Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Laughing About Lung Disease

Now, some may take exception to this article from The Onion, feeling it isn’t appropriate to find humor in work-related respiratory disease; that being unable to take in a full breath isn’t funny, that you shouldn’t laugh at the idea of people coughing up their lungs. And although as an asthma sufferer I have some sympathy for that opinion, I just have one thing to say: LIGHTEN UP DUDE. TAKE A CHILL PILL.

For is it not human to find humor in tragedy? (On the other hand, this could just be an artifact of my Semitic heritage)

I actually enjoyed the humor, but more interesting is the fact that the author had clearly done his homework on the biology and politics of work-related respiratory disease.
Cases Of Glitter Lung On The Rise Among Elementary-School Art Teachers

CHICAGO—The Occupational Safety And Health Administration released figures Monday indicating that record numbers of elementary-school art teachers are falling victim to pneumosparklyosis, commonly known as glitter lung.

Dr. Linda Norr scans a sufferer who spent more than two decades in the classrooms.
Nearly 8,000 cases were reported in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available. This is the highest number since the arts-and-crafts industry was
deregulated in 1988.

Characterized by a lack of creative energy and shortness of breath, and accompanied by sneezing or coughing up flakes of twinkly, reflective matter, glitter lung typically strikes teachers between the ages of 29 to 60 who spend 20 hours per week in an art-class setting during the school year.

"When art teachers spend so much time in confined quarters with inadequate ventilation amid swirling clouds of glitter, it's only a matter of time before their lungs start to suffer negative effects," said Dr. Linda Norr, a specialist in elementary-school-related respiratory diseases. "Those sufferers who are not put on a rigorous program of treatment often spend their last days on respirators, hacking up a thick, dazzling mucus."

As incidences of glitter lung continue to rise, critics are accusing public schools
of not doing enough to protect art teachers.


"Most art teachers are afraid to come forward, for fear of losing their jobs," Winfield said. "At an absolute minimum, an art teacher should be equipped with a respirator, thick goggles, and a reflective-field smock. But schools don't want to stand up to Big Glitter, which continues to insist that this stuff is safe. Schools end up falsifying the safety reports and hoping they get away with it. And they usually do."