Brooklyn tot has high levels of toxic lead while NYCHA denies paint is a problem

By Greg B. Smith, http://www.nydailynews.com

leadpaintstampWhen tests showed Helen Jackson’s 2-year-old daughter had dangerous levels of toxic lead in her blood, the worried mom instantly suspected her public housing apartment.

Tests by city health officials say she might be right — though New York City Housing Authority officials insist she’s not. An attorney assisting the Jackson family knows which agency she believes.

“It’s clear that NYCHA is trying not to be blamed because they’re at fault, and the proof of that is the lead in that child’s body,” said lawyer Bonita Zelman. “Since she was born, she has only lived in that apartment.”

While NYCHA claimed paint in Jackson’s Brooklyn home tested negative for lead, a March 25 visit by city health inspectors found different. Read more

Is toxic mold the real hidden culprit in haunted houses?

By David Sommerstein, http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/

moldghostsA team of researchers at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., are the North Country’s answer to the “Ghost Hunters.”

They have a hunch that the reason some people see ghosts is not necessarily because a place is haunted. It may be because a haunted house has a lot of mold, and breathing it alters people’s states of mind.

Shane Rogers, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Clarkson, is into paranormal activity and ghosts in general. As a scientist, he studies some icky things, like manure and mold. He put his interest together and developed a hypothesis. Maybe people who see ghosts are actually just breathing in toxic mold? “There are reports of people who have been exposed to mold who have reported things like anxiety and depression.”

Rogers also knows many alleged haunted houses are old and dilapidated and more likely to be infested with mold. He said, “If you’re in a place where you’re exposed to mold, and you’re feeling a little anxious, and you see something strange or you feel something strange, if you’re in an old house that’s a little scarier, you might be more likely to ascribe it to a haunting, whereas in a newer house, perhaps not.” Read more

Indirect Exposure to Asbestos Is Still Risky for Sheet Metal Workers

By Tim Povtak, http://www.asbestos.com/

roofingSheet metal workers rarely handle asbestos directly, but they remain seven times more likely to die from mesothelioma – the rare cancer caused by it – than the general population, a recent study shows.

The findings published earlier this year in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reiterated the long-held but increasingly-debated belief that even indirect exposure to toxic asbestos remains a serious threat, long after its use as a building material was reduced dramatically in the U.S.

“The most important thing to take from this study is that you didn’t have to work with asbestos directly to be in danger,” Dr. Laura Welch, medical director at the Center for Construction Research and Training in Silver Springs, Maryland, told Asbestos.com. “All you had to do is be around it.” Read more

Teachers, Students Say Jordan Elementary Mold Made Them Ill

By Liz Collin, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/

jordan elementaryHospitalized children, and their parents, say it’s because of what they’re breathing at school.

Halle Wassenberg, 7, spent months seeing different doctors.

“It made me feel yucky,” she told WCCO. “It didn’t feel good at all.”

She’s one of three students in the same classroom to leave Jordan Elementary School this year. Two teachers have also left. They all blame mold for making them sick. The school maintains the building is safe.

But a WCCO Investigation found mold concerns months ago were kept from parents. Read more

Source of lead in San Marcos water still unknown

By Eleanor Beck, http://www.kvue.com

pipesAfter spending more than $113,000 in taxpayer money to investigate the source of lead contamination in portions of San Marcos and Hays County water, neither government has found the origin of the problem.

Water to the Hays County Government Center was shut off to the public after tests revealed lead. The discovery prompted city-wide testing, which showed unacceptably high levels of lead at several other sites.

“We’ve tried everything,” said Clint Garza, county development services director. “Since last summer, we’ve tested every piece of pipe that we can pull from the building.”

That includes samples from all four manufacturers the county purchased pipe from to build the government center, which was completed in 2011. Garza said the samples were subjected to rigorous tests in highly corrosive environments, designed to break them down and make them release any lead contained in the pipe lining. The tests were repeatedly unsuccessful.

Read more

New York’s Asbestos Court Mulls Changes After Sheldon Silver Scandal

By Daniel Fisher, http://www.forbes.com/

Sheldon SilverNew York’s special court system for hearing asbestos cases will be on trial Thursday as defense lawyers make their case for reforms in the wake of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s indictment on allegations he accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks from one of the most prominent asbestos plaintiff firms in the state.

Administrative Judge Sherry Klein Heitler, who oversaw changes that defense lawyers say made it easier for plaintiffs to win cases in NYCAL courts and specifically benefitted Weitz & Luxenberg, the law firm that allegedly paid Silver, a part-time employee, more than $5 million for client referrals from a cancer physician who secretly received money from a state fund Silver controlled.

Weitz & Luxenberg and Silver have both denied wrongdoing. Defense lawyers have long complained that Weitz & Luxenberg had special privileges at NYCAL under Heitler, however. As the firm with the largest number of asbestos cases on the docket, defense lawyers say, Weitz & Luxenberg was able to cherry-pick which cases went to trial and got first shot at juries in a court system overloaded with more than 10,000 asbestos lawsuits. Read more

Personal coffee makers potential mold hazards

By Whitney Gryna, http://www.purdueexponent.org/

noKeurig1Personal coffeemakers provide a convenient coffee brewing solution for students, but they have an issue everyone should be wary of.

