In this week's Torah portion we read about the destruction of Sedom (Sodom), something that has been widely misinterpreted by Christian sources to the point that the very name of the city has made it into Greek, Latin, and English to refer to prohibited sexual practices. But the Jewish take is very different. Details below the fold.
Originally posted to NIOSH Science Blog.
The inhalation of chemicals, particulate matter (dusts and fibers), and the incomplete products of combustion during occupational and environmental disasters has long been associated with respiratory disorders. While there is substantial literature on the association between respiratory diseases and chronic environmental exposures such as air pollution and long term occupational exposure in industries such as mining, silica handling, and construction, much remains to be learned regarding the biological mechanisms that cause such disease and on the latency between acute exposure and disease onset.
The destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York after a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, resulted in a massive, intense dust cloud that was found to contain a huge variety of irritants including partially combusted and/or pulverized wood, paper, and jet fuel; pulverized construction materials including asbestos, glass, silica, fiberglass, concrete, and silica; complex organic chemicals; lead; and other metals. Increased incidence of respiratory disease has been reported in firefighters who worked in the rescue/recovery effort and in other cohorts. Obstructive airways diseases (OAD), such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, have been shown to be associated with intensity of exposure as measured by arrival time at the WTC site. New onset OAD continues to be observed many years after exposure, contrary to conventional wisdom that irritant-induced asthma should be triggered within a relatively short time after exposure.
Our research group at the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), one of the Clinical Centers of Excellence in the WTC Health Program, administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), used innovative statistical methods to investigate for how long new-onset OAD is associated with WTC-exposure intensity. In this research, funded by a NIOSH cooperative agreement, we assessed whether the higher incidence rates of physician diagnosed OAD seen in FDNY firefighters who experienced a higher intensity of exposure persisted throughout the first five years after September 11, 2001, by allowing the relative rate of new-onset OAD in firefighters with more vs. less exposure intensity to vary over time.
Our results were published in the August 1, 2014, issue of American Journal of Epidemiology. We found that although the relative rate of new-onset OAD diminished after 15 months, it remained elevated in firefighters who had experienced higher exposure intensity for the entire five year follow-up period. Similar results were seen in analyses that examined the incidence of OAD subtypes (asthma and chronic bronchitis). This is a longer period of latency than has been seen in previous studies of short-term exposures, but the WTC-exposure was unusually intense compared to other occupational/environmental exposures.
Our follow-up was limited to five years because in the sixth year of the WTC Health Program, free medications were provided, potentially altering patient-physician behaviors. This made study of incidence rates after year 5 challenging but not impossible as we attempt to determine how much longer the exposure-disease relationship may persist. We also have recently been awarded a new cooperative agreement to examine for how long WTC-exposure-disease relationship persists for new-onset chronic rhinosinusitis. Hopefully, the lessons learned from the study of the health effects of the WTC-responders can contribute to greater protections and better care for the survivors and responders in future disasters.
Charles B. Hall, PhD
Dr. Hall is Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY.
This research was supported by a cooperative agreement from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, grant # U01 OH010412.
For more information on the World Trade Center Health Program visit the webpage.
 Prezant DJ, Levin S, Kelly KJ, et al. Upper and lower respiratory diseases after occupational and environmental
disasters. Mt Sinai J Med. 2008;75(2):89–100.
 Lioy PJ, Weisel CP, Millette JR, et al. Characterization of the dust/smoke aerosol that settled east of the World Trade Center (WTC) in lower Manhattan after the collapse of the WTC 11 September 2001. Environ Health Perspect. 2002;110(7):703–714.
 Webber MP, Glaser MS, Weakley J, Soo J, Ye F, Zeig-Owens R, Weiden MD, Nolan A, Aldrich TK, Kelly K, Prezant D. Physician-Diagnosed Respiratory Conditions and Mental Health Symptoms Seven to Nine Years Following the World Trade Center Disaster. Am J Ind Med. 2011;54(9):661-71.
 Weakley J, Webber MP, Gustave J, Kelly K, Cohen HW, Hall CB, Prezant DJ. Trends in respiratory diagnoses and symptoms of firefighters exposed to the World Trade Center disaster: 2005-2010. Prev Med. 2011;53(6):364-9.
 Santos MS, Jung H, Peyrovi J, Lou W, Liss GM, Tarlo SM. Occupational asthma and work-exacerbated asthma: factors associated with time to diagnostic steps. Chest. 2007;131(6):1768-75.
