New asthma inhaler encounters rough changeover
Millions who suffer from asthma and lung disease will have to change inhalers by the end of the year, and it may be difficult for many people.
In 2005, the federal government passed a law banning most uses of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which are used as propellants in numerous inhalers. The change comes as a result of a 1987 treaty to protect the earth’s ozone layer.
However, the cost of a CFC-free inhaler is three times as much as an old inhaler. Also, the new inhalers differ from the old inhalers in feel, force, taste and how they are primed and cleaned. Many people argue that doctors and patients have not been properly educated about the changes.
As a result, there have been complaints to the Food and Drug Administration that the new inhalers cost too much and are not working properly. In response, the FDA has been increasing educational efforts, including public service announcements expected by the end of the month. (nytimes.com)
New use for microwave
While most people use a microwave to re-heat cold food, another function of the machine has come to light.
Dorin Boldor, and assistant professor at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, is using the microwave to fight invasive species. Boldor and his colleagues have developed a microwave system that continuously heats the ballast water in cargo ships to kill off alien algae and other organisms.
When ships unload cargo, they take on water to maintain stability. When it goes to another port to be reloaded, the water is dumped, along with all the organisms it contains. These organisms can cause ecological problems if they are unknown in the new environment.
The system Boldor developed uses a 5,000-watt microwave unit –most home microwave units are 800 watts or less – and a “resonance cavity” that focuses the energy towards the water pipe. The researchers were able to raise the water temperature to about 140 degrees, high enough to kill the organisms studied.
Currently, the system’s operating cost is extremely high. But Boldor believes that it may be useful in conjunction with other, cheaper methods. (nytimes.com)
Science Scene is compiled by EDDIE LEE, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.XXX