HEALTH

Water Quality and Health Council raising awareness of swimmer’s ear with free pool test kits

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Swimmer’s ear accounts for as many as 2.4 million doctor visits and nearly $500 million in healthcare costs annually, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published Thursday in its "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" found.

To help raise awareness around the condition, the Water Quality and Health Council is making free pool test kits available to the public so swimmers can check pH and chlorine levels. According to the CDC, pools with proper pH and chlorine levels are less likely to harbor the bacteria that can cause "swimmer’s ear" and the germs that cause other recreational water illnesses, including diarrhea and athlete’s foot.

Last summer, the Water Quality and Health Council provided more than 43,000 free pool test strips to individuals who requested them via the Healthy Pools website. Data submitted last summer by swimmers who had requested the strips found that 40% of pools had either unacceptable levels of chlorine or pH readings.

When testing pool water for proper pH and chlorine levels, the pH should register between 7.2 and 7.8, and the free chlorine level should be between 1.0 and 4.0 parts per million (ppm).

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CRN responds to Lazy Cakes controversy

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Thursday issued a statement regarding the growing controversy surrounding Lazy Cakes — a brownie containing melatonin, an ingredient that helps establish more normal sleeping patterns — that has been cited in a New York Times article as having “flagrantly mimic[ked] the soothing effects of hash brownies.”

Other published reports suggested the Arizona Department of Health issued a mandatory recall of Lazy Cakes following the report of an adverse event.

“Conventional food products, including cakes and brownies, that are fortified with a dietary ingredient, such as melatonin, are not dietary supplements despite being labeled that way; they are mislabeled conventional foods,” CRN president and CEO Steve Mister said. “For a conventional food product to include a dietary ingredient, a company must either seek approval as a food additive or achieve generally recognized as safe status for the ingredient,” he said. “CRN has reached out to the agency and encouraged it to take swift action against these products.”

In the New York Times story, reporter Catherine Saint Louis cited an FDA spokesman who said that the agency had not yet made a determination on whether Lazy Cakes qualified as a food or supplement. However, the precedent already set by the agency suggested that Lazy Cakes may soon be a recipient of a warning letter.

For the full New York Times report, click here.

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Reports: Unabomber alleged suspect in 1982 Tylenol poisonings

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Theodore Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, allegedly is a suspect in the 1982 Tylenol poisonings in the Chicago area that killed seven people, according to published reports.

The Tylenol poisonings, in which someone placed potassium cyanide in with the pain relievers on store shelves, prompted the introduction of tamper-proof packaging for many over-the-counter medicines.

In a handwritten motion filed in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., Kaczynski reported he voluntarily submitted a DNA sample for comparison against a partial DNA sample in the Tylenol case files. The motion requests that the government keep all evidence and material taken from Kaczynski’s cabin indefinitely.

An auction of Kazynski’s property had been ordered by U.S. district judge Garland Burrell Jr. to help satisfy the $15 million Kazynski owes in restitution.

According to reports, the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento filed papers Monday opposing a halt to the auction. "Kaczynski has not been indicted in connection with the Chicago Tylenol investigation, and no such federal prosecution is currently planned," the government’s motion stated.

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