News Crux Ecology & Environment
Recently, scientists have discovered that an enzyme called laccase, generated by fungi, has the potential to degrade a variety of hazardous organic dye molecules found in waterbodies after being discharged by the textile industry.
- The enzyme has a substrate promiscuity that makes it useful for designing enzyme-coated cassettes that can treat heavily dye-polluted water.
- Through testing the efficacy of laccase in degrading standard dye molecules like Methyl Green, Crystal Violet, Thioflavin T, Coumarin 343, and Brilliant Blue, scientists have found that the enzyme can degrade a wide range of dye molecules with varying kinetics, charge, size, and shape. (Note: Methyl Green, Crystal Violet, Thioflavin T, Coumarin 343, and Brilliant Blue, are different types of dyesthat laccase has the ability to break down).
- Using UV/Visible spectroscopy and computer simulations, researchers demonstrated that laccase contains an active site that can adapt to accommodate a wide range of dye molecules due to conformational plasticity of a loop covering the active site.
- The substrate promiscuity of laccase offers potential for a broad-spectrum degrader for industrial dye effluents, which can help in making the environment greener.
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Radiation Levels in Kerala
According to a recent study, background radiation levels in parts of Kerala are nearly three times more than what had been previously assumed.
The radiation levels: The radiation levels discovered in the present study were measured to be higher than what was assumed before the study was conducted, highlighting the importance of updating and improving estimates on natural background radiation.
- The study found that the average natural background levels of gamma radiation in India was 94 nGy/hr, roughly 0.8 milli sievert/year.
- The higher radiation levels in Kollam, Kerala are attributed to monazite sands that are high in thorium.
- Southern India, because of the presence of granite and basaltic, volcanic rock, has higher levels of radiation from uranium deposits.
- Previous studies have checked for higher rates of cancer or mortality in areas with high radiation levels and have found nothing out of the ordinary.
- The higher levels of background radiation found in parts of Kerala do not translate to an elevated health risk.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Specification: Public exposure to radiation shouldn't exceed 1 milli-Sievert every year.
- Workers in nuclear plants or those exposed due to their occupation shouldn't be exposed to over 30 milli-Sievert every year.
- The authors of the study note that the body is accustomed to higher doses of radiation and that the limits set by the IAEA are extremely conservative and reflect abundant caution.
Gamma radiation: Radiation can come from anywhere, including inside our bodies or from the constituents of matter.
- Gamma rays, a type of radiation that can pass unobstructed through matter, are generally harmless unless present in large concentrated doses. (Note: Gamma rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, with the highest frequency and energy in the electromagnetic spectrum. They are produced by the decay of atomic nuclei, nuclear reactions, and other high-energy processes in the universe).
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that promotes the peaceful use of nuclear energy and technology and works towards preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. It was established in 1957 and is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
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Mall of Srinagar
On March 19, 2023, the UAE-based Emaar Group, known for developing the Burj Khalifa, announced its first foreign direct investment (FDI) project in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The project will include the development of a shopping mall and an IT tower in Srinagar, which will create new job opportunities.
- The "Mall of Srinagar" will cover 10-lakh sq. feet and will have 500 shops, many of which will be run by UAE-based companies.
- The overall investment for the project is estimated to be Rs 500 crore.
- The announcement was made on the day of an India-UAE investors' meet hosted in Srinagar, which was considered a unique opportunity for discussing investment opportunities in J&K.