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Obama administration vows to propose regulations for coal ash

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has promised to make good on a promise it made nine years ago to issue regulations for coal ash storage. The announcement comes more than two months after a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) impoundment pond failed and dumped more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash on to 300 acres of east Tennessee property, destroying homes and damaging land in its wake. The Obama administration backed up the promise by vowing to propose new regulations governing coal combustion waste by the end of the year and acting immediately to ensure more dangerous spills do ... Read More

FDA issues warning of serious adverse reaction to antidepressants

Several popular medications prescribed to treat depression, including Effexor, Paxil, and Prozac, have issued changes to the “Contradictions and Warnings” sections of their labels to warn of a potentially life-threatening adverse reaction known as Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS). NMS is a neurological disorder that presents with muscle rigidity, fever, autonomic instability and cognitive changes such as delirium and associated with elevated levels of the enzyme creatine phosphokinase. Once symptoms appear, the progression of the condition is rapid, reaching peak intensity in as little as three days. Symptoms can last anywhere from eight hours to 40 days. The symptoms of NMS ... Read More

TVA granted permission to dredge Emory River

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has been given permission to dredge the Emory River to remove ash that spilled into it after the utility’s coal ash pond failed last December and poured more than a billion gallons of toxic material on to 300 acres of east Tennessee property, according to MSNBC. The dredging is part of the TVA’s $1-million-a-day effort to clean up the massive mess, and was one of the items detailed in the utility’s cleanup plan aimed to return the community to “as good, if not better (condition) than they were before.” Homes were destroyed and property was ... Read More

Researcher awarded NIH grant for development of synthetic heparin

A researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received a $1.48 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support research into Recomparin, a synthetic version of the blood thinner heparin, according to the Triangle Business Journal. Associate Professor of Pharmacy Jian Liu invented the synthetic anticoagulant and hopes the grant money will help him perfect the drug and find better ways of synthesizing it. Heparin is routinely given to patients before certain types of surgery and prior to treatments such as kidney dialysis to prevent blood clots from forming. Clots that do not naturally dissolve ... Read More

State attorney hopes to form nursing home death review team

DuPage County, Illinois officials are stepping up their investigations into allegations of physical abuse of elderly in nursing homes and in-home health care settings, spurred in part by the horrifying story of a nursing home resident who froze to death last month after wandering outside her nursing home, according to the Chicago Tribune. The freezing death of Sarah Wentworth has sent chills through the Itasca, Illinois, community where she lived – and subsequently died – at a nursing home. Wentworth suffered from dementia, which leaves its victims prone to wandering. She wore a band that would signal an alarm on ... Read More

Actavis signs consent decree to resume making Digitek

Actavis Inc. has signed a proposed consent decree agreeing to fix the manufacturing problems at its New Jersey plant where it produced and sold the heart drug, Digitek, a brand of digoxin, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Digitek was cited by the Center for Public Integrity as the “primary suspect” in 667 deaths reported between April 1, 2008 and June 30, 2008. Digitek is prescribed for various heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and sometimes heart failure. An incorrect dosage or overdosage can be dangerous and even fatal to heart patients taking the medication, causing even ... Read More

Families devastated by Rhino rollovers release safety report

ACCORDING TO A PRESS RELEASE PUBLISHED ON LIEFF CABRASER YAMAHA RHINO WEBSITE: Earlier this week we featured J.T. Crow, a 9-year-old boy who died when the Yamaha Rhino he was a passenger in rolled onto its side, throwing him from the ATV and pinning him underneath its unpadded roll cage. Since the accident, which occurred in June 2007, J.T.’s mother, Heidi Crow, embarked on a mission to “help save others from a tragic fate like J.T.’s.” ACCORDING TO THE PRESS RELEASE: One result of Ms. Crow’s work is the “Citizen Report on UTV Vehicle Hazards,” a compilation of information, statistics, ... Read More

Returning troops bring attention to traumatic brain injuries

The Brain Injury Association of America recognizes March as Brain Injury Awareness Month, and Wednesday the Pentagon held a press conference that underscored the need for the public to know more about brain injuries, their causes, and their treatment. According to Pentagon officials, between 10 and 20 percent of American troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have sustained some degree of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The figure could be as low as 180,000 but as high as 360,000, Pentagon officials said. Most of the troops with TBI received blast-related concussions from being in the proximity of roadside bombs and other ... Read More

FDA report reveals peanut plant’s carelessness in food safety

Last month, inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration visited the Plainview, Texas, peanut processing plant owned and operated by the Peanut Corporation of America. The inspection was ordered after investigators linked a salmonella outbreak that sickened nearly 700 people in nearly every state to the Peanut Corp’s plant in Blakely, Georgia. Shortly after the outbreak, news broke that the company’s sister plant in Texas plant actually operated unlicensed and uninspected for years. Inspectors rushed in. What they found at the plant defines corporate irresponsibility and underscores the shortcomings of government agencies on both federal and state levels in doing ... Read More

Deadline looms for Florida gas station underground storage tanks

Many Florida gas station owners are worrying about the future of their businesses because of a state law that will go into effect on December 31, 2009. On that day, the law will require all gas station owners with single-wall underground fuel tanks and pipes to upgrade to double-wall tanks or stop selling gas. Industry insiders expect that of the state’s 9,200 gas stations, 800 to 1,500 stores will have to close. 3,156 gas stations and other facilities with underground storage tanks (USTs) in Florida require the upgrade. Single wall steel tanks are prone to corrosion, especially when they contain ... Read More