Thursday, April 21, 2011

Biosolids, good? or bad?

Biosolids is organic matter recycled from sewage and is used for agriculture. According to Web Definitions, Biosolids, also referred to as treated sludge, is a term used by the waste water industry to denote the byproduct of domestic and commercial sewage and wastewater treatment. Biosolids are produced primarily through biological treatment of domestic wastewater(4). Biosolids comprise the solids that are removed from the wastewater and further processed before the treated water is released into streams or rivers(1). So, if biosolids goes through the process of sanitizing wastewater treatment solids to control disease-causing organisms and reduce characteristics that might attract rodents, flies, mosquitoes, or other organisms capable of transporting infectious disease; does this exactly make it safe? 

The following picture shows the process of biosolids.

"Results revealed that some reported health-related symptoms were statistically significantly elevated among the exposed residents, including excessive secretion of tears, abdominal bloating, jaundice, skin ulcers, dehydration, weight loss, and general weakness. The frequency of reported occurrence of bronchitis, upper respiratory infection and giardiasis were also statistically significantly elevated. the finding suggest and increased risk for certain respiratory gastrointestinal, and other diseases among residents living near farm fields on which the use of biosolids was permitted." -Khuuder, et al., Health Surveys(2). As clearly seen in the picture, biosolids is a potential health hazard, contaminates, may contain hazardous chemicals, decreases property value, and produces an odour. 

However, most researchers agree that the effects of organic compounds, metals, and microorganism in biosolids are not harmful to humans or the environment is managed carefully(3). Is it fair or beneficial that it does not affect the environment but does affect individuals in the society? According to Pollution Issues - Biosolids can be used to fertilize agricultural crops and forests, reclaim mines and disturbed lands cover landfills, and make compost for soil amendment and landscaping. Most biosolids in this country, about 63% are put to beneficial use, and it predicted that this increased up to 70% in 2010. So, exactly why are biosolids desirable? Biosolids add nutrients and organic matter and in addition, they contain all the elements essential for plant growth. Lastly, it improves water infiltration and helps hold water and nutrients for use by plants. This reduces runoff and erosion (3).

Therefore, the benefits of biosolids out weight the disadvantages that biosolids may cause. Biosolids are used in many ways. These ways include: Co-generation/ power production/ energy recover, land application in agriculture, road base, land application in forestry operations, land rehabilitation, composition, landfill, and oil from sludge(4). Yes, biosolids raise concern about contaminants in biosolids. Many studies have identified heavy metals, organic pollutants and pesticides in many samples of biosolids. However, these contaminants are necessary from plant growth. I personally believe that biosolids goes through its process, for a reason - to eliminate any potential organisms that might rise health risks. Biosolids have been used in Canada for over 40 years, and why not continue to use them if it is carefully regulated to avoid any issues to arise. Biosolids add nutrients and organic matter and in addition, they contain all the elements essential for plant growth. If biosolids aren't used, what will?

Works Cited:

  1. "Agricultural Land Application of Biosolids in Virginia: Production and Characteristics of Biosolids - Home - Virginia Cooperative Extension." Publications and Educational Resources - Home - Virginia Cooperative Extension. 27 Apr. 2011 <>.
  2. "Biosolids - water, effects, environmental, pollutants, United States, EPA, soil, industrial, toxic, world, human, sources, disposal, use, health." Pollution Issues. 27 Apr. 2011 <>.
  3. "Land Application of Sewage Sludge in Pennsylvania - Effects of Biosolids on Soil and Crop Quality — Crop and Soil Sciences." Home — Crop and Soil Sciences. 27 Apr. 2011 <>.
  4. "Sludge, Sludge treatment, Sludge Disposal, Sewage, Australian New Zealand Biosolids." Australian and New Zealand Biosolids Partnership. 27 Apr. 2011 <>.
  5. "Sludge." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 27 Apr. 2011 <>.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Oh, Technology!

Many people have concerns on the advance on technologies and how it will impact our environment in the near future - but have they taken a closer look on how major opportunities which will arise in the health sector in the future. This advances and development of medical technology has been able to care treatment as well as save lives, worldwide. So, exactly how important is technology? So important!

