• New foot-and-mouth disease rapid diagnostic kit licensed

    DHS S&T announced today the licensing of a rapid-response (three-hour) Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) diagnostic kit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB). S&T says that the diagnostic kit, developed by a large research consortium of federal agencies, academia and animal health industry scientists, is the first licensed FMD diagnostic kit that can be manufactured on the U.S. mainland, critical for a rapid response in the event of a FMD outbreak.

  • How plague attacks us – and how we should defend ourselves

    The plague that is believed to have caused the Black Death still occasionally ravages populations, albeit to a much smaller extent than before. Now we know more about how the bacteria attack us. But how does the plague bacterium attack human beings, and how does the body defend against its constantly evolving attacks? New research on the bacterium is yielding new answers.

  • Preventing outbreaks: U.S. investment in global health security training

    Biological agents including viruses, bacteria, and toxins, can devastate local economies with their potential effects on humans and livestock. In addition to potentially catastrophic immediate impact, these agents could also set in motion long-term disasters, causing regional instability and challenging international security. For these reasons, the U.S. Department of State invests in many programs to reduce biological security risks.

  • Deadly heatwaves on the rise

    Seventy-four percent of the world’s population will be exposed to deadly heatwaves by 2100 if carbon gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, according to a new study. Even if emissions are aggressively reduced, the percent of the world’s human population affected is expected to reach 48 percent. “We are running out of choices for the future,” says one expert. “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible.”

  • Possible correlation found between TMI meltdown and thyroid cancers

    Three Mile Island (TMI), located near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had a partial meltdown accident on 28 March 1979. During the accident, radiation was released into the environment, which the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said was in small amounts with no detectable health effects. Penn State College of Medicine researchers have shown, for the first time, a possible correlation between the partial meltdown at TMI and thyroid cancers in the counties surrounding the plant.

  • Stacking countermeasures for layered defense against chemical, biological threats

    Just as we must protect computer systems against assaults in the form of viruses and trojans in the cyber world, we must protect our soldiers from a multitude of chemical and biological threats on the battlefield. No one countermeasure can mitigate every threat, which is why the Joint Science and Technology Office at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency is developing a portfolio of novel capabilities and medical countermeasures to protect our troops.

  • Meeting human resource needs of “full earth”

    A new concept proposes to provide food, energy and water resources for the world’s growing population by combining systems that simultaneously use different parts of sunlight’s spectrum to produce crops, generate electricity, collect heat and purify water. The world’s human population is expected to grow from seven billion to more than ten billion over the next two to three generations, leading to a “full earth” scenario.

  • Remote detection of hazardous radioactive substances

    Remote detection of radioactive materials is impossible when the measurement location is far from its source. A typical radiation detectors, like Geiger-Muller counters can detect 1 milli Curie (mCi) of Cobalt-60 (60Co) at a maximum distance of 3.5 meters, but are inefficient at measuring lower levels of radioactivity or at longer distances. Researchers have developed a method for the remote detection of hazardous radioactive substances. With the help of this newly developed detection device, the detection of various types of radioactive materials can be done from a remote distance.

  • Capable governments more important than weather in preventing food scarcity-related violence

    While climate change is expected to lead to more violence related to food scarcity, new research suggests that the strength of a country’s government plays a vital role in preventing uprisings. While previous studies had examined the impact of climate change-induced weather patterns on violence and the increased danger of violence in weak or failing states, this is the first study to demonstrate that the combination of the two risk factors is even more dangerous than they would be separately.

  • After 18 months, hurricane vulnerability documents arrive — but they're thin

    During Hurricane Katrina, rushing water caused one refinery’s oil tank to rupture, sending oil into more than 1,700 homes a mile away. And the Houston area has many schools and neighborhoods that are less than a mile from large refineries and oil storage terminals. Eighteen months ago, we asked the government for documents that should have shed a lot of light on Houston’s vulnerability to a massive hurricane. After finally receiving them, it turns out the documents are basically useless.

  • Replacing coal with solar will save lives, money

    Tens of thousands of Americans die prematurely each year from air pollution-related diseases associated with burning coal. By transitioning to solar photovoltaics (PV) in the United States, up to 51,999 American lives would be saved at $1.1 million invested per life. To fully replace all the coal production in the United States with solar PV, it would take 755 gigawatts—a significant increase compared to the 22.7 gigawatts of solar installed in the United States currently.

  • Lawmaker criticizes closure of biodefense lab

    President Trump’s FY2018 budget, released last week, zeroes out funding for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) in Frederick, Maryland and calls for its closure. NBACC, operated by DHS, supports preparedness planning, intelligence assessments and bio-forensic analysis. The lab often assists the FBI in investigating bioterrorism and bio-crime and employs over 180 people.

  • Expediting detection of harmful pathogens in food supply

    When food shopping, it is easy to overlook what it took to get your favorite meats and produce to the grocery store shelves. Anything perishable – beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, fruit, dairy and even water – must undergo a rigorous and time-consuming inspection process before shipping to its destination. FIU researchers are commercializing a device that reduces the screening process to just a few hours at the same cost as current devices.

  • Zika reached Miami at least four times, Caribbean travel responsible

    With mosquito season looming in the Northern Hemisphere, doctors and researchers are poised to take on a new round of Zika virus infections. Now a new study by a large group of international researchers led by scientists explains how Zika virus entered the United States via Florida in 2016—and how it might re-enter the country this year.

  • Senate passes legislation to address agrotrrorism threats to U.S. food supply

    The United States faces complex national security challenges, among them agroterrorism, which poses serious threats to U.S. food, agriculture, and livestock industries. Experts say that it is imperative to have preparedness policies in place quickly to respond to events threatening U.S. agriculture or food production systems in order to protect the industries which have an impact on Americans on a daily basis. The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act, which increases precautions and preparedness to mitigate potential threat of agroterrorism and high-risk events to the U.S. food, agriculture, and livestock industries.