Daily commuters are inhaling unacceptably high levels of carcinogens, reveals study - The Daily Guardian
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Daily commuters are inhaling unacceptably high levels of carcinogens, reveals study

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Washington [US], February 21 (ANI): A study published in the journal, Environment International uncovered that normal suburbanites in California are possibly breathing in synthetic compounds at levels that increase the danger of birth imperfections and even cancer.
As with most chemicals, the poison is in the amount. Under a certain threshold of exposure, even known carcinogens are not likely to cause cancer. Once you cross that threshold, the risk for disease increases.
Governmental agencies tend to regulate that threshold in workplaces. However, private spaces such as the interior of our cars and living rooms are less studied and less regulated.
Benzene and formaldehyde — both used in automobile manufacturing — are known to cause cancer at or above certain levels of exposure and are Prop. 65-listed chemicals. New UC Riverside research shows that the average commuter in California is exceeding the threshold for exposure, breathing in unsustainably high levels of both chemicals.
Both benzene and formaldehyde are carcinogens, and benzene carries the additional risk of reproductive and developmental toxicity.
“These chemicals are very volatile, moving easily from plastics and textiles to the air that you breathe,” said David Volz, UCR professor of environmental toxicology.
The study, published in the journal Environment International, calculated the daily dose of benzene and formaldehyde being inhaled by drivers with commutes of at least 20 minutes per day.
It found that up to 90% of the population in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties have at least a 10% chance of exceeding cancer risk from inhaling the chemicals, based on having 30-minute average commute times.
“Of course, there is a range of exposure that depends on how long you’re in the car, and how much of the compounds your car is emitting,” said Aalekhya Reddam, a graduate student in the Volz laboratory, and lead author of the study.
Previously, Volz and Reddam studied commuter exposure to a flame retardant called TDCIPP or chlorinated tris, and found that longer commute times increased exposure to that carcinogen as well.
They set out on this study wanting to understand the risk of that compound relative to other chemicals introduced during car manufacturing.
Reddam advises commuters to keep the windows open during their rides if possible. “At least with some air flow, you’d be diluting the concentration of these chemicals inside your car,” she said.
Benzene is used to produce synthetic fibers, and formaldehyde is a binder in plastics. “There should be alternatives to these chemicals to achieve the same goals during vehicle manufacturing,” Volz said. “If so, these should be used.” (ANI)

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THE IMPORTANCE OF EDTECH FOR GRADUATES STUCK IN A CAREER RUT

Noor Anand Chawla

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It has always been difficult for a large chunk of the Indian population to access good quality higher education, for a variety of reasons – inability to pay the fees, having to work in order to earn a living for themselves and their families, lack of interesting vocational courses or the paucity of seats at good universities. This is proved by the fact that only 26.3% of people in India enrol for higher education, as per recent studies. Fortunately, the rise of edtech platforms and people’s increasing access to and dependence on smart devices has finally offered a solution. 

New-Delhi based Learntoupgrade, an edtech startup helping graduates to upgrade their skills by learning courses that are relatively new to the Indian market, is a fine example of this. Launched in March 2019, their focus is on helping students develop an interest in courses in biotechnology and bioscience like medical coding, forensic sciences, cyber security, ethical hacking, drug designing and drug discovery, food microbiology, and pharmacovigilance. 

With a market reach that goes well beyond India, they have over 50,000 enrolled students, a large number of whom have attained certificates in various programmes. This success has enabled them to tie up with several colleges and universities to provide faculty training programmes as well.

“We launched Learntoupgrade with the idea of enabling students to become job-ready,” says the founder of the startup Hardeep Puri. With a Masters in Computer Applications and a background in management, people planning, business development, financial planning, and marketing strategy, he is well-placed to spearhead this edtech startup. 

“The vision of the company is to provide industry learning for every willing student. We came up with this idea during the pandemic when we hit a block and were not able to physically visit colleges to provide vocational training, which was our model earlier,” explains Diktesh Singh Puri, who is the advisor to the team.

He adds further, “We plan to remain virtual from now on, to reach the masses and if we need physical lessons for performing offline activities like lab experiments which are not possible online, we will look at avenues to have a physical setup for them in particular.”

Learntoupgrade works on the basis of a model where students are provided learning on a particular topic. Each topic falls under a different price ranging from $50 to $500. Flexible plans are in place to provide the courses as bundles for economic feasibility. For those who are unable to attend virtual live sessions for any reason, recorded sessions are provided. There is also a section dedicated to addressing the doubts of students and getting them resolved.

