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Posts Tagged "human"

25Mar

Your rights in a pandemic: What B.C.’s human rights commissioner wants you to know

by admin

VANCOUVER —
Human rights and civil liberties must be balanced against the safety and health of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to B.C.’s human rights commissioner.

“Human rights are never more important than in times of crisis. It is precisely when they are hardest to to fulfill that they are the most important,” Commissioner Kasari Govender said in a video address posted to YouTube.

“It is in these challenging times that it becomes critical for us to know our human rights, for us to understand the scope and protections here in B.C., and for all of us to place human rights in the centre of our decision making.”

Govender released a statement Tuesday saying decisions that limit human rights and civil liberties “must be evidence-based, proportionate to the public health risk, temporary and transparent.” 

“Like any other context, we must be vigilant about how racism, economic inequalities and classism, ableism, ageism and misogyny may all be factors in how people are treated and how people experience the pandemic,” she said.

A comprehensive policy statement from the commissioner and available online is intended to provide guidance to “employers, landlords, service providers and each of us as individuals about how to ensure that human rights are protected and balanced against urgent public health priorities.”

Govender says in the absence of the Human Right Tribunal or the courts being able to weigh in on whether COVID-19 amount to a disability, she says she believes it does.

“The seriousness of this illness – and the potential stigma that attaches to it – make it more akin to the legal protections that apply to HIV than to the common cold,” the policy statement says.

Discrimination on the basis of race, colour, ancestry or place of origin is also prohibited. This means that discrimination against someone who comes from a COVID-19 hotspot, like China or Italy, is prohibited. Restrictions based on recent travel may be considered reasonable, and not discriminatory, based on guidance from public health officials.

Below are just some of the findings of the full report

Employers

“Employers cannot make hiring, discipline or firing decisions on the basis of whether a person has, or appears to have COVID-19. However, it is not discriminatory to lay off employees if there is no work for them to do because of the impacts of COVID-19,” the document says.

It goes on to say employers are required to accommodate workers who may have had the virus and precautions must be taken to prevent further spread within a workplace, which could include providing sick leave or letting employees work from home.

Employers cannot discipline employees unable to come to work because medical or public health officials have told them to self-isolate or enter self-quarantine in connection to the virus.

Protections must also be in place for workers with compromised immune systems or the elderly, which could include additional cleaning or allowing employees to work from home. 

“Employers may also need to accommodate employees with increased child care obligations due to the pandemic. Protections related to family status may require employers to take all actions short of undue hardship to accommodate family care giving responsibilities where an employee is unable to cover the necessary care through other means.”

It also says employers should not require sick notes during this time due to the burden they would place on the medical system.

Service providers

There is also direction for service providers, which include everything from health care, to homeless shelters, to food vendors.

The report says “service providers cannot turn away someone seeking assistance or services because that person appears to have COVID-19, unless it is necessary to keep themselves or others virus-free and there is no way (short of undue hardship) to do so otherwise.”

It also places grocery stores and pharmacies should consider creating times for vulnerable people such as the elderly to shop without other customers. That is something that is already being done by many places across Canada and in Metro Vancouver. 

Housing providers

The report says landlords cannot turn away an application, harass a tenant, or evict someone because they have, or appear to have, COVID-19. The landlord is required to take precautions though, which includes cleaning common areas in buildings like elevators to help stop the spread.

Landlords may not turn away or evict tenants that have ties to COVID-19 hotspots (like China or Italy).

The commissioner is also urging landlords (though not required by law) to delay evictions due to non-payment of rent during the pandemic. 

Public impacts

The office of the human rights commissioner is looking for public feedback on how the pandemic is affecting lives in B.C., including details about barriers and discrimination British Columbians may be facing. 

 

25Nov

Human waste issue at Vancouver park prompts call for 24/7 washroom | CBC News

by admin

Complaints about dog poop littering parks aren’t unusual, but at an East Vancouver park the issue is human feces, according to a neighbour and park user.

Zoe Raffard lives across the street from Commercial Drive’s Grandview Park. She regularly spends time there walking her dog and playing with her one-year-old daughter.

