A red crane sits idle at the SWRP mine next to Boulder Ridge. A chain link fence separates the two properties. Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog Environment Health 

Researchers, regulators, and residents collaborate to test air quality sensors

This article was originally published by SciStarter on February 4, 2019. By Margaret Hinrichs In early 2018, Scistarter and Arizona State University began the process of collaborating with a local community, Boulder Ridge, to measure the quality of its air. Boulder Ridge is a 55 and older retirement community in Phoenix. Over the past three years, Boulder Ridge residents began to notice increased blasting, crushing, and trucking out of rock and dirt from an open stone mine next door operated by Southwest Rock Products, LLC. On days when there were no…

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Biota Project Environment Health 

Air Pollution: Breathing in Biofuels

By Jessica Monterrosa Think of the last time you were at a bonfire. Maybe you were at the beach, or a camping site. At sunset, everyone huddles around a fire pit. You lean toward the fire to get cozy and cook your hot dogs and s’mores. You wait in anticipation for your perfectly roasted marshmallow, enduring itchy eyes and a sore throat while breathing in the thick smoke. Even though you only spend a few hours next to the fire, you know that your car, your room, and even your…

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Chemistry Health 

How Nonsugar Sweeteners Affect Gut Health

By Brittany Trinh (@brttnytrnh) Do you take your coffee with a spoonful of sugar or use a nonsugar sweetener such as Sweet’N Low or Equal? These nonsugar sweeteners are called nonnutritive sweeteners because they contain little to no calories per gram, compared with nutritive sweeteners such as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. Common nonnutritive sweeteners are saccharin and aspartame. Nonsugar sweeteners are often hundreds of times sweeter than sucrose—125 mg of aspartame can replace 25 g of sugar. They have been recommended by medical professionals as sugar substitutes in food…

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Chemistry Health 

Artificial Sweeteners Affect Our Bodies and Environment

By Emily Folk (@EmilySFolk) Artificial sweeteners are prevalent in many grocery stores, restaurants, and fast-food chains, particularly aspartame (sold as Equal), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and acesulfame (Sunett or Sweet One). Society’s food technology has evolved drastically in the past century, enabling us to make these types of commercial sweeteners, which are often added to sodas or other beverages for the taste and low-calorie benefit. Yet changes in the environment are showing that these seemingly innocent beverage additives come with a cost. The sweeteners used as health-promoting sugar substitutes…

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Biota Project Health 

Medicinal Plants to Nourish the Soul

White sage. Peyote. Opium Poppy. African Dream Root. What do all these species have in common? These are all plants that serve both medicinal and spiritual roles in cultures across the world. Plants have long since played important roles in human experience since time immemorial. Plants have provided civilization with food, shelter, tools, and the earliest form of health care. It is from the plant kingdom that people began developing the first medicines. Foxgloves, from the genus Digitalis, native to Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa, were the original sources of…

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Biology Health 

Nicotine Receptor May Play a Part in Cannabis Addiction

By Andrew Neff (@neuroscience_fu) In 2019 scientists discovered an association between the prevalence of cannabis use disorder and a mutant nicotine receptor in the brain (Demontis, 2019). What does this mean for diagnostics or treatment? Maybe not a lot in the near future. But what does it mean for science?  The thing is, we know pretty well how cannabis works. The main psychoactive ingredient is THC, which itself can make people feel high and is known to interact with a dedicated system of receptors in the brain. So when this…

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Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog Environment Health 

You Can Help Beat Extreme Heat in Cities

Imagine a smoldering hot day in downtown Boston: temperatures have reached over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sidewalks and streets are absorbing the strong heat from the sun and radiating it back into the air.  Days like this are becoming hotter and more frequent. This “silent storm” causes more deaths in the US than all other weather hazards combined. Heat impacts human health, infrastructure, and the environment. The Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect Urban areas trap heat inside of them, experiencing hotter temperatures than in surrounding suburban areas. Cities are…

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Citizen Science Environment Health Science Policy 

Environmental Health Is a Social Justice Issue

By Shayna Keyles (@shaynakeyles) When we talk about recycling, mitigating climate change, protecting habitats, and more, it’s not only for some abstract mission of “saving the earth,” though that would be good, too. These are environmental justice issues; they are part of the struggle for basic human rights. Environmental justice in the US In the United States, the environmental justice movement grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Communities of Black, Latinx, Native American, low-income, and immigrant groups found that they were disproportionately affected by…

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Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog Environment Health 

Empowering Communities to Examine Lead Exposure with Crowd the Tap

By Bradley Allf Lead pipes for transporting water have been a fixture of modern civilization for more than two thousand years.  Ancient Romans channeled water into homes and bathhouses through lead piping. In fact, the Latin word for lead, plumbum, is where we get the English word “plumbing.” Yet we have also long recognized that lead can have a serious impact on our health. Vitrivius, who lived during the first century BCE, wrote at length about the physical harm caused by lead exposure, concluding that “water should therefore on no…

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Environment Health Science Policy 

Imagining Future Wastewater Solutions

By Emily Folk (@EmilySFolk) Wastewater represents a serious risk to human health in both developing and developed countries. Through industrial, commercial, agricultural, and domestic activities, affected sources of water cause illness, disease, and even death. One particular case study serves as an example of these dangers. The Adyar River in Chennai, India, once supported the area’s economy and culture. With the introduction of untreated wastewater, the river soon became an active landfill, inundated with debris and refuse, with a thick consistency that no longer allowed for safe interaction (Hariram, 2017).…

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