Thursday Briefing

Experiment detects 300 chemicals in indoor air. The trial involved sampling the air in a child’s nursery for seven days after setting up the room with a new crib, changing table, rocker and decorations. Just outside the home, only two of the chemicals were detected. None of the products included in the testing appeared to violate any law, although the nursery rocker contained seven times California’s recommended level of formaldehyde, a human carcinogen. ABC News

Eating fish can alter hormones in children, hurting their immune systems and increasing chronic stress. Researchers who studied  children in Oswego County, New York blame fish for raising mercury levels, which in turn altered the production of the hormone cortisol. The study’s authors said it is still uncertain whether the benefits of eating fish outweigh the potential harm to children. Environmental Health News, Environmental Research

Federal authorities weigh tightening lead poisoning standard for children. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel is calling for lowering the threshhold for lead poisoning to a level that could more than double the number of children requiring care. A panel member cites new research showing that the metal, even at low levels, can reduce a child’s IQ and cause attention and behavioral problems. USA Today, ModernMedicine

Trailer-hitch manufacturer accused of eight workplace safety violations after worker’s thumb is crushed. The charges by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration against Curt Manufacturing of Eau Claire, Wis., include a willful violation, the agency’s most severe citation. OSHA said the company allowed workers to continue operating an unguarded hydraulic power press brake after an employee’s thumb was caught in the machine, forcing him to have the finger amputated. OSHA proposes up to $105,000 in fines. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, OSHA

Railroads seek to relax safety mandate. The industry hopes to scale back and delay a system to prevent crashes known as Positive Train Control. The technology was mandated on lines carrying passengers and extremely hazardous materials after a 2008 train wreck in Chatsworth, Calif., killed 25 people and injured 135 others. Railroad companies say the technology needs to be refined and is too costly, and that regulators sought to require it on track that no longer will be used for extremely hazardous cargo. FairWarning,

Air traffic controller with history of disciplinary problems nearly caused a midair collision last year, investigators find.  The National Transportation Safety Board faulted controller Robert Beck in the near-collision of an ExpressJet regional jetliner and a single-engine Cessna that departed Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Mississippi. Beck, a controller for 23 years, had been suspended several times within the last five years and  had “a history of professional deficiencies” that included ignoring standard checklist procedures. The Associated Press

California regulators propose $256,445 in workplace safety fines against warehouse operating companies. The companies, National Distribution Centers and Tri State Staffing, were accused of more than 60 infractions, including lack of fall protection, unstable storage stacking and unguarded machinery. The charges involve four warehouses in Southern California’s San Bernardino County. Los Angeles Times, Cal/OSHA

Fake and poor quality malaria drugs could put millions of lives at risk in Africa, researchers say. A study funded by the Wellcome Trust examined counterfeit and substandard medicines found on sale in 11 African countries between 2002 and 2010. The counterfeit medicines, the researchers said, could increase drug resistance among malaria parasites. The disease kills an estimated 800,000 people a year. BBC, Malaria Journal

Unsafe abortions increase worldwide. Researchers from the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute found that the proportion of abortions considered unsafe rose to 49 percent in 2008, up from 44 percent in 1995. The number of abortions worldwide in 2008 was 43.8 million, reflecting a rate of 28 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. Latin America had the highest rate. Reuters, The Lancet

Recalls: Steelcase Amia desk chairs, Leasa alfalfa sprouts

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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