#India – Lead in drinking water stunts kids’ growth


DC |
Bengaluru: With the city facing a shortage of clean drinking water, the National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India (NRCLPI), based at St John’s Hospital, Bengaluru, is engaged in a project to evaluate polluted rivers around the city that are major source of lead poisoning.
The NRCLPI is working on the project in association with undergraduate students across six cities — Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Dehradun and Karad. The three-month project is expected to be completed by June 2013, prior to the onset of the monsoon.
The data collected after analysis will be submitted to government bodies and policy makers, says Dr Thuppil Venkatesh, principal adviser, Quality Council of India (QCI) and NRCLPI.
Lead affects the growth and development of cognitive function among children and reduces their IQ. Among adults it affects the kidneys, bones, muscles and also blood pressure.
With the help of NRCLPI experts, the student volunteers will collect samples for analysis using the latest technology. The samples will be evaluated for lead content in soil, in agricultural products and in drinking water within 500 metres of the flowing and highly contaminated rivers and water bodies in these six cities of study. The data will be used to correlate with the health status and Blood Lead Levels (BLL) of the people living in and around the places taken up for the study.
“Rivers in these six cities are now highly polluted, especially with contaminating lead due to increasing industrial activities, mainly from lead-based industries,” says Dr Venkatesh.
“Cattle drink this water. Water from these highly contaminated rivers is used for agricultural purposes and it also recharges the nearby ground water.”
NRCLPI has conducted similar studies on lead contamination, one of which resulted in unleaded gasoline being used across the country. NRCLPI also played a major role in bringing down the content of lead in paints.
If it can rid river water of lead contamination it will go a long way in preventing many illnesses. If this project is successful, it can be extrapolated to other rivers in other cities where a similar situation is seen, Dr Venkatesh said.

 

Facebook ‘likes’ can reveal your sexuality, Politics, Religion’- Really ?


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PTI : London, Tue Mar 12 2013

Your Facebook ‘likes’ could be revealing more than even you know about your intimate life!

Researchers were able to accurately infer a Facebook user’s race, IQ, sexuality, substance use and political views, just by analysing their Facebook likes.

A new study by the University of Cambridge involved more than 58,000 Facebook users in the US, who volunteered their ‘likes’, demographic profiles and psychometric testing results through the application myPersonality, and gave their permission for that information to be analysed.

Experts created “statistical models” designed to predict people’s personal details using only their Facebook ‘likes’.

The models turned out to be 88 per cent reliable for determining male sexuality, 95 per cent right when distinguishing African-American from Caucasian American, and 85 per cent accurate in differentiating Republican from Democrat.

Christians and Muslims were correctly classified in 82 per cent of cases and good prediction accuracy was achieved for relationship status and substance abuse – between 65 and 73 per cent, the study published in the journal PNAS said.

“Few users clicked ‘likes’ explicitly revealing these attributes. For example, fewer than five per cent of gay users clicked obvious ‘likes’ such as gay marriage. The predictionsrelied on inference – aggregating huge amounts of less informative but more popular ‘likes’ such as music and TV shows to produce incisive personal profiles,” a spokesman for the research team said in a statement.

“Even seemingly opaque personal details such as whether users’ parents separated before the user reached the age of 21 were accurate to 60 per cent, enough to make the information worthwhile for advertisers,” the spokesman said.

“Some ‘likes’ had a strong but seemingly incongruous or random link with a personal attribute, such as Curly Fries with high IQ, or That Spider is More Scared Than U Are with non-smokers.

“When taken as a whole, the researchers believe the varying estimations of personal attributes and personality traits gleaned from Facebook like analysis alone can form surprisingly accurate personal portraits of potentially millions of users worldwide,” he said.

Researchers say the results also suggest “a possible revolution in psychological assessment” which could now be carried out without costly assessment centres and

questionnaires. But they also warn it may pose a threat to privacy.

They say companies, governments, and even individuals could use it for their own, rather than the users’, advantage.

“We believe our results, while based on Facebook ‘likes’, apply to a wider range of on-line behaviours. Similar predictions could be made from all manner of digital data, statistically predicting sensitive information people might not want revealed,” Michael Kosinski, operations director at the Psychometric Centre, said.

Where Is the Anti-Choice Outcry Over North Carolina’s Forced Sterilization of Women of Color?



January 27, 2012 |

A task force in North Carolina recently ruled that survivors of that state’s eugenics program should be paid $50,000 each in financial compensation. Eugenics is often defined as the science of “improving” a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of “desirable” heritable characteristics. The practice of eugenics was not limited to Nazi Germany nor is it a well kept secret that’s been waiting to be discovered by organizations opposed to reproductive justice.

In America, state governments set up eugenics boards that determined the reproductive future of thousands. I grew up listening to my maternal Grandmother, a Mississippi native, warn against trusting doctors and passing along lessons she learned from other poor women of color who went into a hospital to give birth only to later find out that they were given a Mississippi Appendectomy without their consent. The horrific legacy of these state eugenics boards is one of the reasons why I embrace the reproductive justice framework advocating for the right to have children, not have children, and to parent children in safe and healthy environments.

From the early 1900s up until the 1970’s, over 30 states had formal eugenics programs. These programs enforced compulsory sterilization of individuals deemed to be “unfit” and “promiscuous.” States sterilized people that were disabled, poor, people of color, and immigrants. North Carolina had a particularly aggressive program that was alone in allowing social workers to select people for sterilization based on IQ tests. To date, only seven states have formally apologized for eugenics programs and no state has paid money to survivors. Although a task force appointed by the Governor in North Carolina ruled in favor of payment to survivors, their recommendations are now in the hands of state legislators.

Too often eugenics is looked on as a shameful part of German history and many Americans are unaware of the history of eugenics in this country. I’m reminded of the warning that those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. No, I’m not about to repeat black genocide claims that modern health care centers use contraception as a weapon or the ‘easily debunked if folks just used Google Maps’conspiracy theory about abortion clinics being located in predominately black neighborhoods. I’m referring to the history of government taking control over people’s reproductive future and how that component of the history of eugenics and is very present today. While those opposed to reproductive justice appropriate the language of Civil Rights to perpetuate bizarre anti-knowledge theories about dangerous black women and how we are the greatest threat to the newly identified species of “black child,” states that actually ran eugenics programs and sterilized thousands of people get little to no attention and all too often as not held accountable for those actions.

As for the doomed to repeat it part, many of those same states continue to seek dominion over women through everything from state mandated vaginal penetration of women seeking abortion services to a record number of restrictions hindering access to reproductive health care. States are gaining more control over people’s reproductive health care decisions and some organizations have even tried to get states to seize total control.

On the most basic level, the history of state eugenics boards is about the survivors. Their stories tell the tale of the damage wrought when government policy is used as a weapon to control the masses. Clearly that’s not a tale anti-choice folks opposed to reproductive justice are interested in making a flashy YouTube video about, because the sound of their silence on the news out of North Carolina has been deafening. With the exception of a few articles that chose to launch into another rant about Planned Parenthood rather than demand support for North Carolina’s survivors and a call for justice for victims of the other 30+ state eugenics programs, those who are usually eager to toss the accusation of eugenics out appear to be uninspired by cases of actual eugenics in America.

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