State Laws Requiring Child Booster Seats Cut Traffic Deaths, Study Reports

Researchers link a 25 percent reduction in risk of death in states mandating booster seats for 7-year-olds. They also concluded that that 4- and 5-year-olds living in states with booster-seat laws were 11 percent less likely to die in car crashes than their counterparts in other states. After booster seat laws were adopted, the fatality rate among children in that age range dropped to 4.2 deaths per 100,000 kids. The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, are based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  for 1999 through 2009. In 1999, no U.S. state had a car booster seat law but by 2009, nearly all had passed one. Still, the laws vary and many children aren’t using booster seats. Los Angeles Times, Reuters

Chinese marine survey reveals widespread environmental damage. The unpublished assessment, completed last month after eight years of research, found that roughly 90 percent of coastal cities suffer from intermittent water shortages. It also concluded that, since the 1950s, China’s mangrove swamps have decreased in area by 73 percent, coral reefs by 80 percent and coastal wetlands by 57 percent. Nearly one-third of the loss in coastal wetland was blamed on land reclamation projects. Other damage was attributed to pollutants dumped into waterways, with three-quarters of discharges into estuaries exceeding regulatory limits. The pollutants include, among other contaminants, heavy metals and the insecticide DDT. Nature

Massachusetts orders all pharmacists and technicians from suspect company to leave the drug compounding industry. The order applies to an undetermined number of employees from the New England Compounding Center, which has been blamed for an outbreak of 419 cases of fungal meningitis cases and joint infections, including 30 deaths. Massachusetts regulators are telling all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who worked at the Framingham, Mass., company to immed­iately stop working in the drug-compounding industry, a sign that officials are concerned that front-line workers disregarded proper procedures. New England Compounding closed early last month and ­recalled all of its products. The Boston Globe

Study finds 18.4 percent of smokers keep lighting up during hospital stays. The study tracked nearly 5,400 patients admitted to Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and then referred to its tobacco treatment program during a three-year period that began in May 2007.  A 1995 study at Massachusetts General found that 25 percent of hospitalized smokers continued the habit during their stays, but the results were not precisely comparable. Such smoking, which some hospitals such as Massachusetts General allow outside the building, “is a persistent problem,” said a Harvard Medical School instructor who led the study. Smoking can impair wound healing and delay recovery from cardiopulmonary disease. Reuters, The New York Times, HealthDay

Radioactive water plagues the Middle East and North Africa. Many of the countries depend on so-called fossil water that comes from underground aquifers that formed over thousands of years. Jordan, Israel and Egypt are among the countries that use the water, but Libya operates the world’s largest such pumping operation and is expanding it further. Researchers have found that water Jordan is tapping from its Disi aquifer is up to 30 times more radioactive than the World Health Organization considers safe. What’s more, the problem “probably applies to all  sandstone aquifers in the region,” said a Duke University geochemist, which would mean the issue affects hundreds of millions of people. Spiegel Online International

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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