How to clean indoor air of viruses and pollutants

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China National Space Administration (CNSA). "selfie" of China's first Mars rover, Zhurong, with the landing platform on Mars.

A radar on Zhurong can penetrate the surface to a depth of 100 meters.Credit: Xinhua/Shutterstock

China’s Zhurong rover has peeked beneath the surface of Mars – as deep as 100 meters – and found evidence of two huge floods that have shaped the landscape. Since May last year, Zhurong has been exploring Utopia Planitia in the northern hemisphere of Mars. Images from the rover’s ground-penetrating radar showed stratified subsurface patterns that the authors suspect are made up of sedimentary rocks carried in by two major floods about 3 billion and 1.6 billion years ago. But other scientists say that while radar is good at detecting layers of underground material, it’s less good at identifying what layers are made of.

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Brazilians preparing for October’s presidential election will consider whether to re-elect Jair Bolsonaro, whose response to COVID-19 has been heavily criticized by public health researchers. Evidence suggests Brazil was a COVID-19 epicenter, exporting the virus beyond its borders and witnessing horrendous loss of life there. But with one in three Brazilians unable to afford to eat properly last year, food security and economic inflation could prove more pressing issues for voters than concerns about a pandemic.

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Political leaders from Pacific island nations threatened by climate change have launched a global partnership aimed at protecting their countries’ sovereignty and rights. The Rising Nations Initiative was launched on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City last week. Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano told the gathering that rising sea levels are damaging everything from crops to infrastructure and are driving Tuvaluans to emigrate. “This is how a Pacific atoll dies,” Natano said. “This is how our islands will cease to exist.” So far, the United States, Germany, South Korea and Canada have backed the initiative.

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Properties & Opinion

Group shot of six scientists posing in the lab wearing masks, goggles and lab coats

Clockwise from front left: University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists Shelby O’Connor, Max Bobholz, David O’Connor, Mitchell Ramuta, William Vuyk and Olivia Harwood have detected a highly mutated variant of SARS-CoV-2 in waste Water.Credit: Jeff Miller/UW-Madison

Virologists, environmental biogeochemists and city workers have teamed up to trace a highly mutated variant of SARS-CoV-2 through the sewers in Wisconsin. Eventually, they traced the lineage to the effluent of a single company with fewer than 30 employees, although the person who carried the virus was not identified. The variant is one of thousands likely to be circulating around the world, and there’s no evidence it’s spreading. However, tracing cryptic lineages can help treat people who may be harboring infection without knowing it, reduce the likelihood of spread, and potentially help predict broader trends in the development of SARS-CoV-2.

nature | 8 minutes read

HUNTING A CRYPTIC LINE.  Graphic showing how the source of a mutant SARS-CoV-2 variant was found

Source: Dave O’Connor and Marc Johnson

COVID-19 has brought our attention back to what pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale called “the very first canon of nursing”: clean indoor air.

Many respiratory viruses, including those responsible for COVID-19, the flu and the common cold, are spread through the air. Air can be contaminated with volatile organic compounds released from everyday objects such as air fresheners and furniture. Harmful particles can be released during cooking. The air we breathe can affect us: Research has shown that when carbon dioxide levels rise, students’ cognitive performance declines.

Open windows, adequate ventilation, and UV sterilization can all help. And regulating consumer products could help stop some air pollution at source. According to the scientists, a lasting improvement requires a broad range of specialist knowledge. “What I have learned [during the pandemic] The only way forward is to work together with all the disciplines involved, the aerologists, the epidemiologists, the engineers and the medical professionals,” says indoor climate engineer Marcel Loomans.

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