Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Emergency care and hospitalizations higher among cannabis users, study finds

 News Release 27-Jun-2022
Serious physical injury and respiratory-reasons the two leading causes of ED visits and hospitalizations among cannabis users
Peer-Reviewed Publication
St. Michael's Hospital

Visits to the emergency department and hospitalizations are 22 per cent higher among individuals who use cannabis compared with those who do not, according to a new study.

The study, published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research and led by researchers at Unity Health Toronto and ICES, found serious physical injury and respiratory-reasons were the two leading causes of ED visits and hospitalizations among cannabis users.


tags: drug use, drug abuse,

Hate sites using the wider abortion argument to spread racism and extremism


 News Release 28-Jun-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Taylor & Francis Group


White supremacists are using the debate around women’s reproductive rights to promote racist and extremist agendas, finds a new study released today – following news on Friday that millions of women in the US will lose the constitutional right to abortion.

US white nationalists are heading on to a Neo-Nazi website, ‘Stormfront’, in order to recruit more people to their way of thinking. Whilst online they describe abortions by white women, as ‘murder’ and look to “weaponize” the procedure. However, the extremists reason abortion by non-white women as ‘acceptable’ or even ‘desirable’ because, they argue, the procedure could solve threats to white dominance – including the “urgent need to limit third world populations”.

The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Information, Communication & Society, come following a detailed computer-aided analysis of more than 30,000 posts, spanning over two decades on the site.




Natural gas used in homes contains hazardous air pollutants


  News Release 28-Jun-2022
Natural gas used in homes contains hazardous air pollutants shows Boston-area study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Policymakers and individuals can act to mitigate potential health risks from natural gas
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Every day, millions of Americans rely on natural gas to power appliances such as kitchen stoves, furnaces, and water heaters, but until now very little data existed on the chemical makeup of the gas once it reaches consumers.

A new study finds that natural gas used in homes throughout the Greater Boston area contains varying levels of volatile organic chemicals that when leaked are known to be toxic, linked to cancer, and can form secondary health-damaging pollutants such as particulate matter and ozone.


    Based on odorant concentrations, small leaks can be undetectable by smell - leaks up to 10 times naturally occurring levels may be undetectable, equating to a methane concentration of about 20 parts per million.

When gas leaks occur, even small amounts of hazardous air pollutants could impact indoor air quality because natural gas is used by appliances in close proximity to people. Persistent outdoor gas leaks located throughout the distribution system may also degrade outdoor air quality as precursors to particulate matter and ozone.

“This study shows that gas appliances like stoves and ovens can be a source of hazardous chemicals in our homes even when we’re not using them. These same chemicals are also likely to be present in leaking gas distribution systems in cities and up the supply chain,” 


Update noise regulations to protect seals, porpoises


 News Release 28-Jun-2022
New guidelines needed on pile driving noise for offshore wind turbine installation
Peer-Reviewed Publication
American Institute of Physics


Noise produced by pile drivers building offshore wind turbines can damage the hearing of porpoises, seals, and other marine life. Regulations are in place, but guidance on this difficult topic requires regular revisits to incorporate results from new experiments.




Maternal mortality jumped during COVID-19 pandemic


 News Release 28-Jun-2022
UMD, BU analysis shows that Black and Hispanic mothers bore the greatest burden
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Maryland


The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have taken a disproportionate toll on American mothers who were pregnant or just gave birth. Maternal mortality (i.e., deaths during pregnancy or in the early postpartum period) increased by 18% in 2020, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, exceeding the ~16% increase in overall US mortality in 2020. Yet according to a new analysis from the University of Maryland and Boston University, the maternal death rate after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was even higher, and disproportionately impacted Black and non-white Hispanic mothers.


 COVID-19 was listed as a secondary cause of death in 14.9% of maternal deaths in the last nine months of 2020, with it being a contributing factor for 32% of Hispanic, 12.9% of Black and 7% of non-Hispanic white women giving birth.


Children’s mental health visits to emergency departments increased during COVID-19 pandemic


 News Release 28-Jun-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago


In the Chicago area, pediatric mental health Emergency Department (ED) visits increased 27 percent at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a 4 percent increase monthly through February 2021, according to a study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago published in the journal Academic Pediatrics. The authors found increased ED visits for suicide, self-injury and disruptive behaviors, as well as higher admission rates for these children.

