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Plastic is already in the blood, breast milk and placenta. Now it may be in our brains | Adrienne Matei



Researchers at the University of Vienna discovered Plastic particles in the brains of mice just two hours after the mice drank drinking water containing plastic.

Once in the brain, “plastic particles can increase the risk of inflammation, neurological disorders, or even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s,” co-researcher Lucas Kenner said in a statement, although more research is needed to determine the relationship. between plastic surgery and these brain disorders. In addition to the potentially severe degenerative effects, researchers also believe that contamination of our brains with microplastics may cause short-term health effects such as cognitive impairment, neurotoxicity, and altered neurotransmitter levels that may contribute to behavioral changes.

For their study, the team gave mice water laced with particles of polystyrene, a type of plastic often used in food packaging such as yogurt cups and takeout containers.

Using computer models to track plastic dispersion, the researchers found that nanoplastic particles smaller than 0.001 millimeters, invisible to the naked eye, can enter the brains of mice via a previously unknown biological “transport mechanism”. Essentially, these tiny plastics are absorbed by cholesterol molecules on the surface of brain membranes. Thus, hidden in their little lipid packages, they cross the blood-brain barrier – the wall of blood vessels and tissues that protects the brain from toxins and other harmful substances.

While the Vienna study focused on the impact of plastic consumed in drinking water, this is not the only way people absorb plastic. Chinese 2022 study focused on how plastic inhaled through the nose affects the brain, with the researchers reporting that “obvious neurotoxicity of nanoplastics may be observed.” In general terms, inhaling plastic leads to a decrease in the functioning of certain brain enzymes that also do not work in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Of course, we also eat plastic, and new research on plastic and brain health is coming along with the destruction. research about how pollutants affect our gastrointestinal health. Like the blood-brain barrier, the GI barrier is also vulnerable to interference from nanoplastics, which can trigger inflammatory and immune responses in the gut, as well as cell death.

At this point, it is clear that plastic has infiltrated most parts of the human body, including our blood, organs, placenta, breast milk, and gastrointestinal tract. While we do not yet fully understand how plastic affects various parts of our body, many of the chemicals found in various types of plastic are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors, which are associated with negative health effects including obesity, diabetes, and reproductive disorders. and neurological disorders in fetuses and children.

This spring, the Boston College Global Observatory for Planetary Health conducted the first-ever analysis of the health hazards associated with plastic throughout its life cycle and found that “current patterns of production, use and disposal of plastic are not sustainable and are responsible for significant harm.” . human health … as well as for deep social injustice.”

None of this news is encouraging, especially in light of the fact that plastic production is still acceleration. However, improving our understanding of the effects of plastic on human health is an important step towards banning plastic. 75% support people all over the world. It is encouraging that more than 100 countries have banned single-use plastic bags in whole or in part, and policies in some countries thinking more about plastics in terms of their costly externalities, including pollution and health effects. However, the global regulation of plastics is still heavily out of step with both scientific and public opinion.

In 2021, the government of Canada officially classified plastics as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The move means the government has more control over the production and use of plastics, limiting exposures that threaten health. In response, plastics manufacturers including Imperial Oil, Dow Chemical and Nova Chemicals have formed a coalition to try break these rules.

More countries should declare plastic toxic and increase regulation, doubling down on the message that when plastic affects our health – even if it changes how our brains work – it violates our human rights.

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We first saw a star devouring a planet



An artist’s impression of a planet about to be swallowed up by a star

K. Miller and R. Hurt/Caltech/IPAC

For the first time, astronomers have caught a star devouring one of its planets. Someday our own sun will expand like this star, engulfing the other inner planets, so this system is a kind of preview of the fate of the Earth.

Kishalay De at MIT and colleagues used the Zwicky Transient Facility in California to detect a strange burst of light, designated ZTF SLRN-2020, from a star about 13,000 light-years away. Within about 10 days, it became brighter by about 100 times.

The outburst was similar to a phenomenon called a red nova, caused by the merger of two stars, but it was not as bright and did not release as much energy. By collecting more observations with other telescopes, the researchers found that the data is consistent with the fact that the star is not swallowing another star, but a gas giant planet at least 30 times the mass of the Earth.

We knew that stars ate planets because we saw the consequences of polluting stars with chemicals from the worlds they devoured. “In the past, all the evidence we have that stars eat planets came from observations of stars that did so hundreds of thousands of years ago,” says De. “But we’ve never caught a star red-handed eating a planet.”

This is expected to happen when the sun-like star uses up its hydrogen fuel and switches to helium fusion. In the process, the star becomes a red giant, and its atmosphere expands outward, engulfing any planets that unfortunately orbit too closely. In the case of ZTF SLRN-2020, it took the planet less than one Earth day to orbit its star.

