Internal Air Can Harm Us Too – Breathe Safe

Leave a comment

Ok… For beginners let me give you a prehistoric example 🙂 Have you noticed that the inner surface of prehistoric caves were covered with soot. Well this must have come because of cooking fire or from a fire to keep our ancestors warm. The smoke might be a cause of some degree of health risk in them. This smoke which is confined to a particular enclosed area can cause internal air pollution.

Smoke from our cooking might not affect us in this age of technology. But there are much more harmful contaminants floating in the air inside our modern dwellings too. According to one study it can be up to 10 times worse than the air outside.

The awareness over this kind of pollution has been recent, over past three decades, to say. Many studies have shown that people spend 65 to 90 percent of their time indoors; 65 percent of that time is spent at home.

Causes of this kind of pollution vary from microbial pollutants like mold, pet dander and plant pollen to chemicals like radon and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Even things used for building materials and the kind of furniture, paint used on the walls also play an important role in determining the kind of internal air we breathe in. Indoor air pollution is easy to manage if you know where it comes from.

Not having proper ventilation helps promote mold and other microbial growth, especially in rainy season (monsoon); mold colonies can propagate on any material like wood or paper and release spores which can cause allergy. As such, a basic way of maintaining the health of indoor air is by letting the outdoor air in by opening the windows.

Strategies to keep internal air clean and fresh:

  • get good ventilation
  • use cleaning solutions which are free from harmful chemicals
  • avoid pesticides for your plants
  • keep air filters clean

So please keep your indoors clean, green and fresh. Take care of your health.


I admire Sigalet a lot

Leave a comment

I had to give a presentation on Rebif, a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis. While preparing for my presentation, I did a lot of research on the disease and the drug industry. During this preparation, I came to know a lot about Jordan Sigalet, a professional Canadian ice hockey player. He is a goaltender with the NHL’s Boston Bruins. He has multiple sclerosis, but that never stopped him from achieving his goals! He is just 26 years old but his achievements are glorious. I really admire this person a lot. Soon after my birthday in the month of November 2007, I came to know that due to complications from multiple sclerosis, Sigalet collapsed at the 9:12 mark of the third period with 10:48 remaining, during a game with the Worcester Sharks. This happened on November 16, 2007 and my heart really cried for this person. Freelance videotape showed him face down on the ice. The puck was on the opposite end of the rink. When he left the building, Sigalet was awake and conscious. Many were thinking that he may not be able to get back to the ice hockey team. I was praying God that he should recover soon and get back rocking as usual. And, thank God, on January 12, 2008 he returned to the ice for the first time since collapsing during a game on Nov 16th. Recently, Sigalet was presented with the Terry Flanagan Memorial Award by Terry’s brothers Denis and Mark in recognition of his determination, dedication and courage in his battle with multiple sclerosis.

According to Wikipedia, in December of 2004, Sigalet spoke publicly about his condition for the first time. Many fellow hockey players were inspired by him. In addition, he became the first goalie to hold the position of team captain at Bowling Green.

These days revealing about a condition like multiple sclerosis is rare, that too after achieving a top position in a particular field! Hats off to Sigalet! He has not only revealed it but is now an ambassador for the Multiple Sclerosis Rhode Island chapter. Sigalet is involved in a fundraiser supported by the Providence Bruins and medication Seriano called “Sigalet Saves For MS” that donates 20 dollars for every save he makes.

Sigalet says: “I treat MS like it’s just another game I have to win. It’s just a longer game.” Whatte thought, I admire you Sigalet. Keep rocking! My wishes and prayers are always with you.

By Shilpa C Nangali

POPs – the ‘Dirty Dozen’ ..wanna stay away or ???

Leave a comment

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are organic compounds, which resist photolytic, biological and chemical degradation to varying degrees. POPs are often halogenated and very dispersable. They are characterized by low water solubility and high lipid solubility, leading to their bioaccumulation in fatty tissues. They are also semi-volatile, enabling them to move long distances in the atmosphere before deposition occurs. There are 12 commonly found chemicals causing biomagnification, which can be called as “Dirty Dozen”!

