Algae used to be fashionable, what with eco-friendly biomass algae shoes and green chandelier air purifiers. Something that looks quite similar (though is biologically different), moss, used to be functional and innovative, with equally eco-friendly moss-covered tires that absorb moisture and expel oxygen.
But now moss is just plain genius and essential, as scientists in Sweden discover an aquatic one that purifies water contaminated with arsenic, enough that it even becomes potable.
Researchers at Stockholm University say the aquatic moss, warnstofia fluitans, which flourishes in northern Sweden, can rapidly absorb arsenic, removing as much as 82 per cent of the toxins within one hour in some tests.
Due to mining operations in this part of Sweden, wetlands and water sources used for drinking and for growing crops are often contaminated with arsenic.
Arsenic is known to be a waste product from mining. Mine tailings are often toxic and difficult to separate from waste deposits, and toxin concentrations often end up in water sources. This makes mining a major environmental issue.
“We hope that the plant-based wetland system that we are developing will solve the arsenic problem in Sweden’s northern mining areas,” said Maria Greger, associate professor at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences at Stockholm University and leader of the research group.
The process of cleaning the contaminated water done by the aquatic moss is called phylofiltration. The researchers have also mentioned that sometimes this process takes no more than an hour, which is indeed very quick. If only more humans are inspired to be as quick to act in the name of the environment.
Trips to the dentist may not be everyone’s favorite errand — that is, until excruciating cavities become a problem. Admittedly, probes are no fun, and neither is the price tag they come with. But following Dr. Kenny Wilstead’s good deed for a domestic abuse victim, Dr. David Nguyen decided to shoulder a military vet’s $15,000 bill.
“There was infection in his gum tissue, a lot of cracked teeth everywhere, a lot of crowding, a lot of grinding problems,” described Dr. Nguyen, a dentist at URBN Dental River Oaks in Houston.
Former Staff Sergeant David Tyler Harmon didn’t anticipate a simple toothache to reveal years of decay. To cover the costs, Harmon would’ve had to undergo months of paperwork with the Veterans Administration. Much to his delight, Dr. Nguyen decided to simply waive the charges.
“All veterans are heroes,” said Dr. Nguyen. “They give up so much for this country, and whatever I can do just to help him out a little bit, it’s all worth it to me.”
If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, it might be time for a cleaning!
To address a growing number of hungry students, New York public schools transitioned into free lunch programs. As the issue of child hunger becomes increasingly dire, schools across the U.S. are finally taking action together. With 13 million children underfed each day, institutions are launching share table initiatives, which also combat food waste.
All students need to do is leave unwanted food or drinks at a designated station where others can help themselves. Any food left at the end of the day can go towards afterschool programs, or a nearby shelter or nonprofit.
The program works around federal school lunch restrictions, in which cafeterias cannot re-serve day-old food. Additionally, states require children to take a certain amount of food — often more than they need.
“The first goal is to make sure there’s no hungry kids at school,” [said] volunteer Jennifer Janus… “The second goal is to bring the food here so we can feed the hungry people our town … This is all food that would get thrown away. Food is not trash.”
The USDA is now on board with the scheme, also encouraging schools to offer new and healthier lunch options. As the saying goes, sharing is caring!
For decades, technology has paved the way for treating detrimental illnesses such as HIV and leukemia. While some conditions remain without a cure, therapy and devices have made everyday living more bearable. A Tennessee nature park gave back to its colorblind visitors by installing a special viewfinder.
“To realize, through red/green deficiencies and other forms of colorblindness, there potentially are more than 13 million people in our country alone who cannot fully appreciate the beauty our state has to offer, we wanted to do something about that,” [said Kevin Triplett, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Tourist Development.]
The colorblind-less viewfinders alleviate specific color deficiencies, allowing tourists to marvel at the park. In the fall, trees don an incredible concoction of reds and yellows, a first sight for some.
“I’m glad to have seen it. I just wish I had seen this all my life,” [local Jim] Nichols said through tears. “Kinda like what I would imagine the difference between here and heaven.”
Positive responses from colorblind sightseers had the state installing more viewfinders across other parks. And there you have it — never take your senses for granted. Not everyone can enjoy them the way we do.
Meaningful gestures are what get people by in difficult times. Domestic abuse victim Kyleigha Scott found solace in her dentist, who repaired a broken tooth for free. For Las Vegas mourners, it was a healing garden that brought people on opposite sides of the spectrum together. For 5-year-old Sophia Chiappalone, it was best friend Hunter who eased the pain of her heart condition. The two “married” before Sophia’s fourth surgery.
“Just seeing Sophia’s smile, he didn’t complain once,” Hunter’s mother said of the photo shoot. “He was genuinely having a fun time. They were laughing together, tickling, swinging and on the slides. I think he really enjoyed it. I think it makes him happy to see her happy.”
