West Nile virus is transmitted by urban-dwelling mosquitoes to birds and other animals, with occasional "spillover" to humans. While the means by which West Nile virus was introduced into the Americas in 1999 remain unknown, the climatic conditions that amplify diseases that cycle among urban mosquitoes, birds, and humans are warm winters and spring droughts. This information can be useful in generating early warning systems and mobilizing timely and the most environmentally friendly public health interventions. The extreme weather conditions accompanying long-term climate change may also be contributing to the spread of West Nile virus in the United States and Europe. (+info)
Bioremediation (natural attenuation and biostimulation) of diesel-oil-contaminated soil in an alpine glacier skiing area.
We investigated the feasibility of bioremediation as a treatment option for a chronically diesel-oil-polluted soil in an alpine glacier area at an altitude of 2,875 m above sea level. To examine the efficiencies of natural attenuation and biostimulation, we used field-incubated lysimeters (mesocosms) with unfertilized and fertilized (N-P-K) soil. For three summer seasons (July 1997 to September 1999), we monitored changes in hydrocarbon concentrations in soil and soil leachate and the accompanying changes in soil microbial counts and activity. A significant reduction in the diesel oil level could be achieved. At the end of the third summer season (after 780 days), the initial level of contamination (2,612 +/- 70 microg of hydrocarbons g [dry weight] of soil(-1)) was reduced by (50 +/- 4)% and (70 +/- 2)% in the unfertilized and fertilized soil, respectively. Nonetheless, the residual levels of contamination (1,296 +/- 110 and 774 +/- 52 microg of hydrocarbons g [dry weight] of soil(-1) in the unfertilized and fertilized soil, respectively) were still high. Most of the hydrocarbon loss occurred during the first summer season ([42 +/- 6]% loss) in the fertilized soil and during the second summer season ([41 +/- 4]% loss) in the unfertilized soil. In the fertilized soil, all biological parameters (microbial numbers, soil respiration, catalase and lipase activities) were significantly enhanced and correlated significantly with each other, as well as with the residual hydrocarbon concentration, pointing to the importance of biodegradation. The effect of biostimulation of the indigenous soil microorganisms declined with time. The microbial activities in the unfertilized soil fluctuated around background levels during the whole study. (+info)
Comparison of worm control strategies in grazing sheep in Denmark.
Control of nematode parasites with reduced reliance on the use of anthelmintics was studied in 16 ewes with suckling twin lambs on contaminated pasture in Denmark. Ewes and lambs were treated with albendazole at turn-out 3 May. Ewes were removed from the groups on 26 July, and lambs were slaughtered on 11 October. The animals were allocated to 4 groups of 8 lambs and their 4 ewes. Group TS was treated with albendazole at weeks 3, 6 and 8 after turnout and set-stocked; group TM was similarly treated but moved to clean pasture in conjunction with the last drenching; group US was untreated and set-stocked, and group UM was left untreated but moved to clean pasture week 8 after turn-out. Supplementary feed was offered in June and August due to scarcity of pasture. Strategic treatments of ewes and lambs weeks 3, 6 and 8 after turn-out, with or without a move to clean pasture, were highly effective in controlling nematode infections for most of the season. This was reflected in better weight gains and carcass characteristics in the treated compared to untreated lambs, resulting in an average increase in the value of the product by 36%. The effect of moving without treatment (UM) on faecal egg counts was limited but peak pasture infectivity was reduced to less than 10% compared to the set-stocked group and weight gains of lambs were significantly better despite poor feed availability in late season. The study showed that under set-stocked conditions repeated anthelmintic treatments of both ewes and lambs in early season may ensure sufficient nematode control whereas moving animals to clean pasture without dosing was less efficient. The latter may, however, still be a viable option in organic and other production systems where routine use of anthelmintics is banned, particularly if weaning and moving are combined or a second move is performed. (+info)
Association of normal weather periods and El Nino events with hospitalization for viral pneumonia in females: California, 1983-1998.
