Current events: can EMFs hurt you?

Many scientists and environmentalists are concerned that the EMFs generated by electric appliances and high  voltage power lines may harm health. Studies have not provided a clear answer to the question of health effects. Ways to reduce exposure are presented.
Can power lines and electric appliances promote brain cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and other diseases? The debate is charged with emotion.

What Are EMFs?

Electromagnetic fields, or EMFs, are electric and magnetic fields produced by electricity. Your CD player, hair dryer, television, and washing machine all use 60 hertz (Hz) alternating current (AC). The direction of the current shifts, or alternates, 60 cycles per second.
Health concerns focus on the magnetic field, measured in units called milligauss (mG). Some common appliances, like can openers and motor-driven alarm clocks, produce strong fields close up, but the field’s intensity drops off quickly a few feet away.
EMFs from 60 Hz power are “extremely low frequency,” in contrast to other radiation along the electromagnetic spectrum, such as X-rays or microwaves. Some EMFs exist naturally (e.g., the Earth’s magnetic field makes a compass point north).
EMFs from 60 Hz power can’t break apart cell barriers or heart tissue. Still, many scientists, citizen groups, and environmental activists worry about possible health problems.

Clusters of Cancer?

Concern about EMFs began in 1979 when researchers Nancy Wertheimer and Ed Leeper published a study that found a correlation between high EMFs and childhood leukemia deaths in Denver.
Electric utilities criticized the researchers’ methods. Scientists began new studies, looking at brain cancer, leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease, birth defects, and other illnesses.
Meanwhile, people living and working near high voltage electric wires and substations worried about cancer clusters concentrations of cancer within small geographic areas. Residents on Meadow Street in Guilford, Connecticut, claimed that an electric substation caused four cases of brain cancer, as well as other diseases. Teachers at Slater School in Fresno, California, said that EMFs caused at least eight cancer cases among teachers and aides working closest to high voltage transmission lines.
Journalist Paul Brodeur alerted the public with articles in The New Yorker magazine and books titled Currents of Death and The Great Power Line Conspiracy. Critics responded that cancer clusters can and do happen by chance.
Hundreds of studies have been done, costing millions of dollars. The National Council for Radiation Protection and Measurements soon will issue a 1,000 page report summarizing these studies.
Despite all these studies, there’s no clear answer. Interested parties have accused each other of selective reporting: picking and choosing data to get a particular result.
When health effects are found, scientists often are unable to replicate, or duplicate, the results in other studies. Some studies flat out contradict each other. One study found a relationship between EMFs and brain cancer, but not leukemia. Another found just the opposite.
Even if 60Hz EMFs don’t cause cancer, some scientists suspect they might promote growth of tumors that start some other way. Studies suggest EMFs slow production of melatonin, a hormone believed to fight cancer. Other studies examine whether EMFs alter the flow of calcium ions from cell to cell.
Fueling the fires are high financial stakes. Relocating transmission lines from overhead to underground would cost millions, with no guarantee that public health would benefit. And utilities and appliance manufacturers could face billions of dollars of potential liability if EMFs were ever proven to cause disease.

What Can Be Done?

While scientists debate whether EMFs pose a health risk, what can you do? First of all, keep things in perspective. Possible health problems from EMFs are rare, presenting much lower risks than many known hazards, such as the chance of an auto accident.
Yet uncertainty about even a small increased cancer risk can cause great fear. Finding out about the fields around your home can help. Some electric companies will measure EMFs with a special instrument, called a gaussmeter, free of charge.
Remember that EMF strength drops off quickly as distance from the source increases. Readings 4 inches away from a television can go up to 1 00 mG. Three feet away, the range is almost undetectable.
Using this information, Carnegie Mellon University Professor M.G. Morgan and his colleagues have suggested that people worried about EMFs use these low cost or no cost measures to reduce exposure: Move your motor driven plugin alarm clock across the room and away from your bed, or get a non motorized LED model or wind up clock. Warm the bed with your electric blanket, but turn it off and unplug it before going to sleep. Limit use of electric shavers, or switch to a manual razor. Using the best vacuum for stairs to avoid the harmful effects of EMFs. Keep the computer monitor at arm’s length and stay 3 feet away from the backs and sides of other computers. Stay at arm’s length when running kitchen appliances and other electrical equipment.
Since scientists don’t agree on whether EMFs can hurt you, neither they nor the U.S. government has determined what “magic number,” if any, is “safe.” And, since electricity is all around you, it’s a good idea to practice prudent avoidance.

Foodsaver V2840 review – The Best Surprise Kitchen Gift

My sister thought that I wasted my money when I bought the best vacuum sealer the Foodsaver V2840 Advanced Design. She said it had been unnecessary and results in our kitchen space just. I simply shrugged it off and waited until my week-long a vacation to the populous city. After that week as I got back soon, all I noticed were “Many Thanks” and inch “I really love you”. Exactly what do you consider did I actually do?foodsaver-chart

What I did has been make different meals and desserts on her behalf before me remaining and sealed all of them utilizing the machine. Nicely, it had been her birthday celebration that week, and I understood she was usually in a morning rush. Without me in order to cook on her behalf, she would be eating nasty, unpleasant meals (yes, she actually is bad at your kitchen).

As a week-long present for her birthday celebration, I ensured that whenever the freezer is opened by her, there will always be different things and delicious to eat on her behalf. Plus yes, my strategy worked. She loves the FoodSaver Meals Sealer just as much as I do now!

Adorable Features:

Using its flip-up space-saving style, getting a kitchen space is not a nagging issue at all. The business that brought us the product has taken into consideration how limited ones kitchen area space is certainly, and has recognized that product is not a simple to every kitchen really. Well, yes it cannot really a basic, yet it’s definitely the must-have! The flexible meals settings are also outstanding.

Who’s It Made For?

This particular best vacuum sealer is for all those customers who want to purchase in bulk to get all of them at a low price. Using they can be helped by it seal these food types into smaller packs, and be saved within the freezer for potential consumption. This is big money and time-saver definitely. The good thing is that, dinners and desserts you have sealed taste as if you cooked them once you reheat them just!

