HEALTH & BEAUTY

Great Scotland Yard hotel brings Unbound Collection to UK | News

Great Scotland Yard hotel brings Unbound Collection to UK | News


Hyatt Hotels ha welcomed the opening of the 152-place Excellent Scotland Garden hotel as portion of its Unbound Collection.

On the website of the previous headquarters of the Metropolitan Law enforcement, the luxury lodge and adjacent 5-story townhouse become the initially by the selection in the United kingdom and the sixth to open up in Europe.

The opening follows a important restoration and complete-scale renovation that breathed new lifetime into one of London’s well known landmarks as it opens to the public for the first time in nearly two hundred several years.

As section of a assortment of unique inns every single with their personal distinctive tale, Great Scotland Garden is an legendary property steeped in background that asks attendees to count on the unexpected.

The moment the historical house of law and get in the City of Westminster, the lodge has also served as inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has been a dwelling for Kings of Scotland, and is the site where Lord Kitchener famously explained to Earth War I recruits ‘Your Region Requirements You.’

Each and every factor of the resort pays homage to this incredible previous.

Situated measures away from Parliament and Covent Garden, guests are only a stone’s toss away from the cultural hotspots of a person of the world’s most vibrant towns.

“Great Scotland Yard’s prosperous record and intriguing architecture make it the fantastic position to start The Unbound Assortment by Hyatt in the United Kingdom,” mentioned Sholto Smith, normal manager of Great Scotland Lawn.

“Along with critically acclaimed chef Robin Gill, we have developed a present day British food and drink destination and an expertise like no other in London.

“We appear forward to welcoming independent minded travellers searching for a tale-deserving working experience.”

The 1820s Grade II stated creating has 152 visitor rooms, like 15 suites.

A neutral colour palette sets a ideal foundation for the unpredicted perform of patterns that are encouraged by building’s prosperous past. There are wardrobes concealed at the rear of a bookcase-like façade and robe hooks shaped as keys.

Wherever no two rooms are the exact, visitors are welcome to ‘unlock the secret’ of Fantastic Scotland Yard.

No1 Terrific Scotland Property Townhouse is a exclusive standalone two-bedroom house adjacent to the key creating. Located in excess of five stories, it provides an special and personal expertise for friends.





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Chile Just Pulled Out Of Hosting The Biggest Climate Conference Of The Year Because Of Violent Protests

Chile Just Pulled Out Of Hosting The Biggest Climate Conference Of The Year Because Of Violent Protests


Amid developing civil unrest, Chile announced Wednesday that the country would no longer host the greatest climate convention of the year. On Friday, the United Nations verified Spain would host the convention as a substitute.

The 2019 UN Weather Modify Conference, called COP25, was at first slated to run Dec. 2–13 in Santiago. It will now choose place all through those same dates in Madrid. Thousands of authorities officers, business enterprise leaders, and activists from all-around the globe have been scheduling to go to and now have to alter their travel programs.

“Earlier today, I was informed of the conclusion by the Govt of Chile not to host COP25 in view of the tough circumstance that the country is undergoing,” Patricia Espinosa, the UN local weather chief, reported in a statement on Wednesday. “We are now checking out choice internet hosting options.”

Earlier in Oct, Chile declared a condition of crisis across sections of the region owing to a surge of anti-federal government protests. At the very least 11 persons have died in violence tied to the unrest.

“We comprehend completely the value of [the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit] and COP for Chile and the planet, but we have dependent our selection on widespread feeling,” Chilean President Sebastián Piñera reportedly reported. “A president requirements to place its people today higher than every little thing else.”

Chile also canceled a next international conference, the APEC summit, scheduled for December, according to Bloomberg.

“It’s an unprecedented circumstance,” Rachel Cleetus, a policy director with the scientific integrity team Union of Worried Experts, instructed BuzzFeed News. She is 1 of many associates of the group scheduling to show up at the weather convention.

“We’re all of training course now just ready to hear if and how to adjust our vacation designs to be where ever and anytime COP is rescheduled,” Cleetus explained. “We pretty significantly hope it will be.”

This is the next country to withdraw from hosting the 2019 climate conference. Brazil, the primary host, abandoned its strategies just after the far-proper Jair Bolsonaro was elected president.



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New Orleans Has Been Hiding An Alarming Report About Lead In The City’s Water

New Orleans Has Been Hiding An Alarming Report About Lead In The City’s Water


New Orleans has failed over the last decade to do urgently needed lead testing — claiming the water was safe even after losing track of where the city’s many lead pipes are — and then buried a 2017 report that would have alerted the public to the lapse.

Two years after the report was completed, officials still have not fixed the problems. And experts say the failures could have unknowingly exposed tens of thousands of people to the neurotoxin.

The 84-page report, obtained by BuzzFeed News, revealed multiple violations of federal law, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirement that local water boards must test the water only in homes that have lead pipes.

But New Orleans pipe records haven’t been updated since the early 1990s — long before Hurricane Katrina and the extensive street repairs and pipe replacements that followed. The water board wasn’t testing only homes with lead pipes as required by federal law, the report found, because it didn’t know where those lead pipes were.

The water board’s “incomplete and unreliable information on the locations of lead service lines left it unable to alert citizens who might be at risk of exposure to lead in tap water,” the report said.

Some Sewerage and Water Board employees — including the former executive director and the agency’s then-spokesperson — took samples from their own homes, or solicited their friends, and included them as samples from high-risk homes, raising the possibility that the water board was deliberately gaming the system to make the results look better.

In 2016, about 11% of the kids under 6 in New Orleans tested for blood lead showed concentrations at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter (the CDC maintains that no level of blood lead is safe for children). That’s far higher than the national figure — 2.5% of kids between 1 and 5 — and double the rate in Flint during the water crisis there, when 5% of kids tested had blood lead levels that high.

Lead is the most dangerous substance that commonly turns up in US tap water. At high exposures, the metal attacks the brain and kidneys, and harms multiple body systems. Even at low levels, it’s been called a “silent killer” that’s hard to spot, with particularly dangerous effects for developing fetuses, babies, and young children, whose brains are growing quickly.

Because of the holes in the city’s water testing, there is also no way to know if those kids registered high levels because of what they were drinking, or exposure to other environmental sources, like lead in paint or soil.

And scientists working on the problem say that uncertainty should be deeply concerning.

“New Orleans residents are being told their water is safe when there’s no evidence that’s the case,” Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech civil engineering professor who helped uncover the Flint lead crisis, told BuzzFeed News. “This is just repeating the mistake made in Flint.”

In fact, some of the water in people’s homes has already been shown to be unsafe. Independent testing by a research team at Louisiana State University looked at 376 New Orleans homes and found some with sky-high lead levels: as much as 284 parts per billion, nearly 19 times the EPA’s threshold for tap water.

City inspectors are supposed to test only the houses at highest risk — namely those known to have lead pipes — and should therefore be turning up the highest lead numbers. Yet in the 18 years of data the water board collected, they have never reported results over 33 parts per billion.

