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Exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) during pregnancy through the first two years of a child’s life may be associated with an increased risk of the child developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition that affects one in 68 children, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health investigation of children in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The research is funded by The Heinz Endowments and published in the July edition of Environmental Research.
Autism spectrum disorders are lifelong conditions for which there is no cure and limited treatment options, so there is an urgent need to identify any risk factors that we could mitigate, such as pollution. Our findings reflect an association, but do not prove causality. Further investigation is needed to determine possible biological mechanisms for such an association.—lead author Evelyn Talbott, Dr.P.H., professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health
Dr. Talbott and her colleagues performed a population-based, case-control study of families with and without ASD living in six southwestern Pennsylvania counties. They obtained detailed information about where the mothers lived before, during and after pregnancy and, using a model developed by Pitt Public Health assistant professor and study co-author Jane Clougherty, Sc.D., were able to estimate individual exposure to PM2.5.
Because of its small size—less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter—PM2.5 can reach deeply into the lungs and get into the blood stream. Southwestern Pennsylvania has consistently ranked among the nation’s worst regions for PM2.5 levels, according to data collected by the American Lung Association.
Autism spectrum disorders are a range of conditions characterized by social deficits and communication difficulties that typically become apparent early in childhood. Reported cases of ASD have risen nearly eight-fold in the last two decades. While previous studies have shown the increase to be partially due to changes in diagnostic practices and greater public awareness of autism, this does not fully explain the increased prevalence. Both genetic and environmental factors are believed to be responsible.
Dr. Talbott and her team interviewed the families of 211 children with ASD and 219 children without ASD born between 2005 and 2009. The families lived in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Estimated average exposure to PM2.5 before, during and after pregnancy was compared between children with and without ASD.
Based on the child’s exposure to concentrations of PM2.5 during the mother’s pregnancy and the first two years of life, the Pitt Public Health team found that children who fell into higher exposure groups were at an approximate 1.5-fold greater risk of ASD after accounting for other factors associated with the child’s risk for ASD—such as the mother’s age, education and smoking during pregnancy. This risk estimate is in agreement with several other recent investigations of PM2.5 and autism.
A previous Pitt Public Health analysis of the study population revealed an association between ASD and increased levels of air toxics, including chromium and styrene. Studies by other institutions using different populations also have associated pollutants with ASD.
Air pollution levels have been declining since the 1990s; however, we know that pockets of increased levels of air pollution remain throughout our region and other areas. Our study builds on previous work in other regions showing that pollution exposures may be involved in ASD. Going forward, I would like to see studies that explore the biological mechanisms that may underlie this association.—Evelyn Talbott
Evelyn O. Talbott, Vincent C. Arena, Judith R. Rager, Jane E. Clougherty, Drew R. Michanowicz, Ravi K. Sharma, Shaina L. Stacy (2015) “Fine particulate matter and the risk of autism spectrum disorder,” Environmental Research, Volume 140, Pages 414-420 doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.04.021
AllCell Technologies, LLC, a Chicago-based Lithium-ion battery pack manufacturer for smart-grid, autonomous and light electric vehicle applications, and LG Chem Ltd. have developed a high performance long lasting Li-ion battery for material handling applications. The battery is built with LG’s cylindrical 18650-format Li-ion batteries and AllCell’s proprietary passive thermal management technology with phase change composite (PCC) (earlier post).
The battery is designed as a drop-in replacement for lead-acid batteries with fast charge/discharge capabilities, 4-5 times longer life, robust fuel gage, hot environment resilience, and no standard maintenance requirements.
A base model (26V, 93 Ah) with CAN bus communication has been recently certified for air shipment (i.e. IATA/UN 38.3 testing) and is currently available for field testing with strategic partners in the material handling market.
In a field traditionally dominated by lead acid technology, lithium-ion is emerging as an attractive alternative due to its fast charge capability. The ability to perform high rate charges throughout the day eliminates the need for customers to swap batteries during multi-shift operation, greatly reducing battery inventory cost and space. This capability is further enabled by the growth of autonomously guided vehicles that can optimize charging time and never forget to charge when idle.
A Navigant Research report estimates that revenue from fuel cells, fast chargers, and Li-ion batteries in the material handling market will be $556 million in North America by 2020, compared to $121 million in 2013. Industry leaders such as Kiva, Toyota-Raymond, and Hyster-Yale have announced products or product testing with lithium-ion batteries.
We have been working closely with strategic partners in the material handling industry and we plan to position our new battery with LG Chem to be cost competitive and to provide our partners with a strategic edge in the material handling market.—AllCell’s CEO, Said Al-Hallaj
May 21- As we move into the summer thunderstorm season, NextGen technology is helping to keep departing airplanes on schedule as they fly out of Newark, NJ, into some of the busiest and most congested airspace in the U.S. That is welcome news for airline passengers who will be traveling during the busy summer vacation months.
FedEx, United Airlines and UPS have been participating in trials with the FAA in Newark and Memphis to demonstrate Data Communications (Data Comm) capabilities and benefits. Data Comm is an FAA NextGen technology that revolutionizes communications between air traffic controllers and pilots.Data Comm provides additional advanced capabilities for controller-to-pilot communications using digital information exchange.
By exchanging digital messages in addition to talking to each other over the radio, air traffic controllers, pilots, and airline operations centers can communicate more clearly and efficiently. Better communication improves controller and pilot productivity, which enhances airspace capacity and reduces flight delays. It also helps aircraft fly more direct routes, saving time and fuel, reduces the impact on the environment, and improves safety.
