Feeling blue? Take a walk by the water, researchers say

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Barcelona, Spain — Walking along bodies of water might boost your overall health and mood, results of a recent study led by researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health suggest.

Over a period of three weeks, the researchers studied 59 healthy adult office workers before, during and after each spent 20 minutes a day in different environments, measuring their blood pressure and heart rate while assessing their mood via a questionnaire. For one week, the participants walked along a beach in Barcelona. For another week, they walked in an urban environment. For the next, they spent 20 minutes at rest indoors.

The results show that walking along “blue spaces” – areas such as beaches, lakes, rivers and fountains – immediately triggered “significantly improved well-being and mood responses.” They found no cardiovascular benefit, but point out that they assessed only short-term effects.

“Our results show that the psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the type of environment where it is carried out, and that blue spaces are better than urban spaces in this regard,” Cristina Vert, lead study author and a researcher at the institute, said in a July 6 press release.

Short walks in blue spaces can benefit both well-being and mood. However, we did not observe a positive effect of blue spaces for any of the cardiovascular outcomes assessed in this study.

The study was published online June 19 in the journal Environmental Research.

 

Study shows better airflow, more natural light can reduce spread of COVID-19 at work

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Davis, CA — Opening windows and blinds to improve airflow and increase natural light are some of the simple steps employers, building managers and workers can take to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in offices and other workplaces, according to a recent research review.

Using previous studies on microbes and common pathogen exchange pathways in buildings with known information about SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – researchers at the University of California, Davis and the University Oregon looked for ways to reduce potential transmission.

By opening windows, the rate of air flow can dilute virus particles indoors, an April 10 UC Davis press release states. The downside is that high amounts of air flow also can push particles back into the air and cause more energy use.

Although more research is needed on the impact of sunlight on the virus, the researchers note that “daylight exists as a free, widely available resource to building occupants with little downside to its use and many documented positive human health benefits.”

Further, maintaining a high relative humidity indoors can help because virus particles “like drier air.” High humidity also increases the size of virus particles, “meaning they settle out more quickly and don’t travel as far.”

Increased handwashing and regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces – where viral particles can survive for a few hours to a few days – are important practices in all workplaces. Workers responsible for cleaning and disinfecting workspaces can find a sortable, searchable and printable list of Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectants for use against the virus.

The study was published online April 7 in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mSystems.

Study links printer toner exposure to genetic changes

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Morgantown, WV — Nanoparticles from printer toner emissions can cause “very significant” changes to workers’ genetic and metabolic profiles, results of a recent study led by a researcher from West Virginia University show.

Nancy Lan Guo, a WVU assistant professor of community medicine, and her colleagues placed rats into a chamber with a common laser printer for five hours a day over a 21-day period while the printer ran nonstop – “equivalent to an occupational setting.” The rats were assessed every four days for changes to cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic function.

A single day of toner-particle exposure was enough to disturb the activity of genes associated with metabolism, immune response and other essential biological processes in the rats. Additionally, the rats showed adverse effects in the lungs and blood at every observed time point.

“The changes are very significant from Day One,” Guo said in a Feb. 27 press release.

In work areas where laser printers are heavily used, Guo recommends implementing special ventilation and exposure controls to protect workers, particularly pregnant women, from exposure. “Because once a lot of these genes are changed, they get passed on through the generations,” Guo said. “It’s not just you.”

The study was published online Dec. 16 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.