Science & Environment

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Is this town becoming 'the earthquake capital of Ontario'?
A 2.5-magnitude earthquake was recorded on Wednesday 2 km southwest of the Sarnia-area community of 6,000

Author of the article:Brian Williams • Local Journalism Initiative reporter
Published Dec 27, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

For the second time in three months, an earthquake hit the Southwestern Ontario town of Corunna on Wednesday morning – and maybe residents are getting used to it, because some didn’t even notice.


A government agency, Earthquakes Canada, reports that the relatively small 2.5-magnitude earthquake was recorded at 9:47 a.m. two kilometres southwest of the Sarnia-area community of 6,000. But beyond a loud noise, there didn’t appear to be much to the seismic activity.


“I kind of heard a noise this morning, but I didn’t really feel anything shake,” said Mayor Jeff Agar of St. Clair Township, which includes Corunna. “It just sounded like far-off thunder to me.”

That was far different than the 2.5-magnitude quake that hit the town on Oct. 19, which the mayor said felt intense. “The last one – my own house, I could feel it and the windows kind of shake, but this time it didn’t happen.”

This is the fourth quake to hit the region in the past 18 months. That had one resident, Ashley Marsden, wondering whether her town was becoming “the earthquake capital of Ontario.”


Marsden manages the Bad Dog Bar and Grill. She said she didn’t feel anything during Wednesday’s earth-shaker.

“The last one shook, like moved my bed, so definitely I felt that other one that happened a couple months ago, but this one I didn’t,” Marsden said.

A Facebook group for Sarnia-area residents drew feedback from others, too. While one person said they “felt it in Corunna this morning” another added: “Heard the bang, but didn’t feel it.”

The Canadian government describes all four of the recent earthquakes as being lightly felt in Corunna.

After the October quake, The Sarnia Observer spoke with Allison Bent, a seismologist who said 2.5-magnitude earthquakes “aren’t very big” in terms of rocking buildings and rattling citizens.


“(2.5-magnitude earthquakes are) much too small to be damaging – just enough to remind us that earthquakes happen,” she said.

Earthquakes Canada is part of the federal department of natural resources. It tracks quakes across the country. It recorded 10 across the country over the five days ending Dec. 27.

CORUNNA QUAKES
2.5-magnitude, three kilometres south of Corunna and five kilometres deep on May 23, 2022.
2.4-magnitude, five kilometres northwest of Corunna and five kilometres deep on Nov. 20, 2022.
2.5-magnitude, three kilometres northwest of Corunna and five kilometres deep on Oct. 19, 2023.
2.5-magnitude, two kilometres southwest of Corunna and five kilometres deep on Dec. 27, 2023.
bwilliams@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/BrianWatLFPress
 

spaminator

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Is this town becoming 'the earthquake capital of Ontario'?
A 2.5-magnitude earthquake was recorded on Wednesday 2 km southwest of the Sarnia-area community of 6,000

Author of the article:Brian Williams • Local Journalism Initiative reporter
Published Dec 27, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

For the second time in three months, an earthquake hit the Southwestern Ontario town of Corunna on Wednesday morning – and maybe residents are getting used to it, because some didn’t even notice.


A government agency, Earthquakes Canada, reports that the relatively small 2.5-magnitude earthquake was recorded at 9:47 a.m. two kilometres southwest of the Sarnia-area community of 6,000. But beyond a loud noise, there didn’t appear to be much to the seismic activity.


“I kind of heard a noise this morning, but I didn’t really feel anything shake,” said Mayor Jeff Agar of St. Clair Township, which includes Corunna. “It just sounded like far-off thunder to me.”

That was far different than the 2.5-magnitude quake that hit the town on Oct. 19, which the mayor said felt intense. “The last one – my own house, I could feel it and the windows kind of shake, but this time it didn’t happen.”

This is the fourth quake to hit the region in the past 18 months. That had one resident, Ashley Marsden, wondering whether her town was becoming “the earthquake capital of Ontario.”


Marsden manages the Bad Dog Bar and Grill. She said she didn’t feel anything during Wednesday’s earth-shaker.

“The last one shook, like moved my bed, so definitely I felt that other one that happened a couple months ago, but this one I didn’t,” Marsden said.

A Facebook group for Sarnia-area residents drew feedback from others, too. While one person said they “felt it in Corunna this morning” another added: “Heard the bang, but didn’t feel it.”

The Canadian government describes all four of the recent earthquakes as being lightly felt in Corunna.

After the October quake, The Sarnia Observer spoke with Allison Bent, a seismologist who said 2.5-magnitude earthquakes “aren’t very big” in terms of rocking buildings and rattling citizens.


“(2.5-magnitude earthquakes are) much too small to be damaging – just enough to remind us that earthquakes happen,” she said.

