Vigorous mixing in the air above large cracks in Arctic sea ice that expose seawater to cold polar air pumps atmospheric mercury down to the surface, finds a NASA field campaign. This process can lead to more of the toxic pollutant entering the food chain, where it can negatively affect the health of fish and animals who eat them, including humans. Read More
(Posted by John Maybury, Pacifica Riptide, Pacifica, California)
The following was issued January 10, 2014, by the California Department of Public Health Radiologic Health Branch and its Office of Public Affairs.
“There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is not
aware of any recent activity at Fukushima, or any new data that would cause elevated radioactivity on California shores from the Fukushima incident.
Recent tests by the San Mateo County public health department and CDPH show that elevated levels of radiation at Half Moon Bay are due to naturally occurring materials and not radioactivity associated with the Fukushima incident.
The volume of water in the Pacific Ocean has a significant diluting effect on radionuclides that are present and it is not anticipated that the concentration will increase in the waters off of the west coast.
CDPH has collected and will be analyzing sand samples from Half Moon Bay. Results of the analysis will be posted on the CDPH Radiologic Health (RHB) website as soon as the analysis is completed.”
CDPH also performs routine air and milk samples as required by California law. Slightly elevated air and milk samples were found during the initial phases of the Fukushima incident (March 2011). The results were reported on CDPH RHB’s website (see link above).
CDPH continues to monitor air, milk, kelp, and fish samples. CDPH’s monitoring is part of its ongoing environmental monitoring program. It will publish data on the CDPH RHB website.
CDPH has been in contact with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which monitors the situation with the nuclear reactors in Japan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the private entity Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have monitored fish from the Pacific Ocean. While minute levels of cesium were found in bluefin tuna, most recent tests show even those small levels are declining.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is the coordinating agency for response to international emergencies involving radioactive materials, and the FDA is responsible for food safety. FDA’s hotline number is 888-723-3366. The USEPA, via its RadNet system, monitors the nation’s air, drinking water, precipitation, and pasteurized milk to determine levels of radiation in the environment.
RadNet sample analyses and monitoring results provide baseline data on background levels of radiation in the environment and can detect increased radiation from radiological incidents, such as the Fukushima incident. Visit the USEPA RadNet website at http://www.epa.gov/radnet/ and see the link for public questions.
Other Useful Links
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) addresses threats to coastal areas. It tracks debris from Japan at:
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provides publicly available reports on leakage and seawater radioactivity near the Fukushima Daiichi
plant. The last report can be found at: http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2013/japan-basic-policy6.html
The State of Oregon continues to test drinking water, rainwater, and seawater for radionuclides that could be associated with Fukushima:
11 Things You're Doing That Could Shorten Your Life
The Huffington Post | By Todd Van Luling
Are you sitting down while reading this? Well, that could be shortening your lifespan. Let's be honest: From the moment we're born, we're all dying just as we're living. But certain mundane things we do every day may actually be helping us get there faster. None of this means we should even try to eliminate these behaviors from our lives entirely, but it's proof that overdoing anything, even when seemingly innocuous, can have serious impacts on our health. Below we've rounded up 11 everyday things you're probably doing that could potentially shorten your lifespan:
1. You're having a hard time finding love. Having a difficult time finding a mate can shave off months of your life, while being single for prolonged periods of time could cost you a whole decade. A study by Harvard Medical School found that communities with gender ratios skewing significantly more male or female caused the minority sex to have shorter lifespans. Even when exposed to short timeframes of competition, such as attending a high school entirely of one gender, participants were found to have generally shorter lives. Lead researcher Nicholas Christakis stressed this ratio had a sexual mating basis, rather than simple social dominance. On top of all this, another study found that never getting married could increase risk of death over a lifetime by 32 percent, and led to the previously mentioned loss of a decade. That said, changing attitudes toward the social necessity of getting married over the 60-year research period could have potentially affected the results. In 1950, Census data shows that 78 percent of households were occupied by a married couple -- by 2010, that figure had dropped to 48 percent. In other words? Being single or partnered and unmarried is no longer the minority status.
