Jonah Triebwasser interviews Cary Institute disease ecologist Shannon LaDeau on the recently recognized dangers from the Zika virus and on the mosquitoes that carry it from human to human. Zika has been known in the Old World since the 1940s but did not reach the Western Hemisphere until 2014, when travelers brought it to Brazil. It has since spread widely through South America, the Caribbean, and some neighborhoods in Florida. Zika is carried from person to person primarily by two species of tropical and subtropical mosquitoes that are daytime biters and to a lesser degree by sexual relations. About 80% of humans infected show mild symptoms or none, but the disease can cause severe damage to an unborn child if the mother is infected. The main concern has been microcephaly, which results in an abnormally small skull and likely brain damage.
John Wackman, program manager for Solarize Hudson Valley, explains the ins and outs of solar panels in this RadioRotary interview. Solar power is a cost-effective way for most homeowners and businesses to reduce or even eliminate electric power bills while helping improve the environment by reducing both air pollution and global warming. Solar panels are 3-ft by 5-ft panels of glass and silica that produce DC electricity when they are exposed to sunshine. An array of panels on a roof or placed in yards or fields can produce more than enough current for a home or business on a sunny day; a device called an inverter changes the power to AC and a net meter sends excess power into the electric grid. When there is insufficient sunlight (for example at night), the net meter steers power from the grid into the home or business. Solarize Hudson Valley is a state and community agency that promotes solar power locally and helps find reliable installers who can set up the panels. Federal and state tax laws and loan help from NYSERDA make installations save money over loan repayment starting with the first full year of operation. Leasing is also available.
RadioRotary interviews Kathy Smith, who is on the board of the Friends of the Walkway Over the Hudson about the some of the many activities that not only involve using the great bridge but also raise money for its upkeep and improvement. Walkway Over the Hudson is a free New York State Historic Park that opening in October 2009 and today has half a million users each year. It was a railroad bridge from 1888 to 1974—the first bridge of any kind across the Hudson between New York City and Albany–but has been reconstructed as a 1.2-mile pedestrian bridge. Although the main purpose of the Walkway is to provide a stirring experience and views, there are many annual events, such as the races associated with the marathon, the Fourth of July Fireworks, and moon walks and sunrise strolls. Among the improvements funded by the Friends of the Walkway, the most notable is a dramatic elevator, a short distance from the Poughkeepsie Railroad Station, that lifts passengers in a glass enclosure up to the Walkway.
Michael Christophides, Chief Inspector and Laboratory Director of Granit Inspection Group, joins co-host Sarah O’Connell and guest co-host and physicist David Kruger to describe the hazards of the gas radon, which can accumulate in buildings or in well water. Radon is an odorless radioactive gas that is released from rocks of all kinds, but especially from granite or dark shales found in the Hudson Valley. Radon in the air is the second leading cause of lung cancer (and adds to the risk of cancer in smokers), while radon in water can increase the risk of stomach cancer and may also be released into the air. Testing is the only way that you can tell whether or not radon is present in dangerous levels. Mr. Christophides recommends testing every two years, since levels can change based on seismic activity, changes in structures, or other factors. If a test reveals excess radon, remediation usually consists of suctioning air away before it can enter the house.