Articles Posted in Poison

leadpipes-300x178Although the chattering classes may have beat the term infrastructure into a hoary cliché, regular folks may see major benefits over time to their health and well-being from the Biden Administration’s finally passed, bipartisan $1 trillion bill that invests desperately needed money into the nation’s roads, highways, bridges, and more.

The law will send a giant funding surge into improving water quality and eliminating dangerous and antiquated lead pipes. This toxic threat, as evidenced in the mess in Flint, already has resulted in a $600-million-plus settlement — mostly to be paid by the state of Michigan — for residents of the lead-polluted town.

The infrastructure measure will help officials deal with polluting, nerve-wracking, time-sucking transportation logjams, financing repairs and upgrades to public transit, rail, ports, and airports from coast to coast.

herbicide-185x300Although Covid-19 is disastrous for people around the globe, Big Pharma is finding advantage in the infection: Bayer, a pharmaceutical and agricultural products’ giant, is on the brink of what would be an $8 billion-plus settlement of an estimated 85,000 lawsuits involving the familiar weed killer Roundup.

Bayer has taken a $39 billion hit to its market value due to the Roundup suits, which the German-headquartered conglomerate took on when it acquired St. Louis, Mo.-based Monsanto for $63 billion.

Bayer executives, analysts say, have wanted to resolve the big numbers of current suits while courts across the country have closed due to the pandemic, preventing not only more cases from being filed but also others from resolution. The company has lost a handful of suits, but they carried a big, collective, initial price tag — $2.4 billion. That sum has been slashed on appeal to $191 million and the company says, no matter if it settles thousands of other cases, it will continue litigating the adverse decisions.

gabapentin-300x158A widely prescribed drug, formally approved only for limited uses but now dispensed for many nerve-related conditions, can put patients at serious risk of breathing problems, especially if they are aged, suffer from all too common chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or may also be taking opioid pain killers or other medications that depress the central nervous system.

That’s a toughened new warning about gabapentin and pregabalin from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which says it will require new packaging and cautions for the drugs. They may be better known in their branded versions as Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant (gabapentin) or Lyrica and Lyrica CR (pregabalin).

The nerve meds have been subject to “growing” medical “use as well as misuse and abuse,” the FDA said in a statement, adding:

cannabisleaf-281x300Fans of marijuana and its related products may want to take careful note of developments regarding their health and safety effects.

Federal researchers are racing to trace thousands of cases of lung damage and dozens of deaths to so-called smokeless consumption of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the ingredient that produces the marijuana high. Other federal officials also are warning about cannabidiol or CBD — a derivative of marijuana or its cousin hemp — and its burgeoning and unapproved use in an array of products on the market.

To be sure, because blue-nose attitudes blocked rigorous research on marijuana and other drugs, medical scientists have been scrupulous in declining to make sweeping declarations about grass and its potential benefits or harms.

tday-300x141With the launch of a season of eating, drinking, getting together with friends and family, and celebrating, it may be worth a moment to ponder how to keep those you care most about as healthy and safe as possible, but with a good dollop of fun too. Herewith some suggestions:

Food safety

When it comes to the centerpiece of Thanksgiving — the festive eating — hygiene and moderation matter. Nothing would ruin the holiday more than to sicken the guests, right? So, cooks and their helpers should take special care to keep their hands washed, the tools and prep areas sanitary, and to ensure that the food gets handled correctly, especially in thawing and thoroughly cooking the turkey and stuffing. It may seem counter intuitive, but experts warn against rinsing the turkey or any other fowl that might be store-bought and served. That’s because the birds get cleaned as part of the processing and rinsing with warm water may only spread microbial contaminants all around the kitchen. The key to kill off harmful bugs, by the way, rests in cooking foodstuffs for long enough and at high enough temperatures to ensure they’re safe to eat. Consult those published recipes carefully. Cooks need to plan well, so they get various menu items in and out of the stove and oven, so hungry diners get their fill at the appointed time.

airpollutionla-300x169Even as investigations deepened into the harms caused by vaping and e-cigarettes, the Trump Administration confounded those concerned with public health and the environment with rollbacks of legal ways to get vehicles to be cleaner and less polluting and of measures to ensure food safety, notably via changes in inspections of long problematic pork producers.

Voters in the 2020 elections may wish to take note of these and other mounting issues — including proliferating “skimpy” health insurance plans — in which the administration zigs and zags on policies that it promises are intended for the public good, despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

President Trump made public his administration’s decision to revoke federal approval of California setting industry-leading vehicle emission standard even as he fund-raised in the Golden State.

cbpbust-300x200If  anyone around doubts still the threat that the opioid crisis poses to the nation, a drug bust involving a vegetable truck in Arizona should provide powerful persuasion: Federal agents, suspicious about the vehicle’s floor, loosed a drug-sniffing dog, resulting in the seizure of not just 395 pounds of methamphetamines but also 254 pounds of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, a lab-created super drug that experts say is 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine. It packs a wallop for users in tiny grains or flecks.

The record-setting seizure at the Arizona border stop amounted to 144 or so kilograms of fentanyl, with drug enforcement officials estimating that just 1 kilogram of fentanyl can produce 1 million fatal doses. That means just this one bust had the potential to cause 144 million deaths.

juulcig-300x159Has one of the nation’s top health watchdogs awoken too late, barked too little, and, maybe won’t bite enough as Big Tobacco and its allies have addicted a generation of young people to nicotine?

Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the federal Food and Drug Administration, captured extensive media attention by hitting the alarm button about “epidemic” vaping and teens’ use of e-cigarettes, notably the wildly trendy Juul device and others of its kind.

He said the FDA has acted against 1,300 retailers for peddling e-cigarettes and their liquid flavorings to underage customers. More key: The agency has told Juul and other leading makers that they have 60 days to show how they can keep their products out of the hands of customers 18 and younger — or the FDA may ban them from the market.

fdanulogo-300x126Watchdogs have caught the Federal Food and Drug Administration dogging one of its most basic and important tasks — getting contaminated and potentially dangerous foods off the shelves quickly.

Federal inspectors spot-checked several dozen recalls among 1,557 the agency conducted between 2012 and 2015, partly to see how the FDA used wider powers given to it under the Obama Administration to protect American consumers from food-borne illness.

The agency dawdled for weeks and even months, adding to delays that might increase the risks of harms to the public, said investigators under the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. As the New York Times reported:

overdosedeaths1-300x1812017 ends with yet more grim news about the nation’s opioid drug epidemic — not only that its toll keeps rising, it now is afflicting African Americans as never before. They had been less harmed by this crisis but the scourge is spreading to them, notably in spots like the District of Columbia and Baltimore.

Reporters for the New York Times’ “Upshot” feature dove into new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on opioid drug-related deaths. They found the official numbers not only reaffirmed a sharp increase in drug fatalities in 2016 but also showed that “the drug death rate is rising most steeply among blacks, with those between the ages of 45 and 64 among the hardest hit.” As the newspaper reported:

Drug deaths among blacks in urban counties rose by 41 percent in 2016, far outpacing any other racial or ethnic group. In those same counties, the drug death rate among whites rose by 19 percent. The [new CDC] data … suggests that the common perception of the epidemic as an almost entirely white problem rooted in over-prescription of painkillers is no longer accurate, as fentanyl, often stealthily, invades broader swaths of the country and its population.

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