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Face mask injected with antiviral chemicals ‘deactivates coronavirus’

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face mask injected with antiviral chemicals deactivates coronavirus

Scientists in the US have described how a normal face mask injected with antiviral chemicals can ‘deactivate’ the coronavirus

Their concept uses phosphoric acid and copper salt to kill the virus, which cover a layer of polyaniline – a polymer that could coat ordinary face mask fabric. 

The anti-viral chemical layer attacks respiratory droplets that contain the virus, to make the mask wearers less infectious.   

Widely-available face masks feature a layer of non-woven bonded fabric – commonly made of polypropylene – which gives them high strength. 

By simulating inhalation, exhalation, coughs and sneezes in the laboratory, the researchers found that some non-woven fabrics sanitized up to 82 per cent of escaped respiratory droplets.  

Schematic shows how a chemical modulation layer 'sanitizes' the face mask wearer's respiratory droplets

Schematic shows how a chemical modulation layer 'sanitizes' the face mask wearer's respiratory droplets

Schematic shows how a chemical modulation layer ‘sanitizes’ the face mask wearer’s respiratory droplets

The chemical layer could offer an improvement on normal face masks, which doesn’t prevent all viral-laden droplets from escaping from the wearer’s mouth and nose.  

‘Masks are perhaps the most important component of the personal protective equipment needed to fight a pandemic,’ said study leader Jiaxing Huang at Northwestern University in Illinois. 

‘We quickly realized that a mask not only protects the person wearing it, but much more importantly, it protects others from being exposed to the droplets and germs released by the wearer.’ 

Although masks can block or reroute exhaled respiratory droplets, many droplets and their embedded viruses still escape. 

From there, virus-laden droplets can infect another person directly or land on surfaces to indirectly infect others. 

Huang’s team aimed to chemically alter the escape droplets to make the viruses inactivate more quickly.  

They wanted to identify molecular anti-viral agents such as acid and metal ions that can readily dissolve in escaped droplets.  

After performing multiple experiments, they selected two well-known antiviral chemicals – phosphoric acid and copper salt.

Although masks can block or reroute exhaled respiratory droplets, many droplets (and their embedded viruses) still escape. From there, virus-laden droplets can infect another person directly or land on surfaces to indirectly infect others. Huang's team aimed to chemically alter the escape droplets to make the viruses inactivate more quickly

Although masks can block or reroute exhaled respiratory droplets, many droplets (and their embedded viruses) still escape. From there, virus-laden droplets can infect another person directly or land on surfaces to indirectly infect others. Huang's team aimed to chemically alter the escape droplets to make the viruses inactivate more quickly

Although masks can block or reroute exhaled respiratory droplets, many droplets (and their embedded viruses) still escape. From there, virus-laden droplets can infect another person directly or land on surfaces to indirectly infect others. Huang’s team aimed to chemically alter the escape droplets to make the viruses inactivate more quickly

Neither of these could be potentially inhaled by the face mask wearer and both create a local chemical environment that damages SARS-CoV-2’s viral envelope – its outermost layer. 

‘Virus structures are actually very delicate and brittle [and] if any part of the virus malfunctions, then it loses the ability to infect,’ Huang said. 

Huang’s team grew a layer of a conducting polymer polyaniline on the surface of the mask fabric fibers. 

The material adheres strongly to the fibers, acting as reservoirs for acid and copper salts. 

Coronavirus is a type of enveloped virus, meaning it has an outer lipid membrane that could be damaged by chemicals. Naked viruses lack the viral envelope

Coronavirus is a type of enveloped virus, meaning it has an outer lipid membrane that could be damaged by chemicals. Naked viruses lack the viral envelope

Coronavirus is a type of enveloped virus, meaning it has an outer lipid membrane that could be damaged by chemicals. Naked viruses lack the viral envelope

The researchers found that even loose fabrics with low-fiber packing densities of about 11 per cent, such as medical gauze, altered 28 per cent of exhaled respiratory droplets by volume. 

