A new study published today (January 24, 2020) in the journal Toxics provides important insight into the recent lung intoxication epidemic referred to as “e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury” (EVALI). The study presents, for the first time, a comprehensive analysis of products used by EVALI patients. Vitamin E acetate was the main finding in cannabinoid liquids. No compound that could be linked to EVALI was found in the two nicotine products tested.
Researchers from the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health, the State University of New York at Albany and Albany Medical Center conducted untargeted as well as targeted analyses of 38 liquid samples reportedly used by the first ten cases of EVALI in New York State to identify potential culprits for the serious lung disease epidemic. Two of the samples were nicotine-containing liquids, while the rest were illicit cannabinoid liquids. The latter contained relatively low cannabinoid content compared with typical cannabis oil vaporizer liquids, and some had unusual Δ9-/Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ratios. A variety of pesticide residues, such as myclobutanil and bifenthrin, were detected in some samples. However, the most striking finding was the identification of vitamin E acetate as a major diluent in 64% of the samples, at levels ranging from 16% to 57% by mass. No unknown compound that could potentially cause EVALI was found in the two nicotine products tested.
“Our laboratory was the first to identify vitamin E acetate in vaporizer fluids recovered from pulmonary injury patients, which we promptly reported to officials of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and public health officials from numerous states via conference call and via e-mail on August 19, 2019,” said David C. Spink, Ph.D., Chief of the Laboratory of Organic Analytical Chemistry at Wadsworth and corresponding author of the study.
“Based on our work, the New York State Department of Health issued a press release on September 5, 2019, indicating that vitamin E acetate was a key focus of the Department’s investigation of potential causes of vaping-associated pulmonary illnesses. To investigate potential sources of the vitamin E acetate in the illicit vaporizer fluids, the Department purchased six products marketed as cannabis oil diluents or thickeners via the internet. Three of these were found to be essentially pure vitamin E acetate,” Spink said.
According to the latest CDC data, there have been 1979 hospitalizations and 57 deaths from EVALI in the US. While the exact cause for the condition is still under investigation, there is a strong association between EVALI and the use of THC-containing vaporizer liquids, and vitamin E acetate has been found in product samples tested by the FDA and state laboratories and in bronchioalveolar lavage fluids recovered from the lungs of patients tested by the CDC. While no specific compounds present in nicotine-containing e-cigarette products have been linked to the disease, the contributing cause or causes of illness for individuals reporting use of only nicotine-containing products warrants further study.
Reference: “Analysis of Cannabinoid-Containing Fluids in Illicit Vaping Cartridges Recovered from Pulmonary Injury Patients: Identification of Vitamin E Acetate as a Major Diluent” 24 January 2020, Toxics.
This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image features an area in the Santa Cruz Department of Bolivia, where part of the tropical dry forest has been cleared for agricultural use.
Since the 1980s, the area has been rapidly deforested owing to a large agricultural development effort where people from the Andean high plains (the Altiplano region) have been relocated to the lowlands of Bolivia.
The relatively flat lowlands and abundant rainfall make this region suitable for farming. In fact, the local climate allows farmers to benefit from two growing seasons. The region has been transformed from dense forest into a patterned expanse of agricultural land. This deforestation method, common in this part of Bolivia, is characterized by the radial patterns that can be seen clearly in the image.
Each patterned field is approximately 20 sq km and each side is around 2.5 km long.
Small settlements can be seen in the center of each individual field in the image, which typically contain a church, a school, and a soccer field. These communities are joined by a road network depicted by the straight lines that bisect the radial fields and connect the adjacent areas.
Meandering streams and rivers can be seen flowing through the fields. The long, thin strips of land in the top right of the image are most likely cultivated soybean fields.
Rainforests worldwide are being destroyed at an alarming rate. This is of great concern as they play an important role in global climate, and are home to a wide variety of plants and animals.
Because of their unique perspective from space, Earth observation satellites are instrumental in providing comprehensive information on the full extent and rate of deforestation, which is particularly useful for monitoring remote areas.
This composite image was created by combing three separate ‘Normalized Difference Vegetation Index’ images from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. The first image, from April 8, 2019, is visible in red; the second from June 22, 2019, can be seen in green; and the third from September 5, 2019 can be seen in blue. The Normalised Difference Vegetation Index is widely used in remote sensing as it gives scientists an accurate measure of healthy and status of plant growth.
The leaders of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) spent much of this week in San Antonio at a mid-winter board meeting that started on the annual holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., beloved civil rights figure and pivotal member of the historic organization.