The particular “Gasket” Issue:

Nicely, there’s this seal issue that quite a few consumers have already been whimpering about — yet I don’t! The thing is that the device stops giving a whole vacuum due to the issue with the gaskets. The solution is easy downright, and an easy problem such as this is not able to outweigh the product’s efficiency.vasmaster vacuum sealer roll

According to the majority of consumers, some tips about what these people perform: First, you need to remove both bottom and top gasket. Next, stick it within about 1/4 drinking water with a pea-sized level of a liquid meal cleaning soap. After squeezing the soap thoroughly, rinse it along with clean drinking water. Lastly, let it dry first every day and night before replacing it to the device. Therefore, the trick to avoiding any pressing issue with the machine is to clean it often.

Overall, I have, but still believe that this undoubtedly among the best purchases I had for the kitchen area. Buying it is worthwhile for all the comfort it offers and for the long- phrase saving it could give you with regards to every day usage of food. It is a definite must-have for each and every kitchen pro.

What you need to get the job done

If you’re an off roader, chances are you’ve got a bunch of tools in the garage. More than likely you also carry tools in your 4×4, just in case something goes snap in the night. Do you have what you need? Are you ready to step up to more advanced repairs and installations? Should you buy brand name tools, or will the cheap stuff suffice? Let’s explore!


We’ve all seen the low buck tools that sell for a fraction of the price of the name brands. Chances are, you’ve had one of those el cheapo wrenches spread open when you were trying to free a stubborn nut.

Sure, the top of the line tools such as Craftsman Professional, Snap On, Proto, Mac are expensive, but there is a second level of tools that are excellent and priced substantially less than the premium items. Among them are Craftsman Power Kraft and SK.

Our advice? If you can afford the very best, go for it. If you’re on a budget, it’s hard to beat Sears’ Craftsman. The most important thing you should look for is a good guarantee. Craftsman tools are famous for their lifetime guarantee; if you break a hand tool, just bring it back and Sears will replace it. Many other tool makers have been pressured to follow that lead. The lifetime guarantee does not apply to power tools.

Will cheap tools work? Yes, and some of them have a limited guarantee. For example, I have a large number of low cost screwdrivers, box wrenches, crescent wrenches, hammers, files and pliers. And the tools that I stash away in my off-road vehicles are carefully chosen low cost items.


END WRENCHES: When choosing end wrenches, your best bet is to get a combination set; one with a box wrench on one end and an open type on the other end. A proper set of end wrenches will get shorter as the wrench size decreases. This is a sort of built-in protection against over tightening.

Open end wrenches apply their force on two sides of the nut or bolt. Box wrenches apply force on all six sides of a standard fastener, so you’re always better off using a box end, rather than an open end, if you have the option.

ADJUSTABLE WRENCHES: Commonly referred to as Crescent wrenches, these are the most versatile tools you can carry. A 10 or 12 inch wrench will handle fasteners from zero to more than an inch.

SOCKET WRENCHES: These greatly speed up work compared to end wrenches, and can often work in spots where an end wrench wonts fit. You should have a full range of sizes from 114 inch to 1 1/2 inches (or the metric equivalent), and a good selection of extensions. Ideally, you should have 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch drive sets. However, if you’re on a tight budget, go with the medium sized 3/8-inch drive set and purchase a 1/4 inch adapter and 1/4 inch sockets.

Sockets are available in 4, 6, 8 and 12 points. The 4 and 8 point sockets are for square headed fasteners, while the 6 pointers are used mainly for power impact tools. For most general use, the 12 point sockets get the nod.

SPECIALTY RATCHET TIPS: In addition to sockets, you can purchase a wide variety of tips to speed up most jobs. They include swivels, screwdriver tips, torx bits, Allen tips and ratchet spinner attachments.

HOLDERS: Get a medium sized vise and attach it firmly to a stout bench. This will be one of the most heavily used items in your tool arsenal. While you’re at it, pick up a few cheap C clamps.

SCREWDRIVERS: Don’t take this common tool for granted, because an ill fitting blade can chew up a screw. Get a good selection of straight slots, and both versions of the cross slots, the Phillips and Reed and Prince heads. Cheap, ultra long screw drivers can be used for prying things loose. One step beyond the screwdriver is the best impact driver. This handy tool will loosen stubborn screws (or even nuts/bolts) by whacking it with a hammer and applying sharp jolts of torque.

PLIERS: Snap On makes more than 40 different types of pliers, but only a professional mechanic would need them all. You should have at least the following: double jointed straight jaw pliers, long nosed (needle nose), diagonal wire cutters, vise grips and Channel locks. Beyond the basics, you can also purchase pliers that remove/install snap rings and circlips, remove spark plug terminals, strip electrical wiring and remove brake springs, among other tasks.

HAMMERS: There are times when a hammer is needed to free a stubborn part. In addition to the garden variety claw hammer, you should have a round faced ball peen, a soft faced plastic or rubber hammer and a stout lead or copper hammer for tapping metal without damaging it.

SAWS AND FILES: Never cut corners on hacksaw blades; a premium blade will not only out cut a cheap blade, it will out last it many times over. Get two blades: one should be a fine toothed item of 32 teeth per inch for cutting harder steels, and a blade in the 18 to 24 teeth per ins range for coarser cuts on softer materials.

No matter how clean your hacksaw cut is, it must be dressed up with a file. You’ll need a selection of files from fine to coarse, with a variety of shapes, from round (rat tail) to flat.

TORQUE WENCHES: Every nut, bolt, or piece of metal has a limit to which it can safely be stretched or stressed. Pro mechanics say that an over torqued bolt is half broken. To prevent over tightening (or under), a torque wrench is a must! For light duty tightening, you’ll need a torque wrench in inch pounds; for heavy duty work, a foot pound wrench is needed.

Two types of torque wrenches are available: the dial type has a pointer that indicates the tonque applied, and the clicker type that makes a clicking sound when the pre set torque is reached. Usually, tire dial type wrenches are cheaper than the clickers, but work well providing you’re in a position to read the dial.

JACKS AND STANDS: These are must haves for off roaders, as we’re always swapping wheels, or crawling around under our 4x4s to fiddle with one thing or another. Get a decent hydraulic jack with at least a 2 ton capacity. Pick up four adjustable jack stands capable of holding the 4×4’s full weight.

