Egypt Independent: Science-Main news http://www.egyptindependent.com//enhome_channel/Environment/rss.xml en Egypt to host global hybrid-electric vehicle competition in March http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2466639 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/02/16/1755/cars.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p dir="ltr">Egypt will host the first Gobal Hybrid Electric Challenge in Egypt competition in the first half of March, privately-owned Shorouk newspaper reported on Sunday.</p><p dir="ltr">The educational event, organized by Global Education Energy Environment (Global EEE), will see 150 engineering students from 10 Egyptian universities competing to build and race hand-built hybrid-electric cars. The event aims to encourage students to explore environmentally sustainable technologies, while developing engineering skills and sampling the joys of motor racing.</p><p dir="ltr">Ibrahim al-Meseiry, CEO of Abu Suma Company for Tourism Development, which will host the event, said it will help to prepare the businessmen of the future. Students will be encouraged to invent and think creatively, skills necessary to develop the country while preserving the environment.</p><p dir="ltr">Global EEE&rsquo;s Director of Egypt Operations Khaled Mostafa said that the success of countries in the future will depend on the availability of renewable energy sources, manufacturing and administration capabilities, and the preparation of a generation of creative leaders in various fields, including engineers.</p><p>He added that creative thinking and innovation are key factors in the ability of nations to compete in future, and this requires a better understanding of new technologies, including renewable energy.</p> Sun, 14 Feb 2016 15:12:00 +0000 Egypt Independent 2466639 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/02/16/1755/cars.jpg Textile workers at higher risk for rheumatoid arthritis http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2466627 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/12/07/499612/labourers_work_at_a_textile_mill_in_mahalla_el-kubra.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Breathing textile dust on the job is linked to an almost tripled risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, an immune system disorder that causes debilitating swelling and pain in the joints, a Malaysian study suggests.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While smoking is a known risk factor for this disease, the findings add to evidence suggesting that environmental factors could trigger rheumatoid arthritis in some people, the researchers note in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The investigators suspect that textile dust might cause changes in the lung tissues, and those changes might trigger the immune response that leads to rheumatoid arthritis in individuals with genetic risk factors for the disease, said senior study author Dr. Camilla Bengtsson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While more research is needed to prove whether textile dust directly causes rheumatoid arthritis, the findings suggest factory workers might benefit from respiratory protections that prevent or minimize inhalation of this pollutant, Bengtsson added by email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Public health initiatives could decrease the burden in many parts of the world, in particular the developing countries where the textile industry is common,&rdquo; Bengtsson said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bengtsson and colleagues analyzed data on 910 women with rheumatoid arthritis and another 910 similar women of the same age who didn&rsquo;t have the disease.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They limited the analysis to women because in Malaysia, like much of the developing world, most textile industry workers are female. Women in the study were also much less likely to smoke than their male counterparts, limiting their exposure to one of the main known causes of rheumatoid arthritis.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among the women with rheumatoid arthritis, 41 of them, or 4.5 percent, had been exposed to textile dust at work. Among women without the disease, only 15, or 1.7 percent, had been exposed to this dust.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Women who inhaled the dust were 2.8 times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than women who didn&rsquo;t.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Roughly 40 percent of the women with rheumatoid arthritis carried a genetic risk factor called HLA-DRB1 SE that boosts the odds of developing the disease.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among women with this genetic risk for rheumatoid arthritis, those who were exposed to textile dust were 39 times more likely to test positive for antibodies known as ACPA that can speed the progression of the disease, the study also found.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Limitations of the study include the lack of data on other potential toxins women might breathe that could contribute to rheumatoid arthritis, the authors note. They also didn&rsquo;t know whether women had factory jobs or worked from home, which might influence the toxins in the air they breathed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s possible that some other factor related to work in the textile industry, and not dust, might be driving the increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, noted Jill Norris, an epidemiologist at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora who wasn&rsquo;t involved in the study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We do not know for sure whether other factors, like diet, or any factors related to working in the textile industry could be driving these associations,&rdquo; Norris said by email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Previous research has linked the disease in men to inhaled silica, and other types of occupational dust fumes have also been connected to rheumatoid arthritis, noted Dr. Dan Murphy of Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, UK.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Textile dust might contain nanoparticles of carbon which have the potential to alter the environment inside the lungs and trigger an autoimmune response that leads to rheumatoid arthritis, Murphy, who wasn&rsquo;t involved in the study, said by email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Rheumatoid arthritis is a preventable disease with smoking cessation and the wearing of appropriate masks in the workplace,&rdquo; Murphy added. &ldquo;The finding that textile dust increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis strengthens the case that in a significant proportion of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis the disease is occupational.&rdquo;</div> Sun, 14 Feb 2016 14:09:00 +0000 Reuters 2466627 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/12/07/499612/labourers_work_at_a_textile_mill_in_mahalla_el-kubra.jpg Better growth monitoring needed to spot childhood diseases http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2466630 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2016/02/11/16030/sa.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Monitoring growth can serve as an early warning for many childhood diseases, but a lack of consensus on how tracking should work and what to look for may mean diagnosis is delayed for some and wrong for others, a recent research review suggests.