Monthly Archives: April 2017

USDA Warns of Invasive Species Damaging the Environment

Millions of Americans enjoy spending time outdoors, doing all kinds of nature-related activities every single year. Roughly 33.1 million Americans over the age of 16 spent, on average, 17 days fishing last year, and in 2014, U.S. consumers spent more than $1.5 billion on camping equipment. Unfortunately, thanks to some invasive pests, campers, hunters, and fishermen are being warned to stay vigilant as they enjoy the outdoors.

According to Total Landscape Care, over the last few weeks of April, fire ants, Asian longhorns beetles, emerald ash borers, and other invasive species have destroyed habitats and wreaked havoc on various parts of the country.

Federal and environmental agencies have continued to stress the importance of preventing these damaging pests from infesting any nearby areas.

“People wonder if their individual actions really matter,” said Osama El-Lissy, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Deputy Administrator told the Sierra Sun Times. “The answer is yes. If you’re not careful, you can unknowingly spread invasive pests by simply taking firewood on a camping trip, buying plants or seeds online or mailing a friend a gift of homegrown fruit.”

One of the more damaging invasive species, fire ants, currently infest 14 states in the southern U.S., but that number could increase if campers, hunters, and picnickers aren’t careful.

“Be on the lookout when you’re walking down the street, walking your dog, or camping,” added Stephen Hauss, a cooperative pest survey coordinator based out of Delaware. “Be observant and take action.”

The Guilfordian reports that the purple-loosestrife, lionfish, kudzu, and roughly 4,300 additional species are considered invasive in the U.S., and individuals should be on the lookout for these damaging pests.

“It’s a species that’s coming in and establishing itself where it doesn’t belong, or where it’s non-native,” added Bryan Brendley, associate professor of biology. “They can cause stress or strain on native plants that belong in the area.”

Campers and other individuals spending time outdoors are encouraged to contact the Department of Agriculture if any signs of invasive pests are discovered.

This Oregon Company Produces Honey Infused With Cannabis

honey-5732_960_720We all know that buying locally produced honey supports both local businesses and the environment, since bees are an essential part of our ecosystem and play a crucial role in the pollination of our crops and foods. And while North Dakota lead the way in honey production in 2013 with 33 million pounds of honey produced, Oregon isn’t far behind. In fact, they’re stepping up their honey production to the next level by infusing it with cannabis oil.

Ross Mills, 27, is the owner of the operation, called Echo Electuary. She works with her partner, Regan O’Reilly, 28, to produce and infuse Willamette Valley honey with cannabis.

“Honey is a nourishing superfood and is such a gift for mankind,” Mills tells NRToday. “Humans have been seeking honey and beeswax since the dawn of time. It seems so natural to infuse honey with cannabis. Some people don’t want to taste the cannabis oil, so the delicious honey helps to make it palatable.”

Mills and O’Reilly have 25 beehives located in the grounds of Groundwork Organics at the moment, but it will soon be expanded to 35 to keep up with growing demands. In spring 2014, the number of people who gardened within the last 12 months amounted to 113.5 million in the United States, and that number has been increasing ever since because more and more people are learning about its environmental and health benefits. These benefits are definitely clear to Mills and O’Reilly, who grow cannabis and other medicinal herbs that can be infused into the honey, such as ginger and turmeric.

“We always wanted to be stewards of land and we want to be a single-source, trusted company, so that means harvesting our own honey,” Mills says. “I consider working with the bees a sacred relationship.”

Echo Electuary started to produce its cannabis extracts in January 2014. A year later, medicated edibles containing herbs along with CBD and THC. They began with six flavor varieties of “Hunny Be” medicated herbal honeys: schisandra cranberry, vanilla espresso, turmeric cardamom, cinnamon cacao, ginger elderberry, and varietal honey. They also created honey sticks, ginger honey chews called Zing Zinga, and topical ointments containing CBD. On average, consumers are exposed to 3,000 ads and promotional messages every day, but it’s safe to say that these delicious treats practically sold themselves and didn’t need much promotional assistance.

However, the partners say regulation changes have been quite a setback. While previous cannabis product testing included four sets of tests at a cost of $125 per test per product, 2016 changes require testing of 60 samples per batch from three consecutive process lots for each product, and each test costs hundreds of dollars. For an operation the size of Echo Electuary’s, who has 18 different products and batch sizes of less than 200, it was an impossible feat.

The setbacks have caused the company to halt its production until October. The partners are planning to relocate to west Eugene to resume operations. “It feels like a lifetime!” says Mills, who has been passing the time by waiting for packaging and labeling rules to be confirmed.

“Our blackberry honey is the most delicious, and blackberry is what the bees have a lot of around here,” says Mills. “We also use clary sage honey from Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath.”

There are currently 12 dispensaries in Eugene that carry Echo Electuary products. Mills uses the ginger chews herself to help manage menstrual cramp pain, and other patients use medicated honey for cancer pain relief. But above all, Mills is very focused on keeping her bees healthy by leaving them some honey for themselves and not feeding them sugar water.

“We want happy bees,” she says.

Lung Cancer Patients Could Improve Symptoms With Proton Therapy

Proton therapy has been gaining momentum recently and could soon be an effective treatment for lung cancer patients.

According to Healio, intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) resulted in durable control with minimal toxicity among patients with recurrent lung cancer.

