PM That Is More Dangerous Than A Prime Minister

Particulate-Matter-BlogQuestion: To an environmentalist, what is the meaning of PM?

Answer: Particulate Matter.

Prime Ministers (PM) face many allegations but I can’t ever remember one being accused of killing 10,000 people in London every year.  That is the amount of people that King’s College, London believe die prematurely because they are inhaling dangerously high PM. That staggering statistic, found in a Greenpeace blog, prompted me to research just what “PM” is.

PM is the abbreviation for Particulate Matter and we inhale millions of the little demons because they are suspended in the air.  Some PMs are easy enough to detect with the naked eye in the form of dust, soot and smoke.  Others, the most dangerous kind, are extremely small and are classed as “PM(2.5)”. If you could catch 10,000 of these and place them end-to-end the chain would measure less than a centimetre.

It is the tiny size of the particles that make them so dangerous because they can embed themselves in lungs and the natural defences of the body find it difficult to get rid of them.  Sound familiar? Asbestosis springs to mind. At the time these sufferers were breathing-in the asbestos particles their danger was completely unknown.

The main PM culprit is emissions from motor vehicles, but what really surprised me is that a single wood-burning stove is estimated to produce the same amount of PMs as tens of motor vehicles. Could wood-burning stoves be the next asbestos?

Maybe it’s best to enjoy trees in their living state and then leave them to rot down as nature intended to nourish the myriad life-forms that delight in them. Certainly no nature garden is complete without a pile or rotting wood.

While pondering the above you might like to try our British Tree Identification Quiz

Natural Rhythm

Natural-RhythmQuestion: Immunisation injections work better if given at what time of day?

Answer: The morning –Those injected between 9:00-11:00 produce more antibodies than those injected between 13:00-17:00.

A recent trial has found that the body responds better to vaccines given in the morning than it does to those given in the afternoon. These findings agree with others associated with treating both cancer and rheumatoid arthritis – certain drugs work better at night whilst others are best administered in the daytime. This new brand of science is called chronotherapy.

With evidence pointing to the importance of our body clocks, do we pay our natural rhythms enough attention? We here at Education Quizzes decided to take a look at the rhythms of our bodies and how they affect us. There are certain parts of the day which are suited (or not!) to different activities, and some of them may surprise you!

I’m a lark rather than an owl and I usually rise around 5 AM. After my morning routine I go out for my daily walk about 6 AM.  But it seems that I may be making a mistake. At this time of day (between 6 – 9 AM) blood pressure is at its highest and the risk of heart attack at its greatest – not the best time to exercise! I, and countless joggers across the land, may have to rethink our morning regimes.

Late morning seems to be the best time to work.  From 9 AM – 12 PM our energy levels are at their peak and our minds at their most alert. But after lunch we slow down and may feel like an afternoon nap.  Not the most productive part of the day! Maybe those Spaniards have the right idea and our offices should close for a couple of hours so we can take siestas.

Late afternoon is the best time to exercise it seems, with our muscles up to 6% stronger than at other times of the day and our hearts and lungs working at their best. After this it’s time to wind down as our bodies prepare to sleep.  But be careful – food eaten in the early evening is more likely to make you fat than food eaten at any other time.  But it’s not all bad news.  Our livers are better able to process alcohol at this time of day so an evening drink is less harmful than an afternoon tipple.

In the later part of the evening our bodies begin to churn out melatonin, the hormone which makes us sleepy. After midnight, if we are still awake, we are at our least alert and this is a bad time for accidents to occur for those working night shifts. Then, from 3 AM onwards, our sleep hormone levels get lower as we prepare to wake up and do it all over again!

To Bee Or Not To Bee

To-Bee-Or-Not-To-BeeQuestion: Since the 1930s the UK has lost what percentage of its natural grassland?

Answer: 97% – This is just one of the factors that have contributed to the decline of bees.

The UK’s bee population is in serious trouble.  Since the advent of modern farming in the early part of the 20th Century our countryside has changed a lot. Traditional methods of food production were abandoned and with them went many of our wild flowers – for millennia a food source for bees. Two species, Cullem’s bumblebee and the short-haired bumblebee, have become extinct in Britain and the population of other species has dwindled. So what can we do to help?

The environmental organisation Friends of the Earth has several suggestions. If you have a garden then growing wildflowers will help the bees near you. Yarrow, knapweed and even the wild carrot are just some of the species of flower particularly beneficial to bees. Even if you don’t have a garden there are still ways that you can help. You might want to take part in the Great British Bee Count, a survey of bee numbers which will help us to get a better idea of where bees are struggling the most.

As well as the decline of wild flowers, pesticides are another reason that bees are threatened. Friends of the Earth is currently campaigning to have certain types of pesticide banned.  If you agree with them then why not email your MP and let them know your thoughts?

We depend on bees for many of our foods.  They pollinate apples, strawberries and tomatoes, to name but a few and they also supply us with honey. In total bees contribute more than €14 billion to the EU economy every year, so it’s not like they’re not pulling their weight!

At Education Quizzes we care passionately for our environment so we urge you to do whatever you can, no matter how small, to help save the humble bee. You may not notice them much but, believe me, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Make Room For The Slug Boom!

Make-Room-For-The-Slug-BoomQuestion: Which garden creature are we likely to see an explosion of this summer?

