• Water securityOilfield Water Can Safely Be Reused for Irrigation in California

    Reusing low-saline oilfield water mixed with surface water to irrigate farms in the Cawelo Water District of California does not pose major health risks, as some opponents of the practice have feared, a new study finds.

  • PerspectiveAmerica’s Never-Ending Battle Against Flesh-Eating Worms

    Screwworms once killed millions of dollars’ worth of cattle a year in the southern U.S. Their range extended from Florida to California, and they infected any living, warm-blooded animal: not only cattle but deer, squirrels, pets, and even the occasional human. Sarah Zhang writes that to get the screwworms out, the USDA to this day maintains an international screwworm barrier along the Panama-Colombia border. The barrier is an invisible one, and it is kept in place by constant human effort. “The insect is relentless in its search for hosts. Those who fight it must be relentless too.”

  • Climate crisisGlobal Warming Now Pushing Heat into Territory Humans Cannot Tolerate

    By Tom Matthews and Colin Raymond

    The explosive growth and success of human society over the past 10,000 years has been underpinned by a distinct range of climate conditions. But the range of weather humans can encounter on Earth – the “climate envelope” – is shifting as the planet warms, and conditions entirely new to civilization could emerge in the coming decades. Even with modern technology, this should not be taken lightly.

  • Lyme diseaseHow the Lyme Disease Epidemic Is Spreading and Why Ticks Are So Hard to Stop

    By Durland Fish

    I have been following Lyme disease’s spread for nearly four decades. Over that time, Lyme disease cases increased from a few hundred reported in 1982 to more than 33,000 in 2018. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the actual number of Lyme disease cases is about 10 times greater than those reported. Warm weather is arriving and people are beginning to seek outside respite from COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. This is the same time that ticks are beginning to search for their next meal, and the risk of getting Lyme disease rises. Its spread to new areas involves a complex interplay among animals that may aid in helping scientists slow its continuing advance.

  • PerspectiveCyber Operations against Medical Facilities During Peacetime

    In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, governments around the world have tried to compensate for insufficient hospital beds and intensive care units by nationalizing private medical facilities and relying on military ships and improvised evac hospitals. Adina Ponta writes that at a time when overcrowded medical and testing facilities struggle with shortages in supplies and a huge influx of patients, hacker groups have exploited their inattention to cybersecurity.

  • UV lightGerman start-up in global demand with anti-virus escalators

    Tanja Nickel and Katharina Obladen were still in high school when they patented an idea to disinfect escalator handrails using UV light. Michelle Fitzpatrick writes (AFP / Barron’s) that a decade later, their small German start-up UVIS can barely keep up with orders from around the world for their coronavirus-killing escalators and coatings for supermarket trolleys and elevator buttons. “Everybody wants it done yesterday,” Obladen, 28, told AFP at the company’s workshop in central Cologne. “The pandemic has made businesses realise they need to invest in hygiene precautions for staff and customers. It’s gone from nice-to-have to must-have.” As Germany begins to relax some lockdown restrictions, the start-up’s five-person team has been inundated with requests from shops, offices and cafes eager to reopen to a public newly aware of the health risks lurking in shared spaces.

  • SuperbugsCoronavirus Pandemic Is Paving the Way for an Increase in Superbugs

    By Ronan McCarthy

    The heroic efforts of researchers and healthcare professionals globally will eventually help us gain control of the coronavirus pandemic and there will be a decrease in the rate of new infections. The focus is still rightly on the damage this pandemic is causing, the devastating loss of life and the impact on businesses and livelihoods. But we also need to look at other prevalent crises that are affecting our healthcare systems and anticipate the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on them. One of the greatest threats to healthcare systems, around the world, is antibiotic resistance. The lack of effective antibiotics and the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs we have has resulted in the antibiotic resistance crisis.

  • DetectionSelf-Powered X-Ray Detector Improves Imaging for Medicine, Security, Research

    A new X-ray detector prototype is on the brink of revolutionizing medical imaging, with dramatic reduction in radiation exposure and the associated health risks, while also boosting resolution in security scanners and research applications. 2-D perovskite thin films boost sensitivity 100-fold compared to conventional detectors, require no outside power source, and enable low-dose dental and medical images.