LIGHTS: Get a good drop light and plenty of extension cords. The best one I’ve ever seen is by Snap On, and it has a super powerful magnetic base that lets you stick it against any metal surface and aim it at the work area.

ELECTRICAL TESTERS: At the very minimum, you should have a basic circuit tester that will let you trace out shorts, opens, or find a hot wire. Beyond that, a small ohmmeter can solve numerous puzzles.

Electrical Testers

MEASURING DEVICES: Acquire a tape measure, feeler gauges and a cheap set of calipers.

TIRE STUFF: A cigarette lighter powered portable air compressor can be a real life saver at times. You’ll also need an accurate tire gauge.

HANDLING LIQUIDS AND LUBRICANTS: Every home garage should have a decent selection of funnels and drain pans. Grease guns are cheap; mini guns are available for less than ten bucks. A one dollar turkey baster makes a great battery filler.

SPECIALTY TOOLS: You are limited in this area by how deep your pockets are. There’s a near-endless variety of handy tools designed for special jobs. Some you might consider are: gear pullers, pop rivet guns, tin snips, propane torches, tap and die sets, timing lights, hex head (Allen) wrenches, screw extractor sets, compression testers, welding outfits to name just a few.

METRIC OR REGULAR? Get both. Even though the world is slowly shifting to the metric system, it’s common to find both types of fasteners on American vehicles. And if you have an older 4×4, chances are all nuts and bolts will he US, Japanese and European 4x4s are fully metric.

POWER TOOLS: There are two power tools every 4×4 owner absolutely MUST HAVE in his home shop: an electric drill and a bench grinder. If you can only afford one drill, get the larger unit with a 1/2 inch chuck that will accept larger drill bits and accessory shafts. The bench grinder should have a wire wheel on one side and a grinding wheel on the other. You’re better off buying a small selection of high quality drill bits than a large number of cheap bits. To complement the drill, get a nice selection of wire brushes, grinding stones and small cut off wheels. This will help you make short work when removing rusted exhaust pipes, or corroded fasteners.

Other power tools worth considering are sawzalls, impact guns, soldering guns, small hand grinders, a one horse air compressor with a selection of blow tips, a polishing/buffing wheel (great for getting brush scratches out of your paint job), and a battery charger. Of course, the list of power tools is almost endless, and you could go nuts!


The dangers of occasional smoking

For many young Americans, President Barack Obama has become a role model. And for good reason the election of the nation’s first African American president was a landmark in U.S. history. But there’s still one thing that, when this magazine went to press, Obama had yet to achieve: kicking his cigarette habit.

Despite a promise to his wife to quit smoking at the start of the campaign and a new law he approved giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversight of the tobacco industry, Obama is still known to bum a cigarette every now and then or sneak away once in a while for a smoke. Many people worry that the president’s habit may lead teens who look up to him to wonder, what’s wrong with the occasional cigarette? Plenty, according to experts.

Danger in Dabbling

Although teen smoking rates overall have been dropping steadily since 1997, the number of people who are intermittent smokers those who, like Obama, smoke but don’t do it every day is increasing. About one in four Americans who smoke do so intermittently, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That may sound relatively harmless compared with people who smoke a pack a day or more, but experts stress that there is no safe level of tobacco use, particularly for teens.

A study at University College London in England found that just one exposure to nicotine (a chemical present in cigarettes) permanently changes pathways in the brain, which can make young people more vulnerable to stress and depression. The researchers also found that for people between the ages of 11 and 16, smoking even a single cigarette has a “sleeper effect.” That means teens who dabble are more likely to become regular smokers over the next few years.

Dr. Joseph DiFranza of the University of Massachusetts Medical School has found similar results in his research on teen smoking. A teenager who tries smoking once has a 50 percent chance of eventually becoming addicted, according to DiFranza. “We now know that even one cigarette has a substantial risk of leading to addiction,” he says. “In fact, most kids get addicted to cigarettes when they’re not smoking every day.”

Some teens in DiFranza’s study experienced cravings only two days after trying their first cigarette. That serves as a warning for those people who may think they can avoid the risks associated with cigarettes by not smoking every day. “The danger of [occasional] smoking,” DiFranza warns, “is that it almost inevitably leads to a state of addiction in which you have to smoke more and more often just to feel normal.”

Quick Consequences

Fifteen year old Lauren, a ninth grader in Baton Rouge, La., learned firsthand about the consequences of occasional smoking. “When I started smoking, I would smoke a pack of cigarettes a week,” she says. A pack has about 20 cigarettes. “But as time passed, I would want more and more,” Lauren remembers. “By the time I got around to quitting, I would smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day.”

As her habit progressed, Lauren realized that even young, healthy smokers can experience negative effects. “[Smoking] ages you and makes you feel like you’re breathing through a straw constantly,” she says. “My teeth were getting yellow, and I always smelled like smoke…. Even my teachers were noticing. It was embarrassing.”

Some of the most dangerous short term effects of smoking are the ones you may not even be aware of. Researchers from the University of Georgia in Athens found that young people who smoked less than a pack of cigarettes per week cut by half their arteries’ ability to dilate, or increase in size. “If the arteries do not effectively dilate, it is one of the … early warning signs of disease,” says Dr. Lee Stoner, one of the researchers.

Hard Habit to Break

Another common misconception about occasional smokers is that they’ll have an easier time quitting than people who smoke every day. Teens who make that assumption may be in for a rude awakening. The number of cigarettes a person smokes per day or per week is no indication of how hard it will be for him or her to quit, according to DiFranza.

Occasional smokers find it difficult to quit, he adds, because they have cravings and feel as if they need to smoke just to feel normal again. Kayla, a 13 year old in Ray, Mich., says she often experienced the urge to smoke. “I kept craving cigarettes,” she says, “until I could find other ways to cope with my stress.”