That should raise major alarms, said Adrienne Katner, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at LSU who led the testing and was consulted on the OIG’s investigation. “Why am I finding higher lead levels than they are?”

The documents do not make clear whether officials from the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board were actively trying to skew the results or simply did not know how to find the city’s remaining lead-pipe houses. But according to the inspector general’s report, as well as summaries of interviews with water board employees obtained by BuzzFeed News through a public records request, employees knew they weren’t following protocols. And the decision to shelve the investigation has caused major concern among former employees and experts who were consulted when it was being drafted.

“That was nine years when there was not any appreciable oversight of this program. To me, that is doing a disservice to the public,” Katner said. Based on the report’s findings about the city’s testing practices, she said, “I would not trust those results.”

Local environmental groups have tried to call attention to the problem for years. Most recently, in late October, a community group called Justice and Beyond held a demonstration with some 50 people outside the water board headquarters to protest high water bills and lead levels.

“We have been saying to the mayor and the rest of the Sewerage and Water Board members that our scientists say there’s lead in the pipes and there’s lead in the water. And the Sewerage and Water Board says, no there isn’t,” Pat Bryant, a veteran environmental justice organizer and cofounder of Justice and Beyond, told BuzzFeed News. “Now we see their protocols are shoddy and there’s no science to what they do.”


William Widmer for BuzzFeed News

Meghana Kamath Hemphill stands in front of the house in the Fontainebleau district of New Orleans.

Meghana Kamath Hemphill got pregnant with twins in early 2014, nearly nine years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. She and her husband had recently settled down on a quiet street in the Fontainebleau neighborhood, in a two-story home with dark brown shutters and a fleur-de-lis patterned in glass on the front door. Hemphill had grown up in nearby Kenner and hoped her kids would visit the music festivals and the swamp exhibit at the zoo, just as she had.

A molecular biologist who worked at a scientific publisher, Hemphill applied an earnest curiosity to everything she did. She took pains to stay healthy throughout her pregnancy, using spreadsheets to track what she ate.

So she and her husband were shocked when her water broke when she was just 6 months pregnant, splashing onto the sidewalk one evening as the couple ate at a pizzeria. The twins were born five and a half weeks later, at 2.5 pounds each, and battled brain bleeds and respiratory trouble in the neonatal ICU. At home, the Hemphills prepared for their arrival: They wiped down the parts before assembling their crib and upgraded their air filters to catch finer particles.

After nearly three months in the NICU, their daughter came home, with her brother following eight days later, on Thanksgiving. The Hemphills kept up their hygiene regime, videoconferencing into the family Christmas gathering to avoid catching bugs from the older kids. “We literally just kept the house as a bubble,” Hemphill told BuzzFeed News.

Over the next year, the twins had physical and occupational therapy, and slowly caught up with developmental milestones of kids their age. In October 2015, as the Flint headlines broke, Hemphill stumbled on a post to a neighborhood forum online announcing that Katner was offering to test New Orleans homes for lead. Thinking of her toddlers’ possible exposure, she quickly signed up.

Don’t drink the water — there’s lead in it.

The results arrived by email a month later: The Hemphills’ water contained low levels of lead, peaking at 6.7 parts per billion. The reading was below the EPA’s tap water limit of 15 parts per billion, but the brochure sent by Katner’s lab described the reading as a “significant contamination problem.”

To Hemphill, the news was terrifying. She worried about how the lead may have affected her pregnancy and her kids’ development. As newborns, the twins had drunk formula mixed with tap water — which, according to the EPA, can be a major source of lead exposure for infants at a critical period of brain development. “I never thought to check the water. You just kind of assume you pay the city to take care of that.”

As she researched further, Hemphill learned that lead in drinking water — even at low levels — has been linked to preterm labor. “I kind of lost it that point,” she said.

She called the water board to demand that her pipes be checked. Nothing happened. Every few weeks, she’d call back again. In the meantime, the Hemphills stopped drinking water from the tap and set up a filter on the kitchen faucet. They stopped using the ice maker in the fridge. And any time she helped the twins brush their teeth or take a bath, Hemphill would remind them: Don’t drink the water — there’s lead in it.


Edmund D. Fountain for BuzzFeed News

Ed Quatrevaux, the former inspector general for the city of New Orleans, poses for a portrait at his home in New Orleans.

It was Flint, Michigan, that got former New Orleans inspector general Ed Quatrevaux thinking about lead. His team had been investigating the New Orleans water board for several of the eight years he’d been in office — finding that the agency had failed to keep track of overdue accounts, that it had paid excess overtime, and that its employees stole more than $500,000 worth of brass fittings meant for water meters.

“This organization is riddled with corruption,” Quatrevaux told BuzzFeed News.

By the summer of 2016, representatives of his office, supervised by the then-assistant inspector general for inspections and evaluations, Nadiene Van Dyke, were conducting interviews with water board employees and local academic experts, including Katner, about how they looked for lead.

One part of the inspector general’s inquiry was made public in July 2017, when Quatrevaux rebuked the water board for failing to inform residents that construction work — widespread in a city still being rebuilt over a decade after Hurricane Katrina — could shake lead from neighborhood pipes and into their drinking water.

The scientists who had contributed behind the scenes were eagerly anticipating the completed investigation. But less than a week after that first report, a scandal hit the inspector general’s office itself: the New Orleans Advocate obtained an internal report alleging that Van Dyke had helped friends get contracts, told employees to falsify receipts, and was “demeaning” to non-white employees.

She and Quatrevaux, who had approved the review, retired three months later. (Quatrevaux described the inquiry as a “hit job” led by an employee with a personal grudge; Van Dyke declined to comment on her departure.)


William Widmer for BuzzFeed News

Adrienne Katner stands at a construction site where water lines are being replaced in the Fillmore neighborhood of New Orleans.

Katner, the LSU environmental scientist and daughter of a former water board director, was waiting for this report more impatiently than most. She had long suspected that the water board’s testing was amiss, based on public records requests she and her team had filed as part of her own research. She says she never saw any documentation backing up the agency’s claim that they were testing in the city’s riskiest homes.

In October 2017, weeks after the scandal played out in Quatrevaux’s office, Katner joined other scientists and environmental activists at a small event put on by two community groups, Justice and Beyond and A Community Voice. Bryant introduced the scientist to the group. While a few dozen residents ate chicken with salad and biscuits in the foyer of a Baptist church downtown, Katner gave them her cautionary speech about lead.

Lead is an elusive toxin. Unlike iron and manganese, which are measured and neutralized at water treatment plants, lead enters the water through the distribution system — that is, through plumbing and pipes that bring water into people’s homes. (A 2016 study estimated that there are 6.1 million lead pipes bringing water to homes in the US — a conservative count.)

What’s more, the measurements are fickle. Lead measured at a given spot can vary dramatically depending on the time of day, the season, the level of construction in the neighborhood, the number of people in residence, or whether they just returned from vacation.

