Latest Kaiser Health News Stories
Respiratory symptoms stemming from coronavirus infection and smoke inhalation are too similar to distinguish without a full workup. This is complicating the jobs of health care workers as wildfires rage up and down the West Coast.
As the twin disasters of COVID-19 and fire season sweep through California, thousands of residents are weighing difficult options, pitting risk against risk as they decide where to evacuate. Amid a virulent pandemic, where can you safely relocate?
As the long U.S. fire season gets underway, it’s even more important for Western residents to have a good face mask. Unfortunately, most of the masks we’re wearing for COVID-19 aren’t great for smoke.
Rochester, New York, and other cities have already weathered the first blasts of excessive heat, and they have done it while cooling centers and spray parks have been closed due to the pandemic.
In 470,000 American homes spread across every state, washing hands to prevent COVID-19 may not be as easy as turning on a faucet. They don’t have showers or toilets or, in some cases, even water piped into their homes. Nearly a million U.S. homes don’t have complete kitchens and millions more are overcrowded, making it much tougher for people to shelter in place and avoid infection.
Health care providers are seeing the effects of climate change in hospitals across the U.S. ― and urging their peers to take action.
A recent report by the California state auditor faults two state health departments for failing to ensure that children receive required blood lead tests and for not doing enough to reduce childhood lead exposure in high-risk areas. Lawmakers are proposing several measures to increase testing.
Some of California’s most prized rivers, bays, beaches and streams are contaminated with levels of fecal bacteria that exceed state limits, threatening human health. While aging sewage infrastructure is largely to blame, homeless encampments are also a probable source of contamination.
E-cigarettes may look sleek, but they create toxic trash, especially at high schools where vaping is widespread. Disposable nicotine pods can be poisonous, and vape pens contain batteries and metals. Safely disposing of them can mean a trip to the local recycling center.
California and nearby Southwestern states are seeing a sustained rise in cases of valley fever, a potentially serious lung illness caused by a fungus found in desert-type soil. As a result of global warming, the areas where the fungus can thrive are expanding, researchers say.
Kate Gordon, director of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Planning and Research, is tasked with identifying and mitigating the risks of climate change in California. She spoke to KHN about how that work intersects with health, and how residents can get involved.
Proposition 65 requires California businesses to label products and buildings with warnings about substances the state deems as toxic, ranging from aloe vera to asbestos. A state panel plans to debate whether to add acetaminophen, the active ingredient of common over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, to the toxics list, raising questions about the value of these ubiquitous warnings.
Legionnaires’ disease cases hit an all-time high in 2018, with eight times more cases than 20 years ago. Even though many facilities in Missouri and elsewhere have water management plans in place to deal with the potentially deadly disease, they are still finding the underlying bacteria that causes it in their water.
October marks not only fire season in California, but also the peak of the grape harvest. In areas not imminently threatened by the explosive Kincade Fire in Sonoma County’s fabled vineyards, workers labored through heat and smoke, or faced lost wages.
Facing billions of dollars in legal claims for the role its equipment has played in a spate of deadly wildfires, California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric plans to step up efforts to cut power to broad regions of the state during high-risk weather conditions. The potential for prolonged blackouts has prompted disaster preparations by hospitals, nursing homes and home care providers.
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Amid forecasts for increasingly unhealthy air due to wildfire smoke, residents in Western states are snatching up home air purifiers. With good reason.
Studies long have linked urban firefighters’ on-the-job exposure to toxins with an increased risk of cancer. More recently, as urban-style development reaches into once remote stretches of California’s mountains and forests, wildfire crews are exposed to fuels and carcinogens more typical of urban fires. We talk with Tony Stefani of the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation about the health risks that poses for firefighters.
Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee unveiled their long-awaited proposal to try to rein in prescription drug costs, even as bipartisan leaders of the other Senate committee that oversees health announced it would not bring its drug price bill to the Senate floor until fall. Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post, Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this, plus court actions on health issues.
Eighteen years ago, most first responders were not thinking about their future health when they spent hours searching “The Pile” for the remains of terror victims. Today, their illnesses are a slow-moving epidemiological nightmare that has been as difficult for scientists to study as it has been easy for politicians to overlook.