Bulletin BoardOctober 14, 2005



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Bulletin BoardOctober 14, 2005Contact us: chemwatch@chemwatch.nettel +61 3 9572 4700fax +61 3 9572 4777Emergency +61 3 9573 311270 Bambra Rd Caulfield NorthVictoria 3161 Australia*While Chemwatch has taken all efforts to ensure the accuracy of information in this publication, it is not intended to be comprehensive or to render advice. Websites rendered are subject to change.Tamer’s TipWord WheelThe word wheel provides an alternative way in which to conduct your search. It is particularly useful when you are not certain about the exact spelling of a material or only part of the material name is known. It is also useful if you need to identify a material by its abbreviation, Trade Name or manufacturerís code as it narrows in on the material being searched for letter by letter or number by number. Try it by clicking on the Wheel button in the search screen. Slowly start typing a name and give it a go!Hazard AlertFurfuralFurfural is a viscous, colourless liquid that has a pleasant aromatic odour; upon exposure to air it turns dark brown or black. It boils at about 160∞C. It is commonly used as a solvent; it is soluble in ethanol and ether and somewhat soluble in water. Furfural is the aldehyde of pyromucic acid; it has properties similar to those of benzaldehyde. A derivative of furan, it is prepared commercially by dehydration of pentose sugars obtained from cornstalks and corncobs, husks of oat and peanut and other waste products. It is used in the manufacture of pesticides, phenolfurfural resins, and tetrahydrofuran. Tetrahydrofuran is used as a commercial solvent and is converted in starting materials for the preparation of nylon. [1] Health Hazards: [2]Acute Health Effects• Contact can irritate the skin and eyes.• Breathing Furfural can irritate the nose and throat.• Breathing Furfural can irritate the lungs causing coughing and/or shortness of breath. Higher exposures can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), a medical emergency, with severe shortness of breath.• Exposure to high concentrations can cause you to become dizzy, lightheaded, and to pass out.Chronic Health EffectsCancer Hazard• There is limited evidence that Furfural causes cancer in animals. It may cause cancer of the liver.Other Long-Term Effects• Furfural may cause a skin allergy. If allergy develops, very low future exposure can cause itching and a skin rash.• Repeated exposure may cause loss of sense of taste, numbness of the tongue, headache, tiredness, tremors, itchy throat, and watery eyes.• Long-term exposure may cause liver damage.Personal Protection [2]Clothing• Avoid skin contact with Furfural. Wear solvent-resistant gloves and clothing. Safety equipment suppliers/manufacturers can provide recommendations on the most protective glove/clothing material for your operation.• All protective clothing (suits, gloves, footwear, headgear) should be clean, available each day, and put on before work.• Safety equipment manufacturers recommend Butyl Rubber, Polyvinyl Alcohol and Silver Shield as protective materials.Eye Protection• Wear indirect-vent, impact and splash resistant goggles when working with liquids.• Wear a face shield along with goggles when working with corrosive, highly irritating or toxic substances.Respiratory Protection• Where the potential exists for exposure over 2 ppm, use a MSHA/NIOSH approved full facepiece respirator with an organic vapor cartridge. Increased protection is obtained from full facepiece powered-air purifying respirators.• Where the potential for high exposure exists, use a MSHA/NIOSH approved supplied-air respirator with a full facepiece operated in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode. For increased protection use in combination with an auxiliary self-contained breathing apparatus operated in a pressure-demand or other positive- pressure mode.• Exposure to 100 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health. If the possibility of exposure above 100 ppm exists, use a MSHA/NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus with a full facepiece operated in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode.1. http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/f1/furfural.asp2. http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/rtkweb/0953.pdfLegislationAsia PacificVictoria: Changes to the WorkSafe licencing process2005-09-27On 25 July 2005 WorkSafe Victoria released the publication WorkSafe Licences: Improving the Process, outlining the improvements it has made to its processes for granting licences, approvals, authorisations, certificates, notifications and registrations. All licences have been brought under one system where applicants can use the WorkSafe website to access forms, guidance documents and the decision-making criteria. Other changes include requiring proof of identification, requiring persons using explosives and certain other dangerous goods to undergo police and other security checks, and improving the WorkSafe response time in cases of minor application errors or requests for further information. The changes aim to clarify the procedures to obtain licences, ensure licence holders are properly qualified, make the decision making process fair, consistent and transparent, and improve national security. Enhesa Update, August 2005Regulations prohibiting the export and import of ammonium nitrate except by strict licencing passed2005-09-27On 23 July 2005 the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 and the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 were amended to prohibit the import and export of security sensitive ammonium nitrate (as it is defined in the Amendment Regulations) except in accordance with specific conditions set out therein such as a permission or permit