The results of a Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium study state that this new technique could offer a safe and potentially even more effective treatment option for patients with recurrent cancers, who, in the past, have been ruled ineligible for potentially curing treatments.

“Our study is the first to show that intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) can be safe and effective for these patients and that it offers these patients a chance for lasting cancer control without adding significant toxicity,” said Jennifer Ho, MD, and radiation oncology resident at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

New radiation techniques have emerged over the last few years that continue to play a role in the medical industry.

With proton treatment, up to 60% less radiation is delivered to the normal tissues around the tumor, which lowers the risk of radiation damage to healthy tissues.

Medscape reports that proton therapy has been studied for variety of cancer types and, despite the controversy surrounding proton treatment, is becoming increasingly popular.

Dr. Ho stated that roughly 20% to 30% of cancer patients feel moderate, severe, or even potentially fatal side effects after invasive radiation treatments because of the high rate of toxicities.

“Local recurrences are a common problem in lung cancer and patients do not have a lot of treatment options,” she added. “Most of them aren’t candidates for surgery, and offering a second course of radiation raises concerns about the cumulative dose causing damage to organs.”

“IMPT can precisely target the tumor and spare nearby normal tissue, to safely deliver a higher, curative radiation dose,” Dr. Ho added.

Millennial Homeowners Changing Kitchen Remodeling Trends Without Second Glance

Across the nation, the top two most common remodeling jobs in 2015 were bathroom remodeling at 81% and kitchen remodeling at 79%. It looks like the kitchen remodeling trend is growing a bit more than bathrooms, and seems in to be spearheaded by Millennials who are changing traditions as we know it.

Millennials are known for being the generation prone to changing things up. From finances to living at home with Modern bathroomtheir parents, there always seems to be something new and improved when it comes to Millennials. Well, the world of real estate is the most recent thing to be touched and changed by this innovative group.

In particular, kitchen remodeling.

According to Houzz’s 2017 Kitchen Trends Study, those between 25 and 34 are changing their overall kitchen remodeling efforts. Gone are the days of staying current with modern trends, and in are the days of investing in trends that will bring back a great return on investment. As per the survey, here are some Millennial-approved kitchen remodeling trends.

In: Decorative Lighting
Out: Practical Lighting

Younger homeowners were much more likely to choose decorative and pendant lighting compared to older generations who only installed lights for their intended function. Style aesthetic, affordability, and versatility were all factors considered in these purchases.

In: Farmhouse style
Out: Traditional style

Even though contemporary kitchens are found all across the United States, Millennials would much rather cook and eat in a more rustic setting. A full 14% of Millennials cited this trend as being their favorite in comparison to a classic and simple look.

In: Quartz and laminate countertops
Out: Granite countertops

Not only basing their choice on cost, a full 72% of Millennials have chosen to use laminate countertops instead of granite in their kitchen due to its look and feel. And while the sales of quartz countertops have increased by 60% since 2004, it looks like this interior design trend is nowhere near slowing down.

Out: Hiring a professional

Houzz reports that Millennials are twice as likely to consider the cost of their remodels compared to older generations. In addition, they are less likely to use a general contractor, interior designer, or personal architect as they are quite expensive, instead choosing to embark on the full projects themselves.

In: Whispery-soft neutrals
Out: Bright, bold colors

Millennials are choosing soft neutrals as they are more likely to last the test of time. Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz explains, “Millennials are a lot more focused on making sure that the style, color palette, and materials used in the major elements of the kitchen stay as relevant as long as possible because they’re not planning another remodel any time soon.”

Leave it to the Millennials to get their hands on minute details such as small interior decorating trends. What’s next? We can’t wait to find out.

Household Poison: How Parents Can Practice Better Household Product Safety

Toxic Enamel SignFollowing National Poison Prevention Week, a renewed emphasis is being placed on everyday household product safety across the United States.

The Press-Leader reports that various state departments of health have announced that homeowners should increase their efforts to protect children from harmful contaminants coming from household medications and products.

Parents are encouraged to never refer to any kind of medicine as “candy” or another appealing name in a misguided bid to make medicine more palatable. While this may work in the short term, it may also make children mistakenly think unknown substances are harmless. In addition, parents should never leave medications in areas where children can reach them; keep all harmful products securely locked and out of reach of children; and have a Poison Control number on file in the event of an emergency.

Although medications can lead to serious harm, parents should educate themselves on the dangers of more everyday products that aren’t exactly thought of as harmful. Products like water bottles, which can often contain unhealthy amounts of fluoride, as well as common cleaning and cosmetic products that contain dangerous carcinogens.

According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, more than 65% of parents that allow their children to drink bottled water were unaware of what levels of fluoride the bottles contained. The Whole Story reports that fluoride is good for teeth, but too much fluoride can be harmful and lead to serious long-term health issues like skeletal fluorosis, which is a dangerous bone disease.

Environmental factors still contribute to wholly 80% of all cancers, which is much larger than that of carcinogenic chemicals stemming from household products, but these products should still be kept away from children as much as possible.

Telegiz recently released its top 10 carcinogenic household products list in order to help parents prepare to fight cancerous products from affecting their families. Although not all of these carcinogenic products have the exact same result on the human body, continued high exposure to any of these items can significantly increase the risk of cancer in the future.

In particular, be aware of pesticides, cleaning products, cosmetic products, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, food dye, pet flea collars, nail polish, and incense.