For tighter fabrics, such as lint-free wipes, the type of fabrics typically used in the lab for cleaning, 82 per cent of respiratory droplets were modified.   

Polyaniline – the polymer they used to coat the fabrics – is a great colour indicator for acid itself as it turns from dark blue to green. 

It was therefore able to measure and quantify the degree of chemical modification of escaped droplets. 

Optical microscopy image (left) in reflectance mode shows drying marks of all droplets collected on a polyaniline film, but only those modified by acid (right) are visible under as they change the colour of the underlying polyaniline film from blue to green. Scale bar: 200 microns

Optical microscopy image (left) in reflectance mode shows drying marks of all droplets collected on a polyaniline film, but only those modified by acid (right) are visible under as they change the colour of the underlying polyaniline film from blue to green. Scale bar: 200 microns

Optical microscopy image (left) in reflectance mode shows drying marks of all droplets collected on a polyaniline film, but only those modified by acid (right) are visible under as they change the colour of the underlying polyaniline film from blue to green. Scale bar: 200 microns

People wear face masks to protect others from the viral droplets that they might be emitting, rather than to protect themselves. 

US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently had to remind President Donald Trump of this fact, saying that face masks should be ‘viewed as a patriotic duty to protect those around you’.  

‘There seems to be quite some confusion about mask wearing, as some people don’t think they need personal protection,’ Huang said. 

‘Perhaps we should call it public health equipment (PHE) instead of PPE.’  

The mask concept is detailed further in the journal Matter

FACE MASK POLICY IN THE UK

Face masks must be worn on public transport and in many indoor spaces, including shops, shopping centres, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries. 

It is currently the law for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles, in hospitality venues, like restaurants and bars, other than when you are eating and drinking. Staff in retail and hospitality settings are also legally required to wear face coverings. 

If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (halving to £100 if paid within 14 days).

It comes after the World Health Organisation and numerous studies suggested they are beneficial.

As announced, the Government will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £6,400.  

The Prime Minister has also announced tougher enforcement measures, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply with coronavirus rules, meaning there will be consequences for pubs that try to serve you at the bar.

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: ‘Individuals, businesses and households all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed and police will play their part in supporting the public to navigate the measures in place for our safety.

‘Our approach of engaging with people and explaining the regulations in place will remain. The vast majority of situations are resolved following those two stages, with little need for further encouragement or enforcement action to be taken,’ he said.

‘Police will continue to work with their communities and only issue fines as a last resort.

‘Chiefs will be stepping up patrols in high-risk areas and will proactively work with businesses, licensing authorities and local authorities to ensure the rules are being followed.

‘If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to the police, who will consider the most appropriate response and will target the most problematic behaviour.’  

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Pollution regulations to reduce dirty air have saved 1.5 BILLION birds in the US over 40 years

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pollution regulations to reduce dirty air have saved 1 5 billion birds in the us over 40 years

US pollution controls aren’t just good for the atmosphere, they’re saving our winged friends, too.

Ozone gasses, a leading contributor to smog, is linked tied to health problems in both humans and avians. 

A new study found that regulations intended to reduce the pollution have also slowed the decline of bird populations in the US.  

Scientists at Cornell and the University of Oregon tracked changes in bird abundance, ozone emissions and regulation status across the nation over a 15 year period.

Extrapolating their findings, they found caps on ozone emissions may have saved as many as 1.5 billion birds in the past 40 years, – equal to 20 percent of all birds in the United States today.

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A new Cornell study on EPA policies shows

A new Cornell study on EPA policies shows

A new Cornell study on EPA regulations shows efforts to curb ozone production have saved more than a billion birds in the last 40 years. The gas is not only harmful to the animals’ respiratory system, it can kill off the plants and insects they eat

Ozone occurs naturally, but automobiles and power plants have contributed to a significant increase in its production. 

While it’s necessary in the upper atmosphere to protect us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, at ground level ozone causes smog and contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular disease, especially in the young and the elderly.

Numerous studies have connected ozone at levels currently found in many urban areas to low birth weights, asthma, and even early death.  

