Monthly Archives: February 2016

Study Finds Correlation Between Exposure to Textile Dust In Workplace and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid_arthritis_jointIt’s obvious that breathing in dirt and dust isn’t great for your health, but according to the magazine Safety + Health, a new study suggests that exposure to textile dust could have especially detrimental consequences.

The study was conducted by Malaysia’s Allergy and Immunology Research Center at the Institute for Medical Research. Researchers analyzed 910 Malaysian women who had been previously diagnosed with early-stage rheumatoid arthritis and 910 women around the same age who were not.

Participants were asked if they worked in the textile industry and had ever been exposed to chemicals and silica dust, and they were then checked for ACPA (rheumatoid arthritis antibodies).

Overall, 4.5% of the women with rheumatoid arthritis were also exposed to textile dust at work compared to just 1.7% of the diagnosed women without the disease. According to their results, women exposed to textile dust were three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than women who did not work in such an industry.

The study is, however, just evidence of correlation, not necessarily causation, as the researchers themselves readily acknowledged.

“From a public health perspective, our results imply that efforts should be considered to reduce the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis by reducing occupational exposure to textile dust,” researchers wrote in the study.

Exposure to textile dust was also connected to more than double the risk of having ACPA in general. Textile dust is particularly harmful to the lungs because of the size and shape, which allows it to get into them and cause inflammation; in order to combat it, industrial facilities often use central vacuum systems and air filters to prevent workers from breathing in these substances.

The study only used women as subjects for a couple of reasons. First, they are simply the predominant workers in the textile industry. Secondly, smoking is inherently more common in men and is a big factor in potential risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Indiana HVAC Business Boycotts Carrier Over Move to Mexico

carrier corpThere was plenty of outrage when Carrier Corporation, the industrial systems and HVAC manufacturer, announced they were closing their Indiana facility, which had been open since the early 1950s. According to the ABC affiliate RTV6, there’s at least one business owner in particular who took the move to heart and is taking a stand in the hopes others will join with him.

“I thought it was wrong to move across the border,” said R.D. Poffenbarger, the owner of 911 Heating and Cooling in Anderson, IN. “We put our names on these furnaces we put in. We like the workmanship of quality products.”

Poffenbarger feels so strongly about the issue that he’s decided to boycott buying any Carrier products to use in his business services. A typical HVAC system will last about 12 years. He’s not irrational about the virtually insignificant effect his small business will have on a huge corporation like Carrier, but he feels it’s as important a symbolic gesture as it is personal one.

“It’s like the movie ‘Gone with the Wind’: It’s the demise of a whole way of life,” David Audretsch, an economic development expert at Indiana University, told the IndyStar. “Depending on the community, you can see this devastation wrought not just on individuals and their families, but the whole community.”

Poffenbarger had many family members and friends face a similar hardship when General Motors closed their Indiana plants. He’s hoping that larger companies will follow his lead and force some real pressure on Carrier and future companies that think to do the same thing, but he’s not afraid to stand alone and even risk losing his own customers in the process.

Many of his clients are long-time Carrier buyers and are reluctant to change. One such buyer he was actually able to persuade out of the Carrier product he wanted when he explained his position and reasoning for forgoing them. Naturally, his resistance has been met with local approval.

“They were well willing to change,” he said.

Who Should Rent and Who Should Buy?

Key to a new homeAfter the financial crisis of 2008 and the crash of the housing market, many experts believed that the economy would eventually rebound according to the usual cycle of finances.

According to Builder Online, national statistics from a recent report by Trulia are now adding more weight to this theory.

The rising prices of stand-alone homes have caused some homeowners to migrate into urban areas where they can rent a condo or apartment instead. This trend is what CityLab co-founder Richard Florida predicted called the “Great Reset.”

The share of U.S. households currently renting jumped from 36.1% in 2006 to 41.1% in 2014. Simultaneously, the share of people who owned their own homes began to decline.

It comes as no surprise that the increase in renting was strongest among the Millennial generation. From 2006 to 2014, the rates of Millennials renting grew from 62.5% to 71.6%.

However, this younger generation was not alone. There was also a substantial increase in renters during that time of 35- to 54-year-olds increasing from 33% to 40.7%, and 55 and older rising from 24.4% to 27%.

The largest populations of renters are now centered around tech hubs, such as San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Austin, Boston, and Seattle.