“During the pandemic, we found fewer ED visits for depression and anxiety and more visits for suicide or self-injury,” said lead author Lavanya Shankar, MD, MS, a hospitalist at Lurie Children’s and Health System Clinician of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Our findings suggest that emergency care is increasingly reserved for more severe cases of mood disorders involving risk of self-harm. We also found increased pediatric ED visits for disruptive, impulse control and conduct disorders, which may have worsened because of inability to access outpatient services or because of psychosocial stressors imposed by the pandemic.”


Study finds low vitamin D levels in young people of color


 News Release 28-Jun-2022
Black and Hispanic populations have high rates of deficiency
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Houston


Results from a University of Houston College of Nursing study indicate that 61% of otherwise healthy Black and Hispanic adolescents have low vitamin D levels, that drop even lower with age. The research fills a knowledge gap on groups of people who suffer from vitamin D deficiency.  

“Black and Hispanic populations have a markedly high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and higher incidence and worse outcomes for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and renal disease, all of which have been linked to vitamin D levels,” reports Shainy Varghese, associate professor of nursing at the UH College of Nursing, in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care. Her team examined the records of 119 ethnically diverse adolescents aged 12–18 from a suburban clinic in Southeast Texas.  

The benefits of vitamin D cannot be understated. It is reported to have great impacts on strengthening the immune system, preventing certain cancers, boosting your mood, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and more. Research also finds that among patients who are positive for COVID-19, those with low vitamin D had more severe respiratory symptoms than those with normal levels of vitamin D. 


 Vitamin D can is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because the body naturally produces it in response to sunshine, but absorption is more challenging for people with darker skin tones. Melanin absorbs and blocks UV light from reaching the cells that produce vitamin D. 

It can also be ingested when eating certain foods like salmon, trout, tuna, eggs and dairy products that are fortified with it. But, according to the report, as children grow older and have more autonomy, their choice of sugar-sweetened beverages may replace milk consumption, lowering their vitamin D levels further.  

[Also, many adults are lactose-intolerant.]



Robots driving U.S. co-workers to substance abuse, mental health issues

 News Release 29-Jun-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Pittsburgh

Automation enhances industry, but it’s harmful to the mental health of its human co-workers.

A University of Pittsburgh study suggests that while American workers who work alongside industrial robots are less likely to suffer physical injury, they are more likely to suffer from adverse mental health effects — and even more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.


In addition to U.S. businesses, the researchers also investigated the effects of robotics on workers in Germany. Both countries’ employees experienced a decrease in physical injury risk with a greater exposure to robotics in the workplace, with Germany sustaining a decrease in injuries of 5%. Interestingly, the team found differing results regarding mental health.

While an increase in U.S. exposure to robotics resulted in more adverse mental health effects, German workers saw no significant mental-health change when exposed to robotics. These findings then beg the question: Why does American automation at work seem to result in much more negative outcomes than in Germany?

“Robot exposure did not cause disruptive job losses in Germany; Germany has a much higher employment protection legislation,” Giuntella said. “Our evidence finds that, in both contexts, robots have a positive impact on the physical health of workers by reducing injuries and work- related disabilities. However, our findings suggests that, in contexts where workers were less protected, competition with robots was associated with a rise in mental health problems.”


Risk of death surges when extreme heat and air pollution coincide


 News Release 29-Jun-2022
Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers used a new analytic approach to study more than 1.5 million deaths across the state of California
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Keck School of Medicine of USC



 The study found that compared to days without extreme conditions, extreme heat days carried a 6.1% increase in risk of death. On extreme air pollution days, deaths were 5% more likely. But on days with both extreme heat and air pollution, deaths were 21% more likely — a synergistic effect almost double the impact of the individual exposures combined. 


Pollution exposure associated with multimorbidity risk

 News Release 29-Jun-2022
New study analyzed multimorbidity—coexistence of two or more chronic diseases—along with chronic exposure to air pollutants
Peer-Reviewed Publication

Exposure to the air pollution known as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is associated with an increased risk of having a cluster of multiple chronic diseases, according to a new study published this week in the open-access journal PLOS Global Public Health by Kai Hu of University of St. Andrews, UK, and colleagues.

Previous studies have provided abundant evidence on the association between air pollution and individual chronic diseases. 


The authors add: “Both lower and higher historical PM2.5 exposure is associated with faster multimorbidity accumulation. However, higher exposure to PM2.5 is associated with a higher risk of developing cardio-metabolic and respiratory multimorbidity (dominated by lung disease), whereas lower PM2.5 exposure is associated with a higher likelihood of musculoskeletal multimorbidity.”


