The Schwarzenegger Administration plans to approve a new chemical called methyl iodide, which is used by strawberry farmers. Although methyl iodide can cause cancer and miscarriages, regulators say that protective measures like respirators and buffer zones will keep farm workers safe. Scientists consulting for the state say these measures often fail, and methyl iodide is too toxic to take chances. Amy Standen reports.
How much can we count on respirators, buffer zones and other tools to protect people from a toxic chemical? That's the focus of this week's QUEST radio story.
Methyl bromide – a powerful fumigant used by strawberry growers to sterilize the soil before plants go in – was found to harm the Earth's ozone layer. Strawberry farmers have been clamoring for a replacement, and they may get their wish if the state approves a chemical called methyl iodide. But some state scientists say it could cause cancer and miscarriages in farm workers and nearby communities.
Thousands of babies are born each year in the U.S. with brain defects that can cause lifelong disability or even death. UC-San Francisco neurologists and pediatricians are developing better diagnostic tools and treatments to help brain-damaged babies not only survive, but grow up to live more normal lives.
Hepatitis C is a virus that causes cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. It's the leading cause for liver transplants in the U.S., and an estimated 4 million Americans have the disease. Current treatments are difficult to tolerate and are often ineffective, but recent breakthroughs from Bay Area scientists may soon produce a cure for the disease that claims more than 10,000 American lives each year.
Nearly all of us have had the experience of waking up and feeling as though the restorative, rejuvenating effects of a good night's sleep had passed us by.
Thanks to stem cells and other cutting-edge technologies, doctors hope they may one day be able to restore sight to people who were born without it, or lost it, later in life. But a rare case here in the Bay Area suggests that curing blindness may be more than meets the eye.
When Mike was three years old, he opened up a jar containing an explosive chemical that the miners had left behind. The accident left him nearly blind. Forty-two years later, doctors fixed one of his eyes in a series of two procedures.
This month, truckers at the Port of Oakland face new rules on diesel rigs.The rules call for expensive filters that cut down the amount of soot the trucks spew out. Many truckers say they can't afford the new gear, especially amid a recession. But treating the health effects of diesel pollution may be much more expensive.
People often think about certain versions of a gene as either good or bad. One that leads to depression is bad while one that protects you from HIV infection is good. For most genes this is almost certainly too simplistic a view. Many versions of genes can be good or bad depending on your situation.