Tagged: danger

Feds launching huge study of oil and gas worker safety

An unprecedented study of the hazards rooted in America’s largest oil patches will be launched next year by federal health officials in Colorado who hope to cut the dangers faced by oil and gas workers.

Scientists from the Denver office of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health — which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — will distribute questionnaires to 500 oil field workers in North Dakota, Texas and another unnamed state.

Institute personnel will fan out to so-called “man camps”; training centers; equipment and trucking yards; well sites; and community centers in oilfield towns.

Oil field work is considered one of the most dangerous in the country. Between 2005 and 2009, the national occupational fatality rate for the oil and gas industry was seven times higher than the general industry rate and 2½ times higher than the construction industry rate.

Workers will be asked about the types of injuries they’ve suffered while on the job, what they were doing when they were injured, the training they’ve had and whether oil companies provide bonuses to workers who don’t report an injury or incident over a certain length of time, said Kyla Retzer, a Denver-based epidemiologist with the institute’s oil and gas program…

“We’ve analyzed fatality numbers, and we knew that fatality rates were high among oil field workers,” Retzer said. “But we haven’t talked to workers directly in a systematic way about some of their safety-related behaviors and what their concerns are.”

“It’s not an organized workforce,” Retzer said, “so there is no real access to a specific group.”…

Overdue. Always has been pushed back by every level of government. Dirty money crosses lots of palms.

I haven’t worked in the oil industry since the 1960’s. Nothing has changed.

Go ahead! Keep texting and your head will fall off

“It is an epidemic. Or, at least, it’s very common,” New York-based spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj told The Washington Post last week. He was referring to something that is being called “text neck,” a purported condition of the spine related to the posture of bending forward to look at a phone…

…It was an interesting account of the suggestions of one private-practice neurosurgeon. But the post and the illustration spread widely around the Internet, and the stakes elevated quickly.

In the past week, the study and the diagram have been published by hundreds of outlets, including The Chicago Tribune, Slate, NPR, Business Insider, The Sydney Morning Herald, NBC News, The Globe and Mail, Today, Time, Yahoo, Shape, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and many others. New York’s headline, for example, was “Look at How Texting Is Warping Your Spine.” At several publications, the story was the most popular post on the site. With claims of epidemic and implications of serious spinal damage, the story has elevated to something that maybe warrants a closer look.

Hunching over isn’t ideal, and it’s worth thinking about sitting or standing up straight when possible. But our necks are made to bend forward, and it’s not something that’s new to humans. Texting invokes the same posture as holding a book.

Or a baby.

Or a rock…

The reality is that an axial load, one applied from the top down onto the spine, at the weights in question is not dangerous. “People can carry a lot more than 60 pounds on top of their head if it’s actually an axial load,” neurosurgeon Ian Dorward said, noting that people have evolved to have their heads flexed in a variety of different angles and postures without issue…

For most people, though, the point remains that good posture is generally good when possible, but texting is not an imminent threat to spinal health.

RTFA for all the details of an unnecessary flap over a non-problem.

Clean coal chemical spill puts up to 300,000 in danger

A chemical spill into a West Virginia river has led to a tap water ban for up to 300,000 people, shut down bars and restaurants and led to a run on bottled water in some stores as people looked to stock up.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency Thursday in several counties because of a chemical spill into the Elk River.

The advisory was expanded at night to nine counties and includes West Virginia American Water customers in Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane counties…

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources told NBC affiliate WSAZ symptoms include: severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, trouble breathing or severe skin irritation such as skin blistering…

Residents were told not to drink the tap water, bathe in it or cook with the water and only use it for flushing and fire emergencies. Boiling it will not remove the chemicals.

“Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes, and schools,” Governor Tomblin said in a statement. “I’ve been working with our National Guard and Office of Emergency Services in an effort to provide water and supplies through the county emergency services offices as quickly as possible…”

West Virginia American Water did not provide a timeline for the clean-up process, but the company’s external affairs manager Laura Jordan told Reuters that the spill originated with Freedom Industries, a Charleston company…

Clean coal from Freedom Industries. Severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, trouble breathing or severe skin irritation such as skin blistering are all you have to worry about.

Another non-stop example of crap ideology telling folks their freedom is being protected by burning coal instead of those commie pinko alternative energy plans. Just listen to the politicians and pundits who supplement their salary with kickbacks from coal companies – and everything will be all right.

Don’t get sick in July – really!

With almost no experience, newly graduated medical students enter teaching hospitals around the country every July, beginning their careers as interns. At the same time, the last year’s interns and junior residents take a step up and assume new responsibilities.

In addition to developing their nascent clinical skills, each entering class of interns must grasp the many rules and standards for operating in this “new” hospital structure.

