air pollution

Study Finds Air Pollution Can Decrease Chances Of Live Birth After IVF

According to a new study, exposure to air pollution can significantly decrease the likelihood of live birth after IVF treatment. The study’s research has been ongoing to observe the negative health impacts of toxic air on fertility. 

Exposure to pollutants in the air has been previously linked to increased miscarriage rates, preterm births, and the presence of microscopic soot particles in the bloodstream, ovaries, and the placenta, according to reports from The Guardian.

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“We observed that the odds of having a baby after a frozen embryo transfer were more than a third lower for women who were exposed to the highest levels of particulate matter air pollution prior to egg collection, compared with those exposed to the lowest levels,” said Dr Sebastian Leathersich, a fertility specialist and gynecologist from Perth. 

Dr. Leathersich is also set to present the study findings on Monday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Amsterdam.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that air pollution is currently one of the leading threats to human health in general, and has caused 6.7 million deaths in 2019. 

“Pollution is harmful to almost all aspects of human health and it’s no surprise to me that reproductive health is also affected,” Leathersich said. 

“I’m hopeful that these findings will help to highlight the urgency of the situation – that climate change poses a serious and immediate threat to human reproductive health, even at so-called safe levels.”

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“These findings [also] suggest that pollution negatively affects the quality of the eggs, not just the early stages of pregnancy, which is a distinction that has not been previously reported,” Leathersich said.

Professor Jonathan Grigg led a group at Queen Mary University of London which uncovered evidence that air pollution particles are found in the placenta.

“This study is biologically plausible since it has recently been discovered that inhaled fossil-fuel particles move out of the lung and lodge in organs around the body. Reproductive health can now be added to expanding list of the adverse effects of fossil fuel-derived particulate matter, and should prompt policymakers to continue to reduce traffic emissions.”

“In the face of a global fertility crisis, a clear picture of the link between environmental factors such as air pollution and fertility health or treatment outcomes could play an important part in tackling falling fertility rates,” said Professor Geeta Nargund, a senior NHS consultant and medical director of abc IVF and Create Fertility.

She also said that “further work would be crucial to better understand the full impact of air pollution, which disproportionately affects those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.”

heat

Over 144 Million Americans Placed Under Excessive Heat Advisories This Week 

The US is currently experiencing higher-than-usual temperatures, leading to over 144 million Americans being placed under some level of heat advisory, according to heat.gov. Within the past decade, the summers have been getting consistently hotter fueled by climate change. For this summer, forecasters are predicting no real relief in sight anytime soon, according to USA Today

AccuWeather long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok recently spoke to USA Today about these above average temperatures and the future heat waves America will likely experience into the fall season.

“I don’t see any drastic change in the weather pattern at this point.”

The National Weather Service stated: “Near all-time high temperature record heat will continue over portions of the Southwest this week. This long-duration heat wave remains extremely dangerous and deadly if not taken seriously.”

Pastelok said a “large, dominant area of high pressure is responsible for the ongoing heat in the West, which will spread into the central U.S. by next week. Air sinks underneath high-pressure areas, preventing cooling clouds and rain from forming.”

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This means that a majority of the US will continue to experience high heat levels into next week. 

The federal Climate Prediction Center showed forecast maps that signified above-average temperatures in the coming weeks. 

According to the prediction center, the weather pattern for next week “favors above-normal temperatures for nearly the entire continental U.S. and Hawaii. The strongest chances for above-normal temperatures are in the Southeast and the northern Intermountain West.”

“June was the 13th straight month of record-warm temperatures for the planet,” according to data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service. “That means every month for more than a year has been the warmest ever recorded. And 2023 was the hottest summer in 2,000 years,” a study found.

Unusually warm temperatures on both coasts are getting a boost from climate change, meteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson said on the Yale Climate Connections blog.

