Tuesday, March 31, 2009

History of Global Killer- Malaria.

Malaria is also spreading in new areas in Jharkhand.
Blame it on climate change.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

A female Anopheles mosquito acts as a deadly hypodermic, injecting the malaria parasite when she feeds on human blood. Nearly half billion people get malaria each year. More than a million die. After decades of neglect, the world is renewing its fight against the disease.

In truth, malaria now affects more people than ever before. It’s endemic to 106 nations, threatening half the world’s population. In recent years, the parasite has grown so entrenched and has developed resistance to so many drugs that the most potent strains can scarcely be controlled. In coming years malaria will strike up to a half billion people.

According to National Geographic Magazine( July,2007), at least a million will die, most of them under age five, the vast majority living in Africa. Death may also occur in Asia including India, where malaria is spreading to new areas. Blame on climate change.

Changes in temperature can affect the development and survival of malaria parasites and the mosquitoes that carry them, according to a joint 2004 study by the State University of New York, Buffalo, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

Rainfall also influences the availability of mosquito habitats and the size of mosquito populations, the research found.
Jharkhand State of India is on the front line of climate change and is witnessing a rise in tropical diseases such as malaria.
Jharkhand was nearly free of malaria in 1970, but it is making a comeback. We are now finding malaria in places that we did not expect to find it. It is spreading to the new areas. Every year thousands are being affected and hundred’s being killed.
Spreading of malaria is worrying because people have not built up immunity to the malaria parasite. Epidemics are now more deadly, particularly for humans who do not have immunity and are taken by surprise when they're bitten.
Patients can get cerebral complications and lung and kidney failures if they do not get immediate treatment."

Malaria is a changed disease in recent times. Benign, through chronic disease of yesterdays, has undergone a malignant transformation. Often, it results in multiorgan (system) failure, which need immediate multi specially attention for survival. Suddenly, malaria may behave as an epidemic and end in high mortality.

Malaria past to present:

The disease has been with humans since before we were human. Our hominin ancestors almost certainly suffered from malaria. The parasite and the mosquito are both ancient creatures- the dinosaurs might have had malaria-and this longevity has allowed the disease ample time to exploit the vulnerabilities of an immune system.

Malaria is probably one of the oldest diseases known to mankind that has had profound impact on our history. But for malaria, the outcomes of many a wars and destinies of many a kings would have been different. It has been responsible for the decline of nations and crushing military defeats, often having caused more casualties than the weapons themselves. For centuries it prevented any economic development in vast regions of the earth. It continues to be a huge social, economical and health problem, particularly in the tropical countries. History of malaria and its terrible effects is as ancient as the history of civilization, therefore history of mankind itself.

Malaria was linked with poisonous vapours of swamps or stagnant water on the ground since time immemorial. This probable relationship was so firmly established that it gave the two most frequently used names to the disease mal’aria, later shortened to one word malaria, and paludisme. The term malaria (from the Italian mala “bad” and aria “air”) was used by the Italians to describe the cause of intermittent fevers associated with exposure to marsh air or miasma. The word was introduced to English by Horace Walpole, who wrote in 1740 about a “horrid thing called mal’aria, that comes to Rome every summer and kills one.” The term malaria, without the apostrophe, evolved into the name of the disease only in the 20th century. Up to that point the various intermittent fevers had been called jungle fever, marsh fever, paludal fever, or swamp fever.

Mentions of malaria can be found in the ancient Roman, Chinese, Indian and Egyptian manuscripts and later in numerous Shakespearean plays. The belief that mosquitoes transmit disease also is an ancient one.

One of the oldest scripts, written several thousand years ago in cuneiform script on clay tablets, attributes malaria to Nergal, the Babylonian god of destruction and pestilence, pictured as a double-winged, mosquito-like insect. A few centuries later, the natives told Philistines settling in Canaan, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, of the god Beelzebub, lord of the insects. The evil reputation of this deity increased through the ages until the early Jews named him "Prince of the Devils."

The connection between malaria and swamps was known even in antiquity and the evil spirits or malaria gods were believed to live within the marshes. This belief is likely the origin of the Greek fable of Hercules and Hydra.

Sumerian and Egyptian texts dating from 3,500 to 4,000 years ago refer to fevers and splenomegaly, suggestive of malaria. The Sumerian records apparently make frequent reference to deadly epidemic fevers, probably due to P. falciparum.

The Vedic (3,500 to 2,800 years ago) and Brahmanic (2,800 to 1,900 years ago) scriptures of Northern India (Indus valley) contain many references to fevers akin to malaria. They are also said to make reference to autumnal fevers as the "King of diseases". The Atharva Veda specifically details the fact that fevers were particularly common after excessive rains (mahavarsha) or when there was a great deal of grass cover (mujavanta). The ancient Hindus were also aware of the mosquito's harmful potential. In 800 B.C. the sage Dhanvantari wrote, "Their bite is as painful as that of the serpents, and causes diseases... [The wound] as if burnt with caustic or fire, is red, yellow, white, and pink color, accompanied by fever, pain of limbs, hair standing on end, pains, vomiting, diarrhea, thirst, heat, giddiness, yawning, shivering, hiccups, burning sensation, intense cold..." Charaka Samhita, one of the ancient Indian texts on Ayurvedic medicine which was written in approximately 300 BC, and the Susruta Samhita, written about 100 BC, refer to diseases where fever is the main symptom. The Charaka Samhita classifies the fevers into five different categories, namely continuous fevers (samatah), remittent fevers (satatah), quotidian fevers (anyedyuskah), tertian fevers (trtiyakah) and quartan fevers (caturthakah) and Susruta Samhita even associated fevers with the bites of the insects.

Malaria appeared in the writings of the Greeks from around 500 BC. Hippocrates, "The Father of Medicine" and probably the first malariologist, described the various malaria fevers of man by 400BC. Hippocratic corpus distinguished the intermittent malarial fever from the continuous fever of other infectious diseases, and also noted the daily, every-other-day, and every-third-day temperature rise. The Hippocratic corpus was the first document to mention about splenic change in malaria and also it attributed malaria to ingestion of stagnant water: "Those who drink [stagnant water] have always large, stiff spleens and hard, thin, hot stomachs, while their shoulders, collarbones, and faces are emaciated; the fact is that their flesh dissolves to feed the spleen..." Hippocrates also related the fever to the time of the year and to where the patients lived.

