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BP oil spill emitted up to 520,000 tons of noxious methane gas

BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion set off the worst oil spill in United States history, but all of that sticky crude wasn’t the only hydrocarbon that gushed from the blown-out Macondo well. According to the research journal Nature Geoscience, up to 40 percent of the catastrophic spill that gushed for 84 days was methane gas. Scientists who authored the study estimate the total volume of escaped gas between 260,000 and 520,000 tons – the energy equivalent of 1.6 to 3.1 million barrels of oil and enough to account for 2.6 percent of the annual net methane emissions worldwide. Although scientists understand ... Read More

CPSC’s product-safety database survives budget cuts, goes online

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s new public database of safety information, part of the website, offers American consumers for the first time ever a world of valuable safety information at their fingertips. The database went online earlier March 11, but its future appeared bleak when budgets battles raging on Capitol Hill threatened to take the website down before it had a chance to prove its worth. Fortunately, the database was taken off the chopping block and the project remains safe for now. Developed at a cost of $3 million, this new database offers American consumers an easier way ... Read More

Ortho Evra birth control patch warning upgraded to a black box warning

A new black box warning has been added to the safety label of Johnson & Johnson’s birth control patch Ortho Evra (norelgestromin/ethinyl estradiol), alerting consumers that women aged 15-44 who use the patch may be at greater risk for life-threatening blood clots compared to women of the same age who take oral contraceptives. The boxed warning also informs users that cigarette smoking while using the patch puts them at greater risk for heart attacks. While the boxed warning regarding cigarette smoking and cardiovascular risk is consistent with the current labeling for other combination hormonal contraceptives, the boxed warning for blood ... Read More

Heart problems linked to popular prescription painkiller

People who have experienced heart problems over the past several years may not be aware that their condition may have been caused by a common prescription painkiller. Propoxyphene, commonly known by the brand names Darvocet and Darvon, was banned in the United States late last year because a new study linked use of the drug to abnormal heart rhythms. The condition can require hospitalizations, and cause heart attacks and death. The drug was approved in the United States more than 50 years ago to treat mild to moderate pain and had become one of the most prescribed painkillers in the country. However, for ... Read More

Yale undergrad killed by machinery in campus laboratory

Michele Dufault, a 22-year-old Yale undergraduate studying astronomy and physics, was always extremely cautious when working around potentially dangerous machines in a chemistry lab shop on the New Haven, Connecticut, campus. According to her peers, she took safety procedures very seriously and even helped to write a 60-page document on the safeguards for a NASA plasma-physics experiment in reduced gravity. But despite her intellectual acuity and all her efforts to work by the rules, Ms. Dufault was killed Tuesday night when her hair became caught in a lathe machine at the lab. Ms. Dufault had been working on her senior ... Read More

Swedish doctor says Darvocet litigation may be bigger than Vioxx trials

The most surprising thing about Darvocet is probably that the now-banned painkiller, a combination of propoxyphene and acetaminophen, stayed on the market for decades even while consumer groups and health advocates warned about its serious health risks. When Darvocet first appeared on the market in the 1950s, it quickly became one the most-prescribed drugs in the United States, and when such a widely used drug is also one of the most dangerous drugs on the market, the extent of the damage done to public health is staggering. Swedish doctor Ulf Jonasson and his wife, Dr. Birgitta Jonasson, who have spent ... Read More

Chron’s, colitis drug linked to deadly cancer

A fast-growing and deadly type of cancer has been reported in patients – in particular, adolescents and young adults – who are taking a type of medication used to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted doctors that a rare cancer of white blood cells known as Hepatosplenic T-Cell Lymphoma or HSTCL has been linked to medicines called tumor necrosis factors (TNF) blockers, as well as with azathioprine and/or mercaptopurine. TNF blockers include Remicade (infliximab), Enbrel (etancercept), Humira (adalimumab), Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) and Simponi (golimumab). HSTCL is an aggressive cancer that is usually fatal. ... Read More

Brain aneurysm device recalled due to blood clot danger

A device used to treat brain aneurysms is being recalled because a defect in the product may lead to serious injury including blood clots and stroke. ... Read More

Defective radiation device may cause suspicious scans, x-rays

A product used in radiation treatment is being recalled because the device may shed particles of chemical, known as tungsten, into the body that can show up in later scans and x-rays as suspicious calcifications. ... Read More

Johnson and Johnson recalls epilepsy drug Topamax

Johnson & Johnson has announced another recall, this time on the prescription anti-epilepsy drug Topamax (tropiramate). Consumers have reported an uncharacteristic musty odor in the pills. The odor is thought to be caused by trace amounts of TBA (2, 4, 6 tribromoanisole), and is not considered to be toxic, though some consumers have reported temporary gastrointestinal symptoms. ... Read More