Occupational Health News Roundup

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine has announced that former NFL player Dave Duerson, who committed suicide at the age of 50 and left a request that his brain go to CSTE, had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The disorder is linked to repeated brain trauma, and Duerson's family reports that he had at least 10 concussions during his NFL career.

The New York Times' Alan Schwarz, who's been covering the issue of brain damage among football players since 2007, reports that 14 of the 15 brains of football players tested by CSTE have tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy - but that doesn't tell us what percentage of living players have the disease. Brain autopsies are the only way to determine whether a person had it, and the families and players most likely to want autopsies are those who have noticed changes in memory, emotional state, or impulse control and suspect a history of concussions may be to blame.

Autopsies of brains of players who didn't experience symptoms will help researchers learn more about the disease, Shwarz explains. So far, 128 current and former NFL players have committed to donating their brains; of those, 11 have died, and their brains await autopsy.

In other news:

TIME Healthland: Ground Zero workers sickened by toxic substances they encountered during rescue and recovery workers will still be dying for years to come.

UN News Service: The International Labour Organization stresses the need for preventive measures in the workplace to reduce the toll of workplace injuries in illness, which is currently estimated at 337 million on-the-job injuries and two million occupational injury and illness deaths each year.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Between 2003 and 2008, a total of 8,173 workers died from highway transportation incidents, accounting for 24% of all fatal occupational injuries during that time period.

Los Angeles Times: Nearly two months after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, workers have entered a damaged nuclear reactor at the Fukushima power plant to begin installing ventilation machines. To limit their radiation exposure, teams are expected to be inside the reactor for only 10 minutes at a time.

MedPage Today
: Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report that older workers (ages 55+) who are injured on the job are out of work for longer periods of time than their younger counterparts.

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