“Last weekend the human waste was in a children’s tree house,” said Raffard. “Somebody had soiled some blankets in the playground, where they were seeking shelter.”

Raffard dealt with the problem by wrapping yellow caution tape around the playground feature and reporting the incident to city officials by calling 3-1-1  — but she says she doesn’t usually get a satisfying response.

She’s urging officials to provide 24-hour toilet access at the park. Homeless people often spend the night there and the neighbourhood is popular with people living in vehicles.

Grandview Park user and neighbour Zoe Raffard says children at the playground found a soiled blanket in a tree house last week, and her dog has twice gotten into human waste at the park. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

“On two occasions over the summer, my dog came across some human waste in the park, and unfortunately ingested some before we realized what he was doing,” said Raffard. “We thought he was just just sniffing at a bush — we didn’t realize there was some feces, and he was eating some of it.”

The distinction between human and canine poop is often easy to make, she said, because there will be soiled clothing or toilet paper scattered around the human waste.

Vandalism a problem

Grandview Park has a sturdy washroom facility, but according to Howard Normann, director of parks, it’s closed overnight along with the rest of the city’s park toilets.

“We find that any anything we leave open overnight tends to either get vandalized — and Grandview has been vandalized on numerous occasions, even in the daytime — or people move into them,” said Normann.

He said there was a portable toilet left at the park in the summer as a trial, but it didn’t go well.

“The ongoing vandalism and drug use that [was] happening in that porta-potty had us remove it,” said Normann.

Raffard suggests either hiring an attendant to supervise the existing facility overnight, or invest in a separate, permanent one, like the Portland Loo, that could be left open.

Grandview Park has a robust toilet facility, but it’s locked overnight, leaving people nowhere to appropriately go to the bathroom. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

New park toilet strategy being planned

Normann said Park Board staff are looking at all of the options as they work on a complete washroom strategy for the city’s parks.

“This one in Grandview is relatively new,” he said of the human feces problem. “We’ve been made aware of it on occasion. I wouldn’t say it’s increasing, but we know it’s been ongoing — on and off — for a while.”

Normann said the issue of people living in tents or vehicles around the park has been increasing over the last year or two.

Despite Raffard’s complaint that calling 3-1-1 doesn’t lead to anyone from the Park Board dealing with human waste found in the park, Normann said that is the best course of action.

“It’s not always that easy just to phone and say, ‘hey we found a pile here in the park, can somebody come and grab it,’ but we do our best,” said Normann.

The Vancouver Park Board says if people find human feces at its parks, they should call 3-1-1 to report it. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Raffard wants to see her local park free of human feces, but she’s sympathetic to the people leaving their deposits in the park.

“I believe it’s part of the housing crisis. Having a home is not just about a place to sleep, it’s about a place to toilet and wash with dignity,” she said. “Being able to have access to private washroom is a basic human right that we all deserve.”


Do you have more to ad to this story? Email rafferty.baker@cbc.ca

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

10Sep

Art too sexy for this bar? Human rights complaint launched over decor

by admin

Jasmine Mooney is a successful entrepreneur who owns three Vancouver bars – but lately she’s been defending her taste in art.

Five employees from the Hotel Belmont have launched a human rights complaint over what they contend is an unsafe work environment, caused by what’s on the bar walls.

A large print of a nude woman bent over a muscle car hangs in The Basement, Mooney’s watering hole in the hotel’s lower level. There are also bright neon outlines of a naked woman and man outside the washrooms.

The employees do not work for Mooney, but in other departments in the hotel.

They sought aid from Union Here, the same group that helped employees of the Hotel Georgia launch a sexual harassment claim.

“My reaction was that it was very grotesque and offensive to women,” said Sharan Pawa, spokesperson for Union Here local 40. “The excuse for these images is that they are just trendy and fun, but we don’t think that it’s appropriate because fun doesn’t equate to sexualizing women.”

The F-word is also prominently displayed twice the main bar area, and drawings of dozens of breasts are on the washroom’s ceiling.

