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Duke University study: Childhood lead exposure linked to poor adult mental health

24 Jan

The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education. Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Because children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. There is a lot of economic stress in the country now because of unemployment and underemployment. Children feel the stress of their parents and they worry about how stable their family and living situation is. Sabrina Tavernise wrote an excellent New York Times article, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html?emc=eta1

The Centers for Disease Control report:

Today at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.
No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is committed to the Healthy People 2020 goals of eliminating blood lead levels ≥ 10 µg/dL and differences in average risk based on race and social class as public health concerns. The program is part of the National Center for Environmental Health’s Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/

A Wayne State University study finds that lead exposure may affect more than one generation.

Science Daily reported in Lead exposure in mothers can affect future generations:

A team of researchers at Wayne State University have discovered that mothers with high levels of lead in their blood not only affect the fetal cells of their unborn children, but also their grandchildren. Their study, Multigenerational epigenetic inheritance in humans: DNA methylation changes associated with maternal exposure to lead can be transmitted to the grandchildren, was published online this week in Scientific Reports.
It’s a known fact that babies in the womb can be affected by low levels of lead exposure. If a pregnant woman is exposed to lead, the lead passes through the placenta into the baby’s developing bones and other organs. Pregnant women with a past exposure to lead can also affect the unborn child’s brain, causing developmental problems later in life. Previous research studies have suggested that exposure to heavy metal toxicants can influence a person’s global DNA methylation profile…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151002191739.htm?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

A Duke university study examined the effects of lead added to gasoline.

Science Daily reported in Childhood lead exposure linked to poor adult mental health:

Lead exposure in childhood appears to have long-lasting negative effects on mental health and personality in adulthood, according to a study of people who grew up in the era of leaded gasoline.
Previous studies have identified a link between lead and intelligence, but this study looked at changes in personality and mental health as a result of exposure to the heavy metal.
The findings, which will appear Jan. 23 in JAMA Psychiatry, reveal that the higher a person’s blood lead levels at age 11, the more likely they are to show signs of mental illness and difficult personality traits by age 38.
The link between mental health and lead exposure is modest, according to study coauthor Aaron Reuben, a graduate student in clinical psychology at Duke University. But “it’s potentially important because this is a modifiable risk factor that at one point in time everyone was exposed to, and now, certain people in certain cities and countries are still exposed to,” he said.
In a previous study, Reuben and colleagues showed that higher levels of lead in childhood were linked to lower IQ and lower social standing in adulthood.
Both sets of findings suggest that lead’s “effects really can last for quite a long time, in this case three to four decades,” said coauthor Jonathan Schaefer, also a graduate student in clinical psychology at Duke. “Lead exposure decades ago may be harming the mental health of people today who are in their 40s and 50s.”
Because gasoline around the world was treated with high levels of lead from the mid 1960s until the late 1980s, most adults now in their 30s, 40s, and 50s were exposed as children. Lead from automotive exhaust was released into the atmosphere and soils. Today, high lead exposures are rarer, and most often found in children who live in older buildings with lead plumbing and paint.
The subjects of this study are part of a group of more than 1,000 people born in 1972 and 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand, at a time when gasoline lead levels in New Zealand were among the highest in the world. They have regularly participated in physical and mental health evaluations at the local University of Otago.
Researchers measured blood lead levels — in micrograms per deciliter of blood (ug/dL) — when participants were 11 years old. Today, blood lead levels above 5 ug/dL will trigger additional clinical follow-up of a child. At age 11, 94 percent of participants in the Dunedin Study had blood lead levels above this cutoff.
“These are historical data from an era when lead levels like these were viewed as normal in children and not dangerous, so most of our study participants were never given any treatment for lead toxicity,” said Terrie Moffitt, the senior author of the study and Duke’s Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of psychology & neuroscience and psychiatry & behavioral sciences.
The Duke research team also assessed participant mental health and personality at various points throughout their lives, most recently at age 38. Diagnostic criteria or symptoms associated with eleven different psychiatric disorders — dependence on alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, or hard drugs; conduct disorder, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, fears and phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mania, and schizophrenia — were used to calculate a single measure of mental health, called the psychopathology factor, or “p-factor” for short.
The higher an individual’s p-factor score, the greater the number and severity of psychiatric symptoms. Lead’s effects on mental health as measured by the p-factor score are about as strong as those on IQ, explained coauthor Avshalom Caspi, Edward M. Arnett Professor of psychology & neuroscience and psychiatry & behavioral sciences at Duke. “If you’re worried about lead exposure’s impact on IQ, our study suggests you should probably also be worried about mental health,” Caspi said.
The research team also determined that participants exposed to higher levels of lead as children were described as having more difficult adult personalities by family members and friends. Specifically, they found that study members with greater lead exposure were rated as more neurotic, less agreeable, and less conscientious than their less-exposed peers.
These findings confirm personality characteristics that have been previously linked to a number of problems, including worse mental and physical health, reduced job satisfaction, and troubled interpersonal relationships…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190123112330.htm

Citation:

Childhood lead exposure linked to poor adult mental health
Date: January 23, 2019
Source: Duke University
Summary:
Lead exposure in childhood appears to have long-lasting negative effects on mental health and personality in adulthood, according to a study of people who grew up in the era of leaded gasoline. The findings reveal that the higher a person’s blood lead levels at age 11, the more likely they are to show signs of mental illness and difficult personality traits by age 38.

Journal Reference:
Aaron Reuben, Jonathan D. Schaefer, Terrie E. Moffitt, Jonathan Broadbent, Honalee Harrington, Renate M. Houts, Sandhya Ramrakha, Richie Poulton, Avshalom Caspi. Association of Childhood Lead Exposure With Adult Personality Traits and Lifelong Mental Health. JAMA Psychiatry, 2019 DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4192

Here is the press release from Duke University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 23-JAN-2019
Childhood lead exposure linked to poor adult mental health
Lead exposure in childhood appears to have long-lasting negative effects on mental health and personality in adulthood
DUKE UNIVERSITY
DURHAM, N.C. — Lead exposure in childhood appears to have long-lasting negative effects on mental health and personality in adulthood, according to a study of people who grew up in the era of leaded gasoline.
Previous studies have identified a link between lead and intelligence, but this study looked at changes in personality and mental health as a result of exposure to the heavy metal.
The findings, which will appear Jan. 23 in JAMA Psychiatry, reveal that the higher a person’s blood lead levels at age 11, the more likely they are to show signs of mental illness and difficult personality traits by age 38.
The link between mental health and lead exposure is modest, according to study coauthor Aaron Reuben, a graduate student in clinical psychology at Duke University. But “it’s potentially important because this is a modifiable risk factor that at one point in time everyone was exposed to, and now, certain people in certain cities and countries are still exposed to,” he said.
In a previous study, Reuben and colleagues showed that higher levels of lead in childhood were linked to lower IQ and lower social standing in adulthood.
Both sets of findings suggest that lead’s “effects really can last for quite a long time, in this case three to four decades,” said coauthor Jonathan Schaefer, also a graduate student in clinical psychology at Duke. “Lead exposure decades ago may be harming the mental health of people today who are in their 40s and 50s.”
Because gasoline around the world was treated with high levels of lead from the mid 1960s until the late 1980s, most adults now in their 30s, 40s, and 50s were exposed as children. Lead from automotive exhaust was released into the atmosphere and soils. Today, high lead exposures are rarer, and most often found in children who live in older buildings with lead plumbing and paint.
The subjects of this study are part of a group of more than 1,000 people born in 1972 and 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand, at a time when gasoline lead levels in New Zealand were among the highest in the world. They have regularly participated in physical and mental health evaluations at the local University of Otago.
Researchers measured blood lead levels — in micrograms per deciliter of blood (ug/dL) — when participants were 11 years old. Today, blood lead levels above 5 ug/dL will trigger additional clinical follow-up of a child. At age 11, 94 percent of participants in the Dunedin Study had blood lead levels above this cutoff.
“These are historical data from an era when lead levels like these were viewed as normal in children and not dangerous, so most of our study participants were never given any treatment for lead toxicity,” said Terrie Moffitt, the senior author of the study and Duke’s Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of psychology & neuroscience and psychiatry & behavioral sciences.
The Duke research team also assessed participant mental health and personality at various points throughout their lives, most recently at age 38. Diagnostic criteria or symptoms associated with eleven different psychiatric disorders — dependence on alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, or hard drugs; conduct disorder, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, fears and phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mania, and schizophrenia — were used to calculate a single measure of mental health, called the psychopathology factor, or “p-factor” for short.
The higher an individual’s p-factor score, the greater the number and severity of psychiatric symptoms. Lead’s effects on mental health as measured by the p-factor score are about as strong as those on IQ, explained coauthor Avshalom Caspi, Edward M. Arnett Professor of psychology & neuroscience and psychiatry & behavioral sciences at Duke. “If you’re worried about lead exposure’s impact on IQ, our study suggests you should probably also be worried about mental health,” Caspi said.
The research team also determined that participants exposed to higher levels of lead as children were described as having more difficult adult personalities by family members and friends. Specifically, they found that study members with greater lead exposure were rated as more neurotic, less agreeable, and less conscientious than their less-exposed peers.
These findings confirm personality characteristics that have been previously linked to a number of problems, including worse mental and physical health, reduced job satisfaction, and troubled interpersonal relationships.
“For folks who are interested in intervention and prevention, the study suggests that if you’re going to intervene on a group of kids or young adults that have been lead exposed, you may need to think very long-term when it comes to their care,” said Schaefer.
In the future, the Dunedin Study team is interested in whether lead exposure might be linked to the development of later-life diseases such as dementia or cardiovascular disease.
Reuben said the findings are relevant to other developed countries as well. “When we see changes that may be the result of lead exposures in New Zealand it’s very likely that you would have seen those same impacts in America, in Europe, and the other countries that were using leaded gasoline at the same levels at the same time.”
###
The New Zealand Health Research Council and the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment provided funding to the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit. Support also came from grants T32AG000139 and AG032282 from the National Institute on Aging, T32HD007376 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, F31ES029358 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and MR/P005918/1 from the UK Medical Research Council. The Jacobs Foundation and the Avielle Foundation provided additional funding.
CITATION: “Association of Childhood Lead Exposure With Adult Personality Traits and Lifelong Mental Health,” Aaron Reuben, Jonathan D. Schaefer, Terrie E. Moffitt, Jonathan Broadbent, Honalee Harrington, Renate M. Houts, Sandhya Ramrakha, Richie Poulton, Avshalom Caspi. JAMA Psychiatry, January 23, 2019. DOI:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4192
https://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4192
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Another cause of lead poisoning is substandard housing conditions.

