone

Ozone is another trace atmospheric gas located in a layer between 15 and 50 kilometers (km) (9-30 miles) above the earth ' s surface in the stratosphere. Figure 5.5 displays the various layers of the atmosphere as well as the position of the ozone layer. It is in this highly chemically energetic area that ozone is constantly destroyed and regenerated via a series of photochemically catalyzed reactions in which oxygen molecules migrating up from the troposphere react with ultraviolet light,...

Aerosols

Aerosols, dispersions of solid or liquid microscopic- s ize particles in a gas, consists of dust, soot, ash, volcanic emissions, sea salt, and products of plant and animal decay t he result of both human and natural activity, which is increasing, but comes with a good deal of complexity and uncertainty as to its influence on radiative forcing. The direct effect is the scattering of part of the incoming solar radiation back into space, causing a negative forcing that may partially offset the...

Water Vapor

Water vapor is the most absorbent gas of the earth's atmosphere. Fritz Moller of the University of Munich, Germany, pioneered the hypothesis that water vapor could act as an amplifying positive feedback mechanism. That implied that if increases in CO2 caused additional warming, then increased evaporation from rivers, oceans, reservoirs, and such, according to his calculations, would increase atmospheric water vapor, which, in turn, would absorb longwave IR radiation and drive temperatures still...

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is produced both naturally and via human intervention. Natural sources of N2O result primarily from bacterial activity in soils. In the process of denitrification, the stripping of oxygen from nitrate, bacteria such as Pseudamonas denitrificans and Nitrobacter release both nitrous oxide and nitrogen gas to the atmosphere. Tropical soils, far more productive of N2O than temperate soils, add about 4 million tons of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere annually. Synthetic...

A Mlange Of Environmental Issues Extremely Low Frequency ELF Magnetic Fields

Wherever electricity is generated, transmitted, and used, electric and magnetic fields are created. It is impossible to use electrical energy without creating these fields they are an inevitable consequence of the world 's reliance on electricity, and exist wherever any form of electricity is used. To say that electricity is an essential part of our lives cannot be overstated. The earth itself is surrounded by a static magnetic field that varies between 25 and 65 microteslas (mT), and is...

Obesity

Persons who are naturally fat are apt to die earlier than those who are slender. Hippocrates (circa 460 bce) was not a man of few words. His many comments have stood the test of time. This quotation is hoary with age, having been written 2500 years ago, and should remind us that fatness is not a new medical concern. What is new is the realization that obesity is a worldwide phenomenon and the consequence of genetic susceptibility, too readily available high-energy foods, and greatly decreased...

Cancer Disparities

Samuel Broder, then Director of the National Cancer Institutes, remarked that Poverty was a carcinogen 53 . This suggested an interaction between economic and sociocultural factors that could influence human health. It was his contention that poor and medically underserved communities are at higher risk of developing cancer and have less chance of early diagnosis, treatment, and survival. In 2003 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a review describing the disparities that can...

Infant Mortality

The National Center for Health Statistics is chock- a- block with good news these days 13 ' Having given us upbeat news about longevity and the oldest among us, they come now with lofty data about the youngest. A backward glance at the numbers for 1900 yields the baleful detail that for every 1000 live births, 100 infants died before their first birthday. By 1950, that abysmal statistic had plunged to 28, and the infant mortality rate (IMR) for 2000 was 6.9. What adjective shall we choose to...

Life Expectancy

Yet another set of numbers bring a salutary message that can ' t but elicit delight and satisfaction. From the National Office of Health Statistics 37 ' we learn that a person born in 1950 could, on average, be expected to live for 68.2 years. By 1990, life expectancy had climbed to 75.4 years. It is worth recalling that the biblical injunction of threescore and ten, 70 years, had been attained and passed in 1969. The U.S. Bureau of the Census recently informed us that life expectancy is at an...

Hivaids

During the midtwentieth century, the new pathogens human immunodeficincy viruses HIV- 1 and HIV- 2, which induce AIDS, autoimmune deficincy syn drome, crossed over to the human population and was first diagnosed in humans in 1981, in Los Angeles. Although these viruses rapidly adapted themselves to human-human transmission, AIDS has yet to be found in nonhuman primates nevertheless, HIV-1 appears to have evolved from the simian immunodeficiency virus SIVcpz specifically the chimpanzee, Pan...

