Rats, radiation and the cellphone: A large study conducted by the National Toxicology Program has found that male rats exposed to some kinds of cellphone radiation are more likely to develop cancerous heart tumors and brain tumors. It’s difficult to say just what the highly anticipated final results mean for human cellphone users. For one thing, the study used radio frequencies that are now out of date–2G and 3G technology–and the rats were exposed to much higher doses over longer periods than heavy cellphone users experience. Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said the findings “should not be applied to human cellphone usage.” But others argue that the results raise public health concerns given the billions of cellphone users across the globe, including small children who will log decades of exposure. Ron Melnick, a now-retired researcher who helped design the study, told Microwave News, an online publication focused on the health effects of non-ionizing radiation, “It’s time for the FCC and the FDA to tell the public that cell phone radiation can cause cancer.”
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‘Greyhound therapy’: A Las Vegas jury found that homeless patients of a Nevada psychiatric hospital who were discharged onto buses and shipped out of state are each entitled to $250,000 in damages, The Sacramento Bee reports. Reporters from the newspaper were named finalists for a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for their coverage of patient dumping by Nevada’s primary mental health center. Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital bused some 1,500 people out of state in a period of about five years, and many of them subsequently died, went missing, or committed serious crimes, The Bee found. The lawsuit could affect hundreds of people treated with what was dubbed “Greyhound therapy.”
- Also: After a ProPublica investigation found numerous allegations of sexual assault and abuse of children admitted to Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, the Illinois child welfare agency said it would stop sending people in its care to the psychiatric hospital. But it would not initiate the independent investigation that patient and child advocates are demanding.
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‘We were wrong’: If the latest report from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change raised your climate anxiety a few degrees, you may want to hold off on reading this one. A study published in the journal Nature used a novel way of measuring ocean temperature and found that the world’s oceans may already be much warmer than previously thought, which means the world must act with even more urgency than stated by the IPCC. “We thought that we got away with not a lot of warming in both the ocean and the atmosphere for the amount of CO2 that we emitted,” Laure Resplandy, a Princeton geoscientist who led the study group, told The Washington Post. “But we were wrong. The planet warmed more than we thought. It was hidden from us just because we didn’t sample it right. But it was there. It was in the ocean already.”
- Also: There’s more evidence that China is producing CFC-11, an industrial gas that contributes to global warming and was banned under the Montreal Protocol. –– The latest attempt by the federal government to have the climate change case filed against it by 21 children and young adults failed, though the path forward isn’t entirely clear. –– Susan Ormiston of CBC News explores how Yukon glaciers are changing. –– The outcome of gubernatorial races could dramatically shape regional response to climate change, Umair Irfan of Vox writes.
Deaths on the job: In a rare case of criminal charges following a workplace death, two managers at an Ohio aluminum company have been indicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Extrudex Aluminum employee John J. Tomlin Jr., 21, was killed in October 2012, when a rack of hot aluminum parts fell over and pinned him. A 19-year-old co-worker suffered serious burns. General Manager Brian K. Carder and Safety Coordinator Paul Love are accused of hatching a plan to provide false statements to investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, failing to produce emails about safety issues, and threatening employees’ jobs if they did not recant statements about safety issues at the plant, according to a Department of Labor press release. Carder and Love have pleaded not guilty, the Associated Press reports.
- Also: Northeast Framing faces proposed penalties of $311,330 for failing to properly train workers at an East Boston construction site or to provide adequate equipment, after 48-year-old carpenter Jose Rodriguez fell four stories to his death in May. –– OSHA once again has cited Crown Roofing of Florida for exposing workers to fall hazards, after the company allowed employees to install roofing without a fall protection system, the 13th such citation issued to the company since 2014. –– Arrow Plumbing of Missouri has admitted to willfully violating safety standards meant to protect people working in a trench from a dangerous cave-in, after an employee was killed in December 2016. The company and its successor, R2 Plumbing, will complete training, hire a safety consultant to implement a trench safety program, conduct regular safety audits, and pay a $225,000 penalty, according to a press release.
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A gun tradition: Rosemary Westwood looks at the deep-running family tradition of guns and what it means for gun control in America. “It was neat to be able to find this thing my dad and I could bond over, my grandpa and I could bond over, my uncles, that all these different people and I could share,” Alexis Lagan of USA Shooting and a 2020 Olympic hopeful told Westwood about her early days in competitive shooting.
- Also: About 100 volunteers with the Texas Minutemen and other militia groups are headed to the border to respond to caravans of Central American immigrants in Mexico. Mary Lee Grant and Nick Miroff of The Washington Post report that, asked if they would go with weapons, Minuteman President Shannon McGauley laughed and said, “This is Texas, man.”
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It’s Yuma romaine season: The lettuce-growing season for the desert valleys of the Southwest begins this month and runs through April, and this year growers will face more scrutiny, writes Geoffrey Mohan of the Los Angeles Times. Last year, lettuce tainted with a powerful strain of e. coli killed five people and sickened another 205 in 36 states. The Food and Drug Administration believes the bacteria came from an irrigation canal that ran alongside a massive cattle feed lot. Growers have promised to treat any water used from canals near the feed lot, and the FDA will routinely test samples of romaine grown in the region, Mohan writes. Thomas Gremillion, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, said in a press release that the FDA plan so far “calls into question whether the industry has an adequate response to prevent another tragedy like this one.”
- Also: The FDA has had the authority to enforce mandatory food recalls since 2011, but has used the power infrequently and only now is issuing official guidance on how it will do so in the future. “Our aim is to expand the appropriate use of our mandatory recall authority in cases where we have to intervene quickly to help protect consumers from unsafe products,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release.
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E-cigs on the beach: Vaping has gotten a lot of attention this year as a threat to youth and to decades of public health efforts aimed at reducing tobacco use. But what about as a single-use product that ends up in the waste stream? Mari A. Schaefer of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that e-cigarettes are made of some parts that are recyclable and some parts–like the lithium batteries–that are considered hazardous waste. But there’s little guidance from manufacturers on how to dispose of them properly, and the cartridges are showing up where they’re not wanted. “We started seeing them a number of years ago,” Cindy Zipf, executive director of a nonprofit organization that monitors beach-cleanup reports from the New Jersey Shore, told Schaefer. “Most of us didn’t even know what they were.”
- Also: The Los Angeles city attorney is seeking injunctions against three California-based e-cigarette companies, alleging that they failed to take precautions against online sales to minors, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Chelsea Conaboy is a FairWarning contributor and freelance writer and editor specializing in health care. Find more of her work at chelseaconaboy.com.