A 2002 Journal of Public Health article, Housing and Health: Time Again for Public Health Action:

Poor housing conditions are associated with a wide range of health conditions, including respiratory infections, asthma, lead poisoning, injuries, and mental health. Addressing housing issues offers public health practitioners an opportunity to address an important social determinant of health. Public health has long been involved in housing issues. In the 19th century, health officials targeted poor sanitation, crowding, and inadequate ventilation to reduce infectious diseases as well as fire hazards to decrease injuries. Today, public health departments can employ multiple strategies to improve housing, such as developing and enforcing housing guidelines and codes, implementing “Healthy Homes” programs to improve indoor environmental quality, assessing housing conditions, and advocating for healthy, affordable housing. Now is the time for public health to create healthier homes by confronting substandard housing…. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447157/

Substandard housing has been identified as a cause of health issues for decades. The issue is what can or will be done to address the issue.

Related:

Unequal exposures: People in poor, non-white neighborhoods breathe more hazardous particles                                  http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/unequal-exposures

Lead Poisoning                                                        http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/explore/pollute/lead.htm

Learn about Lead                                                                                  http://www2.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead

Poor Neighborhoods’ Influence On Parents May Raise Preschool Children’s Risk Of Problems                                         http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080207085613.htm

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University of Tennessee Knoxville study: Does being bilingual make children more focused? Study says no

20 Jan

Francois Grosjean Ph.D. wrote in the Psychology Today article, Who is Bilingual? How one describes bilinguals has changed over time.

This other way of looking at bilinguals allows one to include people ranging from the professional interpreter who is fluent in two languages all the way to the established immigrant who speaks the host country’s language but who may not be able to read or write it. In between we find the bilingual child who interacts with her parents in one language and with her friends in another, the scientist who reads and writes articles in a second language (but who rarely speaks it), the member of a linguistic minority who uses the minority language at home only and the majority language in all other domains of life, the Deaf person who uses sign language with her friends but uses the written form of the spoken language with a hearing person, and so on. Despite the great diversity that exists between these people, they all lead their lives with more than one language.
The more recent and more realistic view of bilingualism has allowed many people who live with two or more languages to accept who they are – bilingual, quite simply. (See here for some feedback on what it is like to be bilingual)…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/life-bilingual/201010/who-is-bilingual

Many argue the advantages of being bilingual.

Maria Konnikova wrote in the New Yorker article, Is Bilingualism Really an Advantage?

So does that mean that there’s no such thing as a bilingual advantage? No. It’s just one study. But it adds further evidence to the argument that the bilingual advantage is sometimes overstated. “I’m definitely not saying there’s no bilingual advantage,” de Bruin says. But the advantage may be different from the way many researchers have described it: as a phenomenon that helps children to develop their ability to switch between tasks and, more broadly, enhances their executive-control functions. The true edge, de Bruin believes, may come far later, and in a form that has little to do with task-switching and executive control; it may, she says, be the result of simple learning…. https://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/bilingual-advantage-aging-brain

A University of Tennessee Knoxville study examined one aspect of being bilingual.

Science Daily reported in Does being bilingual make children more focused? Study says no:

Bilingual children do not have more advantages than monolingual children when it comes to executive function, which includes remembering instructions, controlling responses, and shifting swiftly between tasks, according to a new study published in PLOS One.
The study, “No evidence for effects of Turkish immigrant children’s bilingualism on executive functions,” was coauthored by two UT faculty members: Nils Jaekel, clinical assistant professor of theory and practice in teacher education, and Julia Jaekel, associate professor of child and family studies, together with Jessica Willard and Birgit Leyendecker, researchers from the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany….
For their research, the scientists used a computer test to compare the executive function of two groups of children between the ages of five and 15 living in the German Ruhr region. The first group consisted of 242 children who spoke both Turkish and German, and the other group consisted of 95 children who spoke only German.
The test measured the time bilingual and monolingual children took to correctly respond to computer-based problems and stimuli. The results showed no difference in the executive functions of the two groups.
The researchers also considered children’s German and Turkish vocabulary size and exposure to both languages, factors for which previous studies on the topic had been criticized for lacking.
Does this mean there’s no value in speaking more than one language? Not exactly, said Nils Jaekel: “Although bilingual children are not necessarily more focused than monolingual children, speaking another language can provide other social opportunities along the way. However, it is important to continue the research on this topic so parents, educators, and policymakers do not overpromise on the benefits of speaking a second language.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190118123014.htm

Citation:

Does being bilingual make children more focused? Study says n
Date: January 18, 2019
Source: University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
Bilingual children do not have more advantages than monolingual children when it comes to executive function, which includes remembering instructions, controlling responses, and shifting swiftly between tasks.
Journal Reference:
Nils Jaekel, Julia Jaekel, Jessica Willard, Birgit Leyendecker. No evidence for effects of Turkish immigrant children‘s bilingualism on executive functions. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (1): e0209981 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209981

Here is the press release from University of Tennessee Knoxville:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 18-JAN-2019
Does being bilingual make children more focused? Study says no

Bilingual children do not have more advantages than monolingual children when it comes to executive function, which includes remembering instructions, controlling responses, and shifting swiftly between tasks, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE.
The study, “No evidence for effects of Turkish immigrant children’s bilingualism on executive functions,” was coauthored by two UT faculty members: Nils Jaekel, clinical assistant professor of theory and practice in teacher education, and Julia Jaekel, associate professor of child and family studies, together with Jessica Willard and Birgit Leyendecker, researchers from the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany.
“The research of executive functions is important because they have direct application to success in both real-life and academic situations,” said Julia Jaekel.
For their research, the scientists used a computer test to compare the executive function of two groups of children between the ages of five and 15 living in the German Ruhr region. The first group consisted of 242 children who spoke both Turkish and German, and the other group consisted of 95 children who spoke only German.
The test measured the time bilingual and monolingual children took to correctly respond to computer-based problems and stimuli. The results showed no difference in the executive functions of the two groups.
The researchers also considered children’s German and Turkish vocabulary size and exposure to both languages, factors for which previous studies on the topic had been criticized for lacking.
Does this mean there’s no value in speaking more than one language? Not exactly, said Nils Jaekel: “Although bilingual children are not necessarily more focused than monolingual children, speaking another language can provide other social opportunities along the way. However, it is important to continue the research on this topic so parents, educators, and policymakers do not overpromise on the benefits of speaking a second language.”
###
CONTACT:
Brian Canever
865-974-0937
bcanever@utk.edu
Jules Morris
865-719-7072
julesmo@utk.edu
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

The issue of official language is often addressed in the context of national cohesion.

Brandon Brice wrote in Why English should be the official language of the United States:

The United States, contrary to popular belief, has no official language. Federal legislators have proposed laws to make English the official business language of the United States, and every year that legislation dies….
Making English the official language would encourage new migrants to learn the language of the country they have adopted as theirs. The end goal is to unite the American people, while improving the lives of immigrants and native-born inhabitants.
There would be savings; official English would save billions in federal spending. The direct cost of translators and bilingual education alone are billions, and many of these costs are born by local governments. In Los Angeles in 2002, $15 million, or 15 percent of the election budget, was devoted to printing ballots in seven languages and hiring bilingual poll workers. Los Angeles county hires over 400 full-time court interpreters at a cost of $265 per day. In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed into law Executive Order 13166, which forces health care providers who accept Medicare and Medicaid payments to hire interpreters for any patient who requires one, at the providers’ own expense.
The indirect costs of accidents and lost productivity caused by the millions of people who don’t speak English are billions more….
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/31/why-english-should-be-official-language-united-sta/

Noemi Nagy asks an interesting question in Language Diversity as a Source of Conflict in Hungary—Possible Implications of Immigration.