Mold within personal coffee makers like Keurigs should not come as a surprise.

“Any time there is constant moisture, there is the potential for mold and mildew to generate,” said Terri Newcom, Purdue Extension director for Tipton County.

Keurigs are a simple brewing system, requiring little of the user. Users only add water to the water tank and place the blend cup of choice into the machine. Keurigs are a cost efficient and easy way to brew at home for many. What many Keurig users have not thought of are the possible drawbacks to this machine.

“Since mildew and mold can grow on hard plastic surfaces, Keurigs and other types of coffee makers are susceptible,” said Newcom. “Most likely, the first evidence of mold or mildew will be a bitter taste to the coffee.”

A bitter taste to the coffee is not the only side effect that comes with mold exposure. Because all molds, mildews and bacteria pose health hazards, allergies tend to be a negative result as well. Other health hazards can include coughing, congestion, and respiratory infections. Read more

Schools unaware of lead-poisoned kids

By Todd B. Bates, Asbury Park Press

Photo: Tom Spader/Asbury Park Press

Photo: Tom Spader/Asbury Park Press

New Jersey’s rules on lead poisoning have some large loopholes.

Health care providers are required to test children 2 and under twice for toxic lead, a potent poison that can cause a lifetime of learning problems. Nonetheless, about 50,000 children were not tested by age 3, according to the latest state annual report. A loophole: Parents can refuse the test for any reason.

Even if elevated lead is found in a child’s blood, the state doesn’t require that schools be notified. That can leave schools in the dark about which students have lead poisoning and may need special education or other services — findings confirmed by an Asbury Park Press survey of 27 school districts, including those with the highest percentages of lead-poisoned children in the state.

Lead poisoning — often arising from exposure to lead paint dust and chips in older homes in urban areas — can cause learning, behavioral and other problems, but is preventable. It can cost more than $12,000 a year for special education per child, according to one study.

“We have to do a better job” addressing lead poisoning, said Jay S. Schneider, a pathology professor and lead poisoning expert at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “We have to recognize that this is still a big problem. There are lots of kids who are being adversely affected by this, who are having their futures taken away from them. It’s just an awful thing and it’s unnecessary and people are suffering and they shouldn’t be.” Read more

Mold in vacant homes poses health threat

By  Kirsti Marohn, kmarohn@stcloudtimes.com

MoldceilingFrom the outside, it looks like a typical two-story split-entry on a corner lot, not much different than the other houses in this newer suburban development.

The first indication that something is amiss is the sign posted in the yard announcing that the house is in tax forfeiture. Step inside the front door, and the reason for the home’s emptiness becomes startlingly clear.

Black mold covers the walls in angry splotches from ceiling to floor. It coats woodwork, sinks, appliances and doors. In the basement, it has decimated the ceiling, leaving a gaping hole.

Chad Martini, land management director for Stearns County, says it’s the worst case of mold he’s ever seen.

The county had planned to demolish the house at 424-13th Ave. N in Wildwood Estates after it went into tax forfeiture last fall. But several contractors have called the county with interest in buying, rehabilitating and reselling it.

So the county will try to sell it at a public auction this spring for a minimum bid of $10,000, a fraction of its original value. In 2009, the county estimated the house’s market value at more than $235,000.

The county’s goal is to get the property back on the tax rolls, Martini said.

“I think what we’re hoping to see is a contractor that will come in, buy the house, rehab it and make it a good neighbor in the neighborhood,” he said.

Across the nation, mold has been a problem in houses left empty after the housing market crisis. In some states, it’s estimated that as many as half of all foreclosed homes have mold and mildew issues.

Some mold contains toxins, so if it’s not removed and remediated, mold can cause serious health issues. That’s especially true for people with asthma, allergies or other respiratory problems. Read more

Purina Sued for Allegedly Killing Thousands of Dogs With ‘Toxic’ Food

By James Joiner, http://www.thedailybeast.com/

BenefuldogfoodA class action lawsuit alleges a mold byproduct used in kibble is leading pets to agonizing deaths.
Despite years of online allegations that one of the most popular dog food brandshas been poisoning pets, it wasn’t until just weeks ago that the cat was let out of the bag in a court filing. A class action lawsuit was filed that blames the deaths of thousands of dogs on one of Purina’s most popular brands of chow.

Googling Nestle Purina Petcare’s Beneful brand will get you the pet food manufacturer’s website, a Facebook page with over a million likes, and, in stark contrast, a Consumer Affairs page with 708 one-star ratings supported with page after grim page detailing dogs suffering slow, agonizing deaths from mysterious causes.

Internal bleeding. Diarrhea. Seizures. Liver malfunction. It reads like something from a horror movie or a plague documentary, but a suit brought in California federal court by plaintiff Frank Lucido alleges that this is all too real—and too frequent to be a coincidence. Read more

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