Dealing with stress and anxiety is one of the approaches of ASPIRE (A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience), a free online program aimed at helping young people quit before smoking becomes a lifelong addiction. Its creator, Dr. Alexander Prokhorov, says that ASPIRE works by helping teens find positive ways to deal with issues such as stress and depression, which are often why they were driven to smoke in the first place. A graduate of ASPIRE, Kayla says the program taught her that when she felt stressed, she could “listen to music or draw or just take a nap” until her cigarette cravings passed.

It all comes down to choices. While teens can’t choose whether they become addicted once they start smoking, they should feel empowered that the decision to lead smokefree lives is theirs. “The most important choice you can make,” says DiFranza, “is whether or not to smoke the first cigarette.”


Not all negative effects of smoking take years to develop. In addition to long-term health problems, such as lung cancer and emphysema, cigarettes can cause a number of short term health effects in teens. Those include:

* A dull complexion. Many smokers look pale and just plain unhealthy. That is because smoking restricts blood flow, making it difficult for enough oxygen and nutrients to make their way to the skin.

* State smelling breath, clothes, and hair. Smoking often leads to a case of bad breath that just won’t go away. In addition, the unpleasant odor of stale smoke lingers on hair and clothes as well.

* Stained teeth and fingernails. The tar and nicotine present in cigarettes quickly build up on teeth and fingernails, turning them a sickly shade of yellow.

* Decreased athletic ability. Teens who smoke aren’t on a level playing field with their nonsmoking peers. Smoking causes symptoms that make it impossible for them to stay at the top of their game for long, including rapid heartbeat, decreased circulation, and shortness of breath.

* Greater risk of sports injuries and slower recovery. Smoking will keep you on the sidelines by negatively impacting your body’s ability to produce collagen, a protein important for bones and connective tissue. So even minor sports injuries, such as a pulled muscle or a torn ligament, will take longer to heal in teens who smoke.

* More sick time. Generally, smokers experience more instances of colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia than nonsmokers do. Plus, smoking can make preexisting health conditions, such as asthma, even worse.

Teens Against TOBACCO

The members of Catalyst, a network of Minnesota youths who are public health advocates, understand that there’s no safe smoking. One of their missions is to spread that message by speaking out against the tobacco industry. In addition to hosting an annual summit that unites teens from across the state for learning and activism, Catalyst members help shape local antitobacco legislation. In 2007, Catalyst played an important role in supporting the Freedom to Breathe provisions of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, which outlawed smoking in all public indoor spaces and places of employment.

Sixteen year old Mariah G. of Farmington who’s been a member of Catalyst for the past two years says her time with the organization has helped her uncover a passion for public health. “The tobacco industry targets children and teenagers to be lifelong customers, which [makes] me very upset;’ she says. “I have learned that I want to be a leader against the tobacco industry for the rest of my life.”

How can you get involved? “A teenager’s local or school antidrug or antitobacco programs are great resources in fighting the tobacco industry;’ says Mariah. “If there are no antitobacco programs in your area, you can create one with the help of a teacher or counselor. All it takes is a lot of passion and some hard work, and you can truly make a difference.”

Tools and Training

You know that I’ve always written from the technical perspective and for technicians. However, this article is not only aimed at technicians, but also dealership owners and manufacturers. I will address tools (needs versus wants), training (needs and why), and warranty (the importance to manufacturers). And then, I’ll try to tie it all together.


All gear heads, motor jocks, mechanics and techs are always being told they need the next big thing in tools. We have all been besieged by the rolling tool jockeys stopping by to show us the latest and greatest tool that will make our jobs easier and more efficient. This usually leads to the dealership owners getting annoyed because the truck stops by and spends a lot of what the owners may perceive is a waste of their valuable time and money. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t stop by, but it may be in everyone’s best interests to schedule, if at all possible, an appointment for first thing in the morning or at lunch or at least notify the owner that the truck is stopping by! The other time we hear about the latest and greatest in tools is when we are attending an update seminar or training school. Then, we need to have these tools because they are shiny, new and sport the corporate logo on them, and we all know that means we will be able to fix anything!

Now, I realize this may sound a little harsh and “against the norm,” but I believe as techs we need to evaluate the tools at our disposal, and start to make decisions to save time and money, as well as perhaps a night of sleeping on the couch! (You single techs may view it as less beer money!)

What constitutes a good tech? Some will say it lies in what they have invested in tools. Others will say it is how much knowledge they have regarding their trade. I say it’s both, as well as the desire to continue to sharpen your skills and knowledge and how you invest in tools. We have all seen the Snap-on, Craftsman and Kobalt toolsets that can run thousands of dollars. They have every known tool to man, or so we believe, and we take the plunge and purchase these sets. Then, after we start using them, we find that we are always short that one “special” tool or tools that make the job easier.

The other side of tools is the manufacturers’ “special” tools. We have all attended an update seminar, a factory sponsored field school or a factory training class, where manufacturers promote their tools to help make our jobs easier and the majority of them will. One of the downsides is you could be led to believe that the tool from Manufacturer A is better than the same tool from Manufacturer B, and the difference usually comes down to price. Now to be fair to the manufacturers, the majority of them are not tool manufacturers; they simply need to purchase a certain quantity of tools to reach a point where they can offer them to you at a reasonable price. One suggestion that may help you decide if the tool is worth the expense is to ask yourself, “How often will I need this tool? Will this tool save time? Will it make the procedure easier?”

The dealership can also offer to invest in the tool for the entire shop and write off the cost of the tool as part of “shop expenses.” This would require that the techs be trained and have a procedure in place to have access to the tool with all parties agreeing that it is a company tool. The dealership should also ask if the tool can save time, as is the case with electrical test equipment. Ownership must also realize that the reimbursement on warranty service may require the use of the “specialty” tool.

This may all sound familiar and reasonable. The point I am trying to make is that when it comes to the need versus want of a tool, the technician must ask, “Does the tool’s need justify its expense, or is the tool a want that looks cool but will not pay for itself in a reasonable period?” A partial list of tools that technicians need appears in the box on page 19. This list was developed by surveying dealerships, vocational schools, technical schools and manufacturers.