from the relevant State or Territory Authority. This is in line with the Australian Government’s anti-terrorism policy. Enhesa Update, August 2005Victoria: Electricity Safety (Equipment) (Amendment) Regulations 20052005-09-27On 27 July 2005 the Electricity Safety (Equipment) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 were passed and entered into force on 1 August 2005. These amend the Electricity Safety (Equipment) Regulations 1999, which prescribe minimum standards of safety, certification, approval and marking for electrical equipment. The amendment prescribes further minimum standards of safety for electrical equipment by extending the obligations in AS/NZS 3820:1998 Essential safety requirements for low voltage electrical equipment to the equipment specified in clauses 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.5 of that standard. The Regulations are made under the Electricity Safety Act 1998. Enhesa Update, August 2005Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Change2005-09-27On 28 July 2005 the Australian Government along with he United States of America (USA), India, Japan and South Korea announced the formation of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Change. By this Partnership these countries aim to address climate change and energy issues in a way that promotes economic development, and that is consistent with these countries’ efforts under the efforts under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Partnership released a Vision Statement for the Partnership at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Vientiane on 28 July 2005 outlining their cooperative aims. Enhesa Update, August 2005AmericaWellness in the Workplace Crucial to Business Success, Executives Say 2005-09-27After conducting more than 100 one-on-one interviews with executive managers from a host of industries earlier this year, the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses has released findings that uncover employers’ attitudes toward employee health. Among the findings: 72 percent of interviewees indicated keeping employees healthy is crucial to business success and felt it is their duty to keep employees safe and well.About half of the executives interviewed said they do not know the full costs related to employee health and disability issues, but those who said they did have such information tended to be the most active in offering value-focused employee health activities, such as employee health and wellness programs, according to AAOHN. Sixty percent of the interviewees described their company’s OHN as “invaluable”; and all employers, when asked to rate the benefits OHNs bring to their business, said reduced worker’s compensation, a better bottom line due to health and safety programs, reduced absenteeism, and reduced incidence of injuries/fatalities were the top benefits.Occupational Health and Safety News, September 2005National emission standards finalized for hazardous waste combustors2005-09-27On September 16, EPA announced is issuing final emission standards for hazardous waste combustors that seeks to remove mercury, lead, particulate matter, arsenic and other hazardous pollutants from the environment. The National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants reduce emissions from incinerators, lightweight aggregate kilns, boilers and process heaters, and hydrochloric acid production furnaces, known collectively as hazardous waste combustors. EPA estimates that 145 facilities operating 265 existing hazardous waste burning devices will be affected by this rule, which requires them to use the maximum achievable pollution control technology (MACT).EPA’s technology-based standards will reduce emissions of hazardous pollutants including lead, mercury, particulate matter, arsenic, dioxin and furans, and hydrogen chloride and chlorine gas. EPA believes that better control of air pollutants will result in fewer cases of chronic bronchitis, reduced hospitalization for severe respiratory conditions and cardiovascular problems in adults and children, and fewer cancer cases. The rule protects vulnerable populations living near hazardous waste burning facilities from the effects of hazardous air pollutants. This rule becomes effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.Environmental Protection News, September 2005http://www.epa.govHazardous liquid disposal2005-09-27Safety Vac is a motorized, vacuum-based system that quickly collects, captures and facilitates disposal of hazardous liquids. Safety-Vac systems promote environmental regulatory compliance in a fashion that is less labor-intensive than manual methods. Safety-Vac collects liquids and particle solids in approved disposal containers with spark-free power systems to avoid flammability hazards when collecting liquids such as jet or diesel fuel. Diesel, LP, and battery-powered models are available.Environmental Protection News, September 2005http://www.epa.govEuropeNational regulation rail transport dangerous goods in the Netherlands2005-09-27Dutch authorities are preparing new national regulations, scheduled to come into force in 2007, concerning the rail transport in the Netherlands of dangerous goods, comprising the following provisions:• Rail transport will only be possible on a limited number of corridors of different categories for the various dangerous goods categories;• The allowed number of rail tank cars per corridor per year will be limited to a fixed ceiling value per product category;• It will be checked, using the “basisnet toets”, if as a consequence of the development of new chemical manufacturing activities or the expansion of existing activities in the Netherlands, the fixed ceiling values are exceeded. If so, the possibility will exist to prohibit such activities. Since this would apply for both national and international transports, it could also result in the restriction of possible expansions in neighboring countries. The proposed restrictions in rail transport are based on national risk standards used in Dutch environmental legislation and are not covered by European legislation.Received from Ulrich Dahmen Chemwatch, Denmark, 25 September 2005Janet’s Corner - Not Too Seriously!10 Facts of Life 1. Psychiatrists say that one of four people are mentally ill. Check three friends. If they’re OK, you’re it.2. A truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn.3. It has recently been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.4. