Editor's note

Air pollution has many harmful impacts on human health — particularly the fine particulates, much smaller than a human hair, which can penetrate deep into our lungs. Many studies have linked particle pollution to asthma, heart attacks, and premature deaths in people with heart or lung disease. New research from the University of Southern California points to another, more surprising connection: to dementia.

As immigration agents begin enforcing President Trump’s plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, UCLA historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez takes us back to where mass deportations all began – Chinese immigrants in the American west. “Historically speaking,” she writes, “immigration control is one of the least constitutional and most racist realms of governance in U.S. law and life.”

During Mardi Gras festivities this week, 25 million pounds of plastic beads will hit the streets of New Orleans. But their life doesn’t begin and end on the parade days leading up to this Tuesday: Beneath the sheen of the beads is a story that’s far more complex – one that takes place in the Middle East, China and the United States.

Jennifer Weeks

Editor, Environment and Energy

Top story


Air pollution exposure may increase risk of dementia

Caleb Finch, University of Southern California; Jiu-Chiuan Chen, University of Southern California

New research shows that exposure to fine particulate air pollution may double the risk of dementia in older women by increasing growth of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

Politics + Society

  • America's mass deportation system is rooted in racism

    Kelly Lytle Hernandez, University of California, Los Angeles

    From Chinese laborers to 'bad hombres,' the US settler mentality has perpetuated an immigration system that pushes out unwanted groups, and bypasses the Constitution.

Economy + Business

  • Why mass deportations are costly and hurt the economy

    Mark Humphery-Jenner, UNSW

    Following through on campaign promises to forcibly evict several million illegal immigrants, Trump has set in motion a plan to deport those with criminal records. But doing so won't come cheap.

Ethics + Religion

Arts + Culture

  • The destructive life of a Mardi Gras bead

    David Redmon, University of Kent

    Each Mardi Gras, 25 million pounds of beads hit the streets of New Orleans. One researcher went to the Chinese factories that make them – and spoke to the workers who believe the beads will be given to royalty.

How did we get to the point where 25 million pounds of toxic beads get dumped on a city‘s streets every year?

David Redmon

University of Kent

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Science + Technology

  • Safe and ethical ways to edit the human genome

    Rosa Castro, Duke University

    A new report from the National Academies of Science and Medicine outlines conditions that have to be met before gene editing that results in heritable genomic changes can be considered.