Mooney says she choose the artwork herself and does not find it offensive.

”It’s edgy and it’s out there and it’s different” she said. “That’s the thing with art, it’s so subjective.”

She argues similar works are displayed in galleries all over the world, and they are revered by critics.

Her intention was to design a fun establishment that reminds people of the 1950s and their parents basement. The décor is bright. It has a bowling alley, arcade and jelly bean dispensers.

Mooney said minors will never be permitted inside, and none of her employees have complained to her.

“Absolutely not. No, we go above and beyond to ensure our staff are comfortable and secure,” she insisted.

27Aug

Human rights complaint dismissed after man with sex addiction banned from yoga studio

by admin

A man who says he has a sex addiction had his human rights complaint dismissed after alleging he was discriminated against when he was banned from a White Rock yoga studio.

According to a BC Human Rights Tribunal application to dismiss, Erik Rutherford said he attended classes at Westcoast Hot Yoga for over 10 years. When he asked for coaching services from one of the studio’s employees who has her own outside business, however, he was turned down. 

Background in the dismissal application says Rutherford had told the coach “he was seeking help with sex addiction,” but the coach said this wasn’t her field of expertise. He also opened up to other staff about his former experiences with addiction.

Rutherford added that he had reached out to the coach “out of trust as she had offered her health coaching business to me as she had male clients from our studio, but admittedly I contacted her partly due to my mental disability as she is an attractive healthy woman.”

After asking for coaching help and telling staff about his addiction background, Rutherford alleges he was discriminated against by staff, saying they looked at him differently, gossiped about him and eventually wouldn’t let him take yoga classes at the studio. 

The yoga studio, however, said their decision to not allow Rutherford to attend classes anymore had nothing to do with his mental health. 

Instead, Westcoast told the tribunal that Rutherford “began phoning, texting and emailing Westcoast staff at all hours, making staff and some clients uncomfortable,” after his coaching request was denied. 

The yoga studio went on to say that the reason he was asked to practice somewhere else was because he didn’t “stop harassing (them) with emails and false accusations against teachers.” The yoga studio even went so far as to speak to police for help. 

Tribunal documents show that, on May 13, 2018, Rutherford sent an email to the yoga studio, stating he had talked to his 12-step advisor about the situation. 

“My main thing is alcohol but only on vacation,” the email said. “My main issue is internet or cyber pornography that is not related to the studio. If I am paying for yoga, kindly tell your instructors to not silently judge.”

The next day, Rutherford attended a yoga class and later that afternoon, got an email response from the studio. 

“I have had some very upset conversations this morning from my staff, in regards to voice messages left late last night and also teachers receiving messages from you late last night,” the email to Rutherford said. 

“On Saturday I did have a lady concerned about you staring constantly in class … it makes people very uncomfortable, and your constant approaching (the coach) at all hours, and sharing your personal issues has made her and some other staff after your message very uncomfortable.”

The email went on to say that Rutherford’s recently purchased class pass would be refunded. 

“Please do not send any further messages to all these parties, or there will need to have the police involved,” the email said. 

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has the authority to apply for a complaint to be dismissed before it goes to a hearing, particularly if the tribunal member feels the complaint doesn’t “warrant the time or expense of a hearing.” In this case, tribunal member Emily Ohler explained she did not think Rutherford’s complaint would succeed. 

Rutherford responded, saying his “disease is spiritual, mental, physical and social and financially void disease with many different facets and can easily display itself in sexual manifestations especially when abstaining from drugs and alcohol.” 

He went on to say he hasn’t “used the dangerous chemicals since early 2003.”

However, when Rutherford spoke to a doctor to get a diagnosis for his mental health issues and submit a letter to the tribunal, the doctor did not supply a diagnosis. Instead, wrote that Rutherford “does not always recognize personal boundaries,” adding that “he was more likely barred because of some behaviour that either annoyed, scared or offended an instructor.”

In her decision, Ohler said she was “reasonably certain” the yoga studio would be able to prove in a hearing “that continuing to allow Mr. Rutherford to practice yoga at its studio in the circumstances would constitute undue hardship.” 

