Health News Digest, June 2024

We're Speaking Out For You

Our concerns about e-bikes

We recently collaborated with the Consumer Federation of America and Kids In Danger organizations to comment on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) proposed rule for electric bikes. The CPSC is responsible for regulating e-bikes, but there are currently no standard mechanical safety requirements for e-bikes in the United States. That's why the commission is seeking information and advice related to injury and risks linked to e-bikes.

NCHR’s joint comment urged the CPSC to improve its definition of e-bikes to be consistent with the e-bikes currently being sold. Currently, e-bikes are regulated just like traditional bicycles, despite being able to go much faster. We urged CPSC to consider the causes of the most common injuries and fatalities involving e-bikes and to use that information to inform regulation. 

We also recommended that CPSC should adopt separate safety requirements for children’s e-bikes because of the increased risk linked with younger users. Children are 2.4 times more likely to be injured from e-bikes compared to traditional bikes. We urged developing new regulations regarding the size, weight, speed, and brakes of bikes. Additionally, we urged that e-bikes for children and youths should be limited to those that require using the pedals, and CPSC should prevent handlebar throttle-powered e-bikes bikes from being marketed to or sold for children.

With the dramatic increase in e-bikes throughout the country, it is essential that safeguards be added to reduce their risks. Read more here.

We educated Tucson, AZ officials about playgrounds and artificial turf that contains PFAS, lead, and heavy metals

NCHR President Dr. Diana Zuckerman recently sent a letter to public officials in Tucson, Arizona, to educate them about the risks of hazardous materials found in playground surfaces and artificial turf. Despite appearing safe and attractive, playground surfaces covered with colorful rubber are made from tire waste and expose children to lead and toxic chemicals. These exposures have the potential to increase obesity; contribute to early puberty; cause attention problems such as ADHD; exacerbate asthma; and eventually cause cancer. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that no level of lead is safe, no matter how small. PFAS, known as “forever chemicals,” are in artificial turf and playground materials and are of particular concern.

The same types of chemicals that are in playgrounds and artificial turf are banned from young children’s toys, and NCHR urged Tucson officials to consider this when making decisions about children's playgrounds. These surfaces also become 30-80 degrees hotter than the air on warm and sunny days and can cause heat poisoning and burns. This is of great concern for Tucson due to its hot climate.

Officials throughout the country are being mislead by false claims from salespeople that their products are safe, despite clear evidence to the contrary. Read more here.

We're in the News

FDA brings lab tests under its oversight

The FDA will soon regulate laboratory-developed tests (LDTs) that are used to diagnose or predict diseases. Dr. Zuckerman told MedPage Today that "we strongly support FDA's decision to regulate lab-developed tests because it is unconscionable that thousands of tests are being used by patients and consumers that have never been evaluated by independent experts to make sure they are accurate." However, we are concerned that the thousands of tests that are already on the market will not be evaluated by the FDA to make sure they are accurate. Read more here.

News You Can Use

Colorado, Vermont, and San Francisco have passed new laws banning PFAS chemicals

Concerns about PFAS, also called "forever chemicals," are leading to increased legislative action. Colorado and Vermont recently passed bills banning the sale of items that contain PFAS, such as certain types of outdoor apparel, cookware, ski wax, dental floss, cosmetics, and menstruation and incontinence products. San Francisco has become the first U.S. city to ban PFAS in firefighter gear, allocating funds to replace existing gear with PFAS-free alternatives by 2026. We support these efforts, which reflect a growing commitment to reducing PFAS exposure and protecting public health. Read more here.

Doctor who said COVID vaccination could magnetize people can treat patients again

Sherri Tenpenny, DO, known for her controversial claim that COVID-19 vaccines can magnetize people, has had her medical license reinstated. Her license was suspended indefinitely last summer due to concerns about her fitness to practice when she refused to cooperate with investigators about her inaccurate medical claims. The decision to reinstate her license has sparked discussions within the medical community. Critics argue that allowing her to practice again undermines public trust in medical advice, while supporters claim it is a matter of professional freedom and due process. The case highlights the ongoing challenges in addressing medical misinformation that can harm public health. Read more here.

Whistleblower accused the EPA of mishandling the East Palestine train derailment response

A whistleblower revealed that the EPA failed to use the best technology during the East Palestine train derailment, potentially exacerbating the public health crisis. Robert Kroutil, a former EPA data quality manager, explained that the agency delayed deploying its ASPECT aircraft, which is capable of detecting chemical, heat, and radiological hazards, and turned off its sensors when the aircraft was finally deployed, therefore preventing the collection of vital data. This resulted in the risky venting and burning of vinyl chloride tank cars. The nonprofit Government Accountability Project is calling for an investigation, citing a severe breach of public trust and a need for accountability within the EPA. Read more here.

Info You Can Use

What are PFAS chemicals and why are they dangerous?

PFAS are human-made chemicals often called "forever chemicals" due to their persistence in the environment and the human body. These chemicals are found in many everyday products, including non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, artificial turf, and food packaging. Exposure to PFAS can lead to serious health issues such as testicular and kidney cancer, liver disease, heart disease, and developmental delays in children. To reduce exposure, individuals can avoid products containing PFAS, use water filtration systems, and choose PFAS-free cosmetics and personal care items. Despite their prevalence, taking informed steps can help minimize the risks associated with PFAS. Read more here.

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