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Researchers Develop New Framework To Select Best Trees For Fighting Air Pollution

Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth

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Trees
In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads.

In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution.

“We are all waking up to the fact that air pollution and its impact on human health and the health of our planet is the defining issue of our time,” said study researcher Prashant Kumar, Professor at the University of Surrey in the UK. “Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth,” Kumar added.

The review found that there is ample evidence of green infrastructure’s ability to divert and dilute pollutant plumes or reduce outdoor concentrations of pollutants by direct capture, where some pollutants are deposited on plant surfaces.

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As part of their critical review, the researchers identified a gap in information to help people – including urban planners, landscape architects and garden designers – make informed decisions on which species of vegetation to use and, crucially, what factors to consider when designing a green barrier. To address this knowledge gap, they identified 12 influential traits for 61 tree species that make them potentially effective barriers against pollution.

Beneficial plant properties include small leaf size, high foliage density, long in-leaf periods (e.g. evergreen or semi-evergreen), and micro-characteristics such as leaf hairiness. Generally detrimental aspects of plants for air quality include wind pollination and biogenic volatile organic compound emissions.

Air Pollution, Global Warming, Mask, Doctor, Protection
Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads. Pixabay

In the study, the team emphasised that the effectiveness of a plant is determined by its environmental context – whether, for example, it will be used in a deep (typical of a city commercial centre) or shallow (typical of a residential road) street canyon or in an open road environment.

To help concerned citizens with complex decisions, such as which tree is best for a road outside a school in a medium-sized street canyon, the research team has also developed a plant selection framework. “The use of green infrastructure as physical barriers between ourselves and pollutants originating from our roads is one promising way we can protect ourselves from the devastating impact of air pollution,” Kumar said.

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“We hope that our detailed guide to vegetation species selection and our contextual advice on how to plant and use green infrastructure is helpful to everyone looking to explore this option for combatting pollution,” he added. (IANS)

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Whole Grains Intake Helps Cut Diabetes Risk: Researchers

Whole grains intake is associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes

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diabetes
Eating whole grains can lower risk for type 2 diabetes. Pixabay

Eating higher intake of high-quality carbohydrates, especially from whole grains, are associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, say researchers.

“High intake of carbohydrates has been suggested to be associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes,” said study lead author Kim Braun from Harvard University in the US.

For the findings, the research team looked at whether this effect is different for high-quality carbohydrates and low-quality carbohydrates, which include refined grains, sugary foods and potatoes.

In the study, the research team analysed data from three studies that followed health professionals in the US over time.

These included 69,949 women from the Nurses’ Health Study, 90,239 women from the Nurses’ Health Study 2 and 40,539 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

Collectively, the studies represented over four million years of follow-up, during which almost 12,000 cases of type 2 diabetes cases were documented.

The researchers observed a lower risk of type 2 diabetes when high-quality carbohydrates replaced calories from saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, animal protein and vegetable protein.

diabetes
Replacing low-quality carbohydrates with saturated fats, but not with other nutrients, is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Pixabay

They also found that replacing low-quality carbohydrates with saturated fats, but not with other nutrients, was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

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“These results highlight the importance of distinguishing between carbohydrates from high- and low- quality sources when examining diabetes risk,” said Braun.

“Conducting similar studies in people with various socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities and age will provide insight into how applicable these findings are for other groups,” Braun added.

The study was scheduled to be presented at ‘NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE’, a virtual conference hosted by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) this week. (IANS)

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60% Decrease in Pediatric Fractures During Pandemic: Study

There is a significant decline in sports-related fractures among kids during lockdown

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fractures
Children are reporting less sports fractures and injuries during the lockdown, says a recent study. Pixabay

By Siddhi Jain

COVID-19 social distancing measures, including the closure of schools and parks and the indefinite cancellation of team sports, has led to nearly 60 percent decrease in overall in pediatric fractures, according to a new study?.

