While much of the United States may still be experiencing the harsh temperatures of winter, spring is only a few weeks away. Unfortunately, warmer days also mark the coming of something else: seasonal allergies. Many people suffer from this condition—something that drug companies are well aware of, if the number of allergy relief products lining drugstore shelves is any indication. Recent events, however, may alter what medications will be available over the counter in the near future. Earlier this year, a major pharmaceutical company had to recall its OTC versions of two popular allergy medications. One of the drugs was found to potentially contain an impurity while the other may have incorrect dosing markings. The recalled medications aren’t actually suspected of any harmful contamination, but no one wants to risk administering a potential overdose.

The past few years have been filled with several highly publicized chemical safety mishaps. Between chemical spills into public water supplies and warehouse explosions that disrupt a port’s daily activities, the problems span industries and national borders. To make matters worse, it’s not so much that these disasters happen. Despite our best efforts, an accident is bound to happen sooner or later. What’s crucial in these worst-case scenarios, however, is how the involved parties handle the incident. Unfortunately, we haven’t been doing so well on that score. In many instances, the accidents reveal major hazard communication violations. What else do we call it when a company can’t tell authorities what chemicals were being stored in a particular facility? If a company can’t identify a hazardous material, how can anyone properly address the environmental and public health repercussions?

More than 12,000 people sustain a spinal cord injury (SCI) every year. In addition to this figure, the number of spinal disorders is also increasing. Factor in the demand for minimally invasive surgeries to treat spine conditions, and we’re currently witnessing a push to develop new treatments and devices in this area. In fact, the global spinal biotherapeutics market was worth $1.9 billion in 2014, with the largest share belonging to the North American region.

Conventional wisdom says that Americans get more than enough protein in our diets. In fact, we’re often told that we consume too much protein. Recent studies, however, have shown us otherwise. Evidence suggests that we need to increase our protein intake for optimal health. The benefits provided by greater protein intake include improved muscle function and mobility as well as potentially preventing and treating chronic diseases. In addition to the possible benefits of boosting heart and digestive health, more protein also promotes satiety, which aids in weight maintenance. Could adding more protein to our diet help our ongoing battle against obesity?

For the last several years, we’ve seen a push toward sustainability. While we typically associate this movement with the food and clothing industries, it’s also affecting other sectors. So-called green homes have become increasingly popular, which leads to more interest in eco-friendly construction materials such as plant-based paint. Even more striking, the growing focus on decreasing our carbon footprint has encouraged people to recycle more and minimize the usage of plastic materials. In recent months, however, there’s been a noticeable demand for something that addresses all of the above. Product manufacturers have begun to seek more sustainable materials, resulting in the popularity of adopting recycled plastic materials in the construction sector. It’s a surprising combination that tends to fuel skepticism. How can you guarantee quality in materials if you use recycled plastics? Will they actually meet required specifications? The reality of the matter, however, is that recycled plastics can be just as good as virgin plastics.

In preparing to bring a biologic to market, your firm may have gone through the difficult process of selecting a cell line, type of bioreactor, nutrients and feeding scheme for your cells. You may be thinking: the rest of the process should be fairly straightforward now that I have a cell that produces my desired biologic. Unfortunately, downstream processing, which describes the processes that occur between the production of the protein therapeutic from cells to the point at which it is ready for production, presents its own unique challenges. Much can change between the presence of the biologic within a cell and its ultimate purification. Upstream processing steps are complex and the steps for downstream processing of biologics are no different. Specifically, this includes primary recovery, purification, polishing and additional formulation.

In many parts of the U.S., winter weather brings snow and though students might happily think “day off” with its onset, many others see the powdery material in less positive light. State and local agencies spend over $2.3 billion dollars in “snow and ice control operations” because snow-related weather events account for approximately 22 percent of vehicle crashes and 19 percent of fatalities. Part of the solution to the dangerous conditions caused by snow and ice has been to salt roads, which researchers believe have reduced crashes by 88 percent. However, salted roads cause damage to cars, which in turn might increase drivers’ vulnerabilities to accidents. Alternatives to salt could decrease the danger of wintery conditions.

Last August, a warehouse explosion took place in the Chinese city of Tianjin. The tragedy claimed the lives of 165 people and injured almost 800 more. In addition to the loss of life and property, the incident had other far-reaching effects. Because Tianjin is a port city, ships scheduled to dock had to be rerouted after the explosion. As a result, sites within a 10-mile radius faced a supply chain disruption. Estimates claim that the economic impact of the accident could potentially reach $8 billion. So what exactly caused the explosion? An initial investigation pointed to widespread corruption and bribery that contributed to the improper storage of hazardous materials in close proximity to residential areas. Unfortunately, a recent Chinese probe revealed the chemical safety failures went even further.

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