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38 kid products sold on Chinese shopping apps have 'cancer-causing' substances

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Seoul, April 30 (IANS) High levels of chemicals known to cause cancer have been found in 38 products for kids available on the Chinese shopping apps of AliExpress and Temu for South Korean customers, the customs agency said on Tuesday.

The Korea Customs Service (KCS) announced the result after analysing 252 products for children selling on the two Chinese e-commerce platforms, such as toys and accessories for children.

Of them, 27 products were found to contain phthalate plasticizer at levels up to 82 times greater than the South Korean safety standards, reports Yonhap news agency.

Phthalates are banned from use in kid products as the chemicals are endocrine disruptors and exposure to them can cause cancer and other developmental issues.

Six of the 38 products had cadmium, which is classified as a Class 1 carcinogen, of levels up to 3,026 times larger than the standards, and five of the total were found to contain lead, according to the KCS.

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The average price of those products came to 3,468 won ($2.52) and customers are allowed to buy them directly from sellers without meeting due import requirements.

“The government will strengthen the management and supervision of customs clearance to prevent those products from entering here and will continue to inspect substances of major products to ensure consumer safety,” an agency official said.

–IANS

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TN hooch tragedy: Death toll rises to 40; government, BJP announce compensation (Lead)

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Chennai, June 20 (IANS) The death count in the hooch tragedy in Tamil Nadu’s Kallakurichi district is steadily climbing while those battling for life in the hospitals are complaining of vision problems.

According to reports, the number of persons who have lost their lives consuming the killer drink has touched 40 and over 100 persons are undergoing treatment in various hospitals with many battling for their lives.

Chief Minister M.K.Stalin on Thursday morning announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the 34 families who had lost their loved ones.

In a statement issued here, he also said the government has also appointed a one-man commission under retired High Court Justice B. Gokuldas to look into the issue and recommend measures to prevent such occurrences in the future. He said the orders have been issued to pay Rs10 lakh to the families of the dead and Rs 50,000 out of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to those getting treated in the hospitals.

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He said four persons have been arrested in this connection and action will also be taken against those who had supplied methanol for making the illicit liquor.

The CM said the CBCID (Crime Branch-CID) has been asked to investigate the source of methanol.

According to him, action has been taken against the police officials concerned and the District Collector has been transferred. Meanwhile, Stalin’s son and Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin visited the affected people in the hospital and later distributed the Rs.10 lakh compensation to the families who had lost their loved ones.

Meanwhile, AIADMK General Secretary and former Chief Minister K Palaniswami demanded the resignation of Stalin accepting responsibility for the death of several people after consuming the illicit liquor. He alleged that the illicit liquor was being sold in the centre of the Kallakurichi district with the authorities turning a blind eye.

Palaniswami said the party MLA from Kallakurichi M. Senthilkumar had complained to the police about the sale of illicit liquor and had even brought a calling attention motion in the Assembly earlier on the issue. But the DMK government led by Stalin did not do anything, Palaniswami charged.

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Tamil Nadu BJP President K. Annamalai visited the affected families and consoled them. He also said Rs 1 lakh will be paid by the party to the families as relief.

Governor R.N. Ravi, condoling the deaths and wishing a speedy recovery of the victims, blamed the state government for its lapses. “Every now and then tragic loss of lives due to consumption of illicit liquor are reported from various parts of our state. This reflects continuing lapses in preventing the production and consumption of illicit liquor. This is a matter of serious concern.”

The continued hooch tragedies in Tamil Nadu show the callous attitude of the state government, said actor-turned-politician Vijay, president, of the TVK.

Coming down heavily on the DMK government led by Chief Minister Stalin for the first time after floating his party, Vijay also strongly urged the government to take strong preventive action so that such events do not occur again. Recalling last year’s hooch deaths in the state where over 20 people lost their lives, Vijay posted on X that even before coming out of the grief of the earlier tragedy, another such event shows the government’s callous attitude.

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–IANS

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From Lumbini to Pokhara, India spreads message of yoga in Nepal ahead of IDY-2024

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Kathmandu, June 19 (IANS) More than 900 yoga enthusiasts attended a large-scale event organised by the Embassy of India in Nepal at Lumbini — the revered birthplace of Lord Buddha which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site — on Thursday.

Jokh Bahadur Mahara, the Chief Minister of Lumbini and also the Chief Guest for the programme, thanked the Indian Embassy for organising the significant event at the sacred birthplace of Lord Buddha and for strengthening India-Nepal cultural ties.

He underlined that the International Day of Yoga (June 21) will help generate greater awareness about yoga, leading to a more healthy and balanced society.

Ambassador of India to Nepal, Naveen Srivastava, underlined that yoga has become a global phenomenon, particularly since the United Nations designated June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in 2014 based on a proposal moved by India.

“The sacred land of Lumbini, a symbol of peace and harmony, provides a perfect setting to celebrate the timeless practice of yoga. The Indian Embassy will collaborate every year with the Lumbini Development Trust to celebrate the International Day of Yoga,” said the Indian Ambassador.

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The Indian Embassy has been organising a series of events across various cities in Nepal to celebrate the 10th International Yoga Day.

Assimilating yoga, nature, and spirituality, the events also spread the message of ‘Yoga for Self and Society’ – the theme for this year’s International Yoga Day on Friday.

The Indian Embassy also organised yoga demonstrations at three iconic landmarks of Pokhara, the tourism capital of Nepal, on Thursday.

It started with a sunrise yoga session at the Sarangkot temple overlooking the Annapurna mountain range, followed by yoga practice at the imposing Pumdikot Shiva Temple before ending with a yoga demonstration at the Shanti Stupa atop the Anadu Hill – the first World Peace Pagoda in Nepal.

