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Drought, heat bring spiders, bugs out
The venom from a brown recluse spider can cause skin irritations and lesions and, in rare cases, can be fatal.
August 8th, 2012
04:40 PM ET

Drought, heat bring spiders, bugs out

Record high temperatures and rapid expanding drought across the country are resulting in an increase in spiders and other bugs.

“All insects are cold-blooded, so in extreme heat they develop quicker, which results in more generations popping up now compared to previous summers,” said Jim Fredericks, an entomologist and wildlife ecology expert with the National Pest Management Association.

One spider to watch out for is arguably one of mother nature's most dangerous, the brown recluse.  The extreme heat is driving brown recluses to seek refuge inside homes.

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London pollution could affect Olympic athletes’ performance
Almost a quarter of a million people will be arriving at London's Heathrow airport as athletes and fans arrive for the Games.
July 23rd, 2012
07:00 AM ET

London pollution could affect Olympic athletes’ performance

Less than a week from the opening ceremonies, allergists are warning that some Olympic athletes may suffer breathing problems due to air pollution in London.

The amount of nitrogen dioxide in London is comparable to the level of nitrogen dioxide in Beijing before Beijing banned half of the cars in preparation for the Games, and London has done little to control traffic, says Dr. William Silvers, an allergy specialist and a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Demanding workouts in the polluted air could spell trouble particularly for those athletes that already have conditions such as asthma or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), a narrowing of the airways that makes it hard to move air out of the lungs, according to AAAAI.
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Researchers estimate 130 might die from Fukushima-related cancers
Women's group members protest against nuclear power plants at a demonstration in Japan on Tuesday.
July 17th, 2012
06:21 PM ET

Researchers estimate 130 might die from Fukushima-related cancers

As protests against nuclear power gain momentum in Japan, a new report estimates the worldwide cancer death toll from the March 2011 disaster at Fukushima Daiichi could be anywhere from 15 to 1,300.  But researchers say it will more likely be around 130, and mostly in Japan.

"It's not large, but it's not 0," said Mark Jacobson, a civil and environmental engineer at Stanford University and co-author of the new study.  "A lot of people were claiming there were no health effects from the radiation.  We found that was not the case."

The study, published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, uses a three-dimensional model of the atmosphere to look at how radioactive materials spread after last year's massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

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BPA ban in baby bottles and sippy cups official
July 17th, 2012
05:32 PM ET

BPA ban in baby bottles and sippy cups official

The chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA has been officially banned from use in certain baby products, the US Food and Drug Administration announced today.

"FDA is amending the food additive regulations to no longer allow BPA in the plastic used to make baby bottles and sippy cups," said Curtis Allen, an FDA spokesman. "As a result, consumers can be confident that these products do not contain BPA. "

The move came as a result of a petition filed by the American Chemistry Council – an organization that represents “companies engaged in the business of chemistry” –- including plastic companies - saying the government should ban its use in these specific products.

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Dental fillings linked to kids' behavior problems
July 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Dental fillings linked to kids' behavior problems

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in the U.S. for kids. In fact, more than half of elementary school students will have cavities by the time they're in second grade, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

Since the 1970s, dentists have been using tooth-colored fillings that contain derivatives of the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), in favor of the metal amalgam fillings.

Now a new analysis on dental fillings in children suggests these non-metal fillings may contribute to behavioral problems.  The study authors caution that their results only point to an association; they say their analysis does not prove that BPA causes any behavior changes.
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Diabetes and cosmetics: A connection?
July 13th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Diabetes and cosmetics: A connection?

Hidden in perfumes, scented lotions, food packaging and even synthetic leathers are a type of chemical called phthalates. Most people in the United States are exposed to phthalates, and levels tend to be higher in women than men.

A new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives examines whether there is a connection between phthalates and diabetes in women. Researchers did find an association but did not prove that the chemicals cause diabetes.

Researchers found that the risk of having diabetes was twice as high in women with the highest levels of certain phthalates, compared with women with the lowest levels. Looking at the data a different way, there would be about 40 extra diabetes cases per 1,000 women when women with high levels are compared to women with low levels.

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June 27th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

America's cleanest (and dirtiest!) beaches

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, the Natural Resources Defense Council has released its annual beach quality report and it’s not pretty.

According to NRDC, a large number of U.S. seashores continue to suffer from storm water runoff and sewage pollution that can cause swimmers to become very ill.

The report, Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, looks at 2011 data collected from test results taken at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide. It examines the pollution factors that affect these U.S. vacation spots and calls for public efforts to clean up.

The report found that last year the nation’s beach waters continued to be affected by serious contamination and pollutants from human and animal waste. As a result, America’s beaches had the third-highest number of closings or advisories in the report’s history, with the second-highest number occurring just the year before. Progress, according to the report, is not being made.
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Researchers: Chemical testing is 'inadequate'
June 26th, 2012
10:01 AM ET

Researchers: Chemical testing is 'inadequate'

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators are not using the best available science in their assessment of bisphenol-A's (BPA) safety, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Endocrine Society.

"Testing needs to include models of developmental exposure during critical life periods when organisms may be most vulnerable to even very low-dose exposure," says the world's largest group of researchers and clinicians who study how hormones function.

For a typical poison, a higher dose correlates directly with greater toxicity, but endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA may be counter-intuitively more potent at lower levels, and during "windows of vulnerability" such as pregnancy, explains a 2009 scientific statement by the Endocrine Society.

That poses a problem for regulatory agencies' screening tests, which are based on traditional toxicology and do not detect the low-dose effects of chemicals on the endocrine system, said Frederick vom Saal, who co-authored the Endocrine Society's new statement.
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Senate votes in favor of clean air protections
June 20th, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Senate votes in favor of clean air protections

Senate Joint Resolution 37, the Senate bill that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards or MATS, was voted down Wednesday by a margin of 46 to 53.

Introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in February, the resolution was a challenge to the country's first national protections rule designed to limit the amount of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other toxic air pollutants released by power plants that burn coal and oil - toxins many suspect cause cancer and other health problems.

But Inhofe said the bill was specifically designed to kill the coal industry and the good paying jobs it provides. He led the charge to repeal the protections and vowed to keep fighting what he called the Obama administration's "damaging regulatory regime."
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Watch out for the 2012 'Dirty Dozen'
June 19th, 2012
07:11 AM ET

Watch out for the 2012 'Dirty Dozen'

Apples and celery are still agriculture’s dirtiest pieces of produce, according to the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” report. The report names the fruits and vegetables ranking highest in pesticide residue.

Cucumbers were added to the 2012 Dirty Dozen, while Kale and collard greens were moved from the list to join green beans in a new “Plus” category.

The category was created this year to highlight crops that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but are still commonly contaminated with organophosphate insecticides, which are toxic to the nervous system.

Also included on the Dirty Dozen list are:
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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