Testing It Up » January 2009

Monthly Archives: January 2009

Drug Testing

5 Ways to Keep Yourself Away from Date Rape Drugs

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For people who are fond of partying out, this one is for you. To ensure that you do not fall prey to sexual predators, you must always be mindful of what you drink or eat when you’re out having fun.

A ‘date rape drug’ is any kind of drug that is added to foods or drinks at parties with the aim of knocking a person down so he or she can be taken without resistance. Pretty cruel, right? So how can you prevent yourself from being a victim?

wine1) Never go out alone. Always be in the company of trusted friends so that you can watch out for one another.

2) Never accept open drinks in a party, whether it’s alcoholic or not, especially from strangers. Avoid drinks which are in punch bowls, pitchers or tubs. Stick to drinks in unopened bottles or cans.

3) Get your drink straight from the bartender and never from a stranger. Also, hold your drink at all times since it would be easy for somebody to slip the drug into your drink if it’s unattended.

4) Be observant. If you feel that there’s something wrong or overheard someone talking about anything related to drugs, leave the place immediately. It is very important that you don’t drink too much and stay sober while partying so you can keep yourself safe all night long.

5) Finally, you may bring along a date rape drug test kit. It is a brand new defense against date rape drugs. It is simple to use – you just have to dip the testing strips or coasters into your drink and if they change color, then it was spiked with date rape drugs.

Drug Testing

Your Hair Tells All (through Hair Follicle Testing)

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There are several methods of detecting alcohol and drugs in a person’s body. This includes urine, saliva, spray or sweat, and hair follicle tests. Hair follicle testing is considered to be highly accurate and can verify the presence of prescription drugs, controlled drugs and even nicotine from smoking. It can also provide information about the quantity of consumption and the pattern of use.

hair strandIn hair follicle drug testing, it is not the follicle that is being analyzed but the shaft of the hair. Ingested drugs are carried throughout your blood vessels and are deposited in the papilla, the one which produces the hair strand. The drug metabolites on the papilla are grown into the cortex or the middle region of the hair. This is why shampooing your hair like crazy will not help you cheat on this test.

Standard hair follicle screen covers a period of 30 to 90 days. The growth of hair is usually at the rate of 1.5 inches per month. The hair sample is cut as close to the scalp and 80 to 120 strands of hair are needed for the test. In the absence of hair on the head, body hair can be used as an acceptable substitute.

Drugs that can be detected in a standard hair test are cocaine, marijuana, opiates (Codeine, Morphine & 6-Monacteyl Morphine), methamphetamines (Methamphetamine/Amphetamine & Ecstasy), and phencyclidine (PCP).

Hair follicle testing has received a lot of attention, with debates on the issue of parents using this method on their children getting some heat. While some parents saw the convenience of submitting their child’s hair clippings for drug tests, some groups still argue that this violates the child’s rights. Well, how about the parent’s rights (as well as duty) to look after his or her child?

Home Health Hazards

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Incidents in Chicago and Portsmouth

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Several children were sent to the hospital in separate incidents in Chicago and Portsmouth.

carbon-monoxideAbout 50 teenagers attending an event at a Boys and Girls Club in Chicago’s West Side on Monday afternoon were evacuated after a carbon monoxide leak was detected on the premises. They were in the club to listen to NFL players from the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings speak. The guests had already left before the club was evacuated.

The leak was said to have been caused by a faulty furnace. The club called in the fire department after three kids started showing signs of carbon monoxide intoxication. They conducted a test on the air, which confirmed high levels of carbon monoxide than normal. Eleven children were sent to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but no one was reported seriously injured.

The same afternoon, 14 people, which included 12 children between the ages of 2 and 14 and two adults, were taken to local hospitals for evaluation for carbon monoxide poisoning in Portsmouth. The children in the day care center of the Centenary United Methodist Church suddenly started throwing up inexplicably, which prompted the people responsible to call in the fire department.

Just as in Chicago, a test of the surrounding air resulted in high carbon monoxide levels. All of the children in the day care center were assessed, and some displayed minor symptoms of intoxication. The 14 people sent to the hospital were treated as a precaution. A boiler on the first floor of the building was determined as the source of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is a compound that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. As such, it is rather difficult to monitor its levels in the surrounding air. Since it is highly toxic, it is beneficial to install carbon monoxide detectors or to have carbon monoxide test kits available in enclosed areas, especially those with children.

Chicago Health Screening

Substance Abuse

Patrick Ward as Acting Head for Drug Control

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Office of National Drug Control PolicyAs the Bush administration wound down its operations prior to Obama’s inauguration last January 20, the outgoing president announced the appointment of the Acting Deputy Director for Supply Reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy as the new Acting Director. Patrick Ward will temporarily replace incumbent director John Walters, whose stint as ONDCP Director is co-terminus with the man who put him there.

Patrick Ward is a former Air Force officer who joined the supply reduction team in 2005. He was eventually appointed as Acting Deputy Director for the team in December 2007.