More experienced physicians share a joke about this changing of the guard: Don’t get sick in July

“The good news for patients is that in most cases, it’s very difficult for a physician to make a mistake that results in a patient’s death,” said Anupam Jena, HMS assistant professor of health care policy and of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study. “But for severely ill patients, health can be very tenuous. A small error or a very slight delay in care is potentially devastating…”

Overall, they found that patients at teaching hospitals had a lower risk of dying than at non-teaching hospitals, but in July, the risk at teaching hospitals rose to the same level that patients at non-teaching hospitals faced. For high-risk patients who came to the teaching hospitals with heart attacks, the risk of death in hospital went from 20 percent to 25 percent. They also found that among teaching hospitals, the difference between outcomes in May and July is greatest in institutions with the highest percentages of trainees.

The researchers ruled out two potential factors that they suspected may have accounted for some of that difference — the prevalence of percutaneous coronary intervention (i.e. cardiac stents) and of complications from the use of blood thinners.

Without evidence for specific procedures or protocols that could prevent increased deaths, the researchers said that their findings suggest that, especially during the early months in the training cycle, oversight should be intensively focused on high-risk cases rather than across cases overall. In July, doctors with more experience should play a greater role in the care of high-risk patients than has typically been the case.

I never ran into this dicho before. Though it has been at least 40 years since I worked in a teaching hospital. And it was one of the very best.

Still – remind self not to have a stroke or heart attack in July. Especially since the only hospital in town is known as Saint Victims.

L’Aquila earthquake scientists sentenced to six years in jail

Anyone allowed to sue the Catholic Church because their prayers didn’t work?

A group of scientists are facing six years in jail for manslaughter after providing “an incomplete, inept, unsuitable and criminally mistaken” assessment of risks posed by the devastating L’Aquila earthquake that killed more than 300 people.

The landmark decision on Monday was welcomed by victims and their families but immediately prompted uproar from the scientific community, which contends that there is no reliable way of predicting earthquakes.

The six scientists and a former government official were all members of the Major Risks Committee which met in the central Italian city on March 31, 2009, after several small tremors had been recorded in the region. At the time, they ruled that it was impossible to determine whether the tremors would be followed by a large quake, in a judgment which reassured residents. One of the group famously advised them to relax with a glass of wine. Just six days later, a 6.3 magnitude quake devastated L’Aquila.

On Monday, Judge Marco Billi announced the manslaughter sentence to a packed courtroom in a temporary building erected to hear the case in the still devastated city. He also ruled that the defendants should pay 7.8 million euros in damages, with two million euros to be paid immediately.

The sentencing provoked strong criticism from the scientific community.

Richard Walters of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences, said he was “saddened” about the verdict, warning that it set a “dangerous precedent”.

“The issue here is about miscommunication of science, and we should not be putting responsible scientists who gave measured, scientifically accurate information in prison. This sets a very dangerous precedent and I fear it will discourage other scientists from offering their advice on natural hazards and trying to help society in this way…”

Just to illustrate the politics of this jurisprudence, family members of some of those killed said the victims had won the case with “heavenly” intervention. Just as national politics in Italy can’t escape the Pope and the Vatican, parochial law is even worse.

Yes, there are a couple of obvious parallels. You can reach back to the bowels of the Inquisition when the Catholic Church was the ultimate arbiter of public good and evil. You can look around you at a gathering of Tea Party politicians and flinch at listening to proposals equally ignorant, determinedly anachronistic and filled with the same self-righteous bile.

Misrepresenting science in the eyes of the law is another part of anti-science, superstition. Worldwide.

France’s radium craze a century ago still haunts Paris

The Belle Epoque, France’s golden era at the turn of the last century, bequeathed Paris elegant landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, but also a more sinister legacy of radioactive floors and backyards which the capital is only now addressing.

When the Franco-Polish Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie discovered the radioactive element radium in 1898, she set off a craze for the luminescent metal among Parisians, who started using it for everything from alarm clock dials to lipsticks and even water fountains.

The companies that manufactured these slightly radioactive objects have long gone out of business, but they left small doses of radium between the cracks of some Parisian parquet floors. These doses, after prolonged exposure, could prove toxic though, officials say, they do not pose serious health risks.

“The history of radium started in Paris,” said Eric Lanes, head of radioactive decontamination at France’s national agency for radioactive waste, ANDRA. “Marie Curie never patented her discoveries so a lot of people rode the radium wave.”

After Curie showed that radium could be used to destroy cancerous cells, people assumed that the new element had miraculous healing properties and started putting it in everything from body lotions to cough syrups…

Curie herself died at 66 from her prolonged, unprotected exposure to radium…

ANDRA – in some case using addresses that were written on vintage advertising posters – has identified some 130 sites in France suspected of being at risk. Some 40 of them are set for decontamination, half of those in the Paris area.

