Health Highlights: Nov. 30, 2008

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Sunday, November 30, 2008; 12:00 AM

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Proposed Regulation Would Delay Workplace Toxic Chemical Control, Opponents Say

In a final effort to pass a series of procedures in keeping with its governmental philosophy, the Bush administration is attempting to implement a new rule that would add another step in regulating possible toxic substances to which workers are exposed, the New York Times reports.

The Labor Department's regulation, opposed by President-elect Barack Obama, would require U.S. government agencies to analyze "industry-by-industry evidence" of specific chemical of other substances' effect on employees over their entire working life, the newspaper reports. This would add a step that public health officials and employee groups say would delay improving health standards in the work place.

The new regulation is supported by a number of business groups and has been opposed in the U.S Senate, with Obama as one of the opposition leaders, the Times reports. But administration representatives told the newspaper that the new regulation is misunderstood,.

"This proposal does not affect the substance or methodology of risk assessments, and it does not weaken any health standard," Leon R. Sequeira, the assistant secretary of labor for policy, told the newspaper.

Among the chemicals and toxic substances the Times lists as falling under Labor Department control are asbestos, benzene, cotton dust, formaldehyde, lead, vinyl chloride and blood-borne pathogens.

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FDA Sets Acceptable Melamine Threshold for Infant Formula

Reversing a decision made less than two months earlier, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday announced an allowable threshold of 1 part per million of the chemical melamine in baby formula, the Associated Press reports.

The wire service reports that the FDA's decision actually allows for more melamine than has been found in U.S.-made baby formula. The one caveat is that this amount is allowable only if other related chemicals aren't present, the A.P. reports.

And, as it did Nov. 26, the FDA reiterated that the baby formulas that were tested are absolutely safe.


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