Taking a closer look at a artificial pacemaker we see how technology has evolved and now plays a significant part of individuals life. A artificial pacemaker is a medical device which uses electrical impulses, delivered by electrodes contacting the heart muscles, to regulate the beating of the heart.The primary purpose of a pacemaker is to maintain an adequate heart rate, either because the heart's native pacemaker is not fast enough, or there is a block in the heart's electrical conduction system. It is evident that technology has expanded since there are different methods of pacing for an artificial pacemaker (Medline Plus). These include: Percussive pacing, also known as Transthoracic, Transcutaneous pacing, also called external pacing, Epicardial pacing, Transvenous pacing, and permanent pacing (Heart Wellness Store). Without the technology of the artificial pacemaker, many peoples life would be at risk. Technology has advanced to the point in which pacemakers now incorporate defibrillators. So, many may ask, “how many people in the world have a pace makers?” The answer is that the number exceeds 2 million. There are 300,000 implants each year all over the world, some of which are replacements (Facts About Advances in Medical Technology).
As medical technology continues to grow on many levels, the future of medical technology seems bright. With a view for scientists to continue to discover cures for cancer, blindness, disability and disease prevention, medical technology will continue to provide the world with a healthier future.Another example would be X-rays. (About X-rays). X-rays is a form of electromagnetic radiation. They have a wavelength in the rage of 0.01 to 10 nanometers. X-rays are important because they are a noninvasive way to examine the internal parts of the body. They are also used to treat certain forms of cancer. X-rays are used to determine hairline fractures or major breaks in bones. They are also used to view the heart and other internal organs for abnormalities, such as the brain, blocked blood vessels and the lungs. X-rays are also involved in dental care; it allows dentists to look for cavities and to diagnose root canals and other periodontal or gum diseases.

I personally think that technology is a huge aspect in todays society, not only because it provides us with social networking but because technology is capable of saving the lives of many individuals and within time, it will be the answer to many of the medical issues today. A simple form of technology that is seen often is the use computerization of medical records (Electronic Design). Electronic medical records have made information more accessible and more accurate. Now, instead of sifting through seemingly endless shelves of folders and papers, one can simply look up patient information in a neat electronic database, and in critical medical situations, this can save valuable time. Technology is involved to find the cure of health issues. We see that technology is responsible for diagnosing patients, which allows doctors to provide help to them. MRI, NMRI, or MRT is a useful machine that can help detect brain tumours, or such. Technology is no doubt is an important part of out everyday life and such a broad term that its contribution to our understanding of internal body system is indescribable!

Works Cited
  1. Design, Electronic. "Medical Electronics: Technology Advances Will Revolutionize Healthcare." Electronic Design Home Page. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <>.
  2. NASA Official: Ruth Netting. "X-rays." X-rays. Nasa Gov. Web. <>.
  3. New Medical Technology: Lifesaving and Life-Enhancing | Reader's Digest Version." Health Tips, Food and Recipes, Funny Jokes and Cartoons, and Sweepstakes | Reader’s Digest Version. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <>.
  4. Burdett, Jennifer. "Facts About Advances in Medical Technology |" EHow | How to Videos, Articles & More - Trusted Advice for the Curious Life | Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <>.
  5. "ABOUT X-RAYS." ACRIN HOME. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <>.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Growing Population vs Conserving Biodiversity

    Every second 5 people are born and 2 people die, a net gain of 3 people. At this rate, the world population will double every 40 years and would be 12 billion in 40 years, 24 billion in 80 years, and more than 48 billion in 120 years (2). How is this population being feed, or will be feed in the future? According to USDA slaughter stats in 2008, the following number of animals were killed to supply the growing population with food: Cattles: 35,507,500. Pigs: 116,558,900. Chickens: 9,075,261,000. Layer hens: 69,683,000. Broiler chickens: 9,005,578,000. Turkeys: 271,245,000 (3). Are there any benefits obtain on relying on a few highly productive livestock?

    Industrial agriculture is a form of modern farming that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, poultry, fish, and crops. While Sustainable agriculture is a way of raising food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment. What is the distinctions between the two? According to a science blog, the main distinctions are between a system that tends toward domination and one that strives for harmony; between that which seeks to specialize and that which promotes diversity; between promoting competition and seeking community and cooperation; and between that which is defined by values of speed, quantity, and profit and that defined by values of permanence, quality, and beauty (4). From the following image we see the major difference in Sustainable and Industrial agriculture and also proves that Sustainable Agriculture is much more convenient then Industrial Agriculture. 

