Items tagged with: leave
Google said on Tuesday it will require its contracted and temporary workforce to receive full benefits, including comprehensive health care, paid parental leave and a $15 minimum wage, according to an…
Article word count: 639
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19558895
Posted by pgrote (karma: 3100)
Post stats: Points: 122 - Comments: 76 - 2019-04-02T21:44:47Z
#HackerNews #care #contractors #coverage #get #google #health #leave #parental #requiring
Google said on Tuesday it will require its contracted and temporary workforce to receive full benefits, including comprehensive health care, paid parental leave and a $15 minimum wage, according to an internal memo provided exclusively to The Hill.
The internet search giantʼs vice president of people operations, Eileen Naughton, said in the memo to employees that Google will require that the workers receive the benefits by 2022.
Googleʼs announcement comes the same day that a group of 915 Google workers signed on to a letter demanding equal treatment for the companyʼs temporary workers and contractors, known internally as "TVCs."
The letter, also obtained by The Hill, claims that temporary workers and contractors account for 54 percent of Googleʼs workforce, or 122,000 positions. Google declined to share how many of its employees are contractors and how many are full-time employees.
For years, Google employees have raised concerns that the companyʼs workplace is stratified, with temporary workers and contractors receiving lower pay and fewer benefits than permanent employees.
Google will now require that the outside companies employing the workers provide them with comprehensive health care, a minimum wage of $15 per hour, 12 weeks of parental leave and a minimum of eight days of sick leave.
Google is beginning the efforts in the U.S., where there are not specific regulations around paid parental leave or comprehensive health care. Other countries in which the company operates have specific legislation around paid parental leave and other benefits.
The company said it made sense to start in the U.S. because Google is setting a standard.
Google is giving the "suppliers" — companies that employ the temporary workers and contractors — until January to institute the minimum wage requirements. A Google spokesperson said it will give suppliers until 2022 to institute comprehensive health care benefits.
If the suppliers fail to offer health care, minimum wage and paid family leave to their employees by that deadline, a Google spokeswoman told The Hill they would no longer "be able to provide talent to Google."
"If folks don’t meet the standards by the deadline, then business decisions will need to be made, and then we’ll need to continue to audit our suppliers through perpetuity to make sure that people are still meeting those standards," the spokeswoman said.
The benefits will not extend to independent contractors, who are self-employed, but they will extend to "vendors," employees that work for companies that are under contract with Google. "Vendors" include those who work in Googleʼs cafes, transportation services and more.
Google last year instituted a "supplier code of conduct" that specified some of Googleʼs expectations. Tuesdayʼs announcement expands and specifies what Google will require if a company wants to contract with Google.
The company will require that suppliers offer comprehensive health care for workers and their dependents that "includes hospitalization, preventative and wellness services, laboratory and emergency services, prescription drugs, mental health services, labor and delivery, newborn and pediatric services, oral and vision care, rehabilitative and habilitative care, and counseling," according to the memo.
While Google previously required its suppliers to adhere to local minimum wage laws, it is now requiring that all suppliers pay their employees at least $15 per hour.
Google will also require 12 weeks of parental leave for birth parents, non-birth parents and adoptive parents, according to the memo.
Finally, it will require that all suppliers offer $5,000 per year in tuition reimbursement for workers who hope to learn "new skills or take courses."
"These are meaningful changes, and we’re starting in the U.S., where comprehensive healthcare and paid parental leave are not mandated by U.S. law," Naughton wrote in the memo. "As we learn from our implementation here, we’ll identify and address areas of potential improvement in other areas of the world."
"Stay tuned for more to come as we continue our work in this area," she wrote.
Updated at 1:59 P.M.
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Control of communicable diseases in children, including respiratory and diarrheal illnesses that affect U.S. school-aged children, might require public health preventive efforts both in the home and…
Article word count: 2627
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19344714
Posted by surfallday (karma: 150)
Post stats: Points: 71 - Comments: 50 - 2019-03-09T05:50:39Z
#HackerNews #cdc #due #kids #lack #leave #low-income #paid #parents #school #send #sick
Control of communicable diseases in children, including respiratory and diarrheal illnesses that affect U.S. school-aged children, might require public health preventive efforts both in the home and at school, a primary setting for transmission. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data on school absenteeism and gastrointestinal illness in the United States during 2010–2016 were analyzed to identify associations among income, illness, and absenteeism. Prevalence of gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses in the 2 weeks preceding the survey increased as income decreased. Although the likelihood of missing any school days during the past year decreased with reduced income, among children missing school, those from low-income households missed more days of school than did children from higher income households. Although the reason for absenteeism cannot be ascertained from this analysis, these data underscore the importance of preventive measures, such as hand hygiene promotion and education, and the opportunity for both homes and schools to serve as an important point for implementation of public health preventive measures, including hand hygiene practice and education.
