Science News Tidbits

Chemical Find Shuts Down 2 LA Reservoirs

Two reservoirs that supply drinking water to parts of the nation’s second-largest city have been shut down and will be drained because a rare sunlight-fueled chemical reaction tainted them with a cancer-causing chemical, utility officials said Friday.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plans to drain 600 million gallons from the open-air reservoirs early next year, a process that will leave them out of action for three to four months amid drought conditions, department spokesman Joseph Ramallo said in a statement.

The two reservoirs supply only about one-third of 1 percent of the city’s annual water consumption, or about the amount the entire city consumes in a day, Ramallo said. The closures haven’t left the city short of water because demand decreases in the fall and winter, he said.

The chemical, bromate, is dangerous only after long-term consumption, officials stressed.


Indian girl born with eight limbs leaves hospital after surgery

A two-year-old Indian girl born with four arms and four legs left hospital Saturday, more than a month after a marathon operation to remove her extra limbs, doctors said.

Lakshmi left Sparsh Hospital in the southern city of Bangalore with her parents and older brother after doctors said she had recovered from the 27-hour operation to separate her from her headless, conjoined twin.

But she will return to hospital in March for doctors to assess whether she will need reconstructive surgery, said Sharan Patil, who headed the surgical team for the operation last month.

“She’s doing well now and her parents are quite keen to take the baby home,” Patil told reporters.

Bird Flu Flares Again in Asia

Bird flu has resurfaced in parts of Asia, with human deaths reported in Indonesia and China and fresh outbreaks plaguing other countries during the winter months when the virus typically flares.

Indonesia, the nation hardest hit by the H5N1 virus, announced its 93rd death on Friday. A 47-year-old man died a day earlier in a Jakarta hospital, said Health Ministry spokesman Joko Suyono. The man fell ill on Dec. 2 and was admitted with flu-like symptoms, becoming Indonesia’s 115th person infected with the disease.

In China, the military in eastern Nanjing banned the sale of poultry this week after a father and son came down with the disease earlier this month. Health officials confirmed the 24-year-old man died from the virus a day before his father, 52, became sick. It was the country’s 17th bird flu death.

The two were believed to have eaten a traditional dish known as “beggar’s chicken,” in which the bird is wrapped in lotus leaves and baked. However, the cause of infection remained unclear.

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