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June 23, 2009
Miningâs environmental costs are high, but many residents of coal-mining communities support continued mining because they rely (directly or indirectly) on mining jobs. Now, reports Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette, two researchers have put price tags on the economic costs and benefits of…
June 22, 2009
Friday (6/19) was the final day for participants from OSHA's public hearing on its proposed cranes and derricks rule to submit comments to the agency; by my count, seven organizations responded.  The Edison Electric Institute  offered the lengthiest document (94 pages), and it was peppered…
June 22, 2009
In Texas, a construction worker dies every two and a half days. In the Texas Observer, Melissa Del Bosque explains that itâs because of âlax enforcement of labor and safety regulations, too many overtime hours without rest breaks and a lack of safety training and equipment.â The Austin-based…
June 19, 2009
As we learned this week, Cal/OSHA and the OSH Appeals Board are in a state of disarray.  A daring group of state employees have raised their voices in protest (see "CalOSHA inspectors demand change") reminding us that dysfunction in their agency can translate into more injuries and…
June 19, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure Swine flu infection of health care workers (or as CDC refers to them, health care personnel or HCP) was of interest early in the pre-pandemic phase for at last two reasons. One was the obvious goal of estimating the risk to front line workers and…
June 18, 2009
It might seem obvious that having an entire town heavily contaminated with asbestos and hundreds of residents sickened by asbestos-related illnesses would constitute a public health emergency. Getting the federal government â specifically, the EPA â to actually declare a public health emergency in…
June 18, 2009
We wrote last month about the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Control's withdrawal of a report that omitted important information about the contamination of the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina - a move that seemed to indicate better prospects for the hundreds of former base…
June 17, 2009
A group of 47 H&S inspectors, supervisors and managers from California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) sent a pointed letter to the three-person OSH Appeals Board demanding they "cease and desist" their destructive practices.  This Appeals Board is equivalent to the OSH and MSH Review Commissions; it exists…
June 17, 2009
The 1,050 State public health experts who make up the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) is urging the States and CDC to adopt a new case definition for adults of elevated blood-lead levels (BLL) and to require laboratories to report ALL blood lead test results to NIOSH's …
June 17, 2009
The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward Jr. reports that one of West Virginia's oldest and largest law firms, Jackson Kelly PLLC, is being sued for hiding evidence of coal miners' black lung disease.  Ward writes: "Earlier this year, an investigative panel of the state's Lawyer Disciplinary Board…
June 16, 2009
When discussing the costs of various healthcare reform proposals, itâs crucial to keep one thing in mind: doing nothing would be a financial disaster. If we donât change the rate at which healthcare costs are growing, total health spending is projected to double over the next 11 years, from an…
June 16, 2009
I'm in the middle of my qualification exams and ran across this interesting paper: Liu, Z Kersten, D Knill, DC Dissociating stimulus information from internal representation--a case study in object recognition. Vision research. 1999; 39(3): 603-12. However, I'm very confused about them calling the…
June 15, 2009
Home health workers who care for the elderly and disabled are an indispensable part of our healthcare workforce â but the Bush Administrationâs Department of Labor decided that they shouldnât be covered by the same wage and hour laws that protect most workers. The Associated Pressâs Sam Hananel…
June 15, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure One of the premier and earliest flu bloggers and co-founder of Flu Wiki, DemFromCT is also a doctor. Not a young doctor, either, although somewhat younger than I am (most people seem to be, these days). In our young professional days, the American…
June 12, 2009
The World Health Organization has officially declared that weâre at the start of an influenza pandemic. Nearly 30,000 cases of swine flu/H1N1 have been confirmed in 74 countries, and the virus is spreading easily among people in multiple regions of the world. North America has had the highest…
June 11, 2009
Less than two weeks ago, Dr. George Tiller, one of the few health providers who would still perform late-term abortions, was murdered. (Judith Warnerâs column on Dr. Tiller's important work is well worth a read.) Police arrested Scott Roeder of Kansas City, and the office manager of a Kansas City…
June 10, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure Listening to yesterday's press briefing with WHO's Dr. Keiji Fukuda (audio file here), several things seemed clear to me. The first is that everyone, WHO included, thinks a pandemic is well underway. Second, WHO's efforts to explain why they are not…
June 9, 2009
Updated below (6/13/09) The Associated Press and other news sources are reporting on an explosion today at a meat processing facility in Garner, NC.  Four workers are missing, at least 41 are injured, including several with very severe burns.  One worker reports: "I was picking up a piece of meat…
June 9, 2009
The last time we had a major health reform proposal was the Clinton administration, and it didnât go well. Ezra Klein explains the reasons: Instead of bringing members of Congress and stakeholders into the process early, the administration drafted a detailed proposal and then presented it to…
June 8, 2009
As the public health community mourns the loss of a great scientist and colleague, The Pump Handle would like to share some of what has been written about Kate Mahaffey.  Please leave your own remembrances in the comments section below. "I have known Kathryn as a colleague for more than a decade,…
June 8, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure There is no reason why a flu blogger-epidemiologist-physician's family should be immune to flu in the community. And it appears my family is not. My daughter has had a cough for the last few days and Friday night was suddenly seized by nausea, vomiting…
June 5, 2009
It is with deep sadness we inform you of the sudden passing of Kathyrn R Mahaffey, PhD.   Kate had an exceptional and diverse career, with appointments at FDA, NIOSH, NIEHS and EPA.   Most recently, Kate served as a Professorial Lecturer at the George Washington University School of Public…
June 5, 2009
I think it was around Christmastime last year, while frantically traipsing through the mall in search of bargains, that an over-eager kiosk salesperson stepped into my path.  Wonderful, I thought.  Another person trying to sell me overpriced hand cream. I tried to go around her, hoping sheâd get…
June 5, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure In New York City, an illness termed "mild" for many has killed 7 and put 300 in the hospital. A preliminary analysis of about half of those hospitalized, most (82%) were said to have some underlying medical condition. That's common with flu, but it's…
June 4, 2009
Of the many disturbing and damaging policies instituted during the G.W. Bush Administration, high on my list is abuse of FOIA.  It started with the post 9/11-Ashcroft memo, which was institutionalized into downstream agencies, and reconfigured and rejustified over Mr. Bush's remaining 7 years. …
June 3, 2009
Currently, medical residents can work up to 30 hours without time off for sleep and are limited to working 80 hours per week (thatâs down from working as many as 120 hours per week, which was often the case before new rules took effect in 2003. Recently, the Institute of Medicine recommended that…
June 3, 2009
cross-posted from OMBWatch Despite the Obama Administration's consistent theme of creating a new, more open government, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has yet to prove it will comply with the Administration's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policies.  In its response to a 2008…
June 2, 2009
Our regular readers are no doubt familiar with the efforts of various industries to protect their particular products from regulation. These industries (and the organizations they fund) often succeed in weakening or delaying regulations intended to protect people from climate change, tobacco, and…
June 1, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure Since I talk a lot about flu in my real life as well as on the blog, I get questions from moms and care givers who wonder when they should start to get worried about a sick child or relative. It's context dependent, of course. The same symptoms that…
June 1, 2009
by Kas IntroductionThe National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) coordinates Federal R&D activities related to nanotechnology.  Currently, the NNI involves the activities of 25 Federal agencies, 13 of which have budgets planned for 2010.  Four of these agencies have specific responsibilities…