Chemical informatio​n and the Jan 2014 West Virginia Elk River chemical release


You may be aware from multiple news sources that little information was available about 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol at the time of the spill in West Virginia’s Elk River earlier this month. Since the spill, government and private sector scientists have contributed to collecting and verifying information about the chemical. As a result, there is now a page on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website about the chemical and the methodology used by CDC to develop its recommendations.

There is also a new record in the NLM Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) for the chemical 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol, which has a Chemical Abstracts Service registry number (CASRN) of 34885-03-5. Other terms for the spilled substance are “MCHM” or “crude MCHM” or “4-Methylcyclohexane methanol.”

Please note that in some social media and early news reports, the chemical was MISIDENTIFIED as Methylcyclohexanol (CASRN: 25639-42-3). This is NOT the correct chemical. In chemical incidents, it is unusual for little online information to be available about a substance. Chemicals can often be readily identified using online resources such as TOXNET and WISER. In the absence of published information, local and state officials request consultation with local, state, federal and industry experts. Typically, following such an incident there is immediate, ongoing, extensive consultation and communication among responders and experts to determine appropriate actions. When planning for providing health information following chemical incidents, it is critical for institutions and government agencies to know who to contact in uncommon situations as well as knowing the authoritative published sources of chemical information.


Sports-Related Concussions in Youth

New from the National Academies Press:

In the past decade, few subjects at the intersection of medicine and sports have generated as much public interest as sports-related concussions – especially among youth. Despite growing awareness of sports-related concussions and campaigns to educate athletes, coaches, physicians, and parents of young athletes about concussion recognition and management, confusion and controversy persist in many areas. Currently, diagnosis is based primarily on the symptoms reported by the individual rather than on objective diagnostic markers, and there is little empirical evidence for the optimal degree and duration of physical rest needed to promote recovery or the best timing and approach for returning to full physical activity.

Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture reviews the science of sports-related concussions in youth from elementary school through young adulthood, as well as in military personnel and their dependents. This report recommends actions that can be taken by a range of audiences – including research funding agencies, legislatures, state and school superintendents and athletic directors, military organizations, and equipment manufacturers, as well as youth who participate in sports and their parents – to improve what is known about concussions and to reduce their occurrence. Sports-Related Concussions in Youth finds that while some studies provide useful information, much remains unknown about the extent of concussions in youth; how to diagnose, manage, and prevent concussions; and the short- and long-term consequences of concussions as well as repetitive head impacts that do not result in concussion symptoms.

For more information & to read the free PDF, go to the NAP website.

Video from this year’s Risk Science Symposium with Mark Lynas now available

The Risk Science Center has announced that the video of this year’s Bernstein Symposium is available online.  If you weren’t able to attend, it was a fascinating lecture and panel discussion: Why Is It Hard to Pivot Based on Science?

Mark Lynas, an author, journalist, environmental activist, and Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University, presented the lecture, then joined a panel for a lively discussion.

Find the link on the Risk Science Center web site.

Risk Science Center cohosts a workshop on assessing the risk of innovative materials


From the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health Risk Science Center:

A one-day workshop co-organized by the University of Michigan Risk Science Center will address the unique characteristics and properties of innovative materials, and the challenges of ensuring their safe development and use.

The Risk Assessment of Innovative Materials Workshop, organized in collaboration with RSC, 3M and the Northland Chapter of the Society of Toxicology, will be held on Thursday 1 August at 3M’s Innovation Center in St Paul, MN. For registrations, please visit the workshop website.

Dangers of distracted walking

From the Well blog at the New York Times:

Driving a car while talking or texting on a cellphone is a widely recognized risk factor for accidents. Now a new study reports that a growing number of people who walk while talking or texting are ending up in the emergency room.

Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which collects detailed case information from a sample of emergency rooms across the country, researchers estimated the number of pedestrians nationwide who were injured seriously enough while using cellphones to be treated in an emergency room from 2004 to 2010.

They found that the number of injuries increased yearly during that time,  to 1,506 in 2010 from 559 in 2004. The damage ranged from minor to serious — abrasions, sprains, concussions, seizures and fractures. Over the six years, about two-thirds of those injured were younger than 25. The findings appeared in the August issue of Accident Analysis & Prevention.

“I think parents need to teach their children safe texting,” said the lead author, Jack L. Nasar, a professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State. “Just like they say, ‘Look both ways before crossing,’ they should say, ‘Stop and stand off to the side when you text or talk.’”