5 Things You Need To Know Today (August 22, 2018)

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1. Open floor plans are an antidote to workplace stress.

A new study finds that claims to be the first to measure activity and stress in workers finds than offices that have open floor plans tend to promote more movement and fewer feelings of stress. Cubicles, be gone! (BBC News)

2. Smartphones are helping public health officials in the fight against tuberculosis—a disease that killed nearly 2 million people in 2016.

Public health officials are tasked with closely monitoring patients with tuberculosis to ensure they take their medicine. But often, patients travel outside of the country, falling off the radar for tracking. This puts the rest of the population at risk—if medications aren't taken properly, resistant strains of TB can develop and outbreaks become a possibility. Scientists at University of California, San Diego, and Johns Hopkins have developed a mobile app that allows patients to video their medication remotely so public health officials can have better visibility no matter where they are, which keeps everyone safer. (Stat News)

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3. Herbicide drift is killing crops across the country.

A handful of newly developed weed killers are more likely to get carried by the wind to neighboring fields—and they keep destroying the agricultural lands they blow through. One recent report found an herbicide called dicamba has already damaged over a million acres of crops across the country this year due to drift. (NPR)

4. Nearly 2 million acres on the West Coast are on fire, and smoke has reached the East Coast.

It's been a tough fire season, to say the least. NASA images show the West Coast of the United States shrouded in smoke from over 110 large fires across the region, and the National Preparedness Level is now at 5 (the highest level), bracing for more firefighting. Possible storms could bring lightning strikes and more blazes to areas with very dry conditions like Montana and Wyoming, and it's been reported that smoke from California fires had reached the D.C. metro area this past week as wind patterns changed. (Science Daily)

5. Gut bacteria play a surprising role in blood type.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia found that enzymes from gut bacteria can turn type-A blood into type-O blood. This is pretty miraculous, but it's even more significant when you learn that type-O blood is the universal donor, which means it can be given to anyone without a negative reaction. (BBC)

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