While participants, as they have done in years past, paid homage to the late Dr. King, discussion often concerned education, social justice and other causes that educator, activist and entrepreneur Nannie Helen Burroughs — a woman of great significance to King and PNBC — had advanced in the decades preceding the civil rights movement.
“We have been consistent in living out the dreams of our forefathers and foremothers as exemplified by the life and witness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nannie Helen Burroughs and those great heroes and sheroes of the civil and human rights movements throughout the Diaspora,” said the Rev. Dr. Tyrone Pitts, executive director of the PNBC’s Community Development Corporation (CDC).
Resolutions passed at the 58th annual session in Atlanta last year dictate the agenda PNBC continues to carry out from its headquarters at 601 50th Street NE, a six-acre compound on which Burroughs opened the National Trade and Professional School for Women and Girls more than a century ago.
“The PNBC is an international Christian Baptist denomination in D.C. that has churches throughout the world that are lifting up the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, addressing racial, social, economic and environmental issues and providing opportunities for people to support those who are engaged in the struggle against oppression and for freedom, peace and justice,” Pitts said.
In August, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), Ward 7 Council member Vincent C. Gray (D) and others broke ground on Providence Place, part of what’s been described as a plan to bring more affordable housing to Ward 7.
Upon its completion, Providence Place will join four buildings currently on 601 50th Street NE, including what’s known as The Monroe School and Nannie Helen Burroughs 1928 Trades Building, where PNBC conducts business.
The new structure will consist of 93 units of affordable housing, more than a third of which has been set aside for people currently living in Lincoln Heights and Richardson Dwellings in Northeast.
“Providence Place is where we believe that God ordained us to carry on the legacy of Dr. Nannie Helen Burroughs and those great souls that formed our convention 59 years ago,” Pitts said. “This is an example of our commitment to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and Jesus’ ministry as stated in Luke 4:16-18 and is an example of what Dr. Gardner C. Taylor stated at the time of our founding, that the Progressive National Baptist Convention ‘is the last best hope for Black Baptist.’
“Our commitment as the PNBC/CDC is to provide jobs, protect the environment, create affordable housing, develop viable healthy food centers to elevate the present Northeast food desert, and provide economic opportunities for the residents of our neighborhood,” he said.
Burroughs, King and PNBC
In 1909, Burroughs opened the National Trade and Professional School for Women and Girls with the financial backing of the National Baptist Convention USA, an organization preceding PNBC. She had set out to equip women with the skills needed for leadership and service to the community, all from what people would come to know as “God’s School on the Hill.”
In 1954, decades after having met his parents, she invited King to speak before the women’s auxiliary she founded within the National Baptist Convention USA. By the time Black clergypeople broke ties with National Baptist Convention USA to form PNBC, Burroughs, a woman with a deep religious conviction, had already served 13 years as president of what ultimately became the Women’s Convention.
Burroughs, born in Orange County, Virginia, during the late 19th century, shaped her worldview as a student at what’s now called Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. There, she organized a literary society and met Anna Julia Cooper and Mary Church Terrell, two major figures in the civil rights and suffrage movements. The denial of teaching opportunities after graduation, in part due to her skin tone, inspired Burroughs’ advocacy for women on the bottom of the social ladder.
By 1961, the year that Burroughs died, the Rev. L. Venchael Booth and other clergypeople launched PNBC after the National Baptist Convention USA denied King’s ascension to the presidency of its Congress of Christian Education, and issued a legal challenge of Gardner C. Taylor’s election as convention president. Those conflicts caused a split and represented tension among Black people from all walks of life who questioned multiracial organizations acting slow to condemn systemic racism.
A few years after its founding, PNBC moved its headquarters to the District, a location thought more suitable for shaping policy. In the early 1980s, after a stint on Georgia Avenue in Northwest, PNBC transitioned to 601 50th Street NE after purchasing that property from the Nannie Helen Burroughs Scholarship Fund.
By that time, the defunct National Trade and Professional School for Women and Girls had been renamed in Burroughs’ honor. From that point on, PNBC would continue to expand its civil and human rights advocacy in the United States and abroad, all while renovating the historic space.
Today, PNBC boasts a global membership of more than 1.5 million people. In 2018, the organization elected the Rev. Dr. Timothy Stewart of Bethel Baptist Church in Nassau, Bahamas, as its first leader not from the United States. Later this year, PNBC will further its global aspirations during a Pan-African conference in South Africa intended to solidify bonds with young theologians committed to combating social injustice.
