An ecological oratorio

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A blog which seeks to provide an increased awareness and appreciation of our fragile planet. We generally believe in conservation and prudent utilisation of the environment through sustainable development. We aim at encouraging healthy discourses which could be eventually translated into feasible policies.

Sarah Stephen
39 posts

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  • May 18, 2015
  • 06:26 AM
  • 63 views

‘Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink’ – Safe drinking water and Adequate sanitation are indispensable for eradicating Cholera

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

What has Cholera to do with environment? Absolutely everything!  In this post, we look at why clean water and safe sanitation is essential for eradicating this dreadful disease from our planet. Access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation could eradicate cholera. (Image - Sam Stephen) Cholera, an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or liquids contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, elicits the same fear today, as it did in the past. Although cholera has aff........ Read more »

Miwanda B, Moore S, Muyembe JJ, Nguefack-Tsague G, Kabangwa IK, Ndjakani DY, Mutreja A, Thomson N, Thefenne H, Garnotel E.... (2015) Antimicrobial Drug Resistance of Vibrio cholerae, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Emerging infectious diseases, 21(5), 847-51. PMID: 25897570  

Waldman RJ, Mintz ED, & Papowitz HE. (2013) The cure for cholera--improving access to safe water and sanitation. The New England journal of medicine, 368(7), 592-4. PMID: 23301693  

  • May 11, 2015
  • 05:20 AM
  • 66 views

Monkey Fever Disease in South India: Some recommendations for its management.

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Macaca radiataThe Western Ghats is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of the India starting near the border of the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and running through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu states ending at Kanya Kumari, the southern tip of India. The forests in the Western Ghats are unique in that they are some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests. With  an estimated 7,400 species of flowering plants, ........ Read more »

Kiran, S., Pasi, A., Kumar, S., Kasabi, G., Gujjarappa, P., Shrivastava, A., Mehendale, S., Chauhan, L., Laserson, K., & Murhekar, M. (2015) Kyasanur Forest Disease Outbreak and Vaccination Strategy, Shimoga District, India, 2013–2014. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 21(1), 146-149. DOI: 10.3201/eid2101.141227  

  • April 20, 2015
  • 04:18 PM
  • 126 views

Urban green spaces: Insights from Valencia

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

http://www.researchblogging.org"> alt="ResearchBlogging.org" src="http://www.researchblogging.org/public/citation_icons/rb2_large_gray.png" style="border:0;"/>Visiting the city of Valencia in Spain for the first time, we were pleasantly greeted by the subtle aroma of orange blossoms in the air and the sight of beautiful oranges dangling from the orange trees that line the street pavements. Whilst many parts of the city are bordered with trees, there are also other green spaces,  ........ Read more »

Searle, S., Turnbull, M., Boelman, N., Schuster, W., Yakir, D., & Griffin, K. (2012) Urban environment of New York City promotes growth in northern red oak seedlings. Tree Physiology, 32(4), 389-400. DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tps027  

  • April 14, 2015
  • 12:48 PM
  • 124 views

Global Temperature Rise and Human Health - How is the World Coping?

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Global temperatures have been on the rise since the Industrial Age due to human activity such as the emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel burning, large-scale deforestation, expansion of urban areas where vegetation cover is replaced by artificial heat retaining materials such as asphalt and concrete, some agricultural practices, and waste management activities. Data from the National Climatic Data Centre that  maintains the world's largest climate data archive indicate that the a........ Read more »

  • July 8, 2013
  • 03:41 PM
  • 430 views

Humans vs Tigers

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

I have been following an interesting news of a match of Humans vs Tigers. The eventual outcome was a draw: one man and a tiger cub killed on each side. The story is that six men from Simpang Kiri village in Aceh Tamiang district went to the Mount Leuser National Park on Sumatra Island for harvesting agarwood (used in incense and perfume). I am assuming that this was probably illegal since national parks does have restricted entry and harvesting this precious material is probably regulated. ........ Read more »

  • February 6, 2013
  • 01:33 AM
  • 419 views

Automobile exhausts and heart disease. Is an inflammatory molecule the link?

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

A recent study in America found evidence for increased levels of IL-1 beta,  a marker  associated with inflammation in the blood of people who lived near the highways and had high exposures to vehicular exhausts.As our consumption of vehicles grows, our roads constantly brew  more particulate matter, black carbon, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur-di-oxide and carbon monoxide, all emitted from automobile exhausts.The danger about these emissions is that they don’t just stay there, but d........ Read more »

  • January 31, 2013
  • 02:46 AM
  • 355 views

Pussy Cat, Pussy cat what have you killed?