7.Hexa chloro benzene
10.PCB’s (poly chlorinated biphenyls)

Many of these compounds have been or continue to be used in large quantities. These compounds have the ability to bioaccumulate and biomagnify due to their environmental persistence. Compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs may persist in the environment for periods of years and may bioconcentrate by factors of up to 70,000 fold. The semi-volatile property of POPs permit them to occur either in vapor phase or adsorbed on atmospheric particles, thereby facilitating their long range transport through the atmosphere.

The main problem with POPs is that they are ubiquitous. They have been measured on every continent, at sites representing every major climatic zone and geographic sector throughtout the world. These include remote regions such as the open oceans, the deserts, the Arctic and the Antarctic, where no significant local sources exist and the only reasojnable explanation for their presence is long-range transport from other parts of the globe. PCBs have been reports in air, in all areas of the world, at concentrations up to 1ng/m3; in industrialized areas, concentrations may be several orders of magnitude greater. PCBs have also been reported in rain and snow.

POPs are represented by two important sub groups including both the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and some halogenated hydrocarbons. This latter group includes several organochlorines which, historically, have proven to be most resistant to degradation and which have had wide production, use and release characteristics. These chlorinated derivatives are generally the most persistent of all the halogenated hydrocarbons. In general, it is known that the more highly chlorinated biphenyls tend to accumulate to a greater extent than the less chlorinated PCBs. Also, metabolism and excretion is also more rapid for the less chlorinated PCBs than for the highly chlorinated biphenyls.

We can be exposed to POPs through diet, occupational accidents and the environment (including indoor). Exposure to POPs, either acute or chronic, can be associated with a wide range of adverse health effects, including illness and death. Laboratory investigations and environmental impact studies in the wild have implicated POPs in endocrine disruption, reproductive and immune dysfunction, neurobehavioral disorders and cancer. Recently, some POPs have been implicated in reduced immunity in infants and children, and the concomitant increase in infection, also with developmental abnormalities, neurobehavioral impairment and cancer and tumor induction or promotion. Some POPs are also being considered as a potentially important risk factor in the etiology of human breast cancer by some authors.

Immunotoxicity in association with exposure to different POPs has been reported by several authors. Investiagtors have demonstrated immune dysfunction as a plausible cause for an increased mortality among marine mammals and have also demonstrated that consumption of POP contaminated diets in seals may lead to vitamin and thyrois deficiencies and concomitant susceptibility to microbial infections and reproductive disorders.

I think the risk is greatest in developing countries where the use of POPs in tropical agriculture has resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries. In addition to other exposure rioutes, worker exposure to POPs during waste management is a significant source of occupational risk in many countries.

By Shilpa C

To Feed Empty Stomachs Or To Feed Empty Fuel Tanks?

Leave a comment

The entire world is waiting with abated breath for the fuel to touch the record price of $200 a barrel. Elsewhere a growing emphasis is being laid on growing fuel crops to combat the fuel demand. Environmentalists have jumped into the bandwagon pointing out the advantages of using alternative fuels and reducing the guilt of humanity.

Riots from people belonging to the lower economic strata in most of the nations have started to grab headlines. The cause: unable to afford a square meal due to the rising food prices. Reason: growing fuel crops is a lucrative business.

To be caught between the “Devil” and the “Deep Blue Sea” comes to mind portraying the situation in which most of the nations are in. What is their priority? To feed empty stomachs or to feed empty fuel tanks?

The farmers are being offered incentives to grow fuel crops. Corn which serves both as a food crop and a fuel crop has put the American Government in a quandary as to which purpose it has to serve. White House and the United Nations have acknowledged that the rising food prices is due to the diversion of corn into ethanol.

