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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019

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

18 construction workers

At least 18 construction workers in California, Colorado, Texas and Washington who frequently cut slabs of an “engineered stone” used in countertops have recently suffered severe lung damage, according to doctors and public health officials. The composite artificial stone material can be comprised of more than 90 percent silica, a mineral that is dangerous to breathe in while in dust form, but increasingly popular in American bathrooms and kitchens. Congressional lawmakers are asking the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create a new program that would better protect workers and ensure levels of silica dust are within allowable limits. [National Public Radio]

11 suspicious deaths

Melanie Proctor thought her dad Felix McDermott had died of natural causes. In August 2018, though, four months after he was buried, a visit from the FBI revealed suspicions that her father had not passed away from severe hypoglycemia after all, but rather from a deadly injection of insulin. The case is now part of a 14-month investigation involving 11 suspicious deaths at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, and larger questions about the overall quality of care from the Department of Veteran Affairs. [Washington Post]

$40 million for inflated numbers

It turns out that Facebook isn’t just unreliable in telling you how many of your friends are getting married and having babies or how many people went to Iceland on vacation, it was also apparently juicing its video metrics to advertisers. Facebook actually admitted to the faulty numbers in 2016, but the social media company has now agreed to pay a $40 million settlement as part of a class-action lawsuit brought by advertisers. Allegations during the lawsuit included claims that the social network knew about its inaccurate information earlier than it had informed advertisers, and that it had inflated video metrics by up to 900 percent.

60 people rescued

On Monday morning, a collision occurred off the coast of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, between a North Korean fishing boat and a patrol boat from the Japanese Fisheries Agency. Sixty people were reportedly thrown overboard, but media reports say that everyone was rescued without injuries. The location of the collision was in an area known as Yamototai, where illegal fishing by North Korean fishers has risen despite more than 5,000 warnings issued each year and confiscation of goods. [Japan Times]

Biles II

Simone Biles, arguably one of the greatest American athletes of all time, completed two new moves that will now bear her name while competing at the world championships in Stuttgart, Germany. On Saturday, Biles landed a triple double as part of her floor exercise routine, which involves a double backflip with three twists and is now known as “The Biles II.” Her double-double dismount on the balance beam, a double backflip with two twists, will also be known as “The Biles.” [CNN]

5.3 years

A new study on the brains of former tackle football players with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head, found that the risk of developing the worst forms of the disease doubled for every 5.3 years of playing experience. The study was based on the retrospective analysis of 266 brain specimens of former amateur and professional players that had been donated to researchers at Boston University, and the results were published in the medical journal Annals of Neurology. It was the first study that “calculated the number of years played with levels of measurable disease in the brain.” [New York Times]