It’s also detrimental to bird life, especially the small migratory birds — like sparrows and finches — that make up more than three-quarters of all North American species. 

Ozone is a leading ingredient in smog and has been linked to respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and low birth weight, among other health risks

Ozone is a leading ingredient in smog and has been linked to respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and low birth weight, among other health risks

Ozone is a leading ingredient in smog and has been linked to respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and low birth weight, among other health risks 

As with humans, it impacts their respiratory system — but it can also kill off the plants and insects that serve as their chief food sources.

‘Not surprisingly, birds that cannot access high-quality habitat or food resources are less likely to survive or reproduce successfully,’ said Amanda Rodewald, director of Cornell’s Center for Avian Population Studies and co-author of a new report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

‘The good news here is that environmental policies intended to protect human health return important benefits for birds, too.’

To get an idea of how regulations have impacted this country’s winged population, Rodewald and environmental economist Ivan Rudik combined pollution data with environmental policies and bird observations from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, tracking.

A separate 2019 study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology showed that North American bird populations have declined by nearly 3 billion birds since 1970

A separate 2019 study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology showed that North American bird populations have declined by nearly 3 billion birds since 1970

A separate 2019 study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology showed that North American bird populations have declined by nearly 3 billion birds since 1970

They tracked monthly changes in bird abundance, air quality, and regulation status over 15 years in more than 3,200 counties.

The team focused on the EPA’s NOx (nitrogen oxide) Budget Trading Program, a cap-and-trade initiative launched in 2003 to reduce ozone emissions from power plants and other large industrial sources during the summer months.

A separate 2019 study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology showed that North American bird populations have declined by nearly 3 billion birds since 1970.

Without existing environmental regulations, Rodewald and Rudik say, an estimated 1.5 billion more birds would have died.

‘Our research shows that the benefits of environmental regulation have likely been underestimated,’ said Rudik. 

‘Reducing pollution has positive impacts in unexpected places and provides an additional policy lever for conservation efforts.’  

The Trump administration has been criticized for rolling back dozens of environmental regulations,

In June 2017, then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced he was delaying enforcement of an Obama-era regulation governing ozone emissions, The New York Times reports.

In August of that year, one day after 16 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit claiming the agency was violating the Clean Air Act, Pruitt reversed his decision and said he would enforce the policy.

Heather McTeer Toney, a former regional EPA administrator under the Obama administration, is among a short-list of candidates being considered to lead the agency under President-elect Biden, Reuters reports. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Trove of arrows dating back 6,000 years are discovered in Norway after drastic amounts of ice melts 

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trove of arrows dating back 6000 years are discovered in norway after drastic amounts of ice melts

A veritable treasure trove of ancient artifacts has been discovered in an Norwegian ice patch that climate change has caused to melt.

Researchers found nearly 70 arrow shafts, plus shoes, textiles and reindeer bones on a mountainside in Jotunheimen, about 240 miles from Oslo.

Based on radiocarbon dating, the oldest arrows are from around 4100 BC, with the most recent dating from 1300 AD.

While the discovery confirms the region was a popular spot for reindeer hunting millennia ago, it upends conventional wisdom about how ice patches can be used to interpret the historical record.

Archaeologists had assumed the ice preserved items as they were deposited, sealing them in place and providing a timeline — with older relics on the bottom and newer ones on top.

But the different amounts of weathering on the objects, as well as their seemingly random order, counters the theory that ice patches are like photographs, presenting a preserved image of the past.

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A 1,300-year-old arrow discovered at Langfonne. A record-setting 68 arrows were found in all in the Norwegian ice patch, some with their arrowheads still attached

A 1,300-year-old arrow discovered at Langfonne. A record-setting 68 arrows were found in all in the Norwegian ice patch, some with their arrowheads still attached

A 1,300-year-old arrow discovered at Langfonne. A record-setting 68 arrows were found in all in the Norwegian ice patch, some with their arrowheads still attached

A record-setting 68 arrows were found in all, some with their arrowheads still attached.