Nagy described the language conflict:

Hungary has been a multinational and multilingual state for a thousand years, therefore had to implement policies and legislation on its minorities and linguistic diversity. After the democratic transition in 1989/90, the country’s new legislation on the protection of minorities became generally praised as standard setting in Europe. In 2011 a new Constitution and a new law on minorities were adopted, one of the major ‘innovations’ being Hungarian declared as the official language of the State. The aim of the paper is to present and critically evaluate the legislation and policies on language use and minority protection in Hungary in the democratic era, with special focus on the reverberations of today’s immigration boom in Europe, and the Hungarian government’s reactions to that. The paper opens questions such as: Is Hungary’s legal arrangement is appropriate to accommodate current needs of language minorities including new minorities, i.e. migrants? What are the possible implications of influx of immigrants into Hungary in terms of language policy? Will language resurface as a source of conflict as a new layout of multilingualism is taking shape in Europe? https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-77231-8_5

Something to ponder.

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Lancet study: High intake of dietary fiber and whole grains associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases

16 Jan

The Mayo Clinic wrote in Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet:

What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body.
Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.
• Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
• Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.
The amount of soluble and insoluble fiber varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.
Benefits of a high-fiber diet
A high-fiber diet:
• Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
• Helps maintain bowel health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Studies have also found that a high-fiber diet likely lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
• Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
• Helps control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, fiber — particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
• Aids in achieving healthy weight. High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you’re likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. And high-fiber foods tend to take longer to eat and to be less “energy dense,” which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
• Helps you live longer. Studies suggest that increasing your dietary fiber intake — especially cereal fiber — is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers…. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

See, Dietary fiber: Why do we need it? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146935.php

Science Daily reported: High intake of dietary fiber and whole grains associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases

People who eat higher levels of dietary fibre and whole grains have lower rates of non-communicable diseases compared with people who eat lesser amounts, while links for low glycaemic load and low glycaemic index diets are less clear. Observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years reveal the health benefits of eating at least 25g to 29g or more of dietary fibre a day, according to a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in The Lancet.
The results suggest a 15-30% decrease in all-cause and cardiovascular related mortality when comparing people who eat the highest amount of fibre to those who eat the least. Eating fibre-rich foods also reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16-24%. Per 1,000 participants, the impact translates into 13 fewer deaths and six fewer cases of coronary heart disease.
In addition, a meta-analysis of clinical trials suggested that increasing fibre intakes was associated with lower bodyweight and cholesterol, compared with lower intakes.
The study was commissioned by the World Health Organization to inform the development of new recommendations for optimal daily fibre intake and to determine which types of carbohydrate provide the best protection against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and weight gain.
Most people worldwide consume less than 20 g of dietary fibre per day. In 2015, the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended an increase in dietary fibre intake to 30 g per day, but only 9% of UK adults manage to reach this target. In the US, fibre intake among adults averages 15 g a day. Rich sources of dietary fibre include whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruit….
The researchers included 185 observational studies containing data that relate to 135 million person years and 58 clinical trials involving 4,635 adult participants. They focused on premature deaths from and incidence of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as incidence of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and cancers associated with obesity: breast, endometrial, esophageal and prostate cancer. The authors only included studies with healthy participants, so the findings cannot be applied to people with existing chronic diseases.
For every 8g increase of dietary fibre eaten per day, total deaths and incidence of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer decreased by 5-27%. Protection against stroke, and breast cancer also increased. Consuming 25g to 29g each day was adequate but the data suggest that higher intakes of dietary fibre could provide even greater protection.
For every 15g increase of whole grains eaten per day, total deaths and incidence of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer decreased by 2-19%. Higher intakes of whole grains were associated with a 13-33% reduction in NCD risk — translating into 26 fewer deaths per 1,000 people from all-cause mortality and seven fewer cases of coronary heart disease per 1,000 people. The meta-analysis of clinical trials involving whole grains showed a reduction in bodyweight. Whole grains are high in dietary fibre, which could explain their beneficial effects.
The study also found that diets with a low glycaemic index and low glycaemic load provided limited support for protection against type 2 diabetes and stroke only. Foods with a low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load may also contain added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. This may account for the links to health being less clear…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190110184737.htm

Citation:

High intake of dietary fiber and whole grains associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases
Date: January 10, 2019
Source: The Lancet
Summary:
Observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years reveal the health benefits of eating at least 25g to 29g or more of dietary fiber a day, according to a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Andrew Reynolds et al, Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, The Lancet (2019). DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31809-9

Here is the press release from the Lancet:

The Lancet: High intake of dietary fiber and whole grains associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases
People who eat higher levels of dietary fiber and whole grains have lower rates of non-communicable diseases compared with people who eat lesser amounts, while links for low glycemic load and low glycemic index diets are less clear
THE LANCET
People who eat higher levels of dietary fibre and whole grains have lower rates of non-communicable diseases compared with people who eat lesser amounts, while links for low glycaemic load and low glycaemic index diets are less clear. Observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years reveal the health benefits of eating at least 25g to 29g or more of dietary fibre a day, according to a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in The Lancet.
The results suggest a 15-30% decrease in all-cause and cardiovascular related mortality when comparing people who eat the highest amount of fibre to those who eat the least. Eating fibre-rich foods also reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16-24%. Per 1,000 participants, the impact translates into 13 fewer deaths and six fewer cases of coronary heart disease.
In addition, a meta-analysis of clinical trials suggested that increasing fibre intakes was associated with lower bodyweight and cholesterol, compared with lower intakes.
The study was commissioned by the World Health Organization to inform the development of new recommendations for optimal daily fibre intake and to determine which types of carbohydrate provide the best protection against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and weight gain.
Most people worldwide consume less than 20 g of dietary fibre per day. In 2015, the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended an increase in dietary fibre intake to 30 g per day [1], but only 9% of UK adults manage to reach this target. In the US, fibre intake among adults averages 15 g a day [2]. Rich sources of dietary fibre include whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruit.
“Previous reviews and meta-analyses have usually examined a single indicator of carbohydrate quality and a limited number of diseases so it has not been possible to establish which foods to recommend for protecting against a range of conditions,” says corresponding author Professor Jim Mann, the University of Otago, New Zealand.
“Our findings provide convincing evidence for nutrition guidelines to focus on increasing dietary fibre and on replacing refined grains with whole grains. This reduces incidence risk and mortality from a broad range of important diseases.” [3]
The researchers included 185 observational studies containing data that relate to 135 million person years and 58 clinical trials involving 4,635 adult participants. They focused on premature deaths from and incidence of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as incidence of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and cancers associated with obesity: breast, endometrial, oesophageal and prostate cancer. The authors only included studies with healthy participants, so the findings cannot be applied to people with existing chronic diseases.
For every 8g increase of dietary fibre eaten per day, total deaths and incidences of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer decreased by 5-27%. Protection against stroke, and breast cancer also increased. Consuming 25g to 29g each day was adequate but the data suggest that higher intakes of dietary fibre could provide even greater protection.
For every 15g increase of whole grains eaten per day, total deaths and incidences of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer decreased by 2-19%. Higher intakes of whole grains were associated with a 13-33% reduction in NCD risk – translating into 26 fewer deaths per 1,000 people from all-cause mortality and seven fewer cases of coronary heart disease per 1,000 people. The meta-analysis of clinical trials involving whole grains showed a reduction in bodyweight. Whole grains are high in dietary fibre, which could explain their beneficial effects.
The study also found that diets with a low glycaemic index and low glycaemic load provided limited support for protection against type 2 diabetes and stroke only. Foods with a low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load may also contain added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. This may account for the links to health being less clear.
“The health benefits of fibre are supported by over 100 years of research into its chemistry, physical properties, physiology and effects on metabolism. Fibre-rich whole foods that require chewing and retain much of their structure in the gut increase satiety and help weight control and can favourably influence lipid and glucose levels. The breakdown of fibre in the large bowel by the resident bacteria has additional wide-ranging effects including protection from colorectal cancer.” says Professor Jim Mann. [3]
While their study did not show any risks associated with dietary fibre, the authors note that high intakes might have ill-effects for people with low iron or mineral levels, for whom high levels of whole grains can further reduce iron levels. They also note that the study mainly relates to naturally-occurring fibre rich foods rather than synthetic and extracted fibre, such as powders, that can be added to foods.
Commenting on the implications and limitations of the study, Professor Gary Frost, Imperial College London, UK, says, “[The authors] report findings from both prospective cohort studies and randomised controlled trials in tandem. This method enables us to understand how altering the quality of carbohydrate intake in randomised controlled trials affects non-communicable disease risk factors and how these changes in diet quality align with disease incidence in prospective cohort studies. This alignment is seen beautifully for dietary fibre intake, in which observational studies reveal a reduction in all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, which is associated with a reduction in bodyweight, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure reported in randomised controlled trials… There are some important considerations that arise from this Article. First, total carbohydrate intake was not considered in the systematic review and meta-analysis… Second, although the absence of association between glycaemic index and load with non-communicable disease and risk factors is consistent with another recent systematic review, caution is needed when interpreting these data, as the number of studies is small and findings are heterogeneous. Third, the absence of quantifiable and objective biomarkers for assessing carbohydrate intake means dietary research relies on self-reported intake, which is prone to error and misreporting. Improving the accuracy of dietary assessment is a priority area for nutrition research. The analyses presented by Reynolds and colleagues provides compelling evidence that dietary fibre and whole grain are major determinants of numerous health outcomes and should form part of public health policy.”
###
NOTES TO EDITORS
Peer-reviewed / Meta-analysis and systematic review / People
This study was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the WHO, the Riddet Centre of Research Excellence, the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, the University of Otago, and the Otago Southland Diabetes Research Trust. It was conducted by researchers from the University of Otago, the Riddet Centre of Research Excellence, and the University of Dundee.
The labels have been added to this press release as part of a project run by the Academy of Medical Sciences seeking to improve the communication of evidence. For more information, please see: http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/AMS-press-release-labelling-system-GUIDANCE.pdf if you have any questions or feedback, please contact The Lancet press office pressoffice@lancet.com
[1] Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445503/SACN_Carbohydrates_and_Health.pdf
[2] https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/increasing_fiber_intake/
[3] Quote direct from author and cannot be found in the text of the Article.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Although, there are minimum suggested daily minimum requirements, one should not overdue the daily intake of fiber.