2. You're sitting down for more than a few hours every day. Two whole years of your life could be cut just from sitting more than three hours a day. Australian researchers published in the British Medical Journal found that even regular exercise couldn't deter the potential negative effects of sitting for long stretches of time. Another study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine found that sitting for more than 11 hours a day increased the risk of death by 40 percent over the next three years, compared to sitting for under four hours a day. Time to get that stand-up desk.
3. You're neglecting your friends. People with weak social connections were found to die at much higher rates than their counterparts, according to research by Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which collected data from 148 different studies. The same researchers found that prolonged loneliness could be as bad for your lifespan as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. On top of all this, elderly people with large circles of friends were found to be 22 percent less likely to die over a tested study period, and those social connections generally promote brain health in aging brains.
4. You're vegging out in front of your TV. Watching just two hours of television a day can lead to an increased risk of premature death, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, according to Harvard researchers. The negative effects of watching television seem to overlap with the potential negative effects of sitting too much, but watching television seems to make the negative effects of sitting even worse. According to the New York Times, "every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes."
5. You're eating too much unhealthy food. Perhaps this sounds obvious, but the truth is that so many of us continue to do it. The existence of the "Stroke Belt" -- which includes many southeastern states and ranges from parts of Texas to Virginia, overlapping with much of the "Diabetes Belt" -- has led to many studies trying to figure out why life expectancy is so low and strokes are so common there. One such study focused on a town in East Texas. The residents of this town died seven years earlier than the healthiest Texans, according to the research done by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. As the New York Times reported, "The proof of Anderson County’s live-hard, die-young culture is in the bread pudding — and the all-you-can-eat fried catfish, the drive-through tobacco barns and the dozens of doughnut shops that dot this East Texas county of about 57,000." As far as what foods to especially avoid, eating red meat seems to shorten life expectancy by as much as 20 percent when eating extra portions.
6. You're still looking for a job. Being unemployed can increase a person's risk of premature death by 63 percent, according to findings by Canadian researchers after analyzing 40 years of data from 20 million people in 15 countries. Other more specific studies on the changing mortality rates of American white women found that "the two factors most strongly associated with higher death rates were smoking and not having a job." Another found that older people who lost their jobs during the recession could have seen their lifespan decrease by as many as three years.
7. You're dealing with a long commute. Commutes of about an hour have been found to increase stress and have been linked to the same negative effects as sitting. Long commutes also reduce the likelihood that individuals will consistently participate in health related activities. The greatest lifespan risk is with female commuters, who were found to have significantly shorter lifespans after consistently commuting for 31 miles or more, according to researchers at Sweden’s Umeå University. The cause for the dip in female life expectancies has been the topic of much speculation lately, but while the Swedish research was able to link commuting to obesity, insomnia and a higher rate of divorce, it wasn't able to pinpoint why female mortality rates are higher.
8. You're having a dry-spell. A study among men found that failing to orgasm for extended periods of time can potentially cause your mortality rate to be 50 percent higher than for those who have frequent orgasms. This result was found even when controlling for factors such as age, smoking, and social class. On the opposite spectrum, orgasms have been linked to quite a few additional health benefits.
9. You're putting up with annoying co-workers. Missing out on strong connections with your co-workers can also potentially mean missing out on a longer life. According to researchers at Tel Aviv University, "Peer social support, which could represent how well a participant is socially integrated in his or her employment context, is a potent predictor of the risk of all causes of mortality." Although having feelings of encouragement coming from bosses and managers didn't seem to affect the subjects' lifespans, those who reported feelings of low social support at work were 2.4 times more likely to die over the study period.
10. You're not sleeping enough (or maybe too much?) Harvard Medical School points out that research has shown that life expectancies significantly decrease in subjects who average less than five or more than nine hours a night. Most of us suffer from too little rather than too much sleep, but research suggests there truly is a sleep "sweet spot" -- at least if you're primarily concerned about living for as long as possible. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, dementia, cognitive and memory problems, weight gain and early death. And some research shows that too much (dramatically, unusually too much) regular sleep could be problematic as well. Research has also shown that we need an average of eight hours to function optimally, but another, somewhat controversial study found that getting more than seven hours of sleep a night has been linked to shortened lifespans. A 12 percent increase in mortality rate was found in people who slept eight hours versus those who hovered closer to seven, in a 2002 study from Brigham and Women's Hospital. However, other studies have found that needing to sleep for too long may be a sign of other physical ailments, from diabetes to depression.
