Health Highlights: Oct. 20, 2014
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Ban Most Edible Marijuana Products: Colorado Health Officials
Edible forms of marijuana such as brownies, cookies, and candies should be banned, Colorado health officials say.
In a submission to state marijuana regulators, the Department of Public Health and Environment says these edible marijuana products "are naturally attractive to children" and violate the state law's "requirement to prevent the marketing of marijuana products to children," the Associated Press reported.
Edible marijuana products should be restricted to lozenges and some liquids, the health department said in recommendations sent to regulators Oct. 14.
The final decision on the issue will be made by the Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division. If it agrees with the health department, most types of edible marijuana would no longer be available in stores, the AP reported.
The state's marijuana regulators received several submissions about edible marijuana products. An advocacy group called Smart Colorado wants the products to be colored, marked or stamped to indicate they contain the drug.
The marijuana industry opposes attempts to ban many of the edible marijuana products currently available in Colorado, the AP reported.
EPA Considers Regulating Strontium in Drinking Water
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether it should regulate strontium levels in drinking water.
Strontium is a naturally occurring element. At elevated levels, strontium can lead to weakened bones in people who do not consume enough calcium. This effect is of particular concern in infants, children and teens because their bones are still developing.
Strontium has been detected in 99 percent of public water systems in the United States and is present in levels of concern in seven percent, according to the EPA.
The agency will accept public input for 60 days and then decide whether it will regulate strontium in drinking water. If it decides to do so, the EPA will begin developing regulations, with the goal of making them public in 2015.
New Fitbit Flex Debuts After Consumer Complaints About Skin Problems
A new version of the Fitbit Flex activity-tracking wristband is being introduced after consumer complaints that the previous version caused skin problems.
The devices will now carry a warning that they contain nickel -- a common allergen -- and have a new sizing guideline to prevent users from wearing the wristband too tightly, The New York Times reported.
The previous version of Fitbit Flex was taken off the market in February due to the consumer complaints. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission decided against a recall as long as the company made changes to improve the product's safety.
A few months ago Fitbit recalled another version of its wristband, the Fitbit Force, due to consumer complaints about skin problems such as rashes and blisters, The Times reported.
Funding for Risky Infectious Disease Research Halted: White House
Funding for research in which certain infectious agents are made more dangerous so that scientists can better understand them has been temporarily halted, the White House announced Friday.
An example of this type of research is trying to create a more contagious version of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in order to learn which mutations make it that way, The New York Times reported.
SARS and MERS are among the other types of dangerous viruses included in this type of research.
The announcement by the White House Office of Science and Technology and the Health and Human Services Department said a process to "assess the potential risks and benefits" of this type of research would begin this month and continue at least into next year. Officials did not say how long the funding moratorium would last.
Critics of this type of research welcomed the announcement.
"The government has finally seen the light. This is what we have all been waiting for and campaigning for. I shall sleep better tonight," Peter Hale, the executive director of the Foundation for Vaccine Research, told The Times.