Earthquakes Canada is part of the federal department of natural resources. It tracks quakes across the country. It recorded 10 across the country over the five days ending Dec. 27.

CORUNNA QUAKES
2.5-magnitude, three kilometres south of Corunna and five kilometres deep on May 23, 2022.
2.4-magnitude, five kilometres northwest of Corunna and five kilometres deep on Nov. 20, 2022.
2.5-magnitude, three kilometres northwest of Corunna and five kilometres deep on Oct. 19, 2023.
2.5-magnitude, two kilometres southwest of Corunna and five kilometres deep on Dec. 27, 2023.
bwilliams@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/BrianWatLFPress
im just glad that toronto isnt in the ring of fire. :eek: ;)
 

spaminator

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Toronto Wildlife Centre caring for Mexican snake found at Ontario Food Terminal
The northern cat-eyed snake was found by a food handler at the Ontario Food Terminal

Author of the article:postmedia News
Published Dec 28, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 1 minute read
The Toronto Wildlife Centre is taking care of a snake that recently found its way into a box of tomatoes at the Ontario Food Terminal, some 3,000 kilometres from home.
The Toronto Wildlife Centre is taking care of a snake that recently found its way into a box of tomatoes at the Ontario Food Terminal, some 3,000 kilometres from home. PHOTO BY TORONTOWILDLIFECENTRE/INSTAGRAM /TORONTO SUN
The Toronto Wildlife Centre is taking care of a snake that recently found its way into a box of tomatoes at the Ontario Food Terminal, some 3,000 km from home.


The process is underway to get the northern cat-eyed snake back to its native Mexico after the orange-and-white snake was found by a food handler who was unpacking a crate of tomatillo tomatoes in late November.


Northern cat-eyed snakes are mildly venomous and don’t pose a major concern for human health.

In a video posted to the wildlife centre’s Instagram account on Thursday, the snake could be seen being taken out of the box of tomatoes and placed into an enclosure.



The snake was medically examined by veterinary staff and is said to be in good health.

Staff and volunteers at the wildlife centre are providing regular care for the snake while ensuring its enclosure is warm and moist enough.

The centre is a charitable wildlife rescue organization that largely runs on donations. More than 5,600 creatures have been treated this year.

Part of the organization’s mandate is to ensure so-called “accidental travellers” can return to their native surroundings.

In this instance, returning the snake to Mexico could reportedly cost thousands of dollars.
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spaminator

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Burlington man suffers burns after Amazon insoles catch fire
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published Dec 29, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read
Boots smoking after battery heated insole in one caught fire.
PHOTO BY SUPPLIED /Shayne Lemieux
A Burlington man has a warning for anyone who purchased the same or a similar product that he did, so they are aware of the risks.


Shayne Lemieux, 32, purchased a pair of rechargeable battery heated insoles for his job.


“Since I am outdoors a considerable amount of time in the winter, my toes and fingers are the first to freeze up when working outdoors,” Lemieux told the Toronto Sun.

On Dec. 22, 2023, he arrived at his workplace in Mississauga, and got up to the office when he heard a loud pop.

“I didn’t know what it was but my foot really started to heat up,” Lemieux recalled.

He was able to kick off the boot as smoke billowed out of it.

“I see my sock’s on fire and smoking, so I tried to smack it off but it was stuck to my foot.”

He added: “I saw the skin was peeled back and charred, but I didn’t feel anything, I think it was the adrenaline.”

Charred sock lying beside black boots which held battery heated insoles, one that combusted while off in boot.
Charred sock lying beside smoking black boot which held battery heated insoles that combusted in one of the boots. (Supplied) PHOTO BY SUPPLIED /Shayne Lemieux
A colleague who witnessed the incident advised him to cover his mouth because the smoke coming from the boot had a “very toxic” smell.


The scariest thing about the incident was that the battery in the sole wasn’t even on, Lemieux said.

He reached out to Amazon while at the hospital, to explain what happened, mainly as a warning to potential buyers that the product is faulty.

“I explained that it was urgent for their customers’ safety that they retract the active links and contact people who already purchased but they just said it would be investigated.”

He has yet to hear back from Amazon or the seller, who he also contacted.

The Sun reached out to Amazon and received a similar response from spokesperson Barbara Agrait: “We’re sorry about this customer’s experience and have launched an investigation into this matter.”

Lemieux tried to post a review of the product but the link he purchased from no longer exists. He found a similar item but his review still isn’t up on the site.


“I wanted to do my due diligence to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” he said.

Lemieux also reached out to personal injury lawyers but no one wanted to touch Amazon, plus the safety standards and health codes of any out-of-country manufacturer (in this case, China), makes it “very hard to pursue.”

