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.
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.
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.
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 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...
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.
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.
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...
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.