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Vaping soars in Popularity despite unknown risks

You have probably seen the television ads. A rugged-looking guy telling smokers to reclaim their freedom by vaping, a better alternative to smoking regular cigarettes. “Blu allows me to enjoy smoking without it affecting the people around me because it’s vapor, not tobacco smoke,” the actor says. Vapes are plastic cigarettes that contain two parts. On the front end there is a capsule containing liquid nicotine. The other part contains a battery and atomizer that turns the liquid nicotine to smoke when the user takes a drag. The vaporized nicotine is absorbed through the mouth, and the smoker’s physical and ... Read More

New consortium aims to improve safety of medical devices

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has caught much flack in the past couple years over its medical device approval process, with critics arguing that not enough effort is made to ensure the safety and efficacy of devices before they hit the market. In response, a new consortium of leaders from industry, academia and government agencies was formed to help guide the advancement of medical device regulatory science. The Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC), is a public-private partnership with the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg called the formation of the consortium a ... Read More

Judge finds TVA liable for December 2008 coal ash spill

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) did not build its holding ponds according to plan, did not train its inspectors to ensure the stability of the dikes, and did not properly maintain its Kingston, Tenn., facility in order to prevent one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, a U.S. District judge ruled Thursday. TVA will be held liable for the December 2008 coal ash spill that dumped more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge onto a neighboring community. The ruling allows the hundreds of plaintiffs who filed lawsuits against the TVA to move one step closer to recovering for ... Read More

Chemical in some personal care products linked to heart disease, failure

A chemical used in many antibacterial soaps and personal-care products may have the potential to contribute to heart disease and heart failure, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The chemical, triclosan, was introduced in the 1970s and has since become an increasingly popular ingredient in a variety of products from deodorants and soaps to toothpastes and mouthwashes. A new study has revealed that exposure to the compound has been associated with muscle function impairments in humans and mice, and has even caused the slowing of swimming fish. The chemical reduces contractions ... Read More

Texas is epicenter of West Nile virus outbreak

Dallas County, Texas, is launching an attack on its mosquito population in an effort to stem what is shaping up to be one of the worst outbreaks of West Nile virus in our nation’s history. The disease has killed 26 people and sickened nearly 700 others across the country, but a quarter of the cases were reported in Texas, and nearly half of those are in Dallas County. The mayor and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins have declared a state of emergency and voiced their support of sending up two twin-engine planes to spray pesticide over 49,000 acres in the ... Read More

Toxic flame retardants sicken U.S. consumers, enrich chemical companies

“If you want a case study of everything that is wrong with money politics, this is it,” New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof said in an editorial about the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals used on furniture – a story the Chicago Tribune broke in recent investigative series called “Playing with Fire.” According to a number of health and safety officials not vested in the flame retardant industry, the chemicals, which are supposed to fireproof sofa fabric and other furniture, are not only practically useless for their intended purpose, they are downright dangerous to human health.  These experts say ... Read More

BP oil spill pollutants turn up in migratory pelicans nesting in Minnesota

Petroleum compounds from BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago and some of the chemicals used to clean it are being found in pelican colonies nesting in Minnesota, according to a report by Minnesota Public Radio. Tens of thousands of pelicans descend on Marsh Lake in the western part of the state each year after wintering on the Gulf of Mexico. The birds span out across the Gulf, going as far south as Cuba to escape the colder weather. This year, some 34,000 American White Pelicans are raising about 17,000 chicks on Marsh Lake, making it ... Read More

Hundreds of Australians join artificial hip class action lawsuit

Hundreds of Australians have joined a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson after receiving artificial hips deemed to be defective. The claim is estimated to be worth about $200 million. The lawsuits were filed by patients such as Stuart Cain, who in 2007 received a hip implant made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics. The implant was made with metal-on-metal parts designed to be more durable and last longer than traditional plastic or ceramic implants. But three years after receiving artificial hip, Stuart learned that DePuy had recalled the all-metal hip implants because they were failing at a ... Read More

Consumers Union pressures Congress to strengthen medical device approval laws

Consumers Union, an advocacy group associated with Consumer Reports, is recommending that Congress strengthen laws to approve medical devices to better ensure public safety. The call-to-action is part of a push by Consumers Union to pressure Congress about weak federal oversight that has led to the approval of medical devices before they had been tested for safety and efficacy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for medical devices came under fire after DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, issued a worldwide recall of an all-metal artificial hip. The devices were failing at a higher than expected ... Read More

Many “toxin-free” nail salon products contain toxic chemicals, California regulators find

Frequent trips to the salon for manicures and pedicures could be hazardous to your health – that’s the bottom line of a new report by California’s Toxic Substances Control (CTSC), which found that several nail polishes and other products commonly used in salons and labeled as “toxin-free” actually have high levels of toxic chemicals. According to WebMD, a team of investigators from the CTSC’s Pollution Prevention Branch purchased 25 salon products from distributors in May 2011 and sent samples of those products to an independent lab for testing. The objective was to find if any of the products contained one ... Read More