“It is critical for us that the youth maximize their gifts and potential so they can be favorably impactful in every institution that they are a part of — the home, church, school, business and governments,” Stewart said. “We want them to be able to be agents of change. A critical part of that is preparation and mentoring and giving them the opportunities necessary in order to develop the gifts and their abilities. They can step up and step into offices and carry out responsibilities when we are no longer on the scene.”
Looking to the Future
The 2000s brought the passage of No Child Left Behind, the Great Recession, gentrification and other events and policy that shaped decisions about preparing youth for a changing economy.
In their endeavor to meet the demands of families seeking quality education for their children, District public and public charter schools have devoted resources to the launch of academies and collaborations with community partners and corporations that provide real-world experiences for students.
Atop the hill overlooking 50th Street and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue in Northeast, The Monroe School has carried on Burroughs’ legacy with an inclusion program that prepares high school students, including those with special needs, for college and careers.
This endeavor started in 2006 when The Monroe School founder and CEO Ruth Logan rented dormitory space in the Nannie Helen Burroughs Trades School. By 2015, The Monroe School occupied the third floor of Nannie Helen Burroughs School, eventually taking over the entire building within a year. Today, it serves nearly 50 young people, many of whom suffer from homelessness, mental illness, and a bevy of other issues stemming from their environment.
In addition to the core subject areas, The Monroe School offers training in video production, with plans to expand into other trades via community partnerships. Logan, an educator of Liberian descent raised in the D.C. metropolitan area, expressed her desire that Providence Place’s construction in front of The Monroe School brings community service opportunities for students.
For the time being, however, she has focused her attention on Black History Month, an occasion she and teachers at The Monroe School have used to introduce students to Burroughs.
“The students know about the area and surroundings, but I’m fascinated with what they don’t know about Dr. Burroughs,” Logan said. “During Women’s History Month and Black History Month, Dr. Burroughs becomes one of the individuals [mentioned], researched and presented in projects. We’re keeping that legacy alive. We’re making sure students learn about what she brought to the city, and what she means to education at The Monroe School.”
10 days ago, anti-war protest had place near the Capitol Hill. Interesting fact, there seemed to be a lack of African Americans in the crowd. Begging the question: Do Blacks or other nations have the same interest in international affairs as their fellow citizens?
The nation’s capital is a melting pot of citizens, many of whom are transplants from various countries and cities. The city’s diversity includes the vast difference in socioeconomic standing, safety and lifestyle within the District. Some residents trust in the security of the current administration, while others have never truly felt protected.
“I feel pretty safe in D.C.,” said a man only identifying himself as Spencer, who formerly worked on Capitol Hill for six years. “I feel like we have a strong military. I think our foreign policy is not as it should be under our current administration, but I feel like we have a lot of bright minds working for the State Department, and I think that they’ll make the right decision inevitably.”
Other residents of varying cultures, some with strong veteran backgrounds, also express confidence in the country’s decisions.
“I personally feel pretty safe, I feel like we have a well-rounded government,” said Goseph Alvarado, who works in the District. “It’s not like just one person can say something and that’s the way it goes. We gather intelligence and based on what we have gathered, we consider how large the threat may be and whether we should take action on it or not. Us not taking action against a real threat, really ends up us placing ourselves once again, against like a 9/11 situation.”
Numerous D.C. natives have quite a different perspective than Alvarado’s, however. Many residents live just miles from Capitol Hill, but weather violent circumstances on a daily basis in their neighborhoods. The city saw six murders in just the first six days of the new year.
Northeast resident Emerald Dunkin does not share the same interest in foreign relations, but rather what immediately affects the well-being of her community. Dunkin said the recent trials of impeachment against President Trump have been of much more concern to her than the proposed war on Iran.
“I feel some type of way about the impeachment. I feel more about that than the war,” she said.
Dunkin recalled the government shutdown of December 2018 and how it affected residents in their daily lives. She referenced several domestic issues, including the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, that captured her attention more than the war debate.
“People were stealing groceries from other people because [Trump] shut the government down,” Dunkin said. “Now this war, with all the International things, honestly, Black people don’t even care. They don’t even care about each other.”
Evidently, the D.C. experience strikes differently for transient Washingtonians than for natives. Alvarado encourages individuals to keep an open mind when considering these political issues and to research broadly.
