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Missouri Senator plans to introduce new Bill in support of World War II Veterans

Around 60,000 Army and Navy troops were part of Mustard Gas experiment . This experiment sought to prepare US Military to face the mustard gas in the battlefield

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Senator Claire McCaskill speaking at the conference. Image source: Wikimedia commons
  • To help veterans who participated in mustard gas experiments, Senate of missouri plans to introduce new bill 
  • An investigation revealed only 40 living veterans are currently getting benefits
  • According to McCaskill’s investigation, 90% of applicants claims have been denied by the US Department of Veteran Affairs

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is pushing to introduce a new bill which aims help World War II veterans exposed lethal mustard gas.

The US military conducted a classified experiment in which veterans were used and sworn to secrecy about their participation in the experiment.

It is said that around 60,000 Army and Navy troops were part of this experiment. The Mustard Gas experiment sought to prepare US Military to face the gas in the battlefield. Those veterans were sworn to secrecy until 1991.

Many Serious Illnesses like leukemia, skin cancer and chronic breathing problems can be caused by the exposure of mustard gas.

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A person exposed to Mustard gas. Image Source: Wikipedia

This bill will be named after Arla Harrel, a man who is said to be the last surviving Missourian participated in the mustard gas experiment. At the age 89 Harrell lives in a nursing home and his claims for compensation have been repeatedly denied by The U.S department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

McCaskill’s office launched its own investigation and  has found out that only 40 living veterans are currently getting benefits and the rest still have not received any compensation. According to the investigation a couple hundred veterans who took part in the experiment are still alive.

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Arla Harrel Act calls for establishment of a new policy for processing claims of the test subjects of this experiment and to reconsider all previously denied claims.

VA officials told NPR that McCaskill’s report is being reviewed by the agency and that it “greatly appreciates the service and sacrifices of every World War II Veteran, and any veteran who may have been injured in mustard gas testing.”

On Tuesday, McCaskill said that 90 percent of the claims by applicants have been denied by Veteran Affairs. Some even have struggled to get compensation for health issued caused due to the exposure. She said her bill will help the veterans but it is unclear that how many will get benefitted.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication and a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter handle: bhaskar_ragha

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Air Pollution From Oil and Gas Industries Visible From Space: Study

Air pollution from oil, gas production sites visible from space

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Oil gas industry
Researchers have seen a significant increase in the release of the lung-irritating air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a more-than-doubling of the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere. Pixabay

Oil and gas production has doubled in some parts of the United States in the last two years, as researchers have seen a significant increase in the release of the lung-irritating air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a more-than-doubling of the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere.

“We see the industry’s growing impact from space, we really are at the point where we can use satellite data to give feedback to companies and regulators, and see if they are successful in regulating emissions,” said study lead author Barbara Dix from University of Colorado Boulder in the US.

For the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers set out to see if a suite of satellite-based instruments could help scientists understand more about nitrogen oxides pollution (including nitrogen dioxide) coming from engines in US oil and gas fields.

Combustion engines produce nitrogen oxides, which is a respiratory irritant and can lead to the formation of other types of harmful air pollutants, such as ground-level ozone, the research said.

Oil gas industry
On oil and gas drilling and production sites, there may be several small and large combustion engines, drilling, compressing gas, separating liquids and gases, and moving gas and oil through pipes and storage containers. Pixabay

According to the researchers, on oil and gas drilling and production sites, there may be several small and large combustion engines, drilling, compressing gas, separating liquids and gases, and moving gas and oil through pipes and storage containers.

The emissions of those engines are not controlled.

“Conventional ‘inventories’ meant to account for nitrogen oxides pollution from oil and gas sites are often very uncertain, underestimating or overestimating the pollutants,” said study co-author Joost de Gouw.

“And there are few sustained measurements of nitrogen oxides in many of the rural areas where oil and gas development often takes place,” Dix said.

So the research team turned to nitrogen dioxide data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board a NASA satellite and the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TropOMI) on a European Space Agency satellite.

They also looked at gas flaring data from an instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi satellite system.

Between 2007 and 2019, across much of the US, nitrogen dioxide pollution levels dropped because of cleaner cars and power plants, the team found, confirming findings reported previously.

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The clean air trend in satellite data was most obvious in urban areas of California, Washington and Oregon and in the eastern half of the continental US.

However, several areas stuck out with increased emissions of nitrogen dioxide: The Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford oil and gas basins, in Texas and New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas, respectively, the study said. (IANS)

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Gut Infections may Increase Risk of Developing IBS: Study

Here's how a gut infection may produce chronic symptoms

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IBS
In many cases, a bit of intestinal distress like traveler's diarrhea leads to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Pixabay

For some people, a bout of intestinal distress like traveler’s diarrhea leads to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Recent discoveries have given researchers a better idea of how this happens, and potential leads for new treatments.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly how this happens, but some think an infection may contribute to IBS by damaging the gut nervous system.

The study, published in the journal Cell, takes a close look at why neurons in the gut die and how the immune system normally protects them.

