“It may be important for people to consider removing scented spray cleaning products from their cleaning routine. We believe that the smell of a healthy home is no smell at all.”
The study was published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The study used data from 2,022 children enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development cohort study and examined their daily, weekly and monthly exposure to 26 types of household cleaners — including dishwashing and laundry detergents, cleaners, disinfectants, polishes, and air fresheners.
By the age of three, 7.9 per cent of those living in homes where cleaning products were used frequently had asthma. That’s compared to nearly five per cent diagnosed from homes that used low amounts of products.
Data were collected between 2008 and 2015.
Researchers also found the relationship between product exposure and respiratory problems was much stronger in girls than boys.
Lead researcher Tim Takaro of Simon Fraser University noted infants typically spend most of their time indoors and come in regular contact with household surfaces, making them especially vulnerable to chemical exposure.
The findings suggest that small, preventive changes could help families with children at risk of asthma. That could include choosing cleaning products that are not sprayed or contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases emitted from solids or liquids that can be found in aerosol sprays, paints, glue, cleansers and disinfectants.
Health Canada recommends reducing VOC exposure, noting health effects may include breathing problems, irritation of eyes, nose and throat, and headaches.
But manufacturers in Canada and the United States are not required to list all ingredients in cleaning products. Some “green” products may also contain harmful substances, said the study.
The findings were not surprising to Toronto evironmental journalist Candice Batista, whose website The Eco Hub promotes environmentally conscious Canadian brands and companies.
“There’s been tonnes and tonnes of studies that show that indoor air pollution can be five to 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution. And that’s thanks mostly in part to the products and the cleaning items that we have in the home,” said Batista.
While it can be confusing for consumers to know what ingredients could add to indoor pollution, Batista suggested eco-conscious shoppers look for ingredients that use common terms and are easy to read, and avoid those that contain ammonia, coal tar dyes and fragrance or parfum.
“If a label has the word ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ on it, avoid it. Don’t buy it,” she said, noting the term generally involves undisclosed chemicals.
“Companies, through loopholes in Health Canada’s legislation, are allowed to use those terms to protect their proprietary concoction.”
Those looking to freshen their home with less harmful options can consider a diffuser or candle scented with essential oils, she said, while recipes abound for alternative homemade cleaners. Common do-it-yourself concoctions use hydrogen peroxide or vodka to disinfect, and vinegar and baking soda as a soap substitute, she said.
The research team on the study included experts at Simon Fraser University; the University of British Columbia; McMaster University; the University of Alberta; the University of Manitoba; the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Funding came from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network of Centres of Excellence.
—By Cassandra Szklarski in Toronto
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2020.
The Canadian Press
Ontario needs 900 new ICU beds to cope with coming surge in COVID-19 patients, models suggest – CBC.ca
Ontario will have to add nearly 900 new intensive-care beds to its existing supply to be able to handle the surge in COVID-19 patients forecast under the best-case scenario in provincial models of the pandemic.
The province has an estimated 415 ICU beds available now, as the Ford government attempts to create the hundreds of new spaces experts expect they’ll need.
The additional beds would result in an approximate total of 1,300 dedicated ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.
The models released by the province on Friday suggest an increase in demand that could, in the best-case scenario, peak on April 18, but remain below Ontario’s total capacity if all 900 new beds are made available by then.
In the worst-case scenario, demand for ICU beds would rise sharply until at least the end of April, exceeding the province’s capacity as early as April 14, even with all 900 new spaces.
However, that scenario will likely never come to pass, as signs indicate that the number of COVID-19 patients isn’t actually increasing as quickly as researchers thought it would.
Health officials say a continued commitment to physical distancing will help Ontario avoid the untenable strain on hospitals suggested by the worst-case numbers.
“If we can keep the prevalence of the disease to a lower level, the capacity that we have online, or that we could bring online, would indeed be sufficient,” said Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health.
The latest models also suggest that between 3,000 and 15,000 people will die of COVID-19 in Ontario during the pandemic. The model also forecasts 80,000 total cases by the end of April.
Few ICU beds remain at several GTA hospitals
Data obtained by CBC News shows a rapidly dwindling number of ICU beds in the Greater Toronto Area.
Just nine critical-care beds remain available among the 153 ICU beds in the hospitals of the Central Local Health Integration Network. Reports also show just 18 ICU beds available among the 130 critical care beds among the hospitals in the Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network
The Ontario government has given permission to all hospitals in the province to expand their capacity for COVID-19 patients, though it is not yet clear if they will have the staff necessary to accommodate that growth.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is recruiting retired nurses, medical students and other volunteers to help staff overstretched hospital departments.
Elliott said other hospitals may begin renting hotels, motels or retirement homes to increase capacity. Others, she said, are using field hospitals to prepare for the influx of patients.
“That is something that is calibrated on an hour-by-hour basis, depending on where the outbreaks are happening,” Elliott said on Friday.
“We are ready to go, depending on where the hotspots are with COVID-19 and what each individual hospital needs, but they all have an individual plan in place right now to expand their capacity.”
There’s a ‘war being fought,’ emergency doctor warns
But some frontline workers say there’s not much more room to expand past their current capacity.
Dr. Brett Belchetz, a Toronto emergency room physician, said although their hospital isn’t yet overrun, they’re not far from their limit.
“If volumes are going to go up tremendously … we certainly will very quickly be in a situation where we will not have the equipment or the space or the supplies to care for those people,” Belchetz said in an interview with CBC Toronto.