Suicide

Suicide, the taking of one' s own life, while currently the nation' s eleventh leading cause of death with violent death among the 8-24-year-olds, as Table 1.2 informs us i t is the the third leading terminator of life, but slips into second place for the 25-34-year-olds In 2003, 31,484 young lives were snuffed out across the country 25,203 young men and 6281 young women 13 . Adding these traumatic deaths to the highway deaths, we are looking at some 75,000 deaths annually. Although it is not...

Accidents

Although motor vehicle accidents kill over 40,000 men, women, and children every year, and maim hundreds of thousands, this carnage on our highways is considered one of life 's less terrifying trials. In fact, it is barely considered. More to the point, it is accepted as a price to pay for our mobile way of life. Perhaps the numbers that follow will help us see the error of our ways. Deaths by motor vehicle are synonymous with the advent of the horseless carriage, and have been an integral part...

Cancer

It is now altogether fitting and proper that we attend to cancer, which in the hierarchy of mortality is the uncontested occupant of second place. It has been set apart as the very word strikes fear, and for over the past 30 years the so-called war on cancer, initiated by President Richard Nixon, has not been won, and continues unabated. However, new knowledge of the malignant process is beginning to turn the tide of battle. That horizon is coming into view. But let us first consider cancer and...

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Whereas CVD is an obstructive circulatory condition, COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the fourth leading cause of death and accounting for the loss of some 125 thousand lives, is the consequence of respiratory obstruction. It is a tenacious blockage of oxygen, often the result of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and or asthma. Our lungs consist of hundreds of millions of tiny airsacs- alveoli whose walls are astonishingly thin, and necessarily so, permitting the passage of oxygen into...

Liver Disease

Liver disease is in the twelfth position, accounting for some 27,000 annual deaths. Cirrhosis, the primary liver disease, appears to be the end stage of several common causes of liver injury. Cirrhosis (Greek, meaning orange -colored) results in nonfunctioning destroyed liver tissue that can and often does surround areas of viable healthy tissue. Until the cirrhotic condition is well advanced, many people remain a symptomatic, not knowing that they have it. The most common risk factor is...

Chemical Agents Hydragyrum

Is it deserved An answer lies ahead. Mercury has a venerable paternity, as it is one of the eight ancient metals along with gold, silver, iron, tin, copper, lead, and zinc. The Romans called it hydragyrum, liquid silver, from which its chemical symbol, Hg, derives. Mercury is found naturally in the earth's crust as mercuric sulfide, in the mineral cinnabar it has been used for over 3000 years as the red-brown pigment vermilion (also called Chinese Red), which was...

Carbon Dioxide

Life as we know it would cease to exist without the carbon that is a constituent of all things living. When the fossil fuels coal, oil, peat, and natural gas (all carbonaceous substances) are burned, the major product of their combustion is carbon dioxide, which is at the care of the warming wrangle. Over the past 100 years, disproportionate amounts of CO2 from tailpipe emissions, smokestacks, cement production, and fires, have been pouring into the atmosphere, and returning to it the carbon...

Info

CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL WARMING WILL THE GREENHOUSE BECOME A HOTHOUSE To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge. The spring and summer of 2005 saw the worst drought in 20 years in states of the American Midwest. That year (2005) appears to have set a record that might just bump 1998 from its position of prominence as the hottest year on record. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 1991 1998 was the hottest,...

Foodborne Illness with a Tangled

In the previous edition of OPH, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-Parkinson's dementia complex (ALS PDC), a progressively fatal neurodogenerative disease, clinically and histologically similar to Alzheimer' s disease and Parkinson's dementia, was examined and believed to be due to consumption of the lemon-sized seeds of the cycad tree, Cycas circinalisi At the time, ecologists and anthropologists were mystified by the fact that among the Chamorro people of Guam, the incidence of ALS PDC was 50-100...

Epidemiologic Studies

As time marches on, our vision becomes clearer not that aging increases visual acquity, but rather that long-term studies begin to yield significant new data that refute short-term studies. We learn, for example, from a pooled analysis of eight prospective studies that included 430,281 men and women followed for up to 6-16 years across studies, that elevated consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with a modest reduction in lung cancer risk, mostly attributable to fruit, not...

Oxidants Antioxidants and the Fruit Vegetable Connection

A new label on cans of V8 vegetable juice announces in bold white letters on a blue background essential antioxidants and on another banner, yellow letters on a green background, trumpets, 100 A,C,E, vitamin-rich. Also with lycopene 17 mg per serving. The rear of the label reads essential antioxidants thus V8 makes a good thing even better by combining the powerful antioxidants lycopene and vitamins A, C, and E to help protect against the harmful free radicals that can damage cells. As a V8...