Once you or your dealership owner has made the investment in a “specialty” tool, take time to learn how to properly use, care for, and store said tool. All too often, I have been to shops claiming to have a “specialty” tool “somewhere in the shop” only to eventually find it dusty, covered in grease, or stored improperly. This can lead to unnecessary downtime and delay in conducting a profitable repair. There has been some talk by distributors and dealer associations of looking at making some of the more expensive tools available on a rental program. I’m not sure if this is a feasible option, but it shows that there is some interest in using the proper tool and at least the thought of a solution.


Every year, manufacturers develop various types of training seminars, they may include but are not limited to: hands on, sales, marketing, and in house factory schools. These programs are vital and necessary to manufacturers as they help them understand market share, service issues, and hopefully improvements to their products. Those technicians who think that these are not necessary are the same ones who when asked how the meeting was, respond, “The food was good!” I am not going to preach the virtues of the sessions; those that go with the “I always learn something of value” approach are already ahead of the rest.

There are many reasons that a dealership should evaluate and participate in the service update and training offered. I believe the trick for dealership owners is to ask the supplier about the school’s aim. To me, a seminar is an “update” when it covers a broad range of information such as new products, service issues, marketing and sales. This type of school may require the attendance of more than one person per dealership perhaps the service manager and lead tech. If it’s a “hands-on” service session, then it is obvious that all technicians should attend. If you cannot afford to send all of your technicians, then it is of the utmost importance that you send the tech that will do the best job of taking notes, asking questions, and sharing the information with fellow techs.

For the manufacturers, they are also obligated to make sure that they explain the type and purpose of the session, as well as help promote the session in the appropriate manner. If the material is geared more toward dealership owners, then it may be best to let the dealership know this. It is also important for those manufacturers that have master dealer status for their dealers to see that credit is given to the dealership and to make sure the appropriate people attend. There are times when someone is sent just to meet an obligation and that is of no benefit to either party.

We could spend a great deal of time debating the pros and cons of these sessions. As a technician, one thing that can be difficult and frustrating is attending a session taught by an instructor who reads verbatim from the book and won’t “man up” to not knowing the answer to a question, saying,” I don’t know, but I will follow up and get back to you.” It’s also frustrating to attend sessions where the instructor spends more time on sales information and warranty procedures and little time on service issues. Manufacturers that spend a lot of money on these sessions might be wise to ask that program presenters be certified themselves. I don’t necessarily mean a certified tech but a certified trainer.

The last area of training for manufacturers has to do with providing updates on DVD/video. The advantage is that you save money on the travel and the associated costs. The biggest downside is the interaction between the dealer and the public. Your dealerships are the link between your products and you, and how they feel about handling issues with customer. The dealership must empathize with customers and try to resolve their concerns to the best of their ability. This does not happen by sending a DVD or a video with the belief that this will make it better. There is value in having the material on a DVD or video because it can be shared with those techs that did not attend or are new to the company. There are companies that offer Webinars for dealerships. Some manufacturers tape the presentation and then make the link available to their dealers so they can sign on and review the session at a later date. This type of session also allows for a survey or questions to be answered at the end to see if the material was understood. It also allows the shop the ability to contact the manufacturer for clarification.

What does all this mean for the technician? If you thought that your learning stopped when you left school and that all it takes is the latest and greatest in tools and training, you would be wrong! It takes the right tools, the right attitude in training, and pride in wanting to do the best you can. Look at the publications that serve this industry and the information that they contain; they try to give you all the tools necessary. Someone in our great industry once said, “Service is the lifeblood of any organization; everything flows from it and is nourished by it. Customer service is not a department, but an attitude.”

What’s up, doc?


Q: Does blow-drying your hair cause split ends?

Nicholas Contarino, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

It can, but only if the blow-dryer is too hot. Each individual hair is a bundle of thin fibers that resembles a rope. The bundle of fibers is called the cortex and is covered by a casing called the cuticle.

A: When the hair is exposed to excess heat, the cuticle can be injured. The fibers fan out like the frayed end of an old rope. The result is trichoptilosis, or split ends.

The best way to prevent split ends is to turn down the heat on your blow dryer. Use a mild shampoo, too, and don’t use a plastic brush, which can be hard on hair.

Q: What is tetanus?

Veronica Schneider, Beacon, N.Y.

Tetanus is a deadly but preventable disease, caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, commonly found in soil. Symptoms of tetanus include muscle rigidity and muscle spasms throughout the body. An early sign of tetanus is lockjaw; muscle rigidity in the jaw can cause it to lock shut.

A: People can contract tetanus from a knife wound, intravenous drug use with a dirty needle, or a puncture wound from a rusty nail. The bacterium can also enter the body when dirt or feces are not properly cleaned from a break in the skin.

Because most people in the United States are vaccinated against tetanus, fewer than 50 cases of tetanus have been reported each year since 1995. Doctors treat tetanus with antibiotics and muscle relaxants.

Q: What is the effect of listening to too-loud music?

Sarah Porco, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Music and other sounds that are too loud can damage the ears in two ways. They can harm the tympanic membrane, or eardrum, a thin, taut circle of tissue that vibrates when struck by sound waves. If the sound waves are too intense, they can cause the eardrum to burst, resulting in deafness.

A: Sounds that are too loud can also damage the inner ear. When the eardrum vibrates, the vibrations are transmitted into the inner ear. Tiny hair cells respond to the vibrations and send messages by way of a main nerve to the brain. The type of sound sensed by the brain depends on which hair cells are triggered. Loud noises can crumple the hair cells and permanently impair their ability to send messages to the brain, causing deafness.

Q: Can West Nile virus be passed from person to person?

David Tomhowid, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The virus that causes West Nile cannot be transmitted through ordinary contact. The virus lives predominantly in birds. It is transmitted when a mosquito sucks blood from an infected bird and then bites a human or another animal. (In 2002 in the United States, 14,000 horses fell ill with West Nile virus.)

A: Although West Nile virus isn’t contagious, it can be transmitted indirectly from person to person. Recently, four people became sick with West Nile after receving organ transplants from a single donor who had the virus.