The sun should begin its expansion in about 5 billion years. “In fact, we see how the fate of our own planet in real time happens to another unfortunate planet,” says De. “If you were to observe our solar system from 10,000 light-years away, you would see the Sun also getting brighter in the same way, but the effect would be nowhere near as dramatic because the Earth is much smaller than the Earth. [the planet] is.”

According to De, now that we know what planetary absorption looks like, it will be much easier to search for them and study them in more detail. The researchers calculated that this should happen about once a year in our galaxy, so we should be able to find more planets being devoured by their stars, as well as continue to watch this one and figure out the details of the process – and Earth’s future doom.


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Scientists Just Watched a Star Eating an Entire Planet



(Cape Canaveral, Florida) – For the first time, scientists have caught a star in the process of swallowing the planet – not just a bite or bite, but one big gulp.

Astronomers on Wednesday reported their observations of what appeared to be a Jupiter-sized or larger gas giant being devoured by its star. The solar star swelled with age for thousands of years and finally became so large that it swallowed up a planet in close orbit.

This is a grim preview of what will happen to Earth when our Sun becomes a red giant and engulfs the four inner planets.

“If it’s any consolation, it will happen in about 5 billion years,” said co-author Morgan Macleod of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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This galactic feast took place between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago near the constellation Aquila, when the star was about 10 billion years old. As the planet descended into the stellar hatch, there was a quick burst of hot light, followed by a continuous stream of dust that shone brightly in cold infrared energy, the researchers said.

read more: James Webb’s latest image reveals new clues about the origin of the universe

Despite earlier indications of other stars gnawing at planets and their digestive effects, this is the first time the swallow itself has been observed, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

MIT researcher Kishalay De spotted the flash of light in 2020 while viewing sky images taken by Caltech’s Palomar Observatory. It took more observations and data processing to unravel the mystery: instead of a star swallowing its companion star, this star swallowed its planet.

Considering a star’s lifespan is billions of years, the ingestion itself was fairly short—essentially in one fell swoop, said Caltech’s Mansi Kasliwal, who participated in the study.

The findings are “very plausible,” said Carol Haswell, an astrophysicist at the British Open University who was not involved in the study. In 2010, Haswell led a team that used the Hubble Space Telescope to identify the star WASP-12 in the process of eating its planet.

“It’s a different kind of food. This star swallowed an entire planet in one gulp,” Haswell wrote in an email. “In contrast, WASP-12 b and other hot Jupiters we’ve previously studied lick and bite delicately.”

Astronomers don’t know if there are more planets orbiting this star at a safer distance. If so, De said, they could have thousands of years before they become second- or third-year stars.

Now that they know what to look for, explorers will look for new space gulps. They suspect that thousands of planets around other stars will suffer the same fate as this one, and ultimately our solar system.

“Everything that we see around us, everything that we have built around ourselves, will disappear in the blink of an eye,” De said.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Group says shortage of monkeys for research undermines U.S. preparedness



There is a shortage of monkeys available for medical research, and the US should expand its breeding programs rather than rely on international suppliers to deal with the problem, a powerful scientific advisory group said Thursday.

Research using non-human primates, especially monkeys, has been critical to life-saving medical advances, including the development of COVID-19 vaccines, due to their resemblance to humans. The US is funding colonies at National Primate Centers, but supplies have been limited and even before the pandemic, more animals were regularly imported.

Then China, once a leading supplier, stopped exporting research monkeys in 2020 as scientists around the world needed more for coronavirus research. And last fall the USA filed charges to stop Cambodian smuggling ring are accused of sending endangered wild monkeys instead of those bred for research, further restricting supplies.

The report, released Thursday, only looked at NIH-funded research deemed key to public health emergency response, not pharmaceutical companies or other publicly or privately funded monkey research.

The country’s preparedness is being undermined by its dependence on imports of these animals, which are especially important for research into infectious diseases and neuroscience, the commission from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said. Highlighting this vulnerability, the US faced a 20 percent drop in imports of one species, the cynomolgus macaque, when China abruptly cut off supplies.

The panel also called for further development of alternatives to testing on monkeys, and in the meantime called for closer collaboration among scientists to make the best use of each research animal.

“If the US wants to conduct high-impact biomedical research and have a research infrastructure capable of responding to the next public health crisis, now is the time to strengthen the systems needed for non-human primate research,” said committee chairman Dr. Kenneth Ramos of Texas A&M University.

The use of animals in biomedical research, especially non-human primates, is controversial. Under pressure, the NIH has already excluded chimpanzees, humans’ closest relatives, from invasive research, but says the need for apes still exists. The report states that primates make up 0.5% of all animals used in biomedical research in the US.

In a survey of NIH-supported researchers, a panel of national academies found that 64% reported problems obtaining non-human primates needed for their jobs, including increased waiting times and costs. The report says that in 2021 the National Primate Research Centers had such a shortage of monkeys never used in previous studies that they could not meet two-thirds of the researchers’ requests.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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