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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Legionella Found in Windshield Washer Fluid

Interesting research from Arizona State University found that the bacteria Legionella, commonly found in fresh water, was able to survive in certain automobile windshield washer fluids and can grow in washer fluid reservoirs.  This could potentially lead to people being exposed to the bacteria and maybe developing Legionnaire's disease or Pontiac Fever.

Windshield washer fluid
Windshield washer fluid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Arizona State University research was conducted by Otto Schwake, an Arizona State University student pursuing a doctoral degree in Microbiology under the supervision of Morteza Abbaszadegan, a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. Although windshield washer fluid was not normally associated with spreading disease, this research was begun after a series of epidemiological studies found motor vehicle use to be associated with increased risk for Legionnaires' disease.  One such study attributed nearly 20% of Legionnaires' disease cases in the United Kingdom not associated with hospitals or outbreaks to automobile windshield washer fluid.

Based on a recent webinar held by EMLab P&K featuring the Dr. Harriet Burge, Legionella is a gram negative bacterium that is a widely distributed natural inhabitants of water and is common in many environments.  It is heat loving and will proliferate in temperatures between 20 degrees Celsius to 45 degrees Celsius.  Growth is promoted by other micro organisms.  Legionella is the causative agent of Legionellosis (Legionnaires' disease and Pontiac fever).

The first recognized outbreak of Legionnaires disease occurred in Philadelphia in 1976.  As many as 221 people were treated and 34 deaths occurred.  The source was identified as the Legionella bacterium and found in the cooling tower of the hotel's air conditioning system.  Over 90% of legionelloses are caused by Legionella pneumophila.

English: A silver stain of Legionella pneumoph...
English: A silver stain of Legionella pneumophila , the bacteria that causes Legionellosis. Although I got this image from a commercial website it is clearly labeled as from the CDC. This website routinely uses images from Wikipedia, which is a good thing, so no issue should be taken with using an presumably public domain image from their website. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Legionellosis takes two distinct forms:

  • Pontiac Fever: respiratory illness without pneumonia, symptoms resemble acute influenza
  • Legionnaires' Disease: symptoms include fever, chills, cough, muscle achees, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite, loss of coordination (ataxia), and occasionally diarrhea & vomiting.
Legionellosis incubates in 2-10 days.  It is one of the top three causes of community-acquired pneumonia. Legionellosis affect 8,000 to 18,000 people in the United States each year. Transmission is not person to person. Legionellosis infection occurs after inhaling droplets that originated from a water source contaminated with Legionella. Environmental sources include freshwater ponds, rivers and creeks.  Typical manmade water sources that can be a source of Legionella include: cooling towers, evaporative coolers, hot water systems, showers, whirlpool spas, architectural fountains, room-air humidifiers, ice-making machines, and misting equipment.  Based on the above research now windshield washer fluid reservoirs, may be added to this list.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), One Size Does Not Fit All.

In our previous blogpost, we discussed Ebola and the use of personal protective equipment.  Since then the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has come out with revised guidance on purchasing PPE and protocols for wearing PPE while handling patients with the Ebola virus disease.  Find this information here.  

A disposable nitrile rubber glove. Nitrile glo...
A disposable nitrile rubber glove. Nitrile gloves are available in different colours, the most common being blue and purpleCitation needed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast Company Co.Design's article "Why Protective Gear Isn't Stopping Ebola" has an interesting discussion on the problems with PPE.  This discussion includes the usual complaints that its uncomfortable, it doesn't fit, restricts movement, visibility, etc.  It is interesting that before wearing a tight fitting respirator a worker must be either qualitatively or quantitatively fit tested with the respirator they will be wearing.  However, when it comes to PPE (like gloves or protective suits) there is no fit testing.  If you bought these items as clothing, you would try them on and purchase the best fitting one.
Asbestos Hands-on Demonstration
There is an unspoken assumption that the employer will purchase different sizes allowing workers to select the size that fits them the most comfortably.  This assumption is typically wrong and what actually happens is most employers buy larger sizes in the sense that one size fits all or they buy the size that fits the most people.  This results in complaints that wearing the PPE is more hazardous than not wearing it, which of course is the case if you are wearing ill-fitting or incorrect fitting PPE.

Wearing the proper PPE is not only about the right size, it is also about wearing the right type.  How many of you know that protective equipment are tested for how cut resistant they are?  The cut protection performance test (CPPT) is an American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) F 1790 standard cut test for protective equipment.  A glove's performance rating is classified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) 105-2005 from a 0-5 level, with 5 being the best cut performance, based on the outcome of the CPPT test.  Gloves are also tested for how long it takes for chemicals to breakthrough, degrade, or permeate the material the glove is made of.  ASTM F739 standard details the process for testing protective equipment for liquid and gas permeation (the video clip below shows how this is done).  Ansell Healthcare produces the "Chemical Resistance Guide" that includes permeation and degradation data for various glove material and a rating system.

