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  • Kirk Hartley

Scientific Surprises – New Questions, New Tools and New Findings

More and more, it makes sense to expect the unexpected, at least when it comes to molecular findings. Said another way, science today is rocketing forward in new directions, and sometimes produces real surprises when someone asks a new question, perhaps supported by one or more new scientific tools. For an example of a recent surprise making its way through the media, take a read through David Oliver’s November 10, 2014 post at Mass Torts: State of the Art. The post provides an excellent summary of the recent news stories about the surprise findings related to a  “virus that makes you dumb.” For another example, read David’s May 14, 2014 post regarding a unique new method (emphasis on “method”) to seek to “fingerprint” the source of perchlorate in groundwater, and a related Daubert opinion.

For yet another example, take a look at a this Nov. 13, 2014 ScienceDaily story about neonatologists who asked interesting new questions about chemical exposures to “preemies” from many plastic devices used in their care. The initial findings show chemical exposure levels exponentially above regulatory limits, for adults:

“The new research finds that the total daily exposure for a two-kilogram (four-pound) critically ill infant can reach 16 mg/kg per day. The largest sources are blood products, and endotracheal tubes placed in the airway to deliver breathing support with a ventilator. In analyzing toxic thresholds, the researchers determined that daily DEHP intakes are approximately 4,000 times higher than desired to prevent a type of male reproductive toxicity, and 160,000 times higher than desired to prevent liver injury. They say that a lower DEHP exposure could be one reason why preemies who can be managed without a ventilator seem to have better lung outcomes.”

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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