The better side of burned ankle of Shayne Lemieux, whose battery heated insole caught fire.
The “better” side of Shayne Lemieux’s burned foot after battery heated insole inside boot caught fire. (Supplied) PHOTO BY SUPPLIED /Shayne Lemieux
Lemieux, who has been experiencing constant shooting pains in his heel and Achilles, was told by a plastic surgeon that she did see a lot of open nerve endings, which points more toward third-degree burns, but they won’t know more until his next visit.

For now, the husband and father of two young children can only wait.

“The nerve damage can be permanent, and because my Achilles is affected, I don’t know about mobility,” he said. “But because she could actively see the nerve endings exposed, her face didn’t look promising.”



Lemieux simply wants to prevent further injuries or harm to past or future buyers of the product.

“Who’s to say it wouldn’t just combust while in a house, not even on someone’s feet, or in a workplace left unattended?” he said. “I don’t want it to come to that.”
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spaminator

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Montreal man seeks to launch class action over cantaloupe salmonella outbreak
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Dec 28, 2023 • 1 minute read

MONTREAL — A Montreal man who spent almost a week in hospital with a salmonella infection after consuming cantaloupes is seeking permission to launch a class-action lawsuit against two food companies.


Law firm Slater Vecchio LLP filed the application Dec. 12 in Quebec Superior Court alleging that Olivier Archambault got sick after he consumed melons produced by Mexico-based Malichita and distributed in Canada by Arizona-based Trufresh.


In November the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued food recall warnings for melons produced by Malichita, and later in the month issued recalls for melons by Rudy brand, which are produced in the same area of Mexico.

As of last week the Public Health Agency of Canada has reported 164 laboratory-confirmed cases and seven deaths from cantaloupe-linked salmonella across eight provinces; 111 of those cases are in Quebec.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff received a cantaloupe in a subscription box in late October, and bought another at a grocery store in Montreal.

It claims he was admitted to the emergency room on Nov. 12 after experiencing severe illness, including intense abdominal cramping and vomiting, and was later confirmed to have salmonella.

The proposed class action, which has not been authorized or tested in court, is seeking unspecified damages on behalf of individuals in Quebec who purchased and consumed cantaloupes and other fruit in October and November that were the subject of Health Canada recalls.
 

spaminator

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World population up 75 million this year, standing at 8 billion on Jan. 1
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Mike Schneider
Published Dec 28, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 1 minute read

The world population grew by 75 million people over the past year and on New Year’s Day it will stand at more than 8 billion people, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday.


The worldwide growth rate in the past year was just under 1%. At the start of 2024, 4.3 births and two deaths are expected worldwide every second, according to the Census Bureau figures.


The growth rate for the United States in the past year was 0.53%, about half the worldwide figure. The U.S. added 1.7 million people and will have a population on New Year’s Day of 335.8 million people.

If the current pace continues through the end of the decade, the 2020s could be the slowest-growing decade in U.S. history, yielding a growth rate of less than 4% over the 10-year-period from 2020 to 2030, said William Frey, a demographer at The Brookings Institution.

The slowest-growing decade currently was in the aftermath of the Great Depression in the 1930s, when the growth rate was 7.3%.

“Of course growth may tick up a bit as we leave the pandemic years. But it would still be difficult to get to 7.3%,” Frey said.

At the start of 2024, the United States is expected to experience one birth every nine seconds and one death every 9.5 seconds. However, immigration will keep the population from dropping. Net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 28.3 seconds. This combination of births, deaths and net international migration will increase the U.S. population by one person every 24.2 seconds.
 

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5 way-too-early North American weather predictions for 2024
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Matthew Cappucci
Published Jan 01, 2024 • Last updated 19 hours ago • 4 minute read

Predicting the weather is hard. At best, meteorologists can give reliable deterministic — or specific — weather forecasts up to nine days in advance. Anything beyond that is a roll of the dice.


But what about next hurricane season? How bad will this winter be? Those are tough questions, but it’s not too early to take a stab at them. After all, they’re probabilistic or odds-based forecasts. We can’t give specific answers, but rather likelihoods or ranges. There are lots of big questions about what’s in store for this year.


While our crystal ball has limitations, there are a few projections we can make. Let’s run through five super-early prognostications.



1. Winter could appear in early to mid-January
While the U.S. Plains have been hit by repeated snowstorms (and, more recently, a damaging ice storm in North Dakota), the East Coast has largely escaped the throes of winter. But that may soon change.


Weather models hint at a sudden stratospheric warming in the next few weeks. That’s basically a sudden warm-up of the atmosphere high above the North Pole. The gathering of warm air displaces frigid air, shunting it down to the mid-latitudes.

