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Health Highlights: June 20, 2011

Health Highlights: June 20, 2011

06/20/11

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Chemical Suicides Increasing in U.S.

The use of chemical suicide by Americans is increasing and this trend could put emergency responders at risk.

Chemical suicide is popular in Japan, where it is called detergent suicide. It involves mixing common household chemicals to create a poisonous cloud of gas in an enclosed space. It's believed that more than 2,000 people in Japan have used this method to kill themselves, The New York Times reported.

There have been 72 documented cases of chemical suicide in the United States since 2008. There were 36 such suicides in the country last year, but there have been at least 27 so far this year.

Of the 72 documented cases, at least 80 percent resulted in injuries to firefighters, police officers, emergency workers or civilians, Deputy Chief Jacob Oreshan, of the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, told The Times.

These injuries have occurred despite efforts by victims of chemical suicide to protect others by placing warning signs on car windows or closet doors, said Oreshan, who has been tracking the cases.

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U.S. to Help Vietnam With Agent Orange Cleanup

The first phase of a joint U.S.-Vietnam plan to clean up environmental damage from the chemical Agent Orange began Friday at a former U.S. military base in central Vietnam.

The herbicide, which was used sprayed by U.S. aircraft to destroy North Vietnamese guerilla fighter's jungle cover, was stored at the base during the Vietnam War, the Associated Press reported.

The first step of the cleanup plan involves checking areas around the Danang airport for unexploded ordnance. Once that's done, dioxin will be removed from soil and sediment at the site.

Dioxin, a chemical used in Agent Orange, has been linked to birth defects and cancers.

As many as 3 million people in Vietnam have suffered health problems due to Agent Orange exposure, according to the country's Red Cross. But the U.S. has said the number is far lower, the AP reported.

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Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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