Malaria likely originated in Africa and has coevolved along with its hosts. The first evidence of malaria (also called paludisme) parasites had been found in mosquitoes preserved in amber from the Paleogene period that are approximately 30 million years old. Malaria may have been a human pathogen for the entire history of the species. Indeed, close relatives of the human malaria parasites remain common in chimpanzees, the closest evolutionary relative of modern humans.About 10,000 years ago malaria started having a major impact on human survival which coincides with start of agriculture (Neolithic revolution).

Interesting historical facts about Malaria:

1. By one estimate, malaria has killed half the people who have ever lived on this planet
2. Fossils of mosquitoes 30 million years old show signs of malaria, suggesting even prehistoric man could have suffered
3. Researchers studying bodies of ancient Egyptians have found evidence of malaria in people who lived over 3,000 years ago
4. Malaria is thought to have directly contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire
5. In 1574 the Vatican was moved from its original location to where it stands today by Pope Gregory XIII because of the high incidence of malaria that had led to its unhealthy reputation
6. William Shakespeare (1564–1616), mentioned ague (malaria) in eight of his plays. For example, in The Tempest (Act II, Scene II), the slave Caliban curses Prosper, his master: "All the infections that the sun sucks up / from bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him / By inch-meal a disease!"
7. Lancisi (1717) linked the disease with poisonous vapours of swamps and thus originated the name malaria, meaning bad air
8. In 1809 Napoleon used malaria as a biological warfare agent, flooding the Dutch countryside. Over 4,000 British Army troops are reported to have died of the disease with another 10,000 unable to continue with military service
9. In 1640, Huan del Vego first employed the tincture of the cinchona bark for treating malaria, although aborigines of Peru and Ecuador had been using it even earlier for treating fevers.
10. Morton (1696) presented the first detailed clinical picture of malaria and its treatment with cinchona.
11. Lancisi (1717) linked malaria with poisonous vapours of swamps and thus originated the name malaria, meaning bad air
12. Gize (1816) studied extraction of quinine from the cinchona bark
13. Pelletier and Caventou (1820) extracted pure quinine alkaloids
14. Laveran (1880) a French physician working in Algeria, first identified the causative agent for human malaria while viewing blood slides under a microscope.
15. P.vivax and P.malariae were identified in 1885 by Golgi
16. Sakharov (1889) and Marchiafava and Celli (1890) identified P.falciparum
17. Sir Ronald Ross (1897) while working as a military physician in India, demonstrated the malarial oocysts in the gut tissue of female Anopheles mosquito. This was reported in the British Medical Journal
18. Paul Muller (1939) discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT
19. Curd, Davey and Rose (1944) synthesised proguanil for treating falciparum malaria

Poinar G (May 2005). "Plasmodium dominicana n. sp. (Plasmodiidae: Haemospororida) from Tertiary Dominican amber". Syst. Parasitol. 61 (1): 47–52.

Joy DA, Feng X, Mu J, Furuya T, Chotivanich K, Krettli AU, Ho M, Wang A, White NJ, Suh E, Beerli P, Su XZ. (2003). "Early origin and recent expansion of Plasmodium falciparum.". Science 300 (5617): 318–321

Hayakawa T, Culleton R, Otani H, Horii T, Tanabe K (2008). "Big bang in the evolution of extant malaria parasites.". Mol Biol Evol. 25 (10): 2233–2239.

Martin MJ, Rayner JC, Gagneux P, Barnwell JW, Varki A (2005). "Evolution of human-chimpanzee differences in malaria susceptibility: relationship to human genetic loss of N-glycolylneuraminic acid.". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 102 (36): 12819–12824.

Sinha, A.K., 2005. Malaria. A.P.H. publishing corporation, New Delhi.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Tremor felt in stable parts of Jharkhand State of India.

Tremor in Jamshedpur and Chaibasa
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Inspite being a part of the stable block, Jharkhand State of India is being rocked by mild to medium tremors. Fresh incidence of earthquake took place on Thursday morning (26th March,2009) when mild tremor was felt in the area of Jamshedpur and Chaibasa.
The tremor which was measured 3.8 on the Richter scale, hit the region at 10.14 am and lasted about 2 to 3 seconds, said local Meteorological Department in the Ranchi.
According to the Meteorological office the epicenter was recorded at 22.6 degree North latitude and 85.7 degree East latitude. Area is near to Jharkhand and Orissa border.
Five college students and a teacher were injured in Chaibasa town due to “stampede like situation” when they trying to rush out of the college building.
Jamshedpur and its adjoining areas experienced at least four low-intensity tremors in the month of January, 2008.
From last several years many parts of Jharkhand is facing mild to moderate tremors. According to the author there are possibilities that construction of large water dams, water reservoirs, different types of mining and increasing use of groundwater (which is creating vacuum inside the earth) in and around Jharkhand are major reason why these earthquakes are occurring at such frequent intervals.
Present epicenter is very near to mining areas of Iron ore. Though stress and strain developing on the rocks can also be considered as the major cause of the earthquakes.

Jharkhand has faced lots of tremors and geological movements in the geological past and now it is assumed that the plateau is free from any type of tremors or cratonic movement. Evidences of the regional tectonic movement in the plateau area are preserved in the form of faulting, folding, joints etc in the rocks.

Scientists have found evidence that the oldest earthquake followed by tsunami traceable in the earth's history took place more than 1,600 million years ago in what is now Jharkhand. An international team of scientists from India, Japan and Poland has reported the discovery in a paper to appear in the forthcoming issue of the journal 'Sedimentary Geology.' This occurred long before the massive southern land mass called Gondwana land split up and the piece that now forms peninsular India floated north and crashed in the Asian land mass.