There are further signs of an uptick in wintry weather come mid-January due to something called the Arctic oscillation (AO). It’s essentially a metric that asks, “How bottled up is the cold air?” If the AO is positive, the cold air is banked at high latitudes, but when it swings negative, the floodgates open and can release cold air over North America, spurring storminess.

Weather models hint that the AO will dip negative in about two weeks, perhaps signalling a greater proclivity for wintry weather.


2. Tornado season could be busy in U.S. South
Right now, there’s a strong El Niño. That’s a chain-reaction process in the atmosphere and peer-reviewed research shows it can bring active severe-weather seasons in the Deep South and Florida.

El Niño begins as a warming of water temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific. That heats air from below, causing it to rise and spawning an area of low pressure, which then splits the jet stream. One branch surges north toward British Columbia, while the other branch swings across the southern United States.

That addition of wind energy in the upper atmosphere induces shear or a change of wind speed and/or direction with height. That encourages any thunderstorms to rotate. With Gulf of Mexico water temperatures anomalously warm — which is favourable for thunderstorms to begin with — it’s likely that more rotating supercells will develop this winter and early spring across the Deep South, bringing more tornadoes.


Incidentally, El Niño has been linked with a reduction in tornado incidence over the U.S. Plains for a variety of other factors.


3. Hurricane season could be busy, too
Get ready. The ninth consecutive average or above-average hurricane season is already looming. We’re just over five months away from the official start on June 1 and already the Atlantic hurricane season is looking like a doozy.

Remember the El Niño we have in place? By peak hurricane season (August, September and October), it’s expected to revert to a La Niña. That’s the opposite of El Niño and it primes the Atlantic to crank out storms.

Converse to El Niño, La Niña features a cooling of water temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific, which induces subsidence or the sinking of air. What goes up must go down (and vice versa), so broad ascent or rising motion becomes dominant in the Atlantic. That makes it easier for storms to form.


Moreover, a reduction in disruptive wind shear will make it easier for storms to sustain themselves. Too much shear, which is characteristic of El Niño, can knock a storm off-kilter, spelling its demise. La Niña reduces wind shear, meaning more storms are likely. (That’s especially true with a warmer Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic, which right now are running above average.)


4. Could be banner year for northern lights
The northern lights, or aurora borealis, seldom dip into the contiguous United States. But when they do, they dazzle skywatchers far and wide with shimmering curtains of light that dance across the skies.

The northern (and southern) lights are caused by geomagnetic storms, disturbances that send pulses of energy through Earth’s geomagnetic shield. (It’s like our natural sunscreen). Those bursts of energy originate on the sun in the form of coronal mass ejections (CMEs). They’re like massive eruptions that send solar material, high-intensity energetic particles and magnetism into space. When they’re directed toward Earth, we can be impacted.


CMEs are most commonly launched by sunspots, bruise-like discolorations and cool spots on the surface of the sun. They’re most numerous every 11 years during the peak of the “solar cycle,” when horizontal bands of interfering magnetism chaotically battle it out near the sun’s equator. The peak of Solar Cycle 25 is slated for sometime between January and October, so the odds of a significant episode of the northern lights are high.

5. Eclipse will be showstopper
April 8, 2024, will be a memorable day for millions of Americans. The moon will block the sun for up to 4 1/2 minutes in a path from Mexico to Maine.

We can’t predict the weather four months out, but we can confidently say that along that path there will be a sudden daytime nightfall, a drop in temperatures and an eerie gloom. Assuming the clouds don’t hang thick, a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of the “solar corona,” or sun’s atmosphere, is possible once the moon blocks the main solar disk. It will last only seconds to minutes, but it will resemble a portal to another universe.
 
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spaminator

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Move to allow Canadian drugs to be imported by U.S. creates shortage fears
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Laura Osman
Published Jan 05, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

OTTAWA — A major shift in United States pharmaceutical policy allowing for the importation of drugs from Canada is creating fears about future drug shortages in this country.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans Friday to allow Florida to import millions of dollars worth of pharmaceuticals from Canadian wholesalers as a way to avoid the high cost of drugs in that country.


The decision is not great news for Canada, which has more frequently faced acute drug shortages over the last several years, said Joelle Walker, vice-president of public affairs for the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

The population of Florida is more than half the number of people who live in all of Canada. And beyond Florida, other American states are eyeing similar requests to the FDA to address the cost of drugs.

“To look to Canada as their pharmacy is just not practical. We can’t do it, it’s not possible,” Walker said.


Over the last several years Canada has run short on a range of drugs, from children’s fever medication, to certain cancer drugs and, more recently, the popular weight-loss and diabetes management drug Ozempic.

Florida’s proposal includes medications for asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD; diabetes; HIV and AIDS; and mental illness.