“We need to kind of pay more attention to what’s currently going on in our community,” Alvarado said. “I feel like political parties are really carrying out their own agendas and it’s up to us to go ahead and make sure we keep an independent mind state and really look at all outlets of media. That way, there is no bias in how you feel based on how somebody else feels or what their agenda may be. I think it’s really important to be independently-minded and not always be influenced by what others portray things to be.”
The cause of significant increases in pollution concentrations in Connecticut and New York City is the smoke of fires from as far as Canada and the southeastern U.S. New study shown air pollutants traveled hundreds of miles and several days to reach NY .
For the study, published today (January 21, 2020) in the European Geosciences Union (EGU) journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, researchers in the lab of Drew Gentner, associate professor of chemical & environmental engineering, monitored the air quality at the Yale Coastal Field Station in Guilford, CT and four other sites in the New York metropolitan area. In August of 2018, they observed two spikes in the presence of air pollutants – both coinciding with New York-area air quality advisories for ozone. The pollutants were the kind found in the smoke of wildfires and controlled agricultural burning. Using three types of evidence – data from the observation sites, smoke maps from satellite imagery, and backtracking 3-D models of air parcels (both the maps and models were produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) – the researchers traced the pollutants’ origin in the first event to fires on the western coast of Canada, and in the second event to the southeastern U.S.
Biomass burning, which occurs on a large scale during wildfires and some controlled burns, is a major source of air pollutants that impact air quality, human health, and climate. These events release numerous gases into the atmosphere and produce particulate matter (PM), including black carbon (BC) and other primary organic aerosols (POA) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers. Known as PM2.5, it has been shown to have particularly serious health effects when inhaled.
While more reactive components are often chemically transformed closer to their place of origin, PM2.5 tends to last longer. In the case of this study, that allowed much of it to travel from the fires to the monitoring sites – a period ranging from a few days to about a week.
“Given the sensitivity of people to the health effects emerging from exposure to PM2.5, this is certainly something that needs to be considered as policy-makers put together long-term air quality management plans,” Gentner said.
The impacts of wildfire smoke will likely become increasingly important in the coming years.
“When people are making predictions about climate change, they’re predicting increases in wildfires, so this sort of pollution is likely going to become more common,” said lead author Haley Rogers, who was an undergraduate student when the study was conducted. “So when people are planning for air pollution and health impacts, you can’t just address local sources.”
Although the levels of the PM2.5 decreased over time and distance, co-author Jenna Ditto, a graduate student in Gentner’s lab, noted that awareness of its presence in the atmosphere is critical to public health.
“Studies indicate that there are no safe levels of PM2.5, so typically any level of it is worth taking a look at,” she said.
Reference: “Evidence for impacts on surface-level air quality in the northeastern US from long-distance transport of smoke from North American fires during the Long Island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study (LISTOS) 2018” by Haley M. Rogers, Jenna C. Ditto and Drew R. Gentner, 21 January 2020, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
Preclinical research has shown, injected nanoparticles reduce swelling and secondary brain damage.
‘We believe this may provide the first real treatment for people with traumatic brain injury’ Brain swelling after injury causes severe secondary damage, even death Traumatic brain injuries affect more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. each year Could be first-line treatment for professional and young athletes
After a traumatic brain injury, the most harmful damage is caused by secondary swelling of the brain compressed inside the skull. There is no treatment for this.
In new research, Northwestern Medicine scientists were able to significantly reduce brain swelling and damage after a traumatic brain injury by injecting nanoparticles into the bloodstream within two hours after the injury, they report in a preclinical study.
“The results are vastly better than we predicted,” said Dr. Jack Kessler, professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and senior author on the paper. “We believe this may provide the first real and practical treatment for people who have a significant traumatic brain injury.”
The study will be published today (January 22, 2020) in Annals of Neurology.
The nanoparticles are made of an FDA-approved material table and could easily be loaded into a syringe and given immediately after traumatic brain injury in the field by emergency medical technicians or in the emergency room to prevent secondary damage, Kessler noted.
The scientists have begun first steps to obtain FDA approval for a clinical trial.
Traumatic brain injuries affect approximately 2.5 million people in the U.S. each year, according to a 2010 Centers for Disease Control report. However, these numbers don’t account for individuals who did not receive medical care, had outpatient care or who received care at a federal facility, such as persons serving in the U.S. military. Soldiers who serve in the U.S. military are at high risk for traumatic brain injury.
After a traumatic brain injury, the body launches an inflammatory reaction that triggers a cascade of immune responses that result in brain swelling.