Experienced yoga instructors led the participants through a series of asanas, pranayama, and meditation techniques, highlighting the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of yoga.

On Friday, the Embassy, in association with the Pokhara Metropolitan City, will organise a mega yoga demonstration at the Pokhara Rangshala Stadium to celebrate the 10th International Yoga Day.

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–IANS

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Removal of ovaries before menopause linked with reduced white matter in brain: Study

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San Francisco, June 20 (IANS) Women who have their ovaries removed before menopause, particularly before the age of 40, have reduced white matter integrity in multiple regions of the brain later in life, a new study said on Thursday.

White matter refers to the nerve fibres that connect neurons in different areas of the brain.

In the study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the researchers analysed data from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging to identify women over the age of 50 with available diffusion tensor imaging, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that measures white matter in the brain.

“We know that having both ovaries removed before natural menopause causes abrupt endocrine dysfunction, which increases the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia,” said Michelle Mielke, PhD, professor at the US-based Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Researchers found that females who had premenopausal bilateral oophorectomy (PBO) before the age of 40 had significantly reduced white matter integrity in multiple regions of the brain.

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“There were also trends in some brain regions such that women who had PBO between the ages of 40-44 or 45-49 years also had reduced white matter integrity, but many of these results were not statistically significant,” said Mielke.

She also said that 80 per cent of participants who had their ovaries removed also had a history of estrogen replacement therapy.

Therefore, the study was not able to determine whether the use of estrogen replacement therapy after PBO mitigated the effects of PBO on white matter integrity.

“Having both ovaries removed results in an abrupt decrease in both estrogen and testosterone in women. Therefore, one possible explanation for our results is the loss of both estrogen and testosterone,” Mielke mentioned.

–IANS

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Researchers develop wearable device that measures levels of disease markers via 'sweat'

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San Francisco, June 20 (IANS) Researchers have developed a wearable health monitor that measures levels of important biochemicals in sweat during physical exercise, a new study said on Thursday.

According to the study published in the journal ACS Sensors, the 3D-printed monitor could someday provide a simple and non-invasive way to track health conditions and diagnose common diseases, such as diabetes, gout, kidney disease, or heart disease.

The researchers were able to accurately monitor the levels of volunteers’ glucose, lactate, uric acid, and the rate of their sweating during exercise, the study mentioned.

“I think 3D printing can make a difference to the healthcare fields, and I wanted to see if we can combine 3D printing with disease detection methods to create a device like this,” said Chuchu Chen, a Washington State University (WSU) PhD student and first author on the paper.

For their proof-of-concept health monitor, the researchers used 3D printing to make the health monitors in a unique, one-step manufacturing process.

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They used a single-atom catalyst and enzymatic reactions to enhance the signal and measure low levels of the biomarkers.

Sweat contains many vital metabolites that can indicate health conditions, but, unlike blood sampling, it’s non-invasive. Levels of uric acid in sweat can indicate the risk of developing gout, kidney disease, or heart disease. Glucose levels are used to monitor diabetes, and lactate levels can indicate exercise intensity, the researchers mentioned.

According to Kaiyan Qiu, Berry Assistant Professor in WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, the health monitor is made of very tiny channels to measure the sweat rate and biomarkers’ concentration.

As they are being fabricated via 3D printing, the micro-channels do not require any supporting structure, which can cause contamination problems as they are removed, he added.

When the researchers compared the monitors on volunteers’ arms to lab results, they found that their monitor accurately and reliably measured the concentration of the chemicals as well as the sweating rate, the study mentioned.

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–IANS

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SC issues notice on tribal students' plea demanding participation in NEET-UG retest

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on a plea filed by a batch of tribal students from Meghalaya seeking directions to the National Testing Agency (NTA) to permit them to appear in NEET-UG retest since they had also suffered loss of time in taking the examination held on May 5.

“Issue notice. Tag (with the pending batch of petitions). In the meantime, learned counsel appearing for respondents NTA and Union of India may file their response within two weeks. The other respondents may also file their response on or before the next date fixed,” a vacation bench of Justices Vikram Nath and S.V.N. Bhatti ordered.

“These petitioners are similarly placed as 1,563 students. They appeared at centres of Meghalaya and lost 40-45 minutes of time,” submitted the counsel representing the petitioner students.

Last week, during the hearing of pleas challenging the award of grace marks, the NTA informed the apex court that the scorecards of 1,563 candidates, who were awarded compensatory marks on account of loss of time, had been withdrawn and cancelled.

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Further, the NTA said that these candidates may choose to appear in a re-test to be held on June 23 or appear in counselling on the basis of actual marks obtained in the exam without normalisation.

The Meghalaya students’ plea, filed through advocate Yoothica Pallavi, said: “The petitioners have not been included even though they have suffered on account act and omission on the part of NTA….It is submitted that the petitioners were denied allocated time of 3 hours and 20 minutes inasmuch as a lot of time was wasted due to supply of wrong question papers and contradictory instructions given to the students by the examiners.”

It added that due to lack of clarity as to which question paper was to be answered and as a result of such confusion and contradictory instructions, the petitioners were denied almost 40-45 minutes on average of the allocated time period for attempting the question papers.

Further, the plea said that the NTA has “arbitrarily” chosen 1,563 candidates for the award of grace marks in order to downplay the entire situation and there is no basis to come to the conclusion that students at other centres were not affected by the discrepancies committed in the conduct of the NEET-UG examination.

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The writ petition alleged that petitioners were arbitrarily denied the opportunity to appear in the fresh examination even though they are similarly placed as 15,63 students as the petitioners were deprived of their allocated time to attempt the examination and seek an opportunity to appear in the June 23 retest or fresh examination on any other suitable date.

–IANS

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