“Extreme heat expected today across swaths of the West and the mid-Atlantic was made 400% more likely by climate change, according to an analysis by Climate Central, a nonprofit research group,” the meteorologists wrote.

paramount

Paramount And Skydance Agree To $28 Billion Merger Deal 

One of Hollywood’s biggest companies, Paramount Global, has recently agreed to and announced a merger with independent film studio Skydance, ending Paramount’s connection to the Redstone family. 

Shari Redstone is the chair of Paramount, with her father, Sumner, purchasing the company back in 1994. Shari approved the decision to sell Redstone’s controlling stake in the company after six months of negotiations that concluded it was worth about $28 billion. 

Paramount is known for classic films like Titanic and The Godfather, and for owning television networks such as CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon. 

As part of the deal, Skydance has agreed to invest $8 billion into the company, and they will pay another $2.4 billion to buy National Amusements, the Redstone-owned movie theater operator that holds around 80% of voting shares in Paramount, according to the Guardian

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Redstone said: “Given the changes in the industry, we want to fortify Paramount for the future while ensuring that content remains king.

“Our hope is that the Skydance transaction will enable Paramount’s continued success in this rapidly changing environment.”

“As a longtime production partner to Paramount, Skydance knows Paramount well and has a clear strategic vision and the resources to take it to its next stage of growth. We believe in Paramount and we always will.”

Skydance, the production group, is led by the producer David Ellison, who said: “I am incredibly grateful to Shari Redstone and her family who have agreed to entrust us with the opportunity to lead Paramount.

“We are committed to energizing the business and bolstering Paramount with contemporary technology, new leadership and a creative discipline that aims to enrich generations to come.”

social

Children In Australia To Potentially Be Blocked From Social Media As A Part Of New Pilot Trial 

In May, Australia’s federal government announced a $6.5 million pilot trial regarding “age assurance technology” as a means of preventing children from accessing harmful and adult content online. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese initially announced that the pilot would work to “identify available age assurance products to protect children from online harm, and test the efficacy, including in relation to privacy and security.”

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“The outcomes will inform the existing work of Australia’s eSafety Commissioner under the Online Safety Act – including through the development of industry codes or standards – to reduce children’s exposure to age-inappropriate material,” he stated

Now, the Australian government has expanded the trial program to look into potentially blocking children from accessing social media altogether. They’re currently in discussions with Meta, who owns Facebook and Instagram. 

Multiple campaigns have started with the launch of this trial which worked to push the government to look into banning children under the age of 16 from social media. The government is now looking into how this could potentially be possible and what it would truly look like if it occurred, according to reports.

Communications department acting secretary for online safety, Bridget Gannon, stated that the government will be “consulting with experts, with children, with parents, to understand their concerns and their interests on this issue, and really pulling it together with some policy advice to the government on possible ways forward.”

“We want to understand how different technologies work at those younger ages for that social media work,” she said as reported by the Guardian

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Gannon also stated that the department has been speaking with multiple social media platforms like Meta, however, none of those companies are legally required to take part in the trial. In fact, Meta has already hinted that they are reluctant to take on the requirement of verifying the age of all of their users across their platforms. 

Instead, Meta believes that age verification should be the responsibility of app stores like Apple and Google. 

While individuals involved in the trial and within the committee have made the argument that these companies should feel obligated to comply with the trial, regardless of legal responsibility.

Gannon said it would be in these companies best interest to be involved in the trial as it will be informing them on how new codes will be developed and enforced as well. 

She also stated that the department will be working with technology experts to accurately assess how effective various technologies will work and what their impact may be. They will also work to analyze how easy it would be to regulate and distribute that technology over private networks.

moss

Scientists Discover Desert Moss That ‘Could Survive On Mars’

Scientists in China stated that they have discovered a moss that would be able to withstand conditions on the planet Mars. The moss itself is called Syntrichia caninervis, and was found in regions of Antarctica and the Mojave desert. 

The scientists involved in this feat recently published the information in the journal The Innovation. They wrote that the moss could withstand conditions such as drought, high levels of radiation, and extreme cold temperatures. 