But the threat is not immediate, Walker said, and people should not rush to refill their prescriptions.

Florida still has more work to do to prove imports would actually save Americans money without sacrificing public safety, as well as test the drugs to make sure they’re authentic and relabel them so that they comply with U.S. standards.

“That in itself could actually be quite cost prohibitive and we hope will be a disincentive for Florida from proceeding,” Walker said.


Canada also has several safeguards to try to prevent manufacturers from shipping medication south, she said.

If a manufacturer wants to export drugs to the U.S., it would need Health Canada’s approval, which the federal regulator would presumably deny if it feared a shortage.

The U.S. pays by far the highest price for patented medicines among members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, with essentially no government limits on what companies can charge. While Canada pays far less by comparison, its prices still ranked third highest as of 2021.

Americans have long been able to fill prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies, but the newly announced policy change affects mass imports.


The FDA’s decision follows years of successful lobbying against the idea by the pharmaceutical industry, which said imports would expose U.S. patients to risks of counterfeit or adulterated drugs. The FDA also previously warned of the difficulties of assuring the safety of drugs originating from outside the U.S.

The politics surrounding the issue have shifted in recent years, with both Democrats and Republicans doubling down on the import approach.

The medications would be only for certain people, including foster children, inmates, certain geriatric patients and _ eventually — Medicaid recipients.

— With files from The Associated Press
 

Taxslave2

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Or, the US could do like Canada and put a price ceiling on drugs. This of course would cause numerous politicians to lose out on some free money.
 

spaminator

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The largest male specimen of the world’s most venomous spider has been found in Australia
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Jan 04, 2024 • 1 minute read
In this Dec. 10, 2023 photo supplied by the Australian Reptile Park, a male specimen of the Sydney funnel-web spider, the world's most poisonous arachnid, has been found and donated to the Australian Reptile Park, north of Sydney.
In this Dec. 10, 2023 photo supplied by the Australian Reptile Park, a male specimen of the Sydney funnel-web spider, the world's most poisonous arachnid, has been found and donated to the Australian Reptile Park, north of Sydney.
SYDNEY — With fangs that could pierce a human fingernail, the largest male specimen of the world’s most venomous arachnid has found a new home at the Australian Reptile Park where it will help save lives after a member of the public discovered it by chance.


The deadly Sydney funnel-web spider dubbed “Hercules” was found on the Central Coast, about 50 miles north of Sydney, and was initially given to a local hospital, the Australian Reptile Park said in a statement Thursday.


Spider experts from the nearby park retrieved it and soon realized it was the largest male specimen ever received from the public in Australia.

In this Dec. 10, 2023 photo supplied by the Australian Reptile Park, a male specimen of the Sydney funnel-web spider, the world’s most poisonous arachnid, has been found and donated to the Australian Reptile Park, north of Sydney.
In this Dec. 10, 2023 photo supplied by the Australian Reptile Park, a male specimen of the Sydney funnel-web spider, the world’s most poisonous arachnid, has been found and donated to the Australian Reptile Park, north of Sydney. PHOTO BY CAITLIN VINE /Australian Reptile Park via AP
The spider measured 7.9 centimetres (3.1 inches) from foot to foot, surpassing the park’s previous record-holder from 2018, the male funnel-web named “Colossus”.

Sydney funnel-web spiders usually range in length from one to five centimetres, with females being generally larger than their male counterparts but not as deadly. They are predominantly found in forested areas and suburban gardens from Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, to the coastal city of Newcastle in the north and the Blue Mountains to the west.


“Hercules” will contribute to the reptile park’s antivenom program. Safely captured spiders handed in by the public undergo “milking” to extract venom, essential for producing life-saving antivenom.

“We’re used to having pretty big funnel-web spiders donated to the park, however receiving a male funnel-web this big is like hitting the jackpot,” said Emma Teni, a spider keeper at Australian Reptile Park. “Whilst female funnel-web spiders are venomous, males have proven to be more lethal.

“With having a male funnel-web this size in our collection, his venom output could be enormous, proving incredibly valuable for the park’s venom program.”

Since the inception of the program in 1981, there has not been a fatality in Australia from a funnel-web spider bite.

Recent rainy, humid weather along Australia’s east coast has provided the ideal conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive.
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Her kidney stone was infected. She'll lose her legs and arms to survive
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Kyle Melnick, The Washington Post
Published Jan 05, 2024 • 4 minute read
Lucinda Mullins uses a wheelchair since her legs were amputated.
Lucinda Mullins uses a wheelchair since her legs were amputated.
Lucinda Mullins lay on her Kentucky home’s bathroom floor last month in excruciating pain from a kidney stone. She was vomiting and had developed a fever and back pain, so she yelled for her husband, DJ, to help.