    Genetically Modification is is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Examples of genetically modified items are: Soybeans, corn, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and rice. Rice is genetically modified to contain high amounts of Vitamin A. Cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits and pigs have been genetically modified with the aim of producing human proteins that are useful, generally as medicines. The gene transfer process is typically very inefficient, and cloning is seen as another way of propagating the GM animal (5).  The Cattle is genetically modified to produce high-protein milk ideal for the cheese industry are created in New Zealand. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this? In resistant rape plants the advantage is that the farmer can grow a larger crop because it is easier to fight pests, while the disadvantage is that genes from the genetically modified rape crop could be transferred to the pests. The pests then become resistant to the crop spray and the crop spraying becomes useless. The advantage of long lasting tomatoes is that because the GM tomatoes can remain fresh longer they can be allowed to ripen in the sun before picking - resulting in a better tasting tomato. Disadvantages of this is; scientists today can genetically modify tomatoes without inserting genes for antibiotic resistance. However the first genetically modified tomatoes contained genes that made them resistant to antibiotics. Doctors and vets use antibiotics to fight infections. These genes spread to animals and people, doctors would have difficulties fighting infectious diseases (6). 

    The agriculture industry is able to keep up with the rapid growth of the global human population, although with the help of Industrial Agriculture, which may lead to many issues. Genetically modified foods can be very dangerous and cause many health problems. In addition to the health issues that it may cause it, there are also many disadvantages which are mentioned previously. In the following video it suggest that by using bio-technology would be a sustainable solution to feeding the mass population. 

    Work Cited:

    1. "Define:Genetic Diversity - Google Search." Google. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. < diversity&sa=X&ei=tPgsTcLqB474sAOej_2OBg&ved=0CBgQkAE>.
    2. "World Population Facts." Did You Know? Web. 11 Jan. 2011. <>.
    3. USDA's Official Number of Animals Killed for Food." Animal Liberation Front. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. <>.
    4. "Industrial Agriculture v. Sustainable Agriculture : The World's Fair." ScienceBlogs. Web. 12 Jan. 2011. <>.
    5. "CGS : Background: Cloned and Genetically Modified Animals." CGS : Center for Genetics and Society. Web. 12 Jan. 2011. <>.
    6. "4 Examples of Genetically Modified Crops." Bionet - New Discoveries in Life Sciences - Explore the Science and Debate the Issues. Web. 12 Jan. 2011. <>.


    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Designer babies: Are things getting out of hand?

    Designer babies is the term being used by the media to describe the future of modifying or selecting child's genes for desirable characteristics. Advanced reproductive technologies allow parents and doctors to screen embryos for genetic disorders and select healthy embryos. This process involve using InVitro Fertilization or, also known as IVF, to fertilize eggs with sperm in test-tubes outside of the mother's body in a laboratory. These techniques allow doctors and parents to reduce the chance that a child will be born with a genetic disorder. This technique is used for parents to a kid's sex and screen for genetic illness but will they someday select this for brains and beauty as well? Is this socially and ethically wrong?
    Adapting a technique used on livestock, researchers at the Genetics & IVF Institute in Fairfax took advantage of a simple rule of biology: girls have two X chromosomes, while boys have one X and one Y. The mother has only Xs to offer, so the balance of power lies with the father-specifically with his sperm, which brings either an X or a Y to the fertilization process. As it happens, Y chromosomes have slightly less DNA than Xs. So by staining the sperm's DNA with a nontoxic light-sensitive dye, the Virginia scientists were able to sort sperm by gender-with a high rate of success-before using them in artificial insemination. The first couple to use the technique was looking to escape a deadly disease known as X-linked hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, which almost always affects boys. (Times Magazine, Designer babies) 

    Designer babies is debatable whether it is good, or not. Genetic screening can recude the baby's chances of being born with serious diseases. This can include: Down Syndrome, Family Hypercholesterolemia, Diamond Blackfan (a rare blood disorder), and much more.Their are cases in which designer babies has turned to be a positive thing and has saved many lives. For example, Charlie Whitaker, suffered from Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, Charlie's parents wanted to have a designer baby to save Charlie's life. In 2003, Charlies baby brother was born and the stem cells from his umbilical cord would be used to treat Charlie. (Times Magazine, Designer babies)

    People begun to ask questions such as, “Is it ethical to create designer babies with enhanced physical ability and appearance?” According to The National Director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green said, "The objection to the idea of designer babies is that it divorces procreation from the act of sexual congress, and there's a real sense in which it is playing God." Critics point out that the level of biodiversity in the human race will plummet, which can result in long term disaster. According to trans-humanist author Jame Hughes, the genetic modification is perfectly fine if nobody gets hurt and everybody has access. He believes that restricting is is an assault on reproductive freedom. He quotes, “It’s in the same category as abortion. If you think women have the right to control their own bodies, then they should be able to make this choice," he said. "There should be no law restricting the kind of kids people have, unless there’s gross evidence that they’re going to harm that kid, or harm society." (Designer Babies, A right of choice?). If this is considered like abortion, would it not be wrong? Would it not stand against are religious beliefs as Christian Catholics? According to our faith, abortion is considered killing and claims that embryos are persons with rights and therefore have the right to live. Does the embryo also not have a choice to make? Maybe the male parent which has a passion for sports might apply athletic genes to the embryo, what if this is not wanted by them when they are older? There has been a number of discussion relating whether or not designer babies are ethical implications. Taking a look into the future, this will definitely cause chaos. It will result in increase of unreasonable fear or hatred towards foreigners or anyone who appears different. People with genetic defects will be socially rejected. (Buzzle Articles)

