By: Rebecca Cerio
Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.
Ethics of commercial screening tests – An opinion piece in the Annals of Internal Medicine raises concern about the perhaps misguided efforts of community groups to offer ultrasonography screening (for example, to measure bone density). “When screenings are provided in a church and sponsored by a trusted medical organization, consumers may have a false sense of trust in the quality and appropriateness of services provided. Consumers are generally unaware of the potential harms of screening…,” the authors state. Such harms can include overdiagnosis and incurring needless and expensive medical care, as not all screening tests are effective at measuring what they say they’re measuring or useful to the public. The authors go on to suggest that direct sale of such tests to the public is unethical, as the public is often not informed enough to give consent. “Appropriate and truly informed consent cannot be obtained when the companies providing the test do not fully disclose the potential risks and lack of benefit before collecting payment and performing the tests.” (hat tip to Gary Schwitzer on Health News Review.org for pointing out this piece.)
Trash Can May Be Greenest Option For Unused Drugs – University of Michigan researchers have looked at the environmental consequences of three different disposal methods (flushing, throwing into the trash, and incinerating) and found that throwing unwanted prescription drugs into the standard trash stream seems to strike the best balance between keeping drugs out of the environment and requiring a lot of carbon-releasing transportation and burning. Flushing drugs down the toilet was the worst option, causing the most environmental contamination and (surprisingly) the most greenhouse gas emissions. (by Ted Burnham via NPR.org)
White House Announces Plans to Create a National Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering Master Teacher Corps – The plan will begin with 50 “Master Teachers” and eventually expand to 10,000 over 4 years. These teachers will be chosen for their innovative and effective teaching methods and will make multi-year commitments to the program. In return, they will receive recognition of their efforts, the chance to build STEM education infrastructure and policy, and $20,000 stipends in addition to their base salary. The stipends are designed to “make their profession more competitive with alternative careers [and keep] the best teachers in the classrooms where they are needed.” (by Aline D. McNaull on FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News)
Have an interesting science policy link? Share it in the comments!