The Controversy

In the conclusion to their review of food irradiation, the U.S. General Accounting Office stated that 11 Despite the benefits of irradiation, the widespread use of irradiated food hinges largely on consumer confidence in the safety and the wholesomeness of these products. The cumulative evidence from over four decades of research carried out in laboratories in the United States, Europe, and other countries worldwide indicates that irradiated food is safe to eat. The food is not radioactive...

Labeling and Recordkeeping

As irradiation is defined as an additive, all irradiated food must be labeled in conformity with FDA and USDA regulations. Both agencies require that irradiated foods be labeled with the international food irradiation symbol, the Radura a stylized flower, shown in Figure 4.2. In addition, the label must state that the product has been intentionally irradiated. The Department of Agriculture -s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also requires that meat and poultry ingredients in...

Rays

Machines used for food processing are more powerful versions of those used in hospitals and dental offices to take X ray pictures. To produce the X rays, a beam of electrons is directed at a thin gold plate or other metal, producing a stream of X rays beneath the metal plate, which then penetrate the food being processed. X rays can also penetrate deeply and can be switched on and Figure 4.1. (a) The Rhodotron TT100, a 10-MeV 35-kW recirculating electron beam accelerator, showing the circular...

Electron Beams

Beams of electrons or e-beams are streams of high energy electrons propelled out of an electron gun, the same but larger version of the device at the back of the household TV tube (before flat screens came on the scene) that propels electrons into the TV screen at the front of the tube, making it light up. The e-beam generator works on an on off switch, and no radioactive substances are involved. Massive concrete shielding is unnecessary as gamma rays are not involved. Electrons, however, with...

Food Irradiation

On July 1, 2005, the population of the United States stood at 296,660,955. It is anticipated that for 2005, the number of foodborne illnesses will be 76 million similar to 2004, along with several hundred thousand hospitalizations and 5000 deaths. That's approximately 30 of our total population. One in every 3 or 4 of us can expect to become a statistic a case of gastroenteritis, or worse. It's an unimaginagle number. And there is an economic toll in medical treatment costs and lost...

Ptomaines

To this point, nothing has been said about ptomaines or ptomaine poisoning, an old concept predating our knowledge of the microbial involvement in food poisoning. But ptomaines (from the Greek ptoma, meaning corpse or cadaver) are a group of amines, foul-smelling chemicals with names to match. Putrescine, an aliphatic diamine, is formed by the decarboxylation of the amino acid orni-thine, and the ptomaine cadaverine occurs when lysine loses a CO2 moiety. With the bacterial degradation of tissue...

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, comes in three forms A, B, and C. A is on our B list as it is unique among the picornaviruses (single-stranded RNA viruses) to be foodborne. Forms B and C are transmitted by illegal drug use and unsafe sexual practices, and are not on our B list. Hepatitis A is the most common form of hepatitis, with some 25,000 cases reported annually the actual incidence is believed to be 10 times higher because of underreporting. It is a highly infections virus,...

Yersinosis

Although Yersinia enterocolitica causes some 100,000 infections a year, it appears to have a preference for children, who develop fever, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea up to a week after exposure. Preparation of raw pork intestines, chitterlings, is a prime source of acquiring the bug, and infants can become infected when their nannies handle chitterlings and fail to wash their hands before attending to the baby. Eating raw and undercooked pork is the major risk factor, abetted by oysters,...

Campylobacter Infection

That stubby little bacterium is the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in the Western world, and responsible for over 2 million illness in the United States annually. Although micro-biologists encountered campylobacter long years ago, only relatively recently has it been tagged as responsible for scads of foodborne illnesses via three prime routes. Researchers at the University of Wales College of Medicine and the Public Health Laboratory Service...

Chronic Wasting Disease

Hundreds of pounds of venison, the sweet-tasting meat of deer and elk, packed into frozen-food lockers is a hunter- s dream. Unfortunately chronic wasting disease (CWD) a scrapielike prion infection, has cast a pall over thousands of square miles throughout the midwestern states, and up into Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, where thousands of hunters track the tasty cervids, and where thousands of game farms and ranchers raise additional hundreds of thousands, the question is being raised as...

