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Thursday, Jul 31st

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WHO: Air pollution kills 7 million prematurely worldwide annually

air pollutionIn 2012, about 7 million people died worldwide as a result of air pollution exposure -- making air pollution the world’s largest single environmental health risk, World Health Organization officials in Geneva say.

Dr. Flavia Bustreo, assistant director-general of WHO's Family, Women and Children’s Health, says the new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also a better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants using improved technology.

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ER use of narcotic painkillers up almost 50 percent: Study

oxycontinMore and more Americans are being prescribed powerful narcotic drugs when they visit the emergency department for problems such as low back pain or a pounding headache, a new study finds.

Between 2001 and 2010, emergency departments in the United States showed a 49 percent increase in prescriptions for narcotic painkillers -- also known as opiates. That was despite the fact that there was only a small increase in the percentage of visits for painful conditions.

Experts said the trend is concerning because narcotic painkillers -- which include drugs like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin -- can be addictive, or abused by people with existing drug problems. And while the drugs may be necessary for more-severe pain, ER doctors see many patients who can stick with over-the-counter pain relievers.

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Colorado Fracking Health Study Opposed by Oil and Gas Interests

Colorado driling studyA Colorado proposal to commission a new study about the health effects of drilling on the Front Range sparked strong emotions Thursday in its first legislative hearing.

The House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee declined to vote Thursday but heard hours of testimony on the proposal. The bill would order the state Health Department to study "health and quality of life effects" of drilling in Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties.

"This is the sort of thing that government should get involved with," said Irene Fortune, a Loveland chemist who urged lawmakers to spend money on another study about the health effects of oil and gas production.

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The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains

neurotoxinsForty-one million IQ points. That’s what Dr. David Bellinger determined Americans have collectively forfeited as a result of exposure to lead, mercury, and organophosphate pesticides. In a 2012 paper published by the National Institutes of Health, Bellinger, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, compared intelligence quotients among children whose mothers had been exposed to these neurotoxins while pregnant to those who had not.

Bellinger calculates a total loss of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphates, the most common pesticides used in agriculture.

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Global tobacco marketing campaign accused of targeting minors

Tobacco marketing minorsA stylish young woman clad in tight maroon pants and a short leather jacket has her fellow up against a brick wall as they share a passionate kiss. The caption underneath the photo reads, “Maybe never fell in love.”

A musician laughs while she picks a guitar, holding a lit cigarette in the other hand. The caption reads, “Maybe never wrote a song.”

A third young person is airborne above the outstretched hands of fellow concertgoers, accompanied by the caption “No more maybe.”

Each advertisement ends with the command to “Be Marlboro,” and is part of an international marketing campaign that public health advocates say is targeted toward children and teenagers in 50 countries with the goal of hooking them on a lifelong and deadly habit.

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FTC Opens Investigation into Herbalife; Shares Plunge

HerbalifeThe Federal Trade Commission has opened a probe into Herbalife. The stock, which had been halted, is now trading down 14%. Before the news came out, it was up 4.45%.

Herbalife confirmed that they received a Civil Investigative Demand from the FTC.  

"Herbalife welcomes the inquiry given the tremendous amount of misinformation in the marketplace, and will cooperate fully with the FTC.  We are confident that Herbalife is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.  Herbalife is a financially strong and successful company, having created meaningful value for shareholders, significant opportunities for distributors and positively impacted the lives and health of its consumers for over 34 years," the company said in a statement.

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BPA-free plastics may be less safe than those with chemical

BPA free plasticsIn 2008, the news burst on the media everywhere: common plastics contained potentially dangerous levels of bisphenol a (BPA) an additive that could be hazardous to consumer health. It leached into food and drinks, especially when plastics were warmed, posing a risk in baby bottles, water bottles, plastic storage containers and more. The plastics industry was reluctant to face the truth on BPA, but under pressure, it gave in — now, many plastic products are proudly labeled BPA-free.

So that means you’re safe, right? Your plastics have been guaranteed free of the nasty chemical everyone was so worried about, and you can go back to business as usual.

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