Reducing Risk in California Extraction

New research shows that low-income communities and communities of color that are most impacted by oil and gas extraction (Frontline Communities) in California are at an elevated risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and other negative birth outcomes. This is in addition to the elevated risks of cancer; risks for respiratory, cardiovascular, and pulmonary disorders; and risks for eyes, ears, nose, throat, and skin irritation that Frontline Communities face, among others. Public health interventions including setback requirements for oil and gas drilling are necessary to address the environmental health endemics documented in Frontline Communities. This analysis shows that approximately 2.17 million Californians live within 2,500’ of an operational oil and gas well, and about 7.37 million Californians live within 1 mile.

— source | Dec 17, 2020

Nullius in verba



Over 4% of summer mortality in European cities is attributable to urban heat islands

Exposure to heat has been associated with premature mortality, cardiorespiratory disease and hospital admissions. This is particularly true for heat waves, but also occurs with moderately high temperatures in summer. Cities are especially vulnerable to higher temperatures. Less vegetation, higher population density, and impermeable surfaces for buildings and roads, including asphalt, lead to a temperature difference between the city and surrounding areas — a phenomenon called urban heat island. Given the ongoing global warming and urban growth, this effect is expected to worsen over the next decades.

Over four percent of deaths in cities during the summer months are due to urban heat islands, and one third of these deaths could be prevented by reaching a tree cover of 30%, according to a modelling study published in The Lancet and led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by “la Caixa” Foundation. The study results, obtained with data from 93 European cities, highlight the substantial benefits of planting more trees in cities to attenuate the impact of climate change.

— source Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) | Jan 31, 2023

Nullius in verba

Air pollution troubles Chess players

Here’s something else chess players need to keep in check: air pollution.

That’s the bottom line of a newly published study co-authored by an MIT researcher, showing that chess players perform objectively worse and make more suboptimal moves, as measured by a computerized analysis of their games, when there is more fine particulate matter in the air.

More specifically, given a modest increase in fine particulate matter, the probability that chess players will make an error increases by 2.1 percentage points, and the magnitude of those errors increases by 10.8 percent. In this setting, at least, cleaner air leads to clearer heads and sharper thinking.

“We find that when individuals are exposed to higher levels of air pollution, they make more more mistakes, and they make larger mistakes,” says Juan Palacios, an economist in

— source Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Feb 1, 2023

Nullius in verba

What Scientists Are Learning about Women’s Health from Other Female Animals

Projected on the massive screen behind me onstage, a herd of giraffes rushes across a sweep of savanna. With the video set to loop, the giraffes gallop endlessly, giving me time to slowly lean across the podium and ask my audience: “Did you spot the pregnant giraffes?” I am delivering a plenary lecture at the 2019 Nobel Conference in Stockholm. The theme of that year’s conference was bioinspired medicine—finding solutions in nature to human health problems—and I wanted to call attention to the connections between women and other female animals.

As a cardiologist and evolutionary biologist, I’d been posing this question about the giraffes to medical students in my courses at Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles, for years, so I could tell it had landed as planned. I watched the crowd scan the troop of giraffes for evidence of pregnancy—a baby bump, a lagging mother-to-be. I suspected that few, if any, of the assembled scientists and physicians had considered this question when first taking in the scene. That was precisely my point. Given the importance of female health challenges such as pregnancy to the survival of a species—including our own—shouldn’t the realities of female life in the wild be more than an afterthought for doctors and biomedical researchers?

Predators pose a daily threat to survival for all prey species, and they don’t give pregnant animals a pass. Even in their final, heaviest days of pregnancy, females must evade

— source | Barbara Natterson-Horowitz | Mar 1, 2023

Nullius in verba

Divide and Conquer

Talbot blames his mother’s death on NHS cuts. The album is dedicated to her and she appears on the cover.