Katner believes that public health messaging on lead risks hasn’t caught up to the last decade of research pointing to a range of risks associated with low-dose lead, the kind you absorb from tap water or food.

“They pretty much treat black people as the whites treated them before.”

Its effects are hard to spot. Very high exposure to lead over a short time can show up as tiredness, constipation, loss of memory, or appetite, but any one of those routine symptoms can be “easily overlooked,” the CDC warns.

In children, the toxin can damage the brain and delay development, manifesting as a lowered IQ, or learning and behavioral problems many years after the kids were exposed. As for lead in water, infants who drink formula mixed with tap water take in the highest dose of any age groups, at a critical time in their development. But tracing those problems back to lead is nearly impossible without concurrent blood and water tests to document the exposures.

That fact leaves residents like Hemphill with no way to figure out how much lead they were exposed to over the years or whether it led to serious health problems.

Katner then turned to her own research on lead in the city, which sampled 376 houses over two years. She explained that though her results suggested New Orleans wasn’t nearly as bad as Flint — where one home’s lead levels reached as high as 13,200 parts per billion — she had found some high lead levels at homes around the city.

Five minutes into her talk, Katner paused to take questions and was bombarded with queries from concerned residents: Is it possible to buy filters for the shower? Is there a filter you can put between the lead pipe in the ground and your house? Were some areas of the city at higher risk than others?

The scientist recommended that people use filters at the kitchen taps in their homes. She told them to make sure to look for the “NSF 53” certification sticker on the box.

But the water is only part of the problem.

The people most likely to have lead pipes are those who live in older, unrenovated houses. In New Orleans, that often means low-income families who are black, Katner and Bryant said.


Photo By Matthew Hinton

A Community Voice activists campaign for testing of lead levels in water at Orleans Parish schools in front of KIPP Renaissance High School in New Orleans in 2016.

Those same older homes are also more likely to have old, peeling paint — another major lead risk. Many low-income, black neighborhoods in New Orleans are close to highways, where lead from gasoline fumes in years past lined the soil with the toxin. “When you add that on top of the likelihood that they’re also going to have lead service lines, the risk is even greater,” Katner said.

Bryant compares what is happening in New Orleans to Flint. Other water systems — in DC, Rhode Island, Detroit, and Philadelphia — have also been caught allegedly “gaming the system” to make their water testing data look safer than it actually is.

In New Orleans, as in Flint, Bryant says it’s proof of the contempt that city administrators have for their citizens.

“Black lives did not matter there and black lives don’t matter here, even though we have a black administrator who is running the city,” Bryant said. “They pretty much treat black people as the whites treated them before.”


William Widmer for BuzzFeed News

The water meter in front of Meghana Kamath Hemphill’s old house in the Fontainebleau district of New Orleans.

Throughout 2016, evaluators in Quatrevaux’s office interviewed water board staff and consulted scientists and policy experts. Their completed report found that the New Orleans water board had fallen short of the EPA’s requirements in four major ways between 2010 and 2016.

For example, the inspector general’s office found that the water board “did not have an updated, verified inventory of sites” that met the EPA’s criteria for water quality testing, and had “tested samples in 2010 and 2013 collected from sites not verified as valid testing sites.”

If there were a lead problem in the city, the water board would have missed it, experts say.

Becker said he did not know how the list was compiled, but that it “may have been surmised by talking to plumbers in the city.”

“The bottom line: According to the Inspector General’s detailed investigation many New Orleans residents may have been drinking significantly lead-contaminated water for years without knowing it due to faulty testing,” Erik Olson, a senior director at the NRDC, told BuzzFeed News by email. “This is in large part because the Sewerage and Water Board was violating federal rules and recommendations.”

Interviews with four senior water board employees obtained by BuzzFeed News through a public records request show that the agency was aware of the gaps in its data. Joseph Becker, then a general superintendent at the water board, told evaluators that during the race to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, the Plumbing Department could not keep up with inspections. Becker did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

There was also uncertainty about the original records, compiled in the 1990s, when the EPA’s lead regulations first came into effect. No one who was interviewed for the inspector general’s report could say for sure how the list was drawn up. Becker said he did not know how the list was compiled, but that it “may have been surmised by talking to plumbers in the city.”

“Their record-keeping was abysmal,” Nadiene Van Dyke, the former assistant inspector general, told BuzzFeed News. “It was just this archaic, incomprehensible system, where the information was virtually completely inaccessible.”

Water board employees said they did not know how many lead service lines existed in the city or where they were. They acknowledged that the list was now inaccurate because many addresses no longer existed and because that list did not always get updated when lead pipes were replaced. Over the years, the water board had added addresses to the list, but it did not document if those homes contained lead pipes.

The EPA requires New Orleans to test 80 homes with lead piping every three years, but water board employees had trouble finding that many. So they used the water in their own homes — including those of Chad Lavoie, who led the sampling project; former water board chief Cedric Grant; and former spokesperson, Lisa Martin. In the interview summaries, Lavoie and Becker said that employees also solicited their friends’ participation.

These former employees defended the water board’s decision to test their homes for lead. “It was my responsibility to speak with confidence on the safety of the city’s water supply,” Martin told BuzzFeed News. “What better for me to speak knowledgeably than with Louisiana State Lab test results?”

In an interview with Fox 8 in 2017, Grant confirmed that his water was tested. In response, the water board told the television station: “Yes. They are Sewerage & Water Board employees. We don’t ask our customers to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves.” Grant told BuzzFeed News that “historically” water board employees had offered their homes to be tested. “I wanted to show leadership — I wanted to encourage people in the community to have their water tested. If I’m doing it you should too.”

Grant added: “There was nothing biased about it.”

Finally, the report rebuked the water board for the technique they used to collect the water from people’s taps, saying they ignored EPA guidelines. Their method likely underreported the actual lead levels in people’s homes that they did test, experts said.

It was not the first time the water board’s sampling had drawn scrutiny. In 2011, the local TV station WDSU reported that the New Orleans water board had deleted the results of at least two water samples with lead levels more than 13 times the guidelines for tap water in its report to the state.

The water board’s Lavoie told investigators that the extremely high samples were discarded because the houses had been recently vacant. But Katner said that decision makes no sense for a city in which so many people were returning to vacant homes after fleeing from Hurricane Katrina.

“This was not an anomaly — this was something that was happening all over the city,” she said. “For them to get rid of those values really is upsetting.”

In 2016, while the investigation was ongoing, the water board changed some of its protocols to verify for that year that each home that was tested had a lead pipe outside, the report said. But other problems identified in the report remained unaddressed.

“It was unethical to hide that report. The people of New Orleans know nothing about it.” 

Frustrated that the damning report was never released, Quatrevaux eventually shared it with BuzzFeed News.

His successor, Inspector General Derry Harper, defended his decision to keep the results secret. “There was no attempt to bury this document,” Harper told BuzzFeed News.

