Wednesday

Judge Orders Tobacco Companies to Admit That They Lied About Dangers of Smoking

Ruling in a long-running government racketeering case calls for cigarette makers to clear the air about past deception. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler previously said she wanted the industry to publish corrective statements in advertisements. But Tuesday’s ruling in the case’s final phases is the first time she’s specified what the companies need to say. “Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction,” says one of the statements. Another says: “When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain – that’s why quitting is so hard.” Kessler wrote that the new advertising campaign would be an appropriate counterweight to the companies’ “past deception” dating to at least 1964. The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Reuters

Toxic flame retardants common in U.S. couches, study finds. A team including researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Duke University tested 102 couches bought between 1985 and 2010, and found that 85 percent were treated with  flame retardants. Couches bought since 2005 were particularly likely to contain the chemicals. On the other hand, the most common fire retardant in the older furniture was pentaBDE, which was phased out in the U.S. around 2005 after studies showed it was building up rapidly in human breast milk. Furniture flame retardants have been linked to problems such as developmental delays and infertility. California is debating a new standard to reduce flame retardants in furniture.  Environmental Health NewsLos Angeles Times

Consumer Reports finds widespread bacteria contamination in pork. The magazine tested 148 samples of pork chops and 50 samples of ground pork bought at stores in six U.S. cities. It found Yersinia enterocolitica — a pathogen that can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain — in more than two-thirds of the samples, and discovered other bacteria as well. What’s more,  many of the strains of bacteria were antibiotic-resistant, likely the result of the widespread practice of routinely feeding farm animals antiobiotics. In addition, about one-fifth of the pork products contained the drug ractopamine, which the U.S. approved in 1999 to promote growth and leanness in pigs but is banned in the European Union, China, and Taiwan.  Consumer Reports, Los Angeles Times, Wired

Study suggests that breast cancers are going undetected because of the controversial 2009 mammography guidelines.  Three years ago the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent medical panel, ignited a controversy when it recommended against routine mammography screening for most women in their 40s and advised less frequent screening — once every two years — for older women. But a new study, which analyzed more than 43,000 screening mammograms between 2007 and 2010, found that 2.7 cancers were caught for every 1,000 mammograms among women in their 40s. “Women over 40 should have annual mammograms,” said the lead researcher on the new study. “In my book, there’s no confusion.” Reuters, HealthDay

New Jersey warehouse operator accused of 11 safety violations. The problems cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration against Continental Terminals’ operation in Jersey City, N.J., included two willful violations, the agency’s most serious charge. OSHA said the company exposed workers to fall hazards by allowing them to ride on the forks of forklifts and permitting them to work on elevated platforms lacking guardrails.  Proposed penalties total $130,900. “Because fall hazards are among the leading cause of death among workers, it is vital that employers provide workers with proper fall protection,” an OSHA official said. OSHA recently proposed fines of $162,400 for violations at a separate Continental site in Kearny, N.J. OSHA

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein and Bridget Huber

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