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July 18, 2019

Bus PASS: Testing pedestrian collision avoidance technology

A route 459 bus on High Street in downtown Boston, January 2016.

Already, many cars have sensors on board that help drivers avoid collisions. But not many commercial vehicles do. With pedestrian fatalities due to collisions, on the rise, the Federal Transit Administration is working on a “Pedestrian Avoidance Safety System: ‘PASS’ for short. And it picked Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute to give it a test drive….

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Lessons from California earthquakes: What Seattle should know about ‘basin effects’

Seattle, WA 3/5/01 -- Damage in Pioneer Square from the 2/28 earthquake.

Ridgecrest, California was hit with a magnitude 6.4 earthquake on the morning of July 4, followed by a magnitude 7.1 quake in the same area on July 5. Despite being 125 miles from the epicenter, people in Los Angeles felt long-lasting shaking. This is because of something called “basin effects” — and Seattle should take…

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July 15, 2019

Tacoma’s wastewater has the answers in a new cannabis study

Raw wastewater

Scientists from the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound took samples from Tacoma’s wastewater plants from 2013 to 2016 and then analyzed those samples for THC levels. THC is the most common psychoactive chemical found in cannabis, so measuring the quantity of THC in Tacoma’s excrement would provide data on how much…

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July 11, 2019

Informal housing, poverty, and legacies of apartheid in South Africa

“Ten percent of all South Africans — the majority white — owns more than 90 percent of national wealth… Some 80 percent of the population — overwhelmingly black — owns nothing at all.” — New York Times On April 27, 1994, Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) won the first multiracial democratic election…

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Could court fines and fees be keeping people homeless?

Tents line a street in Seattle's historic Pioneer Square neighborhood.

A new University of Washington School of Public Health study sustains a long-held argument that court-imposed fees and fines may keep the most vulnerable people ensnared in a vicious cycle of poverty and incarceration. The researchers found that, among a group of adults experiencing homelessness in the Seattle area, people with outstanding legal debt spent…

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Smoke from Alaska fires has reached the Northwest

Anchorage is getting its first-ever Dense Smoke Advisory from the National Weather Service.

Seattle is experiencing smoke from an estimated 120 wildfires burning in interior and south-central Alaska, as the 49th State goes through a late spring-early summer heat wave, according to University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor Cliff Mass. “Although there are no wildfires in the Pacific Northwest right now, there are many large fires burning over Alaska producing lots…

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July 8, 2019

This kayaking researcher is learning the secrets of Seattle’s urban salmon

Kerry Accola, a graduate student at the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, tracks salmon with a hydro-acoustic camera, located under her kayak, along the Elliot Bay Seawall between Bell Harbor Marina and Pier 54 in Seattle on June 14, 2019.

Salmon researcher Kerry Accola is standing on the docks at Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina on the edge of Elliott Bay. “There’s salmon right there. You can see them,” she says, gesturing toward a nearshore abyss. The setting sun reflects off the water’s surface, making it difficult to see anything more than bits of trash. But Accola…

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Drug-related deaths continue to rise in King County

A deadly dose: United States, overdose deaths involving opioids, 2015

Drug-related deaths have continued to climb in King County, with fatal overdoses involving methamphetamine and fentanyl on the rise, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County. King County, like cities across the country, have focused their efforts on combating opioids. Syringe exchanges in King County distributed nearly 8 million needles last year, along…

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July 3, 2019

The health effects of wildfire smoke may last a lifetime

Smoke from the Thomas Fire, viewed from Santa Barbara on December 5, 2017.

When smoke from California’s deadliest wildfire blew into downtown Sacramento last November, daylight blurred into dusk and the city’s air became among the world’s most polluted. The Camp Fire has long since been extinguished, but the health effects from the tiny particulate matter in the smoke, which penetrates into the lungs and ultimately into the bloodstream, could linger for years….

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July 1, 2019

‘Regional climate modeling’ provides clearer picture of climate change impacts in PNW

Climate modeling and climate change analysis.

KNKX weather expert and UW professor of Atmospheric Sciences Cliff Mass has been working with a group of researchers within the Department of Atmospheric Sciences hoping to get a better idea of the impact climate change will have on the Pacific Northwest. The group has been conducting “regional climate modeling.” “Many people know about global…


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Urban@UW shares stories of urban research, teaching, and engagement by the University of Washington community through original publication and amplification of externally published articles, in order to bring visibility to the great work across the university. For communications inquiries, please email

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