In fact, as RIS Media reports, part of what is raising the rates of renting for Millennials is their desperation to find jobs after graduating college.

Many are forced to metropolitan areas where there are more positions available, but this means the cost of living and rent is higher in these regions as well.

According to Zillow’s Breakeven Horizon Analysis, in most of these areas, it can actually be more cost-effective to purchase a home rather than rent, but only if the resident will be there for a few years.

For example, Boston, one of the youngest cities in the country, is estimated to have a breakeven horizon of three years. For a tech hub like San Francisco, breakeven horizon is about 2.9 years.

“Even with record-high rents in job centers like San Jose, Boston, and Washington D.C., putting off a home purchase might be the best financial decision for a young person who has saved enough for a down payment, depending on how long they intend to stay in their jobs and homes,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.

Average Retirement Age Getting Older Among Americans

Portrait Of Senior BusinesswomanThe standard retirement age in America has traditionally been 65 years of age. According to a University of Michigan Health and retirement study, that number only continues to increase as financial and personal stability are becoming more and more concerning to Americans at more advanced ages.

As reported by WWLP, the study found that more than one third of people who set a goal for their retirement age were not able to retire as young as they had hoped. Although Americans can technically start collecting retirement benefits at the age of 62, you don’t become eligible for the full benefits package until 70.

However, a recent move by the Social Security Administration moved the retirement age for people born after 1960 to 67-years-old. It’s the age-old argument that people are simply living longer. Currently, there are approximately 40 million Americans age 65 and older. Overall, this group makes up about 13% of the population.

“Depending on social security and 401k and with the way the economy has been. They have lost a lot of money, and they just feel like they can’t afford to retire,” said Mary Bironas, a Retirement Administrator for the Hampshire County Retirement System.

Thanks to things like technological and medicinal advancements, the good news is there are many Americans in this age group who feel great physically and have no problem continuing to work a little longer than they might have originally hoped.

“We are younger and energetic. We have interests. We are not like out parents who were older earlier,” said Kandy Blackwell of Easthampton.

Of course this also brings up the question of what retirement age will look like for those in the younger 20 to 30 age demographic that’s still at the relative beginning of their careers.

“My grandpa still works and he is 85,” said Dana Wood of Northampton. “I think that I will be able to. It’s more of a question of if I want to or not.”

New Study Finds That Retirees Who Stay Socially Active in Groups and Clubs Live Longer, Happier Lives

Staying healthy becomes more difficult as one gets older, but a new study has found that remaining socially active may lengthen the lifespan of retirees, perhaps even more so than exercise.

According to WebMD, Australian researchers recently published the report in the journal BMJ Open. The study concluded that retirees who stay active in book clubs, church groups, and other interpersonal activities tend to be happier than those who do not.Elder couple exercising in the park

Additionally, those in their golden years who engage in such activities also benefit from a lower risk of premature death.

The study found that the chance of passing away within six years of retirement is 2% for people who are involved in two social groups. If a retiree leaves one of these groups, their risk of death increases to 5%. If they cease participation in both groups, the risk of premature death spikes to 12%.

“The sense of belonging that social group connections provide helps people sustain a meaningful and healthy life,” said lead researcher Niklas Steffens, a lecturer at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Experts have long said that the happiest retirees engage in three to four activities regularly, while the least happy engage in only one or two. This study backs up these claims, in addition to providing evidence that social interaction is just as important as physical exercise for retirees.

“The study reminds us of the importance of meaningful human interactions to our well-being. That social interaction appears comparable to physical activity is not a reason to substitute one for the other, but to do both,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Princeton Research Center.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, researchers examined 424 British adults over the age of 50 for six years after retirement to gather their data. They compared the happiness and lifespan of these individuals to those of their peers who were still in the workforce.

The study also assessed each subject’s physical activity levels, linking each person’s exercise habits to their risk of death.

Researchers found that a person who exercises once a week before and after retirement has only a 3% chance of dying in the six years after they retire. If a person who exercised during their career stopped doing so after retirement, their risk of death increases to 11% in this time span.

“Accordingly, we can see that the effects of physical activity on health were comparable to those associated with maintaining old group memberships and developing new ones,” the researchers wrote.

With this new research, retirees may begin to seek more of a balance between social interaction and physical exercise to live longer, happier lives.