Regarding the type of earthquakes occurring in State it may be placed under “Shallow Earthquakes” ("Crustal" quakes) which are caused by faults in the continental plates, as a result from the relative motion of sections of the plates. They are usually 1 to 5 magnitude, less than 15 miles deep, occur random and unpredictable and most of them are not even felt.

Mild tremors struck Jharkhand Plateau on August 1999 for couple of seconds. Few years back too on July and 21st November 1997 Jharkhand Plateau was rocked by the tremors for few seconds. Due to lack of requisite equipment, the Ranchi Meteorological office was not in a position to say something about the intensity. A tremor stronger than these had shaken Chotanagpur Plateau of Jharkhand on August 21, 1988 at 4.40 AM. The epicenters of the Earthquake was 525 km north west of Shillong ( Indo-Nepal border in Bihar state) and was measured 6.6 on the scale. The 1988 quake which lasted for few seconds was reported from Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and Daltongonj. At Ranchi all windows started rattling. Movements of cots was similar to that in a running train.
There was also commotion among birds, and cracks developed in the walls of some houses. Such high intensity earthquake in the Jharkhand State was unnatural. This plateau is peninsular and dead for any crustal adjustment. The high intensity of earthquake in Dharbanga in Bihar State, might have sent tremors to the Jharkhand. One probable cause of the relative strength of shock in Jharkhand, might be transmissibility of the tremors through crystalline rigid and strong crust underlying the Himalayas, the Indo- Gangetic depression, Monghyr region and Jharkhand. The characteristic and consequences of the earthquake of 1988 were similar to those of the shock of January 15, 1934.

Rajat Mazumder, A.J. (Tom) van Loon and Makoto Arima (2006)Sedimentary Geology, Volume 186, Issues 1-2, Pages 19-26

Mahadevan, T.M., 2002. Geology of Bihar & Jharkhand. Geological Society of India, Bangalore.

Times of India, March 27, 2009, Ranchi edition.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Termite Mounds are the best indicators for gold deposits.

Termite Mounds are common in Jharkhand.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

From my childhood termite mounds fascinated me a lot. My city of Ranchi in Jharkhand State of India such mounds are very common. I used to imagine it as small mountain. Many scared me also saying that it is the house of poisonous snakes. Lots of imaginative stories I used to hear about this termite mounds. These increased my inquisitiveness.
At present, while on my way to college which is nearly 20 kms from my residence, I encounter several small to medium termite mounds in isolated places. Even in my college backyard there are few termite mounds.

Few years ago I came to know an interesting fact about these mounds that the soil of it is used for cosmetic purposes. But what attracted me a lot that such mounds are used as the pathfinder for prospecting precious metals like gold. The termite mounds serve as early indication as to what may be found in the soil below.

Termites are one of the most abundant animals on earth. They inhabit 2/3 of the lands surface, mostly in the tropical regions. They live on cellulose, which is why they eat homes. However, termites do not produce cellulases, the enzymes that break down cellulose. These enzymes are produced by protozoa in the termite gut that take in the ingested cellulose chips, digest them and produce acetate and other products that the termites can use for energy and carbon. The termite gut also contains a host of bacteria that use the protozoan products which are converted to methane. The methane contributes to global warming. Termites thrive in the deforested areas produced by man as he moves into the forests.

They are considered the largest animal constructions related to the size of the constructors (as a termite has less than 2 cm, this is like people building something as high as Himalaya).

The mounds can be up to 6 m (20 feet) tall above the earth, having different forms (mushroom, dome, conical and so on), but most of the colony is bellow the soil. Inside the mounds, temperature and humidity are constant, as the termites depend on fungi cultivated on dead matter they collect, and their culture requires constant conditions. So, the industrious termites need to dig for water, and sometimes they search for water till depths of 75 m (225 feet) or hundreds of meters away; at the same time, their mound go higher, because everything they dig is brought up to surface, including the hardest particles. Thus, an analysis of the termite mounds can give a quick answer to the contents of deeper laying levels of soil and even rock. To me in Jharkhand termites cannot go more than 30 to 40 feet because after that hard rock is present below.

That's why termites are fantastic gold prospectors; in fact, ancient African civilizations used the termite mounds to locate gold deposits.

In the ancient text of India Brihat Samhita (Sanskrit) written by Varahamihira (A.D. 505-587), pointed out that termite mound is an important bio-indicator of groundwater and economically important mineral deposits in the tropical lands generally covered by thick soil mantle. On the basis of the observations in the ancient and modern scientific literature, recent biogeochemical studies described these mounds in the tropics as an important tool in the exploration for chromium and copper and lead in India; and for gold in Zimbabwe, and copper and nickel in Mozambique in the African continent.

Jharkhand plateaus are said to be rich in gold deposits. Though the mechanized mining is not economical but still today the villagers are found panning for gold in the river basin of Swarnarekha river (Swarna means gold and rekha means line) and other rivers in Jharkhand State. Termite mounds are also very common in such areas.
As compared to other countries where termite mounds are being used as pathfinder for gold and diamond, people or mining companies of Jharkhand State still don’t know about this biogeochemical aspect of the mounds.

According to different reports, some termite mounds can be so rich in gold that dissolving them and panning the slurry provides a significant side income for poorer residents of tropical regions. The unconventional "termite" technique is increasingly used by western companies looking for gold in Africa. Its advantages are obvious; there is less need for manpower and equipment, which has to be transported to remote areas, often without infrastructure, when the work is left to the termites.

The technique is of old age in West Africa, where generations of gold diggers in pre-colonial times used the termites' labour to investigate the deeper layers of the soil for gold and other precious metals and minerals. The modern mining industry rediscovered the method in the 1960s, taking samples from termite mounds in the tropics and from anthills in other regions. Reinventing this ancient and cheap method, the Vila Manica copper deposit in Mozambique were discovered in 1973. Later, the biggest kimberlite (diamond) mine in the world - Jaweng in Botswana - was found by termite mound sampling. Several gold prospects in Southern Africa have since been discovered through the termite method, and a new science, termed "geo-zoology" has even been established to further develop the technique.

Termite mounds have been an inspiration for humans who want to mimic the fantastic ventilation system used in the termite structures. Hot air rises through tubes in the above ground mounds while winds from outside send air currents down into the subterranean chambers so temperature is regulated no matter the weather outside. This efficiency might be able to be put to use in the homes of people.

