Watching the World
In one school where most students are TV-free, the teachers claim they can easily spot the few children who are heavy viewers. “If you see kindergartners playing superheroes and pretending to kill and slice and hurt, it’s a dead giveaway,” explained one expert. The Wall Street Journal reported that those who gave up TV viewing have reaped benefits. One 17-year-old girl said that “before it was, like, mostly we’d see Dad before he left for work. When he came home he’d watch TV with us, and then it was, like, ‘Goodnight Dad.’ Now we talk all the time, we’re really close.” She added: “When I have a family, I’m not going to have TV.”
Buildings Made Out Of Garbage?
China has come up with a unique way to dispose of its garbage. The Beijing Research Institute of the Environment and Hygiene recently developed a process for mixing garbage with clay to produce bricks. The magazine China Today describes the final product as “high-quality bricks” for use by the building industry. In just a few months, one brick plant made about 54 million bricks, “consuming 46,884 tons of garbage.” After baking at a temperature of some 1,800 to 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit [1,000-2,000° C.], the bricks are said to be “no more unhygienic than ordinary bricks.”
The Land of the Sauna
“The Finnish people are the most avid sauna users in the world,” says the magazine Suomen Silta. Most people in Finland take this steam bath about once a week for relaxation and cleansing. Temperatures average between 180 and 210 degrees Fahrenheit [80-100° C.]. Finns customarily take a cool shower or plunge into a lake immediately afterward. According to Suomen Silta, it is estimated that in Finland there are some 1.6 million saunas. With a population slightly above the five million mark, that means that this Nordic country has about 1 sauna for every 3 persons.
Choking on Food
A slap on the back is not the most effective way to help a person choking on a piece of food. According to the Berkeley Wellness Letter, it is better to try what is sometimes called the Heimlich maneuver. The newsletter goes on to describe the procedure: “Stand behind the choking person and wrap your arms around him above his waist. Place a fist between his breastbone and navel, with the thumb against his abdomen. Grab the fist with your other hand and thrust quickly and firmly inward and upward. Repeat until the food or object is dislodged. Don’t do this to children less than one year old, who need different emergency care when choking.” This treatment can be learned in a first-aid or CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) class given by health-care professionals. The Wellness Letter notes that “upper-airway obstructions account for 3,000 to 4,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.”
In New York City last year, there were 10,753 reported cases of dog bites, noted the Daily News. On the average, about once a week there was a police-versus-dog confrontation in which firearms were used. Reportedly, some dogs kept coming at the officers even after being riddled with six bullets. Several police officers were bitten, and others “were injured by ricocheting bullets during the battles with iron-jawed pit bulls,” the paper reported. Police Department officials are now concerned about the risk that stray and ricocheting bullets pose to humans when firearms are used on ferocious dogs. When faced with a dangerous dog-related situation, policemen are urged to use nonlethal means, such as a pepper spray, which affects the respiratory system.
“According to the Prevent Blindness Utah organization, 6,000 people each year suffer cornea burns and other eye injuries from exploding batteries” in the United States. The magazine Snow Country reports that many of these accidents occur while motorists attempt to jump-start their vehicles. Sparks from a battery can ignite airborne gases. As a preventive measure, the magazine recommended that when jump-starting, “the black cable should be connected to unpainted metal, such as an exposed bolt, rather than the battery’s negative terminal. That reduces the potential for electric arcing, which could lead to an explosion.” In addition, cables should be kept untangled, and “motorists should wear protective glasses when jump-starting.”
Dieting can be harmful—especially when, in an effort to lose body fat, the dieter also loses muscle tissue. Health columnist Wayne Westcott explains that “muscle is so important in so many things we do throughout the day—you can’t afford to lose it.” Nondieters are also in danger of losing muscle if they lead a sedentary life. It is estimated that every ten years, the typical sedentary person loses an average of 5 pounds [2 kg] of muscle while gaining 15 pounds [7 kg] of fat. “On a bathroom scale, that would indicate a 10-pound [5 kg] weight-gain problem (15 fat pounds [7 kg] minus 5 muscle pounds [2 kg]),” observed Dr. Westcott. “But the reality is that it’s actually a 20-pound [9 kg] problem (15 pounds [7 kg] more fat plus 5 pounds [2 kg] less muscle).” To maintain health and fitness, a combination of both aerobic activity and strength training is highly recommended.
Right to Refuse Transfusions
“Patients Have Right to Refuse Transfusions,” declared a heading in the Mainichi Daily News, reporting on a recommendation by a board of experts organized by the Ethics Committee for the Tokyo Metropolitan Hospitals and Maternities. Although prominent university hospitals have already made similar decisions, this is the first one made at the local government level. The report recommends that hospitals in Tokyo respect the wishes of adult patients who desire bloodless management even if the doctors feel a blood transfusion is vital. “In the case of a patient brought to the hospital unconscious but in possession of a document certifying that he or she does not wish to have a transfusion, the doctor must place priority on that wish,” reports the paper. “High-school children will have their wishes regarding transfusion respected as if they were adults.” However, the report still recommends that the doctors, not the parents, have the final say on the treatment of minors of junior high school age and under.
Plants on the island of Madagascar have long been prized for their medicinal value by the local inhabitants. Extracts from different flowers have been used to treat “ailments ranging from fever to eczema to tumours,” reports the journal Africa—Environment & Wildlife. Even the beautiful orchid is useful. One species (Angraecum eburneum), for example, is being used to fight viral infections and prevent miscarriages. Recently, a source of medicine for treating leukemia became apparent on the island—the rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). But for how much longer will people be able to benefit from these flowers? “The race is on,” laments the report, since “untold numbers of undiscovered species are lost every day through commercial practices such as logging, agriculture and mining.”
Tobacco Users in India
“According to government figures, 142 million men and 72 million women above the age of 15 in India are regular users of tobacco,” says the British Medical Journal. The report adds that “poorer people chew tobacco to suppress hunger.” Tobacco is of great economic importance to India, as it is the world’s third largest producer, next to China and the United States, and employs thousands of people. However, the incidence of oral cancer and cancers of the pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and lungs have the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) concerned. As the Journal reports, the ICMR claims that “the cost of treating patients who suffer from diseases related to use of tobacco is set to exceed the revenue earned from the tobacco industry.” Doctors and nongovernment groups recommend public awareness campaigns to cite the health risks of tobacco use, the phasing out of tobacco cultivation, and the introduction of alternative crops.
The Problem of Addiction
More than five million persons in Germany suffer from addictive behavior, according to the German Center Against Dangers From Addiction in Bonn. Of these, 1.4 million are addicted to medicinal substances and about 120,000 to heroin. More than 100,000 are addicted to gambling. By far the largest group are addicted to alcohol, reports the Süddeutsche Zeitung, adding that “Germans are world champions at drinking.” Not only has the consumption of alcohol in Germany tripled since 1950 but as the center further estimates, some 2.5 million persons are in need of treatment for alcohol abuse.