Ruminant Meat

The United States and Canada have banned feeding ruminant meat and bone-meal to other cattle, and have removed high-risk tissues from meat for human consumption. These are important steps to prevent the spread of BSE. To detect prohibited material in cattle feed, the FDA uses a feed microscopy test, which checks samples under a microscope for the presence of animal tissue, hair, and or bone particles. Currently the FDA is evaluating a more sensitive test, the polymerase chain reaction, which...

Prion Diseases Proteins Gone Awry

So we begin with proteins, the molecules that do the body ' s heavy lifting, making possible all activity. But proteins begin with amino acids. According to instruction written in gene DNA, cells synthesize proteins from 20 essential amino acids, the building blocks, each with its own size, shape, and properties. With 20, the variety of combinations can be almost but not quite infinite. Nevertheless, there are over 100,000 different proteins, each consisting of from 50-5000 amino acid...

Chronic Disease Microbiology Possible Emergence

Illness has been an intimate part of life for as long Homo sapiens sapiens walked the earth. We have wondered why. Hippocrates wondered, and believed that how and where people lived determined their state of health. For him, health or illness was the result of environmental risk factors. He was pursua-sive 46 Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus in the first place to consider the seasons of the year, and what effect each of them produces (for they are not at all...

Atlantic Storm

In the meantime nations must prepare for the worst, which raises at least two questions What would countries do if faced with bioweapon attacks on their cities, and how would they deal with a rapidly spreading epidemic In January 2005, a tabletop exercise codenamed Atlantic Storm simulated a smallpox attack on countries of the transatlantic community. Atlantic storm was the brainchild and presentation of the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Center for...

Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention

In 1975, in response to concerns of many governments, the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC) came into being as the most important tool against the use and development of biological weapons. Nevertheless, since 1975, there have been confirmed cases of states breaching the Convention. As of 2004, efforts to strengthen the BTWC by a supplementary legally binding protocol have failed. The BTWC was set up to regulate the behavior of its signatories. But a number of countries now believe...

Protection of Agriculture and the Food Supply

In his October 2001 executive order establishing the Office of Homeland Security, President Bush added agriculture and the food industries to the list of critical infrastructure sectors requiring protection, and acknowledged that the agriculture sector and the food supply are vulnerable to bioterrorists. The Secretaries of both Agriculture and Health and Human Services have publicly recognized that the US food supply is susceptible to deliberate contamination. Attacks could be directed at...

Plague

On August 2, 1996, a young man, age 18, with fever, pain, diarrhea, and tenderness in his left groin, was seen at a local outpatient clinic in Flagstaff, Arizona. He was treated with a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication and sent home. The next day he had difficulty breathing and collapsed while taking a shower. Brought to a hospital emergency room, he was pronounced dead on arrival. On August 8, cultures of blood samples taken in the emergency department were positive for Yersinia pestis,...

Tularemia

Tularemia, from Tulare County, California, where the disease was first described, is another bacterial zoonosis, induced by Francisella tularensis, one of the most virulent bacterial pathogens known. As few as 10 organisms are needed to incite illness, but it is not contagious 29 . We humans are incidentally infected as a result of hunting, trapping, butchering, and eating infected animals, as well as inhaling aerosolized organisms while farming. Mosquito and tick bites and consumption of...

Anthrax

Robert Stevens was the first to die from the anthrax attack of September 2001. Robert Stevens worked at The Sun' a publication of the AMI Publishing Company of Boca Raton, Florida. AMI also publishes the National Enquirer tabloid, and was one of the six media companies that received anthrax-spore-containing letters 23 . The anthrax attack occurred over several weeks beginning on September 18. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to six media offices, including the major networks, and...

Backward Glance for Perspective

Biological terrorism began with hurling of diseased animal and human cadavers, clothing, bedding, over city walls or into wells to contaminate water supplies, in attempts to subdue an enemy city. The spread of infections disease along with the sixteenth century age of exploration resulted in untold numbers of deaths. It's estimated that the arrival of smallpox in Mexico with the Spanish Conquistadors reduced the Aztec population by 10-15 million, effectively ending the Aztec civilization 19 ....

Bioterrorism

We ' ve discussed the good that microbes do their activities that make life livable and often pleasurable, and with emerging infections we ' ve taken on the bad with their potential for widespread illness, but lacking malicious intent. The ugly comes from malignant human mischief loosing microbes that can inflict devastating illness and death that for the most part are rarely, if ever, encountered are not of public concern or, in the case of smallpox, a noxious disease reincarnate, that has...

