Daily Archives: November 7, 2014

National Academy of Science Panelist Statement is Complete Nonsense

Lowering greenhouse gas emissions to zero is nonsense. It is not possible to reach zero. It is not justified nor necessary. Such statements are not statements of science, but ideologically-driven policy statements made at a “scientific” institution meeting — an institution which seems to have lost its way. 

“Panelists at a National Academy of Sciences event on the health risks to humans posed by climate change called Tuesday for an end to all greenhouse gas emissions.

“[E]missions have to go to zero,” said Anthony Janetos, professor of Earth and Environment at Boston University, told the event in Washington D.C., which brought together climate change modelers, public health experts, and environmental health researchers.” click here for news article.

Frog and Snake Meat a Primary Risk Factor for Sparganosis

Sparganosis is a parasitic infection caused by the plerocercoid larvae of diphyllobothroid tapeworms belonging to the genus Spirometra. And yes, people can be exposed to it via drinking water.

Lu G, Shi DZ, Lu YJ, Wu LX, Li LH, Rao LY, Yin FF. Retrospective epidemiological analysis of sparganosis in mainland China from 1959 to 2012. Epidemiology and infection. 2014 Dec;142(12):2654-61. doi: 10.1017/S0950268814000144.

SUMMARY In this study, epidemiological factors of sparganosis cases reported in mainland China from 1959 to December 2012 were analysed. A total of 1061 valid cases were distributed throughout most of the provinces of mainland China, with most cases occurring in Southern and Eastern China. The average age of patients was 29 years (range 0-80 years). Modes of transmission to humans were via contact (54·6%), mainly by application of frog meat as a poultice, foodborne (33·8%), mainly through ingesting frogs or snakes, and waterborne (11·5%) through drinking raw water. The tissue/organs involved were subcutaneous/muscle (43·1%), eyes (31·0%), central nervous system (CNS) (17·9%), urogenital system (3·9%) and visceral organs (3·2%). Obvious differences existed in main risk factors for different areas. Close correlation was found between tissue/organs and risk factors. Main modes of transmission changed during the past decades, from contact (83·8% pre-1979) to foodborne (63·9% post-2000). The tissue/organs involved also changed at the same time. Cases involving eyes fell from 50·0% pre-1979 to 8·3% post-2000, and cases involving CNS increased from 0% pre-1979 to 47·8% post-2000. These results illustrate that China is one of the main epidemic countries of sparganosis in the world. Consumption of frog/snake meat was the main risk factor, although application of frog flesh as a poultice was the main risk factor before 2000. Sparganosis has become one of the neglected but important foodborne/waterborne parasitic diseases in mainland China.

Click here for paper (fee).


Arsenic in Groundwater Review Paper Title Misleading?

At first glance the title of this paper is misleading. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element. It was present in the ground water long before people were in the area.

The term “contamination” has been traditionally thought of as an unwanted harmful substance intentionally or accidentally introduced in to water from an external source (e.g., gasoline spill). This is also the typical meaning inferred by the general public in the US.

In the case of this paper title, the modern definition of “contamination” — simply the “presence” of an unwanted substance — is being used.  Technically-minded practitioners understand the difference. The general public does not. Such equivocation is counter-productive.

Shankar S, Shanker U, Shikha. Arsenic Contamination of Groundwater: A Review of Sources, Prevalence, Health Risks, and Strategies for Mitigation. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:304524.

Arsenic contamination of groundwater in different parts of the world is an outcome of natural and/or anthropogenic sources, leading to adverse effects on human health and ecosystem. Millions of people from different countries are heavily dependent on groundwater containing elevated level of As for drinking purposes. As contamination of groundwater, poses a serious risk to human health. Excessive and prolonged exposure of inorganic As with drinking water is causing arsenicosis, a deteriorating and disabling disease characterized by skin lesions and pigmentation of the skin, patches on palm of the hands and soles of the feet. Arsenic poisoning culminates into potentially fatal diseases like skin and internal cancers. This paper reviews sources, speciation, and mobility of As and global overview of groundwater As contamination. The paper also critically reviews the As led human health risks, its uptake, metabolism, and toxicity mechanisms. The paper provides an overview of the state-of-the-art knowledge on the alternative As free drinking water and various technologies (oxidation, coagulation flocculation, adsorption, and microbial) for mitigation of the problem of As contamination of groundwater.

