Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Toxic Concerns are Different for Kids

school kids
Toxin regulators are looking at the levels of potentially harmful chemicals present around schools, and are considering the notion that levels affect kids differently than they affect adults.

According to USA Today, the affects of the toxins found in everyday buildings, homes, and offices are usually measured against the defenses of a healthy adult. Those levels are used to establish what is a "safe" amount of a particular chemical.

But when measuring the levels of carcinogenic chemicals in the air outside of schools, authorities are taking the different reactions of kids and adults into consideration. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has known children to have died after being exposed to levels of one chemical, acrylonitrile, that only cause minor irritation in adults.

As a result, one school in Addyston, Ohio was closed after authorities found unsafe levels of acrylonitrile and the chemical butadiene in the air surrounding it.

These chemicals are known to pose a definite threat to human health, but when you compound the lack of knowledge about chemical reactions with humans with the myriad of other toxins even less is known about, the situation becomes extremely difficult.

"The fundamental problem is truly how little we know about interactions," one physician was quoted as saying. "There are just gaps in knowledge that are really of grave concern."

Muscle Relaxant Cures Alcoholism?

French cardiologist Dr. Olivier Ameisen says he has found the cure to his own alcoholism in the muscle relaxant pill baclofen.

The pill (brand names: Lioresal, Kemstro) is normally used to treat muscular spasticity. According to ABC News, Ameisen says he started taking baclofen after he read about a cocain addict who had dropped his addiction after being prescribed the pill for muscle problems.

Ameisen found that his 10-year alcoholism, too, was curbed after taking the pill.

"I detested the taste of alcohol, but I needed its effects to exist in society," he has written about his experience.

He began taking baclofen in small doses in March 2002, and after increasing his dosage, discovered that he no longer desired alcohol.

Other studies have yielded results ranging from inconclusive to highly suggestive, but doctors maintain it is not an absolute cure.

One possibility is the relaxant simply fills the needs an addict had previously filled with their drug of choice, and Ameisen is only switching from alcohol to pharmaceuticals, but this possibility is not addressed in news stories. Readers are welcome to leave their own insights on this.

Dr. Ameisen has published his story in a book titled "Le Dernier Verre" ("The Last Glass"), which is currently a best-seller in France. It is slated for a 2009 release in the U.S. under the title "The End of My Addiction."