Mullins went to a hospital. Weeks later, she would be a quadruple amputee.


Her kidney stone had become infected and caused sepsis, the immune system’s extreme attempt to fight an infection, which can cause organ failure and death. Doctors gave Mullins medication that sent all her blood flowing to her organs – and restricted it from her less vital arteries in her legs and arms.

After more than a week of treatment, doctors told Mullins that her key organs were healthy. But there was another problem: The tissue in her legs and forearms had died and parts of the limbs needed to be amputated.

“If that was the sacrifice that I had to make to be alive,” Mullins, 41, told The Washington Post, “I was okay with it.”

Mullins’s legs were amputated from above her knees last month, and she began physical therapy on Tuesday to prepare for prostheses. She said everything below her elbows will be amputated near the end of January.


Doctors “give you that rare chance of something bad happening . . . but I would have never dreamed (of this),” Mullins said.

Mehdi Shishehbor, the president of an Ohio hospital’s heart and vascular institute, said that kidney stone infections rarely lead to amputations. Some patients are treated and cured of sepsis – which can result from many illnesses and infections – with antibiotics, he said.

However, Shishehbor said that amputations are a better outcome than many of his sepsis patients experience. Nearly 270,000 people in the United States die of sepsis annually, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Saving the life is more important than losing a limb,” Shishehbor said, “even though nobody wants to lose a limb.”


Mullins said she was diagnosed with kidney stones just over a year ago.

A urologist removed a stone in her left kidney in October, but the stone in her right kidney didn’t require immediate surgery, Mullins said. The urologist gave her a stent, a small plastic tube that helps urine move from the kidney to the bladder, in hopes of making it easier to eventually remove the stone, Mullins said.

After she took out the stent a few days later, Mullins said she felt sick. DJ drove her to Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital in Stanford, Ky., where Mullins answered doctors’ questions before she started to feel lightheaded – a sepsis symptom.

Mullins’s blood pressure was low, and a CT scan showed that her kidney stone was infected and her organs were failing. A few hours later, she was taken by ambulance to a UK HealthCare hospital in Lexington, Ky.


Doctors there placed Mullins on a ventilator and gave her dialysis, which removes excess water and toxins from blood when the kidneys are not working. Mullins was sedated for about a week while doctors treated her and tried to save her legs with an unsuccessful fasciotomy – a procedure to restore blood flow to dying tissue. Mullins doesn’t remember much from that week, but she said her family members – who made T-shirts that said #LucindaStrong – were scared she was going to die.

On Dec. 18, Mullins was laying in her bed when she asked a doctor to not sugarcoat her situation. He said that she needed amputations but would live.

On Dec. 19, Mullins went into surgery and awoke about five hours later without legs. The following day, Mullins said she cried when she saw her sons – 12-year-old Teegan and 7-year-old Easton – for the first time in nearly two weeks.


Mullins said she’s typically independent, but for a few days after surgery, DJ carried her around the hospital and fed her. Her twin sister, Luci, helped Mullins bathe in what they called “spa day.” Easton brushed his mom’s hair and applied her lip balm. She soon learned to use a wheelchair.

About a week after her amputation, Mullins said she went into surgery to remove the kidney stone. She feared something would go wrong, causing more health problems, but the procedure went smoothly. She and DJ couldn’t believe such a small mass had created so many problems.

On Monday, Mullins was transferred to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington. She’s strengthening her core, practicing moving from her bed to her wheelchair and stretching what remains of her legs and arms. Her hands, which she said “shriveled up” after the blood flow never returned, will be amputated later this month.


In about four months, Mullins said she plans to add prostheses for her upper and lower body. She hopes to eventually return as a nurse at an OB/GYN practice in Stanford.

Mullins’s friend created an online fundraiser to help pay for an elevator, a walk-in shower and other renovations for Mullins’s house. She’s scheduled for more surgeries and rehab over the next few months, but she said she’s looking forward to eventually returning home and seeing her sons every day.

“(I’ve learned) not to take my time or my family or my friends or anything for granted,” Mullins said.
 
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spaminator

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Good news and bad news in eliminating telephone landlines
Cyber threats can knock out the entire fiber-optic phone system to which an analog system is immune

Author of the article:Alex Vezina
Published Jan 02, 2024 • Last updated 6 days ago • 3 minute read

For a long time, one of the easiest recommendations for risk reduction in organizations and businesses was to have a landline known as POTS, an acronym for “Plain Old Telephone Service.”


POTS uses copper wire instead of newer technology such as fiber optic cable.


The only service in Canada that provides POTS is Bell, and it’s removing the cables out of the ground and replacing them with fiber optics.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this.