In his former role, Ward was responsible for curbing the supply of illegal drugs in the US. Among his new responsibilities, at least until after President Obama names his successor, will be to provide “executive leadership in the interagency and international environment” and handle the “development of national policy and strategy, focusing and overseeing all U.S. programs and activities involved in achieving the supply reduction goals of the National Drug Control Strategy, and countering the nexus between illegal drugs and terrorism.”

Who the directorship of the ONDCP will eventually go to is still unclear. Obama has named almost all the members of his Cabinet, but has yet to show any signs of where the ONDCP is headed and to whose hands it will go under his administration.

There is speculation that two people are being considered for the job. Representative Jim Ramstad, a Republican from Minnesota, is said to be a contender for the position, as is former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townshend.

The Obama transition team at the ONDCP, however, is not letting slip any hints as far as the nomination process for the director is concerned, as well as the timeframe for the choosing of the successful candidate. This transition team officially ended their work on Inauguration Day.

Substance Abuse

Keep Your Kids Away From Drugs!

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crack-cocaineWhile recent data may indicate that drug abuse in teens has been controlled in many states as compared with previous years, the level of teenage drug abuse remains at disturbing levels.

According to several studies, a child exposed to drug abuse early in life is more likely to develop serious drug-related problems in adulthood. Substance abuse during teenage years generally leads to a wide array of many other problems that affect not only the child, but also his family and his community.

In order to ward off the menace of drug abuse, parents can do preventive measures to ensure that their children grow and remain drug-free.

1)  Make sure that your children are fully aware of the addictive qualities of certain drugs. Education is the first and best weapon to successfully defeat the enemy. It is not enough to tell them not to do something. They must fully understand why they must not do it.

2)  Clearly set and enforce the rules against the use of drug, alcohol and tobacco inside and even outside of the home.

3)  Be honest with your children. If possible, share personal experiences as well as past mistakes. Learning from the experience of parents can be helpful to the children.

4)  Work on your children’s level of confidence by freely discussing issues and concerns that may affect them. Having a strong sense of conviction would help them to stand firmly against peer pressure.

5) Know where your children are and who they usually mingle with, but do this without prying or invading their privacy. Be genuinely concerned on your child’s activities and friends.

6) Ensure that you keep your kids active and involved in positive activities such as joining fitness programs and volunteer community work. Using their time, energy and talent to do meaningful tasks will bring them a natural high that is so much better than when using illegal drugs.

Drug Testing

Texas to Implement Drug Testing for Food Stamp Recipients

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texas2A new Texas bill that is set to take effect by September 2009 will require applicants for food stamps to submit themselves to drug testing before being granted eligibility.

The bill, which is set to be entitled “An Act Relating to the Eligibility and Drug Testing of Certain Persons Seeking Food Stamp Benefits”, has four sections. Section 1 discusses the terms in which drug testing will be used as a prerequisite to food stamp eligibility.

Prospective applicants convicted of certain offenses as described in Section 1, Subsection (b) of the bill for a five-year period before applying for food stamp privileges must submit to drug testing. If the test gives a positive reading for controlled substances and prescription drugs that the applicant does not have a prescription for, the applicant is deemed ineligible for food stamp privileges.

The ineligibility will last for a period of one year, after which the applicant may then reapply. He or she will then be required to submit to additional monthly drug tests. Monthly drug tests will also be required of eligible applicants while they are enjoying the benefits of the food stamp program.

If a person is determined as ineligible, he or she is informed about the results of the testing and the proposed denial of the application for food stamp benefits. A second drug test or any other appropriate method deemed reasonable will then be administered to confirm the initial findings. The applicant will also be given the opportunity to be heard publicly regarding the drug test results before a final denial is imposed.

The Food Stamp Program in Texas is managed by the Texas Health and Human Resources Commission to ensure that even low-income families and individuals within the jurisdiction of the state are able to buy food for nourishment. Food stamp benefits usually last for a 6-month period, but can be given for as little as a month or as long as three years.

The benefits are enjoyed through the Lone Star Card, which is used like a credit card to pay for food purchases. The monthly food allowance awarded to the family or individual is stored in the card’s account.

Alcohol Testing Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Philippines to Conduct Random Student Drug Testing in February

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The Department of Education in Manila, the Philippines, has announced that it will push through with its planned random drug testing on high school and college students, despite opposition from the Commission of Human Rights. Testing is scheduled to commence on February 2, is expected to involve up to 85,000 students and will run until October.

The testing will begin in the Philippines’ three major cities – the capital, Manila, in Luzon island in the northern Philippines, Cebu City in the Visayas region in the central Philippines, and Davao City in the island of Mindanao, the premiere city in the southern Philippines.

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Testing will be done in two stages. The first stage will involve urine sampling. Those samples that will test positive for illegal drugs will be examined further in the second stage, termed the ‘confirmatory’ test. For this stage, a student who will test positive will be provided with a drug testing kit, complete with chemical solutions and specimen bottles needed for drug testing.

This is not the first time that the Philippines will conduct random drug testing in schools, but this is by far the largest effort in terms of the population that will be tested. In 2005, the government conducted random testing on 30 students from 17 different schools from the various regions of the country.

At this time, no implementing rules and guidelines have been set for the execution of the testing. These guidelines will most probably be patterned after the process followed in 2005.