The rising fuel cost has resulted in a heavy emphasis being laid on increasing ethanol production. But at what cost? Empty stomachs? How does one justify offering farm subsidies for fuel crops at a time when the nation is facing acute food shortage.

The ethanol industry has responded to the impending crisis by squarely laying the onus on biotechnology to come up with the goods. Some of them have chosen to dismiss the entire brouhaha saying that the current ethanol industry is too small a portion of the global oil market to have a meaningful impact or offset higher food prices.

To feed empty stomachs or to feed empty fuel tanks? Is there a choice?

At the time of publishing this article, fuel prices had breached $130 dollar bracket. Meanwhile rising food prices has lead to unrest and violence in the third world countries.

For more in depth analysis, please check out the article by Joshua Boak


Prefer Gadgets With Bluetooth? These Will Certainly Rank High In The List

Leave a comment

With every gadget maker including Bluetooth functionality in the gadgets they make, no wonder, from toasters to watches, refrigerators to picture frames, they are all Bluetooth enabled.

That being said, here are two cool gadgets that function mainly using Bluetooth technology.

Virtual Laser Keyboard

This one comes straight off some alien mother ship and small enough to fit snugly into one’s palm, weighing about two ounces. The virtual laser keyboard (VKB) projects a full size QWERTY keyboard. Seen the movie Die Hard 4.0 where the kid uses a foldable rubber keyboard. This VKB goes one step further by projecting the keyboard itself onto a flat surface. As you type on the laser projection, detection technology based on optical recognition enables the user to tap the images of the keys, complete with realistic tapping sounds, which feed into the compatible Bluetooth-enabled PDA, Smartphone, laptop or PC. The company claims that this is more convenient to use than the foldable rubber ones.

The drawbacks are that it requires a non-reflective, opaque flat surface for projection of the keyboard and offers an illumination of 600 lux. It supports Bluetooth v1.1 class 2 while most of the modern devices sport a v2.0 Bluetooth spec.

It costs about $160.

MBW – 150 Bluetooth Watch from Sony Erickson

Like any other watch, apart from the fact that it vibrates when you receive a call on your Sony Erickson mobile phone and also lets you switch tracks and adjust the volume on the phone via Bluetooth. The OLED display in the watch shows the track currently playing on your phone. When one moves out of the range of the phone (which is approx 10 meters), the phone tells you that you are out of range.

The phone is set in stainless steel covered with mineral crystal glass and is water resistant to boot!

This device supports Bluetooth 2.0 and costs about $400.


Facebook Impresses More Startups

Leave a comment

If there is any good that Facebook has created other than connecting family and friends, its getting more and more startups follow its footsteps!

I was going through an article by Vauhini Vara in The Wall Street Journal and was amazed to see the buzz that Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook has created among his fellow Harvard students.

Many feel that the road taken by Facebook (amazn!) will also take them their. They have started to idolize Zuckerberg. Paul Bottino, director of Harvard’s Technology & Entrepreneurship Center is quoted saying, “I would not hesitate for a second to say Facebook’s a motivator. Facebook creates would-be Facebooks.”

Harvard has noticed this trend. It has loosened a rule prohibiting students from running companies from dorm rooms.

In the past eight years, Harvard has introduced more classes, clubs and contests for entrepreneurs. Mr. Bottino says those decisions weren’t directly related to Facebook, but he acknowledges that Facebook’s success has given Harvard students a more-entrepreneurial bent.

Good going Facebook, you inspire!

University of Glasgow – Scottish University of the Year

Leave a comment

University of Glasgow – Scottish University of the Year

The University of Glasgow has been named Scottish University of the Year by the Sunday Times newspaper. The title was awarded for the University’s “outstanding academic reputation, growing international standing and popularity with students”.

Teaching quality has been independently rated as among the top ten in the UK and our medical and veterinary schools are consistently rated amongst the very best in the UK.

Older Entries