OBJECTIVES: This study examined associations between weather and hospitalizations of females for viral pneumonia during normal weather periods and El Nino events in the California counties of Sacramento and Yolo, San Francisco and San Mateo, and Los Angeles and Orange. METHODS: Associations between weather and hospitalizations (lagged 7 days) for January 1983 through June 1998 were evaluated with Poisson regression models. Generalized estimating equations were used to adjust for autocorrelation and overdispersion. Data were summed over 4 days. RESULTS: Associations varied by region. Hospitalizations in San Francisco and Los Angeles increased significantly (30%-50%) with a 5 degrees F decrease in minimum temperature. Hospitalizations in Sacramento increased significantly (25%-40%) with a 5 degrees F decrease in maximum temperature difference. The associations were independent of season. El Nino events were associated with hospitalizations only in Sacramento, with significant decreases for girls and increases for women. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that viral pneumonia could continue to be a major public health issue, with a significant association between weather and hospitalizations, even as the global mean temperature continues to rise. An understanding of population sensitivity under different weather conditions could lead to an improved understanding of virus transmission. (+info)
Climate change as the dominant control on glacial-interglacial variations in C3 and C4 plant abundance.
Although C4 plant expansions have been recognized in the late Miocene, identification of the underlying causes is complicated by the uncertainties associated with estimates of ancient precipitation, temperature, and partial pressure of atmospheric carbon dioxide (PCO2). Here we report the carbon isotopic compositions of leaf wax n-alkanes in lake sediment cores from two sites in Mesoamerica that have experienced contrasting moisture variations since the last glacial maximum. Opposite isotopic trends obtained from these two sites indicate that regional climate exerts a strong control on the relative abundance of C3 and C4 plants and that in the absence of favorable moisture and temperature conditions, low PCO2 alone is insufficient to drive an expansion of C4 plants. (+info)
Epidemiological studies of acute ozone exposures and mortality.
Many, but not all, observational epidemiological studies of ozone (O(3)) air pollution have yielded significant associations between variations in daily ambient concentrations of this pollutant and a wide range of adverse health outcomes. We evaluate some past epidemiological studies that have assessed the short-term association of O(3) with mortality, and investigate one possible reason for variations in their O(3) effect estimate, i.e., differences in their approaches to the modeling of weather influences on mortality. For all of the total mortality-air pollution time-series studies considered, the combined analysis yielded a relative risk, RR=1.036 per 100-ppb increase in daily 1-h maximum O(3) (95% CI: 1.023-1.050). However, the subset of studies that specified the nonlinear nature of the temperature-mortality association yielded a combined estimate of RR=1.056 per 100 ppb (95% CI: 1.032-1.081). This indicates that past time-series studies using linear temperature-mortality specifications have underpredicted the premature mortality effects of O(3) air pollution. For Detroit, MI, an illustrative analysis of daily total mortality during 1985-1990 also indicated that the model weather specification choice can influence the O(3) health effects estimate. Results were intercompared for alternative weather specifications. Nonlinear specifications of temperature and relative humidity (RH) yielded lower intercorrelations with the O(3) coefficient, and larger O(3) RR estimates, than a base model employing a simple linear spline of hot and cold temperature. We conclude that, unlike for particulate matter (PM) mass, the mortality effect estimates derived by time-series analyses for O(3) can be sensitive to the way that weather is addressed in the model. The same may well also be true for other pollutants with largely temperature-dependent formation mechanisms, such as secondary aerosols. Generally, we find that the O(3)-mortality effect estimate increases in size and statistical significance when the nonlinearity and the humidity interaction of the temperature-health effect association are incorporated into the model weather specification. We recommend that a minimization of the intercorrelations of model coefficients be considered (along with other critical factors such as goodness of fit, autocorrelation, and overdispersion) when specifying such a model, especially when individual coefficients are to be interpreted for risk estimation. (+info)
Effects of time and height on behavior of emissions.
The effect of the two parameters is reviewed. Variability with time is discussed in relation to stability and other atmospheric conditions. The magnitude of ground level concentrations from elevated release is discussed as an interaction between rate of emission release, physical height of stack, and thermal conditions. The point is made that plant effluent rates have increased in proportion to stack height. (+info)
Meteorological effects of environmental controls.
The solution of the continuity equation in practical applications is examined, and the values needed for approximate solutions are indicated. Models are adequate for investigating what could happen, but are less satisfactory for predicting what will happen. An example is given in relation to the distribution of SO2 over Connecticut. More knowledge is needed about atmospheric chemistry before better predictions can be expected. The effect of particulates on atmospheric opacity is reviewed. (+info)