Privatizing NHS services is associated with a decline in the quality of healthcare, increasing deaths from treatable causes


 News Release 29-Jun-2022
THE LANCET PUBLIC HEALTH: Privatizing NHS services is associated with a decline in the quality of healthcare, increasing deaths from treatable causes, study suggests
Peer-Reviewed Publication
The Lancet


Outsourcing of NHS services in England to for-profit companies increased steadily between 2013 and 2020, rising to over 6% of total expenditure for regional health boards – groups of general practitioners, nurses and other health professionals that commission services for their local area.

Increased privatisation was associated with higher rates of treatable mortality, with changes to outsourcing potentially linked to an extra 557 avoidable deaths in England during the study period.

The findings suggest caution around further outsourcing of NHS services in future, given the potential impact on quality of patient care.


Chilli peppers, coffee, wine: how the climate crisis is causing food shortages


Contributing to inflation.


Victoria Namkung
Tue 28 Jun 2022 06.00 EDT


Huy Fong Foods, the southern California company that produces 20m bottles of sriracha annually, has experienced a low inventory of red jalapeño chilli peppers in recent years made worse by spring’s crop failure.

The cause? Severe weather and drought conditions in Mexico.

It’s not just chilli peppers. Mustard producers in France and Canada said extreme weather caused a 50% reduction in seed production last year, leading to a shortage of the condiment on grocery store shelves. Blistering heat, stronger storms, droughts, floods, fires and changes in rainfall patterns are also affecting the cost and availability of staples, including wheat, corn, coffee, apples, chocolate and wine. The climate crisis is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events – and it’s putting food production at risk.

“Almost everything we grow and raise in the US is facing some climatic stress,” said Carolyn Dimitri, nutrition and food studies professor at NYU.


 The impact of the climate crisis on grain crops extends beyond the US. In India, a fierce heatwave damaged the wheat crop due to record-setting temperatures throughout the spring and summer. As Delhi hit 120F in May, the government placed a ban on wheat exports, driving up prices even further than the rise following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Climate change could seriously affect the global production of maize and wheat as early as 2030, a 2021 Nasa study found, with maize crop yields estimated to decline by 24%.

Apples are another food already at risk. Last year’s apple harvest in Michigan and Wisconsin was compromised because of heavy frost in the spring. According to the USDA, changes in climate, such as warming, can lead to smaller yields, lower growth and changes in the fruit’s quality.


Extreme weather is affecting the cost of coffee. Between April 2020 and December 2021, coffee prices increased 70% after droughts and frost destroyed crops in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee-producing country. The economic ramifications could be profound, since it’s estimated that as many as 120 million of the world’s poorest depend on coffee production for their survival.


The Biden administration is supporting research into “climate-smart” agriculture, an approach to managing cropland, forest, fisheries and livestock that attempts to address the intersecting challenges of the climate crisis and food security.

In May, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said that climate-related disasters and extreme weather were a driver of global hunger and that 1.7 billion people have been affected by the climate crisis over the last decade.

Experts say unless action is taken, we can expect to see increased food prices, decreased availability and conflict over water, which will primarily affect poorer countries and low-income Americans, straining everything from school lunches to food aid programs.



Friday, June 24, 2022

How fast is the universe expanding?


 It appears that the farther away an object is in the universe, the faster it is moving away from us.  This is said to show the universe is expanding at an increasing rate.  But the farther away things are, our observations are farther in the past.  So that would appear to show that the universe was expanding faster in the past than it is now.

Stubborn vs tenacious


Realize the difference between stubborn and tenacious. The stubborn person holds onto ideas and actions that clearly aren’t working, while the tenacious person keeps trying—and keeps trying different approaches. 


Why You're Getting Nothing Done When You Multitask


January 08, 2018


“There are some instances when multitasking can be beneficial, but most of the implications of multitasking are negative,” Dr. Syed says.

It may seem like we’re being more productive by getting several things done at the same time, but it’s more likely that multitasking actually detracts from our efficacy in each individual task, he says.

"For example, if I'm texting during a meeting, I'm probably not paying complete attention to what’s being said in the meeting," he says. "And, I’m probably rushing my text, and the message may come across as uncaring or crude. So neither task will get my full attention.”

Although it may seem that a person can do several things at once, in reality, the brain is able to perform one single task at a time.

“When we multitask, we are actually toggling back and forth between tasks,” Dr. Syed says.

But the result of chronic multitasking may be even more dangerous than incomplete or compromised tasks. It can also impart damage – physically, emotionally and socially.

The stress generated by trying to do too many things at once may actually damage a part of our brains called the anterior cingulate cortex,  Dr. Syed says. This part of the brain is thought to be involved in such diverse functions as regulating blood pressure and heart rate, decision-making, impulse control, reward anticipation, ethics and empathy for others.

