Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Biosolids as Agricultural Fertilizer?!?!?!?!

         ARE THEY SERIOUS?         

     Have you ever thought about farmers using biosolids (human waste) from sewage treatment plants to be used as sustainable agricultural fertilizer? Right off the bat, it sounds unsanitary and unthinkable, however, there are farmers that use it and think it's beneficial. Pharmaceuticals, steroids, flame-retardants, metals, hormones and human pathogens, among other things have been found in biosolids. The Environmental Protection Agency found more than 100 toxins in its January 2009 Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey.

     Dr. Alan B. Rubin, a principal author of key E.P.A. biosolids regulations and a staunch biosolids proponent does say that living in proximity to biosolids may be uncomfortable, particularly for “health-sensitive” individuals. “I’m not saying that this causes illnesses like cancer, emphysema or cirrhosis or any other horrible disease,” he said. “But it is causing an impact on the quality of life.”

     Many individuals, especially many farmers, find pros in biosolids. People think of biosolids as nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment facility. They believe that when treated and processed, these substances can be recycled and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth.
     They see a difference between biosolids and sewage slugde. Biosolids are treated sewage sludge. Biosolids are carefully treated and monitored and must be used according to regulatory requirements where they exist.

     Particular farmers think that after treatment and processing, biosolids can be recycled and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth. In their opinion, the application of biosolids completes a natural cycle in the environment. By treating sewage sludge, the biosolids can be used as valuable fertilizer, instead of taking up space in a landfill or other disposal facilities. The application of biosolids reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. As more wastewater plants become capable of producing high quality biosolids, some farmers believe that there is an even greater opportunity to make use of this valuable resource.

     The general public are the potential stakeholders in this issue. We are the ones that have to purchase and eat what the farmers grow. They provide us with our food to live. In my opinion, we are very influenced by the western view of human waste as an unsanitary and disgusting nuisance. We can't imagaine biosolids and human waste even going near our foods, however, what we probably don't realize is that biosolids are quite beneficial to sustaining our agriculture. There has not been any sign of significant health risks as a result of using biosolids as fertilizer. The pros outweigh the cons in this situation and generally, biosolids are benefitting our society.



Monday, December 6, 2010

First In Canada to Use Endoscopic Ultrasound Technology

     A gastroenterologist trained at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota is now using endoscopic ultrasound technology at York Central Hospital, in Richmond Hill, Ont., to more accurately diagnose lesions found in the GI (Gastrointestinal) tracts of patients.
     The procedure involves, a small ultrasound transducer being installed on the tip of an endoscope. An endoscope is a small, lighted, flexible tube with a camera attached. By inserting the endoscope and camera into the upper or the lower digestive tract, the doctor is able to obtain high-quality ultrasound images of organs. The images obtained with EUS are often more accurate and detailed than images provided by traditional ultrasound.

     The technology also enables the physician to see how far cancers have developed, and to determine the best path to recovery for patients. It is said to be an excellent way of identifying cancers and other illnesses – quickly, accurately, and in a non-invasive manner.
     York Central Hospital is one of the first facilities in Canada to employ the technology.  It will most likely become a standard practice across the country as word of its effectiveness spreads.
     The ultrasound device not only creates images of structures on the surface of the GI tract, but also identifies problems in the walls of the stomach, duodenum and intestines. Generally, it can be used to image nearby structures, such as major blood vessels, the pancreas, liver, gallbladder and lymph nodes.
     “Endoscopic ultrasound can tell us what type of lesions we’re dealing with, even if they are submucosal (beneath the surface layer),” said Dr. Nijhawan. He emphasized that endoscopic ultrasound is most useful for patients who have had a regular endoscopy, during which a lesion was found. An EUS can help the specialist determine the nature of the mass without the need for exploratory surgery. In each of these cases, the images will appear differently on the computer screen, which the physician watches as he or she performs the procedure. “It’s a matter of pattern recognition,” noted Dr.

     The technology is also extremely useful for cancer staging. For example, in cases of advanced esophageal cancer, removal of a large part of the esophagus could be more traumatic to the patient than foregoing the surgery and allowing the person to live out his remaining days, months or years with the ability to eat and drink relatively normally.
     Dr. Nijhawan predicts that enhancements to EUS technology will appear in the near future, such as narrower catheters, making it easier for the patient to swallow and reducing the risk of tearing the GI tract. As well, he considers developments in the area of fine needle aspirants – the devices that allow physicians to take tissue biopsies while they are conducting the endoscopic ultrasound. It's an efficient and reliable method of determining what’s going on inside the GI tract, and it makes an accurate diagnosis.




Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stop Before It's Too Late!

            LEAVE THE ANIMALS ALONE              

    We see this issue playing out almost everyday of our lives. When we walk by a fast food place or purchase a meal from somewhere like McDonalds, we are unknowingly apart of what's occuring. When we start munching on those delicious chicken nuggets, we aren't concerning ourselves with where it may have come from.
     Little do we know that farmers now adays, working with industrial agriculture, are fattening their chickens to meet the high demands of poultry within our societies. They are changing the typical image of a chicken to large, plump, and fat. The success of the agriculture industry has come at a high price. The animals deserve to be treated with dignity. Not only is the agriculture industry keeping up with the rapid growth of the global human population, but they are going above and beyond. They are doing more than is required which is putting others in jeopardy.

