Thursday Briefing

Researchers find equivalent brain injuries in athletes and combat veterans. Scientists have concluded that roadside bomb explosions hurt the brain in ways strikingly similar to the jolts suffered in football or boxing. The researchers also discovered the possible mechanism by which explosions damage brain tissue and trigger a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The findings point out “that there is an organic, structural problem in the brain associated with blast exposure,” said Dr. Lee E. Goldstein of Boston University, a leader of the study. It provides the strongest evidence yet that some combat veterans with invisible brain injuries are at risk of developing long-term neurological disease. The New York Times

Medtronic says federal prosecutors have closed their investigation of the company’s Infuse bone graft. The medical device company has faced allegations that doctors were paid illegal kickbacks and sham royalties to entice them to use the product in ways regulators hadn’t approved. A Medtronic spokeswoman said U.S. authorities told the company that they found no evidence of wrongdoing. The company didn’t address other Infuse investigations, including those by the California Attorney General’s office and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. Also under way are two reviews of Infuse that Medtronic commissioned after a medical journal questioned the company’s practices. Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press

U.S. officials lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children. New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will mean that up to 365,000 more U.S. children below age 6 will be considered at risk for lead poisoning. Recent research persuaded experts and government officials that young children could be harmed from lead levels in their blood that are lower than the old standard. Lead exposure is especially dangerous in young children because their brains are developing. It can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems and, at high levels, seizures and even death. The new guidelines marked the first time in 20 years that U.S. health officials have revised the lead threshold. USA Today, The Associated Press

Regulators propose controls to prevent large truck and bus rollover accidents. Under regulations proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, manufacturers would have to equip large trucks and buses, including motor coaches, with electronic stability controls. The safety systems sense when a driver might lose control — while, for instance, swerving to avoid an object in the road — and automatically apply brakes to keep the vehicle stable and avoid a rollover. NHTSA estimates that a standard requiring the safety systems on large trucks and large buses would prevent up to 2,329 crashes, 649 to 858 injuries and 49 to 60 fatalities every year. The Associated Press

Wisconsin firm faces proposed fines of $64,600 in chemical exposure death of worker. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Vivid Image of Theresa, Wis., on 12 safety violations after one worker was killed, and another was hospitalized, last November after being exposed at the company’s plant to toluene. The alleged offenses included two willful violations, OSHA’s most serious charges. The agency said the workers were exposed to high levels of toluene — a common solvent in paints, thinners and glues — while working, without respiratory protection, in an unventilated area. OSHA, Fond du Lac Reporter

Rite Aid, Home Depot stores accused of repeat workplace safety violations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed fines of $111,100 against a Rite Aid store in Brooklyn, N.Y. Investigators said the store had a blocked emergency exit and fall hazards, among other problems previously found at other Rite Aid sites. The agency is seeking penalties of $51,480 against a Home Depot store in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., after investigators found that it exposed workers to electrical hazards previously discovered at other stores in the chain. In addition, OSHA proposed penalties of $123,750 against DiGioia-Suburban Excavating of North Royalton, Ohio, in connection with trench hazards.  OSHA

Recalls: Acura 2007-2008 TL sedans, toilet and cabinet locks, Raj Foods halal beef samosas, Bakery El Monte Sinai rainbow cake

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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