Double, Double Toil and Trouble

Halloween is upon us. As the fake furry spiders and cotton-woolish ersatz webs proliferate, what's really scary is dry ice in decorative pseudo-cauldrons and other misuses.

Asleep at the Wheel

Earlier this month two Federal agencies announced they were backing off on a new rule meant to better protect the public from a truck/train barreling down on us out of control...

At Home in Your Vehicle

The “house” in “household hazards” depends on where you spend your time. And, as the venue changes, so too can its potential hazards.

Let Them Eat Mushrooms

The President’s trashing of the Paris Accord on climate change as a “job killer” was fittingly simultaneous with the CDC report of a outbreak of mushroom poisoning.

Agitating for the Environment

One place to take on global environmental stewardship may be your own laundry room. Remarkably, the spotlight now is not on detergents or bleach, but rather on the apparel itself.
Meena Kadri, used with permission

Manja Mania

As we watch the dismantling of the EPA here at home, the National Green Tribunal in India, its highest legal environmental authority, has been caught up in kite strings.

Personal Risk in a Time of Public Uncertainty

The recent entry ban by President Trump may seem remote from the topic of household hazards, but risk is relative.

Product Safety Recalls to Cap 2016

In the run-up to Christmas, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced two recalls of faulty high-tech crossbows.

Let’s Make America Toxic Again

To modest press notice, the ongoing Trump-Pence marketing site announced the offering of a special tree ornament touting its well-worn campaign slogan.

A Sponge Is a Sponge Is a Sponge

The household sponge market is perfect for investigating eco-friendly product claims.

Bagpipe Lament

In August a usually staid British medical journal published a modest clinical case report to unusually great fanfare. Media worldwide took note of a “new” disease: bagpipe lung.

Conceptual Art and Health

This summer, culture consumers were reassured by the retraction of a faulty scientific study: no need to worry about formaldehyde overexposure from fine art installations...

Unsafe Refuge

The Centers for Disease Control recently reported on the case of a family poisoned in their home after a botched Florida fumigation. It would be reassuring to view this as a fluke

Heaviness in the Heart

I recently helped care for a patient recovering from a cardiac arrest. It turned out that part of his problem may have been due to an old spray can.

Global Warming at the Dinner Table

The United Nations Environment Program recently put out a press release warning that global climate change could increase the rate at which certain foods crops could become toxic.

Turn the Lights Off When You Stay

Two outbreaks of eye injury were recently reported by the CDC. The outbreaks shared one key thing in common – broken lights.

Passing the Buck

I recently attended a lecture on the topic of the history of paper money and public fears connected to it. Not currency as the root of all evil, but rather as a source of disease.

No Man is an Island

When a close friend contracted a serious West Nile virus infection, it caused me to expand my own considerations of what constitutes a household hazard.
Public use: Centers for Disease Control

Leaf Blowers and Rabbit Fever

The recent outbreak of Legionnaire’s pneumonia in Flint Michigan linked to contamination of the public water supply teaches us that we live in an interconnected environment.

There’s Gold in Them Thar Kitchens

This past week, the CDC released a report on a 59-year-old Iowa man who got sick trying to extract precious metals from scrap computer parts, by cooking mercury on a kitchen stove.

Countertop Contretemps

When a letter to the editor appeared in a prestigious medical journal reporting the death of a patient linked to a common countertop material, the manufacturer’s response was not just immediate, it was published simultaneously. DuPont challenged the report that impugned Corian, a product it argued was perfectly safe, if used as directed.

Meet the Methyl Toxic Chemical Family

Earlier this summer, the CDC released a report on a family vacation gone terribly wrong. Back in March, two adults and two teenagers vacationed at a condominium resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unbeknownst to them, a pest control company was fumigating the condo below with the highly toxic chemical methyl bromide.

Dog Days of Summer

An 11-year old with severe injury to the liver was reported in June, linked to the use of a commercially-available blue-green algae dietary supplement. The victim’s liver dysfunction was severe enough to adversely affect her blood clotting ability and it required hospitalization. To the relief of her owners, the 11 year-old, twenty pound Pug dog made a full recovery.

Disease by Any Other Name

The World Health Organization, aka the W.H.O, recently decreed to great fanfare that new diseases no longer should be given a name linked to any person, place, or human activity. The stated rationale was the need to avoid stigma, but sub rosa, this was as much about financial sensitivity as it was consideration of potential victims.

The Sky Isn’t Falling

This spring, our national public health authorities announced that nearly 400 cases of salmonella bacterial intestinal infection had been identified. They were due to a single, shared cause.

Live Long and Prosper

The recent death of Leonard Nimoy led me to ponder what we might glean from science fiction about the everyday hazards of the sort that are the focus of this blog. It seems that in the future, everyone will live in a world (more correctly, on worlds) where every household will be safe and all products on the market will be risk-free...

Lychee Hazard

This week the Centers for Disease Control (CCD) came out with a warning about lychee fruit. A mysterious, cyclically recurrent epidemic of life-threatening seizures in children in India was finally linked to a cause. And that cause turned out to be consumption of unripe lychee fruit.

Caution When Opening the Complementary Medicine Cabinet

A while back, a patient was transferred to our hospital for specialized treatment for what was presumed to be a rare metabolic disorder. It turned out that the young woman actually suffered from lead poisoning linked to self-treatment with traditional medications containing toxic levels of that metal.

Of Vultures and Pain Killers

A colleague who is visiting our Poison Control Center from Europe recently asked me if I knew anything about vultures and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, specifically diclofenac. The near extinction of the dominant species of vulture in the Indian subcontinent is linked to this pharmaceutical...

Silicon-Based Life [-threatening]

Science fiction speculates as to what it would be like if long chains of elemental silicon were the starting point for the chemistry of life, the doctor as stonemason gambit. A recent mass outbreak of lung injury, tied to a stain-proofing spray, underscores that for those of us who evolved on this planet, long chains of silicon may not be so good.