Why some scientists are throwing shade about glitter.

It's fun to make glittery holiday cards with the kids. Or without the kids. I don't know. Don't judge me.

But if you've ever worked with glitter, you know cleanup can be a mess. If it gets on your hands, it can take ages (or some fancy tricks) to wash it all off.

This is just my hand now. Photo from frankieleon/Flickr.


But once it's finally off your hands, where does that glitter go? Down the drain, probably. And some scientists aren't very happy about that.

Not very happy about that at all.

"I think all glitter should be banned," Trisia Farrelly of New Zealand's Massey University told CBS.

The problem? "It's microplastic," says Farrelly.

"Microplastic" is the name for the tiny, virtually indestructible pieces of plastic pollution that often find their way into our lakes, oceans, and even our drinking water.

And once they get into the water supply, they can choke or poison sea life. Even tiny plankton have been found nibbling on them.

Besides arts and crafts, glitter is also found in many cosmetics, such as nail polish or shampoos. Photo from an_photos/Pixabay.

Glitter isn't the only source of microplastics. The majority come from larger plastic objects breaking down into smaller pieces. They can also come from the microbeads found in many body washes and shampoos. In fact, the United States has a partial ban on microbeads — manufacturers were supposed to stop putting them in rinse-off cosmetics back in July.

Now that microbeads are getting the boot, it makes sense that people are giving glitter some side-eye. A handful of nurseries in the United Kingdom have already made the stuff verboten.

The good news is that if your heart is really set on that shimmery holiday card or looking fierce on New Year's, there are already non-micro-plasticky options open to you. Yes, biodegradable glitter is a thing.

Listen, glitter is amazing. No one is denying that. But with great shiny power, comes great shiny responsibility. Sparkle safely this holiday season.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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