The heads were made from a variety of materials — iron, quartzite, slate, mussel shell and even bone.

 Several still had the twine and tar used to affix them to a wooden shaft.

The biggest number of arrows dated to 700 through 750 AD, but the oldest were some 6,000 years old.

A 4,000-year-old arrowhead made from quartzite. Other arrow tips were made from slate, bone and sharpened mussel shell.

A 4,000-year-old arrowhead made from quartzite. Other arrow tips were made from slate, bone and sharpened mussel shell.

A 4,000-year-old arrowhead made from quartzite. Other arrow tips were made from slate, bone and sharpened mussel shell.

A 4,000-year-old arrow shaft found on the ice. Based on radiocarbon dating, the oldest arrows are from around 4100 BC, with the most recent dating from 1300 AD

A 4,000-year-old arrow shaft found on the ice. Based on radiocarbon dating, the oldest arrows are from around 4100 BC, with the most recent dating from 1300 AD

A 4,000-year-old arrow shaft found on the ice. Based on radiocarbon dating, the oldest arrows are from around 4100 BC, with the most recent dating from 1300 AD

An aerial photo of Langfonne's three separate main ice patches.  Because of global warming, it is now less than 30 percent of the size it was just two decades ago, according to Pilø

An aerial photo of Langfonne's three separate main ice patches.  Because of global warming, it is now less than 30 percent of the size it was just two decades ago, according to Pilø

An aerial photo of Langfonne’s three separate main ice patches.  Because of global warming, it is now less than 30 percent of the size it was just two decades ago, according to Pilø

‘This is earlier than finds from any other ice site in Northern Europe,’ according to archaeologist Lars Holger Pilø, ‘and about 800 years earlier than Ötzi,’ the 5,100-year-old ice mummy found in the Tyrolean Alps in 1991.

Other artifacts from Langfonne include a well-preserved shoe from more than 3,000 years ago and fabric Pilø says may have been used to package meat.   

The Langfonne ice patch was first uncovered in 2006, when hiker Reidar Marstein discovered a leather shoe from the early Bronze Age there and reported it to Pilø.

At the time, researchers had assumed new layers of snow added to a patch, like strata in the earth, with older layers near the core and newer layers near the surface.

Map of ice sites in Innlandet County. The Langfonne ice patch was first discovered in 2006

Map of ice sites in Innlandet County. The Langfonne ice patch was first discovered in 2006

Map of ice sites in Innlandet County. The Langfonne ice patch was first discovered in 2006

Examples of arrows found at Langfonne. Left shows the nock end of an arrow and right shows a partially preserved arrow shaft in four fragments at the bottom left of the picture

Examples of arrows found at Langfonne. Left shows the nock end of an arrow and right shows a partially preserved arrow shaft in four fragments at the bottom left of the picture

Examples of arrows found at Langfonne. Left shows the nock end of an arrow and right shows a partially preserved arrow shaft in four fragments at the bottom left of the picture

‘The idea was, ice is like a time machine. Anything that lands on it stays there and is protected,’ Pilø, a researcher with the Innlandet County Council Cultural Heritage Department, told National Geographic.

But a closer examination showed the ice melted and re-froze numerous times over the millennia, shifting the arrows around from their original locations.

In addition, if the patch was acting like a time machine, older artifacts should have been just as well preserved as newer ones.

Archaeologists taking samples and artifacts from Langfonne. Analysis of the arrows found on the site disprove the theory that ice patches present a perfectly preserved image of history 'like a time machine'

Archaeologists taking samples and artifacts from Langfonne. Analysis of the arrows found on the site disprove the theory that ice patches present a perfectly preserved image of history 'like a time machine'

Archaeologists taking samples and artifacts from Langfonne. Analysis of the arrows found on the site disprove the theory that ice patches present a perfectly preserved image of history ‘like a time machine’

Instead, the Neolithic arrows were broken and heavily weathered, suggesting they had been exposed to the elements at various times.

