Tag: health

Open Burning Suffocating Entire Neighborhoods

Smoke from an open burning fire smothered an entire neighborhood this afternoon just 1/4 mile from Mesa Mall.

Smoke from an open burning fire suffocated an entire neighborhood this afternoon on F 1/4 Road, just 1/4 mile from Mesa Mall.

Suddenly you can’t breathe inside your own home. Parents rush their asthmatic children to the doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. People at home on oxygen have to leave their homes or head to hospitals for relief. People attending weddings, dining, shopping or otherwise enjoying their Saturdays as normal are forced to leave events early because they feel sick, with sore throats and eyes that are burning and tearing uncontrollably.

Welcome to springtime in Mesa County, where open burning season ruins springtime for thousands of valley residents who have the misfortune of living near a burner. The normally clear, fresh valley air at this time of year gets pumped full of particulates and ash, as a smoky haze casts a pall over the area as residents suffer when neighbors burn their leaves, grass, branches and garbage openly.

Is this legal?

Yes.

Mesa County in one of the few areas left in the country where people can openly engage in the archaic practice of openly burning debris and freely polluting the air at the expense of their neighbors.

A Great Place to Retire? Think Again

Open burning of fields along roads in Grand Junction's residential areas creates a visibility hazard for drivers, as well as a health hazards for residents, pedestrians, bicyclists and more

Open burning of fields along roads in Grand Junction’s residential areas creates a visibility hazard for drivers, as well as a health hazards for residents, pedestrians, bicyclists and more

Grand Junction get marketed as a great place to retire, but relocation packets handed out by the Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce don’t tell potential relocatees about the many months each year where for the very small cost of a burn permit, anyone in Mesa County can burn waste piles and inflict suffering on other residents.

Judging from the amount of smoke overtaking the valley, plenty of people are burning this year.

Medical Burn Ban: An Answer?

Smoke from open fires isn’t just smelly, unsightly and uncomfortable. It poses a distinct health hazard to people with reactive lung diseases like asthma and bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart disease. Since Grand Junction has the biggest and most advanced medical facilities between Denver and Salt Lake, many people with heart and lung disease settle or retire here, only to discover they suffer for a total of months in the spring and fall seasons when open burning is permitted.

What can be done?

Legal Marijuana Linked to Lower Death Rates from Prescription Painkillers

Marijuana-in-a-capsule-4-23-131States that legalize marijuana experience significantly lower death rates from pain medication overdoses, both from prescription painkillers and illicit drugs like heroin, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Authors studied states where medical marijuana laws were fully in effect between 1999 and 2010 and found these states had a 24.8 percent lower average annual death rate from opioid overdoses compared to states without such laws. Authors included all 50 states in the study. The longer the states had their laws in place legalizing medical marijuana, the lower the death rates they experienced from opioid analgesic overdoses.

The use of prescriptions painkillers has increased sharply in the U.S. in recent years. In 2010, doctors prescribed enough painkillers to medicate every American adult every four hours for one month. Prescription drug overdose death rates have more than tripled in the U.S. since 1990. There are now more deaths from prescription pain meds than from cocaine and heroin combined. Every day in the U.S., 100 people die from drug overdoses. Many of these deaths are linked to prescription pain killers.

Marijuana is considered an alternative non-opioid treatment for chronic pain, which is also a major indicator for medical cannabis. The study’s authors conclude that laws making cannabis available may be affecting overdose mortality rates from opioid painkillers.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for AIDS research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center.

G.J.’s North Desert Trashed by Off-Road Vehicles, Shooting, Dumping

Off-roaders revel in tearing up the North Desert area after rain and snow, creating rutted mud pits for fun.

Off-roaders revel in tearing up the North Desert area after rain and snow, creating rutted mud pits for fun.