“I made a determination that in this instance, the inspector general’s office could not release a final report, because we didn’t feel that we had sufficient information to support those findings,” Harper said. He added that the report had not passed legal review, but did not provide further details about why the report’s findings were flawed. Harper said he did send a summary to the Louisiana Department of Health, the state agency overseeing the board.

A spokesperson for that agency, which has also been criticized by a state auditor for not doing enough to oversee drinking water quality, said it did not agree with the summary.

The report “was officially disowned” by the inspector general’s office, Sewerage and Water Board spokesperson Richard Rainey told BuzzFeed News by email. Rainey later added that the water board “has consistently complied with all state and federal regulations when it comes to lead and copper water quality testing” and that the city’s water “is safe to drink and use.”

Beau Tidwell, spokesperson for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, echoed that response in an email to BuzzFeed News, saying that the report was “disregarded and is no longer supported by the OIG.” (The mayor also serves as the president of the Sewerage and Water Board.)

For Quatrevaux, who claims the report did pass legal review, the decision to bury the information reeks of the very neglect the investigation identified. “It was unethical to hide that report,” Quatrevaux told BuzzFeed News. “The people of New Orleans know nothing about it.”


William Widmer for BuzzFeed News

Water pipes lie on the ground on Madrid Street in the Fillmore neighborhood of New Orleans.

In the spring of 2017, some 18 months after Hemphill found out that the water her baby twins were drinking had lead in it, water board workers came to her home. They tore up the cement sidewalk in front of her house with jackhammers, then dug and dug, until they finally found a lead pipe, a skinny piece of metal some five feet long. They cut it into chunks, threw the pieces in their truck, and drove off.

(In response to a BuzzFeed News query about the delay, a spokesperson for the water board said “there could be a million different reasons” for why it took 18 months for the lead pipe to be replaced.)

She had the twins tested last year and was relieved to learn in January that they did not have detectable lead levels in their blood, though she’ll never really know if the leaded water caused her premature labor or how it may have affected them when they were tiny babies.

In February of this year, the family moved to the Lake Oaks neighborhood, which sits on higher ground than their old house had. When they renovated the new place, they replaced all the pipes inside and installed filters underneath the kitchen sink.

The sidewalk of their old house stayed broken for months after their pipes were removed, the fractured cement reminding Hemphill of something a pipe inspector once told her after pointing out how her neighbors’ sidewalks were pristine and untouched. Their lead pipes, he said, were probably still in there. ●



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Three Teens Want Pakistan To Tell Them The Truth About The Air They’re Breathing

Three Teens Want Pakistan To Tell Them The Truth About The Air They're Breathing



Courtesy of Laiba Siddiqi

NEW DELHI — A few Pakistani young people are the latest associates of Gen Z to try to save the globe, using their federal government to courtroom about perilous concentrations of air air pollution that blankets the place each individual 12 months.

Mishael Hyat, 17, Leila Alam, 13, and Laiba Siddiqi, 18, have accused the government of Punjab of violating their suitable to lifetime and well being by underreporting the severity of Lahore’s polluted air. The young people filed a petition with the Lahore Significant Courtroom on Tuesday with their issues, aided by Alam’s father, Ahmad Rafay Alam, who’s serving as their lawyer.

Rafay told BuzzFeed Information that he recognized the pollution unexpected emergency Pakistanis were being struggling with when he watched a online video on Facebook, in which an interviewer went to a classroom in Lahore and requested any young children who were sick to elevate their arms.

“It was heartbreaking. More than 90% of them were being ill and experienced a household member that was unwell because of the air also,” he reported. (He was unable to relocate the video clip to share it with BuzzFeed News.)


Arif Ali / Getty Visuals

Pakistanis navigate the Lahore smog in January.

The air pollution crisis in Pakistan and India has turn out to be an once-a-year party that lasts from October to January, owing in aspect to the burning of stubble crop by farmers in the North Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, and Pakistan’s standard industrial, agricultural, and transportation procedures. Hotter temperatures as a final result of weather modify mean that the smog hovers in excess of this area, increasing and stagnating.

The problem has led to New Delhi declaring a community wellness emergency — educational facilities were being closed and planes had been not able to land mainly because of the pollution. Exposure to one certain style of air pollution — a high-quality, fatal little bit of make any difference suspended in the air, identified as PM 2.5 — accounts for 1.24 million fatalities in India on a yearly basis, and boosts the possibilities of contracting heart and lung ailments. Evidence implies that pollution also leads to stunted mind development in small children.

The petition consists of a report from Lahore’s Children’s Medical center, which states that the health care middle has viewed a threefold improve in admissions presenting upper body or cardiovascular problems in the past 10 years.

The 3 teenagers’ petition names and targets a number of government agencies in cost of checking air top quality, these as the Punjab Environmental Protection Council, the Punjab Safe and sound Cities Authority, the Surroundings Protection Section of Punjab, and the Pakistan Ecosystem Defense Agency.

According to the teens, the classification of air employed by Lahore’s authorities to evaluate how lousy the city’s air is (recognized as its air top quality index or AQI), is at odds with the classification utilized by the United States Environmental Defense Agency.

Air quality that is labeled as “severe” by the US EPA only demonstrates up as “moderate” on the Lahore government’s internet site. The petition promises that the site — which is intended to monitor air good quality info and warn citizens when it is perilous to go out of the household — underreports the severity of air pollution, as a result exposing individuals to unacceptable levels of chance. The governing administration info also fails to mention the unique types of pollutants current in the air.


Courtesy of Ahmad Rafay Alam

Hyat, a aggressive athlete and swimmer who represented Pakistan in the South Asian Online games in 2016 and is getting prepared to contend in the video games when far more this year. She instructed BuzzFeed News that her skill to educate was severely impacted by Lahore’s air.

“To swim far better, we have to raise our lung ability. So I’m supposed to run and cycle every single day, and that has been pretty much not possible of late,” Hyat claimed. “And the far more I exert myself in the present-day stages of pollution, the far more inclined I develop into to respiratory sickness. It is a horrible predicament for athletes — young children and old persons in individual.”

Hyat, who spoke to BuzzFeed News above the telephone from Lahore, reported she experienced constantly been included with environmental activism. “I fulfilled Leila at the local climate improve march in Lahore last thirty day period. Provided that this circumstance repeats itself in Pakistan every winter season, we recognized that we experienced to do something to adjust it,” she mentioned.

In the petition, Alam has mentioned the government’s misreporting of data has intended that she does not know when she requires to don a mask outdoor.

Siddiqi was part of the arranging crew for the all over the world weather strike previous month, in which young folks walked out of faculties and workplaces in 3,600 various destinations to simply call awareness to the weather emergency. The motion began with 16-calendar year-previous Greta Thunberg, who started placing on your own every Friday in August final 12 months outside of the Swedish Parliament making in Stockholm to phone attention to weather transform. In the yr given that, the motion has spurred hundreds to hundreds of kids to strike on a regular basis.

