Malaysian monkey malaria ‘could spread in humans’

Monkeys in Malaysian forests are a reservoir for a rare form of malaria that could become a significant cause of disease in humans throughout South-East Asia, a study warns. The malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi is transmitted between monkeys by forest-dwelling mosquitoes. This limits transmission to humans and, at present, there are only around 300 human cases per year.

Vietnam creates reserve for newly-discovered, nearly-extinct mammal, the saola

The Vietnam government and local people have approved a Saola Natural Reserve to protect one of the world's most endangered—and most elusive—mammals. Only discovered by the outside world in 1992, the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) inhabits the lush forests of the Annamite Mountains. No one knows how many saola remain, but it has been classified as Critically Endangered as it is likely very few.

Diisocyanates

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released action plans to address the potential health risks of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and related compounds. Americans may be exposed to these chemicals when they are used in certain applications such as spray foam insulation, sealing concrete or finishing floors. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a highly-effective and widely used insulation and air sealant material. However, exposures to its key ingredient, isocyanates such as MDI, and other SPF chemicals in vapors, aerosols, and dust during and after installation can cause adverse health effects.

Solution to nuclear waste storage dilemma?

Community officials in southeast New Mexico want to expand a nuclear-waste storage facility deep inside an ancient salt bed to play a bigger role in handling spent fuel from U.S. reactors, a problem now under the spotlight due to the Japanese nuclear crisis. After years of delay, the government terminated a plan for a permanent nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Operators at 104 U.S. reactors are storing used fuel rods, which remain radioactive for years, in pools of water and dry cask storage facilities in 30 states. The largest risk in the United States from the Fukushima event is "overpacking of the spent-fuel pools," said John Heaton, a former state representative from Eddy County, New Mexico, who supports expanded use of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near the town of Carlsbad.

Wolves Taken Off the US Endangered Species List

For the first time ever, the US Congress has removed an animal from the Endangered Species List, a process typically done by a federal, non-political, science-based agency. The action by the US Congress sets a new precedent for altering the Endangered Species List based on political influence, enraging environmental groups. The removal would take effect in two western states that have known issues with wolves: Montana and Idaho. Wolves would now be managed by each state’s wildlife agency, inevitably leading to commercial hunting.

Tigers could reappear in Kazakhstan under new plan

WWF-Russia, together with the government and experts of the Republic of Kazakhstan announced today a new programme to return tigers to the region. The plan seeks to relocate Amur tigers from the Russian Far East to suitable habitat in Kazakhstan near the delta of the Ili River, south of Balkhash Lake.

The Memory of Alcohol

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits Drinking alcohol primes certain areas of our brain to learn and remember better, says a new study from the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin. The common view that drinking is bad for learning and memory isn’t wrong, says neurobiologist Hitoshi Morikawa, but it highlights only one side of what ethanol consumption does to the brain.

Will Colombia ban spur illegal gold pits?

Colombia's ban on mining in highland ecosystems could be a double-edged sword -- it may attract illegal miners to the delicate areas where established mining companies cannot operate. The example of Canada's Greystar -- which last month withdrew permit requests for its gold and silver project over environmental concerns -- has crystallized Colombia's dilemma of trying to balance environmental concerns while boosting investment in its oil and mining sectors. "That gold will be extracted by someone. It won't be a company with good practices. It won't be a company that had eliminated the use of mercury," said Cesar Diaz, executive director of the Colombian Chamber of Mining. The fear is that small miners will come into already explored areas with rudimentary techniques that utilize mercury to separate gold and pollute rivers and soil -- Colombia has tens of thousands of both legal and illegal miners.

Decline of the Southern Skua in the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean near the coast of South America, is home to several unique indigenous bird species. One of them, Catharacta Antarctica, also known as the Southern Skua or the Falklands Skua, is in serious decline. Over the past five years, their population has gone down almost 50 percent. The exact reasons are unknown, but some experts suspect the decline is due to low breeding success and increased competition for resources. Some fear that the problems with the skua are linked with an unhealthy Patagonian marine ecosystem.

Yellowstone Supervolcano Size

University of Utah geophysicists made the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. The image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with earthquake waves. The Yellowstone Caldera is the volcanic caldera located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. The caldera is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, in which the vast majority of the park is contained. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 miles by 45 miles.