Maryland Officials Concerned with Falling Groundwater Levels and Saltier Drinking Water
Jan29

Maryland Officials Concerned with Falling Groundwater Levels and Saltier Drinking Water

Swimming in the salty waters of Ocean City may be a treat for tourists, but local water officials are looking for ways to make sure that this saltwater doesn’t seep into the area’s drinking supply. According to Delmarva Now, falling groundwater levels in Ocean City, MD have led to saltier drinking water for residents. The popular tourist destination is forced to ramp up its typical water withdrawals every summer to account for the visitors, which puts a strain on the groundwater supply. “If we’re not careful, we might have the ability to draw salt water from offshore more rapidly to us,” said Jim Parsons, the town’s deputy public works director. When groundwater wells are depleted, saltwater is sucked from the ocean to fill them back up. A Maryland Geological Survey report claims that Ocean City’s aquifer levels are expected to be 32 ft. lower than usual this summer, and the town’s water will be about 15% saltier. USA Today recently reported that 64% of wells all across America have declined by an average of 10 ft., and while droughts are the primary culprit out west, it is agriculture and development that are to blame for Delmarva’s water issues. “One thing we are facing here, with warming climate and rising sea levels, extra salt water is going to pushing its way inland,” said Scott Andres of the Delaware Geological Society. There are currently over 147 million people around the world who do not have access to clean, potable water. While the conditions in Maryland aren’t nearly as dire as they may be in underdeveloped countries, saltwater intrusion is a credible threat to water quality throughout the state. According to the Baltimore Sun, saltwater intrusion isn’t the only problem that concerns local water officials. Agricultural runoff is responsible for more than half the pollutants in state waterways, accounting for 36% of nitrogen and 53% of phosphorus in the bay. Additionally, about 23% of nitrogen and phosphorus come from the state’s sewage treatment plants. This pollution has severely damaged Maryland’s ecosystem, and urban residents are being forced to pay for expensive treatments to reduce pollutants in their drinking water. As for the saltwater intrusion, local officials are beginning to develop solutions that help to keep the groundwater fresh. Since wells are frequently being replaced due to age, officials are trying to drill new wells no closer than 2,000 ft. apart from one another to decrease salt concentration. Dave Bolton, an author of the Maryland Geological Survey report, said that proper management and planning should ensure that the region’s water issues are resolved before tourists stream in to Ocean City in the summer....

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New Study Reveals That Exercise May be Best for Back Pain Sufferers
Jan29

New Study Reveals That Exercise May be Best for Back Pain Sufferers

Those who suffer lower back pain often turn to pieces of medical equipment such as back braces and shoe orthotics to alleviate discomfort. However, a new study reveals that those pain relieving remedies may be doing more harm than good. According to a blog post in the New York Times Wellness section, research shows that exercise does better for an aching back than most belts, braces, or shoe inserts. About 80% of people in America suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, but sticking with the right type of exercise program might deter a recurrence of that pain. Lower back pain develops for many different reasons, such as lifestyle choices, sports injuries, or even genetics. Although the issue is pervasive in the medical world, most underlying causes of back pain are unknown. Some people have short bouts of back pain that goes away in about a week. Others experience pain much more frequently — so much so that it disrupts their everyday life. The article claims that a full 75% of people who have had one debilitating episode of lower back pain will have another within a year. “These repeated bouts can set off what doctors and researchers call a ‘spiral of decline,’ in which someone takes to his or her couch because of the pain,” says Gretchen Reynolds, author of the post. “This inactivity weakens muscles and joints. The person’s now-feebler back and core become less able to sustain the same level of activity as before and succumb when he or she tries to return to normal life, leading to more pain and more inactivity; and the spiral accelerates.” Researchers set out to prove what works and what doesn’t when trying to eliminate back pain. After combing through more than 6,000 relevant studies, 23 were analyzed in depth that examined more than 30,000 participants in total. “The prevention techniques under review included education about lifestyle changes, shoe orthotics, back belts, various types of exercise programs and exercise programs that also included some type of education about back-pain prevention,” writes Reynolds. The review considered studies that tested the effectiveness of a prevention program; the program was considered a success if a person went a year or more without complaining of debilitating back pain that caused them to miss work. Success was limited. Education wasn’t enough to help back pain sufferers, and back belts or orthotics were almost completely ineffective. Exercise programs proved to be one of the best preventative measures. In fact, “the size of the protective effect” from exercise “was quite large,” said Chris Maher, a professor at the George Institute, who oversaw the new...

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Without a Savings Plan, Retirement Could Be More Stressful Than Working