UK Met Office Issues Rainfall Mis-Information

Looks like the UK Met Office is saying 2014 is the “wettest or second wettest year since records began” for England and Wales. But it is only up to October. And looking at the actual data the claim is vacuous if not outright propaganda. Click here for more on this.

Permafrost an Important Factor in Lake Shrinkage and Expansion

Li Y, Liao J, Guo H, Liu Z, Shen G. Patterns and potential drivers of dramatic changes in tibetan lakes, 1972-2010. PLoS One. 2014 Nov 5;9(11):e111890. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111890.

Most glaciers in the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau are retreating, and glacier melt has been emphasized as the dominant driver for recent lake expansions on the Tibetan Plateau. By investigating detailed changes in lake extents and levels across the Tibetan Plateau from Landsat/ICESat data, we found a pattern of dramatic lake changes from 1970 to 2010 (especially after 2000) with a southwest-northeast transition from shrinking, to stable, to rapidly expanding. This pattern is in distinct contrast to the spatial characteristics of glacier retreat, suggesting limited influence of glacier melt on lake dynamics. The plateau-wide pattern of lake change is related to precipitation variation and consistent with the pattern of permafrost degradation induced by rising temperature. More than 79% of lakes we observed on the central-northern plateau (with continuous permafrost) are rapidly expanding, even without glacial contributions, while lakes fed by retreating glaciers in southern regions (with isolated permafrost) are relatively stable or shrinking. Our study shows the limited role of glacier melt and highlights the potentially important contribution of permafrost degradation in predicting future water availability in this region, where understanding these processes is of critical importance to drinking water, agriculture, and hydropower supply of densely populated areas in South and East Asia.

Click here for full paper (Open Access).

Arsenic Exposure by Global Geographical Region

There are several regions of the world where drinking water arsenic-related illness is a serious problem. But we don’t see this in the United States regardless of the weak associations that result from manipulating the mathematics.

Huang L, Wu H, van der Kuijp TJ. The health effects of exposure to arsenic-contaminated drinking water: a review by global geographical distribution. Int J Environ Health Res. 2014 Nov 3:1-21.

Chronic arsenic exposure through drinking water has been a vigorously studied and debated subject. However, the existing literature does not allow for a thorough examination of the potential regional discrepancies that may arise among arsenic-related health outcomes. The purpose of this article is to provide an updated review of the literature on arsenic exposure and commonly discussed health effects according to global geographical distribution. This geographically segmented approach helps uncover the discrepancies in the health effects of arsenic. For instance, women are more susceptible than men to a few types of cancer in Taiwan, but not in other countries. Although skin cancer and arsenic exposure correlations have been discovered in Chile, Argentina, the United States, and Taiwan, no evident association was found in mainland China. We then propose several globally applicable recommendations to prevent and treat the further spread of arsenic poisoning and suggestions of future study designs and decision-making.

Click here for full paper (fee).

Cholera Outbreaks in North Karnataka, India

Dey S, Parande MV, Parande AM, Lakkannavar SL, Rathore PK, Mantur BG, Kholkute SD, Roy S. Twin outbreak of cholera in rural North Karnataka, India. The Indian journal of medical research. 2014 Sep;140(3):420-6.

BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES: Successive outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea occurred in Talikoti and Harnal, located in Bijapur District of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, in July and August 2012, respectively. These outbreaks were investigated to identify the aetiology and epidemiology.

METHODS: Information was collected from the local population and health centres. Stool and water samples were collected from the admitted patients and their drinking water sources. Standard microbiological and PCR techniques were employed for isolation and characterization of the pathogen.

RESULTS: While 101 people (0.38%) were affected in Talikoti, 200 (20.94%) were affected in Harnal which is a small remote village. All age groups were affected but no death occurred. While the outbreak was smaller, longer and apparently spread by person to person contact in Talikoti, it occurred as a single source flash outbreak at Harnal. A single clone of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1 Ogawa biotype El Tor was isolated from the two stool samples obtained from Talikoti and subsequently from three of five stool samples obtained from Harnal indicating village to village spread of the aetiological agent. Striking similarity in antibiotic resistance profiles of these isolates with a particular strain isolated from the city of Belgaum, 250 km away, in 2010, prompted tracking the lineage of the V. cholerae isolates by DNA fingerprinting. Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) fingerprinting assay helped confirm the origin of the incriminating strain to Belgaum.

INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSIONS: Our study reported the first twin outbreak of cholera in two remote areas of Bijapur district, Karnataka, south India. It also indicated the need for immediate preparedness to deal with such emergencies.