 Glaser MS, Webber MP, Zeig-Owens R, Weakley J, Liu X, Ye F, Cohen HW, Aldrich TK, Kelly KJ, Nolan A, Weiden MD, Prezant DJ, Hall CB. Estimating the time interval between exposure to the World Trade Center disaster and incident diagnoses of obstructive airway disease. Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Aug 1;180(3):272-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu137. Epub 2014 Jun 30.
Part of the (absolutely justifiable) outrage about what has been going on in Ferguson is the use of surplus military equipment by local police forces. There is no clear reason why most local police forces would need armored grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers, and the like.
Well, I found a legitimate use today for at least one kind of surplus military equipment. And this use also explains how the right wingers are correct when they deny global warming. Details below the fold.
For weeks now, rockets have been raining down on Israel's civilian population from Gaza, courtesy of Hamas. Israelis have as little as 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter depending on where they live. And on this issue, it is very clear that the leaders of the free world understand who caused this war and who needs to stop: The violent homophobic misogynistic anti-Semitic theocratic terrorists thugs called Hamas. Examples below the fold.
This week we have one of the longest single parshaot in the entire Torah, Parshat Pinchas, Numbers 25:10-30:1. The parsha begins with God giving Pinchas, the Zealot introduced at the end of the previous week's parsha, His "covenant of peace" (בְּרִיתִי שָׁלוֹם). More on that below the fold. The parsha continues with a census of the Children of Israel and some rules for allocating the land. The parsha concludes with a detailed listing of every offering that is specific to timing; these sections are read as the additional readings on Shabat, Rosh Chodesh, and Holidays. Rarely, we get to read the actual haftarah for Parshat Pinchas, which is 1 Kings 18:46-19:21, a narrative of the experience of Eliyahu the Prophet, and this is one of those rare occasions this year.
The offerings are worthy of a separate diary which I may write some day. Details regarding the rest of the parsha are below the fold. And I will mention as part of the discussion some of the exciting things that have been happening recently within Orthodox Judaism regarding roles for women, things for which there is at least a slight allusion in this weeks parsha.
The Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), consisting of five Democratic New York State Senators, cut a deal with the Republicans to give the Republicans effective control over the New York State Senate despite the fact that the voters elected a 33-30 Democratic majority, have been a thorn in the side of progressives for a year and a half.
It is looking more and more likely that the IDC will escape any punishment for this. Details below the fold.
As we still wait and pray for the freedom of the hundreds of Nigerian girls and three Israeli boys still in the hands of their kidnappers, we have an opportunity to join to express our support for them and to demand their freedom. Details below the fold.
This afternoon there were simultaneous rallies in front of Israel's New York consulate for the three Israeli teenagers apparently kidnapped by a terrorist group, and for the hundreds of Nigerian girls kidnapped by a different terrorist group. Incredibly, a merger took place. Details below the fold.
Friday afternoon, before Shabat, I posted this diary about three missing Israeli teenagers who had apparently been kidnapped. I had hoped to have been able to share good news after Shabat, but now three days after the incident there isn't much news at all. But look past the fold for some more information:
I have never written two diaries in one day. In fact it is rare for me to write two diaries in a month. But something happened in the Occupied Palestinian Territories within the past day that deserves note -- three young men, all Israeli with one also a US citizen, are missing and feared kidnapped, possibly by terrorists. A massive search is underway:
Here are some links:
Prayers for their welfare are appropriate. May they be found safely, soon.
UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post reports that an obscure Salafi Jihadi group is taking credit:
With all the incessant, irrational bashing of Israel that takes place on this site, it is worth noting from time to time that Israel has a far superior human rights record than any of its neighbors. And nothing points that out more than this week's Gay Pride celebrations in Tel Aviv. These have been recognized by the municipal government and by the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom. Links below the fold.
Last night's endorsement by the labor-dominated Working Families Party of Andrew Cuomo, a governor who helped to engineer a Republican controlled New York Senate despite the fact that voters had elected 33 Democrats and 30 Republicans to that body, and who had earlier also signed on to one of the worst partisan gerrymanders in America that was designed to maintain Republican control of the New York Senate for the next decade. But this isn't about Cuomo, this is about the fact that the New York State AFL-CIO would seem to have had as much to play in this as Cuomo. Details below the fold:
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