Data from the 2010–2016 NHIS (1) were analyzed. NHIS is an annual, national survey on household and child health in the noninstitutionalized U.S. population, administered continually throughout the year. Estimates based on these data are designed to meet National Center for Health Statistics standards (standard errors ≤0.3) (1). Family income data were linked to information about the school-aged child (5–17 years) with regard to 1) any school absenteeism in the last year, 2) number of days absent, and 3) gastrointestinal illness or respiratory illness (occurrence of a cold) during the 2 weeks preceding the interview. Income was assessed using NHIS-computed income brackets and by annual federal poverty level* thresholds computed by the U.S. Census Bureau (by family size). The statistical software R (version 3.4.3, R Foundation for Statistical Computing) was used to compare school absenteeism, illness, and income using linear and logistic regression models, unadjusted and adjusted for age and sex of the child and year of survey. P-values <0.05 were considered statistically significant.
A total of 645,209 respondents provided income information, and 61,482 (9.6%) were selected to provide data about their school-age child’s health and days of school missed. Respondents varied across income categories, with 31% earning <$35,000 per year and 19% below the federal poverty level (Table 1). Sixty-nine percent of children missed ≥1 day of school the previous year, and approximately 15% missed ≥6 days (mean = 3.3 days per child). In the 2 weeks preceding the survey, prevalences of gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses were 5% and 13%, respectively.
Reported school absence during the previous school year and reported respiratory or gastrointestinal illness during the previous 2 weeks were categorized by household income (Table 2). Compared with children in each of the other income categories, children in the lowest income bracket households (earning <$35,000 per year) had lower likelihood of missing school during the previous year (65% versus 67%–73%) and higher prevalence of gastrointestinal illness (6% versus 4%–5%) and respiratory illness (14% versus 12%–13%) in the previous 2 weeks. Adjusting for age, sex, and year of survey, children in the lowest income bracket were 4%–12% less likely to miss school (95% confidence interval [CI]= 1%–16%), but 12%–28% more likely to have had a recent gastrointestinal illness (95% CI = 2%–35%). Children in the lowest income bracket were also 6%–11% more likely to have had a respiratory illness, although comparisons with each of the next two highest income brackets ($35,000–$49,999 and $50,000–$74,999) were not statistically different.
Results were similar when comparing children living below the federal poverty level with those at or above it. Children living below the poverty level were significantly less likely to have missed school during the past year (65% versus 70%), and also significantly more likely to have had a gastrointestinal illness (6% versus 5%) or respiratory illness (14% versus 13%) in the preceding 2 weeks (Table 2). Specifically, children living below the poverty level were 9% less likely to have missed a day of school during the last year (95% CI = 6%–12%), but were 22% more likely to have had a gastrointestinal illness (95% CI = 15%–28%) and 6% more likely to have had a respiratory illness (95% CI = 1%–11%) during the 2 weeks preceding the survey.
Among children whose parents reported respiratory or gastrointestinal illness during the preceding 2 weeks, the percentage who missed any school during the last year increased with increasing income level. Among children who had gastrointestinal illness, 84.6% (family income <$35,000), 86.1% ($35,000–$49,999), 90.3% ($50,000–$74,999), 89.6% ($75,000–$99,999), and 87.4% (≥$100,000) missed school in the past year. Similarly, 83.7% of children living below the poverty level with gastrointestinal illness missed school, compared with 88.3% of those living at or above the poverty level. Among children in the household income brackets listed above who had a respiratory illness during the preceding 2 weeks, 78.5%, 79.7%, 80.5%, 82.3%, and 81.3%, respectively, missed school, and 77.6% of children living in households below the federal poverty level missed school compared with 81.2% of those living at or above the poverty level. Differences for both gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses were significant in bivariable analyses (e.g., chi-square tests), but not in final model risk ratios.
When analyzed by the number of days missed, children in the lowest income bracket (<$35,000) missed a mean of 0.3–0.9 more days in the last year compared with children in other income brackets (Table 2). Among only children who missed ≥1 school day, the differences were larger (mean = 0.7–1.7 more days). Similarly, overall, children living below the federal poverty level missed an average of 0.6 more days of school per year than did children in higher income households; among only those who missed ≥1 day of school, the difference increased to 1.4 days.
Compared with children from higher income households, those from lower income households were more likely to have had a gastrointestinal or respiratory illness during the 2 weeks preceding the survey. Although children from lower income households were less likely to have missed any days of school during the last year, those who did miss school missed more days than did children from higher income households.
The combination of increased illness prevalence and absenteeism with decreasing income status highlights the need for accessible, affordable resources and interventions at home and school. Multiple barriers faced by children in low-income households could explain these findings, including lack of access to preventive health care (2). Although targeted social distancing, such as a requirement for absence from school might be an effective recommended course of action to protect public health (3,4), low-income parents might not have the opportunities (e.g., paid sick leave from work) to be able to implement this. These circumstances might affect both their children’s ability to stay home from school and health-seeking behaviors (5). In the long-term, longer periods of absenteeism could be associated with adverse educational outcomes (6).
