U.S. Suffers Far More Violent Deaths Than Any Other Wealthy Nation, Researchers Find

Study says shootings are one of many factors contributing to lower U.S. life expectancy. U.S. men ranked the lowest in life expectancy among the 17 wealthy countries reviewed, at 75.6 years, while U.S. women ranked second lowest, at 80.7 years. The study by an expert panel set up by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council is the first to systematically compare death rates and health for people of all ages. It blamed deaths from guns, car accidents and drug addiction for the U.S. lag in life expectancy, which largely comes from more fatalities among people younger than 50. The U.S. has about six violent deaths per 100,000 residents. The next-closest was Finland, with slightly more than two such deaths per 100,000 residents. The Associated Press, The New York Times

Early, severe flu season prompts officials in Massachusetts to declare a public health emergency. The outbreak also is creating unusually high demand for the flu vaccine around the country. More than 128 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed, nearly 95 percent of the 135 million doses that manufacturers were planning to make, officials said. In Massachusetts, 18 people have died of flu-related complications this season, and some Massachusetts hospitals are changing their visiting policies to limit potential exposure to flu-causing viruses. The last time a regular flu season started this early was the winter of 2003-04, which proved to be one of the deadliest seasons in the past 35 years, with more than 48,000 deaths. The Washington Post

Outgoing EPA chief calls finding on greenhouse gases her key legacy. Lisa Jackson, who announced last month that she will step down as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said she is proudest of presiding over the landmark finding that climate-changing greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. “Americans are back to believing that something is happening with our climate and that mankind has a role to play in that. These are not natural phenomena,” Jackson said. She said the EPA’s so-called “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gases pose a public threat, upheld despite court challenges, has enabled the agency to use the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions and “help businesses to look forward to a different future.” USA Today

Rising mercury levels in oceans are exposing developing countries to increasing risks, U.N. report says. The assessment by the U.N. Environment Program says parts of Africa, Asia and South America could see increasing emissions of mercury into the environment mainly due to small-scale gold mining, and through coal burning for electricity. Mercury in the air settles into soil, and then can seep into water. Mercury concentrations accumulate in fish and go up the food chain, posing the greatest risk of nerve damage to pregnant women, women of childbearing age and young children. The report comes in advance of talks in Geneva next week among nations negotiating a new treaty to reduce mercury emissions. The Associated Press

New U.S. drinking water rules are expected to mean fewer dangerous pathogens at the tap. The new regulation, announced last month and due to take effect within three years, is intended to sharpen the focus on pathogens that can make people sick. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that its revised rules will cost U.S. utilities an extra $14 million a year. About 155,000 public water systems, providing water to more than 300 million people, must comply. Water agencies now use an indicator of water quality intended to check for dangerous fecal matter. But its presence does not necessarily mean there’s a health threat. Under the new rule, agencies will add tests for E. coli, the most dangerous pathogen. Environmental Health News

Safety officials say contaminants at Superstorm Sandy cleanup sites are within federal workplace exposure limits. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration tested dozens of New York and New Jersey cleanup sites, measuring worker exposure to toxic substances. The agency fanned out to workplaces and debris sites ranging from beaches to landfills, testing for airborne contaminants and taking samples from debris and storm water. Some sites showed the presence of asbestos, carbon monoxide, lead and silica. Others had increased levels of noise. None, however, exceeded OSHA’s permissible exposure limits. Results from some test sites — which include private businesses, parks and roads — are still pending. The Associated Press

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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One comment to “U.S. Suffers Far More Violent Deaths Than Any Other Wealthy Nation, Researchers Find”

  1. Stacey Robles

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States suffers far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation, due in part to the widespread possession of firearms and the practice of storing them at home in a place that is often unlocked, according to a report released Wednesday by two of the nation’s leading health research institutions.

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