Tag: Public Health

The Hijacking of Fluorine 18.998, Part Three

In the last two blog posts (here and here), I told you about the history of fluoridation of water in the United States and other parts of the world. I told you how a dentist traveled out west to Colorado and, through observation and laboratory study, helped determine that adding fluoride to drinking water prevented tooth decay. Of course, the…

Aside

In case you haven’t heard, public health authorities in the United States caught on to a weird kind of lung damage syndrome that is strongly associated with vaping (aka “electronic cigarettes”). The syndrome manifests itself as lung damage that is acute and severe, leaving young people with lungs that work at the capacity seen in octagenarians.

There are hundreds of cases and some deaths reported, and we are all working on understanding this phenomenon further and doing something about it.

Speaking of doing something about it, it seems that the federal government is mulling a ban on electronic cigarettes. Some states and local governments have already done it, and it’s making people stock up on their supplies before it happens. So that is likely where this is going… While parents want to protect their kids from damaging their lungs permanently, and while sentiment on smoking is definitely not in its favor, we are probably going to have a nationwide ban on vaping products that are flavored, at the very least.

Personally, I am not in favor of a ban because bans create black markets for these products, making them harder to regulate and assure their safety. In my opinion, it is better to tax them into oblivion, allowing only those with the means to pay through the nose to pay for a safer product. We’ll see how it goes.

The Hijacking of Fluorine 18.998, Part Two

NOTE: This is the second of a three-part series on fluoride in drinking water and a recent study about it. You can read part 1 here. You can read part 3 here. In the last blog post, I told you all about how fluoride has been added to potable water systems in the United States and elsewhere based on the…

The Hijacking of Fluorine 18.998, Part One

NOTE: This is the first of a three-part series on fluoride in drinking water and a recent study about it. You can read part 2 here. You can read part 3 here. There is a cultural controversy dating back several decades that is very similar to the anti-vaccine controversy that we are dealing with today. Back in the early 1900s,…

Some Things I Learned This Week

I’ve been at the annual conference of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists all this week. The first conference I attended was back in 2008, when I was working at the Maryland Department of Health as an epidemiologist doing influenza surveillance. I remember it being a lot of fun because I got to learn a lot from people who had the same interests as I did. This has not changed much since then, but things around us in the world have. Let me explain…

Looking at Unmet Health Needs in Chicago, 2013

When comparing two or more health indicators, it’s important to keep in mind that they might be on a different scale and presenting completely different information. In order to make the comparison more accurately, you can standardize the variables’ values and then create a Health Condition Index. So let’s use R and some open data to see how this can be done.

How Many Guns Were Within 1,000 Feet of Schools in Baltimore in 2018?

Modern software programs allow you to analyze spatial data quite easily, but it may be hard to replicate what you did without a detailed how-to manual and instructions you write as you go. Programming languages such as R and others allow you to write code and comments in that code, so it will be easy to follow what you did and reproduce it time after time.

Epi 101: Indirect Age Adjustment by Hand and in R

Sometimes, age-specific death counts are hard to come by. Something happened that doesn’t allow you to know how many people died in each age group, but you know the total number of people who died. So how do you account for differences in the age distribution of the population? Glad you asked!

What if Vaccines Are Harmful?

If vaccines are as bad as anti-vaccine people and groups claim that they are, where is the evidence? We’ve seen other diseases and conditions be identified and dealt with. Why not these bad vaccine outcomes? Could it be that it’s not as bad as antivaxxers say it is?