West Nile Encephalitis

West Nile fell from the sky and out of the trees as sickened birds succumbed to this new interloper from Africa and the Middle East. Those crows, sparrows, blackbirds, and blue jays in Manhattan's trees, loaded with virus particles, had provided yet another winged messenger, Culex pipiens, a mosquito, with fulfilling virus-containing blood meals. But Culex - with options, bird or human blood, prefers human blood when available. So, now full of West Nile virus, Culex seeks a human meal. When...

Viruses among Us

We literally live among and contact millions of virus particles daily. Measles, mumps, and chickenpox have been a fact of life of every generation ' s children and with the current clutch of emerging infectious diseases, all viral, it is evident that we remain vulnerable. Similarly, however, the fact that for the most part colds last but a week, that most of us recover from a bout of the flu, and that recovery from exotic infections such as West Nile, SARS, and avian flu is the norm, must also...

Fecal Oral Transmission

Traveler's diarrhea, the Inca half-step, Montezuma's revenge, salmonella, and staphylococci food poisoning, typhoid fever, all travel by means of the fecal-oral route, which requires fecal material in food or water, contributed by a symptomatic or asymptomatic individual, be ingested, and within hours an explosion occurs as the body, in its wise attemps to expel toxins produced by the ingested organisms. Almost everyone is susceptible. Immunity plays no part in these episodes. Parenteral...

Direct Contact

The hemorrhagic fevers are excellent examples of direct contact transmission. Susceptible, healthy individuals need but touch secretions or excretions, blood, saliva, urine or feces of an ill individual to pick up the microbe. Its inordinate mortality rate bespeaks uncommon virulence, and minscule immunity within the host. Sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV AIDS, gonorrhea, and syphilis are also members of this highly select route of transmission. Mucous membrane-mucous membrane is the...

Airborne Transmission

Air is not an appropriate growth medium for any pathogen. A pathogen in the air had to come from someone or somewhere food, water, soil, an animal, or a human. In the air a pathogen is riding a magic carpet a dried mucus carpet a dry fecal flake or dust particle, and can be inhaled into human lungs. Some pathogens are hardier than others. Mycobacterium tuberculosis can remain desiccated for months after expulsion from an infected individual and remain viable, infecting new individuals once...

The Good The Bad And The Ugly

That bad news sells, is a universal truth. Yet, as we have just seen, life without microbes is neither possible nor pleasurable. Recall, too, that only one infectious disease contributes to the leading causes of death. But few revel in that knowledge. Headlines are grabbed and fear generated by the few troublesome germs of the unseen world. Our global village is currently beset by a series of microbial threats dubbed emerging infections, abetted by a seditious menace, bioterrorism. Both require...

Cancer As A Effect Of Global Warming With Refrence

Meneimer, S., Scorn' with Orrin How the gentleman from Utah made it easier for kids to buy speed, steroids, and Spanish fly, Wash. Monthly 27-35 (Sept. 2001). 2. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act ofI994, Public Law 103-417 (S. 784), Oct. 25, 1994 U.S. Code and Administrative News, No. 3. 3. Schrmer, M., Hermits and cranks, Sci. Am. 286(3) 36-37 (2002). 4. Atwood, K. C., IV, The ongoing problem with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Skept. Inq. pp. 23-29...

Supplemental Oxygen

Although oxygen therapy does not fall within the purview of NCCAM, it is worth a moment's consideration as it dramatizes the fraud and nonsense that permeates the marketplace, and attests to the fact that caveat emptor not only remains alive and well, but is essential. Of course, oxygen does support life and is required full time. But is more better Does anyone need more anyone not tapping on death's door Rose Creek Health Products, Inc., of Kettle Falls, Washington, thinks so. According to...

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a method of treating disease devised by a German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), in which small amounts of a drug that in healthy people produces symptoms similar to those of the disease being treated. Actually, two principles underlie homeopathy the law of similars and the law of infinitesimals. The law of similars maintains that plant, animal, or mineral substances, when given in large quantities to healthy individuals, produce symptoms of disease, but that much smaller...

Iridology

A widely held belief assumes that many diseases can be diagnosed by looking at the iris of the eye. For some, iridology is considered a critical diagnostic supplement to a medical history and conventional physical examination. Consequently, a physician at the University of Limburg, Maastrict, The Netherlands, sought to validate iridology by having iridologists diagnose gallbladder disease 58 . The object was to determine whether skilled iridologists could distinguish between people with and...

