What we're talking about Too Hot, So Long Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Too Hot, So Long

Failing to get the time to acclimate to a hot work environment can be deadly. That’s the message I took away from an item in last week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). “Heat illness and deaths among workers — U.S. 2012-2013” reports on 13 occupational heat-related fatalities investigated by federal OSHA.  Nine of the…

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on heat deaths among U.S. workers, underscoring the often-tragic consequences that result when employers fail to take relatively simple and low-cost preventive actions.

On July 5, James Baldasarre, a 45-year old a Medford, Massachusetts US Postal Service employee who had worked for USPS for 24 years, died from excessive heat. According to news reports, shortly before collapsing in the 95-degree heat, Baldasarre texted his wife to say, “I’m going to die out here today. It’s so hot.”  On…

A hot work environment killed at least 13 people in 2012 and 2013 (not counting cases from nineteen states, including California, that operate their own OSHA programs). On The Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton writes "the report shows the diversity of jobs and situations in which workers are at risk of suffering a heat-related illness or death." Kim Krisberg says "most of the people worked outdoors, though seven of the cases happened indoors in work settings with a powerful heat source." Nine of the thirteen died in their first three days of being on the job, showing that the human body needs time to acclimate to a hot new schedule. Krisberg continues "heat illness prevention programs were either incomplete or entirely absent from the workplaces in question." Considering that workplaces in the study were as hot as 106° Fahrenheit, and that heat stroke can damage the brain and organs as well as kill you, simple interventions like providing water, shade, and rest should be a top priority for any employer.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

The anti-vaxxers are excited. A recent paper, Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data, claims that there is evidence that vaccinations cause autism. Only one problem: it’s a crappy paper. Orac has covered it to an Oracian level of detail, so let me give the short summary:…

The New Yorker has a fascinating article on Vandana Shiva, a crusader against GMO crops. I’d never heard of her before, but apparently she has charisma and cult-like followers who hang on her every word, and her word is a rather religious opposition to scientific agriculture. Weirdly, I can agree with some of it. At…

Physical Science

The Keeling Curve is the measurement of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. As we burn fossil fuel or damage “Carbon sinks” we increase that number. The Keeling curve is at the root of much of the science of global warming. It goes up over time because of the release of fossil Carbon, and it wiggles…

When you look out at the Universe, it comes as no surprise that it’s full of galaxies, each one with a dense, central collection of brilliant stars and an intricate structure all their own. They come in all sorts of structural varieties, with some in isolation, others in small groups, and still others in huge,…

If you’ve ever heard someone dismiss evolution, the Big Bang or climate change as “just a theory” and wanted to pull your hair out, you’re not alone. In science, after all, theories are the most powerful ideas we have to explain the mechanism behind the most intricate observable phenomena in the Universe. But it’s where…

Environment

I’m delighted to announce that Roy Spencer has joined the select company of such as Lindzen (sea ice; also emeritus), Curry (septic capture) and von S (wikipedia) as a shark jumper. Its all there in full public view. How Much of Atmospheric CO2 Increase is Natural?… Natural Variations in CO2 are LARGE… We should remember…

No no don’t go away, there’s actually some science in this post, courtesy of the increasingly-heavyweight Nick Stokes. Or, perhaps more fairly, whatever science there is comes from NS. But there’s a lot of snark too, as I hope you’d expect. That comes from me. The title isn’t quite right; I could have tried anopsologists…

The number of people known or suspected to be infected with Ebola in the West African outbreak is increasing, and the rate at which it is increasing is increasing. About 40 new cases are being reported per day on average, but the number of new cases has been going up by a few a day.…

Humanities

Texas workers face higher workplace fatality risks; Washington state court ruling holds parent company liable for wage violations; rail workers dismayed by union deal that threatens safety; and transgender workers receive new workplace protections.

A new study from researchers at the University of Sydney shows that golden orb-weaving spiders (Nephila plumipes) that live in the city are larger and produce more offspring as compared to country living. When they say the spiders are big, they mean really big. The females can reach up to 20-25mm (males are only ~5mm).…

After nearly a decade of hoping state legislators would pass an earned paid sick time law, advocates in Massachusetts decided it was time to put the question to voters. Now, in November, voters will have the chance to help improve the lives of nearly 1 million workers who can’t earn one, single hour of sick leave and are often left to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one, paying the bills or losing a job.

Education

The ‘Nifty Fifty (times 4)’, a program of Science Spark, presented by InfoComm International, are a group of 200 noted science and engineering professionals who will fan out across the Washington, D.C. area in the 2014-2015 school year to speak about their work and careers at various middle and high schools. Meet Nifty Fifty Speaker Dr.…

A new study from researchers at the University of Sydney shows that golden orb-weaving spiders (Nephila plumipes) that live in the city are larger and produce more offspring as compared to country living. When they say the spiders are big, they mean really big. The females can reach up to 20-25mm (males are only ~5mm).…

Dr. Greg Byrnes (Siena College, Loudonville, NY) and Dr. Bruce Jayne (University of Cincinnati, OH) discovered that snakes use more force than is necessary to support their weight when climbing.  To climb, snakes rely on friction and repeatedly contract and extend their bodies, a process called concertina locomotion. To study the forces generated by snakes…

Politics

After nearly a decade of hoping state legislators would pass an earned paid sick time law, advocates in Massachusetts decided it was time to put the question to voters. Now, in November, voters will have the chance to help improve the lives of nearly 1 million workers who can’t earn one, single hour of sick leave and are often left to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one, paying the bills or losing a job.

