Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Berkeley team fights urban air pollution with smarter, denser sensor networks

A new one for UC Berkeley's CITRIS program's newsletter/online mag:

Air pollution is one of the greatest threats to human health worldwide, responsible for millions of premature deaths each year. Emissions from vehicles, power plants, wildfires, and other sources can contribute to a range of serious health problems, both in places like Beijing and Delhi and across the comparatively safe United States. Now a Berkeley startup with a global vision wants to help.

Developed through the CITRIS Foundry startup accelerator program and led by 2016 Atmospheric Science alumnus David Lu, Clarity seeks to help cities test and improve their air-pollution policies – and ultimately reduce citizens’ exposure to harmful pollutants – through robust networks of small, low-cost sensors.

Read the rest of the brief Q&A here.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Q&A with Lisa Micheli of Pepperwood Preserve

Wrote this little piece on Lisa Micheli for Bay Nature's 2018 Local Hero awards. Micheli, the CEO of Santa Rosa's Pepperwood Preserve, was named Bay Nature's newest Environmental Education hero. Read why, and more about her work, right here.

Brains for buildings, packaged in a smart briefcase

Whoops, forgot to post this in October. For posterity's sake:

Energy efficiency isn’t just about bulbs and appliances. It’s also about rooms and floors, whole homes and office buildings, managed down to the minute and the degree to minimize energy consumption without sacrificing comfort. A new device from a group of Berkeley engineers, working with electrical engineering and computer sciences (EECS) professor and CITRIS director Costas Spanos, advances that effort by making it easier than ever to monitor building conditions and use.

Read the rest...

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

More in EHP: Traditional Ecological Knowledge offers a different perspective on environmental health

Many persistent health disparities exist between Native Americans and other racial groups in the United States. As part of a broader effort to address these shortfalls and their root causes, the authors of a new commentary in Environmental Health Perspectives highlight the value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to Tribal epidemiology and medicine. Although perspectives on health and disease often differ widely between Western scientists and Native American and Alaska Native cultures, the authors write, they also have many parallels and can complement one another.
Read the rest at Environmental Health Perspectives.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New in EHP: Ubiquitous plastic additive DEHP alters sexual behavior in mice

Though you may have never heard of DEHP, it's the most common phthalate on the planet, used to make plastics in consumer products, packaging, and medical devices more flexible or durable. DEHP represents more than a third of the global plasticizer market and has been detected in more than 75% of analyzed individuals in industrial countries. It's also a known endocrine disruptor. The combination points to a potentially significant impact on public health that researchers are just beginning to understand. One area that has received particular interest is reproductive health. A new study in EHP offers intriguing evidence of a link with altered courtship behavior in otherwise healthy adult male mice via a reduction in the number of androgen receptors in the brain. I wrote a news story on the new research for EHP, which you can find here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

FOUR articles in the latest Chinese edition of Environmental Health Perspectives

The latest issue of EHP's Chinese edition, published this month, includes among its ten features and news articles no fewer than four by me, including this piece on mitigating the health effects of hot days, this one on what we know (but mostly don't know) about the human health effects of neonicotinoid pesticides, this feature on the ethics and efficacy of different approaches to protecting populations from environmental pollutants, and this feature on NIEHS-led research into environmental factors in breast cancer. It's great to know that the science I've covered in these various articles for EHP will become accessible to a vast new readership through the Chinese edition.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

THREE articles in the December issue of Estuary News: aging stormwater pumps, post-fire watershed management, and intermittent-stream research

Proud to have three articles in the great new issue of Estuary News, ranging in length from short and sweet (a piece on the aging, often overwhelmed pump stations that keep Bay Area streets dry -- or at least try -- all winter long, and in some cases during dry weather, too) to a bit more in-depth (an article describing differing approaches toward erosion control and runoff management on undeveloped upper-watershed lands after a fire) and even meatier (a short feature on some interesting research along a 2.5-mile stretch of Coyote Creek in Morgan Hill's Henry W. Coe State Park -- which so happens to be my favorite Bay Area state park).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

New in EHP: Health effects of manure irrigation

Farmers in Wisconsin and in many other states are increasingly embracing the practice of manure irrigation to fertilize their fields. Spraying liquid manure on fields offers multiple environmental benefits, but it may also pose a threat to the health and well-being of people nearby. In a new study in Environmental Health Perspectives, a team of Wisconsin researchers estimated the risk of acute gastrointestinal infection associated with this emerging exposure pathway to potentially harmful pathogens. ... Read the rest of my article here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Architects of Metabolism: New in CNR's Breakthroughs mag

In the current (Fall 2017) issue of Breakthroughs magazine, I have a story on recent and ongoing research by College of Natural Resources professor Andreas Stahl and UC Berkeley colleagues into human metabolism. They're interested in how medical science may be able to harness it in the fight against the obesity epidemic. I won't go into too much more here, but the science is pretty fascinating  -- and if I did my job, you'll think so too. Read the 1,500-word story here.

Monday, November 6, 2017

New article in EHP: Developing the Science of Nature as a Public Health Resource

Two years ago I wrote a full-length feature for Environmental Health Perspectives on the connection between parks, nature, and human health. As the story showed, we know there's a link, but we can't say much conclusively about why or how, exactly, parks, nature, and other outdoor experiences (or their analogues) benefit health.

My latest Science Selection for EHP takes on the topic again, reporting on a new multidisciplinary commentary out of the University of Washington (led by accomplished environmental-health expert Howard Frumkin) assessing what we know and what we don't while proposing an exhaustive research agenda to guide the field as it matures.

Read the new story here.