A loved one perished at the hand of the baron-hearted right

Between 2010 and the release of Brutalism, the Conservative-led governments consistently increased the NHS budget by less than was needed — effectively reducing the amount of treatment available.

Nullius in verba

Racism poses public health threat to millions worldwide

Racism is a “profound” and “insidious” driver of health inequalities worldwide and poses a public health threat to millions of people, according to a global review.

Racism, xenophobia and discrimination are “fundamental influences” on health globally but have been overlooked by health researchers, policymakers and practitioners, the series published in the Lancet suggests.

Inaccurate and unfounded assumptions about genetic differences between races also continue to shape health outcomes through research, policy and practice, the review of evidence and studies found.

“Racism and xenophobia exist in every modern society and have profound effects on the health of disadvantaged people,” said the lead author, Prof Delan Devakumar of University College London.

“Until racism and xenophobia are universally recognised as significant drivers of determinants of health, the root causes of discrimination will remain in the shadows and continue to cause and exacerbate health inequities.”

— source | Andrew Gregory | 8 Dec 2022

Nullius in verba

Medicare Advantage Is “Heist” by Private Firms to Defraud the Public

A major investigation by The New York Times this weekend has found many of the nation’s largest health insurance companies have made billions of dollars in profits by exploiting the government’s Medicare Advantage program. Eight of the 10 largest Medicare Advantage providers have overbilled the government. Six of the 10 have been accused of fraud by the government or company whistleblowers.

This comes as the number of people enrolled in the privatized system continue to grow. Projections show that by next year more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in a private plan.

Under the system, health insurers get more government funding for sicker patients, which has given the companies an incentive to make patients appear more ill than they actual are. UnitedHealth, Humana, Kaiser and other health insurance companies have been sued for fraud for overdiagnosing patients to bump up profits. The cost to taxpayers is

— source | Oct 12, 2022

Nullius in verba

They Were Entitled to Free Care

In 2018, senior executives at one of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital chains, Providence, were frustrated. They were spending hundreds of millions of dollars providing free health care to patients. It was eating into their bottom line.

The executives, led by Providence’s chief financial officer at the time, devised a solution: a program called Rev-Up.

Rev-Up provided Providence’s employees with a detailed playbook for wringing money out of patients — even those who were supposed to receive free care because of their low incomes, a New York Times investigation found.

In training materials obtained by The Times, members of the hospital staff were instructed how to approach patients and pressure them to pay.

“Ask every patient, every time,” the materials said. Instead of using “weak” phrases — like “Would you mind paying?” — employees were told to ask how patients wanted to pay. Soliciting money “is part of your role. It’s not an option.”

If patients did not pay, Providence sent debt collectors to pursue them.

— source | Jessica Silver-Greenberg Katie Thomas | Sep 24, 2022

Nullius in verba

The Myth of Normal

the pandemic actually revealed to us how toxic our idea of normal has been, because it showed us the desperate need for human connection that we all have. But this is in a culture that has been isolating and atomizing individuals for a long time, where loneliness has been an epidemic for decades. It showed the noxious effect of racism and inequality, because the people who had the greatest risk for being affected by COVID were those of a lower social class and of people of color.

The normal that we came from, in my perspective, was already a toxic normal. We don’t want to go back to it, because my contention in this book is what we consider to be normal in this society is actually neither natural or healthy, and, in fact, it’s a cause of much human pathology, mental and physical. And actually, people’s pathologies, what we call abnormalities, whether it’s mental or physical illness, are actually normal responses to what is an abnormal culture.

the key here is trauma. Trauma is a psychological wound that people sustain. And I’m saying that in this society, most of us, because of the nature of the culture, the way we raise children, the way we have to relate to each other, the very values of a society are traumatizing for a lot of people, so that it’s false to say that some people are normal and others are abnormal. In fact, we’re all on a spectrum of woundedness, which has great impact on how we relate to each other and on our health.

— source | Sep 16, 2022

Nullius in verba