Fortunately for Sophia, Hunter’s mother Tracy Laferriere’s own BFF was photographer Marisa Balletti-Lavoie. Wanting in on the charming surprise was Bliss Bridal, who provided a gown and veil. To say the photos are adorable is an understatement. However, reality is also bittersweet.
“I wish that she keeps her fighting spirit. And I hope she never loses her quality of life … no matter what the end result is.” [said Sophia’s mother Kristy.]
All the best, little Sophia!
While researchers have been working tirelessly to treat conditions such as blindness and HIV, drug use as a health issue is sitting on the back burner. To bring attention back to the opioid epidemic, pharmaceutical giant Walgreens is selling medication that reverses the effects of heroin overdoses.
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, [is a] medicine that can reverse the effects of an overdose from opioid drugs or heroin within seconds.
The treatment is selling over-the-counter at more than 8,000 branches in nearly every state. The remaining five states that don’t offer the drug are battling regulation issues. Dr. Dan Lustig of addiction treatment facility Haymarket Center has since commended Walgreens’ efforts.
“This actually signifies, I think, a significant step in the battle that we have with this epidemic.”
“First and foremost, it gives families a fighting chance to save loved ones,”
Many remain skeptical, citing Narcan as an encouraging factor to continue drug use. Though the ethical implications of the drug are problematic, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
Since the day we are born, doctors continue to be our heroes throughout bouts of colds and fevers. On occasion, they will stand out, birthing babies (or sometimes gorillas) in the middle of their own deliveries. Santa Rosa doctor Scott Witt defied the odds when he hopped on a motorcycle to rescue eight preemies from a fire.
“I got a call at 2 a.m. basically saying that there was some fire encroaching on the hospital so so we might have to evacuate,” said Dr. Witt.
“In California, you can split lanes so I just kind of went down the middle of lanes and got past everybody,”
Four miles from the center and an additional six from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Witt braved a number of treacherous highways. Witt and his family lost their home, but his wife could not have been prouder of his actions.
“If my baby was in the hospital… I mean I’m a little biased but I would totally want them to be in some hands like Scott’s,” said Megan Witt.
Witt also trailed ambulances for three hours on several trips justifying not only his courage, but that a BMW is a pretty sturdy bike.
The steady rise of electric vehicles will soon leave petrol and diesel cars in the dust. BMW is launching electric buses all over Europe, while the London Taxi Company is replacing old cabs. A few months later, the U.K. remains on top of the eco-ladder, with Oxford planning to eliminate non-electric vehicles.
The scheme aims to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide, the majority of which comes from traffic fumes, by three-quarters.
To give distributors leeway, Oxford will be imposing the ban in 2020, increasing the affected zone by 2035. We all know electric vehicles aren’t the most affordable, so locals may have to do some walking. The plan is projected to cost £7 million, but the city council deems the shift will be well worth it.
Oxford city councillor John Tanner said a “step change” is urgently needed as toxic air pollution is “damaging the health” of residents.
It’s a bold move, Oxford, but hopefully a successful one.
Human or animal, prosthetics are making their way into the lives of the disabled. In Colorado, OrthoPets has manufactured devices for over 13,000 animals. A new medical algorithm is helping paralyzed patients to “relearn” muscle movements. But it seems the most advanced therapy of all is in the hands of the U.S. Navy. The Office of Naval Research is developing smart prosthetics that can also monitor health.
[The] prosthetic limb [has] built-in sensors that can track changes in movement, various health issues, and early signs of infection.
The device detects pH levels, body temperature, strain levels, and whether the prosthetic needs to be replaced.
“One game-changing application of this technology would be as a tool to inform doctors when prostheses can be safely loaded after surgery, leading to more accurate determination of when patients are ready for physical therapy after receiving a new prosthetic.”
In other words, the prosthetic is a glorified Fitbit with far more physical benefits. While I’m assuming it’s possible the prosthetics will be pricey, at least they’re available for veterans who need them.
With alternative treatments for cancer on the rise, we’re also seeing an increase in unusual remedies. If anything from avocado husks to flexible batteries are on the market, using livestock should be no surprise. At least not to engineers in Japan. Researchers are genetically modifying chickens to lay eggs filled with cancer-preventing drugs.
The eggs were developed using genome-editing technology to produce a protein called interferon, which is used to treat hepatitis, multiple sclerosis and malignant skin cancer.
Injecting it into cancer patients three times per week can prevent cancer cells from multiplying, while also boosting T cells to fight tumors.
Conventionally, interferon costs anywhere between $250 to $900. Interferon from chicken eggs, on the other hand, won’t have patients clucking up more than half the price. What remains to be more dangerous than cancer itself is the price tag that comes with therapy.
“Cancer drugs are not a luxury item, like an expensive car, that people can choose to buy or not to buy…. When prices come down, mortality rates will surely follow.” [said Brian Bolwell of the Cleveland Clinic.]
Perhaps, one day we’ll all agree that curing cancer isn’t about the money. Kudos, Mr. Bolwell. Kudos.