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May 29, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure As flu season ramps up in the southern hemisphere, the US, Europe and Asia are keeping an eye on it to see what will happen as swine flu finds new pieces of meat to sate its appetite for human flesh. Sorry about the overheated image. I've been reading…
May 28, 2009
Discarded computers, mobile phones, and TVs from consumers in developed countries often wind up in developing world, where workers â some of them children â disassemble the electronic waste to extract metal and other valuable materials. Usually working without any kind of protective equipment,…
May 28, 2009
By Alison Bass (cross-posted) In order to truly stabilize the economy and rescue Medicare from financial collapse, the Obama administration knows it has to do something about the elephant in the room: ever-rising health care costs. In this week's New Yorker, surgeon-writer Atul Gawande presents an…
May 27, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure Yesterday New York reported two more swine flu deaths (a 41-year-old woman from Queens and a 34-year-old man from Brooklyn). CDC and just about everyone else who knows anything about influenza have been telling people to expect this. The influenza virus…
May 26, 2009
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (aka the Waxman-Markey bill), which sets up a cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% by 2050. It also includes other provisions to promote…
May 24, 2009
By Ellen Smith The nation may have a new President with grand ideas about the Freedom of Information Act, but letâs be clear: at MSHA, nothing regarding FOIA has changed. The same people are still in charge of FOIA, offering ridiculous redactions and refusing to divulge information which, previous…
May 22, 2009
A few days ago, I expressed my annoyance with OSHA about its SBREFA meeting on the  draft proposed rule on diacetyl, the lung-damaging, butter-tasting food additive.   OSHA had announced earlier in the year that this pre-proposal dialogue with small employer would be "open to the public."…
May 22, 2009
By Bill Borwegen While the news coming out of California this week has focused on the budget crisis, something else of historic importance in advancing worker protections was achieved by Californiaâs healthcare workers.  Yesterday in a 6-0 vote, the CalOSHA Standards Board adopted the nationâs…
May 22, 2009
Alison Bass directs our attention to the tragic story of Denis Maltez, a 12-year-old Miami boy who died of serotonin syndrome after being given two anti-psychotic medications (Seroquel and Zyprexa) plus an anti-seizure drug and tranquilizer. Serotonin syndrome occurs when a combination of drugs…
May 21, 2009
by Kas The USEPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) will receive nutrient-rich fertilizer that will keep it from becoming obsolete.  IRIS provides an overall characterization of the public health risks for a given chemical in a given situation.  It is the place to go to find noncancer…
May 20, 2009
Two months ago, I applauded OSHA for announcing that its SBREFA panel meeting on a draft diacetyl proposed rule would be open to the public.  Today, I feel schnookered.  OSHA hosted its teleconference-meeting yesterday (5/19) and today (5/20) with specially-selected small employers, but failed…
May 20, 2009
Last week, a 44-year-old soldier on his third deployment to Iraq opened fire at his U.S. military base near the Baghdad International Airport, killing five service members and wounding three others. Sgt. John Russell had been sent to the combat-stress clinic at Camp Liberty by his superiors, and…
May 19, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure You probably have never heard of the Chemical Safety Board (unless you are a specialist in that area -- or you read The Pump Handle!). The CSB is an independent government agency that has a pretty low profile. Its mission, as its name implies, is to…
May 18, 2009
Remember when California tried to set tighter limits on vehiclesâ CO2 emissions than what the federal government required? (They petitioned for a waiver to set their own pollution standards, which theyâre allowed to do under the Clean Air Act if they get federal permission.) The Bush administration…
May 18, 2009
From a report released by BIO: The Biotechnology Industry Organization: On average, only 28% of the high school students taking the ACT , which is a national standardized test for college admission , reached a score indicating college readiness for biology and no state reached even 50%. Only 52% of…
May 18, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure Five more schools in the New York City borough of Queens have closed because of suspected swine flu cases. Eleven schools have now been closed there and hundreds of students are down with a flu-like illness. Parents are understandably concerned, the more…
May 15, 2009
NCSE has announced that two remaining anti-evolution bills have died in committee: Alabama & Missouri. To recap the year: Mississippi - dead in committee Oklahoma - dead in committee Iowa - dead in committee New Mexico - dead in committee Florida - dead in committee Alabama - dead in committee…
May 15, 2009
Finished grading today, so the Spring semester is finally over. I'm out of here for a few weeks. See you sometime in June.
May 15, 2009
The number of confirmed swine flu cases continues to rise: 4,298 in the US, 2,446 in Mexico, and a total of 7,520 worldwide in 34 countries. Much of the increase is just because labs are working through the samples that had been sent to them previously, but recent news from New York shows that the…
May 14, 2009
Three Indiana men â Stoney Powell, 45 and Roy Mathis, 60 of Wheatfield, and William Decker, 48 of Scottsburg â were killed near Searcy, Arkansas on Wednesday, May 14 in an explosion at a fuel storage facility.  The three men worked for the Kentucky-based firm C&C Welding.   Losing a loved…
May 14, 2009
Before the year is out, the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) will have at least one vacancy, and Mark Griffon, a current member of the Federal Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, wants to be appointed to it.  Current CSB member Gary L. Visscher's term expires in…
May 14, 2009
In honor of the Washington, DC Area Bicyclist Association and their annual Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 15) by Reut Tenne A couple of days ago, I announced to a few friends that I regret not participating in the District of Columbia's (DC) bicyclistsâ movement.  I am not sure that there is…
May 13, 2009
by Rena Steinzor,  cross-posted from CPR Blog With his attractive family and a phalanx of top aides in tow, Professor Cass Sunstein had a cordial, 45-minute hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee yesterday. He was introduced by former student and current…
May 13, 2009
by Pete Galvin You never learn much from a "wired" confirmation hearing, and that was true yesterday at the hearing for Cass Sunstein to be director of OIRA.  Only three Senators bothered to come (apart from his former student, now the Senator from Minnesota, who introduced him before leaving)…
May 12, 2009
Early Sunday morning (May 10), I read a news brief from WSAZ reporting that seven workers had been rescued from a flooded underground coal mine in Gilbert, WV, after being trapped for 32+ hours.  As I combed the web for further details, I was struck by the news accounts and audio recordings…
May 12, 2009
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs save energy, but the mercury in them has to be handled with lots of caution â and thatâs not always the case in the Chinese factories that manufacture a large share of the bulbs. Michael Sheridan Reports for the Sunday Times (UK):  In southern China, compact…
May 11, 2009
So I'm trying to simplify things in real life as I think I am suffering from information overload (among other things). First task was to clean up my Facebook friends. From here on, it's family, colleagues and (usually graduate) students. Folks I know only in virtual space are likely to have gotten…
May 11, 2009
One trait of a good reporter is providing facts---facts that may make us uncomfortable, but ultimately force us to ask "is this really true?"   That's what happened to me on Friday when I read the Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward's piece Solis plays fast and loose on MSHA budget, in which he…
May 11, 2009
By Myra Karstadt Peanuts, pistachios, peppers (maybe tomatoes too), spinach, spicesâ¦â¦â¦.The list of produce recalled due to bacterial contamination gets longer, and baleful glances are  cast at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN- say siff-san), the part of FDA charged with…
May 11, 2009
by revere, cross-posted from Effect Measure The spate of swine flu articles in The New England Journal of Medicine last week included an important "Perspective, The Signature Features of Influenza Pandemics â Implications for Policy," by Miller, Viboud, Baliska and Simonsen. These authors are…