Lauretta Claussen wrote in the SFGATE article, What Is Maximum Fiber Intake Per Day?

Too Much Fiber
Though fiber is beneficial, there is some risk of negative side effects from eating too much. Excessive amounts of fiber can bind with certain minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium, interfering with absorption, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, there is no upper limit set for how much fiber one can safely consume daily. Achieving dangerous levels from food intake alone would be difficult, and would most likely come as a result of excessive fiber supplement use.
Intestinal Problems
Though it is difficult to eat too much fiber, there is a risk of intestinal side effects from eating too much fiber at one sitting. Stomach cramps, gas and bloating can all occur when a dramatic fiber intake occurs suddenly. Once the natural bacteria in the digestive system gets accustomed to a high-fiber diet, these symptoms will likely subside.
Recommended Levels
The average American diet contains far too little fiber. Older children and adults should consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily, though most only get approximately 10 to 15. If you find you need to increase your daily fiber, do so slowly– over six to eight weeks– in order to avoid side effects. Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily will also help reduce the risk of negative side effects…. https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/maximum-fiber-intake-per-day-7061.html

The key concept is moderation.

Resources:

Minimum Daily Fiber Requirements                               https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/minimum-daily-fiber-requirements-4436.html

Fiber: How Much Is Too Much?                                   https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/guide-to-daily-fiber/too-much-fiber/

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University of Vermont study: Why people reject city trees

13 Jan

The Nature Conservancy published How Urban Trees Can Save Lives:

The Planting Healthy Air report documents which cities stand to benefit most from tree plantings, in terms of both heat and PM reduction, and how much investment would be required to achieve meaningful benefits.
The analysis found that investing just US$4 per resident in each of these cities in tree planting efforts could improve the health of millions of people, and that trees are as cost-effective as many other common solutions.
Most of the cooling and filtering effects created by trees are fairly localized, so densely populated cities—as well as those with higher overall pollution levels—tend to see the highest overall return on investment (ROI) from tree plantings…. https://global.nature.org/content/healthyair

Exeter University reported that asthma attacks were reduced in tree-lined urban areas.

Science Daily reported in Asthma attacks reduced in tree-lined urban neighborhoods:

People living in polluted urban areas are far less likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma when there are lots of trees in their neighbourhood, a study by the University of Exeter’s medical school has found.
The study into the impact of urban greenery on asthma suggests that respiratory health can be improved by the expansion of tree cover in very polluted urban neighbourhoods.
The study, published in the journal Environment International, looked at more than 650,000 serious asthma attacks over a 15 year period. Emergency hospitalisations were compared across 26,000 urban neighbourhoods in England.
In the most polluted urban areas, trees had a particularly strong association with fewer emergency asthma cases. In relatively unpolluted urban neighbourhoods trees did not have the same impact.
In a typical urban area with a high level of background air pollution — for example, around 15 micrograms of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) per cubic metre, or a nitrogen dioxide concentration around 33 micrograms per cubic metre — an extra 300 trees per square kilometre was associated with around 50 fewer emergency asthma cases per 100,000 residents over the 15 year study period.
The findings could have important implications for planning and public health policy, and suggest that tree planting could play a role in reducing the effects of air pollution from cars.
Over 5.4 million people receive treatment for asthma in the UK with an annual cost to the NHS of around £1 billion. 18 per cent of adults report asthma in the previous 12 months, and a quarter of 13-14 year olds report symptoms. Asthma causes over a thousand deaths a year.
The study led by Dr Ian Alcock, research fellow at the University of Exeter’s Medical School, found that trees and green space were both related to a decrease in people admitted to hospital with asthma…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171117103814.ht

Urban trees can affect the quality of life and health.

Science Daily reported in Why people reject city trees: Study explains why thousands of Detroit residents rejected city’s tree planting efforts:

Trees are a hallmark of vibrant neighborhoods. So why did nearly one-quarter of eligible residents in Detroit, Michigan, turn down free street trees? That’s the mystery University of Vermont researcher Christine Carmichael solves in one of the first studies to explore opposition to city tree planting programs.
As cities from New York to L.A. embark on major tree planting initiatives, the research helps to explain why more than 1,800 of 7,425 eligible Detroit residents — roughly 25% — submitted “no-tree requests” between 2011 and 2014 alone. The study was published January 7 by Society and Natural Resources journal.
“This research shows how local government actions can cause residents to reject environmental efforts — in this case, street trees — that would otherwise be in people’s interests,” says Carmichael, a postdoctoral researcher at UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment and Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Carmichael found that the opposition in Detroit resulted primarily from negative past experiences with street trees, particularly in low-income neighborhoods grappling with blight from vacant properties. In 2014 alone, the city had an estimated 20,000 dead or hazardous trees, following the contraction of Detroit’s once-massive tree maintenance program from budget cuts and population decline.
For many long-term residents, wariness of the new trees was driven by past experiences of caring for vacant properties in their neighborhood. They believed responsibility for maintaining the trees would eventually fall to them. “Even though it’s city property, we’re gonna end up having to care for it and raking leaves and God knows whatever else we might have to do,” said one woman interviewed for the study.
Carmichael also found that skepticism of the program was tied to wider distrust of the city government and outside groups in parts of Detroit. As a result, residents wanted greater decision-making power in selecting which trees to plant in particular locations, adds Carmichael who completed the three-year study for her PhD with co-author Maureen McDonough of Michigan State University…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190107142109.htm

Citation:

Why people reject city trees: Study explains why thousands of Detroit residents rejected city’s tree planting efforts
Date: January 7, 2019
Source: University of Vermont
Summary:
Why did nearly one-quarter of eligible residents in Detroit turn down free street trees? That’s the mystery researchers solve in one of the first studies to explore opposition to city tree planting programs. As cities from New York to L.A. embark on tree planting initiatives, the research helps to explain why more than 1,800 of 7,425 eligible Detroit residents — roughly 25 percent — submitted ‘no-tree requests’ between 2011 and 2014 alone.

Christine E. Carmichael & Maureen H. McDonough (2019) Community Stories: Explaining Resistance to Street Tree-Planting Programs in Detroit, Michigan, USA, Society & Natural Resources, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2018.1550229

Here is the press release from the University of Vermont:

Why People Reject City Trees
Study explains why thousands of Detroit residents rejected city’s tree planting efforts
Trees are a hallmark of vibrant neighborhoods. So why did nearly one-quarter of eligible residents in Detroit, Michigan, turn down free street trees? That’s the mystery University of Vermont researcher Christine Carmichael solves in one of the first studies to explore opposition to city tree planting programs.
As cities from New York to L.A. embark on major tree planting initiatives, the research helps to explain why more than 1,800 of 7,425 eligible Detroit residents – roughly 25% – submitted “no-tree requests” between 2011 and 2014 alone.
“This research shows how local government actions can cause residents to reject environmental efforts – in this case, street trees – that would otherwise be in people’s interests,” says Carmichael, a postdoctoral researcher at UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment and Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.
The study was published January 7 by Society and Natural Resources journal.
Carmichael found that the opposition in Detroit resulted primarily from negative past experiences with street trees, particularly in low-income neighborhoods grappling with blight from vacant properties. In 2014 alone, the city had an estimated 20,000 dead or hazardous trees, following the contraction of Detroit’s once-massive tree maintenance program from budget cuts and population decline.
For many long-term residents, wariness of the new trees was driven by past experiences of caring for vacant properties in their neighborhood. They believed responsibility for maintaining the trees would eventually fall to them. “Even though it’s city property, we’re gonna end up having to care for it and raking leaves and God knows whatever else we might have to do,” said one woman interviewed for the study.
Carmichael also found that skepticism of the program was tied to wider distrust of the city government and outside groups in parts of Detroit. As a result, residents wanted greater decision-making power in selecting which trees to plant in particular locations, adds Carmichael who completed the three-year study for her PhD with co-author Maureen McDonough of Michigan State University.
Greening Detroit
Urban greening projects offer health benefits to residents, from improved air quality to decreased crime, and seek to boost the typically lower amount of tree cover in low-income neighborhoods, Carmichael says.
For these reasons, many cities have launched major tree planting initiatives in recent years, including MillionTreesNYC, Grow Boston Greener, The Chicago Tree Initiative, and The Greening of Detroit.
To avoid past mistakes in the city’s tree planting and maintenance approach, staff at The Greening of Detroit, a non-profit contracted by the city to plant trees, selected tree species that could survive in urban environments and guaranteed maintenance of trees for three years after planting.
However, the group relied primarily on educating residents about the benefits of trees and their program, which failed to address people’s concerns. “By not giving residents a say in the tree planting program, they were re-creating the same conflicts that had been happening in the city for a long time,” says Carmichael.
Carmichael says simple steps, such as allowing residents a choice over which kind of tree will be planted in front of their home, can reduce tensions. Investing more effort in follow-up communication with residents who receive trees would also help to ensure that trees are cared for, and residents do not feel overburdened with tree maintenance.
One man interviewed for the study said, “I’ve left several messages. My tree was planted last August. My wife loved it. I was told that they would come back out and either water it or fertilize it. Haven’t seen anyone. So, I’ve been doing the best that I can. Where do I go from here?”
Lessons for non-profits
Monica Tabares of The Greening of Detroit says that increased spending by the City of Detroit’s forestry department, as well as a change in the organization’s leadership, has led the group to focus more on community engagement.
Since Carmichael presented her findings to The Greening of Detroit, the organization has instituted community engagement training for the youth they hire to water street trees and interact with residents. “As a result of our refined focus, [our program] has brought thousands of residents together to not only plant trees, but gain a greater understanding of the benefits of trees in their communities,” says Tabares.
Carmichael’s study is gaining attention from city planners across North America hoping to learn Detroit’s lessons. Local governments and non-profits in Austin, Denver, Indianapolis, Sacramento, Toronto and Vermont have reached out for help implementing her research.
The study also offers lessons for how non-profits and donors measure successful outcomes, Carmichael says.
With limited resources and watchful donors, some non-profits often focus on narrow outcomes — such as the number of trees planted per year – without also prioritizing deeper community engagement, which might slow the immediate work of planting trees, but create more a sustainable outcome.
“We need to broaden the measurable outcomes that we can gauge success by,” says Carmichael. “Healthy urban forests cannot be measured just by the number of trees planted. We also have to capture who is involved, and how that involvement affects the well-being of people and trees in the long-term.”