The findings in this report are subject to at least two limitations. First, although NHIS collects health and school absence data generalizable to the U.S. population as a whole, the reasons for school absence are not collected. Second, both health and school absence data are self-reported, making them subject to recall bias, and the data are not consistent in their respective recall timelines (preceding 2 weeks versus preceding year). However, recall of self-reported illness and school absenteeism is likely to be more accurate for the recent past (7); thus the association between reporting of recent illness and school absenteeism is likely to be strengthened. In addition, subgroup differences in illness, though small (one percentage point) fell outside of the survey margins of error.
From a public health perspective, these findings highlight a need for resources for, and attention to, preventive measures to keep children in school. Beyond practices in the home, schools have opportunities to serve as settings for preventing transmission of communicable diseases. Some school-based programs promoting handwashing, and more generally hand hygiene, have been found to be effective in reducing gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses and associated absenteeism (8). Research suggests that peer support and provision of soap can increase handwashing and reduce absenteeism related to both gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses (9). However, further study of sustained, community-based encouragement of proper hand hygiene practices as effective, low-cost means of preventing such illnesses is needed. Ongoing health promotion activities in schools can increase awareness and understanding of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent transmission of infectious diseases. Increased public awareness of the importance of hand hygiene, as promoted by Global Handwashing Day (observed each year on October 15), is important to promoting public health and reducing the transmission of illness.
Corresponding author: David Berendes, email@example.com, 404-718-5853.
^1Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, CDC; ^2Division of Adolescent and School Health, CDC.
All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE form for disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. No potential conflicts of interest were disclosed.
- The federal poverty level represents an indicator used to define the boundary for those eligible for federal aid. It is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services annually each January to adjust for inflation and is proportional to the size of the household (e.g., by 2018 guidelines, a two-person household with an income of $15,500 would be below the poverty level, but a single-person household with the same income would not).
Characteristic No. of respondents (%) Year 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total
Below FPL* 1,540 (19.6) 1,748 (19.6) 1,860 (19.9) 1,783 (19.5) 1,895 (19.8) 1,570 (18.0) 1,164 (14.7) 11,560 (18.8)
<$34,999 2,643 (33.6) 3,001 (33.6) 3,179 (34.0) 2,979 (32.7) 2,919 (30.6) 2,466 (28.2) 1,914 (24.1) 19,101 (31.1)
$35,000–$49,999 1,056 (13.4) 1,252 (14.0) 1,190 (12.7) 1,216 (13.3) 1,145 (12.0) 984 (11.3) 790 (10.0) 7,633 (12.4)
$50,000–$74,999 1,300 (16.5) 1,424 (16.0) 1,493 (16.0) 1,430 (15.7) 1,396 (14.6) 1,328 (15.2) 1,158 (14.6) 9,529 (15.5)
$75,000–$99,999 879 (11.2) 979 (11.0) 1,124 (12.0) 1,039 (11.4) 1,092 (11.4) 916 (10.5) 953 (12.0) 6,982 (11.4)
≥$100,000 1,991 (25.3) 2,263 (25.4) 2,366 (34.0) 2,460 (27.0) 2,999 (31.4) 3,039 (34.8) 3,119 (39.3) 18,237 (30.0)
School days absent during previous year
0 2,275 (28.9) 2,722 (30.5) 3,230 (34.5) 2,849 (31.2) 3,099 (32.4) 2,700 (30.9) 2,410 (30.4) 19,285 (31.4)
Any 5,594 (71.1) 6,197 (69.5) 6,122 (65.5) 6,275 (68.8) 6,452 (67.6) 6,033 (69.1) 5,524 (69.6) 42,197 (68.6)
1–2 2,150 (27.3) 2,524 (28.3) 2,725 (29.1) 2,627 (28.8) 2,779 (29.1) 2,553 (29.2) 2,364 (29.8) 17,722 (28.8)
3–5 2,136 (27.1) 2,365 (26.5) 2,207 (23.6) 2,353 (25.8) 2,421 (25.3) 2,157 (24.7) 2,005 (25.3) 15,644 (25.4)
6–10 857 (10.9) 874 (9.8) 811 (8.7) 866 (9.5) 866 (9.1) 900 (10.3) 788 (9.9) 5,962 (9.7)
≥11 451 (5.7) 434 (4.9) 379 (4.1) 429 (4.7) 386 (4.0) 423 (4.8) 367 (4.6) 2,869 (4.7)
Mean days absent (SD) 3.65 (7.30) 3.36 (7.10) 2.95 (6.02) 3.29 (6.37) 3.07 (6.31) 3.40 (6.88) 3.32 (6.64) 3.28 (6.66)
Illness during past 2 weeks
Gastrointestinal 413 (5.3) 470 (5.3) 399 (4.3) 437 (4.8) 476 (5.0) 392 (4.5) 371 (4.7) 2,958 (4.8)
Respiratory 1,041 (13.2) 1,255 (14.1) 995 (10.6) 1,299 (14.2) 1,210 (12.7) 1,111 (12.7) 997 (12.6) 7,908 (12.9)
Abbreviation: SD = standard deviation.
