Penguin poop can make you loopy!


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More than 1,600 kilometers east of the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica lies the Atlantic island of South Georgia. There, king penguins live in huge colonies. They spend their days chomping on krill, squid, and fish, feeding their chicks, and producing “guano.”

And that guano releases tremendous amounts of what’s better known as laughing gas, according to the study in Science of the Total Environment, which involved laboratory analysis of soil and guano samples.

“Penguin guano produces significantly high levels of nitrous oxide around their colonies. The maximum emissions are about 100 times higher than in a recently fertilized Danish field. It is truly intense—not least because nitrous oxide is 300 times more polluting than CO2,” explains Bo Elberling, professor in the University of Copenhagen’s department of geosciences and natural resource management.

Besides being a strain on the climate, the gas has an effect very similar to the sedative used in the dentist’s office, Elberling explains.

I can see all the stoners in Scandinavia lining up, now. Applying for jobs as “research assistants”.

Trials begin in hospital gas deaths

Some 30 people were sent to trial Monday on manslaughter charges in the 2007 hospital deaths of eight heart patients in southern Italy mistakenly given laughing gas instead of oxygen.

Doctors, anaesthetists, suppliers, technicians and local health officials will stand trial on July 2 for a pipe-fitting blunder that led to the deaths in a coronary intensive care at Castellaneta near Taranto in Puglia between April 20 and May 4, 2007.

The defendants are variously charged with manslaughter, negligence, supplying mistaken materials and administrative violations…

Among the key defendants are staff and executives of the Puglia-based company Ossitalia, which specialises in the installment of medical gas equipment.

Doctors say the patients’ deaths initially failed to arouse suspicion because they were all elderly and in frail condition.

Just what I need to inspire confidence in medical care for old geeks like me.

In my whole life, I’ve only spent 3 days in hospital – most of that being for observation after a serious car crash. The few odd bits of surgery I’ve experienced have been on an out-patient basis.

Now, I get to worry about getting the wrong gas.

Doctor Giggles got “floaty” while treating kids in hospital

A doctor inhaled laughing gas for ‘fun’ whilst he was treating children on a hospital A&E ward, a medical tribunal heard today.

Paediatrician Dr Jonathan Chahal, 33, was caught out when he was heard giggling in a resuscitation room by two on-duty nurses, it was claimed.

He then allegedly persuaded several nurses to breathe in the anaesthetic gas Entonox after telling them: ‘It makes me feel floaty.’

The drug has a warning from manufacturers saying people should not use machinery for up to 12 hours after taking it, the General Medical Council was told.

Are children tougher than tractors?

The incidents were said to have occurred in 2007 when Chahal, a senior house, officer was working as a locum at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the children’s accidental and emergency ward. Counsel for the GMC…told the Manchester hearing how nurses Christine Timmons and Siobhan Fitzgerald were on duty at 2pm on June 27 when they went into the resuscitation room and spotted Chahal taking Entonox…

‘They were invited by Dr Chahal to sample the Entonox…

On July 5 nurses Briony Routledge and Amanda Howe were on duty at the Children’s A&E department when they spotted Chahal using Entonox consistently throughout the night.

Mr Sephton added: ‘He offered it to them and also offered it to a student nurse Helen Aspinall – two of them accepted Doctor Chahal’s offer…’

The doctor denies his fitness to practise was impaired.

Stick to your guns, doc. That is – if you can find them, figure out which end makes the big noise?