27Aug

Man with sex addiction banned from yoga studio; human rights complaint dismissed

by admin

A man who says he has a sex addiction had his human rights complaint dismissed after alleging he was discriminated against when he was banned from a White Rock yoga studio.

According to a BC Human Rights Tribunal application to dismiss, Erik Rutherford said he attended classes at Westcoast Hot Yoga for over 10 years. When he asked for coaching services from one of the studio’s employees who has her own outside business, however, he was turned down. 

Background in the dismissal application says Rutherford had told the coach “he was seeking help with sex addiction,” but the coach said this wasn’t her field of expertise. He also opened up to other staff about his former experiences with addiction.

Rutherford added that he had reached out to the coach “out of trust as she had offered her health coaching business to me as she had male clients from our studio, but admittedly I contacted her partly due to my mental disability as she is an attractive healthy woman.”

After asking for coaching help and telling staff about his addiction background, Rutherford alleges he was discriminated against by staff, saying they looked at him differently, gossiped about him and eventually wouldn’t let him take yoga classes at the studio. 

The yoga studio, however, said their decision to not allow Rutherford to attend classes anymore had nothing to do with his mental health. 

Instead, Westcoast told the tribunal that Rutherford “began phoning, texting and emailing Westcoast staff at all hours, making staff and some clients uncomfortable,” after his coaching request was denied. 

The yoga studio went on to say that the reason he was asked to practice somewhere else was because he didn’t “stop harassing (them) with emails and false accusations against teachers.” The yoga studio even went so far as to speak to police for help. 

Tribunal documents show that, on May 13, 2018, Rutherford sent an email to the yoga studio, stating he had talked to his 12-step advisor about the situation. 

“My main thing is alcohol but only on vacation,” the email said. “My main issue is internet or cyber pornography that is not related to the studio. If I am paying for yoga, kindly tell your instructors to not silently judge.”

The next day, Rutherford attended a yoga class and later that afternoon, got an email response from the studio. 

“I have had some very upset conversations this morning from my staff, in regards to voice messages left late last night and also teachers receiving messages from you late last night,” the email to Rutherford said. 

“On Saturday I did have a lady concerned about you staring constantly in class … it makes people very uncomfortable, and your constant approaching (the coach) at all hours, and sharing your personal issues has made her and some other staff after your message very uncomfortable.”

The email went on to say that Rutherford’s recently purchased class pass would be refunded. 

“Please do not send any further messages to all these parties, or there will need to have the police involved,” the email said. 

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has the authority to apply for a complaint to be dismissed before it goes to a hearing, particularly if the tribunal member feels the complaint doesn’t “warrant the time or expense of a hearing.” In this case, tribunal member Emily Ohler explained she did not think Rutherford’s complaint would succeed. 

Rutherford responded, saying his “disease is spiritual, mental, physical and social and financially void disease with many different facets and can easily display itself in sexual manifestations especially when abstaining from drugs and alcohol.” 

He went on to say he hasn’t “used the dangerous chemicals since early 2003.”

However, when Rutherford spoke to a doctor to get a diagnosis for his mental health issues and submit a letter to the tribunal, the doctor did not supply a diagnosis. Instead, wrote that Rutherford “does not always recognize personal boundaries,” adding that “he was more likely barred because of some behaviour that either annoyed, scared or offended an instructor.”

In her decision, Ohler said she was “reasonably certain” the yoga studio would be able to prove in a hearing “that continuing to allow Mr. Rutherford to practice yoga at its studio in the circumstances would constitute undue hardship.” 

3Jul

Illegal Airbnb hostel operator’s human rights complaint dismissed

by admin

Alyse Kotyk, CTV News Vancouver


Published Wednesday, July 3, 2019 1:24PM PDT


Last Updated Wednesday, July 3, 2019 1:33PM PDT

A North Vancouver townhouse owner whose strata tried to shut down her 15-bed Airbnb rental has had a human rights complaint denied.

Emily Yu filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging her strata violated her rights when it told her she was breaking their bylaw by running a short term rental out of her home.