A panel of over 3000 professors and industry mentors provide a gamut of knowledge on varied subjects. These teachers are selected on the basis of interviews conducted by the team and also on the basis of any past online training experience they may have. 

Though free webinars are organised frequently to introduce the subjects to students, attendance to these webinars is not certified. However, there are other courses where certification is provided. The website displays details of whether the course comes with certification or not, upon completion. The wide range of courses includes options in management, engineering, biotechnology, life sciences, and pharma, to name a few. 

When asked if it has been challenging to attract students to the platform, Hardeep responds with, “To be honest we have been in this industry for six years and we were quickly able to reach 50,000 learners. If we maintain our current pace we should reach five lakh learners by 2023, so it has not been challenging for us.” They use social media and varied digital platforms to spread the word about their services.

Since they provide specialised learning to graduates, postgraduates and professionals, the ages of their students vary from 18 years to 45 years. Though India is the major operational base, they have students from Bangladesh, the Philippines, the US, Indonesia and Nepal as well. Edtech startups like Learntoupgrade are all set to revolutionise vocational education and in turn the job industry for graduates.

The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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MY CLOTHES ARE TRADITIONAL CHIC: SAWAN GANDHI ON HIS EPONYMOUS INDIAN-WEAR LABEL

Some of the prominent personalities that have adorned Sawan Gandhi’s garments include Madhuri Dixit, Sara Ali Khan, and Kriti Kharbanda, among others. The Delhi-based designer tells us more about his brand.

Noor Anand Chawla

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September brings with it plenty of festivities and fun. No industry celebrates this time of the year better than the fashion industry, with designers launching their exclusive winter-festive collections. Delhi-based Sawan Gandhi, Creative Director and Founder of his eponymous Indian-wear label, also launched his collection ‘Taahir’ this week. In a candid chat with The Daily Guardian, he shares insight into his design journey and his new line. Excerpts:

Taahir by Sawan GandhiNayaab by Sawan Gandhi

Sawan Gandhi – Creative Director and Founder

Q. Tell us about your journey in this business so far. What makes you stand apart in this competitive industry?

A. Soon after college, I decided to pursue my interest in the creative field and stepped into the fashion industry. With no prior experience or knowledge, I started my own label in 2011 with a few creations which I shared with my relatives and friends. I was always intrigued by my mother’s collection of lightweight chikankari sarees and their understated elegance, which is where most of my design inspiration stems from. My first showroom was launched in 2013 in Hauz Khas Village, followed by my flagship store in Mehrauli which was inaugurated in 2017, and now we also retail on our website www.sawangandhi.com.

I term my signature style as consisting of ethereal ensembles, soft colour palettes, and intricate craftsmanship and I believe these components give my designs a distinctive flair. My creations offer a young perspective to Indian attire while relying on beautiful old-world elements. I draw inspiration from vintage styles and combine them with our signature chikankari embroidery and sequin work. Also, I ensure that our garments are wearable and light. 

Q. What does label Sawan Gandhi stand for as a brand? 

A. Our philosophy is to make every occasion unconventionally beautiful. We do this by using soothing colours that are sure to make the wearer stand out in a crowd. Each outfit is designed so that it can be styled in multiple ways, which also engenders a sustainable approach towards fashion choices. Ever since I started out, I have tried to consciously step away from the heavy looks adorned by brides and grooms by using traditional techniques and contemporary hues to elevate each creation.

I believe a loyal client base is the bedrock of any label and word of mouth has been our primary source of PR since the beginning. My clientele includes customers from across the country and our collections are showcased at multi-designer showrooms like Aza, Ogaan, Pernia’s Pop Up Shop, and Fuel. Along with this, our brand also has an international presence in London, Jakarta, Bangkok, Dubai, Canada, and Los Angeles. 

Q. Tell us about your latest collection? What techniques have you used for this collection? 

A. My latest collection ‘Taahir’ has been curated specially for the new age Indian wedding. Breaking traditional rules of Indian weddings, the collection highlights the radiance of festivities and celebrations through lightweight attire, soft palettes, and flowy drapes. The colour palette is in themes of ivory, beige, soft pinks, blues, and yellows. It’s a fusion of traditional with chic with interplay of light and shadow, structure and fluidity, volume and lightness, to create subtle drama. 

