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Coal ash spill among top news stories in Tennessee

The Associated Press and AP member newspapers and broadcasters have listed the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash spill as one of the biggest news events in Tennessee in 2009. The coal ash spill occurred on Dec. 22, 2008, but the fallout reverberated well into 2009, dominating headlines across the nation. Last December, 1.1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash spilled out from an impoundment pond at the TVA’s Kingston, Tenn., plant and onto 300 acres of a neighboring community. The spill, piled as high as nine feet in some areas, knocked houses from their foundations, destroyed property and contaminated ... Read More

EPA says coal ash is safe to use as fertilizer on crops

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it is OK for farmers to spread coal ash on to their fields to fertilize soil, even though the material contains toxins that have been linked to serious health complications such as cancer and liver damage. The agency says that the material contains just a trace amount of toxins that don’t pose a risk to humans through groundwater contamination or by consuming the crops. But environmentalists beg to differ. The coal ash, a byproduct of fossil fuel plants, which for years farmers have used to fertilize their fields, is also used to strengthen concrete ... Read More

FDA says it finds no Vytorin-cancer link, but unsure

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it found no clear link between Merck’s blockbuster cholesterol drug Vytorin and increased risk of cancer, but it could not rule out the possibility that such a link exists. The agency reviewed data from three Vytorin trials, including the controversial SEAS trial results, which Merck had withheld from the public for 18 months as it aggressively marketed the drug. The SEAS study sought to test Vytorin’s effectiveness as an alternative to surgery in reducing arterial clogging caused by high cholesterol. The results, which were announced in a July 2008 press conference, ... Read More

TVA claims protection as coal ash lawsuits mount

Environmental lawsuits can be complex and take years to resolve because the damages may take decades to surface, says Gregory Button, a University of Tennessee anthropologist who studies environmental disasters such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. That means the fallout from last year’s Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash spill that blanketed a neighboring community with toxic material in what some call the nation’s largest environmental disaster of its kind, could linger for years. “There is a lot of scientific uncertainty in this case, as there are in many environmental cases,” Button said in an interview with ... Read More

Women on HRT who experience breast tenderness at greater risk of cancer

Women who reported new-onset breast tenderness following use of estrogen-plus-progestin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were at a much greater risk of developing breast cancer than women on the same HRT who did not report tenderness in their breasts, according to a study by researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California – Los Angeles. The study was based on data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a research project into the mortality and morbidity of menopausal and post-menopausal women. One aspect of WHI looked into the benefits of HRT, but was halted in its early ... Read More

TVA coal ash spill – one year later

One year ago today, coal ash poured out from an impoundment pond at the Kingston Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) fossil fuel plant and blanketed a neighboring community with more than a billion gallons of toxic material. Houses were destroyed, property was damaged, waterways were contaminated, lives were changed forever. One year after the devastating spill, the TVA is engaged in a massive cleanup expected to take three years and more than $1 billion, but residents see little improvement. “The community that was the first affected by the ash spill on Dec. 22, 2008 (is) the same community that to this ... Read More

OTC Vicks products recalled by CPSC

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled about 700,000 packages of Vicks Dayquil Cold & Flu 24-Count Bonus Pack Liquicaps because the packaging is not child-resistant and lacks the statement "This Package for Households Without Young Children," as required by the Poison Prevention Packaging Act. The medicine in the Vicks Dayquil Cold & Flu medicine contains acetaminophen and could cause serious health problems or death to a child if several of the capsules are swallowed. ... Read More

Mississippi coroner supports legislation governing ATV safety

A Mississippi coroner has become a strong advocate of tougher laws governing the operation of all-terrain vehicles because of the horrific injuries she has seen on the job. Carolyn Gillentine-Green, the Coroner of Lee County, Mississippi, told Jackson’s Clarion-Ledger that she supported any measures that would improve ATV safety in her state. “I’m a proponent for anything to make it safer,” Gillentine-Green told the paper. In July 2008, Gillentine-Green pronounced the deaths of 20-year-old Crystal Hooper and her 5-year-old cousin Natalie Aguilar after the ATV they were on crashed. According to available reports, Hooper lost control of the ATV and ... Read More

Patients with acute kidney injury at greater risk for premature death

People who suffer from acute kidney injury (AKI), a sudden loss of kidney function, are more likely to die prematurely after leaving the hospital even after their kidney function has recovered, according to a study conducted by researchers with the Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research. The data will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The study looked at data from about 83,000 veterans with AKI. More than half of those patients needed dialysis at least temporarily, and many died prior to leaving the hospital. The Center for ... Read More

Makers of generic Reglan liable for inadequate warning labels

Makers of generic drugs who do not adequately label their products to warn consumers of possible risks are not exempt from liability, according to a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The court ruled on a product liability lawsuit brought by Gladys Mensing, who was prescribed metoclopramide to treat diabetic gastroparesis, a debilitating condition in which the stomach empties too slowly. Following use of the medication, Mensing developed a serious movement disorder known as Tardive Dyskinesia. Research has shown that the condition can be caused by long-term use of metoclopramide. Mensing sued several makers of ... Read More