Answer: The slug. This is due to a wet summer followed by a warm winter.

Due to a particularly warm winter, slugs haven’t bothered to hibernate this year. Instead, they’ve been breeding like, well, slugs and eating everything in sight! This means that we may well see a lot more slugs than ever before, according to conservation charity BugLife.

I have a soft spot for slugs. When I was around 12 years old, I shared a small piece of bread with a slug. I was amazed at the slug’s mouth, the way it was shaped like a pretty yellow flower. Now, many years later, I look back at that experience and am truly grateful and honoured to have had the privilege of spending quality time with my little slug-friend.

Sadly, slugs are considered pests by the majority of gardeners. Indeed, when I moved to a house with an established garden, I admit I sprinkled the flower beds with slug-poison. I did try crushed eggshells, Vaseline and pots of beer as ‘kinder’ alternatives ~ I’m sure the slugs didn’t see their drunken death as any kinder ~ however they were not so effective as the tiny turquoise balls.

Many children go ‘yuck’ when they see a slug. But if we educate them about the attributes of any creature, they are more likely to show compassion and a sense of wonder. I’ve just spent the last 20 minutes looking for an old poem I wrote about slugs. Alas, it’s nowhere to be found, so instead I’ll share a few interesting slug facts which I found at the website, Slugoff. Enjoy!

  • The blood of a slug is green
  • Slugs play a key role in ecology through eating decomposing vegetation
  • Its slime means a slug can glide over the very sharpest of edges, including a razor blade!
  • The slime is clever slime – it contains fibres to stop the slug from sliding down vertical surfaces
  • A slug is capable of stretching itself to 20 times its normal length!
  • They have around 27,000 teeth
  • To wash slug slime off your hands, try vinegar – it really works

So, to get you prepared for a garden invasion of slugs this summer, you might want to play some of our wonderful nature quizzes.

Caveman Cavities

Caveman-CavitiesQuestion: Did Neanderthals have more or less tooth decay than modern humans?

Answer: Less – Tooth decay was not common before agriculture arrived approximately 9,000 years ago.

Neanderthals first appeared around 300,000 BC and the last ones died 32,000 years ago when Homo sapiens (that’s us) displaced them. We think of Neanderthals as primitive beings dressed in furs and living in caves. So, without the benefits of modern dentistry you might expect them to have pretty rotten teeth.  New research however, suggests that Neanderthals had better teeth than humans who eat similar types of food. Continue reading

Big Ben

Big-BenQuestion: How long will the repairs on Big Ben take?

Answer: Three years – costing almost £30m.

Recently, the government made the decision to begin extensive repairs on Big Ben. Britain’s most famous clock is to be halted for several months, with the chimes of the tower’s bell to be stopped even longer.

Standing in London for nearly 160 years, the last time extensive repairs were done on Big Ben, was over 30 years ago. The work is due to begin in early 2017 and experts say, to keep the clock’s accuracy, the pendulum will need to be removed and repaired at some point within the three-year period. Continue reading

The Climate Impact Of Wind Farms

The-Climate-Impact-Of-Wind-FarmsQuestion: How many wind turbines are there in the UK’s largest array of onshore turbines?

Answer: 54 – Black Law wind farm generates a capacity of 124 megawatts

For the first time ever, scientists have been able to measure the climactic effect that a wind farm has on the local environment.

The findings have been published in the journey Environmental Research Letters and the data suggests that the wind turbines do produce a very slight warming at ground level, however it was localised to the wind farm’s perimeter and they do not have an adverse ecological effect. Continue reading

Dealing With The Common Cold

Dealing-With-The-Common-ColdQuestion: How many different viruses can cause the common cold?

Answer: Over 200 according to Johns Hopkins Medicine

The average adult gets between two and four colds a year with each one lasting an average of a week; therefore I would like you to prepare yourself for an uncomfortable fact – for over 5% of your time on earth you are likely to be suffering from a bad cold!

Having just recovered from a particular bad one I thought I would do some research that might help me to understand how colds work and how best to tackle them.  You might like to share my “20 Common Cold Facts” with your children in hopes that knowledge is power: Continue reading

Sign Of The Times

Sign-Of-The-TimesQuestion: Between January and March 2016 how many obituaries were used by the BBC?

Answer: 24 – In 2012 the BBC used only 5 obituaries during the same period.

Even if you are too young to remember them, you can’t fail to have noticed that 2016 has seen quite a few celebrity deaths. You’ve probably seen some of the many memes on Facebook and comments such as “Enough 2016!” But are more celebrities dying than ever before?  Here at Education Quizzes we decided to investigate… Continue reading

How Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth It Is To Have A Thankless Child

Shakespeares-Death-AnniversaryQuestion: April 23rd 2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, but on what date is the anniversary of his birth?

Answer: Also April 23rd – Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died on his 52nd birthday.

Picture the scene: a classroom in which English Literature is being taught.  The teacher stands in front of his charges and announces, ‘This term we shall be studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.’  His words are met by a chorus of groans and one voice mumbling ‘boooor-ing’.  Are we in an inner-city comprehensive perhaps?  Well no. In fact this is a scene I can remember well from my own school days, in a grammar school in a midlands market-town, during the 1980s.  I must now admit that I was the source of the mumbling voice. If 30 years ago children were dismayed at the thought of reading the Bard, is he any more relevant today? Continue reading