Fiber-optic cable is generally cheaper to maintain, allows for high-speed internet, and is more practically useful for a wide variety of modern services.

Copper wire is not practical for modern internet usage but it does provide an often not well understood benefit.

That is, copper wire does not require a backup power source.

For resiliency in an emergency, this is a critical distinction.

During a power outage, which is generally assumed to happen in most disaster plans, the copper line telephone still works.


It’s possible for a fiber-optic line to work during a power outage but it requires battery backups or fuel (usually diesel) generators in three locations:

1) The central communication hub (Bell, Rogers, Telus). This backup is also required with POTS.

2) The end user. Homes, hospitals – every single phone modem in the entire system needs a backup. This is not the case with POTS.

3) The local distribution hub between the user and the central hub. This system is not required with POTS.

In disaster risk management, there is a concept called single point of failure — a point at which, if it fails, the entire system or process does not work.

With fiber-optics there are three single points of failure as described above. If any of these three locations lose power, the phone does not work.


In that context, our governments might decide that giving the public no way to reliably communicate by telephone over long distances during a power outage is an acceptable risk.

Alternatives, such as satellite phones, are too expensive to distribute to the public and training people on radio telecommunications in an emergency is not going to happen given the lack of interest.

Similarly, there is little public demand today for POTS technology while the demand for fiber optics is increasing.

Simply put, most people want this change to happen.

The issue, however, is that if POTS lines don’t exist at all, government services such as health care and hospitals won’t have a backup analog telephone system that works independent of the need for power.


If there is a grid outage that knocks out the local hub, it won’t matter if the hospital has a backup generator, it will be forced to use satellite phones.

As for 911 service, no one can call if the cell tower is down.

Lose the distribution hub or power in the 911 call centre and the backups fail?

That means no phone lines will work.

In addition, many of the non-POTS systems are not just dependent on power, but on the internet as well.

That means there are numerous cyber threats that can knock out the entire fiber-optic phone system to which an analog system is immune.

As an additional security concern, it is much easier to intercept and manipulate a digital signal.

On one hand, I understand the motivation for discontinuing POTS.


It’s an old system, the public generally doesn’t care about it and that’s fair enough.

On the other hand, I find it somewhat baffling that this got past the ministries of Public Safety Canada and Emergency Preparedness as well as the CRTC and all other government bodies concerned with resiliency in an emergency or disaster.

This in the country of Alexander Graham Bell, the Scottish-born Canadian-American inventor credited with patenting the first practical telephone.

— Alex Vezina is the CEO of Prepared Canada Corp, teaches Disaster and Emergency Management at York University and is the author of Continuity 101. He can be reached at info@prepared.ca
 

spaminator

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Telephone landlines and the perfect storm
Landlines that use copper wire instead of fibre optics technology will be decommissioned, the only question is when

Author of the article:Alex Vezina
Published Jan 06, 2024 • Last updated 2 days ago • 3 minute read

I received a lot of feedback on my most recent column about the phasing out of telephone landlines, so a brief follow-up.


First, a clarification.


It is not a matter of whether landlines that use copper wire instead of fibre optics technology – also know as “Plain Old Telephone Service” or “POTS” – are going to be decommissioned.

They are. It is simply a matter of how fast it’s going to happen.

Bell is the only service that provides POTS and it has put significant resources into transitioning its customers off those lines quickly.

They have multiple help pages focused on copper network decommissioning, so it’s going to happen.



If their customers want to stop this transition, at least for themselves, the government will have to step in and the public will have to pay for it.


That will carry with it all the relevant pros and cons of the public paying the bill for critical infrastructure.

I received many questions relating to the issue of energy infrastructure and impending disasters.

For context, there is an important concept in disaster risk called the “perfect storm.”

Disasters primarily occur during the conditions of a perfect storm.

When that happens, multiple failures of a system designed to prevent disasters occur simultaneously – failures that are usually considered in hindsight to have been avoidable.

This is the kind of statement you often hear after such a disaster:

“It was a perfect storm. If any one of these specific things hadn’t happened, the disaster would likely have been avoided.”


So how does that relate to copper network landlines and communications during an emergency?

The perfect storm scenario in this case would be a major power outage occurs, communication systems fail and the impact is large enough to classify it as a disaster.

This includes everything bad that could possibly happen – lives lost, physical harm and economic damage.

Here are some of the things that can occur simultaneously, risking a perfect storm in these circumstances.

1. The communication system is more dependent on electricity. This increases the consequences of any given outage.

2. The communication system is now wholly dependent on the internet, when it was not previously. This increases the consequences of any given outage.