Intercessory Prayer

Shortly after September 11, 2001, when the United States was staggered by the destruction of the World Trade Center, and prayer was everywhere, The New York Times reported that Columbia University researchers had demonstrated that infertile women who were prayed for by Christian prayer groups (who did not know the infertile women) had a doubling of their pregnancy rate, compared to women who were not prayed for a 100 increase. The infertile women who were prayed for had no idea that groups were...

Therapeutic Touch

A controlled, double-blind test of a therapeutic touch practitioner's claims to be able to feel a signal or fluid in a nearby person was recently conducted in France 54 . The Observatoire Zetetique, a nonprofit organization of French skeptics, supervised the test. The protocol required that the practitioner try to determine the presence of a person behind a folding screen covered by an opaque cloth. The practitioner would have 100 attempts with the same person 50 with her present, and 50 with...

Energy Therapy

Therapies involving putative energy fields are based on the belief that we humans are permeated by a subtle form of energy a vital energy or life force (elan vital), which goes by different names in different cultures gi, in traditional chinese medicine ki, in the Japanese kampo system doshas, in ayurvedic medicine and elsewhere as prana, etheric energy, fohat, orgone (hypothesized by Wilhelm Reich and supposedly emanating from all organic material and that supposedly can be captured in a...

Mind Body Therapy

Mind-body practices traffics with the assumed interactions among the brain, body, and behavior, and the ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors may (can ) affect health. As the NCCAM makes evident, It regards as fundamental an approach that respects and enhances each person's capacity for self-knowledge and self-care, and emphasizes techniques grounded in this approach. With this underpinning, its practices believed to affect health include relaxation,...

Alternative Medical Practices The Promise and the Peril

If there is one universal desire, it is to be well. No one wants to be sick, especially with a chronic disease for which current traditional, mainstream medicine may not have preventive or curative medication. But people need must have hope, and if traditional practitioners can ' t provide it, people will go elsewhere, for as Shakespeare tells us, hope springs eternal, no matter how far-fetched or illogical the preferred therapy. Various surveys indicate that 30-50 of our adult population have...

Nutrigenomicsan Epigenetic Revolution

Is it what you eat, or possibly, you are what your grandmother ate Classical nutrition treats everyone as genetically similar. Molecular and genomic research assumes that the environment does not influence genetic expression. Nutrigenomics combines these concepts, maintaining that environment can and does influence genetic expression, but does not alter DNA sequences. Mutations are not involved. Shades of Lamark Jean Baptiste Lamark (1744-1829), a French biologist, suggested that useful...

The Younger Generation

Two recent surveys of university and high school students provide useful information about supplement use, and should be taken note of. For example, among a technical vocational high school population, which the researchers indicate is not representative of the American high school population, although the sports offered is similar, they found that supplement use is common 74 of the students used either traditional or nontraditional supplements vitamins and minerals were traditional, while...

Directto Consumer Marketing Circumventing the Supplement Marketplace

With its lax standards and poor government oversight notwithstanding, direct-to-consumer marketing seeks yet additional advantage and unfettered freedom. By going directly to potential consumers, supplement manufacturers need only extol their product's virtues. Side issues such as disclaimers can be ignored until someone blows the whistle, which is not very often. So, for example, Dr. Cherry's Pathway to Healing, a line of 19 condition-specific supplements, marketed through a weekly television...

Functional Foodsor Food as Medicine

Is our current knowledge of health being used to modify food My dictionary defines functional as the intended purpose of a thing in a specific role, as the function of food. Are all foods inherently functional More than likely, if we mean that foods provide nutrients and energy. But is this what the new functional foods are about If so, they needn' t bother as there are more than enough foods of every type and description to satisfy the most discriminating palate. Functional foods are meant to...

The Chinese Solution

American fascination with, and for Chinese herbs and medications, is difficult to decipher. The question as to what Chinese herbs have done for the Chinese is not a fanciful one. After all, neither the general health of the Chinese people nor their longevity approaches ours, and their infant mortality rates are more than 5 times ours. Perhaps it is that Chinese herbals have a history of thousands of years of safe and effective use. It is not unusual to read that Chinese medicinal texts hark...