If you want tourists, friends and family to see the best our area has to offer, whatever you do, don’t take them up 27 1/4 Road into the desert north of H Road. While the panoramas from the north desert area are spectacular, this formerly stark and beautiful range of mancos shale hills running along the base of Grand Junction’s iconic Bookcliffs is now defaced from virtually end to end with trash dumps, mud ruts, shotgun shells and makeshift religious memorials to people who have died out there in accidents.

What used to be a marvelous place for a long, peaceful walk with your dog, is now so disappointing it tries the soul.

An airplane flies over areas on BLM land where shooting is permitted, right underneath the takeoff/landing patterns for G.J. Regional Airport

An airplane flies over BLM land where shooting is permitted underneath the takeoff/landing patterns for G.J. Regional Airport

Since the shooting range opened several miles out on 27 1/4 Road, and since the North Desert started being included on OHV (off-highway vehicle) maps, the area has turned ugly. It’s also a more dangerous place for peaceful users, like walkers, bikers and horseback riders.

Silt Blogger Falls Seriously Ill, Finds Glenwood Hot Springs Pool Contaminated with Pseudomonas

Peggy Tibbetts, an author who blogs about life up-valley in Silt, Colorado

Writer Peggy Tibbetts blogs about life up-valley in Silt, Colorado

Last August, Peggy Tibbetts, a blogger in Silt, Colorado fell seriously ill with a bacterial infection after using the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. Tibbetts has been a member of the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool for 18 years and uses the pool 2-3 times per week. She had never had an adverse incident there, but noted recently that a close friend and her husband had also reported falling ill after using the pool.

After an extended period of illness, in October, Tibbetts was diagnosed with an infection of pseudomonas aeroginosa, a bacteria that thrives in wet places, including poorly maintained pools. Externally, it can cause a condition known as “hot tub rash,” The bacteria can survive the elevated temperatures of a hot tub or hot springs. Symptoms of internal infection include inflammation and sepsis. If pseudomonas auruginosa colonizes in major organs like the lungs, liver or kidneys, the resulting infection can be fatal.

On October 24, after receiving her diagnosis, Tibbetts contacted the Garfield County Health Department through their website, told them about her illness and the possible link to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and asked them to investigate. On October 28, Tibbetts received an email from Garfield County environmental health specialist Morgan Hill, stating: “[W]e received your website inquiry and are following up on your concern related to pseudomonas at the Glenwood hot springs pool. We will contact you soon with more information.”

On November 4 and 5, the pool had an unannounced closure.

By November 12, the county did not contact Tibbetts, so she contacted them and asked for the lab results regarding bacteria in the hot springs pool. She soon received an email response from GarCo Environmental Health Manager Joshua Williams with the lab results from a hydrologic engineering firm called Zancanella & Associates, which showed the Glenwood Springs Hot Therapy Pool had indeed tested positive for pseudomonas aeruginosa on August 6, 2014, and August 13, 2014. Included with the email was a memorandum from Tom and Tony Zancanella to the county dated October 29, 2014, showing the county had been sitting on those rest results for two weeks, and hadn’t notified either Tibbetts or the public. Correspondence from Zancanella showed the pool hadn’t been tested for pseudomonas before that since 2011.

Man Paralyzed by Spinal Cord Injury Walks Again After Groundbreaking Surgery

A British man paralyzed from the chest down in a knife attack two years ago has regained the ability to walk after an experimental treatment in which doctors transplanted cells from one of his olfactory bulbs into his spinal cord.

Olfactory sheathing cells (OEC) and enable the sense of smell. Since olfactory cells, which part of the nervous system, are constantly being damaged and replaced, the olfactory system is the only nervous system in the body that constantly regenerates itself throughout life. Doctors harnessed this regenerative ability to help the man regain his ability to walk.

Surgeons performed two separate operations. First, they removed one of the patient’s two olfactory bulbs and used it to grow more olfactory ensheathing cells in a culture. After two weeks, they transplanted some of the new OECs into the man’s spinal cord. They then made about 100 micro-injections of OECs just above and below the damaged area of his spine. In a second surgery, doctors took four small strips of nerve tissue from the man’s ankle and placed them across the gap in his spinal cord. The graft provided a bridge across the gap in the spinal cord for the OEC regrowth to follow.