11. You're fearing death or that you won't live for as long as you'd like. This is a painful paradox. A fear of a shortened lifespans, or Thanatophobia, can potentially end up causing -- a shortened lifespan. A 2012 study on cancer patients published in the US National Library of Medicine ended up finding that, "life expectancy was perceived as shortened in patients with death anxiety." Outside of cancer patients, an intense fear of death can also lead to a three to five times increase in the risk of cardiovascular ailments, according to research on Americans who feared death from another terrorist attack following Sept. 11, 2001. Although a slight fear of death has been shown to have positive benefits, like an increase in exercise and healthy eating, the fear has been shown to significantly affect lifespans, especially in adults nearing the age of being considered elderly. These effects can also be correlated to especially paranoid people having weaker connections with society and increased feelings of alienation -- the negative effects of which were both discussed above.
SACRAMENTO – State Senator Jerry Hill announced today he will introduce legislation strengthening recently released federal guidelines to phase out the non-medical use of antibiotics in farm animals in California in order to combat growing resistance to these vital drugs. The legislation will effectively make it illegal for farmers and ranchers to use antibiotics to make animals grow bigger.
More than two million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections each year -- resulting in 23,000 deaths. The Food and Drug Administration last week announced that it will ask pharmaceutical companies, livestock and poultry producers, to stop using antibiotics to promote faster growth in animals and to limit their use to medical care only. The FDA’s guidance document, however, is not binding. The document contains only voluntary recommendations asking that pharmaceutical, livestock and poultry producers comply.
“My legislation will make it clear that the FDA guidelines are the law in California,” Hill said. The San Mateo Democrat will introduce his bill when the Legislature re-convenes on Jan. 6.
Medically important antibiotics used in food-producing animals are the same ones used in humans. Farms consume at least 70 percent of the nation’s antibiotic supply -- and repeated exposure to antibiotics can lead germs to become resistant to drugs such as penicillin and tetracycline that are used to treat common bacterial infections in humans. At least 685 different drugs are approved by the FDA for use in animals.
This year, an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella linked to three chicken plants in California sickened nearly 400 people; 40 percent of those infected were hospitalized. Each year antibiotic-resistant infections result in at least $20 billion in direct health care costs and at least $35 billion in lost productivity.
"Antibiotic use in food producing animals for non-medical reasons is a serious public health issue,” Hill said. “My legislation is intended to ensure that medically important antibiotics remain effective in treating bacterial infections in animals and humans.”
Hill’s legislation will ensure that California companies comply with the FDA voluntary guidelines. Drug manufacturers will be required to change their labels preventing farmers from buying antibiotics over the counter and using them for non-medical purposes. Since the 1950s producers have been feeding low doses of antibiotics to animals throughout their lives to increase their size and weight. Pharmaceutical and livestock producers would be subject to penalties if they do not comply.
It will also require food producers to obtain a prescription from a veterinarian to use the drugs to prevent disease in their animals. With veterinary oversight, animal producers will still be able to use medically important antibiotics for legitimate disease treatment purposes.
In its Consumer Update, the Food and Drug Administration stated, “Because all uses of antimicrobial drugs, in both humans and animals, contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary.” In 1977, the FDA first reported that the non-therapeutic use of penicillin and tetracycline in livestock could lead to new super-bugs resistant to antibiotics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Antibiotics are also commonly used in food animals to prevent, control, and treat disease, and to promote the growth of food-producing animals. The use of antibiotics for promoting growth is not necessary, and the practice should be phased out."
Earlier this year Johns Hopkins University released a study which found that, “Administering nontherapeutic antimicrobials to food animals is particularly problematic since chronic administration of low doses of antimicrobials contributes to the evolution and proliferation of antimicrobial-resistant strains of bacteria. Accordingly, the widespread use of nontherapeutic antimicrobials in animals and the selection of genes conveying resistance can vastly diminish the effectiveness of antimicrobials to treat animal and human disease.”