Medical ethics


Amount drug companies pay volunteers to be the first humans to injest experimental drugs: up to $100 a day

There are more ethical rules governing experiments on animals in Canada than there are moral guidelines for studying humans

Percentage of Canadians who believe that assisted reproduction and treatment for infertility should be available for single women: 53%; lesbian couples: 35%; women over 50: 27%

Amount of money asked for a healthy kidney by respondents to Edmonton businessman lke Bryldt’s 1995 newspaper advertisement: $10,000 to $50,000

Percentage of Canadian women who choose to terminate their pregnancy after learning they are carrying a Down’s syndrome child: 90%

Percentage of Canadian adults who think doctor-assisted suicide is acceptable in some situations: 70%

Penalty if a doctor is convicted of assisting a patient to commit suicide: life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years

Penalty for counselling a person to commit suicide or abetting a suicide, regardless of whether death results: up to 14 years in prison

Cost to “screen-out” genetically defective embryos at a Toronto fertility clinic: $6,500 to $9,800

Number of diseases the clinic is equipped to identify: 27

Clinic motto: “Creating Families Since 1983”

After announcing the successful cloning of a sheep, British researchers said the advancement would be used to produce more “health-care products”

Percentage of emergency doctors in Ontario who, according to a recent study, were aware of a colleague who had been sexually involved with a patient or former patient: 9%; who admitted they had been sexually involved with a former patient: 6%; of those having sex who did it in a medical setting: 58%

Number of emergency doctors in Ontario who believe it is appropriate behaviour to ask a patient for a date after an emergency assessment: more than 1 in 6

Amount of time after treating a patient that a doctor can ethically pursue a relationship with that person (as recommended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia): 6 years

Percentage of patients who disapprove of their medical records being read by an outside physician without their approval: 64%

Number of hospital staff who were shown to have access to patient records in one study: up to 100, including secretaries, financial officers and medical students

In 1994, medical information–including patient assessments from a B.C. cancer agency, hospital reports on operations and consultation letters–were found on used computer discs purchased at a Value Village store in Langley, B.C.

Number of years Lou Gehrig’s disease sufferer Sue Rodriguez fought in court to have legal assistance in killing herself: 2 years

Number of hours it took Rodriguez to die after being administered a lethal injection: 2 hours

Number of questions Dutch physicians must answer after committing an act of euthanasia in order to establish that a patient specifically directed the act: 50

Year by which Chicago physicist Richard Seed hopes to have succeeded in cloning a baby: 2000


Nothing but the tooth, how to keep your choppers healthy

Do you go to bed without brushing your teeth? Are you too busy to floss? You may think that skipping brushing or flossing is not a big deal, but neglecting your teeth can lead to some serious health problems.

Cavities and gum disease are infections that can cause really stinky breath, incredible pain, and a lot of swelling. Left untreated, those infections can eventually lead to tooth loss. But there are simple steps you can take to prevent tooth decay. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to keep your mouth healthy for life.

You have a cavity so what?

Cavities known by dental professionals as dental caries are actually infectious diseases. Simply put, a cavity is a diseased spot in the tooth. It all starts with plaque, a sticky bacterial film that coats your teeth and gums. (That’s what feels slimy on your teeth when you first wake up in the morning!) The bacteria eat sugars from things you eat and drink, producing acids. Then, the acids eat away at your tooth’s hard outer coating, or enamel.

If you don’t brush and floss regularly to remove plaque or if you keep missing a spot that acid will eventually eat away the enamel entirely, forming a cavity. “The larger gets, the closer it gets to the nerve, increasing the chance of incredible pain,” according to Lynn Ramer, president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.

A cavity will never just go away by itself. There’s no brushing the problem under the proverbial rug. “Left untreated, 100 percent of the time a cavity will spread,” says Dr. William Berlocher, a dentist who is also president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

If a cavity is caught early enough, your dentist will be able to fix your tooth with simple filling. First, he or she will give you a shot to numb the area so you won’t feel anything. Next, the infection will be removed and replaced with a special material, either a metal amalgam, which is a blend of various metals including silver, or a more natural-looking composite, which is made of glass or quartz mixed with resin. Caitlin G., a 10th grader from New Port Richey, Fla., had to get a cavity filled a few years ago. “It hurt a little bit, but not as much as I expected,” she says.

If you ignore that pain in your tooth, the infection will keep spreading right into the tooth’s root, forming a more serious and painful infection known as an abscess. At this point, the dentist will have to perform a more complicated procedure known as a root canal and remove the tooth’s nerve.

That’s what happened to Kokomo, Ind., senior Becca J., who has undergone two root canals. “Candy was my favorite thing,” she says. “I’d have some before bed and then go to sleep without brushing my teeth.” Becca knew there was a problem when she started feeling intense pain, “like a shock,” when she ate.

Becca was able to get help soon after she started feeling pain. Twelve year old Deamonte Driver from Maryland wasn’t so lucky the bacteria from his severely infected tooth spread to his brain, and he died. Deaths from tooth infections are extremely rare, but they can happen if the infections are left untreated.

Gums are important too!

If you don’t brush and floss regularly, you’re also at risk for developing gum disease. Not only will your gums bleed and swell, they’ll eventually pull away from your teeth permanently. You’ll be in pain, and your breath will smell. “Worst case,” Ramer adds, “you’ll lose your teeth.” While it’s more common to see adults with tooth loss from gum disease, if you consistently neglect your teeth, it can happen to you now.

Sweets aren’t the only cavity culprit. Sure, candy plays a huge role in tooth decay. But so do high sugar, high carbohydrate beverages, such as fruit juices and soft drinks. Even diet soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which can lead to tooth erosion. And according to Berlocher, “sports drinks are horrible for teeth.”

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a sports drink if you’re actually playing sports, but you definitely shouldn’t guzzle one all day long. And after indulging in the occasional sugary beverage, soft drink, or sports drink, you should immediately rinse your mouth out with water, Berlocher recommends. That can help wash away many of the sugars left behind by sweet drinks.

Brushing and flossing are no brainers. Caitlin keeps cavities at bay by brushing her teeth two or three times a day, as recommended by dentists. “I even floss while I’m in the car sometimes,” she says.

It doesn’t matter whether you use an electric or regular toothbrush, according to Berlocher. They both work as long as you spend enough time brushing. Two full minutes twice a day is the absolute minimum. Choose a brush with soft bristles to avoid irritating your gums, and make sure to use toothpaste with fluoride, a mineral that has been proved to help prevent cavities.