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.5. If you are given an open-book exam, you will forget your book. If you are given a take-home test, you will forget where you live.6. The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.7. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.8. The average woman would rather have beauty than brains, because the average man can see better than he can think.9. A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell and make you feel happy to be on your way.10. Vital papers will demonstrate their vitality by moving from where you left them to where you can’t find them.GossipChild clothes ‘fail to block sun’ 2005-09-27A quarter of children’s clothing could be failing to give proper protection from the sun’s harmful rays, experts have warned. A team from the Health Protection Agency tested 100 items of child clothing from high street stores. Using the same measure of cover against UV rays as sun lotions, they found 25% offered less protection than factor 15. The items offering the least protection were dresses, followed by shirts. Swimwear came out the best. The team believes it is partly down to the weave of the fabric - when fibres are closer together the protection is greater. Clothes that were stretched or got wet would offer less protection. Dr Jill Meara, deputy director of the HPA’s radiation protection division, said clothing companies should give information about sun protection on their products. She said labels could carry a sun protection factor in the same way that sun creams do. Speaking at the HPA’s annual conference at the University of Warwick, she said: “I think parents have the right to know what protection from the sun clothes are giving. “Most people do not realise that just because you are covered up, it does not mean that you are totally protected against UV rays.” BBC News, 17 September 2005http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/healthFruits and vegetables half pancreatic cancer risk2005-09-27A diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 50 percent, according to a study by UCSF researchers. Published in the recent issue of the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, the study found that 50 percent reduced risk was associated with eating at last five servings per day of the protective vegetables or fruit, compared to those who ate two servings a day or less. And eating nine servings per day of vegetables and fruit combined also was associated with about a 50 percent reduced pancreatic cancer risk compared with eating less than five servings per day. The vegetables most strongly associated with increased protection were onions, garlic, beans, yellow vegetables, dark leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. Light-green vegetables, tomatoes and tomato products showed weaker protective benefits. Fruits were found to be protective but significantly less so than vegetables, with citrus fruits and citrus juices most protective. Google News, 18 September 2005http://news.google.com/news/gnhealthleftnav.htmlHigh mercury levels found in store-bought fish2005-09-27Swordfish purchased at leading U.S. grocery store chains have tested above the legal limit for levels of mercury, according to a study released by US environmental groups. A University of North Carolina lab found mercury in 24 swordfish samples from supermarket chains including Safeway, Shaws, Albertsons and Whole Foods. Among the 24 samples tested by researchers, the average levels of mercury found were 1.1 parts per million, topping the federal government’s limit of 1.0 ppm. Two samples from Maine and Rhode Island contained double the legal limit. “It means that 50 percent of the time you’re going to get a higher number,” said Jackie Savitz, director of the seafood contamination campaign for the advocacy group Oceana.Groups that paid for the analysis want supermarkets to post signs warning shoppers of health risks from mercury, and they want the government to increase its testing. Elevated mercury levels have been linked to learning disabilities and developmental delays in children and to heart, nervous system and kidney damage in adults. The federal government advises pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children to avoid fish with high levels of mercury - shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish.Google News, 16 September 2005http://news.google.com/news/gnhealthleftnav.htmlA few cigarettes a day ‘deadly’ 2005-09-27Smoking just one to four cigarettes a day almost triples a person’s risk of dying of heart disease, according to Norwegian researchers. Their work suggests the health impact is stronger for women and that even “light” smokers face similar diseases to heavier smokers, including cancer. The team tracked the health and death rates of almost 43,000 men and women from the mid 1970s up to 2002. Compared with those who had never smoked, the men and women who smoked between one and four cigarettes a day were almost three times as likely to die of coronary artery disease. Among women, smoking one to four cigarettes daily increased the chance of dying from lung cancer almost five times. Men who smoked this amount were almost three times as likely to be killed by lung cancer. However, due to the relatively small number of men that this applied to in the study sample, this finding could have been due to chance. So-called “light” smokers were also found to have a significantly higher risk of dying from any cause - 1.5 times higher generally - than those who had never smoked, when researchers looked at deaths among those studied over the duration of the research. Death rates from all causes rose as the number of cigarettes smoked every day increased. BBC News, 21 September 2005http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/healthPesticide protection ‘inadequate’ 2005-09-27The public needs more protection from farming pesticides, a report warns. