Longer Looks: Overcrowded Morgues, Miners’ Health, And Pollution In Your Blood
Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The New York Times:
Piled Bodies, Overflowing Morgues: Inside America’s Autopsy Crisis
Say you are found on your bathroom floor, on the grassy knoll of someone else’s front yard, in the berth of your tractor-trailer, in your own bed, at the foot of a bridge, under a car wheel, in the car, caught in the bend of a river, collapsed in the bar, alone in the remains of a scorched kitchen. Your death is sudden and unexpected, a death that no one plans for but that approximately half a million of us will experience this year in America. No death is special, but this kind of death requires special care, procedurally, from a number of people you will never meet. The procedural aspects of your death, which you will never see, begin with a phone call. One afternoon in the summer of 2018 in Cleveland, a man returned home to find his wife slumped over her computer keyboard. She was in her 50s and had been in poor health, but nothing seemed urgent or life-threatening. It looked as if she died while shopping online. Her husband called 911. (Kisner, 2/25)
The Wall Street Journal:
Many Miners Die, And It Never Shows Up In Safety Data
Surat Lal died with seven colleagues in an explosion at a small quarry in India, but like thousands of other casualties at mines in the developing world, his death wasn’t counted as a mining fatality. Around 90% of the world’s miners, according to the World Bank, work in small-scale operations or illegally by trespassing on land controlled by others, including bigger mining companies. Those miners—who dig up materials used in cars and smartphones, among other products—are frequently operating in emerging economies like India, in dangerous conditions with no safety regulations, poor equipment and a culture of risk-taking. (MacDonald and Pokharel, 2/27)
Pollution Is In Your Blood. Is That A Form Of Battery?
"None of us would have signed up for this,” said Sandy Wynn-Stelt, kicking off a round of gallows humor among her neighbors. “None of us would have said, ‘Hey, I’ll do the experiment.’”It was a warm summer evening in the town of Belmont, Michigan, and Wynn-Stelt — along with neighbors Jennifer Carney and Tobyn McNaughton — was in Carney’s backyard discussing how things got upended here in 2017. That’s when they all learned that the groundwater running below their homes is contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — collectively called PFASs (pronounced PEE-fasses). Known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t fully degrade in the environment, these industrial compounds have been found in air, water, and soil around the globe, and in the bodies of most people. They have been associated with a laundry list of health problems, including cancer, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, and disrupted immune development. And yet, despite a recent surge in the number of studies devoted to PFASs, their health effects are not yet fully understood. (Talpos, 2/24)