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The team stated that this work is the first to look at how the plant could potentially survive, and potentially be grown, on the planet’s surface. 

​​“The unique insights obtained in our study lay the foundation for outer space colonization using naturally selected plants adapted to extreme stress conditions,” the team wrote.

“Cultivating terrestrial plants is an important part of any long-term space mission because plants efficiently turn carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and carbohydrates – essentially the air and food that humans need to survive. Desert moss is not edible, but it could provide other important services in space,” said Professor Stuart McDaniel, an expert on moss at the University of Florida who was not involved in the study. 

The moss itself could also work to transform rocky surfaces that would allow other plants to grow on Mars. 

They wrote that the desert moss was able to quickly recover from almost complete dehydration, and was able to regenerate in normal growth conditions after spending nearly five years at -112 degrees Fahrenheit, and 30 days at -320.8 degrees Fahrenheit. It also could regenerate after exposure to gamma rays. 

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The team wrote that they created a set-up that has similar pressures, gases, temperatures, and UV radiation levels to Mars.  

“Looking to the future, we expect that this promising moss could be brought to Mars or the moon to further test the possibility of plant colonization and growth in outer space,” the researchers wrote. 

“This paper is exciting because it shows that desert moss survives short exposures to some of the stresses that are likely to be found on a trip to Mars, including very high levels of radiation, very cold temperatures, and very low oxygen levels,” Professor McDaniel said. 

“These experiments represent an important first step, but they do not show that the moss could be a significant source of oxygen under Martian conditions, nor do they show that the desert moss could reproduce and proliferate in the Martian context.”

Dr Agata Zupanska, of the SETI Institute, agreed that the study’s findings are exciting, however, more research is needed before we can get to a place of growing plants on Mars. 

“In my opinion, we are getting close to growing plants in extraterrestrial greenhouses, and moss certainly has a place in those. Implying that moss, or any other pioneering species, is ready to terraform Mars, or any other outer planet, is an exaggeration,” she said. 

“This extremotolerant moss could be a promising pioneer plant for Mars colonization. We have a long way to go, but this lowly desert moss offers hope for making small portions of Mars habitable for humankind in the future,” said Professor Edward Guinan of Villanova University.

storms

Major Storms And Torrential Rain Have Hit France, Switzerland, and Italy

Major storms and torrential rains hit France, Switzerland, and Italy this past weekend, leaving seven people dead, according to local authorities.

Authorities spoke with the media outlet Agence France-Presse, and detailed that three people in their 70s and 80s died in France’s north-eastern Aube region on Saturday after their car was crushed by a tree while they were driving against major winds. A fourth passenger is currently in critical condition. 

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Four people died in Switzerland and another is missing, according to the local police. Three were killed from a landslide brought on by torrential rains in the south-east, according to Italian police. 

According to the Guardian, police said that a man was found dead in a hotel in Saas-Grund in Valais, likely due to rapid and sudden flooding. Another man is also currently missing in the same area. 

“Several hundred people” were evacuated in Valais and multiple roads were closed from flooding and landslide warnings, according to civil security services. 

Emergency services had to navigate how to evacuate 300 people who were in Peccia for a football tournament, and 70 individuals who were at a “holiday camp” in the village of Mogno. 

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In recent years when major natural disasters have occurred, scientists have reminded the world that climate change brought on by human activity and lack of government intervention has caused the intensity, frequency, and length of extreme weather events to increase immensely. 

Police also discussed how rescue efforts have been very difficult due to continuous poor weather conditions and destruction that has made a lot of areas inaccessible, such as several valleys. Electric networks have also been cut off in multiple areas. 

The federal alert system also stated that parts of the impacted areas were without drinking water. In the west side of Valais, several hundred people were evacuated and roads were closed due to repetitive dangerous weather conditions.