Ephedra

Although this section is limited to an overview and sampling, ephedra, or ephedrine alkaloids, recently banned by the FDA, requires inclusion. The shrub Ephedra sinica, native to China and India, and known as ma huang, is the major source of the natural alkaloids t-ephedrine (1-phenyl-2-methyl amino - 1 - propanol) and d-pseudoephedrine. The plant contains as much as 1.5 of ephedrine. But it can readily be produced synthetically. Ephedrine is a bronchodilator and vasoconstrictor, similar to...

Lorenzos

The movie Lorenzo's Oil portrays Lorenzo Odone, a young boy with a rare, inherited (defective gene) disease, adrenomyeloneuropathy, which destroys the sheath covering nerve fibers. The disease, a buildup of long-chain fatty acids in the bloodstream, affects 1 or 2 of every 100,000 people in the United States. Lorenzo' s parents, Augusto and Micela Odone, concocted a cure, a mixture of oleic and erucic (fatty) acids that they believed would prevent the disease in healthy boys and delay further...

Pharmacokinetics

A morsel of food, any food, starts the process. Our teeth grind food into small particles, and the tongue compacts them into lumps, a bolus, while saliva containing the digestive enzyme amylase metabolizes any starch in the food. The smaller the chewed (masticated) particles, the faster chemical digestion occurs. Our tongue moves the bolus toward the back of the mouth to the throat, where throat muscles constrict, forcing the bolus into the esophagus. Muscle contraction (peristalsis) carries...

Vitamin E

Cardiovascular benefits have consistently been shown for vitamin E in observational, epidemiologic studies. Unfortunately, observational studies are the least dependable of the various epidemiologic investigations. Nevertheless, even the observational studies have shown only small to moderate benefits, and confounding can create interpretational bias. Researchers at Harvard University's School of Public Health reviewed and analyzed seven large-scale randomized clinical trials for effectiveness...

Perioperative Care and Herbal Supplements

Because of the widespread use of herbal supplements (read medications), especially among presurgical populations, members of the Department of Anesthesia, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, sought to determine whether herbal use could have a negative effect on perioperative patient care. Theirs was an in-depth review of published studies over the period 1996-2000, and their study was limited to eight herbs that potentially pose the greatest impact on patients undergoing...

Soy Proteins and Isoflavones

The sudden decline in estrogen levels after menopause coincides with decreases in bone mineral density and cognitive function, along with a rise in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein. Phytoestrogens, estrogen-like chemicals found in grains, fruits, soybeans, and peas, have been suggested as having a positive effect on the aging process with fewer adverse side effects. A recently published study sought to determine whether soy protein, an isoflavone anti-oxidant, improves cognitive...

Pcspes

Over the past several years PC-SPES (PC for prostate cancer SPES, Latin for hope) had become a potential prospect for treatment of prostate cancer, and sold as a dietary supplement for prostate health. Labeled as a mixture of seven chinese herbs plus Saw Palmetto, it gained wide popularity among prostate cancer patients. However, by 2001, reports of severe bleeding episodes, abnormal clotting times, and breast tenderness and enlargement, appeared in the literature. In 2002, the California...

ActraRxYilishen

In 1998, the FDA approved Viagra, a pill to treat male impotence. It also warned potential consumers not to use the drug in combination with nitrates to avoid sudden drops in blood pressure. Recently, the FDA warned against purchasing the nonprescription supplements Actra-Rx-Yilishen entering the United States from China, because they contain Viagra, and as they do not require a prescription, purchasers get no warning. Despite an all natural label, Actra-Rx-Yilishen capsules contain...

Ayurvedic Medications

Ayurvedic medicine originated in India some thousands of years ago, and relies heavily on herbal remedies. The Ayurveda is a collection of medical information in which disease is believed to be the consequence of an imbalance of the three elements vatta, pitta, and kapha. Vatta maintains the body's integrity and the proper functioning of its constituent elements. Pitta is the primary constituent having the functions of vision, digestion heat production, hunger, thirst, body softness and...

Neither Food Nor Drugs

Dietary supplements, functional foods, probiotics, herbals, botanicals, nutra-centicals is this food we're eating, or are we self-medicating That is not only the question but also the conundrum. What are we buying, and why are we buying We must have some idea because we're wiping the products off the shelves faster than they can be replaced. In 2004, dietary supplements were wisked off the shelves to the tune of 19.8 billion herbals and botanicals, 4.2 billion and functional foods, 22 billion....