The Royal Parks of the United Kingdom summarized the benefits of urban trees.

The Royal Parks wrote in Why are trees so important?

Trees are vital. As the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter.
Not only are trees essential for life, but as the longest living species on earth, they give us a link between the past, present and future.
It’s critical that woodlands, rainforests and trees in urban settings, such as parks, are preserved and sustainably managed across the world….
Trees benefit health
The canopies of trees act as a physical filter, trapping dust and absorbing pollutants from the air. Each individual tree removes up to 1.7 kilos every year. They also provide shade from solar radiation and reduce noise….
Trees benefit the environment
Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and the carbon that they store in their wood helps slow the rate of global warming.
They reduce wind speeds and cool the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves. It’s estimated that trees can reduce the temperature in a city by up to 7°C.
Trees also help prevent flooding and soil erosion, absorbing thousands of litres of stormwater.
Trees boost wildlife
Trees host complex microhabitats. When young, they offer habitation and food to amazing communities of birds, insects, lichen and fungi. When ancient, their trunks also provide the hollow cover needed by species such as bats, woodboring beetles, tawny owls and woodpeckers.
One mature oak can be home to as many as 500 different species. Richmond Park is full of such trees, which is one of the reasons it has been designated a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Trees strengthen communities
Trees strengthen the distinctive character of a place and encourage local pride. Urban woodland can be used as an educational resource and to bring groups together for activities like walking and bird-watching. Trees are also invaluable for children to play in and discover their sense of adventure.
Trees grow the economy
People are attracted to live, work and invest in green surroundings. Research shows that average house prices are 5-18% higher when properties are close to mature trees. Companies benefit from a healthier, happier workforce if there are parks and trees nearby.
Trees protect the future
Soon, for the first time in history, the number of people with homes in cities will outstrip those living in the countryside. Parks and trees will become an even more vital component of urban life. We must respect them and protect them for the future…. https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park/things-to-see-and-do/gardens-and-landscapes/tree-map/why-trees-are-important

See, Envisioning a Great Green City: Nature needs cities. Cities need nature. https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/envisioning-a-great-green-city/

Resources:

Urban Forestry & Energy Conservation Bibliography https://articles.extension.org/pages/71120/urban-forestry-energy-conservation-bibliography

Urban Forestry Bibliography Created by the Forest Service … https://www.milliontreesnyc.org/downloads/pdf/urban_tree_bib.pdf

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

Tufts University study: Racial inequality in the deployment of rooftop solar energy in the United States

11 Jan

The Department of Energy described the use of solar energy:

Despite this impressive progress, significant work remains before solar becomes as affordable as conventional energy sources and meets its full potential throughout the country. Solar hardware costs have fallen dramatically, but market barriers and grid integration challenges continue to hinder greater deployment. Non-hardware solar “soft costs”—such as permitting, financing, and customer acquisition—are becoming an increasingly larger fraction of the total cost of solar and now constitute up to 55% of the cost of a residential system.4 Technological advances and innovative solutions are still needed to increase efficiency, drive down costs, and enable utilities to rely on solar for baseload power.
1See: http://www.seia.org/research-resources/us-solar-market-insight
2The Solar Foundation. National Solar Jobs Census. See: http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/national/
3National Renewable Energy Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy. SunShot Vision Study. Feb. 2012. pp.4-5. See: http://energy.gov/eere/sunshot/sunshot-vision-study.
4National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Dec. 2013. See: http://www.nrel.gov/news/press/2013/5306.html.
https://www.energy.gov/eere/solarpoweringamerica/solar-energy-united-states

If use of solar technology is to become more widely used, income issues must be addressed.

Peter Hanlon wrote in The Middle Class is Driving the Solar Revolution:

According to some fascinating new research by the Center for American Progress, the American middle class is overwhelmingly driving the solar revolution. After looking at certain demographics of households that installed solar panels in Arizona, California and New Jersey (the three top solar states), the analysis found three common trends:
1. At least 60 percent of homeowners are installing solar panels in zip codes with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000. (In Arizona that figure jumps to 80 percent.)
2. The distribution of solar installations across income levels lines up closely with population distribution. In other words, households of all income levels are going solar, from those in lower income neighborhoods to the wealthiest zip codes.
3. The share of solar installations within middle class neighborhoods – those in the $40,000 to $90,000 income range – continues to increase, meaning that solar installers are relying less on wealthier customers to drive growth and more on middle income customers. (Case in point, the most solar growth in New Jersey took place in areas where median income was between $30,000 and $40,000.)
One of the biggest reasons that rooftop solar panels have become much more than green status symbols for wealthy customers is net metering, a policy which allows solar panel -owning homeowners to see their electric meters spin backwards – and their utility bills shrink – as they generate their own electricity.
Even with the rapid growth in the number of residential solar installations, rooftop panels are still only providing one quarter of 1 percent of all electricity produced in the US. Nevertheless, the Center for American Progress analysis reports that many utilities see in their future the ominous-sounding “utility death spiral.” Their theory goes like this: Homeowners install solar panels, which reduces the amount of electricity they buy from the electric utility, thereby reducing the amount of fees that customers pay for grid maintenance, which then causes the utility to raise rates and, ultimately, encourages more and more customers to go solar which… causes rates to soar…. http://www.gracelinks.org/blog/3390/the-middle-class-is-driving-the-solar-revolution

A Tufts University study reported on inequity in the use of solar panels.

Science Daily reported in Racial inequality in the deployment of rooftop solar energy in the United States, study finds:

Although the popularity of rooftop solar panels has skyrocketed because of their benefits to consumers and the environment, the deployment has predominantly occurred in white neighborhoods, even after controlling for household income and home ownership, according to a study by researchers from Tufts University and the University of California, Berkeley, published today in the journal Nature Sustainability.
While solar energy is a popular, cost-effective, sustainable source of energy that can be deployed at large, utility-scale
Researchers combined data from Google’s Project Sunroof on existing rooftop solar installations across the United States with demographic data, including household income, home ownership, and ethnicity and race, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The Project Sunroof data includes information on more than 60 million rooftops, and almost 2 million solar installations.
“Advances in remote sensing and in ‘big data’ science enable us not only to take a unique look at where solar is deployed but also to combine that with census and demographic data to chart who gets to benefit from the solar energy revolution,” said Sergio Castellanos, Ph.D., a research faculty at UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group and the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE). “This information allows us to think more deeply about the effectiveness of current policies and approaches to accelerating solar PV (photovoltaics) deployment.”
The study found that for the same median household income:
• black-majority census tracts — or neighborhoods — have installed 69 percent less rooftop PV than census tracts (neighborhoods) where no single race or ethnicity makes up the majority (no-majority); and
• Hispanic-majority census tracts have installed 30 percent less rooftop PV than no-majority census tracts. Meanwhile, white-majority census tracts have installed 21 percent more rooftop PV than no-majority census tracts.
When correcting for home ownership, black- and Hispanic-majority census tracts have installed less rooftop PV compared to no-majority tracts by 61 percent and 45 percent, respectively, while white-majority census tracts installed 37 percent more.
The study’s authors said more research is needed to help determine the root causes of the differences. They noted that the findings could be useful in developing better and more inclusive energy infrastructure policy and outcomes, including as part of the evolving ‘Green New Deal’ and programs at the state and federal level…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190110141709.htm

Citation:

Racial inequality in the deployment of rooftop solar energy in the United States, study finds
Date: January 10, 2019
Source: Tufts University
Summary:
Fewer rooftop solar photovoltaics installations exist in African-American and Hispanic-dominant neighborhoods than in white-dominant neighborhoods, even when controlling for household income and home ownership, according to a new study.
Journal Reference:
Deborah A. Sunter, Sergio Castellanos, Daniel M. Kammen. Disparities in rooftop photovoltaics deployment in the United States by race and ethnicity. Nature Sustainability, 2019; 2 (1): 71 DOI: 10.1038/s41893-018-0204-z