Prior to the operation, the patient had undergone intensive physiotherapy for two years but made no progress towards getting his leg function back. But three months after the experimental surgery, he noticed more muscle growth in this left thigh. Six months after the operation, he took several steps on his own between parallel bars, with help from a physical therapist and supported by leg braces. He has also gotten back some of his bladder and bowel sensations and sexual function.

Using the man’s own cells eliminated the possibility his body would reject the transplanted cells. MRIs done on the patient’s spine indicate the gap in his spinal cord has closed since the treatment.

The landmark research that led to the successful operation was supported by the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (NSIF) and the UK Stem Cell Foundation. None of the researchers or institutions involved in the pioneering research want to profit from it, and NSIF says it would acquire any patents that might come out of the research so they can make the surgery technique freely available to all who need it.

Until this groundbreaking surgery yielded these results, spinal cord regeneration was thought to be impossible.

Source: Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant, BBC.com Health News, October 20, 2013

Study: Daughters Bear Biggest Burden of Caring for Aging Parents

WheelchairA new research paper shows that daughters spend more than twice as much time caring for their elderly parents than sons, and when daughters are in the picture, sons tend to reduce what little caregiving efforts they make and leave the burden to the sisters.  The study, titled “When Gender Trumps Everything: The Division of Parent Care among Siblings,” will be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The study found that daughters provide an average of 12.3 hours of care to elderly parents per month, compared to just 5.6 hours of care provided by sons.

The study’s author, Princeton sociology doctoral candidate Angelina Grigoryeva, concluded that by pushing most of the duties of caring for aging parents onto their sisters, brothers also shift the financial burden and physical and mental stress of providing that care onto their sisters.

Grigoryeva’s research found that women tend to base how much time they spend caring for elderly parents on competing concerns, like how much time they need to devote to their own families and careers, while men base the the amount of caregiving time they spend on whether or not they have a sister or sisters who can handle those responsibilities.

Grand Junction’s First Secular A.A. Group Moves to New Location

Mesa County's new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Art Center at 370 S. 12th Street (SW corner of 12th and Ute.)

Mesa County’s new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group now meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Art Center at 370 S. 12th Street (SW corner of 12th and Ute.)

Mesa County’s new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group, “We Agnostics,” which started up just a few months ago, has already moved up to better digs. The group now meets at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday the Veteran’s Art Center at 307 S. 12th Street (at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Ute Ave., in the old Sentinel Printing building). We Agnostics is for recovering alcoholics who prefer an alternative to AA meetings that emphasize religion and use the “higher power” rhetoric commonly encountered in many meetings. As We Agnostics says on their brochure (pdf), “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.” We Agnostics’ goal is “to assure suffering alcoholics that they can achieve sobriety with the support of A.A. without having to accept anyone else’s beliefs or deny their own.”

Nonreligous Alcoholism Recovery Group Forms in Western Colorado

Alcohol-RecoveryAt long last, a non-religious alcoholism recovery group is finally available in Grand Junction.

We Agnostics of Western Colorado, meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Fourth Door, a music club in a building at the northeast corner of 4th Street and Grand Ave. The group is open to all nonbelievers, including atheists, skeptics and agnostics.

We Agnostics organizer Sam C. is one of four people who spent two months working on finding a suitable place to meet, creating a flier and performing other tasks needed to establish the group. Sam says that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) works best for recovery but notes that nonreligious people who participate in AA have try to “ignore the god stuff.”

