Currents

    Bacteria Found to Steady Buildings

    A new process developed by researchers at UC Davis uses soil bacteria to help steady buildings against earthquakes.

    When a large earthquake occurs, deep sandy soils can convert to liquids, with dire consequences for buildings constructed on them.

    Currently, civil engineers inject epoxy chemicals into the soil to bind loose grains together, but such a tactic can have negative consequences on soil and water.

    The new process would replace current epoxy chemical injection. Instead, natural soil bacterium that can turn loose sand into a solid mass would be used, eliminating the epoxy chemicals’ toxic effects.

    “”Starting from a sand pile, you turn it back into sandstone,”” UC Davis assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering Jason De Jong stated in a press release.

    Though the method is still being tested in laboratories, similar techniques have already been used on a smaller scale, including repairing cracks in statues.

    The process has several advantages, according to De Jong. The treatment can be applied after construction or on existing buildings, with the structure of the soil remaining intact.

    The study was supported by the National Science Foundation.

    Smoking Increases Risk of Tuberculosis

    Smokers are more likely to become infected by tuberculosis and to have the infection become an active disease, according to a study conducted by analysts at UC Berkeley.

    Researchers found that smokers have a 73 percent greater chance of becoming infected than nonsmokers. Once infected, the chances of developing the disease are 50 percent greater in smokers. Overall, smokers are 2.5 times more likely to contract active tuberculosis.

    “”Our study is the first systematic, quantitative assessment of tuberculosis risks from smoking,”” lead author Michael Bates, an adjunct professor of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, stated in a press release. “”Our review and analysis of the research in this area indicates that … smoking is a major risk factor for tuberculosis.””

    Researchers say smoking could suppress the respiratory immune system, increasing the likelihood for latent infections to surface. They urge tuberculosis control policies to incorporate smoking cessation.

    According to the World Health Organization, nearly 2 billion people – about one-third of the world’s population – are infected with tuberculosis.

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