Pollution scene

Abstracts: Tanneries, Asteroids, EPA, and More

• By order of the Supreme Court in Bangladesh, the Department of Environment cut power, water, and gas to the remaining 154 leather tanneries in Hazaribagh, home to the country’s billion dollar leather industry. The government has been directing factories to relocate to a designated industrial park since the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association filed public interest litigation in 2001. The shut down this week occurred in cooperation with factory owners. (Dhaka Tribune)

For decades, Hazaribagh has been the epicenter of Bangladesh’s leather tanning industry. Visual: Larry C. Price

• A “potentially hazardous asteroid” is set to whiz by next Wednesday. Bright enough and fast enough to spot with a simple backyard telescope, the April 19 event will be the closest the asteroid comes to Earth for another 500 years. (Sky & Telescope)

• A new study published in Health Promotion Practice finds that vaccine skeptic parents respond better to information from other parents, rather than shaming. (TIME)

• Researchers at Berkeley unraveled the science of how shoe laces untie. Though practical applications of their study are limited at best, they are contenders for the Ignobel Prizes, awarded annually in September. (Economist)

• 2017 is predicted to be the fourth year in a row of declining farming profits. A fifth-generation Iowa farmer and a resilient agriculture coordinator discusses ways that farmers can be incentivized to address climate change. (Grist)

• Lab mice that walk aren’t usually a cause for celebration — but this week, a team of scientists studying Parkinson’s disease at the Karolinska Institute had reason to cheer. Borrowing a trick from stem cell biology, the team injected the brains of Parkinson’s models with a cocktail of harmless viruses. Within five weeks of the injection, the viruses had re-programmed abundant astrocytes to dopamine neurons, restoring normal gait. (STAT)

• Researchers analyzed gentoo penguin poo on Ardley Island in Antarctica to determine how penguin populations rose and fell around an erupting volcano with census-like accuracy. (The New Yorker)

• A budget draft reveals that the Trump administration proposes to cut 31 percent of the EPA budget. With a focus on “core legal requirements,” state and local programs will be hit the worst. (Washington Post)

• How did the very first microbes survive? Sea floor samples from the Mariana Trench suggest that microbes toughed it out six miles underground. (National Geographic)

• And finally, everything you need to know but might have been afraid to ask about ear wax. (The New York Times)