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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

8,500 firefighters

More than 8,500 firefighters have battled the Thomas wildfire in Southern California — the largest mobilization to fight a wildfire in state history. The effort has cost $130 million and forced 104,607 people to leave their homes. And officials expect to be trying to contain the Thomas fire into at least January. [The Los Angeles Times]


$3 billion

The market for homeopathic “medicines” has grown to $3 billion, according to the Food and Drug Administration. These remedies are often sold next to bona fide treatments like Tylenol and aspirin despite little evidence they actually succeed at treating anything at all. In fact, homeopathic products have sometimes been ripped from shelves due to deleterious side effects, like the more than 100 people who lost their sense of smell using products with zinc gluconate sold under the brand Zicam in 2009. Or Hyland’s Homeopathic’s teething tablets that were linked with seizures and death in infants and children. The FDA is planning a crackdown. [CBS News]


1 percent

The percentage of Americans eligible for bariatric surgery — which shrinks the amount of food your stomach can hold to combat obesity — who get the procedure. The weight loss surgery is a broadly effective way to fight severe obesity, but there’s an argument it’s underutilized in America given the health risks of obesity compared to the risks of the surgery. [Vox]


65 military installations

Data obtained by ProPublica found RDX contamination at more than 65 military installations in the U.S. RDX is a highly effective explosive chemical that’s been instrumental in American war efforts dating back to World War II. But it’s also a nasty pollutant and likely carcinogen. [ProPublica]


33 percent

Percentage of Americans who support President Trump’s tax bill, compared to 52 percent who oppose it, across an average of polls in December. That -19 point spread is awful for a tax cut, and is less popular than the Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush tax hikes. [FiveThirtyEight]


624 companies

Of the 3,000 largest U.S. companies on the Russell 3000 index, 624 companies have not one woman on their board of directors. On the whole, women occupy just 16 percent of available board seats. [Quartz]


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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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