The flier promoting We Agnostics says it’s for “Recovering alcoholics who prefer an alternative to the emphasis on religion and ‘Higher Power’ commonly encountered in many meetings.” The group maintains a tradition of free expression and offers a place where people struggling with alcoholism can feel free to express any doubts or disbelief they may have, as well as “share their own personal form of spiritual experience, or their search or rejection of it.” The group does not endorse or oppose any form of religion or atheism. Their only wish is “to assure suffering alcoholics that they can achieve sobriety with the support of AA without having to accept anyone else’s believes or deny their own.”

Sam reminds people that the only real requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.

For more information on We Agnostics. contact Sam C., via text or phone at (303) 818-6312, (he is local), or send an email to WeAgnosticsofWC@gmail.com.

Botox Victim Wins $18 Million from Allergan after Contracting Botulism Poisoning

Ad for Botox Cosmetic. Allergan hid information from doctors and patients about the dangers of injecting botulinum toxin into the body.

Ad for Botox Cosmetic. Allergan hid information from doctors and patients about the dangers of injecting botulinum toxin into the body.

Dr. Sharla Helton, an accomplished obstetrician in Oklahoma City, won $18 million a long-running legal fight against the maker of Botox, after she contracted botulism poisoning as a result of getting injections of Botox Cosmetic 2006.

Botox Cosmetic, which is injected into people’s faces to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, is made from a highly potent neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxin is the most acutely lethal toxin known to man, and has been considered for its potential as a biological weapon. Just four hundredths of an ounce of undiluted botulinum toxin is enough to kill one million people by giving them the nerve disease botulism, which causes paralysis. Allergan must dilute their toxin so much that the amounts in its drug Botox cannot be measured in conventional terms. One “unit” of Botox is the amount that will kill one half of a test population of laboratory mice. A typical injection of Botox is 20 times that amount.

Even very slight errors in how and where a doctor injects the drug can potentially cause significant and even lethal health problems.

Midwife Sounds Alert Over Spike in Stillbirths in Heavily-Drilled Vernal, Utah

Drilling density in the Uintah Basin, where Vernal is located

Drilling density in the Uintah Basin, where Vernal is located

A midwife in Vernal, Utah, has raised a red flag about a spike in the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in the small town in 2013. The statistic has emerged alongside explosive growth in drilling and fracking in the area. Energy companies have flocked to Vernal in the last few years to develop the massive oil and gas fields that underlie Uintah County.

The midwife, Donna Young,  who has worked in the Vernal area for 19 years, reported delivering the first stillborn baby she’s seen in all her years of practice in May, 2013. Doctors could not determine any reason for the baby’s death.

While visiting the local cemetery where the parents of that baby had buried their dead child, Young noticed other fresh graves of babies who were stillborn or died shortly after birth.

Young started researching local sources of data on stillbirths and neonatal deaths, like obituaries and mortuary records, and found a large spike in the number of infant deaths occurring in Vernal in recent years. She found 11 other incidents in 2013 where Vernal mothers had given birth to stillborn babies, or whose babies died within a few days of being born.

Vernal’s full-time population is only about 9,800.

The rate of neonatal deaths in Vernal has climbed from about equivalent to the national average in 2010, to six times the national average in 2013.

Along with the surge in oil and gas drilling in the Vernal area over the last few years, the winter time air in the Uintah basin, where Vernal sits, has become dense with industrial smog generated by drilling rigs, pipelines, wells and increased traffic.

Lawsuit Blames Chicago Woman’s Death on Botox

Botox™, made of botulinum toxin, one of the most potent poisons in the world. Incorrect injection can cause death from symptoms of botulism.

A woman injected with cosmetic Botox at a skin care center in Chicago in May, 2011 developed symptoms of botulism and died, and her husband is suing the doctor who injected her.

In May, 2011, after receiving injections of Botox, Janet Rosenstern, 55, started suffering progressive generalized muscle weakness. She eventually became unable to hold up her neck. She developed weakness in muscles throughout her body, developed severe anxiety, truncal parasthesias (feelings of prickling, burning or tingling in the skin) dizziness, unsteady gait, muscle spasms and involuntary jerking-type movements in her abdominal wall.