“A patient can come into the emergency department walking and talking but then their brain swells. They immediately go downhill and can die,” Kessler said. “Now, the only thing a surgeon can do is open the skull up to relieve the pressure, but the brain still continues to swell.”
How nanoparticles prevent dangerous swelling
The nanoparticles work as a decoy to distract the immune cells from charging into the brain and causing more damage. The particles, named IMPS for immune modifying nanoparticles, are merely empty shells and do not contain any drugs or cargo.
After a traumatic brain injury, a specific population of monocytes — large white blood cells — rush to the injury site and attempt to clean up debris from damaged brain cells and secrete inflammatory proteins that stimulate other immune cells. This immune cascade produces swelling and inflammation that inadvertently damages surrounding healthy brain tissue.
But when the scientists inject the nanoparticles into the bloodstream shortly after the injury, these monocytes are tricked into thinking the nanoparticles are invading foreign materials. They engulf the particles and usher them to the spleen for disposal. The distracted monocytes are no longer around to enter the brain and cause problems.
In the study, mice that received the nanoparticles after a traumatic brain injury had greatly reduced swelling and half the damage to brain tissue compared to those who did not receive the nanoparticles. One of the injury models mimicked a closed head traumatic brain injury common in humans. In that model, the animals’ motor and visual function improved after the nanoparticle injection.
“We predicted there would be an effect, but the effect turned out to be quite startling. It is remarkable how well the animals do,” said lead author Sripadh Sharma, a Feinberg MD-PhD student.
Sharma, who is doing his neurology rotation, sees potential for helping young and professional athletes as well as soldiers. “These particles selectively knock out the damaging cells that begin infiltrating the brain within a couple of hours of the injury and reach their peak in three days. We can intervene before the secondary damage begins.”
Northwestern scientist Stephen Miller originally co-developed the nanoparticles to introduce food allergens to the immune system to create tolerance in food allergies. The microparticles also were used to treat multiple sclerosis by introducing myelin to the immune system to reduce its reactivity to it.
Nanoparticles for heart attack, colitis and West Nile Encephalitis virus
Then, in a 2014 Science Translational Medicine paper, Miller noted the microparticles prevented death in mice infected with West Nile Encephalitis virus. That led to the work in other models of acute inflammation including heart attack, colitis, and peritonitis. Mostly recently, Miller began collaborating with Kessler, whose research focus is brain and spinal cord injury.
Reference: “Intravenous Immunomodulatory Nanoparticle Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury” by Sripadh Sharma PhD; Igal Ifergan PhD; Jonathan E. Kurz MD, PhD; Robert A. Linsenmeier PhD; Dan Xu PhD; John G. Cooper PhD; Stephen D. Miller PhD and John A. Kessler MD, 10 January 2020, Annals of Neurology.
Miller is the Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Feinberg.
The nanotechnology was licensed to COUR Pharmaceuticals Co., a biotech based in Northbrook, Illinois, co-founded by Miller. Miller, who is on the COUR scientific advisory board, is a stock grantee and a paid consultant for the company. Northwestern University has a financial interest in COUR.
The research was supported by grants F31 NS105451-02 from the National Institute of Neurologic Disease and Stroke, R01 AG054429 from the National Institute on Aging and R01 EB-013198 from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering, all of the National Institutes of Health.
In a circular economy, city waste being turned into resources is of great importance, especially considering more than 70% of the inhabitants in Europe live in urban areas and produce a great amount of biowaste coming from the treatment of their waste waters. The European project RES URBIS (Resources from Urban Bio-waste), showed that different biowaste produced in an urban environment can be treated within the same chain of valorization and can obtain products with biological origins, such as bioplastic, with a higher economic value to the classic compost and biogas. The project confirmed the technical and economic viability of this process.
The experimental part of the project was carried out in two pilot plants, located in Lisbon (Portugal) and Treviso (Italy), and in five laboratories –one of them in the Faculty of Chemistry of the UB. It produced a total of 30 kg of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), the basic polymer to create bioplastic with volatile fatty acids from waste decomposition. This PHA was obtained through three new extraction methods carried out within the project, and later, processed by the industrial entities of the consortium to obtain commercial-use bioplastic.
“The results of the project were very positive. We obtained film samples of bioplastic to use them as an interlayer with adjacent film, with a great commercial potential. These bioplastics can be used as long-lasting goods and biocomposites with fibers produced with waste from parks and gardens,” says Joan Mata, professor from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry, who leads the participation of the University of Barcelona in the project. “Also –he adds-, the conducted analysis show that the legislation states.”