In her complaint, Yu said the strata’s demand discriminated against her disability, which she said requires her to rent out her unit for income. 

However, tribunal member Devyn Cousineau cited a previous Supreme Court decision on the same dispute that said there was not enough evidence of a mental disability. 

“There is a one-paragraph letter from what appears to be a general practitioner, which states that she has long-term post-concussion issues and ongoing disability. This is simply, not enough, in my view,” the Supreme Court judge’s decision from 2018 says.

Cousineau’s decision released on June 26 said the B.C. Human Rights Code allows the tribunal to dismiss a complaint that “has been appropriately dealt with in another proceeding.” She pointed out that this was not the first time Yu and her strata had filed formal complaints against each other.

In 2017, following an application from her strata, Yu was ordered by the Civil Resolution Tribunal to shut down her rental, known as the “Oasis Hostel” operating out of her townhouse on 13th Avenue near Chesterfield Avenue.

“The owner used (the unit) as an ‘Airbnb’ unit since at least May 2016, whereby she rented out as many as 15 beds and (had) up to 20 short-term boarders at any one time,” the CRT decision says. 

“The Airbnb use is not disputed and is supported by various witness statements and documentary evidence, including ‘Craigslist’ ads provided to the tribunal, with the owner apparently charging between $50 and $102 per night for each bed.” 

Background information in the CRT decision also noted that Yu never had a business licence with the City of North Vancouver and that the city had ordered her to stop running the Airbnb on multiple occasions as it went against its bylaws. 

As a result of the CRT’s decision, Yu was fined $4,600 for running the Airbnb. That’s when the matter came before the Supreme Court, when Yu tried to appeal CRT’s decision. However, in 2018, she lost. 

In the case of the recent human rights complaint, Cousineau felt Yu’s issue had already been adequately dealt with by CRT and the Supreme Court and could not “support the re-litigation of the same issue.”  


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26Jun

Notorious illegal hostel owner has human rights complaint dismissed | CBC News

by admin

A North Vancouver woman who was repeatedly ordered to shut down her illegal 15-bed hostel won’t get another chance to argue she needs the extra income because she’s disabled.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has declined to hear Emily Yu’s complaint alleging discrimination by her townhouse strata, saying the issue had already been dealt with by the Civil Resolution Tribunal and the B.C. Supreme Court.

“I can see no principled reason to allow her to re‐litigate the same issue again, this time in a different forum. As the Supreme Court of Canada has said: ‘Forum shopping for a different and better result can be dressed up in many attractive adjectives, but fairness is not among them,'” tribunal member Devyn Cousineau wrote in Wednesday’s decision.

Yu’s strata, the City of North Vancouver and the courts have all told Yu to stop booking short-term guests for her three-bedroom townhouse. She was advertising up to 15 beds in the “Oasis Hostel” on sites like Airbnb, iBooked.ca and TripAdvisor.

The operation violated strata bylaws, and the city described it as a nuisance and a fire hazard.

In April, Yu was fined $5,000 for contempt of court after she refused to abide by an order of the Civil Resolution Tribunal and continued to rent out the beds.

But Yu told the human rights tribunal that she needed the extra income because she has a disability.

She said she planned to raise new issues that “could potentially affect many marginalized women” and said dismissing her complaint would result in a “miscarriage of justice,” according to Wednesday’s decision.

As Cousineau pointed out, however, Yu had previously raised the disability issue when she tried to appeal the Civil Resolution Tribunal decision in B.C. Supreme Court.

As part of her appeal, she submitted an affidavit and portions of a psychiatric assessment outlining her disabilities, which appear to include post-concussion problems, but the judge said there was “insufficient evidence” of a mental disability that would justify her continued violation of the strata bylaw.

Yu’s strata applied to the court last year, asking for an order forcing Yu to sell her unit, but the judge has yet to make a decision on that, calling it a “remedy of last resort.”

Airbnb has suspended Yu and her listing is no longer available on TripAdvisor.