Extreme rainfall in Switzerland also caused major damage and led to the death of one individual. Recovery and rescue efforts are still underway. 

camera

‘I Am: Céline Dion’ Director Said Legendary Singer Insisted On Keeping Muscle Spasm Footage In Documentary

Céline Dion’s documentary, “I Am: Céline Dion,” is now officially released on Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service. The documentary is a love letter to Dion’s fans, according to the singer, as it tracks her journey after being diagnosed with stiff person syndrome, a neurological condition.

One of the scene’s that stuck out to fans the most was footage of her having a violent muscle spasm, a vulnerable moment that the singer insisted remains in the documentary, according to the film’s director, Irene Taylor, who recently spoke to Variety magazine about the specific scene. 

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“[Upon being shown the footage] the very first thing she said was, ‘I think this film can help me,’and then she said, ‘and I don’t want you to cut out that scene, and don’t cut it down.’”

Taylor herself also discussed how she was shocked during filming, as she wasn’t expecting to film Dion having a spasm throughout the documentation process. 

“Statistically, the likelihood that that would happen while my camera was rolling is extraordinarily rare,” she said

“No one expected that to happen. We never discussed, ‘What if that happens, what do we do?’ Never even had that conversation, because we just assumed it wouldn’t happen.”

Taylor described the moment when her spasm happened, stating that “it just snowballed very quickly.” Before the incident occurred, Dion had finished two days of recording, which was the first time she had recorded in four years. 

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In her interview, Taylor said that she was uncertain and uncomfortable initially when the spasm began, however, she kept holding onto her camera and boom mic. 

“I realized, ‘You know what? I have a job to do, too’… But the human part of me was very uncomfortable. But I really believe in the power of nonfiction, and I really believe that we can transport people in their own imagination by showing them real things, not scripted things,” she said. 

Dion initially shared her diagnosis with the public in a video post on her social media in 2022. 

“The disorder is a rare, progressive syndrome that affects the nervous system, specifically the brain and spinal cord,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Following the announcement of her diagnosis, Dion also canceled her “Courage World Tour.” She also told sources close to her that she would likely never tour again. 

eggs

Former CDC Director Believes Next Pandemic Will Be Caused By The Bird Flu

Robert Redfield, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently stated that the next pandemic could be caused by the bird flu. 

Additionally, the World Health Organization recently announced the first human death from bird flu in Mexico, and the virus itself has been found in cattle across dairy farms in the US, according to reports

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“I really do think it’s very likely that we will, at some time, it’s not a question of if, it’s more of a question of when we will have a bird flu pandemic,” Redfield said to NewsNation last week. 

He also discussed that the mortality rate will likely be much higher in a bird flu pandemic versus what the world experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic had a mortality rate that was 0.6%, and Redfield predicts the mortality “for the bird flu would probably be somewhere between 25 and 50%.”

The Hill reported that by late May, the CDC had found the third case of an individual diagnosed with bird flu within three months. Each case was found in a farmworker, but were unrelated to each other. The main symptoms included a cough and pink eye. 

As of right now, there is no direct evidence that suggests the virus is spreading amongst humans right now. 

Health experts and researchers found that in order for the bird flu to be able to connect to a human receptor, five amino acids have to change their key receptors. If that does occur, the virus would spread like Covid-19 did. 

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“Once the virus gains the ability to attach to the human receptor and then go human to human, that’s when you’re going to have the pandemic,” Redfield said

“I think it’s just a matter of time.”

While Redfield stated that it’s hard to predict how long it would take for the amino acids to change, but the fact that it’s been detected in cattle across the US is concerning. 

The CDC reported that more than 40 herds of cattle have been infected with the virus. They’ve been following wastewater treatment sites to track where the virus is originating from, and said that there’s low risk of the virus spreading throughout the public. 

The cattle infected live in the vicinity of pigs, which could allow the virus to evolve from pigs to humans, however, Redfield stated there’s more of a severe risk that the virus will be grown in a lab and spread that way. 