When selecting PPE for your workers, unfortunately its not as simple as looking in a catalog and buying the cheapest PPE and/or buying one size that will fit most or all.  As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard (1910.133) requires for PPE, you must assess the hazard you want the PPE to protect the worker from and then find the best fitting PPE so the worker will wear it comfortably without creating a greater hazard.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Ebola Virus - A Proper Perspective.

There has been a lot written about the Ebola viruses and the disease that it causes.  It is important to be well informed so that you can better know what is accurate information and what is misinformation.  In the old days, the main sources of information was television news, newspapers, or libraries.   Today, there is no excuse for succumbing to fear when accurate information is only a few clicks away.  There are several websites that will provide you with accurate information regarding ebola hemorrhagic fever which is caused by several strains of viruses in the Ebolavirus genus.  As a Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant one of our first resource website would be the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Ebola website.  Here you will find information regarding the virus its background information, hazard recognition, medical information, Standards, control & prevention, and additional resources.  The standards section details the regulations OSHA expects employers, whose employees are at risk of being exposed to ebola, to comply with.  Obviously, the bloodborne pathogen (1910.1030); the respirator (1910.134); and the personal protective equipment (PPE) standards must be complied with in addition to the "general duty clause".  When cleaning and disinfecting, the hazard communication (1910.1200) and Sanitation (1910.141) standards would also have to be complied with.

English: Ebola virus virion. Created by CDC mi...
English: Ebola virus virion. Created by CDC microbiologist Cynthia Goldsmith, this colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Unfortunately, it is obvious mistakes were made, in Texas & by others, in the selection and wearing the safety equipment necessary to protect the health care workers from being exposed to the Ebola Virus.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the agency that develops these protocols and provides information and assistance in helping healthcare workers, click here for their Ebola website. Their website has a PPE training program to train you on donning (putting on PPE) and doffing (taking off PPE) the proper safety equipment.  These procedures are designed to ensure you do not contaminate yourself or others,  When properly followed the procedures should reduce the risk of the worker and others being exposed to the Ebola virus.  In addition, the CDC has posted "Advice for Colleges, Universities, and Students about Ebola in West Africa" which provides guidance on study abroad and foreign exchange.

None - This image is in the public domain and ...
None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New York State's Department of Health has an Ebola website, too.  This website provides information for the public, health care providers, hospitals, & EMS providers.  Information for the public includes "School Guidance on the Ebola Outbreak", which advises the health personnel for schools to stay informed about the current situation and have access to up-to-date, reliable information as events unfold.

As you can see there are plenty of websites and sources of information regarding Ebola and that's just the US websites.  Another excellent website is the World Health Organization's (WHO) Ebola website.  Their website also includes information on PPE, travel advice, fact sheets, and discussion of trials and production of ebola vaccine.  So don't allow fear to ruin your day, get the information you need to help you move forward,  As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "The only thing we have to fear is fear it'self - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."  So lets move forward!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Future Environment Designs Participates in the North Country Honor Flight’s First Annual Golf Tournament

Written by: Kimberly Granmoe, Executive Assistant

On Sunday, July 20, Future Environment Design (FED) participated in the North Country Honor Flight (NCHF) Golf Tournament held at the North Country Golf Course in Rouses Point, NY.   It was a beautiful day for the tournament, blue skies with temperatures in the low 80’s.  What a great turnout for the organization’s first fundraising tournament.  Approximately 168 golfers registered to participate in the golf tournament intended to raise money for the mission of the North Country Honor Flight.   The North Country Honor Flight, part of the Honor Flight Network, is a local non-profit organization created solely to honor America's Veterans for all their sacrifices.  Their mission is to transport America's Veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.

Future Environment Design's Golf Team

Future Environments Designs was represented by Kimberly Granmoe, Executive Assistant, and Sheryl Esposito, Marketing Assistant.  They teamed up with Troy Granmoe, Kimberly’s husband, and Justin, Kimberly's & Troy's son.  The golf tournament was a best ball-scramble and our team shot an overall score of 76, placing midway among the 35+ teams.
Kimberly & Sheryl at the 11th Hole
In addition, to sponsoring a team,  Future Environment Designs also sponsored the 11th hole flag.  Kimberly Granmoe, when she's not assisting Angelo Garcia, III, volunteers as an event coordinator for the NCHF.  As Event Coordinator, Kimberly coordinates flags to be flown over the Pentagon on the day the Veterans are visiting the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC.  The flag is then presented to each Veteran in a flag case together with Certification that the flag was flown in recognition of the Veterans Honor Flight visit to the WWII Memorial and in recognition of the Veterans service to our Nation.

