BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7032.718 (Published 16 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:718

With little sign that winter is over in Britain a timely warning has come from the United States: do not run the engine of a car immobilised by snow (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Record 1996;45:1-3). The report describes 24 cases, two fatal, of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by people running their car engines to provide heat without having removed snow from around the exhaust pipe. Quite how the engine continues to function at all in these circumstances is something of a mystery, but the practical message is clear enough.

The sick building syndrome is known to be more common in workers in buildings with sealed windows and some form of air conditioning. A study in Canada reported in “Occupational and Environmental Medicine” (1996;53:204-10) found that when 2761 office workers moved from buildings of that type to new buildings with improved ventilation and designated smoking areas (from which the air was not recirculated) the proportion with symptoms of the sick building syndrome fell by around 40-50%.

Near patient testing is spilling over into the marketplace, where shelves in pharmacies offer the public an ever growing range of do it yourself diagnostic kits (Journal of Clinical Pathology 1996;49:191-3). These …

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