3. The electrical grid is undergoing increased strain due to demand rising faster than generation can occur. The societal transition to electric vehicles is one of the reasons for this. It will increase the likelihood of outages over time until supply catches up to demand. It may also increase the severity of outages, although that is a complex issue which is difficult to ascertain with certainty.

4. The distribution of the electrical network itself is vulnerable. It is not just the production of electricity that is relevant. It’s whether the grid has the ability to distribute it to match demand. All the risks associated with example three also apply here.

Fibre optics technology will ultimately spell the end of landline telephones.
Fibre optics technology will ultimately spell the end of landline telephones.
The main solution Canada appears to be adopting is using Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet and communication service as the main backup.


Some municipalities are already integrating Starlink as their primary communication hardware for emergency services, and are dropping other backups.

This service still requires on-site backup power generation, which is not realistic for all Canadians.

It also raises the concern about having an international third party responsible for a country’s emergency communication infrastructure.

In 2022, for example, Musk said he refused Starlink service to Ukraine because he did not want to support a surprise attack on Russian naval vessels based at the Crimean port of Sevastopol, fearing he would be complicit in a major escalation of the conflict.

Regardless of one’s opinions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Ukraine’s response, why would any country want to put itself in a position where a foreign corporation could simply say “no,” for any reason, and shut down its critical infrastructure?

It is one thing if there is no other alternative, but Canada has alternatives.

– Alex Vezina is the CEO of Prepared Canada Corp, teaches Disaster and Emergency Management at York University and is the author of Continuity 101. He can be reached at info@prepared.ca.
 

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Can shovelling snow give you a heart attack?
'In my opinion, it's the single most dangerous activity people can do,' said Barry Franklin, with the American Heart Association

Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Lindsey Bever
Published Jan 12, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read

Is it true that shovelling snow can give you a heart attack?


The science: Snow shovelling can be dangerous. It can place stress on the heart and has been associated with increased cardiovascular events, particularly after heavy snowfalls, research shows.


One study showed that from 1990 to 2006, about 195,000 people in the United States were treated in emergency rooms for injuries and medical emergencies from snow shovelling. Of those, 6.7 percent were cardiac related, including all 1,647 deaths.

“Snow shovelling causes excessive demands on the heart while simultaneously compromising blood flow with the cold, which leads to heart attacks and sudden death every year,” said Barry Franklin, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. “In my opinion, it’s the single most dangerous activity people can do.”


Snow shovelling is a vigorous workout primarily for your arms, and upper-extremity exercise is more strenuous and puts more stress on your heart than lower-extremity exercise, said Franklin, a professor and director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

You’re also largely standing still, which can cause blood to pool in your lower extremities, depriving your heart of oxygenated blood; there is an inclination to hold your breath when straining, which causes a disproportionate rise in heart rate and blood pressure; and cold temperatures can cause blood vessels to constrict, limiting blood flow to the heart and raising blood pressure, he said.


Steven Brooks, head of emergency medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Akron General, said he does not typically see heart attacks related to snow shovelling, but each winter, people – mainly men – come into the ER with chest pain.

“People often think that snow is very light and fluffy until they go out and start shoveling it,” he said.

Those who are about 40 and older or have risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure or who smoke or live a sedentary lifestyle should think twice before shovelling snow, experts say. And, they say, those with a history of cardiovascular problems, including chest pain, heart disease or previous heart attacks, or those who have had procedures such as an angioplasty or bypass surgery should not do it.


What else you should know:
Snow removal is hard work. In a 1995 study, 10 healthy men, with an average age of 32.4 years, shovelled snow for 10 minutes, averaging 12 lifts per minute for an average of 16 pounds per load of snow.

If you do the math, “Middle-aged and older people who are shoveling heavy, wet snow may be moving approximately 2,000 pounds in 10 minutes,” said Franklin, the lead author of the study. “That’s the weight of a midsize car.”

If you are shovelling snow, experts suggest these precautions:
– Warm up, pace yourself by doing small sections at a time and take frequent breaks. Drink plenty of water.

– Dress in warm layers, a hat and gloves, and cover your nose and mouth to avoid breathing in the cold air.

– Use your legs, too, to keep blood from pooling in your lower extremities.


– Push the snow rather than lifting and throwing it. Some shovels are designed to push snow. Some even have wheels to make it easier.

If you start experiencing dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain or shortness of breath, stop immediately and go inside, Brooks said. If you develop chest pain that does not quickly resolve when you stop shovelling, call 911 or have someone drive you to the ER to be evaluated.

Bottom line: Snow shovelling can be a dangerous chore, especially for those at higher risk. If you or your doctor is concerned whether your heart can handle the task, get someone else to do it.

For more health news and content around diseases, conditions, wellness, healthy living, drugs, treatments and more, head to Healthing.ca – a member of the Postmedia Network.