Clinton Takes on Controversial Student Loan Contractor as Sanders Continues to Attract Young Voters

Bernie Sanders has made an improbable run in the presidential race, essentially pulling neck-and-neck with presumed favorite Hillary Clinton. Now, Clinton is pulling out some of Sanders’s old tricks to gain support among millennials.

According to the Huffington Post, Clinton lambasted a major student loan contractor on Saturday, claiming that they are “misleading” borrowers and “doing some really terrible things.”hillaryclinton

Navient Corp., the nation’s largest student loan specialist, has been under fire over the past several years for mistreating borrowers. Most notably, Navient has been accused of threatening to seize assets from borrowers simply because a co-signer of their loan died.

Additionally, the Justice Department accused Navient of knowingly cheating military members out of approximately $60 million in a decade-long scheme. While service members were fighting in the Middle East, Navient allegedly denied them their right to lower monthly payments under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

In August, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau told Navient that it had amassed enough evidence to sue the company in court. Clinton has begun using Navient as a poster-child for her stance on student loan debt, adding that the contractor’s “behavior is outrageous” and that she is “totally appalled” by the company.

The average class of 2015 college graduate with student loan debt will have to pay back a little more than $35,000. Many Americans believe that the problem has spiraled out of control, and much of Bernie Sanders’s success among millennials can be directly attributed to his consistent support for tuition-free public colleges.

In September, the Huffington Post reported on a then little-known senator named Bernie Sanders. Given that he was self-proclaimed socialist, many political pundits dismissed his chances of giving Clinton a run for her money, let alone winning the Democratic nomination.

Even in September, a central pillar of Sanders’ campaign was affordable education. He has introduced the College for All Act to Congress, which would make all four-year universities in the U.S. tuition-free.

Navient executives have denied wrongdoing for the most part, but CEO Jack Remondi did apologize for how the company has treated troops in the past.

It remains to be seen if Clinton’s focus on student loan debt will attract more young voters, but one thing is for sure: there’s still a long way to go before November.

Hot Tubs Becoming More of a Health & Wellness Purchase Than Luxury

hot tubIt wasn’t all that long ago when hot tubs and in-home spas were a rare find in residential homes. Save for the elite who wanted to bathe in luxury from time to time, many homeowners couldn’t afford or justify such a seemingly extravagant purchase. As the New Jersey Daily Record recently pointed out in a feature piece, though, those times have certainly changed.

“Now they [fall into] more of a health and wellness niche,” said Rich Smith, operations manager for Henry Bona Pools and Spas. “You are 90% buoyant when you’re in water up to your neck, so it takes a lot of pressure off. It’s such a totally relaxing experience that it helps with anxiety and stress.”

Even the standard relaxation effects a hot tub has can be classified under personal health, not just for stress and pain, but in the amount and quality of sleep a person can achieve afterwards. Along with the reduced stress, both physical and mental, the improved blood circulation hot tubs have on the body can help people sleep better, too.

Naturally, hot tub manufacturer Nordic agrees with this assessment. One of the products they offer is a unique dual-therapy system, which includes pressure-relieving jets that target areas like the wrists, elbow, and hips.

“This gentler therapy has proven better at peeling away tensions and stress from the entire body by releasing lactic acid from all body zones and allowing oxygen to flood every tissue and fiber,” the company said in a statement.

In another study of Finnish men over the course of 20 years, frequent sauna baths were even found to have a positive effect on overall life expectancy.

Additionally, there are so many ways to customize hot tubs and the surrounding setup to fit virtually any and all preferences and needs. The Daily Record even provides the example of one dealer who included a unit that had a hot tub on one end and a personal training area for swimming and other activities on the other.

Today, technology involving computer and smartphone-driven controls is creating even more opportunities for people to be able to control the quality and functionality of their hot tubs.

Arizona City Introduces Recycling App to Answer Waste Disposal Questions

It seems as if everything can be done on a smartphone these days, and in Flagstaff, AZ, recycling is no exception.

According to the Arizona Daily Sun, the city of Flagstaff introduced a new recycling app for smartphones last month, called my-waste. The app provides answers to several common questions regarding the recycling process.containers

One of the most notable features of my-waste is a search function that allows users to learn the recycling rules for specific products.

For example, a Flagstaff resident could search for the term “computer cord” to learn the best method of disposal for electronic cables. If the app alerts the user that an item is not recyclable, it will also display the preferred disposal locations.

The app has also been extremely useful in educating residents on how to dispose of hazardous materials and large, bulky appliances. Flagstaff officials hope to continue the app’s success, making the city more eco-friendly one smartphone tap at a time.