Regarding commercialization of these bioplastics, the team considered the European regulatory frame on the potential risks for health and environment of chemical products (REACH-CLP), and although there is still a lot to do on the definition of the final condition of the product known as waste final, “the scenario for the commercialization of the product is highly favorable,” notes Mata.
More efficient refineries with a lower environmental impact
The analysis of the life cycle of these bioplastics showed that the materials and energy used by PHA production through the presented biorefinery in the RES URBIS project have a lower environmental impact than the one generated by the plastic production with fossil origin.
The RES URBIS technological chain improved the plants on anaerobic digestion of biowaste. Its economic analysis in the analyzed scenario –among which is the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona- shows the production of PHA is viable after a price of 3€/kg and even one less if considering the most favorable conditions of the process. This price, compared to the price of the current commercialized PHA obtained from specific cultures of cereals with a 4-5€/kg cost, shows the economic viability of the process.
“The following step will be to get funding through the EU and the private sector to build a demonstration plant,” says Mata.
Half of Late 20th-Century Arctic Warming Caused by Ozone-Depleting Substances – “It’s a Good-News Story”
Implicated in a Third of Overall Global Warming for the Time Period
A scientific paper published in 1985 was the first to report a burgeoning hole in Earth’s stratospheric ozone over Antarctica. Scientists determined the cause to be ozone-depleting substances – long-lived artificial halogen compounds. Although the ozone-destroying effects of these substances are now widely understood, there has been little research into their broader climate impacts.
A study published today (January 20, 2020) in Nature Climate Change by researchers at Columbia University examines the greenhouse warming effects of ozone-depleting substances and finds that they caused about a third of all global warming from 1955 to 2005, and half of Arctic warming and sea ice loss during that period. They thus acted as a strong supplement to carbon dioxide, the most pervasive greenhouse gas; their effects have since started to fade, as they are no longer produced and slowly dissolve.
Ozone-depleting substances, or ODS, were developed in the 1920s and ’30s and became popularly used as refrigerants, solvents, and propellants. They are entirely manmade, and so did not exist in the atmosphere before this time. In the 1980s a hole in Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, which filters much of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, was discovered over Antarctica. Scientists quickly attributed it to ODS.
The world sprang into action, finalizing a global agreement to phase out ODS. The Montreal Protocol, as it is called, was signed in 1987 and entered into force in 1989. Due to the swift international reaction, atmospheric concentrations of most ODS peaked in the late 20th century and have been declining since. However, for at least 50 years, the climate impacts of ODS were extensive, as the new study reveals.
Scientists at Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory used climate models to understand the effects of ODS on Arctic climate. “We showed that ODS have affected the Arctic climate in a substantial way,” said Lamont-Doherty researcher Michael Previdi. The scientists reached their conclusion using two very different climate models that are widely employed by the scientific community, both developed at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.
The results highlight the importance of the Montreal Protocol, which has been signed by nearly 200 countries, say the authors. “Climate mitigation is in action as we speak because these substances are decreasing in the atmosphere, thanks to the Montreal Protocol,” said Lorenzo Polvani, lead author of the study and a professor in Columbia’s Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics. “In the coming decades, they will contribute less and less to global warming. It’s a good-news story.”
Reference: “Substantial twentieth-century Arctic warming caused by ozone-depleting substances” by L. M. Polvani, M. Previdi, M. R. England, G. Chiodo and K. L. Smith, 20 January 2020, Nature Climate Change.
Сardiologists discovered that effects of marijuana with some commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications increases Heart Risks.
As more states legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use and use increases nationwide, cardiologists should advise patients about the potential risks, including effects of marijuana with some commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications, according to a research review published today (January 20, 2020) in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The authors estimate that more than 2 million cardiovascular disease patients are currently using marijuana or have used marijuana previously. This includes recreational use and approved medical uses, such as human immunodeficiency virus-related weight loss, treatment of seizure disorders, or chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting.
“Our review suggests that smoking marijuana carries many of the same cardiovascular health hazards as smoking tobacco.”
“Some observational studies have suggested an association between marijuana and a range of cardiovascular risks,” said lead author Muthiah Vaduganathan, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center in Boston. “We also know that marijuana is becoming increasingly potent. Our review suggests that smoking marijuana carries many of the same cardiovascular health hazards as smoking tobacco. While the level of evidence is modest, there’s enough data for us to advise caution in using marijuana for our highest-risk patients, including those who present with a heart attack or new arrhythmia, or who have been hospitalized with heart failure.”