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

In the early eighties, our parents rescued two abandoned stray kittens from the road, which started a long line of cat dynasty in our house and the neighbourhood. Our house gained the reputation of being a sanctuary for abandoned cats, that we had people stealthily abandoning their cats outside our house gates. At one point, we had about 12 cats in the house. We loved these animals dearly; but despite being fed adequately, we were horrified to note that they killed squirrels, birds, bats, bandic........ Read more »

  • January 19, 2013
  • 03:14 AM
  • 396 views

A dangerous cocktail brews in our towns and cities- How tobacco smoke and vehicular emissions together contribute to wheezing in young children

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Vehicular emissions and tobacco smoke are harming the lungs of young children  in our citiesWhen it comes to the evidence against tobacco and vehicular emissions on harming human respiratory health, it does not rain but it pours. And it keeps on coming. We have extensive evidence to show that vehicular emissions as well as tobacco smoke exposure are bad for health and it seems to start right from the fetal stage.  A new study presented in the journal Environmental Health show........ Read more »

Sonnenschein-van der Voort, A., de Kluizenaar, Y., Jaddoe, V., Gabriele, C., Raat, H., Moll, H., Hofman, A., Pierik, F., Miedema, H., de Jongste, J.... (2012) Air pollution, fetal and infant tobacco smoke exposure, and wheezing in preschool children: a population-based prospective birth cohort. Environmental Health, 11(1), 91. DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-91  

  • January 9, 2013
  • 04:36 PM
  • 501 views

Exposure to air pollutants during pregnancy linked to autism in children

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Vehicular air pollution could cause autism - Photo by Sarah StephenA recent study by Californian researchers indicates increased odds for developing autism in children whose mothers were exposed to ozone and particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5). Ozone and PM2.5 are associated with vehicular pollution and this study emphasizes the dangers posed by traffic pollutants to health in utero.The researchers used Los Angeles as a sample population. Mothers of over 7600 children between ages of 3........ Read more »

  • December 19, 2012
  • 12:09 PM
  • 407 views

Why where you work could influence risk of breast cancer

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Workplace plays a pivotal role in influencing cancer riskWHO statistics show that 19% of all cancers are attributable to the environment including work settings, and result in 1.3 million deaths annually worldwide. In reality, the actual figure could be much higher than this, as an individual’s genetics, physiology, exposure to environmental cancer causing agents (carcinogens) and life style invariably crisscross and therefore it is seldom possible to study environmental exposure and canc........ Read more »

Brophy, J., Keith, M., Watterson, A., Park, R., Gilbertson, M., Maticka-Tyndale, E., Beck, M., Abu-Zahra, H., Schneider, K., Reinhartz, A.... (2012) Breast cancer risk in relation to occupations with exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors: a Canadian case--control study. Environmental Health, 11(1), 87. DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-87  

DeMatteo, R., Keith, M., Brophy, J., Wordsworth, A., Watterson, A., Beck, M., Ford, A., Gilbertson, M., Pharityal, J., Rootham, M.... (2012) Chemical Exposures of Women Workers in the Plastics Industry with Particular Reference to Breast Cancer and Reproductive Hazards. NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, 1(-1), 427-448. DOI: 10.2190/NS.22.4.d  

  • December 13, 2012
  • 12:18 PM
  • 432 views

A common fungicide used on leafy vegetables could make people fat

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Obesity is on the rise globally. World Health Organization forecasts 2.3 billion overweight adults in the world by 2015 and greater than 700 million of them to be obese. In the UK, as in most industrialised nations, obesity is increasing. Figures show that 62.8% of UK adults (aged 16 or over) were overweight or obese as are 30.3% of children (aged 2-15). A recent report released by the NHS (National Child Measurement Programme) indicates that in the UK 1 in 3 of primary school children in the la........ Read more »

  • September 22, 2012
  • 07:19 AM
  • 483 views

The future of the Dead Sea

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

You could say that Ein Gedi is literally after miles of endless highway, past scattered kibbutzim. This windy beach on the western coast of the Dead Sea was teeming with hordes of tourists plastering themselves with mud and floating on the water to the backdrop of Cutting Crew’s “(I just) died in your arms tonight” and lots of human poo on the beach and on the sea itself (which dissuaded us from getting more adventurous). Although  it was late autumn, it was warm (around 24-25 deg C);........ Read more »

  • June 27, 2012
  • 05:51 AM
  • 572 views

Phthalate exposure alters heart muscle cell behaviour and could lead to heart disease

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Plasticizers, phthalates are ubiquitous in the environment, found in everyday objects such as cosmetics, packaging, pharmaceutical pills, children’s toys ,shampoos, detergents etc. In fact, phthalates are so pervasive that measurable levels of many metabolites are found in the urine of the general American population. Phthalates are easily leached into the environment due to its structure; the process  is hastened as plastics age and breakdown. Exposure of humans occurs largely ........ Read more »

Posnack NG, Swift LM, Kay MW, Lee NH, & Sarvazyan N. (2012) Phthalate Exposure Changes the Metabolic Profile of Cardiac Muscle Cells. Environmental health perspectives. PMID: 22672789  

  • June 13, 2012
  • 09:02 AM
  • 583 views

Diesel engine exhausts does indeed cause cancer in humans

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

In an earlier post, Sarah Stephen (April 2012, http://ecoratorio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/minefield-of-diesel-emissions.html ) wrote about diesel fuel emissions, its health effects, and the impending International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) meeting scheduled for June 2012 at which the labelling of diesel engine exhausts would be evaluated.IARC is an intergovernmental agency which is part of the World Health Organisation with the role of conducting and coordi........ Read more »

