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Public Health

Legalized fireworks can still be dangerous

This Wednesday, sales of fireworks become legal in Georgia.

Fireworks_June_23_2012The new law may make Saturday’s Fourth of July an especially explosive holiday.

Medical professionals urge safety when setting off fireworks, noting that many people end up in emergency rooms with injuries. This past weekend’s disaster at a crowded celebration in Taiwan, when decorative sprays of colored powder ignited and burned about 500 people, shows the danger of carelessness with potentially dangerous substances.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta says burns are the most common fireworks-related injury to all parts of the body except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occur more frequently.

Dr. Natalie Lane, medical director of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Emergency Department in Augusta, says, “A sparkler can burn as hot as a blowtorch; and, unfortunately, we have had to treat children with sparkler burns several times. But these are avoidable injuries, if families will carefully follow safety procedures.” full story

Smoking not extinguished in bars, restaurants

Ten years ago, the Georgia Legislature passed a law prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants. It was promoted as a way to improve “the health, comfort and environment’’ of Georgians.

Cigarette BurningThe law, still in effect, has some exemptions, including allowing smoking in an establishment if it prohibits entry to anyone under age 18.

Despite the 2005 law, a recent study from Georgia State University found some surprising results on smoking.

Researchers found that the percentage of Georgia restaurants and bars allowing smoking nearly doubled in the first six years after the law’s passage.

Georgia State researchers also found a significant number of owners taking advantage of exemptions in the law.

The percentage of restaurants and bars in Georgia that allowed smoking rose from 9.1 percent in 2006 to 17.6 percent in 2012, according to the study, published last month in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy. full story

State’s injury-related deaths relatively low

Georgia has a lower rate of injury-related deaths than most states, a new report finds.

The state had a rate of 58.1 injury deaths per 100,000 people, slightly below the national figure of 58.4 percent, according to the report, released Wednesday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44.

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Georgia ranked 35th-highest among states for the rate of injury deaths, which include — among other things — drug overdoses, motor vehicle crashes and homicides.

Injury rates in Georgia have decreased over the past four years, the report said. And while drug overdose deaths have more than doubled in the past 14 years, the report said, Georgia ranked ninth-lowest among states in these fatalities.  full story

Poison center fields more calls on synthetic pot

Georgia and other states are seeing a rise in poison center calls that are linked to use of synthetic marijuana.

Gaylord Lopez

Gaylord Lopez

The CDC reported last week that between January and May, poison centers in 48 states reported receiving 3,572 calls related to the use of what scientists call synthetic cannabinoids.

That’s a 229 percent increase from the 1,085 calls received during the same period in 2014. The national figures include 15 reported deaths.

Hundreds of synthetic marijuana cases have occurred this year in Mississippi, Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center, said Monday.

The Georgia center said it received 30 calls on synthetic cannabinoids during the first five months of this year, up from 16 in the same period during the previous two years.  full story

A letter to GHN about kidney disease

To the Editor,

In 2004, I wasn’t feeling well and went to the doctor, only to find out that my kidneys weren’t working. I began dialysis immediately and was put on the waiting list for a transplant. This was the toughest thing I ever went through in my life, and I want to help others avoid what I went through.

Over 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease (CKD), yet only 10 percent are aware they have it. full story

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