She contacted her doctor immediately after her Botox injections and reported her symptoms, but the doctor was dismissive of her complaints. She went to the emergency room several times as her symptoms worsened.

After suffering with these progressively worsening symptoms for nearly a year, on April 22, 2012, she was found unconscious and died the next day.

Her husband, Klaus Rosenstern, is suing his wife’s doctor, Steven Dayan of the True Skin Care Center in Chicago, seeking damages for negligence, lack of informed consent, medical battery and wrongful death. He charges that Dr. Dayan failed to inform his wife of the known serious, debilitating and deadly potential side effects of being injected with Botox Cosmetic.

Botox is Allergan’s trade name for botulinum toxin, one of the most potent neurotoxins in the world. If it spreads through the body, it can cause death.

Janet Rosenstern was a registered nurse who is described in the lawsuit as a “high functioning” and “articulate” woman.

People who have had serious reactions from injections of Botox, like a woman in British Columbia who ended up paralyzed and in a wheelchair, are struggling to make others aware of the serious risks of being injected with Botox.

Source: Courthouse News Service, Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Texas Family Wins $2.95 Million Verdict from Aruba Petroleum for Damaging their Health

Drilling rig outside the Ruggiero's kitchen window. The Ruggieros were neighbors of the Parrs, who won the lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, for damaging their health (Photo by Tim Ruggiero)

Drilling rig outside the Ruggiero’s kitchen window. The Ruggieros were neighbors of the Parrs, who won the lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, for damaging their health (Photo by Tim Ruggiero)

A Texas ranching family won a $2.95 million award in a civil lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, Inc., after a jury found that the company’s drilling and fracking operations near their home caused the entire family to become desperately ill.

It is believed to be the first jury award in the country resulting from a claim of health damages from drilling and fracking operations. Most landowners who bring such suits are pushed to settle and submit to gag orders so drilling companies can keep the terms of the settlements out of the public realm.

Robert and Lisa Parr lived on a ranch about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Texas, and had 20 active wells being drilled and fracked within two miles of their home.

In November, 2008, Lisa, a stay-at-home mom, started feeling nauseated and getting extreme headaches. At first she thought she was getting the flu, but the symptoms did not abate. She soon developed muscle spasms, a strange rash all over her body and open sores that would not heal. The sores and rashes got so severe that she went to the emergency room, where doctors packed her body in ice to give her some relief.

Lisa’s daughter, then about six years old, started getting severe nosebleeds in her sleep and would wake up soaked with blood.

Her husband, Robert, began experiencing memory loss. Their house pets died, and their livestock gave birth to deformed offspring.

Colorado GMO Labeling Law Heading for Signature-Gathering Phase

GMORightToKnowColorado Ballot Initiative #48, the “Colorado Right to Know Act,” would require food manufacturers to include the words “Produced with Genetic Engineering” on the packaging of any products that contain genetically-modified organisms. If foods containing these organisms and are not properly labeled, they will be considered “misbranded.”

Federal law currently does not require foods containing genetically-modified ingredients to be labeled, so consumers unaware whether their food contains these organisms and unable to make an informed choice about consuming them.

The measure survived a Colorado Supreme Court challenge by biotech, pesticide and conventional grocery interests, which disputed the title, the “Colorado Right to Know Act,” as unfair, inaccurate, confusing and misleading.

Proponents of the measure will not start collecting signatures to get the measure on the November, 2014 ballot. If it passes, the law will go into effect on July 1, 2016, and would not apply to food or drink for animals, chewing gum, alcoholic beverages, restaurant or food freshly-prepared for consumption or medically-prescribed foods.

Supporters will need 86,105 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

Help out, donate or keep up with the progress of the campaign for the Colorado Right to Know Act at RightToKnowColorado.org.

