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Walking or Cycling to Work May Boost Your Happiness (but How Likely is that in the Klang Valley…)

Photo Credit: Diego Cervo/ Shutterstock
A new study from England has reported that walking or cycling to workplaces may help boost psychological health compared to those who drove. In the study, researchers analyzed information collected from about 18,000 commuters in England who completed the surveys of well-being for periods of three consecutive years from 1991 to 2009. Based on the results of the surveys, people who walked or cycled or used public transportation had achieved higher well-being scores than those who drove. The findings reveal that people who walked or cycled appeared to experience an improvement in their well-being while people who drove to work tended to feel under constant strain and had difficulty concentrating.  The study also found that those who used public transport had higher well-being scores than those who drove.   This may not apply to countries where the conditions make it unfavorable to walk or bike to work.

Date & Source: September 15, 2014, Mother Nature Network

Urban Air Pollution May Put Children at Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease

                                                                        Photo Credit:
Moreno Novello/ Fotolia
A study led by Dr.Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas and her team from the University of Montana has discovered that children living in urban cities are more likely to develop brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The team compared serum and cerebrospinal fluid samples from children living in a low-pollution area to children living in Mexico City, an area notorious for its poor air quality. The findings show that the children living in Mexico City had significantly higher levels of brain autoantibodies in their systems, as well as combustion-related metals. These indicate that there is damage to the barriers (respiratory, gastrointestinal and the blood-brain) that keep antigens and neurotoxins away from the brain. The study suggests that controlling air pollution in major cities is critical to safeguard public health, especially for young children.
Date & Source: September 10, 2014, ScienceDaily

WigWag Introduces smart LED Light Bulbs with Internet-Connected Platform

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WigWag, a home automation company has unveiled a new line of smart LED light bulbs called Filament, together with an internet-connected platform, The Relay, to help create a more colorful and dynamic environment for its users.  The bulbs are dimmable, full color and can be controlled individually or in a group with the WigWag app on your iOS or Android smartphone. The bulbs can produce 64 million colors with up to 800 lumens output and have an average lifespan of 20 years. In addition, the Relay also enables other internet-connected devices to operate together with the Filament bulbs without compatibility problems. WigWag is selling the Filament kits at a cost which is cheaper and more affordable than other smart lighting solutions in the markets.
Date & Source: September 10, 2014, Treehugger

San Francisco Offers Tax Incentives for Turning Empty Lots to Urban Farms

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San Francisco County in California, United States has implemented a new policy that offers property tax breaks to lot owners who allow their empty spaces to be transformed into an urban farm for 5 years. The initiative, part of a state-wide Urban Agricultural Incentives Zones law, will not only save money for lot owners but also provide food security for the nearby communities. In addition, transforming the abandoned lots into urban farms can also help boost the real estate values of the area and eventually benefit the local communities.


Date & Source: September 4, 2014, Mother Nature Network

Fisheries Agree to Cut Catch of Juvenile Bluefin Tuna

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has made a big step forward in re-building the decimated population of bluefin tuna after the meeting in Fukuoka, Japan. The multi-nation fisheries body has agreed to reduce the catch of juvenile bluefin tuna to half of its average level in 2002-2004, allowing the species to grow and reproduce. Other measures include limiting the catch of adult bluefin and implementing a 10-year plan to rebuild the population from the current 4% to a target of 8% of its original size. Japan, which consumes 80 percent of bluefin tuna catch are rapidly developing commercial aquaculture for the species in order to meet the demands of its consumers. Other nations are supporting the effort by issuing stricter quotas on by-catch of tuna on longlines and banning the use of driftnets.


Date & Source: September 4, 2014, ABC News

The Dark Side of City Lights: Altering Internal Clock of Urban Birds

Photo Credit: Jim Richardson, National Geographic Creative

Have you ever thought about the effects of the splendid artificial lights at night on avian life?  Scientists worldwide have gathered evidence showing that urban birds are highly affected by nighttime lights in major cities. Birds rely on natural light cycles to carry out their daily activities, including foraging, communication, reproduction and migration. Based on the observations in different experiments, city lights are altering the basic physiology of urban birds, suppressing their secretion of estrogen and testosterone and changing their natural behaviors. Behavioral changes observed include an earlier dawn chorus and disrupted breeding patterns.  
Date & Source: September 4, 2014, National Geographic

Ford Awards RM150k in Grants to Support Conservation and Environmental Projects in Malaysia

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The Ford Motor Company has recently launched its 2014 Conservation and Environmental Grants program in Malaysia, with RM150,000 pledged in grants to support local projects. The program welcomes applications from individuals, community and non-profit groups with projects in the field of natural environment preservation, environmental education and conservation engineering. Started in 1983, Ford has allocated more than RM15.9 million to boost various environmental projects in over 60 countries including Malaysia. The official grant application form can be downloaded from and submit their project proposals by September 30, 2014.
Date & Source: September 4, 2014,

Sierra Nevada Lakes Show Declining Level of Acidity: Thanks to U.S. Clean Air Act

Photo Credit:
Sickman Lab, UC Riverside
A team led by James O. Sickman, an environmental scientist from the University of California, Riverside, has carried out research to describe human impact on the Sierra Nevada lakes, the most sensitive lakes to acid rain in the US. The collection of long sediment cores from about 50 lakes in the area enabled the examination of acidity level by counting the carbonaceous particles and diatoms in the sediment slices. The overall results show that the levels of carbonaceous particles in the lakes has been declining since 1970 which indicate improved air quality in California after the introduction of the U.S. Clean Air Act. The results suggests that the Act could be imitated by China and India in order to reverse the severe impact on the ecosystem and human health from acid rain and air pollution.
Date & Source: September 4, 2014, ScienceDaily

Infinitesimal Quantum Persistent and Reflection (iQPR) Proved to Restore Water Quality of Penang River

Photo Credit:
The Star
Over the past three months, the Infinitesimal Quantum Persistent and Reflection (iQPR) technology treatment has proved a great success in improving the water quality of the 22-km long Penang River. The water flowing through the river is now clearer and less odorous except for some parts of the river, where the water still looks black due to the settled sludge on the riverbed. Tributaries at Sungai Mati and Sungai Jelutong are deemed to be the most challenging part of the project because of the waste discharged from industrial areas, sewage treatment plants, wet markets and food outlets. Despite the challenges, the water quality and odor assessments at several predetermined sampling points have achieved the desired results. Currently, the authorities plan to organize a “Care & Love Sungai Pinang” campaign in schools located in the Sungai Pinang river basin and also to put up signboards to create public awareness on the river rehabilitating program.
Date & Source: September 3, 2014, The Star

Bringing Plants into Offices Could Enhance Productivity by 15%

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A new study conducted by academics from the University of Exeter; the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, and the University of Queensland, Australia has proved that furnishing office with plants can help to enhance productivity of employees by 15 percent. The study was the first long-term experiment carried out in a real situation observing staff perception of air quality, concentration, workplace satisfaction and productivity levels. Companies should make use of this study to rethink the design of their offices in order to improve the health of employees and also the financial health of their organization.
Date & Source: September 2, 2014, Environmental News Network