Sarah Stephen

35 posts · 22,663 views

The selected few contributors are from, and based in, three different continents (Asia, South America, and Europe) and have worked/studied/lived in four different continents. They have different backgrounds and have been educated in certain universities, in different disciplines, and are currently employed in different facets. Some have engaged/or are current working on research projects concerned with the environment. However, they all are united in their concern for the environment.

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  • July 8, 2013
  • 03:41 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diesel engine exhausts does indeed cause cancer in humans

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

In an earlier post, Sarah Stephen (April 2012, ) 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

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 ( It is also known that e........ Read more »

  • June 3, 2012
  • 05:18 PM

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

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

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

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

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  

  • February 27, 2012
  • 03:09 AM

In pursuit of a fox

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

"The English country gentleman galloping after a fox - the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable."- Oscar Wilde in A Woman of No Importance.An overcast Boxing Day in a quintessentially English village/town in South Gloucestershire. The place is typically peaceful, although not so that morning. In fact, it looked like a scene from John Constable’s paintings: an excited throng at the village centre; huntsmen and women on their powerful hunters and invigorated hounds prancing at the sound ........ Read more »

  • October 9, 2011
  • 07:17 PM

A matter of the heart

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Some years ago, I accompanied a young relative, a very eager science graduate working on particulate matter, as she conducted her research survey on public perception of particulate matter and its effects in a certain borough of London Particulate matter (PM) is used to describe solid matter suspended in a gas or liquid phase. In the environment, particulates may occur naturally (as consequence of forest fires, volcanoes, dust storm, sea sprays etc) or via anthropogenic activities, such as the b........ Read more »

  • September 11, 2011
  • 05:26 PM

Marine mammals and their future

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Marine mammals have borne the brunt of mankind’s unsustainable overexploitation, resulting in population decline and species extinction. Hunting for fur, blubber, and meat in the 19th and 20th centuries resulted in the extinction of three species – the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis), Atlantic gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), and the Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas). The most recent extinction, due to its use in traditional medicine, was that of the Baiji (Li........ Read more »

Pompa S, Ehrlich PR, & Ceballos G. (2011) Global distribution and conservation of marine mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(33), 13600-5. PMID: 21808012  

  • August 28, 2011
  • 08:27 AM

Mr Wolf, I presume?

by Sarah Stephen in An ecological oratorio

Those of us who have a long-standing interest in Egyptian mythology would remember Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead, who held the unappealing portfolio of funerals, afterlife, mummification, fate of souls, and protection of the dead and their tombs. This was presumably because Anubis’ animal counterpart, the Egyptian Jackal (Canis aureus lupaster; Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1833), preferred to occupy burial grounds. C.a.lupaster was considered to be a large, rare subspecies of the gold........ Read more »

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