Too little sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B exposure, in pregnancy may lead to a higher risk of learning disabilities in child, according to a study. The study conducted by researchers at University of Glasgow found that there was a statistically significant relationship between lower ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure over the whole of pregnancy and the risk of learning disabilities. The researchers looked at more than 422,500 school-age children from across Scotland and found that low UVB exposure during pregnancy was associated with risk of learning disabilities. Also Read – An income drop can harm brain”Learning disabilities can have profound life-long effects on both the affected child and their family. The importance of our study is that it suggests a possible way to prevent learning disabilities in some children,” said professor Jill Pell, Director of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing and lead author of the study. “Clinical trials are now needed to confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy could reduce the risk of learning disabilities,” Pell said. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardUVB, the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn, exposure from sunlight is linked to the production of the essential nutrient vitamin D in the body. During the antenatal period, the foetus undergoes rapid development and growth, making it susceptible to environmental exposures, with the potential of long-term consequences. Maternal UVB exposure promotes the production of vitamin D, which is important for normal brain development of a foetus. The researchers also found a slightly stronger relationship with low UVB exposure in the first trimester, suggesting that early pregnancy may be the most vulnerable to the effects of insufficient UVB. As a result of low levels of UVB radiation from sunlight, vitamin D deficiency is common over winter months in high latitude countries such as Scotland, with Scottish residents twice as likely to be vitamin D deficient than people living in other parts of the UK, the researchers said. Of the 422,512 schoolchildren included in the study, 79,616 (18.8 per cent) had a learning disability, 49,770 (23.1 per cent) boys and 29,846 (14.4 per cent) girls. The percentage of children with learning disabilities varied by month of conception, ranging from 16.5 per cent among children conceived in July, to 21.0 per cent among those conceived in February, March and April. “Our study linked routinely collected health and education data with environmental data enabling us to study a very large number of children in a way that would not be possible using traditional methods,” said Claire Hastie, who did the analysis. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Murray & Roberts Cementation Zambia was awarded a contract for shaft sinking and equipping the synclinorium shaft for Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) in Kitwe, Zambia in July 2011. In May 2012 the main sink began, and now after 19 months into the contract the shaft has reached the 700 metre mark, with project completion scheduled for June 2015. This is the second biggest contract awarded to Murray & Roberts Cementation Zambia and the first awarded to the company by MCM. In 2010 the company was awarded a decline sinking project at Konkola North, a joint venture between Vale and African Rainbow Minerals.MCM, an integrated copper and cobalt producer operating in the Zambian copperbelt, is owned by Carlisa Investments Corporation, a joint venture registered in Zambia comprising Glencore International AG (73.1%), First Quantum Minerals (16.9%) and ZCCM Investment Holdings (10%). Its operations comprise underground mines, concentrator plants, smelters and refineries located in Nkana, Kitwe and Mufulira.The Mopani Synclinorium shaft project will establish a hoisting and ventilation facility to extract ore from the Nkana Synclinorium ore body which is incorporated into the MCM complex in Kitwe, Zambia. The new shaft will enable ore production at the Nkana mines to be maintained above 4 Mt/y by 2017 and increase the life of mine by 25 years.Neil Mackay, Murray & Roberts Cementation Project Manager says “site establishment began in September 2011 with pre-sink civil work provided by Murray & Roberts group company, Concor Civils. The original contract called for blind sinking, equipping and commissioning of the 7 m diameter downcast rock hoist shaft to a depth of 1,277 m. This main shaft will be equipped as a rock hoisting shaft on the brownfields mine to service a new area under development.”Murray & Roberts Cementation Zambia has also been awarded the pre-sink contract to a depth of 50 m of an associated 6 m diameter upcast ventilation shaft that will reach a depth of 1,166 m.The shaft is being sunk by drilling and blasting with support provided by mesh and bolts. The lining will be installed using the Canadian shutter method that uses admixtures to self-level the concrete and ensure that there is no honeycombing. This method was chosen because it was deemed to be a safer approach and represents the latest trend in shaft sinking globally. It has already been used by Murray & Roberts Cementation for other recent shaft sinking projects and its sister company in Canada has been assisting local teams with the process of skills transfer to make this the company’s shaft sinking method of choice in the future.Mackay says a unique feature of this project is that the first Murray & Roberts Cementation e-learning computer training centre has been established outside South Africa. Mackay said “Our main training academy is at Bentley Park near Carletonville in South Africa and all our expatriate site personnel are trained there before being deployed to projects outside the country, however, we identified the need for a satellite training centre in Zambia to instruct our local personnel. We’ve installed a bank of 10 PCs complete with headsets and e-learning training comprises a full set of procedures for each job category — for example, the engineering sinking crew. Each person works through the relevant set of procedures and is required to complete a test at the end of the session. Those who don’t achieve a 100% pass rate on this test must start again from the beginning until they do.”“Safety procedures are an important component of this training and we’ve just rolled out the STOP.THINK.ACT.24/7 approach that emphasises the importance of taking action to correct unsafe conditions and behaviour while giving recognition to positive behaviour. ‘24/7’ highlights the need to be safety-aware at all times, both at work and after hours. All shifts begin with a safety talk and we encourage the local personnel to run these meetings according to a given agenda. Every person entering the site must also pass a breathalyser test.”Mackay says the core of senior Zambian supervisors in the sinking crew were flown to South Africa where they spent six weeks at Bentley Park going through the actual sinking procedures that will be applied at MCM on mock-up shafts. He believes this transfer of practical and theoretical knowledge will also prove beneficial for the Zambian mining community in the future.