Here is the press release from Tufts University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 10-JAN-2019
Study: Racial inequality in the deployment of rooftop solar energy in the US
Fewer rooftop solar photovoltaics installations exist in African-American and Hispanic-dominant neighborhoods than in white-dominant neighborhoods, even when controlling for household income and home ownership
MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. and BERKELEY, Ca. (Jan. 10, 2019)–Although the popularity of rooftop solar panels has skyrocketed because of their benefits to consumers and the environment, the deployment has predominantly occurred in white neighborhoods, even after controlling for household income and home ownership, according to a study by researchers from Tufts University and the University of California, Berkeley, published today in the journal Nature Sustainability.
While solar energy is a popular, cost-effective, sustainable source of energy that can be deployed at large, utility-scale projects as well as on individual rooftops, deployment of rooftop solar has been uneven.
“Solar power is crucial to meeting the climate goals presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but we can and need to deploy solar more broadly so that it benefits all people, regardless of race and ethnicity,” said Deborah Sunter, Ph.D., an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the School of Engineering at Tufts, and the study’s lead author. “Solar energy can be a resource for climate protection and social empowerment.”
Researchers combined data from Google’s Project Sunroof on existing rooftop solar installations across the United States with demographic data, including household income, home ownership, and ethnicity and race, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The Project Sunroof data includes information on more than 60 million rooftops, and almost 2 million solar installations.
“Advances in remote sensing and in ‘big data’ science enable us not only to take a unique look at where solar is deployed but also to combine that with census and demographic data to chart who gets to benefit from the solar energy revolution,” said Sergio Castellanos, Ph.D., a research faculty at UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group and the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE). “This information allows us to think more deeply about the effectiveness of current policies and approaches to accelerating solar PV (photovoltaics) deployment.”
The study found that for the same median household income:
• black-majority census tracts – or neighborhoods – have installed 69 percent less rooftop PV than census tracts (neighborhoods) where no single race or ethnicity makes up the majority (no-majority); and
• Hispanic-majority census tracts have installed 30 percent less rooftop PV than no-majority census tracts. Meanwhile, white-majority census tracts have installed 21 percent more rooftop PV than no-majority census tracts.
When correcting for home ownership, black- and Hispanic-majority census tracts have installed less rooftop PV compared to no-majority tracts by 61 percent and 45 percent, respectively, while white-majority census tracts installed 37 percent more.
The study’s authors said more research is needed to help determine the root causes of the differences. They noted that the findings could be useful in developing better and more inclusive energy infrastructure policy and outcomes, including as part of the evolving ‘Green New Deal’ and programs at the state and federal level.
“Our work illustrates that while solar can be a powerful tool for climate protection and social equity, a lack of access or a lack of outreach to all segments of society can dramatically weaken the social benefit,” said Daniel Kammen, Ph.D., former science envoy for the U. S. State Department, and current professor and chair of the Energy and Resources Group, professor in the Goldman School of Policy, and professor of Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley. Both Sunter and Kammen have been fellows of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS), and Castellanos is a fellow at UC Berkeley´s Data for Social Sciences Lab (D-Lab).
###
Sunter, D., Castellanos, S., Kammen, D. (2019) “Disparities in rooftop photovoltaics deployment in the United States by race and ethnicity,” Nature Sustainability. DOI 10.1038/s41893-018-0204-z.
About Tufts University
Tufts University, located on campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university’s schools is widely encouraged.

Even middle and upper income users of solar energy have to analyze the cost of solar. For lower income potential users of solar, the financial analysis is even more rigorous.

Bryan Phelps wrote in 5 Ways to Determine if Solar Energy is Right for You:

Governments, organizations, businesses, and homeowners are adopting solar energy at an exponential rate. Every year, new residential solar companies spring up to meet the demand of the expanding market. Regardless of the popularity and availability, solar energy is not a good fit for everyone, but it may be the right fit for you. Here are five important factors to consider when deciding if solar makes sense:
1. Location – Residential solar is available in every state, but in some states, switching to solar just makes more sense. Solar panels require direct sunlight, so if you live in an area with significant cloud cover, making the switch may not be a wise decision. Homes located in southwestern states, like California and Arizona, are great candidates for solar power. Even states you might not expect, like Massachusetts and New Jersey, are among the top contenders for solar energy consumption. There are many resources available online to help consumers review their state’s solar situation.
2. Energy habits – If your utility bills cost you hundreds of dollars each month, solar energy offers big potential savings. Solar is a great solution for homes that consume a lot of power because the savings outweigh the investment. Keep in mind that energy generation typically corresponds with need. During summer afternoons when the sun is brightest, energy needs rise (think fans and air conditioners), while solar energy generation increases.
3. Roof style – To maximize solar exposure, roof panels need to meet specific requirements. Many contractors will not install on a roof that will need replacing within 15 years. Additionally, steep pitches, flat roofs, and trees that cast a shadow on your house can all limit sun exposure and reduce the system’s efficacy. Conditions are best when the roof faces south and is made of composite shingles or concrete tile. Speaking with a professional installer or solar expert can help you determine if your roof meets the requirements.
4. Your “green” status – If you already try to make eco-friendly choices, deciding on solar may be a great next step. Solar consumers make a real difference by addressing one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions — residential homes. A 2013 study from UC Berkeley examined CO2 emissions reductions from residential solar. Researchers analyzed 113,533 homes with solar power and found that together, they avoided 696,544 metric tons of CO2 emissions. That is equivalent to the average annual output of 146,641 cars, or 1,619,870 barrels of oil.
5. Your wallet – Depending on how you decide to purchase and install your solar panels, there are several financial incentives to help alleviate any costs. State tax breaks and other government rebates provide incentive for many. Some solar companies even offer free installation with term agreements to make solar energy systems more affordable. In addition to these immediate savings, consumers who choose solar enjoy lower utility bills and increased home values. Over a 20-year period, the average solar customer is expected to save $20,080. A study over an 8-year period found that homes with solar energy not only sold at a higher price, but also had a better rate of sale than those without.
Solar technology and innovation are increasingly more available and affordable. For many homeowners, residential solar energy can be a practical and cost-effective approach to self-reliant and smart energy consumption…. http://www.yourenergyblog.com/5-ways-to-determine-if-solar-energy-is-right-for-you/

For many who are low-income, solar energy is often not economically viable.

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Indiana University study: CBD in marijuana may worsen glaucoma, raise eye pressure

7 Jan

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in How might cannabinoids be useful as medicine?

Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of medical interest are THC and CBD.
THC can increase appetite and reduce nausea. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and muscle control problems.Unlike THC, CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn’t make people “high.” These drugs aren’t popular for recreational use because they aren’t intoxicating. It may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions. Many researchers, including those funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are continuing to explore the possible uses of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids for medical treatment.
For instance, recent animal studies have shown that marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one cell culture study with rodents suggests that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that treatment with purified extracts of THC and CBD, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation….10
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine

There is a question among medical providers about marijuana’s usefulness in glaucoma treatment.

David Turbert, contributing writer: Dayle Kern wrote in American Academy of Ophthalmology article which was reviewed by Dr. J. Kevin McKinney, MD, MPH, Does Marijuana Help Treat Glaucoma?

Medical marijuana is promoted as a treatment for many diseases, including glaucoma. And now that the sale and possession of marijuana has been legalized in states like Colorado and Washington, it can be easier than ever to self medicate as a glaucoma treatment without consulting your ophthalmologist. But does it really work?
Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the optic nerve becomes damaged over time, reducing side vision. It sometimes leads to blindness. One cause of optic nerve damage in glaucoma is higher-than-normal pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure or “IOP”).
Currently, the only way to control glaucoma and prevent vision loss is to lower your IOP levels. Your ophthalmologist can treat glaucoma with medication, such as prescription eye drops, or surgery, depending on the type of glaucoma and how severe it is.
Learn more about: Glaucoma treatment options
The idea that marijuana can be helpful in treating glaucoma dates to the 1970s. Studies conducted then showed that smoking marijuana lowered the IOP of people with glaucoma. As a result of this research, additional studies were conducted examining whether marijuana or its active ingredient, a compound known as THC, could be used to keep IOP lowered. This research was supported by the National Eye Institute, a division of the federal National Institutes of Health.
The research found that when marijuana is smoked or when a form of its active ingredient is taken as a pill or by injection, it does lower IOP. However, it only lowers IOP for a short period of time—about three or four hours.
This short period of time is a major drawback for the use of marijuana as a glaucoma treatment. Because glaucoma needs to be treated 24 hours a day, you would need to smoke marijuana six to eight times a day around the clock to receive the benefit of a consistently lowered IOP. Because of marijuana’s mood-altering effect, smoking so much of it daily would leave you too impaired to drive, operate equipment or function at the peak of your mental ability….
Scientists are still exploring whether the active ingredients in marijuana may yet offer a glaucoma treatment. However, such developments require much more research and are many years from becoming a reality.
So, while marijuana can temporarily lower your IOP, it’s not recommended for treating glaucoma. Prescription medication and surgical treatments have been tested and proven as effective treatments for the condition. On June 27, 2014, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reiterated its position that it does not recommend marijuana or other cannabis products for the treatment of glaucoma. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/medical-marijuana-glaucoma-treament

An Indiana University study questioned the use of marijuana in the treatment of glaucoma.