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution report said more research was needed into a possible link between pesticides and ill health. It recommended in the meantime no-spray zones to reduce potential risk to the public and more information on sprays. Ministers will study the findings before responding. The Crop Protection Association said it was confident pesticides were safe if used correctly. Former rural affairs minister Alun Michael called for the report in June 2004 to address growing controversy over whether human health was at risk from the use of agricultural pesticides. It followed claims from a number of sick people that crop spraying had caused illnesses including nervous disorders, depression and even cancer. Royal Commission (RCEP) chairman Sir Tom Blundell said, “We have a large number of people who live next to arable fields that are sprayed and a number of them, a few hundreds, are ill, and they think they are ill because they’ve either been sprayed or spray drift has come over their homes. BBC News, 22 September 2005http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/healthJunk food ads ‘should be banned’ 2005-09-27Junk food advertising should be banned in an effort to reduce childhood obesity, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman has said. Ed Davey said it was important to create a “cultural shift” away from fizzy drinks, fat and salt towards better nutrition. Mr Davey also called for increased budgets for school dinners. Mr Davey said: “Should we be banning the advertising of junk food? I think we should. “It’s about changing behaviour and the tastes of children, because of advertising and the sort of food children are used to. “Often when healthy food is brought into school, children don’t like it. “It isn’t just about money and training for school staff; it’s about a more cultural shift, involving education for the children and the parents.” Ministers have put aside £60m for a School Food Trust to advise schools - and parents - on healthier meals. A panel of experts will draw up guidelines for caterers to follow, starting from this autumn. They will become mandatory from September 2006.BBC News, 21 September 2005http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/healthMotor oil may up arthritis risk 2005-09-27Occupational exposure to motor oil and similar substances may increase the risk of arthritis, research suggests. Exposure to mineral oils, in particular hydraulic or motor oil, was linked to a 30% increased risk of developing certain forms of rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers, from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, believe mineral oils may contain molecules that activate the immune system. The study is published in Arthritis Research and Therapy. The Karolinska team focused on patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis between 1996 and 2003. Each patient provided details of their exposure to different types of mineral oils, including asphalt and engine oil. The results suggested that exposure to hydraulic or motor oil was associated with an increased risk of two forms of rheumatoid arthritis. The study confirmed previous tests in animals, in which exposure to mineral oil had been shown to cause arthritis in rats. A spokesperson for the Arthritis Research Campaign said: “The results of this study are not as bizarre as they may seem. “We know from our own studies that all kinds of odd risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis turn up in these studies, such as having a blood transfusion, and eating lots of red meat. “There was even a study a few years ago that showed if you had a well at the bottom of your garden you were more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. “Also, three times as many women as men have rheumatoid arthritis, and they rarely have any exposure to motor oils. “However, this is a serious study in a prestigious journal and should be taken seriously. BBC News, 22 September 2005http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/healthHands down, women more conscientious washers2005-09-27According to a new U.S. observational study, 90 per cent of women wash their hands after using a public restroom, compared with 75 per cent of men. The results were based on research conducted by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association.In August, 2005, researchers observed 6,336 people wash their hands - or fail to wash their hands - at aquariums, train stations, markets and sports facilities in four major U.S. cities. A second study was also conducted by telephone, asking Americans how frequently they wash their hands after using a public restroom. In the telephone survey, 91 per cent of those polled said they wash their hands every time they use a communal restroom. When researchers took a look for themselves, however, they found something different. Those findings suggested that only 83 per cent of those who used public restrooms later lathered up.Among the cites observed in the study, fans at Atlanta’s Turner Field had the worst hygiene