Over Half of Weld County’s Winter Air Pollution Comes from Drilling Rigs

Weld, County, Colorado

Weld, County, Colorado

A team of atmospheric scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado (CU) found that drilling operations for oil and natural gas in Weld County, Colorado was the “dominant wintertime source” of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air pollution emissions in that area. VOCs contribute to the formation of ozone, a constituent of photochemical smog. The researchers tested the air at a site 2.5 miles east of downtown Erie, Colorado.

In 2011, at the time of the study, Weld County had over 15,000 active gas wells. Two years later, it had 19,000. The study, titled “Source Signature of Volatile Organic Compounds from Oil and Natural Gas Operations in NOrtheastern Colorado,” was published in Environmental Science and Technology in January, 2013.

The study’s lead author, Jessica Gilman, Ph.D., said, “Average levels of propane [in the air in Weld County] were higher than the range of values reported for 28 U.S. cities. For example, they were four to nine times higher than in Houston, Texas, and Pasadena, California.”

The CU-NOAA study also found that air pollution from oil and gas emissions have a “chemical signature” that clearly differentiates them from other air pollution sources, like vehicular exhaust.

The study found that more than half of ozone-forming pollutants in Erie come from drilling activity.

Colorado Health Department Investigating Spike in Fetal Abnormalities in Heavily-Drilled Garfield County

Cross-posted from DeSmogBlog.com

Garfield County drilling rig (Photo: Garfield County government)

Garfield County drilling rig (Photo: Garfield County government)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has called in an epidemiologist to investigate a recent spike in fetal abnormalities in Garfield County on Colorado’s western slope. Stacey Gavrell, Director of Community Relations for Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said area prenatal care providers reported an increase in fetal abnormalities to the hospital, which then notified CDPHE. So far neither the hospital nor the state have released information about the numbers of cases reported, over what span of time, or the amount of the increase.

Gavrell said it is too early to speculate on the causes of the spike in abnormalities.

The report comes on the heels of the February, 2014 publication in Environmental Health Perspectives of a study that found an association between the density of natural gas wells within a ten mile radius of expectant mothers’ homes and the prevalence of fetal anomalies such as low birth weight and congenital heart defects in their infants.

The study examined a large cohort of babies over an extended period of time in rural Colorado, and specifically controlled for confounding factors that also emit air pollution, including traffic and other heavy industries. The abnormalities in infants in the study are associated with exposure to air pollutants like those emitted from natural gas wells, including volatile organic compounds and nitrogen dioxide.

map of current drilling activity in the Garfield County area shows the number and concentration of active wells along the busy I-70 corridor between Glenwood Springs and Rifle, one of the areas of interest in CDPHE’s investigation.

A Cure for Plantar Fasciitis

The daily walk: so important!

The daily walk: so important!

I’ve walked three miles every morning for the last 25 years. Walking helps keeps me mentally balanced, reduces stress, helps ward off heart disease, depression and diabetes. It gives me time and space to clear my head, and frankly is the closest I ever come to meditating. It’s a must for my dog, too, who expects his daily constitution. To me, daily walking is an indispensable activity.

So last year when I came down with a serious case of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, it might as well have been the end of the world. The pain was debilitating. I just couldn’t believe it was possible to wear out one’s feet by walking regularly. It didn’t make sense. I was desperate to make the pain go away, so I tried arch supports, shoe inserts, and all sorts of springy shoes that advertised they would help the problem. Nothing helped. I went to a podiatrist who diagnosed the problem with x-rays, recommended traditional physical therapy (at $75/hour) and cortisone injections into my foot, but the idea of sticking a needle into my foot just made me cringe. Plus, the doctor couldn’t give me any assurance that these treatments would cure the problem. It was all just stuff we could try.

Then one day during a chiropractic appointment, I complained to my practitioner, mostly for catharsis, about my plantar fasciitis and heel spurs and how they were keeping me from my daily walks. I didn’t expect him to do anything about it. I just wanted to vent.