While this drug testing effort will be wider in scope than the previous testing, it will still only reach a small fraction of the population – only 4% of the country’s estimated seven million secondary and tertiary students. This population, however, will be enough to identify the regions where illegal drug use in campuses is prevalent.

This information will, in turn, assist the Department of Education, as well as the Dangerous Drugs Board, in setting up drug intervention efforts such as education and counseling where they are needed the most.

Early Disease Detection

HIV Infection Up, But AIDS Fatalities Down in Iowa

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The Iowa Department of Health has released HIV and AIDS-related statistics for 2008. Since AIDS became reportable in Iowa in 1983, the Department saw a decline in AIDS-related deaths last year.

aidsThe number of people living with the HIV infection has increased, despite a relatively low new diagnosis rate when compared to previous years. What this may mean is that despite being incurable, HIV/AIDS is now slowly becoming manageable with the emergence of new drugs. It may even come to a point where, as opposed to being an immediate death sentence, contracting AIDS may no longer be a cause for decrease in the life expectancy of a patient.

As of 2008, there are 1,567 confirmed cases of HIV and AIDS in Iowa, of which 642 are HIV cases and the remaining 925 have full-blown AIDS. During the first quarter of 2008, 49 new cases of HIV infection were diagnosed, down 10 from the count of 59 recorded during the first quarter of 2007. An estimated 566 more people may be also be infected but have yet to be diagnosed, according to the Health Department.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which attacks the body by weakening the immune system. This disables the body’s ability to fight diseases and some cancers.

Randy Mayer, Iowa spokesman for public health, reports 32 deaths from AIDS in 2008. Comparing this to 102 deaths in 1995, this is a significant drop. Unprotected sex is still the leading cause of HIV infection in Iowa. Most of the infected patients are men.

Beyond Iowa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there may be up to a million HIV/AIDS cases in the United States at this time, but a quarter of that statistic do not know that they have the virus yet. Of the new infections that are diagnosed each year, 75% are men.

DNA & Paternity

Husband Sues Ex-Wife for Paternity Fraud

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For seventeen years, Mark Webb raised a daughter with his wife, Lydia Chapman. At least, that was what he thought.

It was not until his alleged daughter turned eighteen in 2004 that he found out the truth — he was not the child’s father. So what was he doing raising a daughter and spending for a child that wasn’t even his?

This scandal is now the cause of a court battle between the ex-spouses, with Webb crying foul. Webb has filed a case against his ex-wife for allegedly deceiving him over the paternity of her child.

The girl was conceived in 1985, and since Webb and Chapman were married at that time, he had no second thoughts about claiming the child as his own. The girl is officially registered on record as the couple’s daughter. Unknown to him, though, his then wife Lydia was actually carrying on an illicit affair with another man during that time.

Webb suspects further that the real father is in on the deception. He thinks that the affair went on after the birth of the child and Chapman and her lover deliberately planned to let him believe that the child was his. From a financial standpoint, Webb supported their ‘daughter’, without any contribution from the real father.

helixMark Webb claims that he found out that he was not the girl’s father through a paternity test performed when the child turned 18 in 2004. This is being refuted by his ex-wife Lydia, who claims that she came clean about the child’s real paternity in 2002, before she filed for divorce in 2003. How a difference of two years in the length of deception can make it any better escapes me.

The justices hearing and trying the case are one in feeling a sense of misfortune for all the parties involved in this case. Webb’s bid to take the case up to the House of Lords was denied by the appeal court.

Click here to see more on paternity testing.

Home Health Hazards

Vermont Residents and the Asbestos Mine

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The Vermont Asbestos Group Mine closed in 1993, but it is still stirring controversy in the thirteen towns near the Belvidere Mountain area where it was located. Fourteen hospitalizations and five deaths are thought to have been due to the adverse health effects of asbestos.

A report from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont Department of Health show that there may be a reason to study further the health risks brought about by past mining activities.

asbestosThis conclusion was drawn from analyzing data gathered from towns that are within a ten-mile radius of the mine, and while the study may have had its limits, there is a noticeable statistical link between the occurrence of asbestos-related disease in communities within the mine’s vicinity. It was determined that risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases triples with geographic exposure to asbestos mines.

Asbestos used to be a staple material in American homes until the 1970s for insulation, floor and roofing tiles and tile glues. When the adverse health effects of the material were discovered, agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the OSHA and the CDC have attempted to ban the mineral from commercial use.

Until now, though, asbestos still finds its way into the market, but the attempts to ban it had significantly limited the quantities to which the American public may be exposed to.

Proximity to an area that has been mined for asbestos, though, is a different story. The removal of asbestos-based products will do nothing to exposure. Asbestos fibers enter the body through inhalation, and may lead to a number of diseases.

The most notable among these diseases is mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer that is usually not detected until it is already in its advanced stage, sometimes up to three decades after exposure. This means that the 14 hospitalizations and 5 deaths in the area at this time is just the tip of the iceberg. Diseases may not manifest themselves until the 2020s.

The most the authorities can do as of now is to warn people about staying away from the property. The mine is closed, but outdoor enthusiasts such as all-terrain vehicle drivers use the property for their activities.