Silverman DT, Samanic CM, Lubin JH, Blair AE, Stewart PA, Vermeulen R, Coble JB, Rothman N, Schleiff PL, Travis WD.... (2012) The diesel exhaust in miners study: a nested case-control study of lung cancer and diesel exhaust. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 104(11), 855-68. PMID: 22393209  

Attfield MD, Schleiff PL, Lubin JH, Blair A, Stewart PA, Vermeulen R, Coble JB, & Silverman DT. (2012) The diesel exhaust in miners study: a cohort mortality study with emphasis on lung cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 104(11), 869-83. PMID: 22393207  

  • June 11, 2012
  • 07:35 AM
  • 464 views

Exposure of mothers to pesticides could lead to obesity in children

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Environmental agents be it dietary factors, chemicals- drugs, pesticides etc. affect the genetic make-up of individuals. Conversely, changes in the genetic make-up influence variation in individual response to similar environmental agent exposure making some individuals at increased risk for developing certain diseases. Interactions between genes and environmental agents are responsible for most diseases (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/science/gene-env/index.cfm). It is also known that e........ Read more »

  • June 3, 2012
  • 05:18 PM
  • 451 views

Little monkeys need lots of space

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

This charming little creature is a White headed marmoset or "Sagui" (Callithrix geoffroyi). Tolerant of humans, they are often seen by tourists and will readily take pieces of fruit in their little hands. Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and in appendix II of CITES, surely conservation is no problem? Well, more or less.Historically many were taken from the wild as pets, their very tolerance of man acting against them. This is tightly controlled these days, but their numbers ........ Read more »

  • May 29, 2012
  • 05:40 PM
  • 615 views

Four continents and a fish

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

As a child in the seventies, I remember clutching my grandfather’s arm and marvelling at Tilapia being reared in a shallow pond in his land in a South Indian village. Many years later, one summer in the late nineties, in an oriental store in Ohio, USA, I was introduced to a packet of frozen fish which turned out to be Tilapia. Needless to say, I enjoyed it much and felt that it was one of the most delicious fishes I had ever eaten. Fast forward to 2010… in a lakeside restaurant by the S........ Read more »

  • May 25, 2012
  • 09:09 AM
  • 534 views

When introductions go bad

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

My first sighting of the red squirrel was in Camperdown Park in Dundee in 2003. I remember that scene vividly. I had since tried desperately to see this elusive animal again but to no avail, save a brief sighting, again in Camperdown Park, in Autumn 2010. This is because although red squirrel, which is native to UK and  is  protected in Europe, is outnumbered by its foreign relative, the grey squirrel that was introduced to the UK from America. G........ Read more »

  • April 24, 2012
  • 11:43 AM
  • 609 views

The minefield of diesel emissions

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

The carcinogenic effects of diesel emissions/exhaust are widely known. In 1988, the US’ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health labelled diesel exhaust as potential occupational carcinogen and, in June 2012, the IARC will be revisiting their existing labelling of diesel particulates as potential carcinogens.Particulate Matter (PM) in diesel emission The problematic component of diesel emissions are particulate matter, a topic which yours truly has worked on rather extensively; al........ Read more »

Silverman, D., Samanic, C., Lubin, J., Blair, A., Stewart, P., Vermeulen, R., Coble, J., Rothman, N., Schleiff, P., Travis, W.... (2012) The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study: A Nested Case-Control Study of Lung Cancer and Diesel Exhaust. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djs034  

Attfield, M., Schleiff, P., Lubin, J., Blair, A., Stewart, P., Vermeulen, R., Coble, J., & Silverman, D. (2012) The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study: A Cohort Mortality Study With Emphasis on Lung Cancer. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djs035  

Stewart, P., Vermeulen, R., Coble, J., Blair, A., Schleiff, P., Lubin, J., Attfield, M., & Silverman, D. (2012) The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study: V. Evaluation of the Exposure Assessment Methods. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 56(4), 389-400. DOI: 10.1093/annhyg/mes020  

  • April 10, 2012
  • 02:04 PM
  • 767 views

Controversial, Bt very common

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Probably the most controversial issue in agriculture today is the use of transgenic crops. What does this mean exactly? Well, basically, it is the addition of genetic material from one species into another. Mules, for example, are technically transgenic as they are the offspring of different species, horses and donkeys. The Soviets developed a hybrid of radishes and cabbages, though unfortunately it had the leaves iof radish and the roots of cabbage (*). But what people generally mean these days........ Read more »

Karpechenko GD. (1927) Polyploid hybrids of Raphanus sativus L. X Brassica oleracea. L Bull Appl Bot, 305-410. info:other/

Yang, W., & Wan, J. (2011) Transgenic Crops: An Option for Future Agriculture. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, 53(7), 510-511. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2011.01064.x  

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