Air traffic controllers currently use radio voice communications to give clearances and other flight information to pilots, which is time-consuming and restrictive.Data Comm provides a two-way data exchange between controllers and flight crews for clearances, instructions, advisories, flight crew requests and reports. It enhances air traffic safety by allowing controllers to give more timely and effective clearances.
FedEx, United Airlines, and UPS already are seeing reduced delays and cost savings as a result of Data Comm benefits. They achieved those benefits because of reduced communication time between controllers and pilots, as well as improved re-routing around weather and congestion, which all translate to time saved for the flying public.
The FAA plans to deploy Data Comm in more than 50 air traffic control towers beginning in 2015 and in air traffic control facilities that manage high altitude traffic beginning in 2019. International carriers can also benefit from Data Comm capabilities and have participated in the trials at Newark.
For more info visit, http://www.faa.gov/nextgen or follow #FlyNextGen on Social Media.
THAT people scour the pages of the world wide web searching for answers to medical problems is well known. Indeed, doctors label the most diligent seekers of online medical information “cyber-chondriacs”. Some frustrated individuals have even set up their own websites, replete with data about their conditions or those of family members, to encourage strangers to help solve “mum’s medical mystery”, or offer a cure for a particular brain cancer.
But to create a lone website in the hope that a knowledgeable passer-by may shed light on a mysterious illness is the cyber-equivalent of crying in the wilderness. To create one on which anyone and everyone can post a problem, so that anybody who might, for whatever reason, want to help knows where to go, is more like setting up a stall in a market at which buyers and sellers know where to meet. And such a stall, called CrowdMed, now exists.
The need for a “crowdsourced” service like this comes from the number of rare diseases around. The National Institutes of Health, America’s medical agency, recognises 7,000—defined as those that each affect fewer than 200,000 people. A general practitioner cannot possibly recognise all of these. Moreover, it may not be clear to him, even when he knows he cannot help, what sort of specialist the patient should be referred to. Research published in 2013, in the...
Bosch has retrofitted two Model S Teslas for automated driving; the vehicles join the Bosch test fleet. The two Teslas can now autonomously drive from on-ramp to off-ramp without the driver needing to monitor them constantly. Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the Bosch board of management, said that Bosch opted for two all-electric Model S vehicles because they combine two automotive industry trends: electrification and automation.
Fifty new Bosch components were installed in each car, including a stereo video camera (SVC), which the car uses to recognize lanes, traffic signs, and clear spaces. The Bosch says that its SVC is the smallest stereo camera system for automotive applications currently available in the market; the compact design makes it easy to integrate into vehicles. In addition to the camera, 1,300 meters of cable were laid in each car and fixed in place with 400 cable ties.
After some 1,400 hours of work on each of them, the test vehicles are ready for highly automated driving. —Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the Bosch board of management
Highly automated vehicles must be capable of operating safely even if a component fails. The only way to achieve such operational reliability is by a design strategy that includes redundancy in safety-critical systems such as braking and steering. For example, both test vehicles feature both the iBooster electromechanical brake booster and the ESP braking control system. These Bosch components can brake the car independently of each other, without any need for driver intervention. Back-up systems are also available for the two test vehicles’ power supply and vital ECUs.
Since 2011, Bosch has had two teams on two continents working on automated driving. At the Abstatt location in Germany, Bosch engineers are working on system integration. Their colleagues at Palo Alto in California’s Silicon Valley are driving forward work on function development.
The two teams receive support from roughly 2,000 driver-assistance engineers who work for Bosch around the world. To make it as easy as possible for the two teams to share their results, Bosch uses identical test vehicles.
Bosch started testing automated driving on public roads at the beginning of 2013. So far, it has been using test vehicles based on the BMW 325d Touring.
Engineers have successfully driven them for several thousand kilometers on freeways—both the A81 near Stuttgart and the I280 in California. Before the first test drives, the German certification authority TÜV Süd reviewed the safety concept that Bosch had prepared specially for the purpose. Although the technology on board the vehicles is designed to handle any situation in freeway traffic, the drivers at the wheel have been specially trained.
Solvay Specialty Polymers introduced Veradel 3300 SL 30 polyethersulfone (PESU). The new Veradel grade is a tough, high-performance resin designed to meet growing global demand for advanced polymers that can improve automotive powertrain efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Formulated to replace metal in automotive applications prone to friction and wear such as oil pumps and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems, the new resin offers wear resistance, and low coefficient of friction in both dry and lubricated environments.
An injection moldable resin, Veradel 3300 SL 30 PESU is formulated with a ternary anti-friction/anti-wear additive system comprising carbon fiber, graphite and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). As a result, it offers excellent wear resistance to broaden metal replacement options in oil pumps and EGR systems where thermoplastic parts come into contact with metals.
Solvay’s new Veradel PESU material also meets other key criteria in these applications. It performs reliably across the broad temperature ranges in which oil pumps are designed to operate (-40°C to 150°C/-40°F to 302°F), and withstands the high temperatures for which EGR systems are specified (up to 200°C/392°F). This high-performing polymer also delivers good dimensional stability and strong resistance to oil and exhaust gases.
Veradel 3300 SL 30 resin is a next-generation materials solution that can help meet upcoming CO2 emission standards in Europe, as well as increasingly stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the US and China.
Veradel 3300 SL 30 PESU complements Solvay’s portfolio of wear-resistant thermoplastics, which includes Ryton polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), KetaSpire polyethetherketone (PEEK), AvaSpire polyaryletherketones (PAEK) and Torlon polyamide-imide (PAI). Other Solvay products used in oil pumps and EGR systems include Tecnoflon FKM fluoroelastomers for sealing systems, and Fomblin perfluoropolyether (PFPE) fluorinated fluids for lubricants and greases.
Veradel 3300 SL 30 PESU is available worldwide.