Kimberly with Mr. Morgan Mickalsen, WWII Vet

Upon completion of the tournament, all participants enjoyed a turkey dinner, with all the trimmings, which was followed by an auction consisting of over a 100 items donated from local area businesses.  The Golf Tournament generated  over $27,000 for the NCHF.  The NCHF together with the Honor Flight Network will continue to do whatever it takes to fulfill the dreams of our Veterans and help our heroes travel absolutely free.   It is our way of paying a small tribute to those who gave so much.  Currently, top priority is given to America's most senior heroes — survivors of World War II and any veteran with a terminal illness who wishes to visit THEIR memorial.  Since America felt it was important to build a memorial to the service and the ultimate sacrifice of her veterans, the Honor Flight Network believes it's equally important that they actually get to visit and experience THEIR memorial.

If you know of any WWII Veterans interested in taking a trip of a life time or you are interested in volunteering or donating, please contact the organization at North Country Honor Flight, PO Box 2644, Plattsburgh, NY  12901 or email

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Zadroga Act Needs An Extension

Its interesting that two things that you wouldn't normally put together have been discussed in the newspapers recently.  In the sports sections of the newspapers, extensions have been announced for Sandy Alderson, the General Manager of the New York Mets and Hal Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, has announced they are negotiating an extension for Brian Cashman, their General Manager.  At roughly the same time Newsday and other media outlets reported on 4 recent deaths of 9/11 responders dying of cancer and leukemia.  These first responders are just a few of the many thousands who are covered under James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act which is set to expire in 2016.  Their deaths have led to calls for an extension of the Zadroga Act.  Which is necessary to help deal with the 9/11-linked illnesses being suffered by workers who worked on Ground Zero pile and were exposed to toxic dust and fumes from the smoldering rubble.

These firefighters are the latest to die since the September 11, 2001 attacks.  As reported by Newsday, the current count is 92 members of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association have died and 875 have been diagnosed with 9/11-linked illnesses.  Of those diagnosed, 80 member's illnesses are at critical stage and 177 are in remission.  Another 280 members are in the early stages of their illnesses and 25 are awaiting confirmation that their illness is World Trade Center related.

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...
September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. (Image: US National Park Service ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Zadroga Act has allowed the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and others to study the effects of the toxic dust they were exposed to.  A recent blog post by NIOSH, "WTC Rescue/Recovery and Obstructive Airway Disease" discusses some of the information gathered from reviewing the medical records of the first responders such as:
  • The increased incidence of respiratory disease such as obstructive airway diseases (OAD), such as asthma and chronic bronchitis have been associated with intensity of exposure as measured by arrival time at the WTC site.
  • New onset OAD continues to be observed many years after exposure, contrary to conventional wisdom that irritant-induced asthma should be triggered within a relatively short time after exposure.

The above information is only touching the surface especially considering some of the other diseases we should be expecting, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, can take 30 years or more to develop.  Some of these diseases if caught early enough can be survivable, but only with an excellent monitoring program.  In addition, it is our hope that this information will assist us in preventing first responders from being exposed to these toxic situations in any future terrorist act or environmental disaster.  The enforcement of the wearing of protective equipment including the use of proper respiratory protection would prevent the need for future Zadroga Acts.

The need to extend the Zadroga Act past 2016 is self-evident from the toxins these responders were exposed.  We hope Congress recognizes this and passes legislation and funding needed to extend the Act.

Friday, September 05, 2014

September 5 is N95 Day - Whaaaaaat??

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today September 5 is N95 Day.  NIOSH says, "N95 Day is a time to recognize the importance of respiratory protection in the workplace and familiarize yourself with the resources available to help you make educated decisions when selecting and wearing a respirator."  To celebrate, NIOSH will be providing N95 filtering facepiece respirator information through social media channels such as a Twitter chat, a webinar, and new infographics.  For more information visit there website at:

Interesting thing to us is why celebrate the N95 filtering facepiece respirators?  Filtering facepiece respirators have their place in protecting workers from respiratory hazards, however, that place is very limited.  This type of respirator cannot and should not be used for respirable dusts like asbestos or lead.  Nor should it be used for vapors or mists or gases.  As the picture above from Ground Zero - 9/11 World Trade Center rescue, recovery and cleanup shows, knowing which respirator to wear was one of the problems for the workers who worked there.  The picture shows workers wearing filtering facepiece respirators and half mask air purifying respirators.  Considering the contaminants (asbestos, mercury, PCBs, to name a few) at the site, filtering facepiece respirators should not have been a choice at all.  This is probably the main reason to have an N95 day is to make sure people understand the limitations of this type of respirator.  But why limit it to filtering facepiece respirators, we should be celebrating all respirators!  So for our part we say Happy Respirator Day!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Chrysotile Asbestos Banned? More Like Certain Conditions of Use Will Be Eventually Banned!

Many of you, as did I, read about the " Ban of Chrysotile Asbestos " and rejoiced over something long overdue.  However, after rea...