Termite mounds have been studied for use in road construction in Africa. The secretion used by termites to make the soil of their mounds hard is so effective that roads are being built using these same chemicals. The roads are cheaper and more durable than asphalt roads.

If a mound is damaged, it is immediately fixed to protect the colony, and the mounds are constantly remodeled, a process that also requires water. The termites clamp bits of clay or wet rock in their jaws, then climb back home to build the mound, grain by damp grain. The mound goes higher, because everything they dig is brought up to surface, including the hardest particles. In doing this they bring up samples from that depth.

If the mining companies concentrate on soil analysis of termite mounds in gold deposits areas like Tamar in Ranchi district and Singhbhum in Jharkhand state they are sure to get some encouraging results.
Thus, an analysis of the termite mounds can give a quick answer to the contents of deeper laying levels of soil and even rock.


Prasad, E.A.V., Gupta, M.J. and Dunn, C.E. 1987. Significance of termite mounds in gold exploration. Current Science, Vol.56, No.23, pp.1219.




Sunday, March 22, 2009

There is less oxygen in your blood in mountain- says research

There is less oxygen in your blood in mountain- says research
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Climbers summiting Mount Everest have as little oxygen in their bloodstream as residents of coastal areas who are in cardiac arrest- or who have even dead. Four physicians from University College London trekked up Everest and drew their own blood for analysis. They found that because of the altitude, they had about a quarter less oxygen in their blood than is normal for people at sea level. The analysis also confirmed other effects of being at high altitudes, such as the increase in hemoglobin to ferry as much oxygen as possible.

The number of people travelling to the high altitude regions, especially South America, Nepal, and India, has risen enormously in the past 10 years. Without special climbing ability these trekkers can be exposed to altitudes they will not have encountered in their home countries.

In India tourists traveling towards remote areas of Leh and Laddakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state complain of breathlessness and fatigue.

The concentration of oxygen at sea level is about 21% and the barometric pressure averages 760 mmHg. As altitude increases, the concentration remains the same but the number of oxygen molecules per breath is reduced. At 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) the barometric pressure is only 483 mmHg, so there are roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath. In order to properly oxygenate the body, your breathing rate (even while at rest) has to increase. This extra ventilation increases the oxygen content in the blood, but not to sea level concentrations. Since the amount of oxygen required for activity is the same, the body must adjust to having less oxygen. In addition, for reasons not entirely understood, high altitude and lower air pressure causes fluid to leak from the capillaries which can cause fluid build-up in both the lungs and the brain. Continuing to higher altitudes without proper acclimatization can lead to potentially serious, even life-threatening illnesses.
The major cause of altitude illnesses is going too high too fast. Given time, your body can adapt to the decrease in oxygen molecules at a specific altitude. This process is known as acclimatization and generally takes 1-3 days at that altitude.
Lack of oxygen causes high-altitude sickness. As altitude increases, the air becomes "thinner," which means less oxygen is in the atmosphere. You get less oxygen in your lungs with each breath, so the amount of oxygen in your blood declines. (This is called hypoxia). All people can experience mountain sickness, but it may be more severe in people who have heart or lung problems.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually begin within 48 hours of arriving at high altitude. The higher the altitude, the greater the effects. People can notice effects when they go to an altitude of 7,000 to 8,000 feet. If you have heart disease (such as heart failure) or lung disease (such as emphysema), you may have symptoms at lower altitudes. Symptoms include headaches, breathlessness, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, inability to sleep swelling of the face, hands and feet.
Both heart rate and breathing rate increase as the body tries to send more oxygen to its tissues. At very high altitudes, body fluid can leak into the brain (called brain or cerebral edema) or into the lungs (pulmonary edema). Both these conditions can be serious or even life-threatening.
How can we prevent high-altitude illness?
You can do two important things to prevent high-altitude illness:
1. Take your time traveling to higher altitudes. When you travel to a high altitude, your body will begin adjusting right away to the lower amount of oxygen in the air, but it takes several days for your body to adjust completely. If you're healthy, you can probably safely go from sea level to an altitude of 8,000 feet in a few days. But when you reach an altitude above 8,000 feet, don't go up faster than 1,000 feet per day. The closer you live to sea level, the more time your body will need to get used to a high altitude. Plan your trip so your body has time to get used to the high altitude before you start your physical activity.
2. Sleep at an altitude that is lower than the altitude you are at during the day. For example, if you ski at an elevation of 10,000 feet during the day, sleep the night before and the night after at an elevation of 8,500 feet.

L. Jordan, March 2009. Scientific American, India. pp.19

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ipomoea Carnea is vanishing from the Ranchi city in Jharkhand State of India.

Ipomoea Carnea is vanishing from the Ranchi city in Jharkhand State of India.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Ipomoea Carnea popularly known in Jharkhand state of India as thethar or behaya (rigid or shameless) plants is gradually vanishing from the Ranchi city. It has both the medicinal values as well as toxic to some animals. Few years ago this plant was abandoned in Ranchi city especially along the road side, railway track,barren lands and by the side of ponds. But now they are concentrated only in few locations like near small ponds etc. Cutting and burning of this plant by the poor people has reduced it drastically in and around Ranchi city.

Ipomoea was introduced in India as green manure crop but later it has became problematic weed.
One of two tree-like perennial morning glory species, it grows to a height of 5m. The stem is thick and develops into a solid trunk over several years with many branches from base. The leaves are light green, heart shaped or somewhat lanceolate and 10-25cm long. It acts as toxic to cattle.
It is reported to have stimulatory allopathic effects. Roots are boiled to use as laxative and to provoke menstruation. Traditional healers for treatment of skin diseases have used it. The milky juice of plant has been used for the treatment of Leucoderma and other related skin diseases. Only external applications have been recommended due to poisonous nature of the plant. It has depressant effect on central nervous system. Also shows muscle relaxant property.

