Stories tagged work

An Australian study shows that the more TV you watch, the greater your risk for early death, especially from cancer or heart disease. In fact, every extra hour you spend in front of the tube per day (on average) increases your risk 11%. So, get off the couch and get some exercise!

A German scientist has found that people forced to smile and take insults suffer worse stress than those that can fight back. So, don’t keep your anger bottled up – let it rage!


Canary in the coal mine: Is that a nanotech worker in the cage?
Canary in the coal mine: Is that a nanotech worker in the cage?

Pui and Maynard don't want our future nanotech workers to be canaries in the coal mine.

University of Minnesota scientist David Y.H. Pui teamed up with Andrew Maynard, the Science Advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, to call for more research into the safety of those who work in the field of nanotechnology. Their comments were published in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research.

Nanotechnology allows us to manipulate materials at the atomic and molecular scale, a billions of times smaller than a meter. But what does this mean for the lab and factory workers who will build these new materials? "Workers are society's canaries-in-the-coal mines when it comes to the environmental, health and safety effects of new materials--and nanoscale materials are no different," said Maynard.

People are researching the safety of nanotech manufacturing, but it isn't enough. According to Maynard, "little is known about potential risks in many areas of nanotechnology--and funding for risk-focused research is a small fraction of the nearly $10 billion spent annually by governments and industry on nanotechnology commercial applications."

This article is a good step in prodding the industry and our government to put more money toward nanotech risk research. However, I wonder at what point these calls for more focus will result in more action. We have seen some advances in 2006 with the city of Berkeley, California creating municipal regulations on nanotech. And, the EPA decided to regulate the use of nano silver in the environment.

It remains to be seen if this will continue to be a trend. So when you hear about a new nanotech breakthrough, continue to ask: Will it be safe?


Popcorn: Courtesy Saffanna

Artificial flavoring is a big part of our food industry whether we like it or not. But the use of one chemical might be causing a potentially fatal lung disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, in the workers who handle it. Investigators have found an alarmingly high number of cases of this disease in Midwestern popcorn workers and have linked it to the cheap flavoring diacetyl. Diacetyl helps to give the popcorn a butter flavor.

Scientists at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and industry leaders are clashing over what should be done. This report on the industry's reactions to safety claims outlines how science is never a fixed standard. Everyone in this issue seems to disagree: the industry scientists, health officials, workers.

What do you think?