habits, with more than one-quarter of people failing to wash up at using the facilities. The biggest gender disparity was seen at New York’s Penn Station, where 92 per cent of women washed their hands after going to the washroom, compared with only 64 per cent of men. The most conscientious hand washers were observed at San Francisco’s Ferry Terminal Farmers Market. In total, 88 per cent of those observed cleaned up after using the facilities.Google News, 21 September 2005http://news.google.com/news/gnhealthleftnav.htmlCalifornia judge rules tattoo inks must carry health warnings 2005-09-27A California Superior Court judge, citing health risks of lead and arsenic in tattoo inks, has ordered two major tattoo-ink manufacturers to carry warning labels. The preliminary injunction granted by Judge Irving Feffer also requires Huck Spaulding Enterprises of New York and Superior Tattoo Equipment of Phoenix to carry the labels in their catalogs and on their Internet sites aimed at California customers. The warning, Judge Feffer said, must tell customers that tattoo inks and pigments contain heavy metals, including lead and arsenic, which have been “scientifically determined by the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects and other reproductive harm.” The labels must also advise pregnant women or those of childbearing age to consult with their doctors before getting a tattoo, he ruled. A spokesman for Superior Tattoo Equipment said the company had no comment on the ruling. “The judge saw this as an important issue, and issued the injunction to move the case along,” said Deborah Sivas, president of the American Environmental Safety Institute in Palo Alto, California. The institute, a non-profit group interested in environmental and public health hazards, filed suit in 2004 against the two companies, as well as seven smaller manufacturers, under California’s Proposition 65, which requires warnings be given to individuals before they are exposed to hazardous chemicals. Judge Feffer’s ruling is in force, Sivas said, until the case comes to trial, now set for November. Google News, 22 September 2005http://news.google.com/news/gnhealthleftnav.htmlAloe vera coating may prolong freshness, safety Of fruits and vegetables2005-09-27Aloe vera gel is best known for its therapeutic effect on burned or irritated skin, but in the future you could be eating the gel as a healthful additive to your fruits and veggies. Researchers in Spain say they have developed a gel from the tropical plant that can be used as an edible coating to prolong the quality and safety of fresh produce. The gel, which does not appear to affect food taste or appearance, shows promise as a safe, natural and environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional synthetic preservatives that are currently applied to produce after harvesting, the researchers say. Although a number of edible coatings have been developed to preserve food freshness, the new coating is believed to be the first to use Aloe vera, according to study leader Daniel Valero, Ph.D., of the University of Miguel Hern·ndez in Alicante, Spain. Valero and his associates dipped a group of common table grapes (Crimson Seedless) into Aloe vera gel and stored them for five weeks under low temperature while exposing a group of untreated table grapes to the same conditions. The colorless Aloe gel used in this study was developed through a special processing technique that maximized the amount of active compounds in the gel, Valero and associates say. The gel can also be applied as a spray, they add. The untreated grapes appeared to deteriorate rapidly within about 7 days, whereas the gel-coated grapes were well-preserved for up to 35 days under the same experimental conditions, the researchers say. The gel-treated grapes were firmer, had less weight loss and less color change than the untreated grapes, measures which correspond to higher freshness, they say. A sensory panel (10 people) evaluated the quality of both the untreated and the gel-treated grapes by consuming some of the grapes. They found that the gel-treated grapes were generally superior in taste. Science Daily, 22 September 2005http://www.sciencedaily.comNew, Healthful Compound Discovered In Exotic Lentils2005-09-27Beluga black lentils glisten and shimmer when they are cooked, showing off the rich, dark-black sheen of their namesake--Beluga caviar. Although these attractive, nutritious members of the pea and bean family have been a culinary favorite for thousands of years, it is only recently that scientists have unlocked the secret of their appealing color. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist Gary R. Takeoka and colleagues have determined that the color-imparting compound is a previously unknown, natural pigment known as an anthocyanin. And, like some other anthocyanins, it may benefit our health. Anthocyanins are responsible for the attractive reds, blues and purples of many flowers, fruits and vegetables, according to Takeoka. He’s examining Beluga black lentils and other legumes as candidate ingredients for an array of new, healthful and great-tasting snacks. A crispy, low-calorie, low-fat lentil snack that Takeoka and coinvestigators are working to create may offer a satisfying alternative to high-fat products.Beluga black lentils are a tiny, quick-cooking, specialty food used in salads, winter soups or other dishes. Perhaps better known in Europe and Asia than in the United States, this mild-flavored lentil is high in protein and a good source of magnesium, iron, zinc, B vitamins and carbohydrates.Science Daily, 21 September 2005http://www.sciencedaily.comUniversity of Denmark scientists develop hydrogen tablet2005-09-27Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark have invented a technology which may be an important step towards the