Archive | Occupational Health

Gene Structure of Fruit Fly Brains Studied

OXFORD, England, March 23 (UPI) — U.K. researchers say they have identified the gene determining the structure of the male and female body in the fruit fly, as well as sex-specific behaviors.

The scientists from the University of Glasgow and Oxford University said the finding suggests the brains of males and females, and how they use them, might be far more different then previously thought, at least in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

The scientists led by Stephen Goodwin at Oxford said they discovered a gene known as “doublesex,” which determines the shape and structure of the male and female body in the fruit fly, also sculpts the architecture of the brain and nervous system, resulting in sex-specific behaviors.

“The dogma was that (the doublesex gene) made fruit flies look the way they did and fruitless made them behave the way they did,” said Goodwin. “We now know that this is not true; doublesex and fruitless act together to form the neuronal networks — the wiring — for sexual behavior.”

The findings, the scientists said, provide insight into how male and female nervous systems might be established and how that may coordinate the sex-specific physiology needed to create the complete, integrated adult sexual state.

The study is reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Obama Prepares to Sign Healthcare Bill

WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama will sign the sweeping healthcare reform bill into law Tuesday in the East Room, the White House said.

The signing ceremony will include remarks by Obama, who will be introduced by Vice President Joe Biden, the White House daily schedule indicated.

After the signing, Obama will go to the Interior Department, where he will discuss the healthcare reform bill passed Sunday by the House. The Senate passed the bill in December.

In the afternoon, Obama is scheduled to meet with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., as part of continuing consultations with Congress on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the White House said.

In the evening, the president will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Policies & Solutions, Policy, Law, & Government, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

EPA Says Plating Shops Dump Chemicals

CHICAGO, Feb. 1 (UPI) — Metal plating shops are dumping high levels of cancer-causing chemicals into sewers in Chicago and Cleveland, federal regulators said.

The dumping of perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, likely is happening in dozens of other cities too, a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

The EPA has restricted the use of PFCs in stain-resistant products, such as Scotchgard and Teflon, but the metal plating industry received an exemption in 2007. The industry uses PFCs to suppress fumes during the plating of chrome bumpers, wheels and other parts.

PFCs wash unfiltered through sewage treatment systems into lakes, streams and drinking water, the EPA said.

One Chicago-area plating shop was flushing PFCs into sewers at concentrations of 12,214 parts per trillion when water piped into the factory had just 2.5 parts per trillion, the EPA said. A plating shop tested in Cleveland was flushing PFCs at 54,000 parts per trillion.

The findings could lead to new rules curbing the use of PFCs in plating shops, EPA scientist Kim Harris told the Chicago Tribune in a story published Monday.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Chemicals, Drinking Water, U.S. Federal Government Agencies0 Comments

EPA Budget Request $10B Higher Than FY2010

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) — The Environmental Protection Agency would receive $10 billion more during fiscal year 2011 under budget proposals announced Monday by the White House.

Officials said the EPA budget request is a substantially higher annual amount than requested under any previous administration and is intended to strengthen the EPA’s program implementation, research, regulation and comprehensive enforcement activities.

Included in the proposed EPA budget is $3.3 billion to assist states in providing low-interest loans to communities to finance wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and $1.3 billion to help states and tribes protect their air, water and land. That represents a 14 percent increase from fiscal 2010 and is the highest level ever requested.

An additional $300 million would be allocated for restoration efforts in the Great Lakes basin, the largest freshwater system in the world, with a focus on contaminated sediments and toxics, non-point source pollution, habitat degradation and loss, and invasive species.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Drinking Water, Infrastructure, Liability, Law, & Government, Policy, Law, & Government, U.S. Federal Government Agencies0 Comments

Canada Seeks National Polar Policy as Arctic Scientists Lack Funding

EDMONTON, Alberta, Jan. 13 (UPI) — Canada needs a national polar policy to fund studies in the Arctic — one of fastest changing landscapes on Earth, a University of Alberta researcher said.

Canadian scientists find it increasing difficult to find money to monitor glaciers, sea ice and animals affected by the melting environment in the Arctic, John England said Wednesday in an online edition of the journal Nature.

“The capacity to support researchers in remote field sites has plummeted,” England said, adding, “There simply isn’t enough money for the air support that Canadian scientists need to get people and supplies into the wilderness.”

The underfunded and important Polar Continental Shelf Program needs to be linked with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, which is the main funding body for science in Canada, he said.