Flossing is an important part of oral hygiene because it helps remove plaque from between your teeth, where a brush can’t reach. It’s not important what kind of floss you use, though waxed floss can be easier. The key thing is that you do it at least once, and ideally twice, a day.

There are even some treatments that can help give you a leg up on cavity prevention. Sealants are a protective coating that your dentist can put in the pits and fissures in your back teeth those spots that are sometimes too small for even a single toothbrush bristle to reach. The coating can last up to 10 years, and it helps keep out cavity causing bacteria. And regular fluoride treatments can help strengthen weak spots on the tooth and prevent tooth decay.

Braces make brushing trickier. Don’t let braces keep you from staying on top of your routine. “Braces double or triple the difficulty of oral hygiene,” Berlocher says. “It’s harder to scrub away the bacteria.” Maneuvering around all those brackets and wires in your mouth can be tough, so it’s important that you take the extra time and effort to make sure your toothbrush has reached every exposed tooth surface.

And ask your orthodontist about a proxy brush. That has a special shape designed to make brushing teeth with braces more effective. “Antibacterial mouthwashes can also help,” Berlocher says.

Cavities aren’t the only things that can cost you teeth!

“Kids involved in sports who don’t wear a mouth guard are at a much higher risk of losing or damaging their teeth” than kids who do wear mouth guards, Ramer says.

And mouth guards aren’t just for football players you can lose a tooth in any sport, from wrestling and soccer to baseball and softball. “You don’t think it can happen to you until you’re standing there with your tooth in your hand,” Berlocher says. You can get a moldable mouth guard at a sporting goods store or a custom-fitted one from your dentist.

If you do get a tooth knocked out, don’t panic. Rinse it off, place it back in the socket, and get to a dentist right away. If that’s just too painful, put it in liquid milk is a great choice. Go to the dentist immediately because chances are he or she can put the tooth back.

Bottom line? Neglecting your teeth can have serious consequences, something Becca learned the hard way. “Take care of your teeth!” she advises. “If you don’t, you’ll end up in a lot of pain.”

Say It

Curtis S., a 10th grader from Spring Hill, Fla., has a fairly common fear. Going to the dentist, he says, “scares me to death. I really have to psych myself out to go.”

Twice yearly visits to the dentist are a crucial component of keeping your teeth healthy. Dentists and hygienists understand patient concerns and do all they can to make the experience pleasant. The next time you feel anxious or panicked, try these tips to calm your nerves.

Distract yourself. “I bring my headphones and listen to my iPod,” says Caitlin G. of New Port Richey, Fla. So long, drill noise!

Communicate your fears and concerns. “Tell your provider if you’re sensitive or scared: American Dental Hygienists’ Association President Lynn Ramer says. That way, he or she can address your concerns and maybe help you feel a little better.

Salvia a look at the unknown risks of this powerful drug

There’s a drug that has been generating a lot of buzz lately Salvia divinorum. Though salvia was originally grown by Native American religious leaders seeking spiritual visions, it’s gaining notoriety today as a hallucinogen. Salvia a plant related to sage and mint and also known as “Sally D,” “Magic Mint,” “Sadi,” “Ska Maria Pastora,” and “Diviner’s Sage” is currently making headlines because of increasing efforts to ban the drug and because there’s so much that’s unknown about its effects.

There is no doubt that curiosity about the hallucinogenic (reality distorting) herb is growing. In 2006, about 1.8 million people ages 12 and older reported using salvia at least once in their lives, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study. About 750,000 of those people used it just for the first time that year.

The Experiment

People who experiment with salvia are often looking for an altered sense of reality. But they may get more than they bargained for. The drug’s actual effects are generally strong enough and in many cases frightening enough to discourage further or frequent use.

Salvia is usually described as a type of hallucinogen, a dissociative, that changes or blocks the senses, so you literally feel disconnected or separated from reality. The drug is extremely potent, and what’s happening in a user’s head is usually very different from how it looks on the outside. “Your friends just see you sitting there drooling, when in your brain there’s a ton of crazy stuff happening,” says 24 year old Daniel,* of New York City, who first tried salvia at age 18.

Duncan, 23, also of New York City, had that kind of experience. “I was being pulled towards the ceiling,” says Duncan, who tried salvia as a 16 year old. “Then I was terrified, then everything disappeared.”

The Experience

A person using salvia can’t ever be sure just how strong the effect will be. Salvia is sold in various amounts. Depending on how much salvia the user takes and the user’s mindset, reactions to it generally last from five to 15 minutes, though many users report feeling transported to a completely different world for what feels like a long period of time.

People who have used salvia say their experiences included feeling panicked; losing control; feeling confused; seeing shapes, colors, and lights; experiencing dysphoria (unhappiness or discomfort); and feeling as if they were floating, were becoming an inanimate object, and were in a maze or tunnel like structure. “I truly believed that I was about to leave this world behind and go to the next dimension, which was pretty scary since it was happening so fast,” says Daniel. He recalls feeling as if his senses were all mixed up and that he was experiencing a “severe disconnection from reality.”

The Effects

Experimenting with salvia could resemble a game of Russian roulette. Perhaps what’s most disturbing is that scientists and doctors know very little about the drug and its effects on people’s health. Also unclear are its lasting effects. “We do not know if salvia affects the developing brain, but we do know that the brain is not fully developed until the mid 20s, and introduction of drugs during this critical phase could have unknown and adverse effects on brain development,” says Bertha Madras, professor of psychobiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Research is ongoing, she adds, but so far, salvia does not appear to be addictive, or habit forming. Still, Madras points out, “science has not caught up with this drug, and we do not know the long-term consequences. We are in uncharted territory with this drug.”

That unknown quality may also apply to users, who may have a hard time judging how much salvia to take. “The very high potency an active dose is the weight of a few fingerprints makes it relatively easy to overdose,” says Madras. “An intoxicating dose leaves you incapable of controlling your movements or even consciously knowing what you are doing.”