- FPL represents an indicator used to define the boundary for those eligible for federal aid; FPL is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services annually each January to adjust for inflation and is proportional to the size of the household.
Characteristic No. of respondents (%) Income Poverty status* <$35,000 $35,000–$49,999 $50,000–$74,999 $75,000–$99,999 ≥$100,000 Below FPL At or above FPL
School days absent
0 6,710 (35.1) 2,497 (32.7) 2,831 (29.7) 1,906 (27.3) 5,341 (29.3) 4,108 (35.5) 13,781 (29.7)
Any 12,391 (64.9) 5,136 (67.3) 6,698 (70.3) 5,076 (72.7) 12,896 (70.7) 7,452 (64.5) 32,546 (70.3)
PR (95% CI) Referent 1.04 (1.00 to 1.07) 1.08 (1.05 to 1.12) 1.12 (1.08 to 1.16) 1.09 (1.0 to 1.12) Referent 1.09 (1.0 to 1.12)
aPR^† (95% CI) Referent 1.04 (1.00–1.07) 1.08 (1.05–1.12) 1.12 (1.09–1.16) 1.09 (1.07–1.12) Referent 1.09 (1.07–1.12)
1–2 4,499 (23.6) 2,065 (27.1) 2,814 (29.5) 2,203 (31.6) 6,141 (33.7) 2,640 (22.8) 14,077 (30.4)
3–5 4,562 (23.9) 1,919 (25.1) 2,512 (26.4) 1,955 (28.0) 4,696 (25.7) 2,767 (23.9) 12,071 (26.1)
6–10 2,079 (10.9) 752 (9.9) 978 (10.3) 674 (9.7) 1,479 (8.1) 1,259 (10.9) 4,443 (9.6)
≥11 1,251 (6.5) 400 (5.2) 394 (4.1) 244 (3.5) 580 (3.2) 786 (6.8) 1,955 (4.2)
Mean (SD) all 3.72 (7.99) 3.42 (6.96) 3.16 (5.95) 3.07 (4.75) 2.90 (5.89) 3.80 (8.34) 3.20 (6.22)
Est^§ (95% CI) Referent -0.30 (-0.48 to -0.12) -0.56 (-0.72 to -0.39) -0.65 (-0.83 to -0.47) -0.82 (-0.96 to -0.69) Referent -0.60 (-0.74 to -0.47)
aEst^† (95% CI) Referent -0.32 (-0.50 to -0.15) -0.58 (-0.74 to -0.42) -0.67 (-0.86 to -0.49) -0.87 (-1.00 to -0.73) Referent -0.65 (-0.78 to -0.51)
Mean (SD)^¶ 5.74 (9.32) 5.08 (7.98) 4.50 (6.66) 4.22 (5.12) 4.10 (6.64) 5.90 (9.77) 4.55 (7.00)
Est (95% CI) Referent -0.65 (-0.90 to -0.41) -1.23 (-1.46 to -1.01) -1.52 (-1.76 to -1.27) -1.63 (-1.82 to -1.45) Referent -1.35 (-1.54 to -1.16)
aEst^† (95% CI) Referent -0.68 (-0.93 to -0.44) -1.27 (-1.50 to -1.05) -1.56 (-1.81 to -1.32) -1.71 (-1.90 to -1.53) Referent -1.41 (-1.60 to -1.22)
Illness during past 2 weeks
Gastrointestinal 1,086 (5.7) 359 (4.7) 475 (5.0) 309 (4.4) 729 (4.0) 689 (6.0) 2129 (4.6)
PR (95% CI) Referent 0.83 (0.7 to 0.93) 0.88 (0.7 to 0.98) 0.79 (0.6 to 0.88) 0.70 (0.6 to 0.77) Referent 0.77 (0.7 to 0.84)
aPR^† (95% CI) Referent 0.83 (0.7 to 0.94) 0.88 (0.7 to 0.98) 0.79 (0.6 to 0.89) 0.72 (0.6 to 0.79) Referent 0.78 (0.7 to 0.85)
Respiratory 2,625 (13.7) 979 (12.8) 1,222 (12.8) 847 (12.1) 2,235 (12.3) 1,596 (13.8) 5,919 (12.8)
PR (95% CI) Referent 0.93 (0.8 to 1.00) 0.93 (0.8 to 1.00) 0.88 (0.8 to 0.95) 0.89 (0.8 to 0.94) Referent 0.93 (0.8 to 0.98)
aPR^† (95% CI) Referent 0.94 (0.8 to 1.01) 0.94 (0.8 to 1.01) 0.89 (0.8 to 0.96) 0.91 (0.8 to 0.96) Referent 0.94 (0.8 to 0.99)
Abbreviations: aEst = adjusted estimate (from linear regression); aPR = adjusted prevalence ratio; CI = confidence interval; Est = estimate (from linear regression); PR = prevalence ratio; SD = standard deviation.* FPL represents an indicator used to define the boundary for those eligible for federal aid; FPL is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services annually each January to adjust for inflation and is proportional to the size of the household. Because the poverty line data includes both income and number of household members, there were more missing values for poverty level; therefore, the numbers in the below FPL and at or above FPL groups do not sum to the number in all income groups.
