Use of E-Cigarettes Doubles Among U.S. Teens

One in 10 high school students tried an e-cigarette last year, up from one in 20 in 2011. Use of the devices, which deliver doses of nicotine through aerosol vapor, also doubled among middle schoolers, according to a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. E-cigarettes are not regulated by the federal government, and little is known about the amount of nicotine they contain and their potential health effects. E-cigarette manufacturers call them a safer alternative to traditional smokes and say they may help smokers quit. But critics say the devices appeal to kids since they come in flavors such as bubble gum and grape and are aggressively marketed as safe and cool in national ad campaigns featuring celebrities. Minnesota Public Radio, The New York Times

After worker’s death, South Dakota radiator manufacturer will pay $1.3 million in fines and criminal penalties. A worker at Adams Thermal Systems’ Canton, S.D., plant was fatally crushed in 2011 by a machine used to make radiator cores after managers instructed workers to bypass the machine’s safety guard to keep it running. In a subsequent investigation, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for three willful violations — the agency’s most serious offense– that OSHA says led to the worker’s death. A later investigation brought 66 more safety citations, 58 of them deemed serious. As part of the agreement, the company will pay $450,000 to the worker’s spouse, a criminal fine of $450,000 and OSHA fines of $435,000 and make safety improvements. OSHA, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.)

Shell will pay $1.1 million to settle Clean Air Act charges in Alaskan Arctic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims Shell failed to properly monitor air emissions from two drilling rigs used in the Arctic Ocean last year. It also says Shell exceeded pollution limits on one of the rigs and failed to report excess air emissions in a timely manner. Shell, which did not admit wrongdoing, has spent more than $5 billion on permits, personnel and equipment in its effort to drill in the Alaskan Arctic. But, after problems in 2012 ranging from equipment failures to heavy ice, it scrapped its drilling plans for 2013. Anchorage Daily News, The Wall Street Journal

Drilling fluids that triggered massive 2012 North Sea gas leak could threaten similar deep-sea wells. Corrosive drilling fluids, such as calcium bromide, caused a leak that created a huge cloud of flammable gas above a well in a gasfield operated by Total off Scotland’s coast. Those fluids are commonly used in other deep-sea wells where gas is produced at high temperatures and under high pressure, including in the Gulf of Mexico. Experts fear another disaster as operators increasingly turn to deeper, hotter and higher pressure fields. Total already has plans to shut down at least 10 other wells in the field where the leak occurred and has warned Shell that its nearby operations may be at risk. Reuters, The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

Arsenic emissions from Southern California battery recycler pose ‘chronic hazard’ to 250,000 people. Emissions from the Exide Technologies plant in Vernon, Calif., raise the risk of neurological problems, including a decrease in intellectual function in kids, a health official said. Regulators tried to shut the plant down in the spring after a report found its arsenic emissions posed an increased cancer risk to more than 110,000 people.  But the company was allowed to resume operations after it successfully appealed the decision in the Los Angeles Superior Court. The Georgia-based company, which is one of the world’s largest makers and recyclers of lead-acid batteries, says it has cut its arsenic emissions by more than 70 percent since 2010. Los Angeles Times

Compiled by Bridget Huber
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