Reusable Bags Good, I Mean Bad, Whatever, For the Environment

In a shocking bit of irony, it turns out that consumers who have made an effort to reduce the waste caused by the over use of plastic bags at supermarkets by purchasing and using re-usable shopping bags may be exposed to small amounts of lead from those so-called environmentally safe bags.

In what seems like another one of almost daily dire warnings of the harm that the products we come in contact with everyday can cause, the latest on the list is reusable synthetic bags which might contain small traces of lead.

The real worry, however, is not so much that consumers using the bags might come to harm by their exposure to lead, but what will happen when the bags are eventually discarded and begin to accumulate in landfills. Congress and environmental groups are concerned that the trace amounts of lead found in these bags can harm the environment as they begin to decompose in the landfills around the country.

Consumers don’t seem to be too worried, and are continuing to use them, arguing that since the bags are not meant to be tossed by to be used over and over again; and because the amounts of lead are so small, they see little to be really worried about.

Charles Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York disagrees with this permissive attitude.

“When our families go to the grocery store looking for safe and healthy foods to feed their kids, the last thing they should have to worry about are toxic bags,” he said.

Another Reason Why Dogs are Man’s Best Friend

dogRecent research has confirmed what cat owners, have always known: that cats are elegant, efficient and ingenious when it comes to their personal habits and hygiene.

Living with a cat can be quite a strain on a person with less than perfect etiquette. It can be quite embarrassing to a pet owner if his pet cat outdoes him in the neatness department.

Dogs, however, are not so elegant. A dog is the epitome of sloppiness. He slurps. He spills. He lumbers along. Dogs burp in public, and do lots of other things in public as well. Dogs can make the sloppiest, untidy, and spill prone owner look great. And not only that, when you spill your food or drink your dog happily cleans up after you. What more could a pet owner ask for?

Knuckle Cracking- The False and the Facts

crucking_knuckleKnuckle cracking refers to the action of moving joints in such a way that they produce a sharp popping sound. This is most common in the form of deliberate knuckle cracking, but it can also happen in other joints throughout the body such as in between the neck and back vertebrae, in the wrists, elbows, toes, shoulders, knees or jaw. Sometimes, loud popping sounds can be caused unintentionally, as a result of the snapping of tendons or scar tissue over a prominence such as a hip.

The intentional sounds are generally made when the fingers are bent into a position which the muscles cannot reach on their own, for example bending the finger away from the palm (-extension), pulling them away from the hand (-distraction), compressing a knuckle in the direction of the palm (-flexion) or twisting the finger (-torsion). Cracking a joint that has been used recently is widely considered to be palliative.

The physical cause of the sounds is actually unclear. The most popular hypothesis is that the small, vacuum-like bubbles form within the synovial fluid of the joint, and then collapse in a sudden manner, producing the sound, similar to the sound which can be made while manipulating material such as silly-putty. This is the most likely theory because it can be applied to all joints, and, studies have shown that gases are released from the joints when they are cracked.

The often-heard warning “cracking your knuckles can give you arthritis” is a myth. However, knuckle-crackers are more likely to have hand swelling with overuse. The habit itself is put in the same negative category as nail biting and such, but the real health repercussions are scarce.

Cellphone Radiation, Dangerous or Not?

Cell-Phone-RadiationDid you know that every cell phone comes with a warning that it might be unhealthy to hold the phone near your head or stuffed in your pocket? This warning about the hazards of cell phone use comes on a tiny slip of paper which you probably barely even noticed when you unpacked your phone, right before you either held it next to your ear to make a call, or stuffed in your pocket so you could take it with you, since it is called a ‘mobile’ phone in some places.

Some companies even have a recommended distance to keep the phones away from your head and/or body. Apple declares that iPhones should be kept a minimum of 5/8 of an inch away, while the manufacturer of BlackBerry says one inch is the optimum safe distance.

Devra Davis, an epidemiologist recently published a book entitled “Disconnect” about cellphone radiation, which explains that the question of whether the low-level radiation produced by cellphones is hazardous has not been conclusively proven one way or another.

Decoding of Cocoa Genome Saves Chocolate

Cocao-TreeDr. Yana-Shapiro, a researcher from Mars, has claimed that if higher-yielding cacao trees are not engineered, the chocolate demand would overcome the supply within the next fifty years. He also stated that strains such as these could help farmers’ welfare in the appropriate regions. Luckily, the genome of the cacao tree has been released to the public this past September. The accessibility of the genome will probably lead to better tasting, healthier chocolate.

The genome sequencing was a joint effort between Mars, IBM, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and various universities. Dr. Shapiro described the date of the release “the greatest day of my life” while speaking at an event in IBM’s research labs in Zurich. He went on to explain that Cote d’Ivoire is the largest cocoa producer in the world, and that Mars has bought cocoa from there for sixty years. He eventually began to understand the ecological and environmental conditions, as well as the productivity, and realized that this region was at a moment of crisis.

The genomes of rice and wheat have also been decoded, however these crops are generally grown on large, industrial farms. Cocoa, on the other hand, is mostly grown on small farms and sold in more private markets.