Insight News

Aug 30th


Are cell phones emitting dangerous radiation?

Are cell phones emitting dangerous radiation?Dear EarthTalk: OK, so are cell phones emitting dangerous radiation or not? If so, which phones are safer that others and what do we do to minimize exposure? -- Luke Alderman, Santa Fe, NM

The jury is still out as to whether or not the radiation emitted by cell phones can cause negative health effects for callers. Mobile phones emit signals to communicate with cellular towers via radio waves, which are comprised of radio-frequency (RF) energy, a form of electromagnetic radiation.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) limits the amount of radiation any phone sold in the U.S. can emit to what it considers a safe level of 1.6 watts per kilogram of body weight (a measure of the energy absorbed by the body when using a wireless device). But some health practitioners are concerned that even this level of exposure may be too high, resulting in people unwittingly exposing themselves to potentially harmful radiation every time they make or take a call.

What is "kenaf" paper?

What is Dear EarthTalk: What is “kenaf” paper? From what I've heard, it’s good for the environment. But what exactly are its benefits and where can I obtain some? -- Tiffany Mikamo, via e-mail

Kenaf, a fast-growing, non-invasive annual hibiscus plant related to cotton, okra and hemp, makes ideal paper fiber as well as great source material for burlap, clothing, canvas, particleboard and rope. Its primary use around the world today is for animal forage, but humans enjoy its high-protein seed oil to add a nutritious and flavorful kick to a wide range of foods. In fact, kenaf has been grown for centuries in Africa, China and elsewhere for these and other purposes, but environmentalists see its future in replacing slower-growing trees as our primary source for paper.

The Living Skills Fifth Grade Semester: A vision for fighting child obesity

The Living Skills Fifth Grade Semester: A vision for fighting child obesityAs a co-founder and the current Creative Director of the Rancho La Puerta fitness resort and Golden Door spas, Deborah Szekely has long been known as a pioneer in health and wellness. My remarkable friend Szekely is now focusing on a new target audience: our nation’s children. She is adding her extraordinary mind, energy, and voice to the chorus of those concerned about America’s child obesity problem. Together with Dr. David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner and now Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, she is promoting a pilot program they hope will help educate schoolchildren on the importance of healthy lifestyles.

It’s called the Living Skills Fifth Grade Semester. Szekely explains it is targeted to fifth graders because they believe children at that age still adore their teachers, parents, and friends and are old enough to understand lessons on healthy choices and to take on tasks like food preparation, gardening, shopping and budgeting. This makes them good candidates to be enthusiastic about learning how healthy food and exercise will make their bodies work best and makes them likely to be excited to share what they are learning at school with their families at home. As Szekely says, “We believe these children will become proselytizers to their family, much as past generations did when confronting their parents about smoking.”

Knowing is greater than doubt

Knowing is greater than doubt(NNPA) - What you need to know about HIV testing and why Black people should get tested on this June 27th, National HIV Testing Day.

Scientific denialists have been around since, well… the beginning of recorded science. One group of denialists refused to believe that the earth was round. Another group insisted that the sun revolved around the earth until long after scientific evidence had proved it works the other way around. A group of denialists wants us to believe that President Obama is Muslim, while another group, called "birthers," continues to challenge his presidency because they refuse to believe he was born in the United States. It should come as no surprise that there are AIDS denialists as well. Typically they either reject the fact that AIDS exists, disagree that HIV causes AIDS, claim that AIDS is caused by the very medications designed to treat it, or try to dissuade people from getting HIV tested. Given the magnitude of the AIDS epidemic in Black America, we cannot allow ourselves to be either distracted or bamboozled by these types of dubious claims. In fact, we should consider AIDS denialists not only dangerous, but even enemies of our community. Nevertheless, with all the myths and misinformation swirling around about HIV/AIDS, I completely understand how some of us might be nervous about getting tested. Let's consider the facts.

ECHO awarded $100,000 grant for fight against breast cancer

ECHO (Emergency, Community and Health Outreach) has been awarded a $100,000 grant by Susan B. Komen for the Cure Minnesota®. The grant will support outreach to the Latino, Hmong, Somali, and low literacy individuals and families in Minnesota to increase awareness of breast cancer prevention, detection, and treatment.

The grant will underwrite a portion of the cost to produce a television program, public service announcements for radio and phone, and Web resources in Spanish, Hmong, Somali, and English. In addition to these tools, there will be direct outreach to these communities at events, other gatherings, and through ELL (English Language Learners) classes throughout the state.

HIV Testing Day is June 27: Here’s what you should know

HIV and AIDS have disproportionately affected the African American population.  Of the estimated one million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. today, roughly half are Black.  Yet, as a racial group, African Americans represent just 13 percent of the population.  The lifetime risk of becoming infected with HIV is 1 in 16 for Black males, 1 in 30 for Black females in the U.S., a far greater risk than for white males (1 in 104) and white females (1 in 588).

On June 27th, the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) and local organizations like the Positive Care Center at Hennepin County Medical Center, will sponsor National HIV Testing Day to promote early diagnosis and HIV testing.  The effort further raises awareness for the health risks and challenges associated with HIV and AIDS.

Milk in...bags?

Milk in...bags?Dear EarthTalk: I've been hearing about the popularity of milk sold in bags (as opposed to plastic or cardboard cartons) in India, Europe and Canada. What are the environmental advantages to milk in bags, and do you think it will catch on in the U.S.? And what other options are out there for milk drinkers trying to be green? -- Paul Howe, San Francisco, CA
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