By Francesca Williams, BBC News
Children in a County Durham village used to spend their days playing with lethal asbestos from a local factory. One, now 51, has cancer. What will happen to the rest?
Forty-five years later she will be contemplating the cancerous mesothelioma in her lungs which is “growing out like a fungus”.
“I was doomed from then,” Caroline Wilcock says. “There was nothing I could have done between then and now to make a difference. I’m pleased I didn’t know it.”
She was one of many children in Bowburn who, between 1967 and 1983, played with asbestos from the factory opposite her house.
Its parent company, Cape Intermediate Holdings, is paying her a “substantial” out-of-court settlement, although it has denied liability for her illness.
Caroline describes a white, chalky film of asbestos dust on “the grass, the flowers and the bushes”. It also settled on window ledges.
The mothers were less impressed. Ann Sproat, a friend of Caroline’s sister, remembers them constantly cleaning.
“If cleaning wasn’t done we couldn’t see out the windows,” she says. “It was coming down like little dust particles, like tiny little aniseed balls.” Read More
By Philip Ross, http://www.ibtimes.com
A man in Switzerland was discovered to have suffered from lead poisoning after ingesting pills that he thought contained the hair of a dead Bhutanese priest. The man, originally from the country of Bhutan — whose state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism — thought the alternative medicine would treat his Bell’s palsy.
According to a case report published in F1000 Research in 2011, the Swiss man was admitted to the emergency room in Geneva with severe abdominal pain. He had experienced bouts of nausea and vomiting for five days. Doctors performed all the routine tests, but couldn’t identify what the problem was. According to Live Science, when the patient’s symptoms didn’t let up after a few days, doctors asked him if he was taking any traditional remedies. That’s when the man confessed to injesting unmarked pellets every day for three to four months in an effort to treat his Bell’s palsy.
Doctors performed a series of blood and urine tests and found high-levels of lead in the patient’s system. His blood contained 80.8 micrograms per deciliter of lead, over eight times what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a “level of concern.” The man’s stomach symptoms were deemed to be the result of lead poisoning.
Lab tests proved the paint used to color the pills was indeed full of lead.
“The origin of the intoxication was discovered to be due to the patient taking Bhutanese traditional medicines to treat a resolutive Bell’s palsy a few months earlier,” the authors of the study noted. “These medicines were composed of parchment with ink writing and pellets. The patient thought the drug comprised hair of a deceased local priest with therapeutic virtues.”
By Neutra Corp, http://www.businesswire.com
Neutra Corp, a fast-growing provider of all-natural wellness solutions, is working with joint venture partner Surface to Air Solutions, LLC (S2O2) to spread Texas Christian University’s proactive approach to protecting student athletes from deadly infections.
“Our company, along with our partners, has been in contact with numerous colleges around the country interested in replicating TCU’s success in battling dangerous infections.”
Earlier this month, S2O2 acquired Zero-Blast, a Texas-based company that specializes in advanced, anti-microbial coatings for germ-infested environments such as college sports locker rooms. Its top product, Armor-Blast, is a polymerized organosilane that bonds to surfaces and forms a barrier that kills germs, microbes and pathogens on contact. The safe, non-toxic coating needs only to be applied four times a year in order to provide 24/7 protection from staph, MRSA, e. coli, H1N1, black mold, athlete’s foot and more.
Zero-Blast has been working with TCU for four years, beginning with the sanitization of the school’s football facilities and equipment. The Armor-Blast treatment worked so well that Zero-Blast was hired to apply the same treatment to basketball, baseball, volleyball and soccer facilities, as well, including indoor field turf.
“TCU has been the perfect test case for this technology,” said NTRR CEO Sydney Jim. “Our company, along with our partners, has been in contact with numerous colleges around the country interested in replicating TCU’s success in battling dangerous infections.” Read more
By Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO), http://www.shro.org
Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer associated with asbestos exposure, which is usually diagnosed in an advanced stage. So far no therapeutic strategy has proven effective against this deadly cancer and the prognosis remains very poor with only few exceptions.
In December, the research team of Antonio Giordano, an internationally renowned pathologist, Director and Founder of the Sbarro Health Research Organization in Philadelphia, PA (www.shro.org) and Professor of Pathology and Oncology at the University of Siena, Italy, published two separate studies aiming to address the urgent need to identify possible new methods for mesothelioma treatment. Read More
By Regional News Network, http://press.hse.gov.uk/regional-contacts/
The owner of a Nottinghamshire alloy firm has been sentenced for failing to protect workers from the risks of lead poisoning after three employees became seriously ill.
They included Brook Northey, 28, of Mansfield, who required specialist treatment at the West Midlands Poisons Unit after working at LDB Light Alloys Ltd, owned by Mansfield businessman Laurence Brown.
He had been working with his two colleagues at the Boughton-based company making lead sheeting from molten lead. His job was to scrape off the solid impurities, or dross, in a crucible containing the molten lead and pour the excess into containers.