 


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12Jun

Atheist nurse’s fight against mandatory AA will go before B.C. Human Rights Tribunal | CBC News

by admin

A B.C. nurse who lost his job when he refused to attend a 12-step program for addiction will get a chance to argue he was discriminated against as an atheist.

Byron Wood contends Alcoholic Anonymous’s emphasis on placing your life in the hands of a higher power simply won’t work for someone who doesn’t hold any religious beliefs.

That’s an argument worth considering, according to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. On Wednesday, it denied Vancouver Coastal Health’s application to dismiss Wood’s complaint alleging discimination on the basis of religion. 

“The tribunal has not [previously] considered whether the 12‐step program utilized by Alcoholics  Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous … may discriminate against persons with substance abuse disorders who are atheists,” tribunal member Walter Rilkoff wrote.

“In my view, there is a public interest in addressing that issue.”

If Wood was indeed a victim of discrimination, the tribunal will also have to decide what steps his employer would need to take to accommodate his lack of belief.

In the same decision, the tribunal also dismissed Wood’s complaint that he was discriminated on the basis of a mental disability — specifically, addiction — as well as parallel complaints against his union.

In an email to CBC, Wood expressed hope about the prospect of arguing his case before the tribunal.

“At a hearing, I will have the opportunity to introduce expert testimony from addiction experts,” he wrote.

“I’m hoping that eventually the courts will favour the evidence of experts who have a current, science-based understanding of substance use disorders. Only then will employers be forced to change their policies.”

No alternatives

Wood was diagnosed with substance use disorder after a psychotic break landed him in the psychiatric ward at Vancouver General Hospital in the fall of 2013. His professional college was informed, along with his union and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), his employer at the time.

He was referred to an addictions specialist, who created a plan that Wood would need to follow if he wanted to return to work. AA was a mandatory component of that plan.

Wood lost his job as a nurse after refusing to continue with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. (Bethany Lindsay/CBC)

Wood suggested alternatives to the 12 steps, including secular support groups and counselling, but his doctor rejected them, according to emails provided to CBC. 

He also asked for a referral to a new doctor, but his union informed him that it only uses addictions specialists who follow the 12-step model, the emails show.

He says the AA meetings didn’t help, but he lost his job as well as his registration as a nurse when he stopped going.

Researchers who’ve spoken to CBC about Wood’s story say it’s not unusual in Canada, and nurses are regularly required to attend 12-step programs in the interest of protecting public safety.

Medical opinions can be discriminatory

In its submissions to the tribunal, VCH argued the treatment plan designed for Wood was reasonable and supported by medical experts. 

But Rilkoff said expert opinions weren’t enough.

“Relying on medical opinions is not a sufficient defence if the medical recommendations are themselves discriminatory … VCH cannot avoid liability if it relies on discriminatory advice,” the decision says.

The 12 steps require members to “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him,” admit their faults and make amends with those they’ve hurt.

Many people who have recovered from addiction say AA was instrumental in their success.

But scientists who study addiction have long questioned the overall effectiveness of AA. In recent decades, numerous evidence-based pharmaceutical treatments have been developed for addiction, along with non-religious programs like SMART Recovery and LifeRing Secular Recovery.

For his part, Wood says he’s had great success using a drug called naltrexone, which blocks the intoxicating effects of alcohol and opiates. It’s an option he says he wasn’t offered while he was still employed as a nurse.


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5Jun

’Non-trivial dose’: UVic study tries to estimate human consumption of microplastics

by admin


A blue rectangular piece of microplastic is visible on a researcher’s finger on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 in Tacoma, Wash. New research suggests North Americans eat, drink and inhale tens of thousands of tiny plastic particles every year.


Ted S. Warren / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

New research suggests North Americans eat, drink and inhale tens of thousands of tiny plastic particles every year.

University of Victoria biologist Kieran Cox, whose paper was published Wednesday, says what his study shows most clearly is how little is known about the extent or impact of microplastics in people.

“The last thing I want to do is cause some sort of undue alarm over plastics,” he said.

“But even if we’re considering what I would call a pretty limited literature, we’re getting into hundreds of thousands (of particles) a year. That’s a non-trivial dose.”

