Podcast

The Week Unwrapped: Toxins, abortions and rectal breathing

What should we know about ‘forever chemicals’? Are abortion rights at risk in Northern Ireland? And can we breathe through our bottoms?

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Toxic study

Research carried out in the US suggests that polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS or simply “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, can be passed from mother to child via breast milk. While the EPA says exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects, there's limited research on this for newborns. 

Abortion laws

As Roe vs. Wade, the US court decision which forced states to decriminalise abortion, faces its most serious legal threat, the UK government is coming under increasing pressure to open up access to abortion in Northern Ireland. The procedure was illegal in the province until last year, and is still difficult to arrange in many areas.

Bottom breathers

A recent discovery that pigs can absorb oxygen into their bloodstream via their rectums has raised hopes that a similar technique could be used in humans. As the Covid pandemic has shown, mechanical ventilation is a risky and traumatic operation - and one which is not always possible with frail patients. The possibility of a bottom-up approach to breathing could eventually help save lives.

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