Mr Northey was hospitalised for three weeks in May 2011 and continued to receive treatment for over a year. He was also off work for a year and can never work with lead again.
Prior to being diagnosed with lead poisoning he had been admitted to hospital with renal problems.
A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found conditions at Mr Brown’s company were so bad that a Prohibition Notice was served halting all work with immediate effect.
Nottingham Crown Court heard today (4 February) that extraction systems, personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, hygiene and rest facilities were all unsatisfactory, and that no air monitoring or medical surveillance was provided.
HSE also established that lunch breaks were taken in an old, lead-contaminated caravan with no running water. Water was collected in contaminated plastic milk cartons from a contaminated hand washing area in the workshop. Clothes worn for work were not removed before eating and drinking and there was no toilet facility at the factory.
Staff had not been told about the effects of lead or how to recognize the symptoms of over-exposure. Read More
By Gitte Laasby, Journal Sentinel http://www.jsonline.com
The beautiful two-story stone-faced Sheboygan County home with the impressive Lake Michigan view was supposed to be a retreat for Mequon resident John Liebl and his wife, Beth, once they retire.
Instead, the couple are now seeing well over $250,000 of their retirement savings vanish to remedy and replace rotten exterior walls. The Liebls’ contractors say it’s a warning tale to every home buyer about the damage that can result when cheap building materials are combined with questionable workmanship.
“This was to be our weekend retreat. It’s turned into a nightmare,” John Liebl said. “What the guys are telling me is, had we not discovered this, in three to four years it would have been a complete tear-down. I don’t think we have any recourse.”
Bruce Nordgren, partner in Mequon-based Northgreen Builders LLC, which is now rebuilding the Oostburg-area home, calls the Liebls’ experience “a prime example of what’s going on in our industry.”
He predicts many more mold cases will come to light in the coming years.
“I’ve been building for 37 years now. I’m horrified by what we’re doing as a construction industry,” Nordgren said. “We’ve got to start looking at some of the things we’re doing….
“In the last five years, we’ve repaired so much stuff. It’s the products that we’re using. It’s the techniques, it’s all kinds of things. If it doesn’t change, (this) is going to happen.”
A home inspection before the Liebls purchased the house, built in 2004, in September of 2010 uncovered only minor defects. Those were remedied and the couple moved into the home, which was fully decorated and painted. Beth noticed a musty smell, but nothing showed.
It wasn’t until September 2012 when the Liebls hired Northgreen Builders to enclose the courtyard of their U-shaped house that signs of trouble appeared. Read More
By Henry Brean, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Removing asbestos from an old building can be hazardous and expensive. So what happens if the ground outside is covered with the stuff for miles around?
That’s what a team of UNLV geologists is trying to figure out after the surprise discovery of potentially toxic, asbestos-type minerals in rocks and dust from Boulder City to the southeastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas geology professor Brenda Buck said this marks the first discovery of naturally occurring asbestos fibers in Southern Nevada.
A peer-reviewed study detailing the find was published last month in the journal of the Soil Science Society of America.
So how worried should everyone be?
“At this point we know enough to know there is a hazard. We don’t know what the risk is,” Buck told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Until we know more, it would be a good idea to avoid dust from those areas.”
That could be a tall order.
The study area takes in all of Boulder City and a wide swath of the Eldorado Valley, with tendrils that reach to the shore of Lake Mead and into the oldest parts of Henderson.
“It’s not everywhere, but I think you’re going to have a hard time not finding it,” Buck said. “In every sample we looked at we found it. We found it pretty easily, too. I didn’t have to look very hard.”
For one test, Buck spent about three hours walking her horse along a dirt road in Boulder City. When she was done, she found asbestos fibers on her pants and her shoes.
“The last thing we want to do is upset people or cause a panic. But on the other side, we don’t want to give people assurances we can’t give,” said UNLV geologist Rodney Metcalf, who partnered with Buck on the study. “We can’t in good conscience say there’s no problem.”
The long, thin minerals were forged roughly 13 million years ago in the roots of volcanoes, also known as plutons. “Boulder City sits on top of one of these plutons,” Metcalf said.
The fibers have been weathering from the ground for the past 12 million years or so, giving them plenty of time to spread out, Buck said.
She specializes in something called medical geology, basically the study of the health impacts of minerals. She was in the midst of sampling arsenic in the dust blowing from Nellis Dunes when she came across a fibrous mineral in one of her samples. She later started talking to Metcalf about the asbestos-like fibers he was studying in northwestern Arizona, and the two decided to go looking for trouble in similar rock deposits in Southern Nevada.