  • Nuclear safetyMaintaining Nuclear Safety and Security During the COVID-19 Crisis

    By William Tobey, Simon Saradzhyan, and Nickolas Roth

    Every major industry on earth is struggling to adapt in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes nuclear facilities and nuclear-powered vessels, which count among the critical infrastructure of dozens of nations now struggling with the pandemic, representing more than half the world’s population. Meanwhile, ISIS has already announced its intent to exploit the pandemic while a number of other violent extremist organizations are also taking pains to exploit the crisis. Without implementing extraordinary measures to maintain safety and security, nuclear installations risk compounding the crisis with a large-scale radiation release.

  • Nuclear detectionHow Lasers Can Help with Nuclear Nonproliferation Monitoring

    Scientists developed a new method showing that measuring the light produced in plasmas made from a laser can be used to understand uranium oxidation in nuclear fireballs. This capability gives never-before-seen insight into uranium gas-phase oxidation during nuclear explosions. These insights further progress toward a reliable, non-contact method for remote detection of uranium elements and isotopes, with implications for nonproliferation safeguards, explosion monitoring and treaty verification.

  • ImmunizationUN Warns of Measles Spike as COVID-19 Halts Vaccination Campaigns

    Essential measles vaccination programs around the world are being postponed indefinitely for more than 100 million children as healthcare systems focus on coronavirus and countries enforce lockdowns and social distancing. The UN urges governments to keep track of unvaccinated children.

  • PerspectivePutin’s Long War Against American Science

    A decade of health disinformation promoted by President Vladimir Putin of Russia has sown wide confusion, hurt major institutions and encouraged the spread of deadly illnesses. The Putin regime mandates vaccination at home, but has launched a broad and sophisticated disinformation campaign in an effort to lower vaccine rates in Western countries, with two goals in mind: discredit Western science and medicine, and weaken Western societies by facilitating the re-emergence of diseases such as measles, long thought to have been eradicated. The COPVID-19 epidemic has not escaped the notice of the Kremlin’s disinformation and propaganda specialists. “As the pandemic has swept the globe, it has been accompanied by a dangerous surge of false information,” William Broad writes. “Analysts say that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has played a principal role in the spread of false information as part of his wider effort to discredit the West and destroy his enemies from within.”

  • Empty hospital bedsEmpty Non-Coronavirus Beds Raise Fears That Sickest Are Avoiding NHS

    Close to half the beds in some English hospitals are lying empty in a sign that people may be failing to seek help for other life-threatening conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Sarah Neville, Andrew Bounds, Mure Dickie, Federica Cocco, and Bethan Staton write in the Financial Times that the National Health Service in England moved aggressively last month to release more than 30,000 beds in anticipation of a flood of patients infected by Covid-19, halting all non-emergency surgery from mid-April and discharging anyone medically fit into the community.
    However, people familiar with the situation say that the speed and scale of the drop in demand for other services has surprised health leaders, fueling concerns that people are failing to seek help even for conditions as serious as suspected heart attacks.
    NHS England said that across the country, about 60 percent of beds in acute hospitals were currently occupied. A year ago, the equivalent figure was a little over 90 percent.
    A similar phenomenon has been seen in Scotland.
    As the U.K. government considers how and when to lift the lockdown, ministers are also concerned about the knock-on health impact on citizens who are staying away from hospitals and not receiving treatment for other ailments.

  • Mass shootingsMost Mass Shootings Occur Closest to Non-Trauma Hospitals

    In an analysis of 2019 mass shootings and hospital locations, researchers found that the closest hospital to more than 70 percent of mass shootings was a non-trauma center, where sudden, high casualty loads were more likely to overwhelm capacity and trauma-specific care options may have been limited. They also found that in more than half of mass shooting events, the nearest pediatric trauma center was more than 10 miles away.

  • PerspectiveCyber Attacks against Hospitals and the COVID-19 Pandemic: How Strong are International Law Protections?

    In a situation where most, if not all of us are potential patients, few government-provided services are more important than the efficient delivery of health care. The strain on hospitals around the world is rapidly growing, to which states have responded by mobilizing military medical units, nationalizing private medical facilities, and building emergency hospitals. All of this underlines the urgent need to understand what protections the law offers against attacks – including cyberattacks – on medical facilities.