“Now is an opportune time to apply pressure to change this,” England said, noting Canada has a responsibility to lead in stewardship of the Arctic.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Engineering, International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government, Snowpack & Ice0 Comments

Canadians Deem Climate Change Top Threat

OTTAWA, Jan. 11 (UPI) — Canadians think climate change is a bigger threat to their well-being than terrorism, a poll released Monday indicates.

A survey commissioned by the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute and conducted by the Innovative Research Group Inc., found that nearly half of the respondents called climate change a “critical threat,” while only 28 percent deemed terrorism to be such a threat, Canwest News Service reported.

The findings showed a marked decrease on the critical assessment of terrorism compared with a similar poll conducted a year ago. In the earlier survey, climate change and terrorism were rated about equally as a threat at 52 percent and 49 percent respectively.

Senior research fellow Lt. Gen. Michael Jeffery told Canwest the shift has happened because terrorism is not on the front burner for many Canadians, adding that that is a “dangerous perception. We are not aware that the world around us has changed and is continuing to change, and emerging from that very, very different world are increasing threats to Canada, Canadians and our way of life.”

Canwest said the online survey was conducted among members of Innovative’s Canada 20/20 panel, included 1,229 responses, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

States Ask EPA to Go Slow on Climate Rules

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) — Some U.S. states say they want the Obama administration to go slow in implementing proposed federal rules cutting industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

Officials from Kansas, Pennsylvania, Florida and California, while saying they support the goals of the efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are calling on the agency to go slowly, warning they lack the funding necessary to regulate some of the new emissions sources that would be covered, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The California Energy Commission, for instance, in a Dec. 24 letter to the EPA, reportedly said the proposal “will likely retard, rather than facilitate” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from its electricity sector.

The Obama administration wants Congress to pass legislation that would use a so-called cap-and-trade system to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But, due in part to vociferous opposition from business, the Journal said prospects for such legislation passing the Senate are dim.

The White House is instead asking the EPA to independently set limits for carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act that would require polluters to obtain permits from state or local regulators demonstrating they are using the best practices and technologies to minimize the emissions, the newspaper reported.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Electricity, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

Clean Technology Projects Get $2 Billion in Tax Credits

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) — Tax credits of $2.3 billion will be awarded for new, clean-technology manufacturing jobs, U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday.

The tax credits, available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, will enable creation of more than $7 billion in new manufacturing projects and create tens of thousands of jobs, Obama said in remarks at the White House.

“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” Obama said. “The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.”

Obama said 183 projects in 43 states are eligible for the credits, worth up to 30 percent of each project.

This effort, along with other Recovery Act investments, will drive growth in the renewable energy and clean technology manufacturing sectors, Obama said, giving the United States the ability to take global leadership in these markets.

While welcoming a global competition to develop clean energy jobs, Obama said, “I don’t want America to lose that competition.”

The tax credit awards also will give a “much needed boost to the manufacturing sector” buy building new plants or rehabilitating old ones, he said.

“This is good for middle class families, good for our security and good for our planet,” Obama said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Policies & Solutions, Policy, Law, & Government, Politics, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

CDC: Coal Miners Dying at Younger Ages

ATLANTA, Dec. 23 (UPI) — The occupational overexposure to coal mine dust by coal miners continues to occur despite legally enforceable limits, U.S. health officials say.

Deaths occurring among younger persons from coal workers’ pneumoconiosis declined substantially from 1968-2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Wednesday says. Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis is the accumulation of coal dust in the lungs and the tissue’s reaction to its presence.

However, annual years of potential life before age 65 of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis have been increasing since 2002, and mean years of potential life before age 65 per decedent has been increasing since the early 1990s — meaning that workers die at younger age — the study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health finds.

The NIOSH study recommends hazard surveillance, workplace-specific interventions and strengthening of current coal workers’ pneumoconiosis prevention and elimination efforts to protect workers’ health.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Ailments & Diseases, Coal, Energy & Fuels, Human Health & Wellness, Occupational Health0 Comments

Department of Energy Must Upgrade Computer Security, Says Inspector

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) — An Inspector General’s report finds the U.S. Department of Energy has been dragging its feet on computer security, ABC News reported Tuesday.

Delays in upgrading security on computer systems at the department’s Office of Science could be both dangerous and costly, the report said. The office is responsible for research in a number of areas and manages nuclear facilities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., and facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

“Any system that is not as secure as it should be could be subject to compromise,” said Rickey Hass, deputy inspector general for audit services. “There are literally thousands of people who scan systems to try to gain access.”

The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Energy reviewed the office’s spending on computer security in 2008, $287 million for the year. The report said the seven field offices have not upgraded security to a high enough level.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Nuclear, Office, People, Policy, Law, & Government, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

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