“Studies have revealed actual damage to that part of the brain due to stress from multitasking,” Dr. Syed says. “That may help to explain the lack of empathy demonstrated by many young people who are constantly using their cell phones today.”


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

New data reveals extraordinary global heating in the Arctic


Damian Carrington Environment editor
Wed 15 Jun 2022 05.00 EDT 

New data has revealed extraordinary rates of global heating in the Arctic, up to seven times faster than the global average.

The heating is occurring in the North Barents Sea, a region where fast rising temperatures are suspected to trigger increases in extreme weather in North America, Europe and Asia. The researchers said the heating in this region was an “early warning” of what could happen across the rest of the Arctic.

The new figures show annual average temperatures in the area are rising across the year by up to 2.7C [4.8F] a decade, with particularly high rises in the months of autumn of up to 4C [7F] a decade. This makes the North Barents Sea and its islands the fastest warming place known on Earth.

Recent years have seen temperatures far above average recorded in the Arctic, with seasoned observers describing the situation as “crazy”, “weird”, and “simply shocking”. Some climate scientists have warned the unprecedented events could signal faster and more abrupt climate breakdown.


“Sea ice loss and warming in the Barents Sea in particular have been isolated in previous work as being especially relevant to changes in winter-time atmospheric circulation that are tied to extreme winter weather events,” said Prof Michael Mann, from Pennsylvania State University, US. “If this mechanism is valid, and there’s some debate over that, then this is yet another way climate change could be increasing certain types of extreme weather events [and which] isn’t well captured by current models.”

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Price of gas

 Erie Siobhan 🇺🇸

Gas is $8 a gallon in Canada. Last I checked, Joe Biden wasn’t President there. So tell me how high gas prices are all his fault.

 9:49 PM · Jun 11, 2022 

Mass killings


June 12, 2022


I notice that the media reports on the number of "mass shootings".  It seems to me we used to have more mass killings caused by bombs.   I am against selling guns to minors, and restrictions on some kinds of firearms, like machine guns, etc.


Being fooled


It's easier to fool someone than to convince them they've been fooled' - Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

The Current Rate of Ocean Warming Could Bring the Greatest Extinction of Sealife in 250 Million Years


 By Bob Berwyn
April 28, 2022


If greenhouse gas pollution remains unchecked, global warming could trigger the most catastrophic extinction of ocean species since the end of the Permian age, about 250 million years ago, scientists warned in a new study today. During the end-Permian Extinction, researchers estimate up to 90 percent of marine organisms died out in overheated, acidic and deoxygenated oceans.


That cataclysmic change may have resulted from giant volcanic eruptions that went on for 2 million years. But a 2021 study suggested that carbon dioxide emissions from current human activity are twice as high as those that caused the Permian climate to shift.


Global greenhouse gas concentrations are reaching new record levels each year, and Deutsch said that, given the political and economic uncertainties highlighted by events like the invasion of Ukraine, the possibility that diplomatic efforts to curb warming could fizzle can’t be ruled out.

Malin Pinsky, a Rutgers ecologist and evolutionary biologist who wrote a Perspective article about the new research by Deutsch and Penn, said global policy choices the last few decades have already prompted massive and rapid ocean changes, such as sea level rise, ocean acidification and global shifts of species, which are affecting food security in developing countries. More than half of all human-caused CO2 produced since 1750 have been emitted in just the last 30 years.


Oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped on the Earth’s surface by greenhouse gas pollution, building up at a rate equivalent to five atom bomb explosions per second. The average ocean temperature has reached record highs almost yearly, and its surface waters have grown 30 percent more acidic in the past 200 years.

Hot water is already killing marine life, and has perhaps already resulted in extinctions of regionally endemic species, especially during extreme events like marine heat waves.


Blame monopolies for today's sky-high inflation, Boston Fed researchers say


Ben Winck
May 26, 2022, 1:40 PM


The US's industrial concentration problem isn't anything new. The economy is at least 50% more concentrated now than it was in 2005, according to the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, a commonly used measure of industry concentration. That means a smaller group of companies control the lion's share of their respective sectors.

Companies typically pass higher input costs on to consumer prices. Yet that pass-through "becomes about 25 percentage points greater when there is an increase in concentration similar to the one observed since the beginning of this century," Fed economists Falk Bräuning, José L. Fillat, and Gustavo Joaquim said. Put simply, dwindling industry competition leads to companies raising prices at a much faster pace.

The pass-through happens through a variety of channels, according to the paper. The rise in concentration over the past two decades has been an "amplifying factor" to cost shocks from supply shortages, energy price spikes, and the labor shortage, the team said.



