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July 28, 2009
President Obama has just announced his intent to nominate our own David Michaels to be Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Congratulations, David! All of us at George Washington University and The Pump Handle will miss working with you, but our loss is the…
July 28, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure CDC wants us to get vaccinated for flu every year. Always for seasonal flu, and this year, if there is a vaccine available, for swine flu. They want us to get vaccinated because they think the vaccine works and they want to prevent people from getting…
July 27, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recently rolled out their 2009 Recommendations. It's for seasonal flu, for which a vaccine exists, not for swine flu, for which there is (as yet) no vaccine. There is a lot to say on the subject of…
July 24, 2009
Evidence continues to accumulate that talking on the phone while driving â even with a hands-free device â increases the risk of car crashes. We learned earlier this week that officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been concerned about this problem for years, but…
July 23, 2009
by Garrett Brown On June 5th, 200 babies and small children were dropped off at a private, government-subsidized day care center in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora state in northern Mexico.  A fire broke out next door and soon smoke and fire filled the day care center killing 48 babies and…
July 22, 2009
Job losses donât just leave families struggling to afford their monthly expenses; in many cases, the loss of a job also means the loss of health insurance. (For those whose employers still exist and still offer health coverage, COBRA coverage is an option for up to 18 months â but you have to be…
July 21, 2009
Steven Cain, 32, reported to work at Massey Energy's Justice No. 1 coal mine at about 3:30 pm on Wednesday, October 8, 2008.   He never returned to his family.  At about 11:00 pm that night, he died inside the mine when he was crushed between a loaded supply car and a coal rib (vertical coal…
July 21, 2009
by Erika Furlong I recently attended the June 29th-30th FDA advisory committee meeting that voted for a reduction in the maximum daily over-the-counter (OTC) dose of acetaminophen and the âunbundlingâ of narcotic-acetaminophen prescription medications. While I agree ultimately with many of the…
July 21, 2009
by Kas On July 16, 2009, Wal-Mart announced that it will develop a sustainable product rating system that can be used to evaluate the sustainability of the products they sell in their stores.  As a reminder, Wal-Mart sells a lot of products to a lot of people.  According to its website, Wal-Mart…
July 20, 2009
Last fall, Mr. Rosaulino Montano, 46, a worker on my campus at the George Washington University, died when he fell seven stories while installing windows on a new $75 million residence hall.  Mr. Montano was an employee of Engineered Construction Products,  and because his work-related death…
July 20, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure We've been talking about the possibility of a flu pandemic here for four and a half years. The cliché during much of that time was that the right way to think of a flu pandemic was not "if," but "when." As long as no pandemic materialized, however,…
July 17, 2009
Last week, the Small Business Advocacy Review Panel submitted its "Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act" (SBREFA) Panel Report to acting OSHA chief Jordan Barab, on the draft proposed rule on worker exposure to diacetyl.  The 259-page document summarizes (and attaches) the comments…
July 17, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure Data from the Emerging Infections Program (EIP), one of the component parts of the CDC national influenza surveillance system, is showing that for some segments of its population the US did indeed experience a second flu season. The segment of particular…
July 16, 2009
Among the problems with our countryâs system of meat production is the routine use of antibiotics in livestock. Dosing the animals regularly helps them grow faster and survive cramped factory-farm conditions, which means cheap, abundant meat for consumers. The problem is that overusing antibiotics…
July 15, 2009
Updated below (7/18/09) What does Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee have to do with a COSH group, specifically the Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH)? Well, one of the witnesses…
July 15, 2009
Last year, coal miner Scott Howard of Letcher County, Kentucky sued the Mine Safety and Health Administration for failing to "promulgate a respirable dust regulation that will eliminate respiratory illness caused by work in coal mines." Howard alleged that this failure left him in unsafe working…
July 14, 2009
Yesterday, President Obama announced his choice for the Surgeon General post: Regina Benjamin, a family doctor who built and repeatedly rebuilt a rural health clinic in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. She was the first African-American woman to be named to the American Medical Association's Board of…
July 13, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure I am thinking out loud here. Since that's never a pretty sight, you might wish to avert your eyes. With that merest of advance warning, the school closure problem has gotten me to think more generally about social distancing. The term itself is a kind of…
July 10, 2009
by Kas Approximately 100 people from Washington, DC-area universities, local government, and private industry shared an organic experience at the 2009 Policy Greenhouse held this morning at The George Washington University.  The Greenhouse provided a forum for people to present, in five minutes or…
July 9, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure I'll soon be at the end of my career, funding-wise, although I plan to continue as an active scientist for as long as my neurons will process information in a logical order. I mention this so you won't take this as special pleading. I'm not going to…
July 8, 2009
Several months ago, I attended presentation by Michael Taylor, a former FDA deputy commissioner for policy whoâd recently become a professor here at the George Washington Universityâs School of Public Health. Taylorâs presentation, âBuilding a Prevention-Oriented Food Safety System: FDAâs Challenge…
July 7, 2009
Investigative journalist Carole Bass has written extensively about nanotechnology, emphasizing how little we know about the risks associated with the nanoparticles now used in a wide range of consumer products, from sunscreen to stain-resistant clothing. Her latest piece, in the new issue of E…
July 6, 2009
The White House announced today 10 nominations for senior administration positions, including Mr. Joe Main to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health (MSHA).    The biography provided with the announcement notes that he: "... began working in coal mines in 1967 and…
July 6, 2009
Last week, OSHA's area office in Wilmington issued citations to Valero Energy Corp's Delaware City oil refinery, including four repeat* and nine serious violations of process safety management rules.  Because Valero boasts that its "process safety program instills safety and reliabiity at every…
July 6, 2009
The Washington Postâs Pamela Constable reports on brickmakers in Pakistan, where a worker might toil from 4:30am to sundown, produce 1,200 bricks, and earn $3.50 for the dayâs labor. Brickmakers toil near the bottom of Pakistan's economic and social ladder, forever at the mercy of heat, dirt, human…
July 3, 2009
At a Queens, New York waste transfer station, investigators read the signs of a tragic story: Harel Dahan, 23, descended a ladder into a stinking well that caught runoff water from the recycling yard, and was overcome by hydrogen sulfide fumes. His father, Shlomo Dahan, 49, went down after him but…
July 1, 2009
I'm teaching about opponent processes in color vision today and thought I'd share one of my favorite examples. This is how you use the human visual system to turn a black and white photo into color. Try it out:
July 1, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure Currently the only antiviral drugs effective against the swine flu (novel H1N1) virus are the two neuriminidase inhibitors, oseltamivir (trade name Tamiflu) and zanamivir (trade name Relenza). Relenza is in active form at the outset and cannot be…
June 30, 2009
Two recent studies add the knowledge about the risks associated with on-the-job exposure to pesticides. University of Ottowa researchers analyzed 35 studies on parental occupational exposure to pesticides and childhood leukemia, and found that children whose mothers were exposed to pesticides at…
June 29, 2009
We are approaching day 160 of the Obama Administration, yet the Solicitor of Labor is not yet in place,  neither are the Assistant Secretaries for most other DOL agencies, including Employment Training Administration, MSHA, OSHA, VETS and Women's Bureau.   Attorney Patricia M. Smith was…