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Cigarette butts continue to emit nicotine and other substances into the air for days

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We can see the remains of smoked cigarettes, so-called cigarette butts, and estimates reveal that there are five trillion (5000 billion) cigarette butts generated by people every year across the globe. Naturally, such waste has an environmental impact, as has already been demonstrated by various studies.

However, when we think about the environmental impacts of cigarette butts, we usually refer to the soil (or water if the butts are abandoned in watercourses or in the sea) and never to the fact that these butts can continue to pollute the air even though they are no longer lit. This is what a team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) considered.

The scientists devised a method for analyzing the chemicals that swirl and are still present in the air around cigarette butts, hours and days after the cigarettes had been extinguished. The researchers “smoked” over 2100 cigarettes using a “smoking machine” that simulates what humans do when they smoke, including movements and gestures with their hands. The same cigarettes were then extinguished in a stainless steel chamber in which scientists were able to analyze air emissions hours and days after they were extinguished.

The researchers made a very interesting discovery: cigarette butts, once completely cooled, can emit up to 14% of the nicotine emitted from a whole cigarette and smoked in a single day. This is a result that first surprised the researchers, as Dustin Poppendieck, one of the scientists who participated in the study whose results were then published in Indoor air, admits.

In addition to nicotine, the researchers measured eight of the hundreds of chemicals that are typically emitted from a cigarette when it is smoked. These include triacetin, a plasticizer that is used to make the filters stay hard. Triacetin can make up to 10% of a filter. They also found that the higher the temperature, the more the butts emitted the chemicals into the air at higher speeds.

“Nicotine from a cigarette butt after seven days could be comparable to nicotine emitted from the main and secondary smoke [second or third hand smoke] during active smoking,” Poppendieck notes. This means that, for example, if you don’t empty an ashtray at home or in the car for a week, non-smokers who frequent these rooms are exposed to more than a significant amount of nicotine.

Steve Moore

I graduated from Miami Dade College and am now a licensed therapist. Previously I worked as an editor for American Scientist and developed a strong passion and interest in new scientific research, particularly relating to behavior and psychology. Xaski News is my small venture to bring easy-to-understand scientific news to the masses, free of charge and without ads and paywalls.

2637 Steve Hunt Road, Miami Florida, 33128
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Science

Blood vessels of women age before those of men

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Women’s blood vessels appear to age faster than men’s according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Smidt Heart Institute. Among other things, this study could explain why, with regard to different heart diseases, women heal at different times than men.

The study, published in JAMA Cardiology, shows in particular that the blood arteries, both the larger ones and the smaller ones, seem to age faster, which confirms a different physiology also with regard to the blood system of women than men. Researcher Susan Channing, senior author of the study, together with colleagues analyzed data from 145 blood pressure measurements collected over a period of 43 years from a total of 32,833 patients aged between 5 and 98 years, so a fairly large and diverse database.

Comparing the data of women with those of men, the researchers found that the evolution of the vascular function of females is “very different” from that of males. For example, women showed levels of increased blood pressure earlier in life than men. This means that if the same danger thresholds for hypertension are used for both males and females, a 30-year-old woman with hypertension is still at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than a man of the same age and with the same level of hypertension.

These are concepts that should make us rethink the methods that are used today to treat the various heart diseases and in general make us rethink female cardiovascular health. Specifically, as Christine Albert, President of the Department of Cardiology at the aforementioned institute, explains, different aspects of today’s cardiovascular therapies must be adapted specifically for women.

Moreover, the results obtained from studies conducted on men cannot be applied directly to women.

Steve Moore

I graduated from Miami Dade College and am now a licensed therapist. Previously I worked as an editor for American Scientist and developed a strong passion and interest in new scientific research, particularly relating to behavior and psychology. Xaski News is my small venture to bring easy-to-understand scientific news to the masses, free of charge and without ads and paywalls.

2637 Steve Hunt Road, Miami Florida, 33128
[email protected]
786-310-7352
Steve Moore
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A new corn that grows better in cold weather has been engineered

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Maize is one of the most consumed elements on earth and it should come as no surprise, therefore, that this plant is one of the most studied by scientists. In particular, methods are being studied to make its cultivation and growth increasingly efficient not only for human food but also for animal feed and the production of biofuels.

One of the paths that scientists take to achieve these results is to make the maize plant grow better at lower temperatures. Let us remember that it is always a tropical plant that is very sensitive to cold. While a lot of progress has been made in recent decades in relation to the areas where this plant can be grown, creating a true cold tolerant variety would greatly expand the latitudes at which this plant can be grown, with enormous benefits for virtually the whole of humanity.

This is precisely the route being taken by researchers led by David Stern, President of the Boyce Thompson Institute. The team has in fact developed a new variety of maize that can recover very quickly after an intense cold phase. In the study, published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal, they describe how they arrived at the result by growing various maize plants for three weeks by lowering and raising the temperature to provide a thermal shock to the plant.

They eventually managed to engineer a new type of maize plant that, compared to normal, shows higher photosynthesis rates and recovers much faster from thermal shocks. These gave them less damage to the molecules.

The result? A taller plant that develops ripe ears of corn faster after a period of cold weather.

The approach they used saw the introduction of increasing levels of an enzyme called rubisco. This enzyme is used by plants to convert carbon dioxide taken from the atmosphere into sugar. This same approach, according to the researchers, can also be used for other crop plants such as sorghum and sugar cane.

Steve Moore

I graduated from Miami Dade College and am now a licensed therapist. Previously I worked as an editor for American Scientist and developed a strong passion and interest in new scientific research, particularly relating to behavior and psychology. Xaski News is my small venture to bring easy-to-understand scientific news to the masses, free of charge and without ads and paywalls.

2637 Steve Hunt Road, Miami Florida, 33128
[email protected]
786-310-7352
Steve Moore
Continue Reading

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Scientists study genes regulating dog coat colours

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Studying a breed of Irish setter, a study team at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine discovered a new genetic element that underlies the regulation of coat color in dogs. Specifically, the researchers studied the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, a medium-sized hunting dog, often referred to as a toller.

According to the researchers, the particular color of the coat of these dogs derives from two particular pigments, yellow (pheomelanin) and black (eumelanin). These two pigments, in turn, are regulated by the MC1R genes (melanocortin receptor 1) and the agouti signaling protein (ASIP). Depending on the mutation of MC1R, the coat of these dogs may produce more or less pheomelanin and appear more or less yellow or red.

Specifically, dogs with a larger number of copies of the DNA region on chromosome 15 have more intense coat colors while animals with a smaller number of copies have a lighter coat.

The study, which appeared in Genes, shows how much there is still to know about the different coat colours of dogs, even of other breeds. The study was carried out by senior author Danika Bannasch and graduate student Kalie Weich.

Steve Moore

I graduated from Miami Dade College and am now a licensed therapist. Previously I worked as an editor for American Scientist and developed a strong passion and interest in new scientific research, particularly relating to behavior and psychology. Xaski News is my small venture to bring easy-to-understand scientific news to the masses, free of charge and without ads and paywalls.

2637 Steve Hunt Road, Miami Florida, 33128
[email protected]
786-310-7352
Steve Moore
Continue Reading

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