Science had a very interesting special section this spring: The Science of Inequality – basically doing a summary and review of issues related to the stuff in Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century The section has a series of very interesting articles on a range of related topics: “Inequality in the Long Run” by…

Researchers at DARPA are using geckos to create biologically inspired methods of scaling vertical walls. Check out this video demonstration of “Geckskin”:

Medicine

We can now be pretty sure that the Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo is not an extension of the West African outbreak. The index case seems to have gotten the disease from a mammal she butchered, and the numerous other cases seem to stem from contact with her primary as health care workers and…

Here it is, Tuesday already, and the antivaccine underground is still on full mental jacket alert over the biggest story the antivaccine movement has seen in a while. Fortunately, it’s a story that’s been largely ignored by the mainstream media, which tells me that maybe, just maybe, the mainstream media has figured out that it…

One wonderful thing that has come two US citizens being infected Ebola (and successfully treated for the disease) is *education* the general public is getting about this, frankly, ‘scary’ virus. Im not talking about the bizarre nonsense/missed opportunity posted by Sanjay Gupta and his ‘producer’ Danielle Dellorto. Of course science bloggers have capitalized on this opportunity to educate people (its…

Brain & Behavior

A new study from researchers at the University of Sydney shows that golden orb-weaving spiders (Nephila plumipes) that live in the city are larger and produce more offspring as compared to country living. When they say the spiders are big, they mean really big. The females can reach up to 20-25mm (males are only ~5mm).…

Dr. Greg Byrnes (Siena College, Loudonville, NY) and Dr. Bruce Jayne (University of Cincinnati, OH) discovered that snakes use more force than is necessary to support their weight when climbing.  To climb, snakes rely on friction and repeatedly contract and extend their bodies, a process called concertina locomotion. To study the forces generated by snakes…

A new study published in  AJP-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology suggests that electroacupuncture to the abdominal region may prevent increases in blood sugar concentrations after a meal by affecting insulin sensitivity and circulating free fatty acid concentrations.  Granted this is not comparative physiology research, I find it interesting that electrical stimulation can have such a large impact…

Technology

A new study from researchers at the University of Sydney shows that golden orb-weaving spiders (Nephila plumipes) that live in the city are larger and produce more offspring as compared to country living. When they say the spiders are big, they mean really big. The females can reach up to 20-25mm (males are only ~5mm).…

Dr. Greg Byrnes (Siena College, Loudonville, NY) and Dr. Bruce Jayne (University of Cincinnati, OH) discovered that snakes use more force than is necessary to support their weight when climbing.  To climb, snakes rely on friction and repeatedly contract and extend their bodies, a process called concertina locomotion. To study the forces generated by snakes…

Do the math: There are actually two answers to this question. First, “maths” looks plural and is preferred by some because “mathematics” is plural. The problem with that is “mathematics” is no more plural than “physics” or any other compound noun. It is a rational sounding utterly incorrect argument. If we said “mathematics are cool”…

Information Science

7 Things Librarians Are Tired of Hearing Library without books debuts at Florida’s newest college How Streaming Media Could Threaten the Mission of Libraries Books: Important Symbol or Annoying Physical Reality? Ice Ice Baby: Are Librarian Stereotypes Freezing Us out of Instruction? UNBSJ students protest for study space: Say the new library is too noisy…

To continue the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science theme, I present the text of a recent open letter I signed to the AAAS concerning their new journal Science Advances. Thanks to Jonathan Tennant for spearheading this effort. You can read more about the rationale behind writing the letter and the process involved…

From the “So Funny it Hurts” file… This one combines the recent spying cases between Canada and China with the equally “humourous” ongoing Canadian War on Science. Chinese cyber spies disappointed by Canada’s complete lack of scientific research BEIJING – Chinese state-sponsored hackers were disappointed after hacking into Canadian government and business research archives and…

Jobs

Texas workers face higher workplace fatality risks; Washington state court ruling holds parent company liable for wage violations; rail workers dismayed by union deal that threatens safety; and transgender workers receive new workplace protections.

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the U.S. This one occurred on August 21 at Cleveland Track Material in Cleveland, Ohio.

After nearly a decade of hoping state legislators would pass an earned paid sick time law, advocates in Massachusetts decided it was time to put the question to voters. Now, in November, voters will have the chance to help improve the lives of nearly 1 million workers who can’t earn one, single hour of sick leave and are often left to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one, paying the bills or losing a job.