The European Union banned the use of antibiotics for non-medical purposes in 2005.
Office of Senator Jerry Hill
Please take a moment to call President Obama and your national legislators to stop the raising of Medicare deductibles. The New York Times reported on March 29 that the president is willing to raise the Medicare deductible from $147 a year to $1331. He would do this by combining the deductible for hospital visits and office visits.
Tell President Obama that we want Medicare expanded, not cut. Please support HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. Call President Obama at 202-456-1414. You can make free calls to the Capitol Switchboard, then ask to be connected to Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, and Congresswoman Speier: 1-877-762-8762 or 1-800-826-3688.
Help us continue our campaign to save Medicare by donating to Single Payer Now, PO Box 460622, San Francisco, CA 94146. Thank you.
This winter's vicious flu epidemic threatens everyone, but especially seniors, and now their families are fighting back with “Fight the Flu" kits and caregivers to protect their elderly loved ones. Weaker immune systems make seniors more vulnerable to the flu and that’s why 90 percent of all flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 or older.
That’s why Visiting Angels, one of the nation’s largest in-home senior care companies, helps local families in two ways: assembling Visiting Angels "Fight the Flu" kits so seniors can protect themselves from the flu; offering in-home senior flu service, where caregivers sanitize seniors’ homes and run errands for them (e.g., drugstore, market) so they’re not exposed to the flu; taking seniors to get their flu shot; caring for seniors at home and taking them to the doctor if they have the flu.
Visiting Angels “Fight the Flu" kits include items available at most retail stores:
Paper towels: Use paper towels in the bathroom instead of hand towels, which can harbor germs.
Medisim TempleTouch™ thermometer: Fever higher than 102 degrees could indicate flu.
Pocket-size hand sanitizer, with aloe: Helps keep skin germ-free and moisturized.
Pens: Carry your own pen – pens shared in public areas carry a ton of germs.
Disinfectant: Spray doorknobs, handles, and light switches, etc. every few days – viruses can live up to 48 hours on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces.
Hand soap: Recent studies show plain soap and water work just as well as, if not better than, antibacterial soaps.
Hand sanitizer wipes: These are handy to have on the go, whether to clean hands or public surfaces. Don’t rely on just baby wipes because they do not kill germs.
Avoid these places that carry the most germs:
Public restrooms, especially the sink, because bacteria can survive there the longest. (Source: University of Arizona study)
Malls, especially food court tables, because rags used to “clean” can spread harmful bacteria – they can contain E. coli because they are not cleaned or changed regularly. (Source: Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University)
Grocery stores – This is where many people go when they are sick, whether to get some juice, chicken noodle soup, or medicine. As much as 80 percent of shopping cart handles tested nationwide had E. coli bacteria, according to Charles Gerba, Ph.D., University of Arizona.
Restaurants – One of the dirtiest areas is tabletops due to the “clean” rag used to wipe them down. (Source: Lifescript)
Libraries – Some of the dirtiest areas are the books, computers, and tabletops, just from the many people who touch them each day. (Source: Lifescript)
A rash of fatal car crashes with senior citizens driving has brought attention to a graying population packing our roadways. By 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be 65 or older and at least 90 percent of them will be licensed to drive. That’s why Senior Helpers, one of the largest in-home senior care companies, wants to raise awareness during April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month – by giving families a Senior Helpers Safe Driving Checklist.
“When elders can no longer drive, they may start to feel trapped and out of control of their lives,” says Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers. “We encourage families to monitor their elderly loved ones with our Senior Helpers Safe Driving Checklist. If they notice problems, they can hire a caregiver to drive their loved one. The caregiver is not only the driver but also an extra set of eyes and ears at doctor’s appointments or grocery store visits. Plus, caregivers are great companions who keep seniors social and active.”
ONE FAMILY’S SOLUTION – HIRE A CAREGIVER
Annette of Huntsville, Alabama hired a caregiver after her 78-year-old mother tried to drive herself to the doctor and got lost in the parking lot. “My mother is a very independent woman but she’s not as mentally sharp as she used to be. It took her getting lost for me to realize that we needed to hire someone to help drive her around,” says Annette. “It’s hard for me to take off work to take her to doctor’s appointments but I didn’t feel comfortable telling her she couldn’t drive anymore. Instead, I hired a caregiver to drive her around, five days a week, so she could still feel socially independent. Not only do I have a peace of mind, but my mother really enjoys their company.”
