Friday, September 30, 2011

Strong Link Between Mold & Asthma in Children.

Asthma before-afterImage via WikipediaThe current issue of Indoor Environment Connection's front page article is "Strong Link Between Mold and Asthma in Children" written by Tom Scarlett.  The article discusses a new study that appeared in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, this study indicates that children living in homes with high levels of mold had more than twice the risk of developing asthma than did children in mold-free homes.  The article does a really good job of putting together results from several studies to point out the risk of children developing asthma from mold exposures.  Discussed in the article is the metric, "Environmental Relative Moldiness Index" (ERMI) that was used in the study to determine the exposure level of the occupants.  It will be interesting how we can use ERMI to help us quantitatively describe the mold burden in future studies and testing.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chemical Lab Safety Refresher in IH News

The current issue of the Industrial Hygiene News has an excellent article on laboratory safety called "A Chemical Lab Safety Refresher" written by Mr. Phillip G. Retallick, who is the Senior Vice President Regulatory Affairs for Clean Harbors.  The article covers the typical information regarding lab safety - training, storage, disposal, labeling, and compliance audits.  One of the more interesting sections was the discussion on the requirements of a good industrial hygiene program.  This section discussed the need for a worksite analysis and a well-defined and monitored work practices.  The need for a Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) Registry software and routine monitoring of the air to ensure lab staff are protected is not typically discussed.  The assumption is that sufficient ventilation will handle any potential problems.  However, how do you know you have sufficient ventilation?  Monitoring is the best way to ensure that.  The article list important resources such as the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "Environmental Management Guide for Small Laboratories" and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) hazardous materials portion (Section H) of 29 CFR 1910.  A short and to the point article on Lab Safety.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Joint NIOSH/OSHA Publication on Nail Gun Safety

Nail gunImage via Wikipedia
The National Institue of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have a new publication called "Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors."  This publication was created as a resource to prevent injuries in the construction industry, including residential construction.  While nail guns may boost productivity, nail guns are responsible for tens of thousands of painful injuries each year.  One study found that 2 out of 5 residential carpenter apprentices experienced a nail gun injury over a four-year period.  When these injuries occur they are often not reported or given any medical treatment.  The risk of injury is twice as high when using a multi-shot contact trigger versus using a single-shot sequential trigger nailer.  Many years ago, Linda Archipolo of Massapequa made the news on Long Island, when she was working in a Burger King at the Sunrise Mall.  A three-inch nail, shot with a nail gun, accidentally went through two walls and landed in Ms. Archipolo's skull.  Luckily, she survived.  This new publication is intended for residential home builders and construction contractors, subcontractors, supervisors and workers to prevent these kinds of injuries.

The guidance was developed in response to a unanimous recommendation by employer, labor and public members of OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH), asking OSHA to develop awareness and materials about nail gun risks.  OSHA and NIOSH worked together to make sure the guidance reflects the most current information available. The publication highlights what is known about nail gun injuries, describes the common causes of nail gun injuries and provides six practical steps that contractors can take to prevent these injuries. The guidance includes actual workplace cases along with a short section on other types of nail gun hazards and sources of additional information.
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

EPA Warns New York City Residents about Dangers of Illegal Pesticides

CABINETS FOR STORAGE OF PESTICIDE "STANDA...Image via Wikipedia
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), last week, conducted an investigation of businesses in several New York City neighborhoods revealing dangerous and illegal pesticides are widely available.  Federal and state experts conducted 47 inspections and found 16 different types of illegal pesticides.  The pesticides were not registered by EPA and consumers have no way of knowing how dangerous they are, because they were not subject to testing requirements or manufacturing controls that are required in the registration process. In all, nearly 350 illegal products were collected from the businesses in just three days.  Store owners and vendors found with the illegal pesticides were given a warning and told why selling these products are dangerous and illegal.  Separate but related criminal investigations conducted by EPA with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S Attorney’s Office, U.S. Customs, the U.S. Postal Service and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office produced similar results and several charges were made against individuals last week, resulting in 12 arrests.

EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said, "I encourage all New York City retailers to check their shelves and make sure all their pesticides have the required EPA labels.  Consumers should be careful to look for the EPA registration number printed on product labels, and to follow the directions for use, storage and disposal.  If a pesticide product does not have an EPA registration number, it should not be purchased.”
“The sale of illegal pesticides poses a direct threat to the health and safety of our community. In the cases charged by our Office, that threat was particularly imminent in the Chinatown neighborhood,” said District Attorney Vance. “Some of these illegal products look and smell like cookie crumbs, making them dangerously tempting to children.  Some of the other products are so toxic that one small vial can kill an adult male.  It is my hope that our collective criminal and civil law enforcement actions will prevent future injury or death.”
The inspections, which took place the week of September 12, targeted stores in neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.  Among the items confiscated were various rodenticides, mosquito repellants and mothballs.  These items will be safely destroyed.
Under federal pesticides law, all products sold in the United States that contain pesticides must be registered with EPA.  Before a pesticide product is registered, the producer of the product must provide data from tests done according to EPA guidelines, to ensure that the product does not make people sick.  EPA then examines the ingredients and the way in which the product will be used, and assesses a wide variety of potential human health and environmental effects associated with use of the product.  Distributors and retailers are responsible for ensuring that all pesticides distributed and sold fully comply with the law.
Pesticides have been linked to various forms of illnesses in humans, ranging from skin and eye irritation to cancer.  Some pesticides may also affect the hormone or endocrine systems. In many situations, there may be non-chemical methods to control pests.   EPA recommends considering and using these methods as part of an overall pest management strategy.

EPA has created an illegal pesticides fact sheet in multiple languages, which it will be distributing to businesses and community organizations in the targeted neighborhoods.

In a separate series of actions earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice charged two New York City-based individuals, who together had distributed and sold thousands of packages of illegal pesticides in recent months, with misdemeanor violations of federal pesticide laws.  The Manhattan District Attorney’s office also charged 10 retail sellers with selling dangerous and illegal pesticides and with reckless endangerment.  Agents seized many more illegal pesticides from the individuals during their respective arrests.
For more information on pesticide regulation and enforcement, please visit the EPA’s Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/region2/pesticides.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Owner of Asbestos Abatement Training School Sentenced to Prison

Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Inves...Image via WikipediaIn November 2008, Albania DeLeon, former owner of Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), the country's largest asbestos abatement training school, fled the United States after her trial.  DeLeon was convicted of a broad range of charges including selling training certificates to thousands of illegal aliens who had not taken the mandatory training course.  Deleon then placed these unqualified individuals in temporary employment positions as certified asbestos abatement workers in public buildings throughout Massachusetts and New England.  Deleon was also convicted of encouraging illegal aliens to reside in the United States, making false statements about matters within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency; procuring false payroll tax returns, and mail fraud. 
On October 30, 2010, law enforcement authorities in the Dominican Republic, working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshal’s Service, arrested her in the capital city of Santo Domingo, where she was living under an alias and had dyed her hair blonde. In November, 2010, she was extradited to the United States.  Yesterday, Albania DeLeon was sentenced to prison.   U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton sentenced DeLeon, 41, formerly of Andover, Mass., to 87 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.   She was also ordered to pay $1,200,939.45 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and $369,015 to AIM Mutual Insurance Company.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Today, justice was served, and Albania Deleon has finally faced the consequences of her crimes. I hope that this sentence sends a strong message to anyone who might contemplate fleeing to avoid punishment, that we do not give up on fugitives, and we will take all necessary means and resources to apprehend and prosecute them.”
“She ran and tried to hide, but eventually the law caught up with her,” said Michael E. Hubbard, Special Agent in Charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division in Boston. “Ms Deleon cynically defrauded the taxpayer and put her own workers and the public at risk due to her greed. Today’s sentence shows that individuals who put illegal profits ahead of the welfare of society will deservedly be prosecuted and pay a very high price.”
“This sentencing sends a clear message to employers that seek to gain an unfair business advantage over their competitors by employing illegal workers,” said Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “The potential risk to public health and safety involving asbestos and lead abatement and training licenses made this investigation and the need to bring this individual to justice even more compelling.”
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Problems With 9/11 Health Bill


