Short items

Royal Society report calls for realistic chemical attack drills

The report claims the UK has made progress in planning for chemical attacks, but that exercises did not include tests of how hospitals might cope. The Government Decontamination Service was criticised for only running ’desktop’ rehearsals and not having enough scientific expertise. The report also raised concern over coordination of responses to an attack, saying responsibility is spread too thinly.
The Guardian,  15 December 2009 

Bhopal 25 years on

A quarter of a century after a massive leak of methyl isocyanate killed thousands in the Indian city of Bhopal, contamination of the site could still be causing medical problems for survivors and their children. Various reports show high levels of pesticides and carcinogens in drinking water, and rates of birth defects up to 10 times the national average. 
The Guardian,  2 December 2009 

UK TV copycats hospitalised

Students from a Northamptonshire school were taken to hospital after drinking laboratory ethanol stolen from a science lesson. This is the third such incident in UK schools, potentially linked to a recent story in the BBC drama Waterloo Road. The students did not suffer any ill effects and are back at school.
Independent,  11 December 2009 

Mr Squiggles exonerated 

US consumer group GoodGuide’s claim that Go Go Hamster Mr Squiggles contains too much antimony has been rebuffed by Cepia LLC which makes the toy. The x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis used by GoodGuide was described as ’inferior’ by Cepia, whose own inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) analysis shows antimony levels of less than 2ppm, compared to GoodGuide’s figure of 93-106ppm. 
Financial Times,  8 December 2009