Microplastics range in size from microscopic to a grain of rice. They are produced when plastic items of all kinds break down in the environment.

The subject of a growing body of research, they have been detected in oceans, on land and in air. Cox’s study is one of the first to try to estimate their presence in humans.

“If you tell people more facts surrounding microplastics in the ocean, they don’t seem perturbed by it,” he said. “But if you tell them there’s a small piece of plastic in their food, they’re really connected to that.”

Cox and his colleagues began by tracking down every study they could that estimated the plastics load in commonly consumed items of food and drink. Although they found nothing on meat and vegetables, they found 26 studies on fish, shellfish, sugar additives, salts and beer as well as on bottled and tap water.

They estimated how much of those items would be consumed by an average North American following something close to American food guidelines.

The calculated plastics dose those food items were introducing was between 39,000 to 52,000 microplastics particles a year into every individual. Female children were at the low end; adult males were at the high.


(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 17, 2015 shows a Chinese labourer sorting out plastic bottles for recycling in Dong Xiao Kou village, on the outskirt of Beijing.

FRED DUFOUR /

AFP/Getty Images

The totals could be higher. Someone who drinks mostly bottled water could be gulping down an extra 90,000 pieces yearly.

Nor does that include microplastics in air. Breathing introduces another 35,000 to 69,000 particles.

And because that estimate only includes about 15 per cent of average caloric intake, Cox said it’s likely to be conservative.

“I would say the likelihood that it’s an underestimate of your total consumption over the year is pretty high.”

Much remains unknown.

Cox didn’t find any studies on microplastics in meats, fruits, vegetables or alcoholic drinks except beer. The pathways into food and humans are varied and ill-understood, he said.

“You can think about the middle of the grocery store — you walk through all those middle aisles and the vast majority of those items are going to be wrapped in plastic. Everyone can take a survey of their day and think about the items that they’re consuming that have a lot of plastic in them.”

The health impacts of microplastics are also mysterious.

Some plastics — BPA, for example, which disrupts endocrine function — are harmful in themselves. There is also evidence they can carry other toxins. Many particles are small enough to pass through cell membranes.

It calls out for more research, Cox said.

“We have this dose. What does it mean?”

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2May

B.C. study finds no mental health benefits to eating human placenta

by admin

New research debunks the supposed mental health benefits of eating your own placenta.

UBC and the B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services’ Research Institute says their study found no difference in the mental health of mothers who had eaten their placenta versus those who had not.

The data came from a 10-year genetic study involving 138 women with a history of mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. Lead investigator Jehannine Austin says the comparison took into account a mother’s psychiatric diagnosis, medication use, age and income.


A woman grinds dehydrated human placenta.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

She says moms who had consumed their placenta did not have more energy, had no increase in their vitamin B12 levels, and required no less help breastfeeding than those who had not consumed their placentas. She adds that eating one’s placenta also did not appear to worsen mental health.

Nevertheless, Austin discourages the practice in light of Health Canada’s warning late last year that it could lead to bacterial or viral infections in mothers or their babies.

Austin’s study was published online Thursday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.

Proponents of human placenta preparations believe it helps prevent postpartum depression, overcome anemia, increase energy levels and boost breast milk production.


In this file photo taken on November 3, 2018, Kim Kardashian-West arrives for the 2018 LACMA Art+Film Gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California.

CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images

Celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Alicia Silverstone and Hilary Duff are among the famous moms who have popularized the trend, in which the organ is sometimes dehydrated and put into capsules, but it has drawn increasing scrutiny in the medical community.

“People are taking them because they see celebrities in the news doing it and they talk about their experience with doing it and so other women think, ‘Oh that sounds like a good idea,”‘ said Austin, executive director of the research institute and a professor in medicine at UBC.

“But the point that we’re trying to really make, having analyzed our data, is that there’s no evidence from our study to suggest that this actually helps in any way.

“It doesn’t help with mood, it doesn’t help with energy, it doesn’t help with nutrition levels and it doesn’t help with breastfeeding.”


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