Toxic chemical factory on fire…
The Lubrizol plant, which caught fire on September 26, manufactures lubricant additives for engines and fuels. On account of these chemicals, the plant is classed as a Seveso site, along with 1,170 other such sites in France.
These industrial sites are named after the town of Seveso in Northern Italy, where a devastating industrial accident occurred in 1976. Excessively high levels of toxic dioxin were released into the air. In the aftermath, European-wide campaigns were launched to better identify and classify high-risk industrial sites, including the Lubrizol plant.
In and around Rouen, the Lubrizol plant’s fire generated a 22-km-long and 6-km-wide dark cloud that, driven by the prevailing winds, eventually escaped towards Northern France and Belgium. So far, the precise composition of the cloud has not yet been made public, although the authorities, along with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, have promised full transparency.
As a reminder, the Seveso accident in July 1976 exposed a large residential population to substantial amounts of 2,3,7,8-tetraclorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD). The early effects of this TCDD exposure have been investigated in numerous studies. The only short-term effect definitely linked to the TCDD exposure is chloracne, skin lesions caused by contact of uncovered body parts with caustic chemicals. These skin lesions became apparent on the sixth day following the accident, with 187 cases diagnosed by an expert panel, of which 164 (88%) concerned children.
The potential long-term effects of the Seveso disaster are still under investigation. Mortality and morbidity data analyses pertaining to a 20-year follow-up period were published in 2013 in the Industrial Health journal (1), providing evidence of increased incidence rates of certain cancers, such as lympho-hematopoietic neoplasm, digestive cancer, and respiratory cancer. The follow-up of the Seveso cohort is still in progress.
Reference: 1) Pesatori AC, Consonni D, Bachetti S, et al. Short- and long-term morbidity and mortality in the population exposed to dioxin after the "Seveso accident". Ind Health 2003;41:127-138.
Five common stylistic errors in medical papers
Publishing articles in scientific journals is the most effective means of disseminating research data. However, an inappropriate style renders a scientific paper less legible and comprehensible, thus reducing its impact. Here are some tips for avoiding common stylistic blunders.
- Use “male” and “female” as adjectives rather than nouns. For example, it is more accurate to
write “a 75-year-old woman” or “a 75-year-old female patient” than simply “a 75-year old
- Always put an article before body parts and organs. For example, you should write “the
lungs” or “the arms”; the exception is when you are enumerating several organs (e.g., “the
bones, joints, and tendons”).
- The words “case” and “patient” are often used interchangeably, although they are not
synonymous. A “patient” is an individual with a particular disease, while a “case” refers to a
disease with its attendant circumstances.
- Tackle grammar and punctuation. There are rules for grammar and punctuation that you
must respect. A book that we strongly recommend is Strunk&White: The Elements of Style.
- There’s no need to purchase this textbook, as you can access it through the following link
and be delighted by its instructive content!
Hemophilia: the royal disease
Leopold, Queen Victoria’s eighth child, was the only one of her sons affected by hemophilia. As the current royal family is descended from Edward VII—Victoria’s first son, who was free from the disease—the entire royal family has turned out to be hemophilia-free. In fact, none of Queen Victoria’s living descendants carry hemophilia.
However, Queen Victoria had at least two daughters who were disease carriers: Alice and Beatrice. Alice, Queen Victoria’s third child, passed the hemophilia condition to the German and Russian imperial families. Among Alice’s six children, three sons suffered from hemophilia, while two daughters, Irene and Alix, were disease carriers.
Irene married her first cousin, Prince Henry of Prussia, and gave birth to two hemophiliac sons. Alix married Tsar Nikolas II. By this means, she carried the bleeding disorder into the Russian imperial family. She gave birth to four daughters prior to having her long-awaited son Alexis.
The first sign that young Alexis was affected by the disease was the unusual bleeding from his navel shortly after birth. As he grew older, he repeatedly suffered from bleedings in his joints along with excruciating pain. While Tsar Nikolas II and Tsarine Alix were preoccupied with their son’s bleeding condition, the state affairs in Russia deteriorated, and the entire family, including young Alexis, ended up being executed.
Vincent van Gogh and his several illnesses
Based on the almost 30 different diagnoses attributed to van Gogh, one must assume that his medical conditions attracted the attention of a great many twentieth-century physicians. These diagnoses ranged from lead poisoning to Ménière’s disease and passed through a wide variety of psychiatric conditions.
Several experts have recognized the role of absinthe in the periodicity of van Gogh’s mental perturbations. Associated with this was an underlying epileptoid limbic dysfunction, from which van Gogh’s great creativity may have arisen, according to several experts. Nevertheless, every time this limbic dysfunction became overly intense, it would render him severely ill.
At an earlier time, the painter suffered from at least two depressive episodes. Both episodes were followed by periods of manic behavior. During one of these episodes, van Gogh acted as a voluntary missionary, preaching to the poor miners of the Belgian Borinage. At that time, he developed a sort of altruistic religious mania. However, he failed miserably at his mission, and his career as an evangelist thereby ended.
His second episode of mania took place in Paris and was reflected by an increasingly elevated mood. However, at the same time, he became extremely quarrelsome and overly talkative. During the last two years of his life, the great artist suffered from recurring psychotic episodes. At the age of 37, van Gogh committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest with a revolver.