Researchers develop self sterilizing bacterial air filter using graphene

Rice University researchers have developed self-sterilizing bacterial air filters using graphene. Workings of this novel air filter are published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.

This devise captures bacteria, fungi, spores, prions, endotoxins and other biological contaminants carried by droplets, aerosols and particulate matter. The filter then prevents the microbes and other contaminants from proliferating by periodically heating up to 350 degrees Celsius (662 degrees Fahrenheit), enough to obliterate pathogens and their toxic byproducts.

The filter utilizes laser-induced graphene. ┬áThis is a conductive foam of pure, atomically thin carbon sheets synthesized through heating the surface of a common polyimide sheet with an industrial laser cutter. The process discovered by Tour’s lab in 2014 has led to a range of applications for electronics, triboelectric nanogenerators, electrocatalysis, water filtration and even art.

The lab tested LIG filters with a commercial vacuum filtration system, pulling air through at a rate of 10 liters per minute for 90 hours, and found that Joule heating successfully sanitized the filters of all pathogens and byproducts. Incubating used filters for an additional 130 hours revealed no subsequent bacterial growth on the heated units, unlike control LIG filters that had not been heated.

This filter provides use case scenarios especially in hospitals, schools, and passenger aircraft. Although similar air filtration systems are available currently, self sterilization of filter holds promise as it can reduce number of filters used and their replacement frequency there by providing a cost reduction. However further research is required before this product is fully implemented.


In Russia, lower alcohol consumption associated with increase in life expectancy

A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol & Drugs shown that there is a correlation between lower alcohol consumption and decreased mortality rate. According to the research life expectancy for men and women is 6.1 and 4.7 years longer than it was in 1980, with alcohol consumption patterns playing a significant role.

Researchers utilized the Russian Fertility and Mortality Database to obtain data on death rates and cause of death, including deaths specifically due to alcohol consumption (e.g., alcohol poisoning, liver disease, and cardiomyopathy) as well as deaths frequently related to drinking (e.g., suicide and homicide). They obtained data on life expectancy broken down by sex and beer sales from the Russian Statistical Service. Alcohol consumption rates were estimated using a technique developed by the study’s first author, Alexander Nemtsov, of the Moscow Research Institute of Psychiatry.

Researchers observed three waves overtime in which drinking and mortality dropped together. The first was 1985 to 1987, a time that corresponded with Mikhail Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign of the 1980s. Shortly after repeal of these measures in 1990, life expectancy again dropped while alcohol consumption, particularly of illegal vodka, increased.

In the second wave from 1995 to 1998, life expectancy again grew as the economy faltered and alcohol consumption declined. But beginning in 1998, purchasing power increased in Russia, followed by increased drinking and decreased life expectancy.

The third wave, beginning around 2003 and continuing through the present, saw the enactment of a number of government policies aimed at alcohol consumption. These included greater restrictions on hours of sale and the locations in which alcohol can be sold, increases in minimum pricing and alcohol taxes, stricter licensing, and prohibitions on public drinking. At the same time, the authors note that Russian drinking patterns changed, shifting somewhat away from vodka and toward beer.

Although the study can’t prove that the decrease in alcohol consumption directly led to improved life expectancy, the link is strong, waxing and waning in tandem over time.

Fat mass index better predictor of cardiovascular events in diabetics

According to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, type 2 diabetics with higher fat mass index are prone to develop cardiovascular events. The study showed that fat mass index (FMI) is superior to lean body mass index (BMI) in predicting heart-related events.

Researchers conducted a post hoc analysis of data from the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) study. This study involved 10251 patients and had a mean follow up of 8.8 years. Of these, a major cardiovascular event occurred in 1801 patients (17.8%). In the study patients in the fourth quartile for fat mass index had a hazard ratio of 1.53 compared to patients in the first quartile.

This study is important as it provides better metric fat mass index (FMI) to predict cardiovascular events compared to BMI which is commonly used to measure obesity.

Contaminated tap water and cancer

Researchers from Environmental Working Group conducted a cumulative assessment of cancer risk due to carcinogenic compounds found in drinking water. They used a novel analytical framework that calculated their combined health impacts. Results of the study showed that these substances would result in more than 100,000 cancer cases nationwide. Findings of the study are published in journal Heliyon.

In this study they utilized comprehensive nationwide dataset for contaminant occurrence in community water systems in the United States. This dataset contains water quality profiles for 48,363 community water systems. The dataset does not include water quality information on private wells .

Most of the increased cancer risk is due to contamination with arsenic, disinfection byproducts and radioactive elements such as uranium and radium. Water systems with the highest risk tend to serve smaller communities and rely on groundwater. These communities often need improved infrastructure and resources to provide safe drinking water to their residents. However, large surface water systems contribute a significant share of the overall risk due to the greater population served and the consistent presence of disinfection byproducts.

This research highlights importance of much needed improvement in infrastructure to provide clean and safe drinking water.