Although the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are well known for their health benefits, many fish are also the primary source of mercury in the general population. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently completed the first study of mercury and cognitive function in urban, U.S. adults between the ages of 50 and 70 years. They found that blood mercury levels were not consistently associated with adverse performance on a broad range of tests of cognitive function. This study may help policy makers with future decisions about mercury emissions from power plants as well as fish consumption recommendations for older adults. The study is published in the April 20, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
“Our study provides no evidence to challenge the government’s current recommendations for blood mercury levels, but neither does it indicate that they are safe. The key point is that the aging population may be more sensitive to toxic chemicals and this is the first study to examine mercury exposure in the older U.S. population,” said Megan Weil, MHS, lead author of the study and a PhD-candidate in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences.
Weil explained that the Environmental Protection Agency bases its recommendations on studies of children and women of childbearing age. From these studies, they determined that blood mercury levels should not exceed 5.8 µg/L. The median mercury level in study participants was 2.1 µg/L and only approximately 10 percent of subjects exceeded the government guideline.
Kenna Lowe | EurekAlert!
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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