Ipomoea carnea has been held responsible for several poisoning episodes, mainly in goats. It was found that goats ingested the plant were affected with muscle tremors, weakness of the hind limbs and ataxia.
The city of Ranchi provide an example typical of any expanding metropolis of the country. The air pollution problems of the city are expanding due to modernisation, industrial urbanisation and with the expansion of the area of urban agglomeration . The process has caused expansion of the environmental problems typical to urban areas . According to different research reports the twigs are going to be adversely affected by the continuous abrasion of growing tips due to winds carrying air pollutants. Even the trees planted along the road side are being badly affected due to air pollution mixed with dust pollution.
In the recent study it was found that planting Ipomoea Carnea beside the roads will be more effective as according to the study this plant was found to be most tolerant species to all types of pollution.
Ipomoea Carnea showed the best results alone as well as in combination with the wastes, especially distillery waste. The use of these plants can be made to supplement the conventional substrates like dung in rural areas to augment the biogas production.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Three new bacteria species found in stratosphere.

Three new bacteria species found in stratosphere.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Three new species of bacteria, which are not found in the earth and highly resistant to ultraviolet radiation, have been discovered in the Upper Stratosphere( more than 15 km. above the earth) by India scientists, according to the India Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
While one of the species has been named Janibacter Hoylei after astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, the second has been christened Bacillus isronensis.
The third has been named Bacillus Aryabhata after the India astronomer.

Studying of bacteria is now becoming very important for space flight safety. It is necessary to know the methods to maintain cosmonauts’ immunity, what drugs should be offered to them, and what new bio-stable materials should be developed for spaceship compartments and equipment.

Bacteria in space become more aggressive, and can “eat” spaceship components. This happens because microorganisms start producing enzymes unusual for them in terrestrial conditions, which destroy structural materials.

Studies have shown that space conditions suppress the human immune system, making the body more susceptible to infection. Further, weightlessness and higher levels of radiation may increase the mutation rate in bacteria. This could result in making some organisms more resistant to antibiotics or perhaps causing others that are normally harmless to become infectious.
Many researches are being carried out to understand how bacteria behave in space. In an experiment aboard NASA's space shuttle Atlantis September 2006, scientists at Arizona State University sent sealed tubes of salmonella (culprit in food poisoning) into space to measure changes in genetic responses and disease-causing potential.
After the bacteria returned to Earth, the researchers examined the salmonella's gene and protein expression patterns, and their effect on virulence. Compared to the Earth-bound bacteria, the space-travelling Salmonella had changed expression of 167 genes.
Animal studies showed that bacteria flown in space were almost three times as likely to cause disease compared to control bacteria grown on the ground.
These results have important implications for human health since salmonella (and other gut-related bacterial pathogens) are a leading cause of foodborne illness and infectious disease, especially in the developing world. There's currently no vaccine for salmonella food borne infections in humans.
While the present study of ISRO does not conclusively establish the extra-terrestrial origin of micro-organisms, it does provide positive encouragement to continue the work in our quest to explore the origin of life.

The Hindu news paper, New Delhi, March17, 2009.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Murray’s river Mouth of Australia Turns Toxic.

Murray’s river Mouth of Australia Turns Toxic.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

The health of Australia’s Murray Darling river system, already shockingly poor, has just taken a turn for the worse. In the past month, tracts of wetland at the mouth of the Murray have become as corrosive as battery acid, forming a yellow crust of sideronatrite, a mineral that only forms in extremely acid soil.
The Murray-Darling Basin is 3,375 km long, drains one-seventh of the Australian land mass, and is currently by far the most significant agricultural area in Australia. The name of the basin is derived from its two major rivers, the Murray River and the Darling River.
Total water flow in the Murray-Darling basin in the period since 1885 has averaged around 24,000 gigalitres per year, although in most years only half of it reaches the sea and in dry years much less. Estimated total annual flows for the basin range from 5,000 gigalitres in 1902 to 57,000 gigalitres in 1956.
The Murray-Darling Basin is very important for rural communities and Australia's economy. Three million Australians inside and outside the Murray-Darling Basin are directly dependent on its water. About 85 per cent of all irrigation in Australia takes place in the Murray-Darling Basin, which supports an agricultural industry worth more than $9 billion per annum.
The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia’s most important agricultural region, accounting for over 39 per cent of Australia’s gross value in agricultural production. The range in climatic conditions across the Basin means there is a whole range of agricultural commodities produced.
The Basin has been termed Australia’s agricultural heartland, it’s ‘food basket’, but it is much more than that, as its agricultural output makes a major contribution to the National economy. Agriculture provides the raw materials for most of the Basin’s manufacturing activity, as well as many processing companies beyond the region.
The long-term productivity and sustainability of the Murray-Darling Basin is, however, under threat from over-allocated water resources, salinity and climate change.

This latest indicator of the river’s decline is detailed in reports to be released this week by the CSIRO Land and Water research institute in Adelaide, South Australia. For years drought and mismanagement have reduced water flows in the Murray Darling system , altering salinity, temperature and nutrient levels. But in July last year , a team lead by Rob Fitzpatrick , who wrote the new reports , found a new problem: falling water levels in lakes Alexandrina and Albert at the Murray s mouth in South Australia were exposing the surrounding soils, rich in iron sulphide, to the air.
This has led to the production of 240, 000 tonnes of sulphuric acid, says Fitzpatrick. Acid dissolves aluminium, arsenic , zinc and lead, which could contaminate water supplies , he adds.
The discovery of sideronatrite will fuel fears that the acid will seep into the lakes, killing aquatic life.
Fitzpatrick says a proposal to flush out the acid with seawater would only be a short term fix, making the river even saltier than the sea. Two alternatives are being tested around lake Albert: spreading lime and growing acid resistant plants to neutralize the acid in the soil.
New Scientist (India ed.) 15th Dec.2008,vol.1,pp.15.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

From where did the water came on Earth?