Siddiqi is from Karachi and reports at the Lahore College of Administration Sciences. “Karachi is rather densely polluted much too, but I’ve designed a long-term cough considering the fact that I arrived to Lahore — and I haven’t even found the worst of the smog year however,” she reported. “I also know about other individuals, primarily those with bronchial asthma, who have actually been struggling.”

“Once the march was over, we commenced contemplating of strategies to retain the momentum,” Siddiqi instructed BuzzFeed News about WhatsApp. “We realised that, apart from just grassroots awareness attempts, we required to really interact in lobbying or pushing for legislative reform.”

Hyat said: “We’re wanting for the court docket to act quickly and decisively. This can’t go on in the lengthy operate. Our futures are at stake.”



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Federal Investigators Link Vitamin E To Deadly Vaping Injuries

Federal Investigators Link Vitamin E To Deadly Vaping Injuries


Federal wellbeing officers linked vitamin E acetate to a nationwide outbreak of fatal vaping-associated lung injuries on Friday right after finding the oil in the lungs of people in a 10-state sample.

“For the 1st time, we have a definite contaminant of issue: vitamin E acetate,” Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, informed reporters in a phone briefing, contacting the review a breakthrough in the outbreak investigation that has been underway given that August.

On Thursday, the CDC noted much more than 2,000 scenarios of vaping-associated lung accidents in the previous 3 months, together with 39 fatalities, in the 49-point out outbreak. The injuries are marked by severe shortness of breath, pneumonia-like signs or symptoms, and a immediate onset — largely seen between younger individuals who experienced vaped THC, the ingredient in marijuana that receives you significant.

In the new study reported by the CDC on Friday, investigators looked at fluid from the lungs of 29 individuals. All of them experienced vitamin E acetate in their lung fluid samples. No other suspected oils or plant product viewed in the vaping liquid cartridges turned up in detectable amounts.

Discovered in hand lotion, food, and vitamin capsules, the oil had now appear up in some point out investigations of illicit vaping pods linked to the situations, notably in New York. But the new success are the initial to detect the compound in patients’ lungs. It has apparently been added to vaping liquids to strengthen overall look and dilute the THC offered by dealers.

“There’s a significant change involving rubbing it on your hands or swallowing a vitamin E capsule and inhaling aerosolized vitamin E acetate,” stated Schuchat, noting earlier scientific studies linking its high-temperature vaporized kind to pneumonia and lowered lung purpose.

Jennifer Layden of the Illinois Division of Community Overall health told reporters that, in a similar study of 4,000 persons who vape in her condition, men and women with lung accidents had been 9 times much more probably to have vaped illicit liquids purchased from buddies or on the street, and were eight occasions much more most likely to have made use of “Dank” vapes, a line of refillable vaping cartridges that are usually counterfeited. No injuries have been documented related to the state’s regulated healthcare marijuana dispensaries, she included.

The reality that vitamin E acetate turned up in the lungs of individuals from 10 states, fairly than from just one locale, adds to the fat of the lung fluid study, mentioned Schuchat. Nonetheless, she cautioned that other contaminants may also be creating injuries, and that the outbreak could have multiple leads to.

She reiterated strong advice for people not to vape liquids purchased on the avenue or from mates or family: “This is a incredibly serious illness.”



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Elizabeth Warren Wants To Punish Companies Like Exxon For Lying To Federal Agencies

Elizabeth Warren Wants To Punish Companies Like Exxon For Lying To Federal Agencies


Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is having on huge oil’s legacy of local climate misinformation in her most up-to-date presidential strategy, proposing to punish firms that knowingly mislead or lie to federal organizations with steep fines and jail time.

Warren’s program has at least a person noticeable goal: ExxonMobil. The oil giant’s individual experts verified in the 1970s and ‘80s that fossil fuels have contributed to world warming. Then the enterprise shuttered its climate investigation and embraced a community relations campaign to unfold question about weather science and fund local climate improve denial.

“My program to End Washington Corruption prevents businesses like Exxon from using field-funded faux investigate to mislead federal regulators,” Warren wrote in a new plan released on Tuesday morning. “And if undesirable actors like Exxon split the guidelines and intentionally lie to federal government agencies, my strategy will deal with them the identical way the regulation treats somebody who lies in courtroom – by subjecting them to potential prosecution for perjury.”

Warren’s most up-to-date program formally merges her local climate agenda with her anti-corruption proposals, which have been the centerpiece of her presidential marketing campaign. She has already proposed shelling out at minimum $3 trillion on local climate motion, like banning fossil gasoline advancement on general public lands, tackling environmental justice as section of the Inexperienced New Deal, and embracing quite a few of previous presidential candidate Jay Inslee’s tips for chopping local climate pollution in the setting up, transportation, and energy sectors.

Warren’s assault on Exxon arrives on the heels of the latest Congressional hearings digging into the company’s sketchy weather heritage. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one particular of the most higher-profile progressives in Congress, regularly grilled former Exxon scientists about their local weather work. And the New York Lawyer Typical recently took Exxon to demo, alleging the organization misled buyers about its local climate chance the New York Supreme Court has not nevertheless issued a verdict in the circumstance. Final month, the Massachusetts Legal professional Typical sued Exxon for deceptive each buyers and shoppers about climate change.

Exxon declined to remark on Warren’s approach. As a substitute Scott Silvestri, a company spokesman, outlined Exxon’s previous funding of weather get the job done, how its scientists have participated in world wide local weather assessments and have made almost 150 papers on the issue. The firm’s website, meanwhile, refers to the local climate assaults as “an orchestrated campaign that seeks to delegitimize ExxonMobil and misinterpret our climate change placement and research.”

Under the system, Warren proposes creating a new “corporate perjury” legislation to maintain companies accountable for submitting misinformation to federal regulators, such as in the community comment interval for a new rulemaking. Businesses that violate the regulation could experience prison liability, resulting in upwards of $250,000 in fines or jail time for the individuals who submitted the deceitful information and facts.

She also endorses banning “federal businesses and courts from thinking about non-peer-reviewed, industry-funded analysis.” So if a business submits research for proposed rulemaking, it would have to disclose how it was funded, no matter whether the funders influenced the investigate, and element the partnership concerning funders and scientists. Investigation with conflict of interest would probably be excluded from the rulemaking, as properly as from any long run court difficulties to that rule.

Warren proposes creating a nationwide Office environment of the Public Advocate to make it less difficult for the public to interact in the federal rulemaking procedure.



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Hundreds Of Superfund Sites Are At Risk Of Climate Disasters

Hundreds Of Superfund Sites Are At Risk Of Climate Disasters


Extra than 900 toxic squander websites in the United States are in regions at possibility of weather disasters, a new governing administration evaluation uncovered, raising issues about the probable distribute of harmful contaminants.

The report, introduced by the Authorities Accountability Office on Monday, also argued that the Environmental Protection Agency, which is tasked with overseeing the cleanup of these web pages, must be performing much more to shield them versus local weather dangers.

Soon after Hurricane Harvey dropped report concentrations of rain on the Houston spot, resulting in one especially harmful website in the town springing a leak, the GAO agreed to examine how vulnerable other harmful websites across the country are to severe climate.