hydrogen economy: a hydrogen tablet that effectively stores hydrogen in an inexpensive and safe material. With the new hydrogen tablet, it becomes much simpler to use the environmentally-friendly energy of hydrogen. Hydrogen is a non-polluting fuel, but since it is a light gas it occupies too much volume, and it is flammable. Consequently, effective and safe storage of hydrogen has challenged researchers world-wide for almost three decades. At the Technical University of Denmark, DTU, an interdisciplinary team has developed a hydrogen tablet which enables storage and transport of hydrogen in solid form. “Should you drive a car 600 km using gaseous hydrogen at normal pressure, it would require a fuel tank with a size of nine cars. With our technology, the same amount of hydrogen can be stored in a normal gasoline tank”, says Professor Claus Hviid Christensen, Department of Chemistry at DTU. The hydrogen tablet is safe and inexpensive. In this respect it is different from most other hydrogen storage technologies. You can literally carry the material in your pocket without any kind of safety precaution. The reason is that the tablet consists solely of ammonia absorbed efficiently in sea-salt. Ammonia is produced by a combination of hydrogen with nitrogen from the surrounding air, and the DTU-tablet therefore contains large amounts of hydrogen. Within the tablet, hydrogen is stored as long as desired, and when hydrogen is needed, ammonia is released through a catalyst that decomposes it back to free hydrogen. When the tablet is empty, you merely give it a “shot” of ammonia and it is ready for use again. “The technology is a step towards making the society independent of fossil fuels” says Professor Jens N •rskov, director of the Nanotechnology Center at DTU.Wired News, 20 September 2005http://www.wired.com/newsGreen tea compound stops Alzheimer’s in mice 2005-09-27An ingredient in green tea has prevented Alzheimer’s disease-like brain damage in mice, researchers report. The compound, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), decreased production of the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and causes nerve damage and memory loss. Reporting in the September 21 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, the research team worked with mice genetically programmed to develop a disease mimicking human Alzheimer’s. The mice received daily injections of EGCG for several months and showed as much as a 54 percent reduction in the formation of brain-clogging beta-amyloid plaques. It appears that EGCG prevents the initial process that leads to beta-amyloid formation in brain cells, the researchers said.“If beta-amyloid pathology in this Alzheimer’s mouse model is representative of Alzheimer’s disease pathology in humans, EGCG dietary supplementation may be effective in preventing and treating the disease,” they said. The researchers will next study whether multiple oral doses of EGCG improve memory loss in mice with Alzheimer’s.Yahoo News, 21 September 2005http://dailynews.yahoo.com/hPoll: Workers to pay more for health care2005-09-27The nation’s employers are struggling with close to double-digit increases in health-care costs in 2006, and consequently will be shifting more of that burden to their employees, according to a new survey of more than 1,800 firms. The preliminary survey, released yesterday by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, found that employers anticipate an almost 10 percent increase in health-care costs next year, about three times the rate of general inflation, if they leave benefits unchanged.But companies that were polled in the survey - both those that purchase insurance and firms that are self-insured - are only earmarking an average increase of 6.4 percent in their spending. That will mark the third consecutive year that employers are seeing their actual health-care costs slow as they pass on more of the costs to their workers.Pest Control Technology News, 14 September 2005 http://www.pctonline.comThree plague-infected lab mice missing2005-09-27Three laboratory mice infected with the bacteria responsible for bubonic plague are missing from a bioterrorism-research facility in Newark, sparking an investigation by federal and state authorities. Officials said the animals could have been stolen from the center, one of the top-level biocontainment labs in New Jersey - or simply misplaced. The discovery occurred more than two weeks ago and was confirmed after questions were raised by The Star-Ledger newspaper.State Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs said mice infected with plague bacteria die “very fast,” so “the risk to the public ... is probably slim to none.” The lab is on the campus of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey. It is run by the Public Health Research Institute, a leading center for research on infectious diseases participating in a six-year, federal biodefense project to find new vaccinations for plague, which officials fear could be used as a weapon.Pest Control Technology News, 19 September 2005 http://www.pctonline.comCompanies offering workers cash to get fit2005-09-27Worthington Industries Inc. - one of the rare businesses that has been paying the full cost of employee health insurance - put limits on its generous policy last year. The company said its workers had to take responsibility for their health if they wanted to continue getting free health insurance. “I had a choice to be lazy or lean,” said Jim Brown, 44, an information technology employee who lost 90 pounds and has reached his goal of 210 pounds. Despite being overweight, Brown didn’t have any health problems, but he noted: “If I hadn’t changed, things probably would catch up with me.”Worthington, a steel processing company that employs 8,000, is among a growing number of businesses turning to