what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Arsenic in playgrounds not harmful to kids

Researchers in University of Alberta have found that children in playgrounds aren’t at risk from pressure treated wooden playground structures. For parents who love to take their kids to the playground every summer, this is a great bit of news.

The study compared arsenic levels in urine and saliva samples of children playing in eight pressure treated wooden playgrounds and those in eight playgrounds made of other materials. It found no significant difference in the concentration of arsenic species in children playing on playgrounds with or without the chemically treated wood — and hence concluded that CCA treated wood in playgrounds is not likely to significantly contribute to the overall arsenic exposure in children.

Around 70 per cent of playgrounds in North America are made with pressure-treated wood.

Temperature of western Mediterranean on the rise

A research by Spanish scientists has shown that the temperature and salt levels of the western Mediterranean sea have been on the rise since 1940s. They have also discovered that the rate of increase has sped up since 1990s.

Each year the temperature of the deep layer of the western Mediterranean increases by 0.002ºC, and its salt levels increase by 0.001 units of salinity. The results are consistent, “but to confirm this accelerating trend, we need to monitor it over the years to come”, said Manuel Vargas-Yáñez, Spanish Institute of Oceanography.

The researchers observed the upper layer (from the surface to 150-200 metres deep with water that enters from the Atlantic), the middle layer (from 200 to 600 metres deep with water from the eastern Mediterranean that enters the western basin via the Strait of Sicily), and the deep layer (from 600 metres to the sea bed with water from the western Mediterranean) of the sea.

The team has also observed an increase in the salt level and the temperature of the middle layer of the sea. This has not been clearly observed in the upper layer, “but it can be deduced from the heating of the deep water and from studies done by other teams and our current research projects”, Vargas-Yáñez added.

Allergy sufferers less likely to develop cancer

Suffering from an allergy? Well, here’s something to cheer about — you are less likely to get cancer if you are tormented by runny noses, itchy eyes and coughs, according to a series of surprising new scientific studies.

Texas Tech researchers revealed that asthmatics were 30 per cent less likely to get ovarian cancer than non-asthmatics.

And kids with airborne allergies were 40 per cent less likely to get leukaemia, according to research.

Cornell University experts found reduced rates among lung, skin, throat and intestinal cancers. “More work is still needed, but the numbers show allergy is a statistically significant protective factor,” said Dr Zuber Mulla, a Texas Tech epidemiologist who led the ovarian-cancer study.