Origin of Water on Earth
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

All life on Earth depends on water. Humans use water for many purposes like drinking, irrigation, fisheries, industrial processes, transportation, and waste disposal. Water is also an essential part of the geological cycle. Rain water converts the granitic rocks of the continents to clay, sand and solutes, and transports them to the ocean where they become the raw material of future continents. Approximately 80 percent of the water on the Earth is in the oceans, 19 percent is in the pores of rocks beneath the Earth’s surface, 1 percent in the form of ice, 0.002 percent is in the streams and lakes, and only about 0.0008 percent in the atmosphere.
Considering the central role of water in human affairs, it is remarkable how little we know about it.

The question of the origin of water on Earth, or more accurately put, the question of why there is clearly more water on the Earth than on the other planets of the Solar System, has not been clarified. There are various popular theories as to how the world's oceans were formed over the past 4.6 billion years. Some of the most likely contributing factors to the origin of the Earth’s oceans are as follows:

1. The cooling of the primoridal Earth to the point where the outgassed volatile components were held in an atmosphere of sufficient pressure for the stabilization and retention of liquid water.
Today, the air we breathe is stable mixture of 79 percent nitrogen, 20 percent oxygen, about 1 percent argon (or inert gas), and trace gases like carbon dioxide and water vapour. But our planet’s original atmosphere, several billion year ago, was far different. Earth’s very earliest atmosphere probably was swept into space by the solar wind, a vast stream of particles emitted by the Sun. as Earth slowly cooled, a more enduring atmosphere formed. The molten surface solidified into a crust, and gases that had been dissolved in the molten rock were gradually released, a process called outgassing. Outgassing continues today from hundreds of active volcanoes worldwide, thus, geologists hypothesize the Earth’s original atmosphere was made up of gases similar to those released in volcanic emissions today: water vapor, carbondioxide, nitrogen, and several trace gases.
As the planet continued to cool, the water vapor condensed to form clouds, and great rain commenced. At first, the water evaporated in the hot air before reaching the ground, or quickly boiled away upon contacting the surface, just like water sprayed on a hot grill. This accelerated the cooling of Earth’s crust. When the surface had cooled below water’s boiling point (100 degree c or 212 degree F), torrential rains slowly filled the low areas, forming the oceans.

2. Comets, trans-Neptunian objects or water-rich asteroids (protoplanets) from the outer reaches of the asteroid belt colliding with a pre-historic Earth may have brought water to the world's oceans. That the Earth's water originated purely from comets is implausible, as a result of measurements of the isotope ratios of hydrogen in the three comets Halley, Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp by researchers. According to this research the ratio of deuterium to protium (D/H ratio) of the comets is approximately double that of oceanic water.The Earth is believed to have formed hot and dry, meaning that its current water content must have been delivered after the planet cooled. Possible candidates for supplying this water are colliding comets and asteroids. Because of their large ice comet water has shown that comet water is significantly different from typical ocean water on Earth.
Asteroidal ice may give a better match to Earth's water, but until now, any ice that the asteroids may have once contained was thought to either be long gone or so deeply buried inside large asteroids as to be inaccessible for further analysis.

3. Gradual leakage of water stored in hydrous minerals (actinolite, borax, epsomite, serpentine, tremolite, gypsum etc.) of the Earth’s crust. The heating or metamorphism of minerals containing water results in the extraction of water. These are the water that have been trapped inside rocks for millions or billions of years. Loss of volatile constituents, H2O, CO2, and the like, are the dominant processes which occur when rocks change their pressure-temperature environment and undergo prograde metamorphism through tectonic processes.

4. Magma represents a fiery-liquid silicate melt, containing various elements, oxides and volatile components (fluorine, chlorine, water, carbon dioxide, etc.). Magma can be solidified in the depth of the Earth’s crust under the cover of the overlying rocks and at the surface or near the surface of the Earth. In the former case the process of solidification of magma is slow; it takes the whole of magma enough time to be crystallized. When there is a rapid uplift of the magma on to Earth’s surface its temperature becomes lower, the pressure drops down to normal, and volatile components are separated including water. Release of water to the atmosphere from the cooling of the magma is happening from millions of years.


Drever, J.I. 1982. The Geochemistry of Natural Waters. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Fyfe, W.S., Price, N.J., and Thompson, A.B., 1978. Fluids in the Earth’s crust. Elsevier Scientific Publishing company, New york.

Milovsky, A.V. and Kononov, O.V. 1985. Mineralogy. Mir Publishers, Moscow.

Tarbuck, E.J. and Lutgens, F.K. Earth Science. Prentice Hall, New Jersey.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Old houses in Ranchi city are under threat.

Old houses in Ranchi city are gradually vanishing.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Some of the old houses in Ranchi city of Jharkhand State of India are under threat due to the effect of biological weathering. These houses are gradually being destroyed as they are covered up with plants and weeds. All these houses are more than hundred years old made during British rule in India. Most affected are abandoned house. In one case as shown in the photos the small ancient house in the heart of the city is totally covered with plants, trees and shrubs. It resembles very much with haunted house. These houses of archeological importance are gradually breaking down due to negligence of the state government.

Buildings made of any stone, brick or concrete are susceptible to the same weathering agents as any exposed rock surface. Also statues monuments and ornamental stonework can be badly damaged by natural weathering processes. This is accelerated in areas severely affected by acid rain.

Buildings begin to break down the minute they are assembled. Weathering occurs as
decomposition (chemical breakdown) or disintegration (physical breakdown) or both. One type of weathering can lead to another.

Weathering takes place through a combination of biological, mechanical and chemical means. We have all experienced the results of weathering first hand. Any visit to an old cemetery find us peering at the blurred inscriptions on old marble tombstones. These inscriptions were once perfectly legible, but with the passage of time, the small fractures and cracks in the rock have made it vulnerable to attack by aqueous solutions and growth of the plants

Buildings made of limestone are particularly susceptible to weathering. In the absence of modern cementing material, limestone was used as cementing material in building houses in India. In Ranchi also limestone was used as cementing material.
The deterioration of the structures such as old abandoned bridges outside Ranchi city and old houses has increased dramatically in the last few decades.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rain brought relief to Ranchi city.

Rain brought relief to Ranchi city
Dr.Nitish Priyadarshi

From last six months Ranchi city the capital of Jharkhand State of India was devoid of any precipitation. It resulted in increase in temperature and groundwater deplition. City was under the grip of water crisis. This shower today has brought some relief to the people of the city.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Smoke of medicinal plants can kill harmful bacteria.