worker incentives, both big and small, to help slow health insurance costs. In Minneapolis, Fairview Health Services gives gift certificates of up to $100 at the company store for workers who take part in health programs. UnitedHealthcare, headquartered in the Minneapolis area, will knock about $100 a year off health insurance premiums for filling out a 10-minute assessment that asks employees about their diet and blood pressure and then suggests ways they can improve their health. The nation’s largest hospital operator, HCA Inc. of Nashville, Tenn., said that in 2002 it saved $2.76 for every $1 it invested. The employer gave a $116 cash incentive to each participant who completed a weight-management program. Other companies or insurance plans have offered workers financial rewards for exercising, dieting or other healthy behaviors. Some have started onsite fitness programs and are paying for gym memberships.Lawn and Landscape e-news, 19 September 2005http://www.lawnandlandscape.comAsthma attack2005-09-27A new approach to treating severe, chronic asthma has been discovered by researchers at Southampton General Hospital in the South of England. Stephen Holgate and his team have discovered that patients with severe asthma had higher levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) than other sufferers. “Our study provides further evidence for a role for TNF alpha in severe asthma and is the first study to evaluate the effects of TNF blockade in patients with severe asthma,” Holgate said in a study reported in the journal Thorax. The finding could inspire a new method of pharmaceutical intervention to treat the disease.The Alchemist Newsletter, 21 September 2005Colloidal solution to crystals2005-09-27Physicists in the Netherlands have used colloidal particles to create artificial crystal systems that could help explain real ionic crystal structures and even lead to applications such as electronic ink. Mirjam Leunissen, Christina Christova and colleagues at Utrecht University found a solution to the vexing problem of modeling long-range ionic interactions by developing a novel colloidal system that side-steps the problem of irregular aggregation seen in previous colloidal models. The team were able to study known systems as well as more exotic crystals they had simulated on the computer using a fluorescent tag and confocal microscopy. The team also realized that the colloids themselves were not only keen models but their controlled and ordered behaviour might be exploited in display applications, as an e-ink.The Alchemist Newsletter, 21 September 2005Say NO for fertility2005-09-27Nitric oxide, NO, appears to slow or reverse the aging of eggs in mouse ovaries, according to researchers at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. Anuradha Goud and colleagues gathered more than 1500 eggs from mouse ovarian ducts one to two hours or four to six hours after ovulation. Mouse eggs that aren’t fertilized within hours of ovulation begin to age rapidly. They exposed the eggs to varying concentrations of nitric oxide, a biological signaling molecule and found that this delayed egg aging. If an egg is not fertilized within about six hours, then chromosomal abnormalities can occur after subsequent fertilization. The researchers suggest that because NO can slow the egg aging process, it might be useful in fertility treatment.The Alchemist Newsletter, 21 September 2005Cancer drug might help kids with fatal ‘Aging’ syndrome 2005-09-27Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered that a drug currently being tested against cancers might help children with a rare, fatal condition called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, which causes rapid, premature aging. Children with progeria appear normal until they’re 6 months to a year old, but then begin developing symptoms normally associated with old age -- wrinkled skin, hair loss, brittle bones and atherosclerosis, which usually causes their deaths by about age 13. There’s no known treatment. But the new Hopkins research, and similar results from other labs, shows that a class of drugs known as farnesyl transferase inhibitors, or FTIs, can reverse an abnormality in laboratory-grown cells engineered to mimic cells from progeria patients. Such cells have nuclei that aren’t round like normal nuclei but instead have multiple “lobes” and can even look like a cluster of grapes or bubbles. In the laboratory, however, treating these engineered cells with an FTI already in clinical trials in cancer patients restored the cells to a normal appearance, the researchers report September 26 in the advance online section of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The drug blocks the first step in processing the faulty protein that causes the syndrome. Bio.com News, 26 September 2005http://www.bio.comStructures Of marine toxins provide insight into their effectiveness as cancer drugs 2005-09-27Vibrantly colored creatures from the depths of the South Pacific Ocean harbor toxins that potentially can act as powerful anti-cancer drugs, according to research findings from University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemists and their Italian colleagues. The research team has defined the structure of the toxins and provided a basic understanding that can be used to synthesize pharmaceuticals, according to a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “We’ve determined how this class of toxins interacts with actin,” an important protein responsible for cellular structure and movement, says Ivan Rayment, a professor of biochemistry in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences who worked with John Allingham, a postdoctoral fellow, on the study. “We’re adding to fundamental understanding which will be taken up by others to simplify chemical synthesis of what could