What’s the News: Scientists have for the first time directly linked freeway vehicle emissions with brain damage. Scientists used a new technique that involved trapping airborne toxins along Los Angeles’ 110 Freeway, freezing them in water, and exposing lab mice to the toxins. “As a society, we need to figure out ways to minimize the level of the very, very nasty particulates we are dumping into the air we breathe,” University of Southern California gerontology researcher Todd Morgan told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s having terrible consequences.” Read More
Don’t be fooled by the name—Iceland is one of the hottest hotspots in the world, geologically speaking. The island’s volcanic legacy reared its head again yesterday as a massive eruption by a volcano beneath a glacier caused the evacuation of hundreds of residents and created ash clouds that delayed flights all around Northern Europe.
The volcano, called Eyjafjallajokull, rumbled last month, but that was nothing like this. “This is a very much more violent eruption, because it’s interacting with ice and water,” said Andy Russell, an expert in glacial flooding at the University of Newcastle in northern England. “It becomes much more explosive, instead of a nice lava flow oozing out of the ground” [AP]. The flood caused by melted glacial ice caused the evacuation about 800 people. Waters threatened to spill over onto Highway 1, Iceland’s main highway that makes a circuit around the island. But some quick digging by construction crews altered the course of the water.
With less than a month to go before the opening ceremony for the summer Olympics in Beijing, athletes are still worrying about what effect the city’s famously polluted air will have on their performances. Doctors say that endurance athletes, such as marathon runners and long-distance cyclers, will be most at risk if they compete on smoggy days.
“Marathon runners take about 40 to 50 breaths per minute and there is a real need for oxygen to be transported to the muscles. In normal conditions oxygen makes up about 21% of the air, if that’s compromised, because the very complex transport process in the lungs is compromised, there will be less oxygen getting to the muscles. Add in the heat and the humidity and there could be some major implications,” says [sports doctor John] Brewer [BBC News].