If your elderly loved one insists on driving, follow this Senior Helpers Driving Checklist:
Check medications. They can impair driving by making seniors drowsier or more distracted than usual. Recent studies show the average person over the age of 65 takes between two and seven medications a day! Seniors should avoid driving for a few days once they begin a new medication, so they know how the drug affects them. Be sure they consult their physician and pharmacist before starting a new medication, to see if it will affect their ability to drive.
Have eyes checked. Eyes change with age. Seniors’ peripheral vision narrows, they are less sensitive to light, and their eyes lose the ability to focus quickly. Research shows 85 percent of driving is visual and 15 percent is skill. A 60-year-old driver requires 10 times as much light to see as a 19-year-old.
Be aware of sleep issues. 37 million older Americans suffer from frequent sleep problems. The drowsier behind the wheel, the slower the reflexes.
Reflex and awareness. This can be especially risky if getting behind the wheel of a car. Statistics reveal that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections.
Check vehicle for signs of damage when he/she is not with you. This can be a good indicator about their ability to drive. “Driving tests can miss the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s that affect judgment, understanding and memory which can cause accidents on the road,” says Ross. If it’s time to take the keys away, adult children should reassure their elderly parents they can still see friends and be involved in activities even if they can’t drive. If you hire a caregiver as a driver, it can ease some of the tension when you take the keys away from Mom or Dad.”
Consider the problem with the recent wave of car crashes just last month, involving elderly drivers:
New Bedford, MA (March) - An 89-year-old man, who hadn’t renewed his license since 1987, is charged in connection with hitting and killing a 68-year-old woman who was crossing a downtown street.
Los Angeles, CA (March) - An 81-year-old woman accidentally hits the gas pedal, slamming into a car, killing the driver and a pedestrian.
Toledo, OH (March) - A 69-year-old woman kills three college students and herself, and seriously injures two others, after driving the wrong way on an interstate.
Northern California (March) - An 85 year old Redding man crashes and dies when his car hits a tree.
Sources: Smart Motorist, American Automobile Association (AAA), National Safety Council, The Christian Post, CBS Boston, CBS Los Angeles
About Senior Helpers: Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has nearly 300 franchises in 40 states and one Canadian province offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care. For more information, please visit: http://www.seniorhelpers.com/
Hello, everyone, I'm Manon Williams. This July, I will participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in San Francisco. It's going to be a huge challenge for me. I start training next week so I can be fit enough to walk a marathon and a half over the course of the Walk weekend. Everyone in the walk is required to raise at least $1800 in order to participate. I could really use everyone's help so I can reach that goal. I don't want all my training to go to waste, and it's for a very good cause. I hope I can count on your support! I can always use walking buddies as I train, so if you're interested in that as well, let me know! My personal page for the walk (and where you can make donations) is here:
If you want to read more about the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, go here:
(from Pacifica Patch)
STAND UP FOR YOUR HEALTH
Studies show that sitting for long periods of time can increase your risk of heart disease. A study published in 2008 in Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports suggests that people who sit for long periods of time typically have decreased levels of a heart-protecting enzyme called lipoprotein, as well as the good kind of cholesterol.
Even people who exercise regularly, but are otherwise largely sedentary, can experience this effect. Of course, exercise remains a good way to support your health. So the best approach is to exercise regularly and decrease the time you spend sitting, says Todd Weitzenberg, MD, a Kaiser Permanente sports medicine physician. This can be easier said than done for many of us. Much of our days are spent at a desk, behind the wheel, or on the couch.
Try practicing these five tips to reduce your sitting time:
Stand while you fold laundry. Walk or stand as you talk on the phone. Keep moving during your favorite TV show. Instead of lounging on your couch, march in place or work on your situps. Take breaks away from your desk or computer. On long car drives, pull over and get out of your car for a 10-minute break every hour or so.