“We can no lengthier dismiss the actuality that the local weather crisis is here and it’s in our backyard,” Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and a person of the associates of Congress that pushed GAO to examine the issue, mentioned in a assertion emailed to BuzzFeed Information. “This report underscores that shielding our communities calls for us to desire that the EPA incorporates local climate improve into its cleanup designs for present-day and upcoming Superfund web pages.”

Working with federal climate info, the GAO has analyzed potential dangers posed to 1,571 toxic zones, named Superfund sites, situated throughout the US and its territories. The governing administration watchdog group’s examination observed 945 of the sites, or about 60%, were being at hazard of at the very least a person of the adhering to dangers: wildfires, flooding, storm surge, or sea amount rise.

Local climate-linked flooding poses the most widespread threat, imperiling much more than 700 Superfund web pages on the coast and in the center of the country. According to the Fourth Countrywide Local climate Evaluation, climate adjust is already making storms wetter and far more repeated, and growing seas have previously contributed to an enhance in flooding from high tides in specific communities.

The significant issue is that weather disasters could damage the toxic squander sites “and lead to releases of contaminants that pose threats to human well being and the environment,” in accordance to the report. The EPA has recognized far more than 500 contaminants at Superfund web-sites, such as arsenic, direct, and mercury.

There had been some details limitations in the GAO’s investigation. For case in point, facts on sea amount rise was not readily available for Alaska, and wildfire info was not offered exterior the contiguous US. Also, the listing of waste web pages employed for the report is somewhat outdated it consists of some web pages that the EPA has because determined are cleaned up. Superfund web-sites on federal land, this kind of as army bases, ended up not deemed.

As part of the report, the GAO manufactured 4 tips for how the EPA could superior consider local weather transform into account in its Superfund website arranging. The watchdog agency recommended the EPA complete standardizing how it determines the boundaries of the waste web sites, which it has agreed to do.

The GAO also suggested that the EPA make clear how its steps to deal with likely climate impacts align with the agency’s current targets, and present far more path on how to superior work out weather dangers and reaction designs. The EPA disagreed with these three tips, arguing its present treatments ended up adequate.



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Elon Musk’s WiFi Satellites Are Blocking Astronomers’ Views Of The Sky

Elon Musk's WiFi Satellites Are Blocking Astronomers' Views Of The Sky


Astronomers are apprehensive that a little satellite swarm released by Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket organization past week will damage deep area observations of distant stars and galaxies. And they are letting individuals know about it.

On Nov. 11, SpaceX introduced 60 “Starlink” satellites into minimal-earth orbit, bringing its overall constellation dimension to 122 — already 1 of the largest satellite networks in house. The corporation options to at some point launch 12,000 of the modest broadband satellites by the mid-2020s in get to provide world wide substantial-velocity world wide web from room. The undertaking is slated to cost $10 billion.

And astronomers are apprehensive the 1000’s of shiny objects will clutter their observations of the sky, primarily based on the early returns from the most current start, which set a train of satellites on class for remaining orbits 340 miles superior at a 53 degree inclination with the equator.

“Satellite constellations can pose a significant or debilitating risk to crucial current and future astronomical infrastructures,” the Worldwide Astronomical Union stated in a assertion very last June. The IAU explained that mirrored sunlight from the satellites will harm the sensitive optics of substantial observatory telescopes, and also interfere with new radio astronomy amenities.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory also claimed it was getting “fruitful” conversations with SpaceX about minimizing interference with its observations from Starlink satellites.

Musk has acknowledged astronomer’s issues in a tweet, and claimed he was asking engineers to lessen the reflectivity of the satellites to reduce their affect on astronomy.

Extra recently, the American Astronomical Culture voiced concern about the sheer selection of planned satellites frustrating the night time sky and primary to space collisions, filling beneficial orbits with risky particles. SpaceX competitor OneWeb is setting up its possess huge constellation of broadband satellites commencing in 2020.

Astronomers have tiny authorized recourse for the mild air pollution from the satellites, place author Jeff Foust of SpaceNews has pointed out. Space launches are authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration and the satellites are accredited by the Federal Communications Commission.

Yet another two launches of Starlink satellites are prepared for the relaxation of 2019.



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CRISPR Mice From China Could Help Save This Toddler From A Rare Genetic Form Of Epilepsy

CRISPR Mice From China Could Help Save This Toddler From A Rare Genetic Form Of Epilepsy


When Amber Freed first told doctors her baby boy wasn’t able to move his hands, they said that wasn’t possible.

Freed had given birth to twins in March 2017. While her baby girl, Riley, squirmed and babbled and crawled through the first year of her life, her fraternal twin, Maxwell, was different. He didn’t crawl or babble like Riley did. “I would fill out their baby books each month, and Riley had met all of these milestones. Maxwell didn’t reach one,” she said. Most alarmingly, however, Freed noticed that he never moved his hands.

She knew the news was going to be bad when they sent her to the “sad room” at the hospital, a featureless conference space filled with grim-faced doctors, to hear the diagnosis.

“You take your baby to the doctor and you say, ‘He can’t move his hands.’ And they look at you and they say, ‘Of course he can,’” said Freed.

“Then they look for themselves, and you can see from the look on their faces that they have never seen anything like this.”

On June 14, 2018, at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, Maxwell was diagnosed with a genetic disease called SLC6A1. The diagnosis explained why the infant hadn’t moved his hands or learned how to speak for the first year of his life, while Riley was thriving. But it didn’t explain much else: All the doctors who diagnosed Maxwell knew about the genetic disease came from a single five-page study published in 2014, the year of its discovery. It was too rare to even have a name, she was told, so the doctors just called it by the name of the affected gene: SLC6A1.

Now her 2½-year-old son is at the center of a multimillion-dollar race against time, one that’s come to include genetics researchers whom Freed personally recruited, paid for by $1 million that Freed and her husband, Mark, have raised themselves. At the center of their research will be specially crafted mutant mice that Freed paid scientists in China to genetically alter to have the same disease as Maxwell. The four mice are scheduled to arrive stateside next week, but Freed said she’s prepared to smuggle them into the US disguised as pets if there are any problems.

In total, Amber and Mark will need to raise as much as $7 million to test a genetic treatment for their child. And unless they can find — and fund — a cure, SLC6A1 will condemn Maxwell to severe epileptic seizures, most likely starting before he turns 3. The seizures may trigger developmental disabilities for a lifetime, often accompanied by aggressive behavior, hand flapping, and difficulty speaking.

And the Freeds will have to do it largely alone — there are only an estimated 100 other people diagnosed with SLC6A1 in the world. “This is the rarest of the rare diseases,” pediatric geneticist Austin Larson of the Children’s Hospital Colorado told BuzzFeed News.

SLC6A1 is just one of thousands of untreatable rare diseases, and the perilous path it has set up for Freed, half science quarterback and half research fundraiser, is one that few parents can follow. “My dream is to create a playbook of how I did this for those that come after me,” said Freed. “I never want there to be another family that has suffered like this.”

