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Solar Surge
May 2014

Global Rise in Sun-Generated Power

sunLast year, the U.S. joined Germany, Italy, China and Japan in producing more than 10 gigawatts of solar production nationwide. Now, other countries have awakened to the opportunity and are on their way to catching up. The popular Scandinavian retailer IKEA has sold $10,000 solar panels in 17 British outlets.

Peru recently started a National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program to connect 2 million of its poorest residents with solar power. In the first phase, 1,601 solar panels were installed to power 126 impoverished communities. The plan is to install about 12,500 photovoltaic systems for 500,000 households at an overall cost of $200 million.

Earth Hour India is helping citizens to switch to solar energy in villages that previously had no electricity. Woodlands stores, in partnership with World Wildlife Foundation-India, has launched a collection drive across the country, inspiring individuals to donate to help light up more than 100 households in three villages in Madhya Pradesh with solar power. The residents had traditionally depended on forest resources for their energy needs.

 
Information Overload
May 2014

Organic Food Labeling Causes Confusion

tomatoA recent Harris Poll of 2,276 U.S. adults showed that concern for the environment is growing, but Americans may not be ready to spend more for organic food. More than half think that labeling food or other products as organic is just an excuse to charge more. Yet more than half of respondents also believe that organic foods are healthier than non-organic. At the same time, only 23 percent know what the term “dirty dozen” means in regard to organic food; it’s the Environmental Working Group’s annual list of foods consumers should always buy in organic form due to high pesticide levels in conventional farming.

 
Ventilation and Cleaning Hinder Indoor Pollutants
April 2014

Keeping Healthy Spaces

woman-cleaningProperly ventilating and frequently cleaning our homes and offices are both important to our health, concludes a new European study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Researchers analyzed bacterial and fungal counts and suspended particulate matter in indoor air samples of 40 homes and offices. They determined that 45 percent had indoor pollution levels greater than that recommended by the current European Concerted Action Report on air quality standards.

An analysis of a Canadian government Health Measures Survey discovered 47 different indoor volatile organic compounds (VOC) among more than half of the 3,857 households surveyed throughout Canada. Most of the VOCs identified there have also been present in separate European and U.S. studies.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOCs are carbon chemical compounds that can evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions. The concern with indoor VOCs is their potential to react with indoor ozone to produce harmful byproducts that may be associated with adverse health effects in sensitive populations.

Benzene, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene and xylene top the list of common VOCs inside U.S. households, according to an EPA report. Typical sources comprise common household chemicals, furnishings and décor, as well as indoor activities such as unventilated cooking, heating and smoking.

 
Tomatoes Prevent and Even Treat Liver Disease
April 2014

The Power of Lycopene

tomatoesTomatoes are widely known for their outstanding antioxidant content, anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties, plus benefits to heart health. Now, research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center, at Tufts University, in Boston, Massachusetts, has found that consuming tomatoes—particularly their lycopene content—can also help prevent and even treat both liver disease and cancer of the liver.

The researchers combed through 241 studies and scientific papers to connect the dots. They report that lycopene up regulates the sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) protein, meaning it increases the number of receptors on cell surfaces, thereby increasing cellular response to it. SIRT1 activation is recognized to protect against obesity-induced inflammation and degeneration of the liver, explain the study’s authors. Lycopene was found to protect against fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis and the formation of cancer in the liver and lungs.

Multiple studies have shown cooked tomatoes and tomato sauce offer increased bioavailability of healthful lycopene.

 
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