Tuesday

Report From 2 Doctors Groups Warn of Threat Chemicals Pose to Reproductive Health

Physicians urged to talk to pregnant women about how to avoid exposure to risky chemicals. The recommendation stems from a report by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine on industrial chemicals and pollutants that people can absorb from the air, water, food and everyday products. Few chemicals hit the market with good information about safe levels, a fact the groups hope to change. But certain chemicals are linked to infertility, miscarriages, birth defects and other problems, The report cited research suggesting nearly every pregnant woman is exposed to at least 43 chemicals. It urged doctors to ask mothers-to-be about exposure to chemicals during their first prenatal visits. The Associated Press

United Nations report cites dramatic reduction in HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. In an annual update, UN noted that more people are receiving treatment, even as HIV infects 35.3 million people worldwide. AIDS-related deaths in 2012 fell to 1.6 million, down from 1.7 million in 2011 and a peak of 2.3 million in 2005. The number of people newly infected with the disease dropped to 2.3 million in 2012 down from 2.5 million in 2011. By the end of 2012, some 9.7 million people in poorer and middle-income countries had access to such AIDS drugs, an increase of nearly 20 percent in a year. Separately, Britain said it is giving $1.6 billion to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next three years. Reuters, The Associated Press

Americans have a spotty understanding of Tylenol’s risks, nationwide poll finds. The telephone poll of 1,003 adults in February and March found that 51 percent of the respondents were unaware of any safety warnings associated with Tylenol. In addition, 35 percent of those surveyed said it was safe to mix Tylenol with another medicine that contains acetaminophen, Tylenol’s active ingredient. That practice is known as “double dipping” and can lead to accidental overdoses. All told, the findings suggest mixed results for efforts to raise awareness of Tylenol’s dangers by federal regulators, the drug industry and the unit of Johnson & Johnson that makes Tylenol. About 150 people die annually from acetaminophen overdoses. ProPublica

Statistics suggest China’s high-speed trains are among the world’s safest transportation systems. That is true despite a crash two years ago that killed 40 people, injured 192 and cast a lasting shadow over the reputation of China’s high-speed rail system. Government figures show that the system has carried about 1.8 billion passengers since the start of 2009. Rail experts inside and outside China say they are not aware of any fatal crashes other than the 2011 disaster near Wenzhou. An MIT expert said China’s high-speed rail “has so far established a mortality-risk level that equals or exceeds that of the world’s safest airlines.” By contrast, one gauge shows that China’s roads are six to 20 times more deadly those in the U.S. The New York Times

Nebraska food storage company accused of exposing workers to anhydrous ammonia. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 14 charges against Nebraska Cold Storage in Hastings, Neb., included four willful violations, the most serious category. OSHA faulted the company for, among other things, failing to protect workers from ammonia exposure and failing to fix equipment problems cited in a 2010 audit. OSHA put the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers, and proposed fines of $132,800. “Businesses that handle hazardous materials must take precautions to protect workers from exposure to chemicals, explosions and fire hazards,” an OSHA official said. OSHA 

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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