Certain cardiovascular medications, including statins and blood thinners, can be affected by marijuana use, the review found. For example, statin levels can increase in the blood when used together with marijuana because both are metabolized through a network of liver enzymes called the cytochrome P450 system. Levels of blood thinners such as warfarin also can be expected to increase when used together with marijuana.
“The review provides detailed tables of many drugs administered for various cardiovascular conditions, with the anticipated effects of marijuana on each one,” Vaduganathan said. “These will be helpful to cardiologists and pharmacists reviewing patients’ medications and will help them collaboratively decide whether they need to adjust dosing if the patient continues to use marijuana.”
The reviewers recommend that cardiologists screen their patients for marijuana use, asking them how often and how much they use. They also should ask about how they use marijuana.
“Vaping marijuana is becoming more and more common, and we know vaping marijuana increases the pharmacological effects of the drug,” Vaduganathan said.
For patients who wish to continue to use marijuana, or who have other medically indicated reasons for use, the reviewers recommend limiting use as much as possible and for clinicians to inform patients that vaping and certain synthetic forms of cannabinoids are particularly potent and may have greater adverse effects.
In some patients, cardiologists should test for marijuana use by urine toxicology screening, the reviewers recommend. These include patients being considered for heart transplantation or those who present with early-onset heart attacks or heart failure at a young age.
The review also analyzed the current state of evidence linking marijuana use with cardiovascular health and disease.
Data on the exact health effects of marijuana on the cardiovascular system are limited, largely because federal laws that classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug have limited the ability of scientists to conduct high-quality research, Vaduganathan said.
“Now that we have seen marijuana use become more popular than tobacco smoking, we need more rigorous research, including randomized clinical trials, to explore the effects of marijuana on cardiovascular health,” he said.
Reference: “Marijuana Use in Patients With Cardiovascular Disease” by Ersilia M. DeFilippis, Navkaranbir S. Bajaj, Amitoj Singh, Rhynn Malloy, Michael M. Givertz, Ron Blankstein, Deepak L. Bhatt and Muthiah Vaduganathan, 20 January 2020, Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Orange Dwarf Stars Most Likely to Host Planets
To date astronomers have discovered over 4,000 planets orbiting other stars. Statistically, there should be over 100 billion planets in our Milky Way galaxy. They come in a wide range of sizes and characteristics, largely unimagined before exoplanets were first discovered in the mid-1990s. The biggest motivation for perusing these worlds is to find “Genesis II,” a planet where life has arisen and evolved beyond microbes. The ultimate payoff would be finding intelligent life off the Earth.
A major step in searching for habitable planets is finding suitable stars that could foster the emergence of complex organisms. Because our Sun has nurtured life on Earth for nearly 4 billion years, conventional wisdom would suggest that stars like it would be prime candidates. But stars like our Sun represent only about 10% of the Milky Way population. What’s more, they are comparatively short-lived. Our Sun is halfway through its estimated 10 billion-year lifetime.
Complex organisms arose on Earth only 500 million years ago. And, the modern form of humans has been here only for the blink of an eye on cosmological timescales: 200,000 years. The future of humanity is unknown. But what is for certain is that Earth will become uninhabitable for higher forms of life in a little over 1 billion years, as the Sun grows warmer and desiccates our planet.
Therefore, stars slightly cooler than our Sun — called orange dwarfs — are considered better hang-outs for advanced life. They can burn steadily for tens of billions of years. This opens up a vast timescape for biological evolution to pursue an infinity of experiments for yielding robust life forms. And, for every star like our Sun there are three times as many orange dwarfs in the Milky Way.
The only type of star that is more abundant are red dwarfs. But these are feisty little stars. They are so magnetically active they pump out 500 times as much radiation in the form of X-rays and ultraviolet light as our Sun does. Planets around these stars take a beating. They would be no place to call home for organisms like us.
An emerging idea, bolstered by stellar surveys performed by Hubble and other telescopes, is that the orange dwarfs are “Goldilocks stars” — not too hot, not too cool, and above all, not too violent to host life-friendly planets over a vast horizon of cosmic time.
In the search for life beyond Earth, astronomers look for planets in a star’s “habitable zone” — sometimes nicknamed the “Goldilocks zone” — where temperatures are just right for liquid water to exist on a planet’s surface to nurture life as we know it.
An emerging idea, bolstered by a three-decade-long set of stellar surveys, is that there are “Goldilocks stars” — not too hot, not too cool, and above all, not too violent to host life-friendly planets.