“You can think of SLC6A1 as a vacuum cleaner in the brain,” genetic counselor Katherine Helbig of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told BuzzFeed News. Helbig will speak at a conference on the gene at the American Epilepsy Society meeting in Baltimore on Dec. 5, an effort organized by Freed.

The protein made by the gene acts as a stop sign to message-carrying chemicals in the brain, halting them by vacuuming them up once they reach their destination brain cell, Helbig explained.

When one of the two copies of the SLC6A1 gene in every brain cell is damaged, like in Maxwell’s case, too little of its protein is available to perform its vacuuming duties, leading to miscommunication between cells, developmental disorders, autism-like symptoms, and, often, severe epileptic seizures.

Maxwell is about the age when epileptic seizures typically start in kids with the genetic disease, said Helbig, adding, “There probably are many more children out there who have it, but they just haven’t had the right test to find it.” At least 100 similar genetic defects cause similar kinds of epilepsy, afflicting about 1 in 2,000 kids, she said.

“I was the one who presented this diagnosis to Amber,” said Larson of the Children’s Hospital Colorado. There was no medicine or diet or any other treatment for SLC6A1. It wasn’t an easy conversation. “Most of the time when we present a diagnosis for a genetic condition, there is not a specific treatment available.”

“At that moment, it was just vividly clear that the only option was for me to create our own miracle,” said Freed. “Nobody else was going to help.”

Half the battle with a rare genetic disease is getting researchers interested, said Helbig.

“At that moment, it was just vividly clear that the only option was for me to create our own miracle. Nobody else was going to help.”

So that is what Freed set out to do. She quit her job as a financial analyst and started making phone calls to scientists, calling 300 labs in the first three months. For those who didn’t respond, she sent them snacks via Uber Eats.

Her search, and a rapid-fire education on genetic diseases, led her to conclude the best hope for helping Maxwell was an experimental technique called gene therapy.

All the roads zeroed in on one scientist: Steven Gray of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In 2018, a team headed by Gray reported the first human experiments of gene transfer by spinal injection, conducted in 5 to 10 children with mutations in a gene called GAN that causes swelling in brain cells.

The GAN gene transfer in that experiment, first tested in mice, attached a corrected version of the damaged gene to a harmless virus. Viruses reproduce by infecting cells and hijacking their DNA machinery to reproduce their own genes, making more viruses. The gene therapy virus in turn leaves behind a corrected gene in the DNA of cells they infect. Injected into the spinal cord, Gray’s virus can travel straight to the brain, leaving behind the corrected gene after the virus has run its course.

“I gave him my 30-second equity analyst pitch. I told him why Maxwell was a good patient, that we would raise $4 million to $7 million, and quarterback every step of the research,” she said. “And it worked. He agreed to make it a priority — if we could raise the money.”


Amber Freed

The SLC6A1 researchers with the Freeds at a science meeting. From left: Terry Jo Bichell, Frances Shaffo, Amber Freed, Katty Kang, and Mark Freed.

Less than a month after meeting Gray, Freed contacted a lab at Tongji University in Shanghai that was also researching SLC6A1. The lab agreed to develop a mouse with Maxwell’s specific mutation for less than $50,000, using a gene modification technology called CRISPR that has revolutionized genetic engineering in the lab. “CRISPR mice are much more expensive in the US, and this lab had experience with the gene,” said Freed.

By July of this year, an experiment with a gene therapy virus that corrects SLC6A1 was tested on normal lab mice, which showed no sign of a toxic response, an encouraging sign. And by September, a line of CRISPR mice with Maxwell’s exact genetic mutation had been created at Tongji University.

“It is the literal mouse version of him,” said Freed. “Testing a therapy in this mouse is as close as science can get to testing in my son directly.”

To pay for all this, Maxwell’s family started fundraising last November and organized the first medical symposium on SLC6A1 in New Orleans that same month. They opened a GoFundMe account, which has raised $600,000, and held 35 fundraisers, which raised an additional $400,000 by October. In one charity competition, Larson from the Colorado Children’s Hospital, who diagnosed Maxwell, personally helped her raise $75,000.

“It is the literal mouse version of him. Testing a therapy in this mouse is as close as science can get to testing in my son directly.”

That money is helping to pay for the next step — getting the CRISPR mice to Gray’s lab to test the SLC6A1-correcting virus on them. But it’s not as simple as putting the mice in a box and shipping them by mail. The mice will be transferred through a lab at Vanderbilt University headed by Katty Kang, an expert on the neurotransmitter disrupted by Maxwell’s mutation.

“Amber is helping us to advance science, and everyone is making this a priority because of the young lives at stake — not just Maxwell, but other children this could help,” Kang told BuzzFeed News.

Once the four mice arrive, they will spend several weeks in quarantine, be tested to make sure they have Maxwell’s specific “point” mutation in the SLC6A1 gene, and breed with normal lab mice to produce generations of mixed-inheritance mice to serve as controls in future experiments. The mutant mice will be closely monitored before they head to UT Southwestern to make sure that they demonstrate the same problems and genetics as human patients with SLC6A1 and can therefore be used in any future clinical trials of gene therapy.

Right now at UT Southwestern, results from a safety test of the gene therapy virus — conducted by Gray’s lab on young, normal lab mice — is awaiting publication. If that works out, once the Chinese mice are sent over, they will also receive the gene-correcting virus. His team will see if their symptoms improve and to what extent their brain cells accept the corrected gene.


Courtesy Amber Freed

Maxwell’s brain cells seen through a microscope (left), and a sample of his cells in a petri dish.

And then, Freed just needs another $5.5 million. Half a million dollars will go to test the virus in a second SLC6A1 animal model, likely a rat, as another safety step. Two million dollars will go toward creating more of the gene-correcting virus for a human safety study if that proves to be safe. And finally, if all that works out, $3 million will be needed to conduct the experiment on Maxwell and other children next year, following the path of the GAN clinical trial led by Gray.

“It’s a really horrible realization that the only thing standing in the way of a cure for your 2-year-old is money,” said Freed.

Freed acknowledges that she has only been able to pursue a cure for Maxwell because her family has the resources to do so — which she would never have had growing up in small towns in Texas, Montana, and Colorado in a poor family affected by alcoholism. “I grew up visiting my parents in rehab and knew what to say to put a family member on a 72-hour psychiatric hold by age 12,” she said. She dug herself out to build a career in finance, and hoped her kids would never have to experience the struggles she did growing up.

Even so, the fight hasn’t been easy on them — or on Maxwell’s sister, Riley.

Freed worries her daughter is growing up in doctors’ waiting rooms, waiting on treatments for her brother to end. Maxwell’s disease has progressed, causing him to constantly clench his fingers, and sometimes pull his sister’s hair. His 3-year-old sister will gently remind him, “Soft hands, Maxie.”