An overdose occurs when a person takes more than the medically recommended amount of any drug. But because salvia isn’t regulated, users might not realize they have reached that point until they lose control of their coordination and thoughts, which could lead them to do something dangerous to themselves or others. A user could panic and run, which could be serious if he or she ran into traffic. In addition, the person could fall, hit someone, rip off clothing any number of unpredictable scenarios.

Still Legal in Some Places … For Now

The loss of control described by most salvia users can lead to losses in stability, vision, and reaction time. Those reactions may be the basis for laws against use of the drug, as they might lead a user to risky or even deadly behavior. Stability, vision, and reaction time are, for example, all driving necessities. Driving under the influence of any drug can lead to crashes that could injure or kill you or passengers in your car and other people on the road.

Despite such safety concerns, salvia is currently legal in many states. At the same time, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration considers salvia a “drug of interest.” That means it could soon be classified as illegal nationally.

Drug agencies aren’t the only ones researching salvia. In some scientists’ labs, the drug is being studied for insight it can bring to how the mind works and whether it can be used to treat some neurological conditions. (See “Salvia in the Lab.”) But any medicinal research is in danger of going nowhere if salvia is abused, especially by teens. Delaware’s ban on the drug came on the heels of the 2006 suicide of a 17 year old regular salvia user. If the drug is banned federally, it will be difficult to buy and store, even for research purposes.

Even if salvia is legal in your area, don’t assume that playing around with it is a good idea. “Salvia is scary,” says Duncan. And Daniel agrees, offering this advice: “Never rush into anything, especially a potent drug that may seem harmless.”


Salvia’s active ingredient, salvinorin A, activates kappa opioid receptors (KORs), which are found in brain areas that control pain perception, mood, and memory. “By studying salvia, we hope to learn more about how our brains normally work and how KORs contribute to stress and depression;’ says Elena Chartoff, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. But first, researchers need to identify salvinorin A like chemicals that do not produce the hallucinogenic effects.

“There is good data showing that salvia may decrease craving for cocaine, and ongoing research regarding potential medical uses for chemical derivatives;’ says Dr. Bryan Roth, director of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Psychoactive Drug Screening Program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. Some scientists believe studying the drug could help lead to treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, among other conditions.

What to do before your workout

A baseball player tossing balls in the bull pen. A basketball player running in a layup line. Dancers limbering up backstage. They’re all preparing their bodies for more intense workouts. They know a good warm-up can prevent injuries and improve performance.

Why Warm Up?

Revving up for workouts isn’t just for professional athletes and dancers. Whether you play on a sports team, work out at your town’s rec center, or just go to gym class twice a week, warming up should be a regular part of your fitness routine. “A warm up is a group of activities designed to get the muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system ready for exercise,” says Lynn Millar, a professor of physical therapy at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. “When your muscles are warmed up, they are more elastic and less susceptible to injuries like strains and tears.”

Teens are prime targets for those types of injuries. Many adolescents “get hurt in sports,” says Brian Robinson, chair of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association committee that studies high school sports safety. “They have a tendency to jump into activities too fast and too hard.”

Kimberly T., 17, still remembers the painful calf strain that sidelined her during her freshman track season at Franklin High School in Franklin, Mass. “I wasn’t getting in enough warm up time, because I was rushing to practice from other after-school activities,” recalls Kimberly, who is now a senior. “I wasn’t able to practice or compete for about three weeks. It was exasperating to be sitting when I wanted to be running.” When her injury healed, Kimberly became super conscientious about warming up thoroughly. She hasn’t missed a meet since.

How can you avoid a similar fate? Learn to tell warm up fact from fiction.

The claim: Warm ups just take too much time.

The real deal: A warm up generally takes 10 to 15 minutes, but the actual time can vary depending on the activity you’re about to do. If you’re gearing up for a tough football practice or volleyball tournament, you’ll need to commit more time. If you’re swimming some laps in the local pool or pedaling around the neighborhood, you can get by with less.

Start your warm up with a light aerobic activity. “It could be jogging, riding a stationary bike, jumping rope, or running in place,” says Robinson, who is also head athletic trainer at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill. It could also be a less vigorous form of the activity you’re preparing for. That’s why you see basketball players jogging up and down the court before game time.

Warm up activities expand blood vessels and help blood and oxygen flow throughout your body. They also get your heart pumping. Then, as your body temperature rises and your muscles and joints become warmer and more flexible, it’s OK to increase the intensity and add more variety until you’ve worked all the major muscle groups in your legs, arms, and torso.

The claim: You should stretch before your warm up.

The real deal: Stretching should be a part of your preparation, but not necessarily in the traditional hold-and-stretch kind of way (known as static stretching) and not until after your muscles have warmed up. Sports medicine experts now favor “dynamic” stretching, which involves moving as you stretch. Examples include high-knee walking across a field, forward lunges across a gym, and fast skipping from sideline to sideline. Those stretches run “joints and muscles through their full range of motion, which better prepares them for sports participation,” says Laura McNally, head athletic trainer at the Middlesex School in Concord, Mass.

The best time for static stretching is after your warm-up or workout. That’s when your muscles and tendons are at their warmest and most flexible. Stretching at this time “can also reduce soreness and stiffness,” says McNally.

The claim: A warm up doesn’t really affect performance.

The real deal: Coaches, athletic trainers, and sports psychologists disagree. A warm-up gets your head in the game because “it helps the mind and body shift from whatever mode they’ve been in all day to a mode that focuses directly on your activity,” explains McNally. “It’s a time to forget about the French test you just took and all the other things that might be stressing you out.” Plus, as your muscles warm up, so do the nerve endings that fire back to your brain and guide your balance and coordination. “Preparing your mind for sports and exercise,” McNally points out, “can mean the difference between quickly adjusting your ankle if it suddenly turns … and falling down.”

The claim: I’m in good shape, so I don’t need to warm up.

The real deal: Even Olympic athletes do it. They know that “being in good shape doesn’t diminish the need to warm up,” says Millar. “The idea of a warm-up is to get muscles and tendons ready to move optimally and minimize the chance of injury.” For example, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, who won gold medals in beach volleyball at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, spent a lot of time setting, passing, and spiking the ball before the start of their big match. If warming up is good enough to help them bring home the gold, just imagine what it could do for you!