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April 4, 2014

ED VASICEK: Safety and prevention dominate recent news

On rearview cameras, firefighting robots

The wife and I often walk, and occasionally we hop in the car and scurry over to Jackson Morrow Park to walk the loop. During our last trip, we saw a large sign, warning that Duke Energy was going to do major electrical work and the loop would be closed for several days. Good idea. Nothing quite like safety. Today’s column focuses upon late-breaking news in the world of safety.

Automobiles are much safer than they used to be. Many lives have been spared via seat belts, safety seats for children and air bags. A new safety feature will become standard in a few years: a camera that shows what is directly behind the vehicle.

According to The New York Times, “Six years ago, Congress mandated auto safety regulators to pass a federal standard by 2011 that would help keep drivers from running over small children as they backed up their vehicles.

“On Monday, after three years of repeated delays and a lawsuit, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the new rule: By May 2018, all new cars and light trucks must be equipped with rearview cameras.” Good idea!

Another improvement will not affect Americans; we are blessed with an abundance of clean drinking water. But parts of Asia are not so blessed. According to Len Rosen, “One in every five adult deaths in Bangladesh is attributed to arsenic poisoning. That’s because naturally-occurring arsenic is in the country’s water supply as it also is in the province of West Bengal in India. The arsenic levels can exceed 1,000 parts per billion in some cases. That’s 100 times the maximum safety limit set by the World Health Organization.”

Rosen reports that sending an electrical current though the water will drive the arsenic to collect on polarized plates and merge with other elements to become sludge and sink to the bottom. The cleaned water is then pumped out. Drinking water should not be a game of Russian roulette!

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