The research from Rockefeller University on mice offers insight into IBS, a chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract and could point to potential new treatment approaches.

IBS
IBS is a chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract. Wikimedia Commons

According to the researchers, in a healthy gut, the immune system must strike a careful balance between responding to threats and keeping that response in check to avoid damage.

“Inflammation helps the gut ward off an infection, but too much of it can cause lasting harm,” said study researcher Daniel Mucida, Associate Professor at Rockefeller University in the US.

“Our work explores the complex mechanisms that prevent inflammatory responses from destroying neurons,” Mucida added.

To understand the effects of an infection on the nervous system, the research team gave mice a weakened form of Salmonella, a bacterium that causes food poisoning, and analysed neurons within the intestine.

They found that infection induced a long-lasting reduction of neurons, an effect they attributed to the fact these cells express two genes, Nlrp6 and Caspase 11, which can contribute to a specific type of inflammatory response.

This response, in turn, can ultimately prompt the cells to undergo a form of programmed cell death.

IBS
An infection may contribute to IBS by damaging the gut nervous system. Pixabay

When the researchers manipulated mice to eliminate these genes specifically in neurons, they saw a decrease in the number of neurons expiring.

“This mechanism of cell death has been documented in other types of cells, but never before in neurons,” said study researcher Fanny Matheis.

“We believe these gut neurons may be the only ones to die this way,” Matheis added.

It’s not yet clear exactly how inflammation causes neurons to commit cell suicide, yet the researchers already have clues suggesting it might be possible to interfere with the process.

The key may be a specialised set of gut immune cells, known as muscularis macrophages.

Previous work in Mucida’s lab has shown that these cells express inflammation-fighting genes and collaborate with the neurons to keep food moving through the digestive tract.

If these neurons die off, as happens in an infection, a possible result is constipation — one of a number of unpleasant IBS symptoms.

In their recent report, the team demonstrated how macrophages come to the neurons’ aid during an infection, ameliorating this aspect of the disorder.

Their experiments revealed that macrophages possess a certain type of receptor molecule that receives stress signals released by another set of neurons in response to an infection.

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Once activated, this receptor prompts the macrophage to produce molecules called polyamines, which the researchers think might interfere with the cell death process.

In other experiments, the researchers found that Salmonella infection alters the community of microbes within the guts of mice — and when they restored the animals’ intestinal flora back to normal, the neurons recovered. (IANS)

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E-Cigarette Users may Develop Chronic Lung Diseases: Study

E-cigarettes may raise risk of asthma, bronchitis: Study

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E-cigarette
E-cigarette use significantly increases a person's risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Pixabay

E-cigarette use significantly increases a person’s risk of developing chronic lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, says a new study.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, also found that people who used e-cigarettes and also smoked tobacco — by far the most common pattern among adult e-cigarette users — were at an even higher risk of developing chronic lung disease than those who used either product alone.

“What we found is that for e-cigarette users, the odds of developing lung disease increased by about a third, even after controlling for their tobacco use and their clinical and demographic information,” said study senior author Stanton Glantz, PhD, Professor at the University of California in the US.

“We concluded that e-cigarettes are harmful on their own, and the effects are independent of smoking conventional tobacco,” Glantz said.

The findings are based on an analysis of publicly available data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), which tracked e-cigarette and tobacco habits as well as new lung disease diagnoses in over 32,000 American adults from 2013 to 2016.

Though several earlier population studies had found an association between e-cigarette use and lung disease at a single point in time, these cross-sectional studies provided a snapshot that made it impossible for researchers to say whether lung disease was being caused by e-cigarettes or if people with lung disease were more likely to use e-cigarettes.

e-cigarette
E-cigarettes are harmful on their own, and the effects are independent of smoking conventional tobacco. Pixabay

By starting with people who did not have any reported lung disease, taking account of their e-cigarette use and smoking from the start, and then following them for three years, this study offers stronger evidence of a causal link between adult e-cigarette use and lung diseases than prior studies.

Though current and former e-cigarette users were 1.3 times more likely to develop chronic lung disease, tobacco smokers increased their risk by a factor of 2.6.

“Dual users — the most common use pattern among people who use e-cigarettes — get the combined risk of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, so they’re actually worse off than tobacco smokers,” said Glantz.

The study also found that switching from smoked tobacco to e-cigarettes lowered the risk of developing lung disease, fewer than one per cent of the smokers had completely switched to e-cigarettes.

Importantly, the results reported in this study are unrelated to EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury), the acute lung disease first reported last summer, severe cases of which sent several e-cigarette users to the hospital and others to an early grave.

Though scientists are still working to determine the cause of EVALI, prior physiological studies in both animals and humans found that e-cigarettes suppress the immune system and increase the levels of stress-related proteins in the lungs.

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And chemical analyses showed that e-cigarettes contain higher levels of certain toxic chemicals than conventional cigarettes.

But the new study shows that these are not the only health threats posed by e-cigarettes.

“This study contributes to the growing case that e-cigarettes have long-term adverse effects on health and are making the tobacco epidemic worse,” Glantz added. (IANS)