What they mostly found was a mineral called actinolite, one of six types of asbestos regulated as a toxic substance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Read More
By Julia Calderone, http://news.sciencemag.org
Researchers striving to understand the origins of dementia are building the case against a possible culprit: lead exposure early in life. A study spanning 23 years has now revealed that monkeys who drank a lead-rich formula as infants later developed tangles of a key brain protein, called tau, linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Though neuroscientists say more work is needed to confirm the connection, the research suggests that people exposed to lead as children—as many in America used to be before it was eliminated from paint, car emissions, water, and soil—could have an increased risk of the common, late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Even in small doses, lead can wreak havoc on the heart, intestines, kidneys, and nervous system. Children are especially prone to its pernicious effects, as it curbs brain development. Many studies have linked early lead exposure with lower IQs. Researchers estimate that one in 38 children in the United States still have harmful levels of the metal in their systems, but evidence linking this exposure to dementia later in life has been tenuous.
A team led by toxicologist Nasser Zawia, however, has vigorously pursued the lead hypothesis. In one early study, from 2008, the group showed that plaques, insoluble globs of a protein called β-amyloid, marred the brains of five macaques that had consumed a lead-enriched formula as infants. The researchers had compared the preserved brain tissues from those macaques, sacrificed in 2003 at age 23 in a National Institutes of Health lab, with four similarly aged monkeys who had had lead-free formula. The amyloid plaques closely resembled those in the brains of adults with Alzheimer’s disease that are thought to contribute to the dementia.
“This is very strong evidence that early [lead] exposure can determine what happens in old age,” says Zawia, of the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. The team’s results appear in the December issue of NeuroToxicology.
Now, Zawia’s team has used brain samples from the same five macaques that received lead-enriched formula to find clear evidence of another structural change strongly linked to Alzheimer’s: tangles of tau protein. It’s not certain how, or even if, these tangles promote dementia, but when tau proteins decompose into crumpled strands inside a neuron, the cell’s vital transport system can become blocked. The researchers analyzed frontal cortex tissues to show that the lead-exposed monkeys had three times more irregular tau protein in their brain cells than the monkeys who drank normal formula as infants. Moreover, the genetic instructions that assemble the tau proteins were altered, suggesting that early lead exposure epigenetically reprogrammed the monkeys’ DNA.
The brain physiologies of macaques and humans are close enough that dementia researchers should pay attention to the findings, says neuroscientist Marc Weisskopf of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “This study adds another important piece to this link between early-life lead exposure and Alzheimer’s-like pathology.”
By Tom Phelan, ReminderNews
We all worry at some time about our own health and that of our family members. Part of thinking about our health also means thinking about how healthy our home environment is. When we move into a new home, just getting everything stored and functional is the main concern. We might leave health concerns to a later date, and perhaps even overlook them completely.
The Centers for Disease Control has a checklist for healthy homes that is quite extensive and goes to something of an extreme. Many of the things listed there have been covered in this column at one time or another. Here’s a review of some of the things I think are most important – a “short list” of things you can check pretty quickly.
Keep the air inside of your home healthy by installing carbon monoxide detectors near the bedrooms. Prevent moisture from accumulating anywhere in the home that will foster mold growth. Mold can create respiratory problems, which can be severe to anyone with a sensitive respiratory system. Install fan-driven vents in bathrooms to take moisture outside the home. Safely vent your clothes dryer to the outside, and check it for lint accumulation at least annually.
Use a dehumidifier in the basement and any other areas that hold moisture, especially in the humid months of the year. Conversely, you might need to use a humidifier in living areas during the heating season, when the house is tightly sealed and humidity is low.
Test for radon in your home. The test kit is inexpensive and easy to use. Like carbon monoxide, radon is odorless and colorless. According to the National Cancer Institute, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Test for the presence of lead in paint. If your home was constructed after 1978, this should not be a concern. If you find the oldest layers of paint contain lead, research ways to address this exposure and fix any peeling or chipped paint. Read More
By Jessica Parks, Inquirer Staff Writer
Cheltenham School District officials announced a plan Monday to close Cedarbrook Middle School as early as Jan. 27, splitting its 750 students among four other campuses in the township.
The school board will vote Tuesday night on a contract with Gratz College to house half of Cedarbrook’s students.
The school is split into six teams, each with about 125 students. Two eighth-grade teams and one seventh-grade team will go to Gratz. One seventh-grade team will go to Elkins Park Elementary, and another to Cheltenham Elementary. The third eighth-grade team will go to Cheltenham High School.
At all four sites, the district plans to keep the middle schoolers confined to their own areas, away from older or younger students.
The district hopes by the 2015-16 school year to bring all Cedarbrook students back together in modular or temporary units on a single site.
It will likely take about four years to design and build a new permanent middle school, Thomas said.
Cedarbrook has been dealing with mold problems for a decade, and they spun out of control this summer. The school opened two weeks late in September as crews swept the building, and since then 12 classrooms and the cafeteria have had mold recurrences and are now closed.
At a meeting with parents Monday night, Superintendent Natalie Thomas said there was no more time to delay.
“There’s no amount of money that will prevent this from happening again in the spring or sooner,” Thomas said, noting that the leaky roof is already loaded with snow. Read More