Science Daily reported in CBD in marijuana may worsen glaucoma, raise eye pressure:

One of the most commonly proposed uses of medical marijuana is to treat glaucoma.
But a study from researchers at Indiana University has found that a major chemical component in the substance appears to worsen the primary underpinning of the disease: a rise in pressure inside the eye.
The chemical that causes this rise in pressure is cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that is increasingly marketed to consumers in products such as oil, gummies, creams and health food. It is also approved in many states as a treatment for conditions such as pediatric epilepsy.
The study was reported Dec. 14 in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science….
The study, which was conducted in mice, specifically found that CBD caused an increase in pressure inside the eye of 18 percent for at least four hours after use.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, was found to effectively lower pressure in the eye, as has been previously reported. But the study found that the use of CBD in combination with THC blocked this effect.
Specifically, the study found that male mice experienced a drop in eye pressure of nearly 30 percent eight hours after exposure to THC alone. A lower pressure drop of 22 percent was also observed after four hours in male mice.
The effect was weaker in female mice. This group experienced a pressure drop of only 17 percent after four hours. No difference in eye pressure was measured after eight hours.
The results suggest that females may be less affected by THC, though it isn’t clear whether this extends to the substance’s psychoactive effects.
“This difference between males and females — and the fact that CBD seems to worsen eye pressure, the primary risk factor for glaucoma — are both important aspects of this study,” Straiker said. “It’s also notable that CBD appears to actively oppose the beneficial effects of THC.”
By comparing the effect of these substances on mice without specific neuroreceptors affected by THC and CBD, the IU researchers were also able to identify the two specific neuroreceptors — named CB1 and GPR18 — by which the first substance lowered pressure inside the eye.
“There were studies over 45 years ago that found evidence that THC lowers pressure inside the eye, but no one’s ever identified the specific neuroreceptors involved in the process until this study,” Straiker said. “These results could have important implications for future research on the use of cannabis as a therapy for intraocular pressure.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181217151537.htm

Citation:

CBD in marijuana may worsen glaucoma, raise eye pressure
Research in mice suggests over-the-counter substance could possess unknown side effects
Date: December 17, 2018
Source: Indiana University
Summary:
A study has found that CBD — a major chemical component in marijuana — appears to increase pressure inside the eye of mice, suggesting the use of the substance in the treatment of glaucoma may actually worsen the condition.
Journal Reference:
Sally Miller, Laura Daily, Emma Leishman, Heather Bradshaw, Alex Straiker. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Differentially Regulate Intraocular Pressure. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science, 2018; 59 (15): 5904 DOI: 10.1167/iovs.18-24838

Here is the press release from Indiana University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 17-DEC-2018
Study suggests CBD may worsen glaucoma, raise eye pressure
Research in mice suggests over-the-counter substance could possess unknown side effects
INDIANA UNIVERSITY
One of the most commonly proposed uses of medical marijuana is to treat glaucoma.
But a study from researchers at Indiana University has found that a major chemical component in the substance appears to worsen the primary underpinning of the disease: a rise in pressure inside the eye.
The chemical that causes this rise in pressure is cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that is increasingly marketed to consumers in products such as oil, gummies, creams and health food. It is also approved in many states as a treatment for conditions such as pediatric epilepsy.
The study was reported Dec. 14 in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.
“This study raises important questions about the relationship between the primary ingredients in cannabis and their effect on the eye,” said Alex Straiker, an associate scientist in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who led the study. “It also suggests the need to understand more about the potential undesirable side effects of CBD, especially due to its use in children.”
The study, which was conducted in mice, specifically found that CBD caused an increase in pressure inside the eye of 18 percent for at least four hours after use.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, was found to effectively lower pressure in the eye, as has been previously reported. But the study found that the use of CBD in combination with THC blocked this effect.
Specifically, the study found that male mice experienced a drop in eye pressure of nearly 30 percent eight hours after exposure to THC alone. A lower pressure drop of 22 percent was also observed after four hours in male mice.
The effect was weaker in female mice. This group experienced a pressure drop of only 17 percent after four hours. No difference in eye pressure was measured after eight hours.
The results suggest that females may be less affected by THC, though it isn’t clear whether this extends to the substance’s psychoactive effects.
“This difference between males and females — and the fact that CBD seems to worsen eye pressure, the primary risk factor for glaucoma — are both important aspects of this study,” Straiker said. “It’s also notable that CBD appears to actively oppose the beneficial effects of THC.”
By comparing the effect of these substances on mice without specific neuroreceptors affected by THC and CBD, the IU researchers were also able to identify the two specific neuroreceptors — named CB1 and GPR18 — by which the first substance lowered pressure inside the eye.
“There were studies over 45 years ago that found evidence that THC lowers pressure inside the eye, but no one’s ever identified the specific neuroreceptors involved in the process until this study,” Straiker said. “These results could have important implications for future research on the use of cannabis as a therapy for intraocular pressure.”
###
Other IU authors on the paper included Heather Bradshaw, an associate professor in IU Bloomington Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. The study was supported in part by the National Eye Institute.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to

The Glaucoma Research Foundation discussed glaucoma treatment in Should You Be Using Marijuana to Treat Your Glaucoma?

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation:

Long-term Safety Concerns
Concerns also exist regarding the long-term safety of marijuana use, due to its associations with permanent lung damage when smoked, and possible permanent adverse effects on cognition and mental health. With regular use, tolerance to the eye pressure-lowering effects develops, meaning that increasing drug levels would be required to prevent progression of glaucoma. Finally, lack of regulation and quality control makes efficacy and safety of marijuana unpredictable. Research efforts to develop THC eyedrops that can effectively lower eye pressure while minimizing side effects are underway but have not yet been successful.
For these reasons, while marijuana does lower eye pressure, it is not recommended as a medical treatment for glaucoma. If you use marijuana, let your eye doctor know since it may have an impact on your eye pressure readings. Also, it is very important to continue your current glaucoma therapy and regular monitoring as recommended by your eye doctor.

Kathryn E. Bollinger, MD is a glaucoma specialist and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology within the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Her research focuses on development of novel neuroprotective treatments for glaucoma.
Kevin M. Halenda, MD is a second-year ophthalmology resident at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. He is a graduate of Emory University School of Medicine and Princeton University.                                                                                                                   https://www.glaucoma.org/treatment/should-you-be-using-marijuana-to-treat-your-glaucoma.php

As with treatment for any medical condition, the advice of competent medical personnel must be consulted.

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University of California Berkeley study: Artificial intelligence advances threaten privacy of health data

6 Jan

Joseph Jerome, CIPP/US wrote in the 2016 article, Why artificial intelligence may be the next big privacy trend:

What that looks like will vary, but it is likely that the same far-reaching and broad worries about fairness and accountability that have dogged every discussion about big data — and informed the FTC’s January Big Data Report — will present serious concerns for certain applications of AI. While “Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence” is largely an exercise in stage-setting, the report is likely a harbinger of the same type of attention and focus that emerged within the advocacy community in the wake of the White House’s 2014 Big Data Report. For the privacy profession, the report hints at a few areas where our attention ought to be directed.
First, AI is still a nascent, immature field of engineering, and promoting that maturation process will involve a variety of different training and capacity-building efforts. The report explicitly recommends that ethical training, as well as training in security, privacy, and safety, should become an integral part of the curricula on AI, machine learning, and computer and data science at universities. Moving forward, one could imagine that ethical and other non-technical training will also be an important component of our STEM policies at large. Beyond formal education, however, building awareness among actual AI practitioners and developers will be essential to mitigate disconcerting or unintended behaviors, and to bolster public confidence in the application of artificial intelligence. Policymakers, federal agencies and civil society will need more in-house technical expertise to become more conversant on the current capabilities of artificial intelligence.
Second, while transparency is generally trotted out as the best of disinfectants, balancing transparency in the realm of AI will be a tremendous challenge for both competitive reasons and the “black box” nature of what we’re dealing with. While the majority of basic AI research is currently conducted by academics and commercial labs that collaborate to announce and publish their findings, the report ominously notes that competitive instincts could drive commercial labs towards increased secrecy, inhibiting the ability to monitor the progress of AI development and raising public concerns. But even if we can continue to promote transparency in the development of AI, it may be difficult for anyone whether they be auditors, consumers, or regulators to understand, predict, or explain the behaviors of more sophisticated AI systems.
But even if we can continue to promote transparency in the development of AI, it may be difficult for anyone whether they be auditors, consumers, or regulators to understand, predict, or explain the behaviors of more sophisticated AI systems.
The alternative appears to be bolstering accountability frameworks, but what exactly that looks like in this context is anyone’s guess. The report largely places its hopes on finding technical solutions to address accountability with respect to AI, and an IEEE effort on autonomous systems that I’ve been involved with has faced a similar roadblock. But if we have to rely on technical tools to put good intentions into practice, we will need more discussion about what those tools will be and how industry and individuals alike will be able to use them.
The Sky(net) isn’t falling, but…                                                                https://iapp.org/news/a/why-artificial-intelligence-may-be-the-next-big-privacy-trend/

A University of California Berkeley study reported there could be problem with the use of AI and privacy issues in health data.