The study also revealed an increase in the proportion of fractures sustained by children at home. Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that although the overall rate of fractures is down significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the proportion due to bicycle and trampoline injuries has gone up substantially?

The findings, published in the ‘Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics’, suggest a need for increased awareness of at-home safety measures.

“It is important to remind parents about the importance of basic safety precautions with bicycles and trampolines, as many children are substituting these activities in place of organised sports and school activities,” said Apurva Shah, MD, MBA, an orthopaedic surgeon in CHOP’s Division of Orthopaedics and senior author of the study.

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Researchers found a nearly 2.5-fold decrease in the daily incidence of fractures during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period. Pixabay

The research team gathered data on 1,735 patients who presented at CHOP with acute fractures between March 15 and April 15 and compared that information with patients who presented with fractures during the same timeframe in 2018 and 2019. The researchers found a nearly 2.5-fold decrease in the daily incidence of fracture cases during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Sports-related fractures saw a particularly dramatic decline, accounting for only 7.2 percent of fracture cases during the pandemic versus 26 percent of all fracture cases in the same month in 2018 and 2019.

Despite these significant declines, the researchers found an increase of more than 25 percent in fractures occurring at home, which was accompanied by a 12 percent increase in fractures caused by high-energy falls, like those resulting from trampoline injuries, and bicycle injuries. With families spending more time at home due to social distancing guidelines, the researchers suggest this shift in injury location is a natural result of families finding alternative recreational activities for their children.

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Patients aged 12 and over saw a five-fold reduction in the monthly number of fractures. Pixabay

The decline in fracture incidence was bigger for some age groups than others. Patients aged 12 and over saw a five-fold reduction in the monthly number of fracture cases, whereas children aged 5 and under saw only a 1.5-fold decrease.

The researchers surmise this is due to younger children substituting other active pursuits for pre-pandemic activities, like playground outings and other outdoor activities, whereas adolescents, who are more likely to play team sports, are making fewer of those substitutions. (IANS)

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Every 4 in 10 Adults Suffer From Gastrointestinal Disorders Globally: Researchers

Mostly people find it embarrassing to talk about stomach and bowel symptoms

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gastrointestinal disorders
For every ten adults in the world, four suffer from functional gastrointestinal disorders. Pixabay

For every ten adults in the world, four suffer from functional gastrointestinal disorders of varying severity, say Researchers, adding that people think it’s embarrassing to talk about stomach and bowel symptoms.

Functional gastrointestinal disorders, FGIDs, is a collective term for chronic disorders in the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms may arise throughout the gastrointestinal tract. From the upper part, the esophagus and stomach, they can include heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion (dyspepsia).For the lower parts (the intestines), chronic constipation, abdominal distension or bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are among the complaints.

The current study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, gives an overall picture of the global prevalence of FGIDs. Data of more than 73,000 people in 33 countries were collected by means of web-based questionnaires and face-to-face (household) interviews.

“It’s striking how similar the findings are between countries. We can see some variations but, in general, these disorders are equally common whatever the country or continent,” said study author Magnus Simren from University of Gothenburg in Sweden.Web-based questionnaires were used in most of the countries in the study.

gastrointestinal disorders
The findings showed that the prevalence of FGIDs was higher in women than in men. Piaxbay

In some countries, instead, the respondents were asked to reply to the questions when an interviewer read them aloud.The questions posed to the respondents were based on the diagnostic criteria for IBS and other FGIDs. Particulars of other diseases and symptoms, living conditions, quality of life, healthcare consumption, etc. were also requested.

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The findings showed that the prevalence of FGIDs was higher in women than in men, and clearly associated with lower quality of life. According to the questionnaire responses, 49 per cent of the women and 37 per cent of the men met the diagnostic criteria for at least one FGID. The severity of the disorders varied, from mild discomfort to symptoms that adversely affected the quality of life to a high degree.

The prevalence of FGIDs was also strongly associated with high consumption of healthcare, such as visits to the doctor and use of medication, but also surgery, the study said. (IANS)