^† Adjusted for age and sex of child, as well as year of data collection.
^§ Estimated difference from reference.
^¶ Among those missing ≥1 school day only.
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The pollution, often from foam used in firefighting, is part of a mounting concern over the presence of toxic substances that could affect at least 10 million Americans.
Article word count: 1783
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19233284
Posted by longdefeat (karma: 1252)
Post stats: Points: 81 - Comments: 43 - 2019-02-23T13:42:10Z
#HackerNews #chemicals #drinking #families #forever #leave #military #reeling #toxic #water
A water tank in Fountain, Colo., where the drinking water system was one of at least 55 polluted by the military.CreditCreditRyan David Brown for The New York Times
FOUNTAIN, Colo. — When Army Staff Sgt. Samuel Fortune returned from Iraq, his body battered by war, he assumed he’d be safe.
Then the people around him began to get sick. His neighbors, all living near five military bases, complained of tumors, thyroid problems and debilitating fatigue. Soon, the Colorado health department announced an unusually high number of kidney cancers in the region. Then Mr. Fortune’s wife fell ill.
The military, it turned out, had been leaching toxic chemicals into the water for decades.
Mr. Fortune felt “stabbed in the back,” he said. “We give our lives and our bodies for our country, and our government does not live up to their end of the deal.”
That was 2016. Since then, the Defense Department has admitted that it allowed a firefighting foam to slip into at least 55 drinking water systems at military bases around the globe, sometimes for generations. This exposed tens of thousands of Americans, possibly many more, to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of man-made chemicals known as PFAS that have been linked to cancers, immune suppression and other serious health problems.
[For more stories about the experiences and costs of war, sign up for the weekly At War newsletter.]
Though the presence of the chemicals has been known for years, an announcement last week from the Environmental Protection Agency for the first time promised regulatory action, a significant acknowledgment of the startling scope of the problem that drew outrage from veterans and others living in contaminated communities.
Acting administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the agency would begin the process of potentially limiting the presence of two of the compounds in drinking water, calling this a “pivotal moment in the history of the agency.”
The admission drew some praise, but many said that it was not enough and that millions of people would keep ingesting the substances while a regulatory process plods along. “It should have been called an inaction plan,” said Judith Enck, a former E.P.A. regional administrator appointed by President Barack Obama.
Volunteers distributed bottled water to residents of Security, Colo., in 2016.CreditMatthew Staver for The New York Times
While the military has used the chemicals extensively, it is far from the only entity to do so, and in recent years, companies like DuPont have come under fire for leaching PFAS into water systems.
All told, 10 million people could be drinking water laced with high levels of PFAS, according to Patrick Breysse, a top official at the federal Centers for Disease Control. Mr. Breysse has called the presence of the chemicals “one of the most seminal public health challenges” of the coming decades.
The residents of Fountain, a mountain-flanked suburb of Colorado Springs, were told of the contamination by local officials who had been required by the E.P.A. to test the water for the substances, a step toward possible regulation. Soon dozens of communities from New York to Washington State discovered their drinking water was also polluted with PFAS.
Many people began demanding that state and military officials test their blood for the chemicals, hoping to learn the extent of their presence in their bodies.
The military has started an expensive cleanup effort that has involved shifting entire municipalities to new water sources and assessing toxic plumes that continue to spread for miles.
Maureen Sullivan, the military’s deputy assistant secretary for environment, said the government had moved “aggressively” to tackle the problem, assessing cleanup duties and looking for alternatives to the firefighting foam, a version of which the military still uses.
“I’m proud of what the Department of Defense has done in the past two-plus years,” she said.
But frustration persists. The military never alerted all of the people who drank polluted water, meaning some are still in the dark. When asked how many people were affected by contamination, Ms. Sullivan said she “couldn’t hazard a guess.”
By The New York Times
“We’re tracking water sources,” she said, “not people.”
Local and state governments have had to carve millions from their budgets to deal with the problem, much of which may never be paid back. In places like Oscoda, Mich., where the lake now froths with toxic foam, residents are fighting with defense officials over the extent to which the military must clean up the mess.
“When I was in the Air Force, they preached all the time: ‘Do the right thing. Integrity first. Service before self. Excellence in all we do’,” said Aaron Weed, a 22-year veteran who is now Oscoda’s town supervisor. “This is not the Air Force that I was a part of,” he continued. “The side of the Air Force that I am seeing is just disgraceful.”
Blood testing has emerged as a sticking point. Specifically, a growing movement of veterans and others, united in advocacy groups with names like Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition and Need Our Water, are asking the military test their blood for the chemicals, hoping to bring results to their doctors or use them in lawsuits.
Their requests have been denied, and the military says that too little is known about the substances to make the results useful. Instead, it will pay for the C.D.C. to start yearslong population-based health studies in some communities.
