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Waterless Urinals: A Breath of Fresh Air

Last week we wrote about the ecological stupidity of manufacturing toilet paper from forests, and I'm sure you thought we had exhausted that general area and would be moving on. But not so fast, friends... today, we bring you urinals.

Did you know that every day we are flushing drinking water down urinals? Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Especially since there is a healthier, cheaper and ecologically preferable way to go: waterless urinals.

Water scarcity will undoubtedly rival sea level rise as one of the consequences of global warming. In fact, it might prove to be a far more serious risk.

Health

Oxygen therapy benefit in autism

A decompression chamber may help children with autism, say researchers.

After 40 hours of hyperbaric treatment autistic children showed significant improvements in social interaction and eye contact compared with controls.

The BMC Pediatrics study could not show if the results were long-lasting but should prompt further investigation of the treatment, the US team said.

One theory is that oxygen can help reduce inflammation and improve flow of oxygen to brain tissue.

Cow Skull

GM mosquito bred to destroy malaria

The fight against malaria could eventually be transformed by releasing into disease-ridden areas genetically modified mosquitoes that cannot transmit the infection.

Scientists in America have engineered a species of mosquito which is resistant to the malaria infection. Its ability to block the infection suggests that it could come to dominate mosquito populations if released into the wild.

The findings offer the strongest suggestion yet that engineering mosquitoes to resist the parasite could help to control a disease that takes up to 2.7 million lives each year, chiefly in Africa. Malaria infects between 300 million and 500 million people each year. Only HIV/ Aids causes more deaths from infectious disease.

Health

Low-energy light bulbs can cause rashes and swelling to sensitive skin, warn experts

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© EPA
A break with tradition: Medical experts say people with light-sensitive skin disorders should be exempt from using low-energy light bulbs
The phasing out of traditional light bulbs could cause misery for thousands who have light-sensitive skin disorders, medical experts warned yesterday.

Dr Robert Sarkany said some low-energy bulbs gave vulnerable people painful rashes and swelling.

He backed calls by patient groups for the Government to give medical exemptions for those at risk.

The warning comes as British shops start to clear their shelves of traditional bulbs, which are being replaced by more energy-efficient versions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Medical experts say people with light-sensitive skin disorders should get exemptions from using low-energy bulbs (below), with the traditional bulb above

A break with tradition: Medical experts say people with light-sensitive skin disorders should be exempt from using low-energy light bulbs

Large retailers have already stopped selling conventional 100-watt bulbs, the most popular size.

They will be banned from September along with frosted 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs, followed by most others before 2012.

Comment: Prolonged exposure could cause symptoms to start showing up with more users.
Who knows what problems long term usage can produce.


Sherlock

Is That Your Final Answer? Study Suggests Method For Improving Individual Decisions

Herd mentality. Angry mob. Mass hysteria. As these phrases suggest, we are not always confident that a large group of people will come up with the smartest decisions. So it may be surprising to learn that numerous studies have shown that a crowd of people usually gives more accurate responses to questions compared to a mere individual.

Averaging the responses provided from a group increases accuracy by canceling out a number of errors made across the board (such as over- and under-estimating the answer).

What happens when we are on our own? What if there is no one else around to consult with before making a judgment - how can we be confident that we are giving a good answer? Psychologists Stefan M. Herzog and Ralph Hertwig from the University of Basel wanted to know if individuals could come up with better answers using a technique they designed and called "dialectical bootstrapping."

Heart - Black

Forced fights at Corpus Christi State School raise disturbing questions

Austin - Cellphone videos of Corpus Christi State School employees forcing mentally disabled residents into late-night prize fights have left Texas families and advocates for people with disabilities in search of answers - not just about security but about human nature.

How can one human being treat another in such a wicked way? Experts disagree on the roots of such abuse. It might be a byproduct of the stressful situations people are in. It could also be innate sadism.

But they concur that the formula at Texas' 13 institutions for the disabled - young, inexperienced and underpaid workers in charge of the state's most vulnerable residents - lays the groundwork for disaster.

"Left alone, human beings will engage in the most surprising kinds of misconduct and adjust their mentality to fit," said David Crump, a University of Houston Law Center professor who specializes in the psychology of evil behavior. "We should expect this unless we take concrete and meaningful steps to prevent it.

Bug

Toxoplasmosis linked to schizophrenia

Leeds, England -- British scientists say toxoplasmosis parasite may trigger the development of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.

The team from the University of Leeds shows the parasite may play a role in the development of the disorders by affecting the production of dopamine -- the chemical that relays messages in the brain controlling aspects of movement, cognition and behavior.

Health

Chemical traces found in child bath items

Washington -- Dozens of top-selling children's bath products are contaminated with trace amounts of cancer-causing chemicals, a U.S. health advocacy group says.

Officials of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says it commissioned an independent laboratory to test 48 children's bath products that documented the widespread presence of both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.

The chemicals were not disclosed on product labels because contaminants are exempt from labeling laws, officials of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said.

Bandaid

Baby bottle chemical is removed

The makers of babies' bottles in the US are to remove a controversial chemical from their products, amid growing concern over its possible effects.

The six manufacturers say they are reacting to consumer demand by removing Bisphenol A (BPA) from their bottles.

But they will continue selling bottles containing BPA in the UK, a decision which has angered campaigners.

Health

S. C. Johnson to Cleanse Phthalates from Their Household Products

The mammoth manufacturer promises to disclose all ingredients by 2012

A top manufacturer of household cleaners announced plans yesterday to eliminate a controversial plastics additive from its brand and voluntarily disclose all product ingredients.

S.C. Johnson - maker of Windex, Shout and Glade - said that it has begun working with its suppliers to end the use of phthalates, which soften plastics.

The move comes as lawmakers are debating regulations for many industrial chemicals as research suggests potentially serious health impacts. Phthalates, for example, interfere with hormones and have been linked to genetic abnormalities in baby boys.

Congress passed a bill last year banning certain phthalates in toys as part of a broad consumer-protection bill, and some states are considering bans on the chemical in children's products