Families like the Freeds are at the forefront of efforts to turn diagnoses of rare genetic ailments, which often used to be the stopping point for medicine, into treatments. A similar case saw the family of a 3-year-old girl, Mila Makovec, raise $3 million for gene therapy to cure her Batten disease, a deadly genetic brain disease that affects 2 to 4 of every 100,000 children born in the US.

In a New England Journal of Medicine editorial on that case published in October, FDA officials questioned how high the agency should set the safety bar for such treatments, meant for severe diseases affecting so few people. In these cases, parents are often collaborators in developing treatments, and might not want to stop efforts that come with high risks. “Even in rapidly progressing, fatal illnesses, precipitating severe complications or death is not acceptable, so what is the minimum assurance of safety that is needed?” wrote senior FDA officials Janet Woodcock and Peter Marks.

“This is way beyond what anyone expects of families.”

Finally, Woodcock and Marks wrote, “finding sustainable funding for such interventions may prove challenging, because the cost of production can be quite substantial, particularly for gene therapies.”

In our era of financial inequality, the specter of wealthy parents buying custom genetic treatments for their children’s ailments — while other parents desperately resort to GoFundMe accounts, or else do nothing — looms as a possibility.

“This is way beyond what anyone expects of families,” said Larson. The pathway has been opened up by the brave new world of improved genetic diagnoses, and the coming of age of rapid genetic engineering tools like CRISPR.

But only 20 years ago, an experimental gene therapy that relied on a “harmless” virus killed an 18-year-old volunteer, Jesse Gelsinger, in a research misconduct case that brought gene therapy to a standstill. Now more than 2,500 gene therapy clinical trials have been conducted, and more than 370 are underway. The human genome was not sequenced until 2000; today, mapping an entire human gene map costs around $700. In this new era, customized treatments for rare genetic diseases like Maxwell’s are suddenly possible.

“What I hope is that we are paving the way for other parents to help their children,” said Freed.

Families of children with rare genetic diseases are also working together to make treatments like the one Freed is spearheading possible, said Larson.

“They support each other and work together,” he said. The best example might be the families of children with cystic fibrosis, who — through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the discovery of the gene responsible for the disease in 1989 — have pushed for the discovery of new drug treatments. In October, the FDA approved a “breakthrough” pharmaceutical that could treat 90% of cases.

“It is easier working with FDA on this kind of approach rather than starting from scratch,” Gray told BuzzFeed News by email. After all, he said, “it’s easier to follow a path that you’ve already walked down.”

Similarly, Freed hopes the SLC6A1 Connect advocacy group she started can lead to similar treatments for other children with genetic epilepsies caused by the gene.

“I don’t think any parent should be expected to single-handedly cure his or her child’s rare disease,” said Helbig. “Amber is a very tenacious and persistent person, and she will fight tooth and nail for her kids. But a lot of people don’t have the resources — and they shouldn’t have to.”

Helbig says that “cautious optimism” is appropriate on the chances of research yielding a genetic therapy for children like Maxwell. “For SLC6A1, it’s really too early to say whether this is going to work.”

But if it works, it might lead many more parents to get genetic tests for children that will reveal undiagnosed problems, she said. Many doctors discourage extensive genetic tests, thinking they won’t find anything helpful. In the absence of known treatments, insurers are also reluctant to pay for such tests, discouraging all but the most fortunate and resourceful parents. Even for them, there are no guarantees.

“The other tough reality is the possibility this treatment won’t be completed in time to help Maxwell,” said Freed. “I love him with every ounce of my being, and I want him to know that I did everything humanly possible to change his outcome.” ●



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A New UN Report Is Forecasting Potentially Catastrophic Warming

A New UN Report Is Forecasting Potentially Catastrophic Warming


The environment is on monitor to warm by a perhaps catastrophic 3.4 to 3.9 levels Celsius by 2100, in accordance to a dire new United Nations report examining recent local weather insurance policies.

The UN “Emissions Gap Report 2019,” posted on Tuesday, highlighted the urgent need for aggressive procedures to control emissions.

“We have to master from our procrastination. Any additional delay delivers the need for larger sized, far more expensive and not likely cuts,” Inger Andersen, government director of the United Nations Surroundings Application, wrote in the report’s foreword. “We can’t manage to fail.”

The amount of money of greenhouse fuel emissions is continuing to establish up in the environment year following year, hitting a file large of 55.3 gigatons of weather pollution (calculated in “carbon dioxide equivalent”) in 2018. The only way to prevent the most catastrophic local climate impacts is to speedily reverse this trend, a challenge that only gets more challenging the more time nations wait to choose motion.

The Paris local climate agreement, signed by hundreds of nations around the world in 2015, aimed to limit potential warming to 1.5 to 2 levels Celsius under pre-industrial degrees. Since then, the stakes have only risen. Researchers have figured out the weather is switching more rapidly than earlier imagined, and that even a slight boost in international temperatures could result in significant coral reef die-offs. An raise in excessive weather activities is currently hurting the financial state.

The annual UN report, which actions how considerably off-keep track of the planet is from assembly its local climate plans, concluded that world greenhouse gas emissions have to fall 7.5% every 12 months in excess of the future decade to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7% each and every calendar year to limit warming to 2 levels Celsius.

If the world experienced taken much better local weather action in 2010, by contrast, nations would have only had to minimize emissions .7% a yr to meet the 2-degree focus on and 3.3% to hit the 1.5-degree intention.

The Team of 20 (G20) nations account for most — about 78% — of the world’s emissions. Though in 2009 the team pledged that it would stage out fossil gasoline subsidies, no country has so significantly fully commited to undertaking so by a particular calendar year.

And various of these international locations are not on keep track of to fulfill their unique weather pledges to day, including the United States and Canada. President Donald Trump vowed in 2017 to withdraw the US from the Paris settlement, and his administration has aggressively rolled back again quite a few climate rules and initiatives in modern years.

Meanwhile, only five G20 participants, such as the European Union, have dedicated to eventually reaching net-zero emissions, meaning that they would release the identical quantity of emissions as they can pull out of the ambiance by means of normal or guy-created procedures.

Even if each individual region throughout the world was on keep track of to satisfy their said local weather targets, the entire world would nevertheless be headed to warming of extra than 3 levels Celsius by 2100, the report uncovered.

The new report also outlined measures for how certain G20 international locations can strengthen their weather motion heading ahead. The United States could apply carbon pricing to attain a carbon-totally free energy provide and to decrease industrial emissions, as nicely as employ new clean up making and vehicle benchmarks. Japan, India, and China could all aim to be coal-free. The European Union could cease investing in new fossil gas infrastructure, including all-natural gasoline pipelines.

“This report presents us a stark choice: set in movement the radical transformations we need now, or confront the penalties of a world radically altered by weather change,” UN’s Andersen wrote.

Planet leaders will gather in Madrid upcoming week at COP25, the UN’s conference on local climate improve, to hammer out the remaining facts of applying the Paris local climate arrangement and go over how nations can do far more to address the disaster.



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