Because our Sun has nurtured life on Earth for nearly 4 billion years, conventional wisdom would suggest that stars like it would be prime candidates in the search for other potentially habitable worlds. In reality, stars slightly cooler and less luminous than our Sun, classified as K dwarfs, are the true “Goldilocks stars,” said Edward Guinan of Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania. “K-dwarf stars are in the ‘sweet spot,’ with properties intermediate between the rarer, more luminous, but shorter-lived solar-type stars (G stars) and the more numerous red dwarf stars (M stars). The K stars, especially the warmer ones, have the best of all worlds. If you are looking for planets with habitability, the abundance of K stars pump up your chances of finding life.”
For starters, there are three times as many K dwarfs in our galaxy as stars like our Sun. Roughly 1,000 K stars lie within 100 light-years of our Sun as prime candidates for exploration. These so-called orange dwarfs live from 15 billion to 45 billion years. By contrast, our Sun, now already halfway through its lifetime, lasts for only 10 billion years. Its comparatively rapid rate of stellar evolution will leave the Earth largely uninhabitable in just another 1 or 2 billion years. “Solar-type stars limit how long a planet’s atmosphere can remain stable,” Guinan said. That’s because a billion or so years from now, Earth will orbit inside the hotter (inner) edge of the Sun’s habitable zone, which moves outward as the Sun grows warmer and brighter. As a result, the Earth will be desiccated as it loses its present atmosphere and oceans. By an age of 9 billion years the Sun will have swelled up to become a red giant that could engulf the Earth.
Despite their small size, the even more abundant red dwarf stars, also known as M dwarf stars, have even longer lifetimes and appear to be hostile to life as we know it. Planets that are located in a red dwarf’s comparatively narrow habitable zone, which is very close to the star, are exposed to extreme levels of X-ray and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can be up to hundreds of thousands of times more intense than what Earth receives from the Sun. A relentless fireworks show of flares and coronal mass ejections bombard planets with a dragon’s breath of seething plasma and showers of penetrating high-energy particles. Red dwarf habitable-zone planets can be baked bone dry and have their atmospheres stripped away very early in their lives. This could likely prohibit the planets from evolving to be more hospitable a few billion years after red dwarf outbursts have subsided. “We’re not so optimistic anymore about the chances of finding advanced life around many M stars,” Guinan said.
The K dwarfs do not have intensely active magnetic fields that power strong X-ray and UV emissions and energetic outbursts, and therefore they shoot off flares much less frequently, based on Guinan’s research. Accompanying planets would get about 1/100th as much deadly X-ray radiation as those orbiting the close-in habitable zones of magnetically-active M stars.
In a program called the “GoldiloKs” Project, Guinan and his Villanova colleague Scott Engle, are working with undergraduate students to measure the age, rotation rate, and X-ray and far-ultraviolet radiation in a sampling of mostly cool G and K stars. They are using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton satellite for their observations. Hubble’s sensitive ultraviolet-light observations of radiation from hydrogen were used to assess the radiation from a sample of about 20 orange dwarfs. “Hubble is the only telescope that can do this kind of observation,” Guinan said.
Guinan and Engle found that the levels of radiation were much more benign to any accompanying planets than those found around red dwarfs. K stars also have longer lifetimes and therefore slower migration of the habitable zone. Therefore, K dwarfs seem like the ideal place to go looking for life, and these stars would allow time for highly evolved life to develop on planets. Over the Sun’s entire lifetime — 10 billion years — K stars only increase their brightness by about 10-15%, giving biological evolution a much longer timespan to evolve advanced life forms than on Earth.
Guinan and Engle looked at some of the more interesting K stars hosting planets, including Kepler-442, Tau Ceti, and Epsilon Eridani. (The latter two were early targets of the late 1950s Project Ozma — the first attempt to detect radio transmissions from extraterrestrial civilizations.)
“Kepler-442 is noteworthy in that this star (spectral classification, K5) hosts what is considered one of the best Goldilocks planets, Kepler-442b, a rocky planet that is a little more than twice Earth’s mass. So the Kepler-442 system is a Goldilocks planet hosted by a Goldilocks star!” said Guinan.
Over the last 30 years Guinan and Engle and their students have observed a variety of stellar types. Based on their studies, the researchers have determined relationships among stellar age, rotation rate, X-ray-UV emissions, and flare activity. These data have been utilized to investigate the effects of high-energy radiation on planet atmospheres and possible life.
The results are being presented at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.