Don't Take It From The FDA: New Environmental Health Podcast

For the most part, the FDA doesn’t require that the chemicals used in your shampoos, lipsticks, deodorants, and other personal care products be tested. Does that alarm you? It should. Monitoring the toxic load of what we put on our bodies is just as important as monitoring what we put in them, and don’t look first to the FDA for advice on what’s healthy for you in either regard. Instead, for environmental health news, look to the source, and check out Environmental Health Perspectives’ new Researcher’s Perspective series. Each month, the series (a podcast) interviews one of today’s environmental health big wigs and makes their newest, most groundbreaking research accessible.

The series covers a whole lot more than what’s in personal care products. It goes into depth on critical, under-reported such as: the link between autism and mercury, DDT, the EPA’s efforts to streamline chemical testing so that more of our are vetted before we smear them on our bodies (by the way, the skin is an organ, and a lot of what we put on it makes its way directly into tissue and bloodstreams), toxicity and breastfeeding, and the impacts of industrial farming on human health.

And as of a few months ago, the podcast’s got a fresh new host: Ashley Ahearn, a science and environment reporter, formerly of Public Radio International’s Living On Earth. She’s got a serious knack for helping the experts explain convoluted environmental health issues, and why we should all care.

Don’t think mercury matters much to you? In this month’s podcast, Ahearn interviews Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an environmental epidemiologist with the MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute at UC Davis in Sacramento – and picks her brain on the much-debated connection between the fastest growing developmental disability today, and mercury, a toxin our coal industry is dumping into water sources around the world (and which, controversially, has been used in vaccines). Dr. Hertz-Picciotto believes that her autism research - which she conducts under umbrella project The Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) - could someday help the scientific community identify the causes of the disorder, and eliminate cases.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
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22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
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Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

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How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
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