     Chickens are apart of the few highly productive livestock breeds that most of us consume from a day to day basis. While these highly productive livestock are continuing to produce in vast amounts, genetic diversity is slowly being reduced. Some less productive breeds are even becoming extinct from our selfishlike ways. Not only is the agricultural industry slowly affecting our organisms and species, but they are also polluting the air , bodies of water and some of our ecosystems. Their methods of factory farming are releasing harsh pollutants into our atmosphere, creating a risk for our health.    

     There are, however, those out there who are determined to practice moral and ethical duties when it comes to producing food for the general public. Sustainable agriculture is a method of farming that acknowledges how important it is to have harmony between what we eat and our environment. They are not the favourable industry at this time because their food is more expensive compared to the cheap and affordable foods the industrial agriculture organizations are producing. These particular benefits do not outweigh the risks of distorting the organisms of our environment.

Our health and well-being and the well-being of our environment is much more important than accessing cheap and convenient foods. We must make sustainable agriculture a priority as opposed to having it as an option to possibly consider in the furture. The time is now!

Sources Used:


Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's Wrong With My Baby?

Would you want to choose how you want your baby to look from a flyer or a catalogue, making sure it's up to par and meets your every need? Has society actually come to this? Why couldn't we appreciate the gift of life and not have to dwell upon how our children will look physically or what they might have to endure?

     Sometimes genetic disorders (such as Down Syndrome and TaySachs disease) discovered in the mother's womb, before the baby is born, urge parents to abort the child when still in the womb to prevent from living a medically strenuous life. Using tests like amniocentesis and CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling), doctors can detect birth defects in the unborn child and then parents can discuss to abort the fetus. These tests, however, are not always accurate. Is that a sufficient reason to end the life of an innocent child? Does this give us the right to decide whether or not a child deserves to live? We shouldn't have to put lives at risk for any needless reason.
     There is technology among us to screen human embryos for specific genetic traits. However, where do we draw the line between disease prevention and creating “designer babies”?

     The procedure that has many people concerned is called,
pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. The technique was developed for use with in vitro fertilization to help identify embryos that would be afflicted with fatal or devastating diseases. After embryos have been fertilized, PGD uses DNA analysis to identify embryos with genetic defects like Down’s syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, Huntington’s disease, and cystic fibrosis. There are about 200 diseases and conditions that can be tested for. Parents undergo the genetic testing to make sure that the embryos they choose to transplant don’t have the genes that cause these diseases. Embryos that test positive can be discarded, and the genes eliminated from the gene pool.
     In the past, the only way to test for genetic diseases before birth was through amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, both happen farther along in pregnancy. Testing an existing pregnancy is risky, because if a genetic defect is found, the couple would be left with the unpleasant choice of having a disabled child or aborting the pregnancy. PGD prevents couples from having to make that decision, since only healthy embryos are transplanted. This procedure is quite expensive.
     PGD is most often recommended for two types of couples: those with family histories of inheritable diseases, and older parents. PGD seeks to eliminate the disease from the family bloodline and ensures that the child is healthy. PGD can help them by identifying normal healthy embryos, which have the best chances of developing into healthy pregnancies.
     In my opinion, we should let nature take its course. The precious lives of our children are at risk.
Sources used:

Hyperlinks: http://adorablogs.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

GREEN QUEST- Green Diagnostics

     A well-known company named "Quest Diagnostics" embarked on a project named, GreenQuest in 2008. They have found new ways to reduce our environmental footprints, recycle or reuse materials and conserve energy. Their quest to be an environmentally conscious company is an inspirational effort to help all of us positively affect the biodiversity of our ecosystems. They care for the environment as well as the health and well-being of all human beings.

They established groups of employee volunteers called GreenTeams. These teams work together to brainstorm positive human interventions on our environment and identify specific green projects. Some participated in projects to recycle batteries, ink and toner cartridges, and even sneakers, often donating proceeds to local charities. Others took on projects that improved the efficiency of our facilities, such as replacing inefficient light bulbs and eliminating wasteful water consumption. Whether their initiatives are big or small, the GreenTeams continue to think of new ways to make Earth a more environmentally friendly place for all of us to live in.
In 2008, Quest Diagnostics tackled on a system wide conservation effort to reduce energy and water consumption. They also took steps to cut down on the amount of waste generated by various facilities.
From 2007 to 2008, their facilities reduced:
·        electricity consumption by 4%
·        water consumption by 7%
·        garbage generation by 17%
·        bio hazardous waste generation by 14%
One enterprise wide effort was to convert paper pay stubs to an electronic self-serve format, forever eliminating the consumption of hundreds of pounds of printing paper and ink, and the resources needed to transport that mail across the country. Another project being widely replicated is the introduction of reusable waste containers. This eliminates the needless manufacturing and disposal of tens of thousands of pounds of plastic materials. Even the simple idea of replacing manual paper towel dispensers in our bathrooms with electronic models yielded significant savings and reduced waste by 4400 lbs. of paper a year. That's equivalent to 37 trees not being harvested.

Car-Pooling Program
In order to improve our environmental footprint, they not only look at how we work, but how we commute to work. In 2009, they launched an interactive application to their GreenQuest employee website. This new feature allows employees of Quest Diagnostics to connect with other employees in their community and coordinate ride-share opportunities. By simply sharing a ride with one other person their employees can save up to 50% in car maintenance, repair, tolls and parking costs. What’s more, for every gallon of gas they save, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are prevented from reaching the atmosphere.