Although he said fewer COVID-19 patients are arriving at his emergency room, most of the people who are coming in are quite sick.
And what people need to understand, Betchez said, is that “there is a war being fought out there.”
If the province’s COVID-19 restrictions are unsuccessful, he said there won’t be enough ventilators to help all patients who are critically ill.
“The only way that we can stop that from happening is to prolong the outbreak to make sure we don’t have all those cases at the same time,” Beltchetz said.
“We cannot let our guard down.”
Google Mobility Reports a slippery slope: cyber security expert – Global News
In an effort to assist governments with ensuring residents are remaining in their homes during the COVID-19 outbreak Google has provided Mobility Reports which depict growing and shrinking trends in a number of activities.
In both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick the sections outlining retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, transit use and attending the workplace all declined significantly.
READ MORE: Nova Scotia surpasses 200 COVID-19 cases
However, two other sections actually saw increases: residential, which refers to time spent at home, climbed by eight percent in New Brunswick and five in Nova Scotia. But the other – parks – rose dramatically by 101 per cent and 95, respectively.
For Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, the last section continues to be a source of frustration while a state of emergency continues in the province.
“At a glance, Nova Scotia is not doing well when it comes to staying away from our parks and beaches,” he said Friday before the conclusion of the day’s COVID-19 update with Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
“We don’t need online graphs to tell us what we need to do. We need to stay the blazes home.”
This type of data tracking isn’t new, nor is the idea of government’s using it to keep tabs on their citizens.
Coronavirus outbreak: ‘Critical time’ as Nova Scotia sees signs of community spread, officials say
But it’s what’s done in the coming weeks and months surrounding the use of this technology that some cyber security experts say requires strong surveillance.
“History shows us governments, when they take on emergency powers during a crisis, don’t generally give those powers back,” explained David Shipley, CEO of Beauceron Security, a Fredericton firm that specializes in helping businesses become and remain secure online. “Any attempts to use this data has to have some careful consideration given to the sunset clauses.”
“We need to know that after this emergency is over clearly they’re going to stop using that data and they’re going to delete the data they have gained,” he said.
Within the current climate, residents have been asked to remain at home as much as possible to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Tracking devices during this state of emergency can certainly help give local governments and law enforcement a better idea of how well that is or isn’t being observed.
But Shipley warns that the data gained from tracking mobile users isn’t foolproof and could lead to problems if used to target or surveil individuals, rather than amass information.
“The data can be flawed,” Shipley said.
“The data accuracy of location data depends on the quality of the measurement,” he explained. “If you’re a person living in an urban area in Atlantic Canada like Halifax and you’re close to your wifi and other data points, the more data points the more accurate it is.”
“But if you’re living in rural Atlantic Canada and you only have the cell phone signal for example, maybe not the GPS data, it can be as inaccurate as a couple of miles.”
The possibility of the data coming through inaccurately Shipley says should influence how it’s used, likening it to political polls rather than a scientific study.
Driver dies of COVID-19 weeks after complaining of passenger’s cough
He says while it can be used as a guide, citing how a mobility report uptick in trips to parks could then be followed up on, it’s critical that the way people’s personal data is monitored closely and their right to privacy isn’t taken away unknowingly.
“Using good data to make public policy decisions at an aggregate, anonymous level, again with respect to individual privacy and ultimately freedom, there’s potential,” he explained. “But tracking down individuals and treating us all like we’re under house arrest is a future I don’t think we signed up for.”
Although right now there’s no indication individual surveillance is being considered, it’s not that far-fetched according to Shipley who says it’s already ongoing elsewhere in the world.
“We actually saw examples in Asia, South Korea and Taiwan, where folks who took their devices off of them actually got visits from police because now they couldn’t be tracked,” Shipley explained. “If people start knocking on your doors to make sure you’re respecting quarantine because you haven’t had your device on you, well that’s effectively house arrest.”
“Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
UBC researcher heading up team testing drug that might treat COVID-19 – CityNews Vancouver
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A drug that might be a treatment for COVID-19 will soon be tested by an international team led by a researcher at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Josef Penninger says early infection may be blocked by medication targeting the virus, which is similar to SARS.
“Our previous work has helped to rapidly identify ACE2 as the entry gate for SARS-CoV-2, which explains a lot about the disease. Now we know a soluble form of ACE2 that catches the virus away, could be indeed a very rational therapy that specifically targets the gate the virus must take to infect us. There is hope for this horrible pandemic,” he explains.
The professor in the faculty of medicine is also the director of the Life Sciences Institute and the Canada 150 Research Chair in Functional Genetics at UBC.
Clinical trials of a drug that might block #COVID19 will soon be done by an international research team headed by @ubc‘s Dr. Josef Penninger.
He says early infection MIGHT be blocked by medication targeting the virus which is similar to SARS. @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) April 3, 2020
The focus of the study, partially funded by the Canadian federal government, is trying to keep COVID-19 from infecting blood vessels and kidneys.
“We are hopeful our results have implications for the development of a novel drug for the treatment of this unprecedented pandemic,” Penninger says in a release issued by UBC.
Clinical trials for this anti-viral therapy called APN01 (human recombinant soluble angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 – hrsACE2) will be handled by the European biotech company Apeiron Biologics.
Emergency funding from Ottawa will focus on accelerating the development, testing, and implementation of measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
NEWS 1130 has reached out to the doctor in charge of the project but he is currently in Vienna.
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