“While recycling is great in a lot of ways, the ultimate goal is to get people to prevent waste in the first place,” said McKenzie Jones, a sustainability specialist with the city.

Of all industries, recovery by recycling is the highest for containers and packaging, accounting for 39.9% of all recycled waste. For some reason, items like toys and electronics are recycled much less frequently, and the city of Flagstaff is hoping to change this misconception with my-waste.

According to ABC Australia, a couple of savvy students Down Under are set to unveil a recycling app that is almost identical to the one created by the city of Flagstaff.

Monash University students Stephen Halpin and Eleanor Meyer recently invented Sustain Me, a free mobile app in which users can get answers to their recycling questions.

“We like to call it the Google of recycling, that’s its first primary purpose,” said Halpin.

Considering the distance between Arizona and Australia, it’s safe to say that this is a classic case of parallel thinking.

Sustain Me’s creators are currently preparing for its national launch, which is set for sometime next month. Flagstaff’s my-waste already has 2,500 users, and the city hopes to share the app with surrounding areas in the near future.

Utah Bill That Will Provide Dental Care to Disabled Medicaid Patients Passed by State Senate

teethHigher education is typically associated with spending a lot of money, but a new bill that was passed by Utah’s state senators involving the University of Utah will actually save people money. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the University of Utah’s new dentistry school is in need of patients to give students some hands-on experience, and their needs will benefit local blind and disabled Medicaid recipients.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate 24-0 at the end of January, will allow Medicaid to again provide dental care services to blind and disabled people, with the stipulation that the school will cover most of the actual care.

“It is a partial restoration of dental benefits that has been previously offered, but when it was previously offered, it was offered to a broader group. This is more narrow,” co-author of the bill, Utah Rep. Steve Eliason, told members of the state Health Care Reform Task Force in December when the bill was first introduced.

These services were covered in the state up until 2009, but since then Medicaid recipients have been left out in the cold when it comes to dental care. Professional, quality dental care is crucial to an individual’s overall health and well-being; in fact, one recent study found that dental care received in the ICU reduced the risk of lung infection by 56%.

School officials believe the quasi-partnership will be mutually beneficial to both the patients, who will will once again be able to receive care, and the students, who are in need of real-world experience. The university has even agreed to help pay the state’s portion of the cost and accept federal reimbursement.

“The oral health care is a critical factor in providing essential care for comprehensive health,” said Dr. Glen Hanson, Dean of the University of Utah School of Dentistry.

Hanson went on to note that often times it’s infections and diseases of the mouth that lead to greater health complications.

The bill will still have to be passed by the House to go into effect.

Utah Senator Takes a Stand Against Pornography

A Utah senator is taking a pronounced stand against pornography and is aiming to have the adult entertainment medium dubbed a ‘public health crisis.’ According to Senator Todd Weiler, pornography creates a “sexually toxic environment” in America and likens its addictive qualities to that of cocaine.

Last Friday, Sen. Weiler introduced his legislation to the state, asking Utah to recognize that porn is causing a public health hazard, both statewide and nationwide. Finally, the senator called for a reform, in order to tackle the “pornography epidemic that is harming the citizens of Utah and the nation.”

In a recent interview with the Daily News, the politician told the publication that porn was more powerful and addictive than cocaine and that the public needs to recognize pornography as a serious health hazard.Laptop with reel

“I have read books and I have experts tell me pornography is more difficult to overcome than cocaine,” he said

He goes on to compare porn’s current public perception to that of cigarettes in the early 20th century. While doctors and celebrities may have openly endorsed cigarettes at one point, the public’s perception of them has drastically shifted. Similarly, Sen. Weiler hopes that pornography meets the same fate.

Weiler feels that the rapid advances in technology have directly contributed to this “epidemic,” making pornography easily accessible to anyone. He worries that potential exposure to porn at a young age can give children the wrong idea about sex.

The senator also blamed pornography for contributing to divorce rates and rapidly diminishing family values. Currently, the divorce rate is at 42%.

This is not Weiler’s first time speaking out against porn. In 2013, the senator passed a bill that condemned “gateway pornography” — namely, any sexualized images portrayed in advertising.

And when it comes to porn, Utah has had its fair share of issues. In fact, a recent study showed that more than 5 out of every 1,000 households were purchasing porn in Utah.