- New Litagion agent profiles covering the herbicide isoxaflutole and fluoride in drinking water and a new theme summarizing CoMeta content related to glyphosate and substitute herbicides
- New liability catastrophe scenarios covering SARS-CoV-2 family of worker litigation and phthalate-related building contamination
- New blog content: "Essential workers and families on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic"
- Updated Litagion agent and company profiles impacted by newly published peer-reviewed science along with newly gathered company information
- Phthalate-related building contamination. There is growing scientific consensus that exposure to phthalates, a class of chemicals used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other plastics, has the potential to disrupt the normal functioning of the human endocrine system causing metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes. One of the major applications of phthalates is in vinyl flooring and wall coverings. These building materials off-gas and degrade over time exposing individuals to phthalates in household dust and indoor air. In these liability catastrophe scenarios, residential building owners, pre-schools, and daycare centers file suit alleging that the presence of these materials elevate the risk that occupants will suffer type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders to unacceptable levels and demand compensation for the costs of removing these materials and replacing them with safer alternatives.
- SARS-CoV-2 family of worker litigation. A novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019. The highly contagious virus, which causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19, quickly spread and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. Many individuals who contract the virus experience mild symptoms or are entirely asymptomatic. Some infected individuals, however, especially the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions, are hospitalized and may suffer long-term damage from the virus or die. In these liability catastrophe scenarios, lawsuits are filed by individuals who allege that they contracted COVID-19 from a co-resident family member who was infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the course of their employment. Family of worker plaintiffs argue that the employer was negligent in exposing the worker, and subsequently themselves, to the virus and sue for damages associated with COVID-19, including medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Glyphosate & friends. Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant (“Roundup ready”) soybeans in 1996. In the decades since, glyphosate has become the most widely applied herbicide in the United States. Glyphosate-resistant “superweeds,” however, are proliferating, making the herbicide less and less effective. In response, agrochemical companies have engineered soybeans and other crops to tolerate application of other broad-spectrum herbicides including dicamba, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), glufosinate, and isoxaflutole. Application of these herbicides in the United States is now sharply increasing.
- Fluoride in drinking water. About three-quarters of the U.S. population is served by drinking water systems with added fluoride. Fluoride is proven to prevent tooth decay by rebuilding and strengthening the tooth’s enamel surface. U.S. towns and cities first introduced fluoride to drinking water supplies in the late 1940s. It is thought that this public health intervention is largely responsible for the dramatic decline in tooth decay since. Fluoride is also added to toothpaste, mouthwashes, and other dental hygiene products, but fluoridated drinking water is the primary source of exposure for most people.
- Isoxaflutole. Isoxaflutole is a selective herbicide used to control broadleaf and grass weeds in agricultural crops. Its primary application to date has been on corn, but, in 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved its use on genetically-engineered soybeans. The volume of isoxaflutole applied to crops in the United States is expected to increase significantly as its manufacturer, BASF, ramps up production and as weeds resistant to other widely used herbicides proliferate.
Updated Litagion agent profiles based upon newly published science
All Litagion agent profiles have been updated to reflect the most recently published peer-reviewed science. Notable scientific studies added to CoMeta since the last release include:
- Perfluorinated compounds. A study in Sweden shows a correlation between maternal serum levels of five perfluorinated compounds – perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluoro-n-nonanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUA) – and the likelihood of giving birth to low birth weight babies.
In addition, we highlight the following changes to the components of Litagion agent risk resulting from newly published peer-reviewed science:
|Litagion agent||Risk category change||Overall risk change|
|Addictive software design||Projected science risk changes from Medium (yellow) to Medium-high (orange)||No change|
Perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUA)
|Projected science risk changes from Medium-high (orange) to High (red)||Change from Medium (yellow) to Medium-high (orange)|