“I know exactly what amino acids I have to change because in 2012, against my recommendation, the scientists that did these experiments actually published them. So, the recipe for how to make bird flu highly infectious for humans is already out there,” he said.

protest

Open Letter In India Calls For Withdrawal Of Approval To Prosecute Booker Prize-Winning Author Arundhati Roy 

Last week, the Indian government approved the prosecution of Booker prize-winning author Arundhati Roy under the country’s anti-terrorism law. In response, more than 200 Indian academics, activists, and journalists have published an open letter urging the government to withdraw the decision. 

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“We … deplore this action and appeal to the government and the democratic forces in the country to ensure that no infringement of the fundamental right to freely and fearlessly express views on any subject takes place in our nation,” the group said in the letter, according to the Guardian

Vinai Kumar Saxena, the lieutenant governor of Delhi, gave the approval for police to prosecute Roy last week for remarks she made at a seminar in 2010, claiming she violated an anti-terrorism law known as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Academic figure Sheikh Showkat Hussain was also called on to be prosecuted. 

Roy allegedly said that the disputed region of Kashmir was “never an integral part of India.”

“The Indian constitution upholds Roy’s right to the freedom of her opinions and we are a constitutional democracy,” said history professor Ajay Dandekar, further stating that the decision was unjustified. 

Protests from civil rights groups, activists, and students in both Delhi and Bengaluru have also taken place, calling for a reversal of this prosecution’s approval. 

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Roy has been a critic of Narendra Modi’s government, as well as previous governments, since reaching literary success in 1997. Her main perspective criticizes capitalism, how minorities are treated, globalization, and supports human rights cases. The recent decision to call for her prosecution has caused Indians to question the validity of the democracy they live in.

“Are we a democratic country or not? We signed the letter because we have to uphold our constitutional right to disagree with the government. We can’t let the government take revenge against critics like Roy out of some personal whim,” stated Mukta Manohar, the general secretary of the Pune municipality Safai union, according to the Guardian.  

“The police will have to explain the 14-year delay and also explain why she should be charged when her words have not resulted in any violence or criminal acts in all this time,” supreme court lawyer Sanjay Hegde said. 

The human rights lawyer Colin Gonsalves agreed that “the case, if the government goes ahead, could collapse at the first hurdle. It’s a crazy decision and they won’t be able to prove that Roy was linked to any violence or any efforts to overthrow the state. The prosecution is unlikely to succeed,” he said.

hot

Heatwave Currently Impacting 65 Million Throughout US Midwest And North-East 

Around 65 million people are under heat alerts in the north-eastern and midwest states in the US this Friday. This early season heatwave is impacting US residents all throughout the nation, according to reports from The Guardian.

Record breaking temperatures were set in some areas along north-eastern and midwest states this Friday, with heat indexes that combine temperature and humidity hitting 100 and 110 degrees fahrenheit. Calendar-day highs were broken across Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, according to the Guardian. 

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The National Weather Service has put out a warning that people without reliable air conditioning will be the most impacted. 

“This rare and/or long-duration extreme heat with little to no overnight relief affects anyone without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration,” the agency said.

“It is likely to affect most health systems, heat-sensitive industries and infrastructure.”

The national forecaster advised people to “drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.”

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The intense heat is being attributed to the northern movement of a high-pressure heat dome that settled initially over Mexico and the US South-West back in March. The dome slowly traveled north and broke the temperature record as it moved. 

The climate group World Weather Attribution released a report on Thursday saying that “the southern heatwave in late May was 35 times more likely to have occurred because of climate change, and 2.5F hotter.”

A disaster declaration was made in 51 Texas counties from Governor Greg Abbott after Tropical Storm Alberto. New Mexico has requested federal assistance after wildfires forced a town to completely evacuate. 

Forecasters have luckily predicted that colder air carrying less humidity will move throughout the upper midwest and then the north-east this weekend.