“They don’t want to know,” said Cindi Ashbeck, 56, a veteran who worked out of Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Michigan. “It’s not being addressed, because you open that can of worms, and you’ve got an Agent Orange thing on your hands.”
PFAS are a broad class of chemicals developed in the 1940s. Because they repel grease and water, they have been used across industries for decades, often to prevent stains. They are placed in a dizzying array of products: food packaging, nonstick pans, clothing, furniture. They are also used to extinguish fires where petroleum-based explosions pose a danger.
But the chemicals move quickly through the earth and into water, where they persist indefinitely. Some scientists have deemed them “forever chemicals,” and over the last two decades, a growing body of research has shown that the compounds meant to help us are likely hurting us.
“We give our lives and our bodies for our country, and our government does not live up to their end of the deal,” said Samuel Fortune, who served two tours in Iraq.
The most comprehensive data, based on a study of 69,000 people living near in a West Virginia DuPont plant, say exposure is associated with kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and ulcerative colitis, among other problems, while animal studies show delays in development.
Mr. Fortune grew up in Sheridan, Wyo., where joining the Army was the way to avoid the coal mine or a job at Wal-Mart, he said.
He enlisted in 1998, serving two tours in Iraq as a mechanic. On his final visit, while he was waiting on the airfield for his ride out of the country, enemy mortar threw him against a wall meant to fortify the area, damaging his back and tearing all the tendons in his shoulders. He had to be rebuilt, with metal. “Five rods, two plates, nine screws, 10 nails, 20 staples,” he said. “I make an X-ray glow.”
The Army then stationed Mr. Fortune in Colorado Springs, home to five military bases, placing him, his wife, Bianca, and their children, Bryan and Sophia, in the center of a contamination zone.
He learned about the contamination in 2016. The military said it had come from the Peterson Air Force Base nearby. His family had been drinking the water for a decade.
Soon, Ms. Fortune was in and out of the hospital, and Mr. Fortune became increasingly concerned that the cause was the chemicals. His wife told doctors of a debilitating pain in her right abdomen, intense joint pain and exhaustion. Her blood cell counts rose and fell like yo-yos. Some doctors thought it was Lyme disease; others weren’t so sure.
Like many around the country, Mr. Fortune has joined one of several lawsuits against the companies that made the firefighting foam, including 3M and Tyco Fire Products. Others, including the City of Newburgh, N.Y., are suing the military directly.
Steve Patterson, whose family members learned they had been drinking contaminated water for decades, has lost several of his relatives to cancer in recent years.CreditRyan David Brown for The New York Times
But the lawyer in the Colorado case, David McDivitt, said he thought that would be too difficult because “it’s tough to sue the federal government.”
For years, there were signs that the chemicals in the military’s firefighting foam were dangerous. Defense Department studies dating to the 1970s indicated that the substances were harmful to laboratory animals, according to an investigation by The Colorado Springs Gazette, and the Army Corps of Engineers told Fort Carson to stop using the foam in 1991, calling it “harmful to the environment.”
In 2000, under pressure from the E.P.A., 3M phased out production of some of the compounds, announcing that they could “could potentially pose a risk to human health.” Five years later, the E.P.A. declared that another compound was “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
But the military has said it continued to use firefighting foams containing the compounds because companies have continued to produce them and the E.P.A. doesn’t regulate them.
Industry officials have said they are following E.P.A. rules, while the E.P.A. has said it is still exploring regulation.
“You know the Shaggy song, ‘It wasn’t me’?’” said Mr. McDivitt. “It’s like that.”
In Fountain, the Defense Department has installed short-term water filters and is building treatment plants meant to fix the problem in the long-term. This has won the praise of some local officials. “We’re pleased with where we’re at,” said Curtis Mitchell of the Fountain water district.
Not everyone agrees.
After news broke of the contamination in Fountain and nearby communities, the Colorado health department said that while the area had a higher-than-normal rate of several cancers, that might be explained by high rates of obesity and smoking in the region.
Steve Patterson, 62, whose family had been drinking fouled water for decades, is skeptical of that explanation. A dozen of his relatives have died of cancer, some genetically related to him, some not.
Mr. Fortune recently began asking the military to test his wife’s blood for the substances.
When officials declined, Mr. Fortune persisted, he said, and medical staff called him aggressive. “I’m not aggressive, I’m angry,” he said. “If you’re being poisoned, you want to know what it is, what it’s doing to you, and what you can do to stop it.”
Follow Julie Turkewitz on Twitter @julieturkewitz.
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘Stabbed in the Back’: Polluted Water Pains Military Families. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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Research puts a number on the proportion of people leaving full-time careers in science after the birth of their first child.
