COVID-19 Watch: Wastewater Edition

The COVID-19 global pandemic has changed the world as we know it. As a society, this pathogenic virus presents challenges not only in preventing its spread and treating its victims, but also in monitoring its growth and/or decline throughout the population. In this study, researchers discuss utilizing wastewater as a possible pathway for tracking the presence/evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen in residential areas.

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How Does Wildfire Smoke Impact Mortality in Washington State?

Wildfire smoke contains harmful compounds known to negatively impact human health. New research suggests wildfire smoke exposure could contribute to an increased number of deaths in Washington State, and raises interesting questions about public health as climate change threatens to increase the size, frequency, intensity, and duration of wildfires in the state.

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A Walk in the Park is Better with Birds

Green spaces in cities do wonders for our health, but what types of green spaces are best? A recent study found that people tend to experience greater happiness in parks with a high diversity of bird species. This helps inform city planners that when designing parks, trying to maximize bird life should be a high priority.

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Learning from Yesterday, Planning for Tomorrow: Predicting the Future Impact of Climate Change in Michigan

Climate change is scary. Michigan researchers are empowering their community to prepare for it by predicting how extreme heat and precipitation events may impact public health in the future. Policy makers can use these findings to protect the most vulnerable members of the community!

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Ecological grief: In my feelings along the Gulf Coast

Aldo Leopold stated “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” He meant that those of us with deep connections to the natural environment, whether that be a farmer, fisher, or ecologist, are more aware of declining ecological health. We notice that there are less birds. We notice all the dead turtles along the road. We notice that it hasn’t rained in weeks and all the plants are crying. The unprecedented changes stemming from climate change have gained an increasing amount of people’s attention leading to the formation of the term ecological grief. The verdict is out. Climate change is making many of us depressed.

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Global monitoring shows regulated atmospheric pollutants are not decreasing

PFAS and VMS are man-made chemicals that have been used for decades in products that we all use on a daily basis, including personal care products, cookware, and food packing. However, there is growing evidence that these chemicals, which are widespread throughout the globe, can have negative impacts on living organisms and human health. A recent study compared concentrations of these chemicals in the atmosphere at sites across the world from 2009 to 2015. Their findings suggest that there has been a significant increase in PFAS in the atmosphere over this time period, while certain types of VMS chemicals also increased. Future monitoring efforts across the globe are necessary to determine the changes in these chemicals in the air we breathe.

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Oil Spills are a Black Mark on Health

The thought of oil spills conjures up images of marine disasters–wildlife smothered in slick sludge and thick black smoke. But what are the human health consequences to the brave men and women who respond and work to clean up these messes? New research examines the potential impact of oil spill response work on risk of heart attack in those who clean up after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

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Chagas Disease Eradication in Guatemala: An Example of Successful Cooperative Vector Control

Large-scale cooperation from anyone for anything often seems out of reach. Large-scale cooperation from multiple government entities to control a disease vector and actually bring about a decline in the disease in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere is a truly difficult goal. That is what’s happening in Guatemala in an attempt to control Chagas disease. Has any real progress been made?

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It’s getting hotter in here: outlining strategies for protecting public health during heat waves

Heat waves, or prolonged periods of abnormally warm temperatures, have become increasingly common throughout the globe as a result of climate change. Since heat waves pose a risk to public health they have become a growing concern, particularly in urban environments. A recent analysis led by Gertrud Hatvani-Kovacs at the University of South Australia, outlines strategies for protecting public health during heat waves and mitigating the impacts of heat waves by instituting new policies. Among the suggestions of Hatvani-Kovacs and her colleagues are increasing the dissemination of information to the public regarding heat waves, providing guidelines for heat stress resistant building design, building public cool spaces, and introducing tariffs on water and electricity usage during peak demand.

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