To my great surprise, though, he said he could cure it and begged me to give him a chance to treat it.

No one had ever said anything to me like that before.

The Activism Behind CVS’s Cigarette Announcement

CVS touts its apparent new-found interest in people's health

CVS touts its apparent new-found interest in people’s health

CVS Drugstores announced this week that they are finally acting on information the rest of us have known for fifty years: they’re going to stop selling cigarettes because they are addictive and deadly. On February 5, 2014 CVS announced that it would end cigarette sales at its 7,600 stores nationwide by October 1. What CVS didn’t mention was the grassroots efforts behind this move, including the relentless driving force of a human being, Dr. Terence A. Gerace, who carried out an almost four year-long, single-focus, one-man campaign to push CVS to stop selling cigarettes. Dr. Gerace started his campaign in earnest on May 20, 2010. Over the years it has included a web site containing a log and description of every single one of the days he personally stood protesting in front of a busy CVS store in a prominent part of Washington, D.C., a “CVS Sells Poison” Facebook page, a “CVS Sells Poison” YouTube song and video, almost 170 days of personal protest in all kinds of weather at the Washington, D.C. store and some imaginative, hand-made iterations of what Terry though CVS ads could look like if the chain finally went cigarette-free. To his credit, though, Dr. Gerace has turned down offers of publicity for himself now that CVS has finally agreed to stop selling cigarettes, saying the focus should be on the change, and for that he deserves a gold medal.

Some communities understand that it is wrong for pharmacies, which market themselves as interested in peoples’ health, to sell cigarettes. A few enlightened U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Richmond, California, Boston and about 80 other cities in Massachusetts now have ordinances banning pharmacies from selling cigarettes. Canada prohibits pharmacies from selling cigarettes and so does the United Kingdom. In Europe, pharmacies do not sell cigarettes.

For decades the tobacco industry has protected the big national chain drug stores against lawsuits brought by people who were sickened by cigarettes bought at their stores through contracts that indemnify the stores against such legal action. After all, the pharmacies know they are selling a deadly product but keep doing it, to the cigarette makers’ great financial advantage. CVS had many such protective contracts with cigarette companies. To see the contracts tobacco companies held with any drug chain, just go to the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library online and enter the search term “indemnify and hold harmless” along with the name of any major drug store chain you like to shop at, like Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. They’re all there, demonstrating that these stores know they are selling a deadly product and choose to do it anyway.

Now that CVS has decided to stop selling cigarettes, the only question left in people’s minds is no longer which national chain drug store will be the first to stop selling cigarettes. It’s which one will be the last.

Study Links Natural Gas Drilling to Congenital Heart Defects in Babies

"Drill, baby, drill?"

“Drill, baby, drill?”

A newly-published study specific to Colorado (pdf) links the rate of congenital heart defects in babies to how close they live to natural gas wells. The study, published January 28, 2014 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, examined a large cohort of babies over an extended period of time — 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 in rural Colorado. Researchers discovered an association between the density and proximity of methane (“natural gas”) wells within a ten mile radius of the mothers’ residences and the prevalence of heart defects, low birth weight and small-for-gestational age in newborns. Congenital heart defects are often associated with maternal exposure to toxins during gestation from sources like maternal smoking, alcohol abuse, exposure to solvents, benzene, toluene and petroleum-based solvents. Low birth weight and pre-term births are associated with exposure to air pollutants including volatile organic compounds, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, all of which are emitted during natural gas production. The authors restricted their study to people living in rural areas and towns in Colorado with populations under 50,000 to reduce the potential for exposure to other sources of pollution, like heavy traffic and pollution from other industries. The researchers compared results with births among mothers who live in control areas that do not have natural gas drilling nearby.

Source: Lisa M. Mckenzie, Ruixin Guo, Roxana Z. Witter, David A. Savitz, Lee S. Newman and John L. Adgate, Witter, Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado, Environmental Health Perspectives, 28 January 2014