Six Cities Yet Again

A follow-up to the Six Cities Study was reported in March 2006. Dr. Francine Laden and colleagues of the Harvard School of Public Health followed 8096 residents of the six cities, aged 25-74, from 1974 to 1998, and found that for each decrease of 1 g m3 of soot, less than PM2.5, rates of cardiovascular disease, and respiratory illness decreased by 3 , which translates to extending the lives of 75,000 people a year. This clearly supports the call for reducing the clean air standards well below...

Back to Six Cities

What did the Six Cities Study accomplish It's easy to say, a great deal. In fact, it was solely responsible for forcing major revisions of the EPA's Clean Air Act, and set a standard for evidence-based environmental decisionmaking. The study uncovered the fact that cardiopulmonary problems in children and adults were, and are, occurring at levels below existing standards and that minute PM was the most dangerous of all air pollutants. But gratification that comes with publication, after 16...

The Six Cities Study The Culprit Identified

In 1974, researchers from Harvard University's Schools of Public Health and Medicine mounted a sixteen- year prospective epiemiologic study to try to resolve a range of insufficiencies and lack of comparability in existing studies of the effects of air pollution on human health. The Six Cities Study, as it came to be called, consisted of two major elements the level of six primary pollutants suspended particulate matter, SO2. CO, NO2. photochemical oxidants, and hydrocarbons, and, to...

London Again

The highly inefficient burning of soft coal in open grates by the citizens of London was primarily responsible for the fog that blotted out their capital on December 5, 1952. The city, located on a gently sloping plain, is not hemmed in by hills, as are Donora and the Meuse Valley communities. The flow of air over London is not impeded by topographic barriers. But for 5 days a strong inversion and fog enveloped the city to such a degree that the ceiling was no more than 150 feat high. Within 12...

Donora Pennsylvania

The episode in Donora occurred during the last week of October 1948. On the morning of October 27, the air over Donora, 30 miles south of Pittsburgh in a highly industrialized valley along the Monongahela River, became very still and fog enveloped the city. The air was trapped, and it remained so for 4 days. In addition to sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and hydrocarbons from the burning of coal for heating and electricity, the air contained the effluents from a large steel mill and a large...

The Meuse Valley

The Meuse Valley of Belgium, scene of some of the bloodiest battles of World War I, is a heavily industrialized area. Blast furnaces, glass factories, lime furnaces, and sulfuric acid and artificial fertilizer plants spew a variety of contaminant chemicals into the atmosphere. During the first week of December 1930, a thick fog blanketed most of Belgium. The air was especially stagnant in the river valleys, particularly along a 15-mile stretch of the Meuse. Three days after this abnormal...

The Great Outdoors

We now step outdoors for a portion of our 2 hours, to breathe deeply of the fresh air fresher air. Since 1989, when last considered, the air above our cities has become remarkably cleaner. And vigilant scientists and investigators have zeroed in on the true villains corrupting our air. But let us understand that air pollution is not a twentieth-century invention A young gentleman who had inked himself by accident, addressed me from the pavement and said, I am from Kenge and Carboy's, miss, of...

Indoor

We begin with indoor air as we spend most of our time indoors. That alone confers importance to indoor air. And, again, it's the numbers. I suspect that 93, 5, and 2 will come as a surprise and shock. It may be difficult to believe, but most of us spend 93 of our day a 24-hour day indoors 5 in transit (cars, buses, trains, planes), and, believe it or not, only 2 of our lives outdoors. You need only keep an accurate hourly log of your daily activities, from the time you arise in the morning to...

Environmental Issues Perceptions And Political Aspects

The problem is not just what we don't know, but what we don't know that ain't so. In the third edition of Our Precarious Habitat, almost two decades ago, I wrote that, In his Politics of Pollution, J. Clarence Davies, III, raised the question What is pollution The very definition of pollution, he said, hinges on politics. That immediately subverts objectivity and places scientists on precarious ground. Davies went on to note that pollution can not be defined with any scientific or mathematical...

Has The Future Arrived

Can there be total energy self-sufficiency In other words, can a country supply its heat and electricity needs by the renewable, domestic sources described above The idea has all the earmarks of fantasy. It' s just to good to be true. But and however it does appear to be happening in one country Iceland. Three renewable sources are working for Iceland geothermal, hydropower, and hydrogen fuel. Imported fossil fuel is on its way out. Currently, Iceland obtains hot water from its many geothermal...