Science Daily reported in Artificial intelligence advances threaten privacy of health data:

Led by UC Berkeley engineer Anil Aswani, the study suggests current laws and regulations are nowhere near sufficient to keep an individual’s health status private in the face of AI development. The research was published Dec. 21 in the JAMA Network Open journal.
The findings show that by using artificial intelligence, it is possible to identify individuals by learning daily patterns in step data, such as that collected by activity trackers, smartwatches and smartphones, and correlating it to demographic data.
The mining of two years’ worth of data covering more than 15,000 Americans led to the conclusion that the privacy standards associated with 1996’s HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) legislation need to be revisited and reworked.
“We wanted to use NHANES (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) to look at privacy questions because this data is representative of the diverse population in the U.S.,” said Aswani. “The results point out a major problem. If you strip all the identifying information, it doesn’t protect you as much as you’d think. Someone else can come back and put it all back together if they have the right kind of information.”
“In principle, you could imagine Facebook gathering step data from the app on your smartphone, then buying health care data from another company and matching the two,” he added. “Now they would have health care data that’s matched to names, and they could either start selling advertising based on that or they could sell the data to others.”
According to Aswani, the problem isn’t with the devices, but with how the information the devices capture can be misused and potentially sold on the open market.
“I’m not saying we should abandon these devices,” he said. “But we need to be very careful about how we are using this data. We need to protect the information. If we can do that, it’s a net positive.”
Though the study specifically looked at step data, the results suggest a broader threat to the privacy of health data…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190103152906.htm

Citation:

Artificial intelligence advances threaten privacy of health data
Study finds current laws and regulations do not safeguard individuals’ confidential health information
Date: January 3, 2019
Source: University of California – Berkeley
Summary:
Advances in artificial intelligence, including activity trackers, smartphones and smartwatches, threaten the privacy of people’s health data, according to new research.

Journal Reference:
Liangyuan Na, Cong Yang, Chi-Cheng Lo, Fangyuan Zhao, Yoshimi Fukuoka, Anil Aswani. Feasibility of Reidentifying Individuals in Large National Physical Activity Data Sets From Which Protected Health Information Has Been Removed With Use of Machine Learning. JAMA Network Open, 2018; 1 (8): e186040 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.6040

Here is a portion of the JAMA abstract:

Original Investigation
Health Policy
December 21, 2018
Feasibility of Reidentifying Individuals in Large National Physical Activity Data Sets From Which Protected Health Information Has Been Removed With Use of Machine Learning
Liangyuan Na, BA1; Cong Yang, BS2; Chi-Cheng Lo, BS2; et al Fangyuan Zhao, BS3; Yoshimi Fukuoka, PhD, RN4; Anil Aswani, PhD2
Author Affiliations Article Information
JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(8):e186040. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.6040
Thomas H. McCoy Jr, MD; Michael C. Hughes, PhD
Key Points
Question Is it possible to reidentify physical activity data that have had protected health information removed by using machine learning?
Findings This cross-sectional study used national physical activity data from 14 451 individuals from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2003-2004 and 2005-2006. Linear support vector machine and random forests reidentified the 20-minute-level physical activity data of approximately 80% of children and 95% of adults.
Meaning The findings of this study suggest that current practices for deidentifying physical activity data are insufficient for privacy and that deidentification should aggregate the physical activity data of many people to ensure individuals’ privacy.
Abstract
Importance Despite data aggregation and removal of protected health information, there is concern that deidentified physical activity (PA) data collected from wearable devices can be reidentified. Organizations collecting or distributing such data suggest that the aforementioned measures are sufficient to ensure privacy. However, no studies, to our knowledge, have been published that demonstrate the possibility or impossibility of reidentifying such activity data.
Objective To evaluate the feasibility of reidentifying accelerometer-measured PA data, which have had geographic and protected health information removed, using support vector machines (SVMs) and random forest methods from machine learning.
Design, Setting, and Participants In this cross-sectional study, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 data sets were analyzed in 2018. The accelerometer-measured PA data were collected in a free-living setting for 7 continuous days. NHANES uses a multistage probability sampling design to select a sample that is representative of the civilian noninstitutionalized household (both adult and children) population of the United States.
Exposures The NHANES data sets contain objectively measured movement intensity as recorded by accelerometers worn during all walking for 1 week.
Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was the ability of the random forest and linear SVM algorithms to match demographic and 20-minute aggregated PA data to individual-specific record numbers, and the percentage of correct matches by each machine learning algorithm was the measure…. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2719130?resultClick=3

Here is the press release from UC Berkeley:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 3-JAN-2019
Artificial intelligence advances threaten privacy of health data
Study finds current laws and regulations do not safeguard individuals’ confidential health information
Advances in artificial intelligence have created new threats to the privacy of people’s health data, a new University of California, Berkeley, study shows.
Led by UC Berkeley engineer Anil Aswani, the study suggests current laws and regulations are nowhere near sufficient to keep an individual’s health status private in the face of AI development. The research was published Dec. 21 in the JAMA Network Open journal.
The findings show that by using artificial intelligence, it is possible to identify individuals by learning daily patterns in step data, such as that collected by activity trackers, smartwatches and smartphones, and correlating it to demographic data.
The mining of two years’ worth of data covering more than 15,000 Americans led to the conclusion that the privacy standards associated with 1996’s HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) legislation need to be revisited and reworked.
“We wanted to use NHANES (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) to look at privacy questions because this data is representative of the diverse population in the U.S.,” said Aswani. “The results point out a major problem. If you strip all the identifying information, it doesn’t protect you as much as you’d think. Someone else can come back and put it all back together if they have the right kind of information.”
“In principle, you could imagine Facebook gathering step data from the app on your smartphone, then buying health care data from another company and matching the two,” he added. “Now they would have health care data that’s matched to names, and they could either start selling advertising based on that or they could sell the data to others.”
According to Aswani, the problem isn’t with the devices, but with how the information the devices capture can be misused and potentially sold on the open market.
“I’m not saying we should abandon these devices,” he said. “But we need to be very careful about how we are using this data. We need to protect the information. If we can do that, it’s a net positive.”
Though the study specifically looked at step data, the results suggest a broader threat to the privacy of health data.
“HIPAA regulations make your health care private, but they don’t cover as much as you think,” Aswani said. “Many groups, like tech companies, are not covered by HIPAA, and only very specific pieces of information are not allowed to be shared by current HIPAA rules. There are companies buying health data. It’s supposed to be anonymous data, but their whole business model is to find a way to attach names to this data and sell it.”
Aswani said advances in AI make it easier for companies to gain access to health data, the temptation for companies to use it in illegal or unethical ways will increase. Employers, mortgage lenders, credit card companies and others could potentially use AI to discriminate based on pregnancy or disability status, for instance.
“Ideally, what I’d like to see from this are new regulations or rules that protect health data,” he said. “But there is actually a big push to even weaken the regulations right now. For instance, the rule-making group for HIPAA has requested comments on increasing data sharing. The risk is that if people are not aware of what’s happening, the rules we have will be weakened. And the fact is the risks of us losing control of our privacy when it comes to health care are actually increasing and not decreasing.”
###
Co-authors of the study are Liangyuan Na of MIT; Cong Yang and Chi-Cheng Lo of UC Berkeley; Fangyuan Zhao of Tsinghua University in China; and Yoshimi Fukuoka of UCSF.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

RAND Corporation has information about health care privacy at https://www.rand.org/topics/health-information-privacy.html

StaySafeOnline described health care privacy issues in the article, Health Information Privacy – Why Should We Care?

• Health data is very personal and may contain information we wish to keep confidential (e.g., mental health records) or potentially impact employment prospects or insurance coverage (e.g., chronic disease or family health history).
• It is long living – an exposed credit card can be canceled, but your medical history stays with you a lifetime.
• It is very complete and comprehensive – the information health care organizations have about their patients includes not only medical data, but also insurance and financial account information. This could be personal information like Social Security numbers, addresses or even the names of next of kin. Such a wealth of data can be monetized by cyber adversaries in many ways.
• In our digital health care world, the reliable availability of accurate health data to clinicians is critical to care delivery and any disruption in access to that data can delay care or jeopardize diagnosis.
The privacy and security of health information is strictly regulated in the U.S. under federal laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), but also through various state laws and laws protecting individuals against discrimination based on genetic data….
For health care providers and insurers, there is typically no limitation for patients to disclose information about their health. Just as any patient can (and mostly should) share concerns about their health with family and friends, any patient can now easily share anything they want with the world via social media or join an online support group. Although these are generally positive steps that help an individual with health concerns find support and receive advice, we now need to be much more conscious about what
However, concerns about your health care provider’s ability to protect your data should not lead to patients withholding information. Even in this digital age, the patient-doctor trust relationship is still the most important aspect of our health care system – and that trust goes both ways: patients need to trust their providers with often intimate and personal information, and providers need to know that their patients are not withholding anything due to privacy concerns.
We have entered the new age of digital medicine and almost universal availability of information, leading to better diagnosis and more successful treatments, ultimately reducing suffering and extending lives. However, this great opportunity also comes with new risks and we all – health care providers and patients alike – need to be conscious about how we use this new technology and share information…. https://staysafeonline.org/blog/health-information-privacy-care/

Resources:

Artificial Intelligence Will Redesign Healthcare https://medicalfuturist.com/artificial-intelligence-will-redesign-healthcare

9 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Affecting the Medical Field https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/8-ways-artificial-intelligence-is-affecting-the-medical-field#slide=2

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