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R&D Briefs

More than a nuisance

Kudzu, an invasive vine notorious for its all-consuming growth rate, poses a health threat because it can contribute to increases in surface ozone, according to a recent study co-authored by a UVA scientist. Two chemicals produced by kudzu combine with nitrogen in the air to form ozone, a pollutant that can cause lung damage and other health problems. “What was once considered a nuisance and primarily of concern to ecologists and farmers is now proving to be a potentially serious health threat,” says Manuel Lerdau, UVA professor of environmental sciences and biology.

Let the kids stay put

“We know that children who move frequently are more likely to perform poorly in school and have more behavioral problems,” says psychology professor Shigehiro Oishi. “However, the long-term effects of moving on well-being in adulthood have been overlooked by researchers.” Oishi and colleagues asked 7,108 adults about how many times they moved as children. They also asked about their well-being and social relationships. People who had moved more tended toward lower well-being and fewer quality social relationships. Introverted and neurotic personality types suffered more from moving than other personality types.

In hot water

Rivers and streams in the U.S. are getting warmer. A team of ecologists and hydrologists, including professor of environmental sciences Michael Pace, examined recorded water temperatures over time in rivers such as the Colorado, Potomac, Delaware and Hudson. They found that annual mean water temperatures increased by between 0.02 and 0.14 degrees per year. Increases were correlated with warmer air temperatures and were most rapid in urban areas. “Higher temperatures can stress aquatic organisms, especially those, like trout, that require cold water,” says Pace. “If temperatures continue to increase, river and stream ecosystems will be altered with losses of species they traditionally support.”