potentially be powerful cancer treatments.” The toxins, which are produced naturally by organisms that exist symbiotically on deep-sea sponges, work by disrupting the activity of actin, an abundant protein that gives structure to eukaryotic cells. “Actin forms long chains, or filaments, that are essential for cellular locomotion, division and growth,” explains Allingham. “Because cancer cell masses grow faster than other cells in the body, actin provides an excellent target for drugs that could inhibit such rapid growth.” Adds Allingham: “These marine toxins can knock out the lynchpins in these long chains or cap their ends and kill cancer cells. Moreover, initial work shows that even a low dose of these toxins can bring a significant response.” Bio.com News, 26 September 2005http://www.bio.comPrison visitor locked up2005-09-27A 16-year-old girl who visited her boyfriend in prison in Austria ended up in jail overnight after guards forgot about her. The teenager, from Graz, only expected to be allowed an hour visit with her 20-year-old boyfriend, who is serving a two year sentence for drugs offences at the Judenburg prison. But she ended up spending the night with him inside the visitor’s room.She said: “I noticed after about an hour-and-a-half that nobody had knocked to say our time was up, and thought we had just got lucky. “After two hours I realised I needed to get home and rang the bell for them to let me out, but nobody came. I couldn’t even call my mum to tell her where I was because they made me hand my mobile in.” The pair were found at 7.30am the next morning by cleaning staff. A spokesman for the Justice Ministry in Vienna said they would investigate the incident.Ananova News, 26 September 2005http://www.ananova.com/newsSour taste for bad drivers2005-09-27Schoolchildren are to dish out lemons to bad drivers in a new crackdown on dangerous driving in Hungary. The children will go on patrol with traffic police and hand out fruit to drivers pulled up by officers. While bad drivers will be rewarded with a sour taste in their mouths, good drivers will be greeted with an apple during the month long drive.The campaign is to be launched in the country’s fruit growing region of Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg. Police spokesman Gergely Fulop said: “A penalty coming from a kid for breaking rules generates a stronger feeling of guilt among adults than a simple fine.”Ananova News, 26 September 2005http://www.ananova.com/newsDog registers to vote2005-09-27A New Zealand man succeeded in registering his pet dog to vote in the country’s general election. Peter Rhodes sent his Jack Russell terrier Toby’s application form to the election authorities signed with a paw print. And he gave the dog’s occupation as rodent exterminator. The animal was duly registered as Toby Russell Rhodes in the Otago constituency and sent a voter’s card but did not try to vote in the polls.Mr Rhodes, of Queenstown, said he was protesting over ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ he had encountered while trying to divide his land for development. Electoral Enrolment Centre national manager Murray Wicks told the Otago Daily Times: “It’s an offence, and whoever’s done it will be in the hands of the police.”Ananova News, 23 September 2005http://www.ananova.com/newsStatins ‘could benefit many more’ 2005-09-27A type of cholesterol drug can prevent heart attacks and strokes in all patients with diseased arteries, research suggests. Statins are widely used to minimise the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with high cholesterol. But researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Sydney say their work suggests the drugs could be of benefit to many more people. The government ruled last year that statins should be made available over-the-counter without a prescription at chemists. But doctors tend only to recommend them to people with high cholesterol. The researchers analysed detailed results from more than 90,000 participants in 14 trials involving statin treatments. They found many people presenting with lower cholesterol levels could also benefit from statin treatment. The people who derived the greatest benefit were those whose cholesterol level was reduced the most by statin treatment - largely regardless of their starting cholesterol level. The Medical Research Council scientist, Dr Colin Baigent, who coordinated the Oxford team based at the Clinical Trial Service Unit, said: “This study shows that statin drugs could be beneficial in a much wider range of patients than is currently considered for treatment. BBC News, 26 September 2005http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/healthBurgers’ seaweed ‘health boost’ 2005-09-27Adding a seaweed extract to junk food could make it healthier without changing the taste, scientists say. Newcastle University researchers say adding the tasteless extract, called alginate, would increase the fibre content of pies, burgers and cakes. This, they say, would mean people could still enjoy the foods they like, but eat more healthily. The research has been published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. High-fibre diets, including foods such as brown bread and fruit and vegetables, have been shown to help reduce the incidence of life threatening illnesses. Alginate is high in fibre, so it can boost the fibre content of foods. But it also has other properties and uses. The researchers say it could be used as an anti-obesity treatment, because it forms a “lump” in the stomach and therefore helps you feel full. Alginate is already in widespread use by the food industry as a gelling agent and to thicken the frothy head of some lagers. BBC News, 26 September 2005http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health

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