The 14th century arrows, though, ‘looked as though they were shot just yesterday,’ National Geographic reported. 

‘This led to a suspicion that something had happened to them while inside the ice,’ Pilø wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

A view of Langfonne ice patch, from the top of the mountain

A view of Langfonne ice patch, from the top of the mountain

A view of Langfonne ice patch, from the top of the mountain

In a new report in the journal Holocene, Pilø says that makes it hard to glean certain information about the people who used these artifacts.

‘The ice is an artifact-preserver but it is also at the same time a destroyer of history,’ he told Nat Geo.

New discoveries may still present themselves as Langfonne, now split into three smaller patches, continues to thaw.

Its melting is part of a worldwide pattern of retreating mountain glaciers linked to global warming, Pilø wrote.

‘Langfonne has retreated dramatically in the last two decades. It is now less than 30 percent of the size it was 20 years ago. This retreat is clearly visible in the landscape.’

And the patch is only 10 percent of what it was at its height, he said, during the ‘Little Ice Age’ that took place between the 15th and 20th century.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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When will Earth be eco-friendly? Most Americans believe the world will be greener by 2042

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when will earth be eco friendly most americans believe the world will be greener by 2042

This year may have been rough, but as 2020 comes to a close many Americans are looking forward to a better future – and a greener one.

A new survey reveals 59 percent foresee a ‘completely environmentally friendly’ Earth by year 2042, but the majority understands that it is only possible if we all work together.

The idea of going green is producing zero waste and running on renewable energy, along with swapping cars for a bicycle or walking and adopting a plant-based diet.

Among ways to create a better world, 70 percent of the respondents also believe climate change is the single biggest threat facing humanity.

A new survey reveals 59 percent foresee a ‘completely environmentally friendly' Earth by year 2042, but the majority understands that it is only possible if we all work together. The idea of going green is producing zero waste and running on renewable energy

A new survey reveals 59 percent foresee a ‘completely environmentally friendly' Earth by year 2042, but the majority understands that it is only possible if we all work together. The idea of going green is producing zero waste and running on renewable energy

A new survey reveals 59 percent foresee a ‘completely environmentally friendly’ Earth by year 2042, but the majority understands that it is only possible if we all work together. The idea of going green is producing zero waste and running on renewable energy

The study was conducted by Cool Effect, which survey 2,000 adults living in the US to understand how Americans feel about climate change and the steps they are willing to take to combat its effects, according to StudyFinds.

The top answers for what a completely environmentally friendly world was a tie of 57 percent for zero waste and using nothing but renewable energy.

Approximately 52 percent said banning single-use plastics, which is a law in eight states currently.

Nearly half of the respondents suggested people bike or walk to their destination instead of driving, while some Americans think an eco-friendly life is a more plant-based diet.

Respondents also suggested swapping cars for a bicycle or walking and adopting a plant-based diet. Among ways to create a better world, 70 percent of the respondents also believe climate change is the single biggest threat facing humanity

Respondents also suggested swapping cars for a bicycle or walking and adopting a plant-based diet. Among ways to create a better world, 70 percent of the respondents also believe climate change is the single biggest threat facing humanity

Respondents also suggested swapping cars for a bicycle or walking and adopting a plant-based diet. Among ways to create a better world, 70 percent of the respondents also believe climate change is the single biggest threat facing humanity

A finding that came out of the new survey shows that a third of those polled have actually switched careers for a more eco-friendly company and 68 percent have or are willing to pack up their lives and move to a more sustainable city

However, although these Americans are willing to fight for a greener world, the research found that many of them are not aware of their own personal carbon footprint – only 36 percent could produce an answer.

The survey also suggests that Americans tend to ignore their personal responsibility  and feel their own carbon footprint is not making an impact on the warming world.

A previous study from 2019 found that some Americans overestimate their contribution – both findings suggests they need to meet in the middle  

However, data from the United States Department of Energy shows the average American emits roughly 17 tons of carbon per year – survey respondents said it was only 11.4 tons.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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