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It may seem simple in theory to look at how children&rsquo;s height and weight compare to that of other kids their age and then search for medical reasons why some of them might, for example, be unusually short.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But first, doctors need to agree on what constitutes abnormal growth &mdash; and they don&rsquo;t &mdash; researchers note in their January 14 online paper in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Growth-monitoring is widely used in most countries in the world,&rdquo; lead researcher Pauline Scherdel of INSERM in Paris said by email. &ldquo;However, we have found strong empirical evidence showing that the current practices are suboptimal &mdash; diagnostic delays in one hand and unnecessary diagnostic work-up in the other hand.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Researchers examined 69 previously published studies, which compared the performance of growth charts from the World Health Organization (WHO) to other growth charts and looked at seven different algorithms for defining abnormal growth that have been proposed in the past 20 years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They also explored which conditions might be spotted by monitoring growth charts and how abnormal development should be defined.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While dozens of diseases may be potential causes of abnormal growth, researchers found most previous research focused on six conditions: Turner syndrome, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, growth hormone deficiency, renal tubular acidosis and small for gestational age with no catch-up after two or three years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Even though there was some consensus that these diseases are among the ones that should be considered when kids don&#39;t grow like their peers, the analysis found little evidence that the seven algorithms used to define abnormal growth proposed in earlier studies were effective.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Two studies reported that WHO growth charts had poorer performance compared with other existing growth charts for early detection of target conditions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One study from the Netherlands found as many as 95 percent of referrals for tests to detect problems based on abnormal growth didn&#39;t turn up anything, suggesting there were unnecessary screenings being done in healthy children, the authors conclude.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Two clinical decision tools &mdash; the Grote and Saari methods &mdash; appeared to be the most promising of the bunch because they were highly specific in detecting Turner syndrome and celiac disease, the authors concluded. The Grote clinical decision rule also appeared specific enough to detect cystic fibrosis.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among other things, the Grote and Saari methods both relied on observation of standardized height, distance to standardized target height, and height deflection (a reduced growth rate indicated by adjusted height over time).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Limitations of the study include its reliance on published studies, which may not accurately reflect what doctors do in day-to-day practice to track how children grow, the authors note.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Finding the best way to use growth as an early warning for childhood disease is important because this has the potential to be a low-cost and simple way to identify kids who may have health problems that are negatively impacting their development, Dr Jana Vignerova, a researcher at the National Institute of Public Health in Prague who wasn&#39;t involved in the study, said by email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Growth charts are a single, cheap and non-invasive tool,&quot; Vignerova said. &quot;Other methods are more expensive and mostly invasive, such as blood tests, X-rays and other examinations.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sun, 14 Feb 2016 12:54:00 +0000 Reuters 2466630 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2016/02/11/16030/sa.jpg More than 5,000 pregnant women in Colombia have Zika virus: government http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2466625 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2016/02/08/501184/babay_with_zika.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>More than 5,000 pregnant Colombian women are infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the country&#39;s national health institute said on Saturday, as the disease continues its rapid spread across the Americas.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cases of the virus total 31,555, the institute said in an epidemiology bulletin, among them 5,013 pregnant women.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Zika, which has spread to more than 30 countries, has been linked to birth defect microcephaly and to neurological disease Guillain-Barre syndrome.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Total reported Zika cases increased by 23 percent over last week&#39;s figures, while the number of pregnant women with the virus was up 57.8 percent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Much remains unknown about Zika, including whether the virus actually causes microcephaly. Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,300 suspected cases of the birth defect, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Researchers have confirmed more than 460 of these cases as microcephaly and identified evidence of Zika infection in 41 of these cases, but have not proven the virus can cause microcephaly.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There are so far no recorded cases of Zika-linked microcephaly in Colombia, the government has said. Officials are still examining figures from countries such as Brazil, but say Colombia can expect between 500 and 600 cases this year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The institute said 29.4 percent of pregnant women with Zika live in Norte de Santander province, along the eastern border with Venezuela.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Colombia&#39;s Caribbean region, which includes popular tourist destinations Cartagena and Santa Marta, had more than 12,488 cases of the virus, the bulletin showed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The government has said pregnant women with Zika are eligible to access much-restricted abortion services. Many women struggle to find abortion providers even when they meet strict legal requirements and illegal abortions are widespread.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One Bogota abortion clinic said several women with Zika had come for consultations, but would not confirm if procedures took place. Local media reported what they said was the first abortion in the country because of Zika last week.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Colombian authorities have urged women to delay pregnancy for six to eight months.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The World Health Organization estimates Zika could eventually affect as many as 4 million people. Colombia expects up to 600,000 cases this year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The health minister has said he believes three deaths are connected with Zika.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sun, 14 Feb 2016 10:53:00 +0000 Reuters 2466625 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2016/02/08/501184/babay_with_zika.jpg