Article word count: 654
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19203458
Posted by chriskanan (karma: 3166)
Post stats: Points: 76 - Comments: 132 - 2019-02-19T22:20:31Z
#HackerNews #after #child #female #first #full-time #half #leave #nearly #science #scientists
A woman on maternity holding her baby looks at a painting in the State Hermitage Museum, Russia
Having a child can lead to scientists switching or quitting their careers.Credit: Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty
More than 40% of women with full-time jobs in science leave the sector or go part time after having their first child, according to a study of how parenthood affects career trajectories in the United States. By contrast, only 23% of new fathers leave or cut their working hours.
The analysis (see ‘Parents in science’), led by Erin Cech, a sociologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, might help to explain the persistent under-representation of women in jobs that involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The study also highlights the impact of fatherhood on a career in science, she says.
Source: Ref. 1
Career versus family
Given that 90% of people in the United States become parents during their working lives, Cech and Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego, sought to better understand what happens to scientists’ careers after they start a family.
They used the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System, a database provided by the US National Science Foundation that contains information from surveys of the US STEM workforce every two to three years.
From the 2003 data, Cech and Blair-Loy picked the child-free scientists in full-time employment and tracked their familial status in the next wave of the survey, in 2006. This gave them two groups of scientists to compare — 841 who became parents during this period, and 3,365 who remained childless throughout. The researchers also looked at how these individuals’ careers changed between 2003 and 2010.
They report that new parents are significantly more likely to leave a full-time science career for full-time non-science careers than their child-free colleagues^1.
By the end of the study period, 23% of men and 43% of women who had become parents had left full-time STEM employment. They either went part time, switched to non-STEM careers or left the workforce altogether. This compared to 16% of child-free men and 24% of child-free women. The team controlled for potential confounding differences between people with and without children.
For a subset of the people who had left science, the data set also included an entry on why they had left science. Around half of the new parents in this subset cited family-related reasons, compared with just 4% of people without children.
Taken together, these findings suggest that parenthood is an important driver of gender imbalance in STEM employment, the team says.
But Cech says that this the first time research has shown the proportion of new parents facing difficulties reconciling family life with science. She adds that there is a striking impact on new fathers as well as mothers.
“STEM work is often culturally less tolerant and supportive of caregiving responsibilities than other occupations,” Cech says. “So mothers — and fathers — may feel squeezed out of STEM work and pulled into full-time work in non-STEM fields”.
A ‘structural’ problem
Virginia Valian, a psychologist at the City University of New York, says: “The results showing that fathers also leave STEM reinforces the hypothesis that the problem is a structural one, in which dedicated professionals are not expected to have a personal life, and, indeed, are punished for so doing.”
Ami Radunskaya, a mathematician at Pomona College in Claremont, California, who mentors young female mathematicians, says women can become exhausted from constantly having to prove themselves in a professional environment that is, “at best, challenging to everyone and, at worst, openly sexist”.
“These young women are smart and tenacious,” she says. “When these young women start a family, they realize that this exhaustion and stress is not sustainable.”
Radunskaya suggests several measures that could help to improve the situation. Policies on family leave should send the message that having children is expected and accepted, for example. Senior researchers should mentor junior members of staff, and people should accept the challenges women in science may face. “We need to have candid, non-blaming conversations about [these issues],” she adds.
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British Conservatives favour No-Deal Brexit above all other options
The results released Friday show 57 per cent opted for leaving without a deal, 23 per cent would take May’s deal, and 15 per cent would remain in the EU.
However, Tory members seem unfazed by these warnings, as 76 per cent of them said they are “exaggerated or invented,” according to the poll.
#Britain #GreatBritain #England #NoDealBrexit #Brexit #news #Poltiics #Poll #Conservatism #Brexiter #Leave #Remain
Farmers brace themselves for No-Deal Brexit
Ms Batters told Sophy Ridge on Sunday the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food and agriculture would be "huge", with 95% of animal medicines and vaccines coming across the Channel from the EU.
"For animals and products we would have a trade embargo, we would be on third-party, favoured nation status so we could be carved out for six months or longer - organics could be out for nine months or longer.
The union president said it could be possible to feed Britons with produce grown in the UK, but admitted there were likely to be problems getting enough workers to pick fruit and vegetables.
A job that was mostly done by migrants, which will now be kept out, thanks to some narrow-minded Brexiters. Hooray! Now go pick your fruits yourselves!
#England #Britain #GreatBritain #Farming #Agriculture #News #Politics #Tariffs #Tariff #EU #EuropeanUnion #Europe #TheresaMay #Remain #Leave
Instead of a year, parents will get six months, a number that researchers say avoids the pitfalls of longer leaves.
Article word count: 1235
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Posted by pseudolus (karma: 7544)
Post stats: Points: 58 - Comments: 125 - 2019-01-25T20:02:03Z
\#HackerNews #can #foundation #gates #good #leave #much #paid #says #there #thing #too #with
Instead of a year, parents will get six months, a number that researchers say avoids the pitfalls of longer leaves.
Claire Cain Miller
Paid leave often isnʼt enough. Financial assistance for child care has a bigger effect on women’s ability to keep working, research suggests. CreditChona Kasinger for The New York Times
As the United States has debated the issue of paid parental leave, a few employers have stood out by providing very generous terms. One has been the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which in 2015 began offering parents one year of fully paid leave to spend with their babies.