Our outfits make people feel confident in their own style and individuality. An array of alluring colours, appliqué motifs, subtle tonal embroidery highlighted with Swarovski crystals and hand-dyed beads used by our studio artisans, gives each outfit a reflection of bespoke elegance. 

Q. Many celebrities and eminent personalities have been spotted in your clothes. What do you believe attracts them to your work?

A. Some of the prominent personalities that have adorned Sawan Gandhi garments include Madhuri Dixit, Sara Ali Khan, and Kriti Kharbanda, amongst a few others. I believe they are most attracted to the light wearability our clothes offer that allow them to look and feel gorgeous. It has been great to witness the evolution of our brand in the fashion industry and it makes me feel really positive and excited. 

Q. What have been your biggest challenges in recent times? How have you overcome them?

A. Lockdown weddings are a recent trend and now the focus has shifted from big fat Indian weddings to small intimate weddings. Fortunately, the excitement and happiness of the occasion is the same even though there has been an indefinite halt to larger gatherings and festivities. These micro weddings take place in more relaxed environments and in turn need relaxed outfits in beautiful colours to complement the various functions. 

Q. What have been the most rewarding moments for you so far?

A. Watching my designs being recognised in the Indian fashion industry and witnessing my collections being received so well internationally fill me with tremendous happiness and contentment. 

Q. What are you working on next?

A. Currently, I am working on my next cocktail wear collection which we’re hoping to shoot by the end of this month. 

The interviewer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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FORMAT OF PRIYANKA’S NEW SHOW, THE ACTIVIST, CHANGED

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WASHINGTON: After facing huge backlash, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ new series ‘The Activist’ is now being reconfigured. As per Variety, the makers have shifted its five-episode format to a one-time documentary special. Many social media users slammed the show for being tone-deaf and insensitive. CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation issued this statement, “The Activist’ was designed to show a wide audience, the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others. But it has become apparent the format of the show distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort. So we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced), it will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organisation of their choice.”

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CHRIS PRATT TO BANKROLL ‘STRANDED ASSET’

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WASHINGTON: Hollywood star Chris Pratt is all set to produce the action-comedy ‘Stranded Asset’, which is written by Sam Richardson and Jen D’Angelo.

According to Variety, the upcoming film reunites the trio after their successful collaboration on ‘The Tomorrow War’, which Pratt executive produced and starred in alongside Richardson. D’Angelo was the on-set writer for the sci-fi feature. Pratt will produce ‘Stranded Asset’ through his Indivisible Productions banner. Sam Richardson will also star in the film. More details of the project have not been announced yet. 

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TABU TO STAR IN VISHAL BHARDWAJ’S FILM ‘KHUFIYA’

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MUMBAI: Tabu is all set to work with ace filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj again in ‘Khufiya’, which will release on Netflix.

Based on an espionage novel ‘Escape to Nowhere’ by Amar Bhushan, ‘Khufiya’ is a a spy thriller. Excited to reunite with Bhardwaj, Tabu shared on Instagram, “Expect nothing but sheer thrill. Excited to announce my re-uniting with @vishalrbhardwaj for #Khufiya. Coming very soon on @netflix_in. Khufiya is a one of a kind project, extremely close to my heart and I am excited to be a part of this gripping spy thriller. As always, it’s a delight working with VB (Vishal Bhardwaj) again, and feels like homecoming.” ‘Khufiya’ is a story about Krishna Mehra, an R&AW operative who is assigned to track down India’s defence secrets. Bhardwaj is trying to create an edgy espionage film that contrasts the slow burn of intelligence and surveillance work with deep-rooted emotional conflicts. 

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BIG B MISSES PRE-PANDEMIC ‘SUNDAY DARSHAN’ WITH FANS

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MUMBAI: Waving to fans gathered outside his Jalsa residence used to be megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s Sunday morning routine. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Big B stopped the ritual. Taking to Instagram on Wednesday, Amitabh took a stroll down memory lane and expressed his sadness on not being able to meet his well-wishers. “Thank you well wisher .. yes .. when will those Sunday well wishers at Jalsa return,” he wrote. Alongside the note, Big B posted an image of himself surrounded by imaginary fans and he was seen embracing them as the human connection has gotten a bit lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, on the work front, Amitabh is busy hosting the new season of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. Speaking of films, he will be seen in ‘Good Bye’, ‘Brahmastra’, and ‘The Intern’ remake.

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