While retirement is aimed at allowing people to make up for all of the relaxation and free time they missed while working, more and more retirees are finding it difficult to cover living costs after they’ve left their jobs. According to The Hill, this has become such a widespread concern that the White House is now taking action with President Barack Obama culminating a number of ideas and proposals designed to ensure that Americans are able to save for their retirement. Currently, the White House reports that one-third of all working Americans don’t have access to a retirement plan from their employer. This estimate includes about half of workers at small businesses, as well as 75% of those working part-time. Only about 10% of those without access to an employer plan will go out of their way to set aside funds for their own retirement accounts. One of the major proposals put forth by President Obama involves making it easier for small companies to offer these retirement savings plans to their employees. At this time, multiple employer plans are only available from companies in similar fields, such as auto dealers. The proposed changes will eliminate that requirement, allowing more employers to share the costs of retirement savings plans. In addition, the administration is fanning the fire of older ideas, including giving employers tax incentives for providing or expanding retirement coverage, and also making these plans more available to part-time employees. The White House projects that these alterations could offer up to 30 million more Americans access to retirement savings plans. However, these proposals have yet to gain much traction, leaving soon to be retirees unsure of what their financial state will be like during retirement. Because of this, many retirees are looking for other ways to reduce their individual cost of living. One prime example, as The Huffington Post reports, is a surge in using reverse mortgages to reduce one of the most expensive aspects of retired living housing costs. Some retirees choose to reduce housing expenses by moving to more modest locations or to retirement communities. The taxes, insurance, upkeep, and utility bills for smaller townhomes and condominiums, for instance, usually amount to around 3.25% of the value of a standalone house, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. However, a large portion of retirees are close to paying off their home but are not quite there yet. A reverse mortgage allows them to use this equity to fund other living expenses. A 2014 report by Mortgage Finance magazine found that homeowners took out more than $15 billion in reverse mortgages across the country that...

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The Basic Ins and Outs of Bandages From One Doctor’s Perspective
Jan22

The Basic Ins and Outs of Bandages From One Doctor’s Perspective

Most reasonable people understand the benefits and basics of treating cuts and lacerations quickly and efficiently. Not doing so can lead to infection and much more serious problems than if dealt with appropriately and immediately. Dr Chandan Kedawat, Sr., a consultant for Internal Medicine at the PSRI Hospital in New Delhi, recently spoke with the health and wellness site TheHealthSite.com and provided some basic advice on these simple, yet incredibly important home treatment products. Kedewat’s first bit of information deals with the fact that, contrary to popular belief, there are some options when it comes choosing bandages. While most are made with latex, some are made waterproof to protect areas that might come into contact with moisture. A cut on your hand is a perfect example of this. From washing your hands to cleaning dishes, there are a variety of reasons your hand might get wet in a day, so if your wound is in an area like that, investing in waterproof bandages might be your best option. Today, medical supply companies are even working on gel-type bandage that will release medication at certain intervals. The next issue Kedewat points out is the fact that many people wait too long to change or replace old bandages. His recommendation is to swap out the old for a new one once a day under normal conditions. If it is exposed to an abundance of dirt, dust, or water you might have to change it multiple times in the same day even. Finally, Kedewat advises that you get help with the application of the bandgage itself if your wound is in a tricky spot for you to get to. This will ensure the bandage will stay on more secure and better protect you from infection. Also, you’re going to want to first check the expiration date on your bandages to ensure their integrity. Even if the bandages are waterproof, put on correctly, and replaced regularly there’s still a good chance you could wind up suffering from skin irritation from bandage adhesive that’s use on them. This will result in a rash, known as contact dermatitis — something that affects up to 50% of people after prolonged exposure to adhesive. Having the right material on hand is a good start, but knowing some of these subtle intricacies is crucial to supporting speedy and safe...

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Coal Company Proposes Benefit Cuts for Employees, Asks for $12 Million in Bonuses for Top Executives
Jan21

Coal Company Proposes Benefit Cuts for Employees, Asks for $12 Million in Bonuses for Top Executives

A coal company is facing a firestorm of scrutiny following a proposal to hand out $11.9 million worth of bonuses to their top executives while cutting the life and medical insurance benefits of their lower-level employees. Alpha Natural Resources filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August of 2015. They filed a motion for the bonuses in December that asked for upwards of $14 million to be doled out as performance bonuses if the company meets certain goals for financial performance and safety. According to the Lexington Herald Leader, the members of the company who would be eligible for the bonuses are the members of senior management, including CEO Kevin Crutchfield. The company released a statement in regards to the proposal that outlined their reasoning for the bonuses. “Successfully navigating Alpha’s restructuring process has been and continues to be the primary focus of our senior management team and maintaining that strong leadership throughout this process is viewed as essential in the eyes of both the board and Alpha’s constituencies,” according to a statement from the company. “This proposal will only become effective upon a full vetting and approval by the court.” The company sent an email to its employees to notify them of their plans to cut many benefits they receive. Proposed changes include: Eliminating short-term disability insurance Eliminating an employee wellness program Revoking health benefits shortly after employment ends No longer matching 401k retirement program contributions Less paid vacation time Alpha stated that 4,500 employees would be affected. They hoped to induce the proposed changes at the end of 2015 but have to wait until the court rules on the matter. While Alpha Natural Resources chose to restructure their budget with the use of benefits cuts and bonus payouts, small businesses have to find a different approach when they’re in trouble. The use of cloud computing technology by small businesses is expected to double by 2020, which is exactly what smaller enterprises need to deal with budget crises and restructuring. Thankfully, there is federal oversight on such issues as they pertain to corporations like Alpha. According to the Casper Star Tribune, a government watchdog agency has stepped in and filed an objection to the proposal. The U.S. Trustee, a branch of the Justice Department, argues that the company can’t justify the large bonuses at a time when they are attempting to cut retiree benefits and have recorded steep losses. The U.S. Trustee agency is in place for cases such as these, in hopes they will deter large corporations from undercutting their...

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