    In my personal opinion, designer babies are a privilege up to an extend. If the idea of designer babies lays behind preventing the future baby from medical problems I believe that it is correct and reasonable. However, society presently is strongly influenced by media and the fact that you can design the baby by the way they will physically look, and how smart they will be, is not right. Also, I believe that designer babies has an idea that is similar to abortion. In abortion, you are not accepting your child for who they are and how they are. Instead, some parents decide to take the child's life away, in a way, designer babies is the same, the child is not given the choice but instead the parents make it for them thinking that it is alright. Also, if parents are willing to pay millions of dollars for a child, are they going to expect them to be perfect and use that against the child? Do you believe that that is right? I personally do not. 

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    David Suzuki Foundation

    Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is generally recognized as one of the most significant environmental challenges facing out planet today(2). According to National Sciences, Biodiversity is the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or for the entire Earth(4). Biodiversity is often used as a measure of the health of biological systems. Many scientists consider humans as the most invasive specie, as humans can greatly change an environment and impact living things that reside there. But are humans only causing a negative impact on our environment?
    Humans, we are also capable of giving back to the environment, such figure as, David Suzuki. David Suzuki was born March 24, 1936 and is a Japanese Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmentalist activist. His story begun back in 1989, as he sounded alarm to as where the planet was heading. Over 17, 000 of his shocked fans sent him letters asking for ways to avert the catastrophe. After many meetings, something significant was afoot and finally in September 14, 1990, the David Suzuki Foundation was Incorporated.

    The human brain now holds the key to our future. We have to recall the image of the planet from outer space: a single entity in which air, water, and continents are interconnected. That is our home.” - David Suzuki (3). David Suzuki's early projects were international because project dollars could go much further overseas. They worked with the Ainu of Japan to protect salmon, indigenous people of Columbia, and the Kayapo people of Brazil. A project was started in Australia and worked with the Hesquiat people of Vancouver Island to restore a clam fishery. Though all these projects were in process, they needed guiding principles to steer the direction of the foundation. Together, as a group they wrong “The Declaration of Interdependence”. At the Rio Earth Summit, portions of their decelerations where woven into the work of others around the world to from the Earth Charter, who adherents are still growing.

    The David Suzuki Foundation targets towards many issues. Climate change, Health, Oceans, and Wildlife and habitat. Climate had projects such as: “Trottier Energy Futures Project”, and the Olympics, to ensure solutions for reducing the climate impact of the 2010 Olympics, the David Suzuki Foundation developed strategies for a carbon neutral games(1). Health includes projects such as: “What's inside? That Counts?”, this involves U.S. Researchers which found that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers and degreasers. Another project being, “Go Pesticides Free,” pesticides being chemicals that are designed to kill, The David Suzuki Foundation recommends choosing local, organic produce, whenever possible, and doing away with the so-called cosmetic use of pesticides on lawns, gardens, and house plants(1). Oceans contains projects such as the “Health Oceans Project.” Since Oceans provide us with many benefits, including food, oxygen and cultural recreational and economics opportunities. The effects of industrial fishing, pollution, and climate change combine to pose a constantly increasing threat to coastal and marine environments and wildlife(1). Lastly, Wildlife and habitat contains projects such as “Grizzly bears, and Habitat Matters” that both deal with helping the increase of endangered animals.

    The following are the images of the projects in which David Suzuki in making a difference in biodiversity and in our world. In conclusion, we see that one of many foundations such as the David Suzuki Foundation makes an effort into making a difference in our economy and having a positive effect in our environment rather then a negative one. 

    "We must reinvent a future free of blinders so that we can choose from real options." - David Suzuki. (3)

    Work Cited:
    1. "Solutions Are in Our Nature." David Suzuki Foundation | Solutions Are in Our Nature. Ed. Erika Rathjee. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.
    2. "Human Interaction with Nature: Benefits of Biodiversity – Planetsave." Planetsave. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.
    3. "David Suzuki Quotes." Find the Famous Quotes You Need, Quotations. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <>.
    4. Shah, Anup. "Biodiversity A€” Global Issues." Global Issues : Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All รข€” Global Issues. 20 July 1998. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <>.