Monopolies raising prices


Robert Reich

If you really want to understand skyrocketing prices, take a look at monopoly power.

The economy is at least 50% more concentrated now than it was in 2005.

In a market with only a few massive corporations who can coordinate price hikes, everyone gets shafted.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Fossil Fuels Aren’t Just Harming the Planet. They’re Making Us Sick


By Liza Gross, Victoria St. Martin
May 12, 2022

For years, researchers have warned that chemical pollutants tied to fossil fuels have become so pervasive that they would be impossible for anyone to avoid.

A study released earlier this week may be the first indication of how widely some chemicals have spread. Researchers found multiple classes of potentially harmful chemicals where they’ve never been measured before: in the bodies of pregnant women.

Those findings have helped spur a call for policymakers to act now to protect environmental and public health from threats posed by the close connection between climate change and synthetic chemicals, most of which are derived from petroleum.

Scientists have known for decades that babies can be exposed to industrial chemicals even before birth because these chemicals can cross the placenta.

“To a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted,’” scientists with the U.S. National Cancer Institute reported in 2010.



She said we know from animal studies and cell studies that a lot of the chemicals they found can interfere with the ability of the body to make hormones or respond to hormones. “And this often could lead to problems with reproduction, with development, with metabolism,” she said. 


And now, faced with pressure to cut back on fossil fuels, researchers said in a webinar Tuesday, oil and gas companies are ramping up production of petrochemicals and plastics.

“As fuel production decreases slightly, that increase is more than offset by the demand for plastics and petrochemicals,” said Marty Mulvihill, a chemist and co-founder of Safer Made, which funds efforts to reduce human exposure to harmful chemicals.  

More than 60 percent of oil demand is expected to come from plastics and chemicals in the next decade, Mulvihill said.

That shift, researchers say, is not good news for health or the climate. Both chemicals and chemical production have a “significant” carbon footprint, with chemical manufacturing accounting for 18 percent of industrial carbon emissions, Mulvihill said. 


Fashion Industry Efforts to Verify Sustainability Make ‘Greenwashing’ Easier


By Phil McKenna
May 8, 2022


 Environmental certification programs that claim to verify the sustainability of fashion brands actually facilitate “greenwashing” for the apparel industry, according to a recent report by environmental advocacy organization Changing Markets Foundation.

The organization, which was founded in 2015 and is based in the Netherlands, seeks to drive change toward a more sustainable economy by exposing what it feels are irresponsible corporate practices. Its analysis of voluntary efforts designed  to reduce fashion’s growing environmental footprint found the programs led to increased pollution instead, and are helping to cement the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“Waste increases, utilization of clothes decreases, and reliance on fossil fuels increases,” said George Harding-Rolls, a campaign manager at Changing Markets and lead author of the report. “Yet, these schemes continue to exist and say that sustainable fashion is just around the corner. This is actually preventing us from taking the more systemic action that we need, such as more regulation and legislation.”


911 calls were not directly communicated to Pete Arredondo during school shooting, state senator says


I wondered if that might have been the case.


 Texas Public Radio | By Bri Kirkham
Published June 2, 2022 at 2:53 PM CDT 

The 911 calls made during the Robb Elementary School shooting were not directly relayed to Uvalde CISD police chief Pete Arredondo at the scene, according to State Sen. Roland Gutierrez.

“What we do know is that the 911 calls were not being communicated to the so-called incident commander, Officer Arredondo. They were being communicated to a Uvalde police officer,” Gutierrez said.

It’s unclear if Uvalde PD was then expected to communicate that information to Arrendondo — who was the incident commander on scene when 19 children and two teachers were killed. The UCISD police chief has been under fire for his delayed response to the shooting.

Climate change has made India’s heat wave 100 times more likely, UK weather service says


 Emma Newburger

  • The blistering heat wave in northwest India and Pakistan was made over 100 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, according to a new study from the United Kingdom’s Met Office.

  • The analysis suggests that high temperatures that used to occur about every 300 years may now happen about every three years.

  • The extreme temperatures, which began in March, have already set records in the region and have forced millions of people to rearrange how they can work and live.
India experienced its highest March temperatures and third-highest April temperatures in 122 years of records, and Pakistan has experienced its hottest April on record. 


Without accounting for climate change, the probability of exceeding a heat event like the one that occurred in 2010 would only be expected once every 312 years, according to the study. But accounting for the current effects of climate change, such record-breaking temperatures are now expected every 3.1 years. By the end of the century, the chances could increase to every 1.15 years, the study cautioned.