Their has been alot of discussion regarding the 9/11 health bill (known as the Zadroga Bill) that was supposed to provide medical care for first responders exposed to the various hazards at the World Trade Center site.  However, the bill did not cover cancer treatments.  The commission running the fund, has had hearings on this issue and have stated they will look at cancer treatments once the science indicates a link between the 9/11 exposure and cancer.  The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as they usually do, makes us see the ridiculousness of this position.  We hope with a recent study by Lancet, "Early assessment of cancer outcomes in New York City firefighters after 9/11 attacks: an observational cohort study", indicating a modest excess of cancer cases among NYC firefighters exposed at 9/11, that the commission will consider covering cancer medical care.  This is the least the federal government could do for the first responders, considering the misleading information given to these individuals during their time at the site.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Future Environment Designs Sponsors Health Effects of Mold Exposure Video

Future Environment Designs is proud to sponsor a new informational video on the Health Effects of Mold Exposure.  This video is designed as a public service awareness video on the health effects of mold exposure.
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Friday, September 09, 2011

Chemical Accidents Sickens 54 in Bohemia, NY

Chemicals in flasks (including Ammonium hydrox...Image via Wikipedia
Just before the Hurricane, the above headline was in Newsday, on August 19, 2011, regarding a chemical accident where two cleaning chemicals were accidently mixed causing 54 workers to become ill and requiring some of them to be hospitalized.  Workers were treated for symptoms including convulsions, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath and vomiting.  Unfortunately, the report does not discuss the specific chemicals that were mixed.  It does mention that the company was using a new chemical for cleaning and did not fully purge the old cleaning chemical out of the system.
This incident highlights the importance of providing training to staff when a new chemical is added to the facility.  This will ensure the hazards of the new chemical will be understood and any problems that may occur with mixing chemicals are fully understood.  The most important part of this training is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).  The MSDS is created by the manufacturer to warn the users of its chemicals about the dangers of the chemical, the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed, first aid necessary if exposed, the path of exposure, and other important information.  The training on the new chemical should be on the specifics of handling the chemical including any PPE needing to be used when using the chemical, the first aid procedures should an exposure occur, proper storing of the chemical, and any other chemicals that should be avoided or prevented from coming into contact with the new chemical.  Maybe if this training was done the individuals responsible for purging the system would have been more cautious.
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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Future Environment Designs Sponsors Vapor Intrusion Video

Future Environment Designs is proud to sponsor this informational video on vapor intrusion.  This video is designed as a public service awareness video on the dangers and concerns regarding vapor intrusion.  We hope this video is helpful and informative.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Schools Required to Manage Asbestos


Old Wailuku Post Office taped and closed off d...Image via WikipediaUnder the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) regulation all public and private schools (with a few exceptions) were required in 1989 to develop management plans for managing the asbestos installed in their buildings. The AHERA regulation required the schools to update these asbestos management plans every three years.  This management plan requirement included notifying workers and building occupants, or their legal guardians, at least once each school year about inspections, response actions, and post-response action activities, including periodic reinspection and surveillance activities that are planned or in progress.  Such notification must be done in writing and a copy placed in the management plan. Suggested notification methods may be through the publication of an article in a school district newsletter or through a separate written notice distributed to staff and sent home to a student's parent or legal guardian.  Since a new school year is upon us, it is important to remember what is required in  this notification.  The New York State Education Department - Facilities Planning website has a Annual AHERA Notification section discussing what is required. 

In addition, schools are required to make the management plans available for inspection to representatives of EPA and the State, the public, including parents, teachers, and other school personnel within 5 working days after receiving a request for the inspection.  The local education agency (LEA) is also required to notify in writing parent, teacher, and employee organizations of the availability of management plans and shall include in the management plan a description of steps to notify such organizations, and a dated copy of the notification.  In the absence of any such organizations for parents, teachers, or employees, the local education agency shall provide written notice to that relevant group of the availability of management plans and shall include in the management plan a description of the steps taken to notify such groups and a dated copy of the notification.  The LEA asbestos designee for the school district is to oversee that these AHERA required notifications occur each school year. The school may determine when to do AHERA notification, as long as it occurs at least once each school year.

Enforcement of this requirement is done by the EPA's Region II office. They have been very active inspecting New York State schools for compliance with AHERA (in addition, New York State Deaprtment of Health, had received a grant from EPA to perform these inspections on their behalf).  Schools which lack required elements in the AHERA management plan, including the notification documentation outlined above, will be issued an EPA Notice of Noncompliance.  Subsequently, the school has thirty days from the Notice date to correct the violations.  Schools which do not comply with the Notice within thirty days are subject to additional EPA enforcement action, which may result in civil or criminal penalties.
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