Smoke of medicinal plants can kill harmful bacteria.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Today the air we breathe in is loaded with harmful gases like NO2, CO, SPM and RSPM, which are all above the standards prescribed by the Government and are extremely harmful for human health. There are also new species of bacteria and virus coming up which cause new diseases and are resistant to old drugs. The wastes from the industries as well as the city is being dumped into the rivers, thereby causing severe water pollution. The indiscriminate use of pesticides and synthetic chemical fertilizers has resulted in poisoning of underground water reserves and also resulted into loss of soil fertility. And to top it all the lack of empathy of the people to these problems has made it worse.

All the new scientific methods or chemicals being used today to kill bacteria have the side effects on environment and human health. Best example is the use of DDT, one of the best known synthetic pesticides. DDT has now been declared toxic for humans and environment. Even chlorination of water has the side effects if used regularly and in large amounts. Liquids used in mosquito repellent are also harmful to human health to some extent.

With the development of the modern science we are getting more dependent on synthetic chemicals to kill bacteria or remove pollution other than the use of natural sources like medicinal plants or energy like Sun. In our ancient days people used the natural sources to fight the bacteria and pollution.

From time immemorial, human beings have used smoke of medicinal plants for curing disorders. Smoke produced from natural substances has been used extensively in many cultures and famous ancient physicians have described and recommended such use. According to old concept in Hinduism the basis of life has been said to be food. The basis of food is earth. The basis of earth is water and the basis of water is air. If air will be pure, all elements of the chain will become pure, thus purifying and cleansing life itself. For the environmental problem, the Hidus in the earlier days used the vedic science of ‘Yagya’ or ‘Havan’.
Havan is the term for a sacred purifying ritual (yajna) in Hinduism that involves a fire ceremony. It is a ritual of sacrifice made to the fire god Agni. After lighting a Havan Kund (sacrificial fire), objects such as fruits, honey, or wooden goods are put into the sacred fire. The main purpose of a Havan is for the purification of our surroundings. It is a person’s duty to thank Nature for balancing our surroundings and making them fit for human existence.
According to a report published in a web site, a scientist named Trelle of France did experiments on Havan. He found that Havan is mainly performed by using mango tree. When the wood is burnt then a gas, "formic aldehyde" comes out which destroys the harmful bacteria and makes the atmosphere purified. Then only, the scientists made "formalin" from "formic aldehyde" gas. He also did experiment on jaggery Gur (in Hindi raw sugar) and found that on burning the jaggery, jaggery also generates "formic aldehyde" gas. A scientist named Tautilk came to know that if we stay in a Havan and its smoke for half an hour then the germs of typhoid are destroyed and all these matters are used in Yajyen. Yajurveda says that four types of things mainly used to prepare offerings for a Havan- 1. Sweet Like honey, jaggery, raw sugar etc., 2. Antibiotic herbs like gyol, etc., 3. Nutrition like pure ghee, dry fruits etc., 4. Fragrant materials like elaichi (cardamom) dried petals flowers etc.

Seeing the importance of Havan scientists of the National Botanical Research Institute in Lucknow, India decided to test whether havan smoke affected indoor air quality. They burned havan samagri —the mixture of aromatic medicinal herbs typically prescribed for Hindu rituals in a closed room. They found smoke from the material did kill germs. And it was not just any kind of smoke; they compared the effects of smoke from mango wood with those of havan material.Research claims that there was no reduction in the number of airborne bacteria when one kg of mango wood was burnt. But when half a kg of havan samagri was added to it, the bacterial count reduced by 94 per cent within one hour.

Report also claims that the bactericidal effect did not diminish as soon as the source of smoke was removed. The researchers sampled air quality over 24 hours, after which the room was opened. Even at the end of the duration, the bacteria count was 96 per cent lower. Repeated sampling showed the effect lingered for a month. The study was published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology (December 3, 2007).

Absence of pathogenic bacteria Corynebacterium urealyticum, Curtobacterium
flaccumfaciens, Enterobacter aerogenes (Klebsiella mobilis), Kocuria rosea, Pseudomonas syringae pv. persicae, Staphylococcus lentus, and Xanthomonas campestris pv. tardicrescens in the open room even after 30 days is indicative of the bactericidal potential of the medicinal smoke treatment. It was demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space, says the report.

Scientists warns that if the fumes of the Havan can kill bacteria it can also affect the human health. So detail chemical analysis of gradients used in the Havan should be done.



Sunday, March 1, 2009

Threat of Nitrate to our environment and health.

Jharkhand and Bihar is coming under threat
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Nitrate (NO3-) is a water-soluble molecule made up of nitrogen and oxygen. It is formed
when nitrogen from ammonia or other sources combines with oxygenated water.

Nitrogenous materials are rare in the geological record; therefore, occurrence of nitrate in groundwater is an anthropogenic pollutant contributed by nitrogenous fertilizers, industrial effluents, human and animal wastes through biochemical activity of nitrifying bacteria, such as nitrosomanas and nitrobacter. The groundwater resources contaminated with high level of nitrate (greater than 45 mg/l) are an environmental hazard. Nitrate has been linked to agricultural activities due to excessive use of nitrate fertilizers.

The nitrate is taken up by plants during their growth and used in the synthesis of organic nitrogenous compounds. Surplus nitrate readily moves with groundwater. Under aerobic conditions, it percolates in large quantities into the aquifer because of the small extent to which degradation or denitrification occurs. Under anaerobic conditions, nitrate may be denitrified or degraded almost completely to nitrogen.

In surface water, nitrification and denitrification may also occur, depending on the temperature and pH. The uptake of nitrate by plants, however, is responsible for most of the nitrate reduction in surface water.

Concentrations of nitrate in rainwater of up to 5 mg/litre have been observed in industrial areas. In rural areas, concentrations are somewhat lower.

Nitrogen compounds are formed in the air by lightning or discharged into it from industrial processes, motor vehicles, and intensive agriculture. These are removed by wet and dry deposition.