Lanes said the clean-up was being undertaken as a precautionary measure under a recent French law requiring that preventative steps be taken in a case of a suspected health risk even in the absence of conclusive scientific evidence.

RTFA. Interesting anecdotal tales. Worth reflecting on.

I get a checkup every 10 years because of a nuclear fab I worked in 55 years ago. They certainly must have done a solid job of decontamination – unusual for the time – and I’ve been clean as a whistle every time.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish rally against dangers of the Internet — women and press banned!

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attended a rally Sunday at the New York Mets’ Citi stadium on the dangers of the Internet and how to use modern technology in a religiously responsible way.

Women were not permitted to attend the meeting at Citi Field in Queens. However, it was broadcast live to audiences of women in schools and event halls in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods…

Eytan Kobre…spokesman for the event’s organizers…cited online pornography and gambling as well as the risk of social media undermining “our ability to pray uninterruptedly, to focus and to concentrate…”

Shlomo Cohen of Toronto told The New York Times that he uses the Internet for shopping, business and staying in touch with friends, but that “desires are out there…we have to learn how to control ourselves…”

The rally was organized by a rabbinical group called Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, which means Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp. Published reports have put the cost at $1.5 million…

A group urging more support for the victims of child sexual abuse inside the close-knit community held a counter-protest outside the stadium.

Abuse of children, women, non-Orthodox Jews, non-whites are all persistent problems within this community. Anyone recall anytime they held a rally to deal with bigotry?

Inside Citi Field, two billboards for Cholula hot sauce were censored, with the female in the company’s ad campaigns covered up. Telling the press reporters would not be permitted inside because of Homeland Security was another Cloud Cuckooland touch.

The mass dementia of minds closed to science, reality, modern knowledge is an affront to all. I have to wonder if the owners of Mets’ Citi stadium would have rented the venue out for a non-Othordox rally with the purpose of relegating women to servility. If it’s religious I guess that’s sufficient excuse to profit from bigotry.

Fox News hates the Muppets – Muppets respond

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy hit back at Fox News during a UK press conference following the London Premiere of their new film. Fox had publically criticized the film for supposedly pushing a ‘dangerous liberal agenda’ at kids.


America’s conservatives lead the world in paranoia. They may not get what they think they need; but, they surely sound like they get what they deserve.

Four drugs cause two-thirds of hospitalizations in older Americans

Warfarin “flower”

Blood thinners and diabetes drugs cause most emergency hospital visits for drug reactions among people over 65 in the United States, a new study shows.

Just four medications or medication groups — used alone or together — were responsible for two-thirds of emergency hospitalizations among older Americans, according to the report. At the top of the list was warfarin, also known as Coumadin, a blood thinner. It accounted for 33 percent of emergency hospital visits. Insulin injections were next on the list, accounting for 14 percent of emergency visits.

Aspirin, clopidogrel and other antiplatelet drugs that help prevent blood clotting were involved in 13 percent of emergency visits. And just behind them were diabetes drugs taken by mouth, called oral hypoglycemic agents, which were implicated in 11 percent of hospitalizations.

All these drugs are commonly prescribed to older adults, and they can be hard to use correctly. One problem they share is a narrow therapeutic index, meaning the line between an effective dose and a hazardous one is thin. The sheer extent to which they are involved in hospitalizations among older people, though, was not expected, said Dr. Dan Budnitz, an author of the study…

As Americans live longer and take more medications — 40 percent of people over 65 take five to nine medications — hospitalizations for accidental overdoses and adverse side effects are likely to increase, experts say…

A common denominator among the drugs topping the list is that they can be difficult to use. Some require blood testing to adjust their doses, and a small dose can have a powerful effect. Blood sugar can be notoriously hard to control in people with diabetes, for example, and taking a slightly larger dose of insulin than needed can send a person into shock. Warfarin, meanwhile, is the classic example of a drug with a narrow margin between therapeutic and toxic doses, requiring regular blood monitoring, and it can interact with many other drugs and foods…

One thing that stood out in the data, the researchers noted, was that none of the four drugs identified as frequent culprits are typically among the types of drugs labeled “high risk” for older adults by major health care groups…

Dr. Budnitz said that the new findings should provide an opportunity to reduce the number of emergency hospitalizations in older adults by focusing on improving the safety of this small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications, rather than by trying to stop the use of drugs typically thought of as risky for this group.

Dr. Budnitz thinks it is critical that patients tell their physicians everything they’re taking. Well, presuming that the digitizing program put in place by President Obama is proceeding at least as quickly as anything else that hasn’t been roadblocked by the Party of NO – seems to me it soon should be practical for that physician to have someone on staff run a database check on his patients for exactly these conflicts and dangers.

Leaving the responsibility up to a patient who may not even be able to spell the crap he’s taking ain’t the most reliable approach. Involving doctor and pharmacy database records makes as much sense or more.