It turns out it was too long to be sustainable. Last week, the foundation told employees it was cutting paid parental leave by half, to six months, because yearlong leaves were impairing the work of the foundation. It will add a $20,000 stipend for new parents to spend on child care costs and family needs when they return to work.
The Gates Foundation’s experience highlights the challenges of devising effective family policies. The United States is the only industrialized country not to offer paid leave, though lawmakers in both parties now support some form of it, as do about 80 percent of Americans. Yet on top of questions about whether it should be mandatory and who should pay for it, there has been little agreement on the right length of time — and whether paid leave alone is enough to help working parents.
International evidence points to some answers. Around six months seems to be the magic number for families to achieve the benefits but to avoid the pitfalls of parental leave. And paid leave is not enough: Financial assistance for child care has a bigger effect on women’s ability to keep working.
Three months or less isn’t necessarily enough time for parents and babies to get the full benefits of physical recovery, bonding and breast-feeding, research has found. Babies often aren’t sleeping through the night by then, and infant child care is most expensive. But leaves of nine months or more can backfire. They’re harder on businesses, and women who take very long leaves are less likely to stay in the labor force, to earn as much or to achieve senior positions, research shows.
Steven Rice, chief human resources officer at the Gates Foundation, said in an interview that the decision to offer six months was based on research suggesting it was optimal. Also, it would be easier for the foundation to handle its workload.
Other employers and policymakers have also settled on roughly six months of leave. It’s the period that Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, has proposed offering in his state. Many tech companies give employees four to six months. Netflix, which allows its employees to take a year of paid parental leave, said new parents generally choose to take between four and eight months.
The United States offers 12 weeks of leave, but it’s unpaid, and only a little over half of employees are eligible. Companies have increasingly begun to offer paid leave voluntarily, but that affects only 16 percent of American workers. There are various leave proposals in Congress, but none have made headway. Child care costs are out of reach for many families — the average cost for an infant in a day care center is $1,230 a month.
Most policy proposals in the United States — in Congress, in state governments and from think tanks — have been for four to 12 weeks. Many of the other countries that offer parental leave give significantly more, in some cases more than a year.
A variety of economic research has compared the results of generous family policies in other rich countries and the lack of such policies in the United States. Although the research doesn’t conclude what would work in the United States, it provides some clues.
One study looked at the effect of paid leave on employment rates, women’s wages and health outcomes for babies. “The sweet spot was probably six to nine months,” said one of the authors, Christopher J. Ruhm, an economist at the University of Virginia. Longer leaves had a negative effect on women’s careers.
In countries with very long leaves, Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn at Cornell found, women are more likely to work, but they are also more likely to be in dead-end jobs than women in the United States.
“A possibility is it encourages employers to kind of mommy-track women, to put women into lower-level positions where it won’t be as difficult to the employer to accommodate a long time out,” Ms. Blau said.
Claudia Olivetti at Boston College and Barbara Petrongolo at Queen Mary University of London found little evidence that extended leaves had a positive effect on women’s employment or earnings — but found that subsidized child care and preschool did. “You want to make it easier for mothers to work, and when you talk about paid leave in isolation, the issue is who is going to take care of the baby after, and how much does it cost?” Ms. Olivetti said.
Research on paid leave in California has found that short leaves have a neutral or positive effect on employers, but the effect of long leaves on U.S. employers is unknown. The Gates Foundation serves as an American test case.
A year was too long for several reasons, Mr. Rice said. It was hard for employees to hand off their work for a year. When they returned, the organization had usually changed to the point that re-entry was very time-consuming. And moving people around among the foundation’s 1,600 employees to cover for people on leave left gaps throughout the foundation.
“We’re working hard to manage the balance between how do we make sure we help and support our employees adding to their family, and the impact on running the day-to-day operations of our foundation,” Mr. Rice said.
In the three years that the yearlong leave was offered, 17 percent of employees took advantage, he said. Women were more likely to take it than men, and they also took longer leaves: 77 percent of women took the full year compared with 41 percent of men. Mr. Rice said the foundation analyzed whether it affected the career trajectories of women, who are two-thirds of employees. It did not. The company is adding the $20,000 stipend because child care costs were a concern, he said.
Paid parental leave on its own is not enough to achieve the goals of helping working families and supporting women’s careers, researchers say.
Leave needs to be gender-neutral, they say, and men should be encouraged to take it. The involvement of fathers is important for mothers and babies, and it also helps prevent employment discrimination against women and enables them to return to work sooner.
Parents need support beyond the months immediately following the birth — things like subsidized child care, flexible schedules and sick days that can be used for family members.
Finally, avoiding the pitfalls of taking time off to care for children would require a broader shift in cultural norms, experts say. That’s unlikely to happen until leave-taking is offered to everyone.
Claire Cain Miller writes about gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot. She joined The Times in 2008 and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @clairecm • Facebook
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