Gasping for Action
It’s been known for years that diacetyl destroys lungs. So why is it still harming coffee workers and allowed in e-cigarettes?
The yellow liquid used to flavor candy, chips, coffee and e-cigarettes smells and tastes like butter. It’s hard to tell from looking at it that it can obliterate your lungs if you breathe it in.
Emanuel Diaz de Leon didn’t know it as he poured jugs of the concentration into giant vats at a coffee roasting plant in Tyler, Texas.
Neither did his co-workers, who spent 12-hour days roasting and grinding the coated beans that would later be sold in grocery stores and restaurants nationwide as hazelnut flavored coffee.
The workers never guessed it even when they noticed they were short of breath, when what they thought were colds and allergies worsened, then never went away.
Doctors assumed they had asthma and bronchitis.
It would take a year to learn the truth: Something in that yellow liquid had destroyed their lungs, permanently.
The suspected culprit: diacetyl.
It was the same chemical linked to hundreds of injuries — and at least five deaths — to men and women who worked at popcorn factories and flavoring companies in Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois and other states in the last 15 years.
Many scientists and pulmonologists have known about diacetyl’s dangers. Flavoring manufacturers and members of the National Coffee Association have held executive-level meetings discussing its risks.
And federal regulators tasked with overseeing worker safety in the United States have been well aware of the lung destruction tied to diacetyl.
They have known about it for years.
But the federal government failed to regulate exposure to the chemical.
Every day, men and women across the country clock into jobs roasting and grinding coffee and mixing flavors to satisfy cravings for everything from butterscotch candy to cheese-flavored chips — and unknowingly inhale toxic and potentially fatal fumes.
And now, diacetyl has quietly seeped into other products, this time being inhaled straight into the lungs of a growing number of consumers as they smoke or “vape” e-cigarettes.
As many as 70% of sweet-flavored e-cigs contain diacetyl, according to a September 2014 study by the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.
E-cigarettes are exploding in popularity as the industry markets them as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes and attracts teens and young adults with flavors such as cherry blast, bubble gum and chocolate cheesecake.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the green light for diacetyl to be eaten in trace amounts, scientists with another branch of the government have deemed inhalation of the chemical to be toxic.
Inhaling the chemical can quickly destroy the lungs, according to more than a dozen studies by scientists, including those from the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, or NIOSH, a research arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of those studies have assessed the health of people working with diacetyl; others have been conducted on lab animals.
“Diacetyl causes an enormous amount of damage,” said Kay Kreiss, a scientist with the agency and one of the lead researchers on the chemical’s health risks. As to whether those who smoke e-cigarettes should be concerned, Kreiss had a one-word answer:
Much more to read found HERE.
They Don’t Want an Autism Cure
Neurodiversity advocates argue that people with autism shouldn’t be forced to fit into society, but that society should change to include and accept them.
Race, walk, skip, hop, dump ice water over your head for the cure? No thanks, say some with autism.
“Neurodiversity” advocates are not interested in finding a cure for autism. Rather than changing autistic people so that they fit into a narrow stripe of acceptable behavior in the world, they’d like to see the world expand its concept of acceptable behavior to include people with autism.
As this study indicates, people with autism are actually less likely than non-autistic people to think parents should seek a cure for an autistic child. While it shows that people with autism have mixed feelings about their disorder, a large majority feels neutral to positive about the concept of neurodiversity.
To a neurodiversity proponent, autism is a social problem. That is not to say that autism is fundamentally a problem with social skills; rather, it is a problem with society’s lack of tolerance for the range of thought patterns and behaviors that characterizes autism. A neurodiversity advocate might say, for example, that autistic people should not be forced to learn how to bring themselves to make eye contact, even if it makes them uncomfortable. The rest of us could learn to understand that lack of eye contact is not necessarily rude or weird but is part of the range of acceptable behavior. More than that: We could value the unique insights the autistic mind has to offer.
“The idea of a cure for autism doesn’t make sense. Autism isn’t a disease or an injury; it’s a neurodevelopmental disability that shapes our brains differently,” Julia Bascom told me via email. Bascom is director of programs for the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, or ASAN, an advocacy organization run by and for autistic people.
She continued, “If I can’t talk, does it make sense to look for a pill for that, or should my speech therapist help me learn how to type or sign instead? Is flapping my hands or intensely and obsessively loving something ‘weird’ or wanting to be by myself the psychological equivalent of diabetes, or is it a natural and beautiful part of human diversity?”
The largest and most well-funded autism research and advocacy organization in the world is Autism Speaks. For their part, they do not shy away from the idea of a cure. Their mission statement on their website includes the phrase, “We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a possible cure for autism.”
Read on HERE.
Forget Wine Tasting—Brooklyn Is Getting Hot Sauce Tasting
The Heatonist store will offer 150 varieties of fiery goodness.
Cholula, Sriracha and Peri Peri—those are the three hot sauces I prefer. I don’t use them together, of course, but the one I end up choosing has to match my meal. I can’t douse my breakfast burrito with Sriracha, or my dumplings with Cholula. There are rules.
Any hot sauce enthusiast will tell you that they aren’t all the same. Each has a nuanced flavor profile—overtones and undertones, different types of kick. What you choose depends on your mood, your preferences, and the tenacity of your taste buds.
But while I survive on my grocery store hot sauce selection, Noah Chaimberg wasn’t satisfied with his. Frustrated, he came up with Heatonist, an online store carrying 75 types of hot sauces, and in April, his Kickstarter-backed storefrontwill open in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (where else?). The Heatonist store will offer a menu of 150 hot sauce varieties, food pairings, chef visits, and tastings under the guidance of sauce sommeliers (yes, that’s a thing).
“We really needed a place where we can try different sauces before you buy them,” Chaimberg tells CityLab.
The store is a space where people come in for more than just shopping—they come in to celebrate “all things spicy,” says Chaimberg, who was previously a chef. Looking ahead, he wants to create a monthly hot sauce subscription package, so customers can get the fiery goodness custom-made to fit their personalities and preferences, and have it delivered to their homes.
“Hot sauce is really a big vehicle of expression,” he says.
Cheap oil leads to a bout of deflation in the US.
US consumer prices fell by 0.7% last month, marking a decline of 0.1% over the last 12 months. It’s the first bout of deflation since 2009, thanks mostly to tumbling oil prices. The shift could postpone any looming hike in interest rates by Federal Reserve. In the meantime, American workers are enjoying aboost in inflation-adjusted wages.