Air pollution appears to be a minor source. In general, vegetables will be the main source of nitrate intake when levels in drinking water are below 10 mg/litre. When levels in drinking water exceed 50 mg/litre, drinking water will be the major source of total nitrate intake, especially for bottle-fed infants. In the Netherlands, the average population exposure is approximately 140 mg of nitrate per day(including the nitrate in drinking water).

Vegetables and cured meat are in general the main sources of nitrate and nitrite in the diet, but small amounts may be present in fish and dairy products. Most vegetables and fruits contain 200-2500 mg of nitrate per kg. The nitrate content of vegetables can be affected by the processing of the food, the use of fertilizers, and growing conditions. Vegetables such as beetroot, lettuce, radish, and spinach often contain concentrations above 2500 mg/kg, especially when they are cultivated in greenhouse.

The nitrate concentration in surface water is normally low (0-18 mg/litre), but can reach high levels as a result of agricultural run-off, refuse dump runoff, or contamination with human or animal wastes. The concentration often fluctuates with season and may increase when the river is fed by nitrate-rich aquifers. Nitrate concentrations have gradually increased in many European countries in the last few decades and have sometimes doubled over the past 20 years. In the United Kingdom, for example, an average annual increase of 0.7 mg/litre has been observed in some rivers.
The natural nitrate concentration in groundwater under aerobic conditions is few milligrams per litre and depends strongly on soil type and on the geological situation. In the USA, naturally occurring levels do not exceed 4-9 mg/litre for nitrate.

Several researches in India have reported nitrate incidence of groundwater related to different sources, such as leaching of organic and inorganic fertilizers from agricultural land by infiltration and percolation of rainwater, irrigation water, animal waste, leakage from sewers and by subsurface flow from up gradient areas.

Somasundram et al. (1993) reported nitrate concentrations ranging from 12 to 999 mg/litre in Madras (now Chennai) urban area, and found that source of nitrate concentrations are due to sewage effluents. In Varanasi area of Uttar Pradesh in India, high nitrate concentrations are due to the direct leaching of domestic sewage effluents.

Nitrate is high in groundwater in some pockets of Jharkhand State. Concentration varies from less than one ppm to 100 ppm. In some parts of Godda the concentration level has reached up to 168ppm. In few parts of Sisai area, near the capital of Jharkhand State the concentration is above 100ppm.

Ranchi city is coming under the threat of nitrate poisoning as city is becoming the dumping ground of the municipal wastes and household wastes. At present the concentration of nitrate has reached threshold level in groundwater of Ranchi city but it may increase in summer season because low level of groundwater increases the concentration of metals.

The accumulation of high nitrate in cracks, fissures in the hard rocks of the Jharkhand State, is obvious due to the relatively thin soil cover and occurrence of groundwater at shallower depth, pollutants find their way to the groundwater body. Other than anthropogenic sources metamorphic rocks present in Jharkhand Plateau can be the other source of nitrate to ground water because nitrogen is found in the metamorphic rocks.

In Bihar State other than Rafiganj and Bhagalpur area concentration of nitrate in groundwater is below toxic level. In Rafiganj the concentration of nitrate varies from 100 ppm (parts per million) to 300ppm. Whereas in Bhagalpur it varies from 90 to 160 ppm. In some parts of Motihari district the concentration of nitrate has reached up to the level of 155 ppm. In Valmiki Nagar few places have been identified where the concentration of nitrate has crossed the toxic level.

Health Effects:

The primary health effect from high nitrate levels is methemoglobinemia which affects infants up to 6 months of age and can ultimately result in death. The condition is also called "blue baby syndrome" because the skin appears blue-gray or lavender in color. This color change is caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood. . Bacteria that live in the digestive tracts of newborn babies convert nitrate to nitrite (NO2). Nitrite then reacts with hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in blood, to form methemoglobin. Infants suffering from "blue baby syndrome" need immediate medical care because the condition can lead to coma and death if it is not treated promptly.
Within several months after birth, the increasing level of hydrochloric acid in a baby's stomach kills most of the bacteria which convert nitrate to nitrite. By the age of six months, the digestive system is fully developed, and the risk of nitrate-induced methemoglobinemia is greatly reduced.

Increased mortality rates are recorded from gastric and prostate cancer with increasing exposures to nitrates in the drinking water as found in Spain. A cluster of spontaneous abortions was identified in Indiana among women consuming nitrate contaminated well waters. Some scientific studies have found evidence suggesting that women who drink nitrate-contaminated water during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with birth defects. Nitrate ingested by the mother may also lower the amount of oxygen available to the fetus.

The toxicity of nitrate to humans is thought to be solely the consequence of its reduction to nitrite. The major biological effect of nitrite in humans is its involvement in the oxidation of normal haemoglobin to methaemoglobin, which is unable to transport oxygen to the tissues. The reduced oxygen transport becomes clinically manifest when methaemoglobin concentrations reach 10% of that of haemoglobin and above. The haemoglobin of young infants is more susceptible to methaemoglobin formation than that of older children and adults. Other groups especially susceptible to methaemoglobin formation include pregnant women and people deficient in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase or methaemoglobin reductase.

People who have heart or lung disease, certain inherited enzyme defects, or cancer may be more sensitive to the toxic effects of nitrate than others. In addition, some experts believe that long-term ingestion of water high in nitrate may increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

Grant, W., Steele, G., Isiorho, S.A. 1996. Spontaneous abortions possibly related to ingestion of nitrate-contaminated well water-LaGrange County, Indiana,1991-1994. Morb. Mortal Wkly Rep., v.45, pp 569-572.

Guidelines for drinking-water quality 1999. Health criteria and other supporting information. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2nd edition, v.2.

Raju, N.J., Prahlad, R.Dey,S. 2009. Groundwater quality in the Lower Varuna River Basin, Varanasi District, Uttar Pradesh. Jr. of Geological society of India, v.73 (2) pp. 178-192.

Somasundaram, M.V., Ravindran, G., Tellam, J.H. 1993. Groundwater pollution of the Madras urban aquifer, India. Groundwater,v.31 (1) pp 4-12.