Monthly Archives: May 2013

EPA Losing a Bundle on RRP Program

By Lauren Hunter,

According to a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the EPA is losing money on its lead-based paint program. Based on the agency’s estimates since the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule went into effect in 2010, the total loss will amount to $16.4 million by 2014. Fiscal year 2010 actually turned a profit of $8.9 million, but costs are exceeding fee collections by $25.3 million for 2011 through 2014.

According to the report, three issues are contributing to the EPA’s unrecovered costs. The agency has not conducted recommended biennial cost reviews to ensure that fees are in line with costs, and the fee structure also does not take into account all the indirect costs needed to recover the cost of administering the lead-based paint program. More importantly, the agency notes that RRP firm participation is lower than projected. Read More


Rensselaer site’s asbestos work probed

By Kenneth Crowe,

A federal grand jury in Syracuse is investigating asbestos projects tied to the Hilton Center, an industrial park that was raided Wednesday by state and federal environmental agencies.

The grand jury is looking into at least five years of “asbestos related projects,” according to a May 23 federal subpoena obtained by the Times Union.

The subpoena seeks “any and all documents pertaining to any renovation, demolition or any other project, to include asbestos related projects, filed” by Arthur Hilton, Hilton Management LLC or PRO Manufacturing Co.

The documents requested in the subpoena from the city’s code enforcement office and building department include environmental and asbestos surveys as well as financial records. The subpoena also seeks any project files, notices of violations, permits, notes and communications. Read More


Tips for Parents: Help Your Kids Avoid Lead Exposure

By Lindsey Burnworth,

The Center for Disease Control released a new study that said 1 in 38 kids is affected by lead poisoning each year.
But did you know there’s some simple things you can do to make sure your kids aren’t at risk?

Something as simple as giving your kids a diet high in iron can put them at less of a risk for lead poisoning. That’s because if your kids have enough iron in their bodies, it’ll actually fight off the lead buildup on their organs.

If you have an old home, there could be paint on the walls that contains lead. That means if you’re taking the paint off your walls to redecorate, you need to be careful of what your kids breathe in. Those toxins could become airborne once you start chipping away at the paint.
Another place lead is often found is in pipes. To avoid exposure, always cook with cold water. Hot water will actually take the lead with it, and if you cook with it or your kids drink it., they could be at risk.
“I think the worst thing that could happen, if it’s not a severe lead poisoning, but just the mild kind, which is probably more common, is as a child gets older, they don’t develop very well, and they’re not doing well in school and it just really affects their mental abilities,” said pediatrician Dr. Mary Boyd.

If you suspect your kids could have high levels of lead in their bodies, doctors suggest getting them tested because that’s the only way you’ll know for sure. Read More


Hospital Tells Patients about Possible Asbestos Exposure

By Pat Guth,

Officials at Strong Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center, prompted by a story aired on a local TV station, made the decision to inform recent patients that they may have been exposed to asbestos during demolition work at the facility’s rehabilitation unit.

A news story outlining the situation first appeared on Your News Now Rochester late last week. Prior to that, the hospital had pretty much kept the situation quiet. But after the story explained how asbestos materials were disturbed during demolition inside the former Blood and Bone Marrow Wing, now a rehab area, the hospital decided they needed to disclose the details to those who could have been exposed to the toxic dust during their stay.

Letters have now been mailed to patients who were at Strong Hospital during the demolition. The letter stated that “having recently been treated on the rehab unit at Strong Memorial Hospital [they] may have been subjected to a small, and short, exposure to asbestos.” It goes on to explain that asbestos was found on the drywall and other surfaces in or near the demolition area.

The hospital apologized to these individuals for causing concern about asbestos exposure and the diseases linked with this exposure and stated that asbestos protocols would be improved.

Oklahoma Tornado Health Risks May Lie In The Rubble

Chris Whitley had already survived three tornadoes and had worked at the scene of dozens more before arriving in Joplin, Mo.

“It was unlike anything I’d ever seen,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman recalled of the devastation left by the deadly twister that struck the town two years ago Wednesday.

“So far,” he added, “pictures from Moore are very eerily familiar.”

As they did in the wake of the Joplin tornado, Whitley and other experts are warning of dangers that may not be obvious in photographs of the wreckage in Moore, Okla., where a mile-wide tornado tore through the town and took the lives of at least 24 people on Monday. Read More

Op-Ed: The struggle against lead poisoning, young children most at risk

By R. C. Camphausen,

While lead in paint has been banned in Europe and the US for years, certain companies still produce lead paint and sell it abroad. There, yet also at home, young children still suffer the consequences: lower IQ, slowed body growth, failure at school.
Lead is a metal found in soil, water, air and dust — as well as in products used in or around our homes; for example in paint and toys. Lead is dangerous for both children and adults, yet the very young, up to age six, are most likely to contract lead poisoning as they breathe in or swallow dust from old lead paint particles that collect on floors and windowsills, hands and toys.

Read more:

‘Zero-TV’ Homes Spell Trouble for the Environment

By Lisa Marie Chirico,

Although we’ve seen George Jetson watch TV on a flat screen, it’s not very likely that the rest of us will be doing so fifty years from now. Consumers are already watching more and more TV on their mobile devices or the Internet, and pushing their old TV sets out the door. How will we manage the ongoing environmental impact that the accumulation of toxic electronic waste, or e-waste brings? Moreover, how are electronics manufacturers implementing environmental sustainability efforts?

Tuning out

Dubbed “Zero TV” households by the Nielsen Co. since they don’t fit its usual definition of a TV home, their numbers are steadily increasing. This segment prefers to watch their favorite content on a computer (37 percent), or Internet TV (16 percent), followed by smartphones (8 percent), and tablets (6 percent). In 2007, there were three million Zero TV residences in the United States that unplugged.  Today, the number of Zero TV households in the U.S. has increased to more than five million. Satellite dishes, antennas, and cable TV providers are all things of the past for this segment. Nielsen’s study suggests that this new group may have left traditional TV for good.

Hit the road, Jack

As broadcasters scramble to create ways to adapt their programming to modern platforms, unwanted TV sets belonging to former cable subscribers are showing up in in landfills. The first wave of this began with the conversion from analog to digital TV. This prompted some consumers to purchase new flat-screen or plasma versions, and say goodbye to their cathode ray tube (CRT)-based sets. That move was, and continues to be, a blow to the environment, since the glass video display component of a CRT-based TV set contains as much as 27 percent lead according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition to lead, other heavy metals and toxic compounds lurk inside discarded TVs and run the danger of leaking into the ground. Read More


Asbestos still an issue at Nunavut gold mine: Agnico-Eagle

Asbestos fibres - a single fibre is believed t...

Asbestos fibres – a single fibre is believed to cause mesothelioma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By Samantha Dawson,


More than a year after Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. first detected naturally-occurring asbestos found at its Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake, the company continues to deal with asbestos at the mine site.


Asbestos is often associated with gold-rich rocks.


The problem is that asbestos is also linked to a variety of lung ailments and cancers, mainly affecting those who have worked or used asbestos in their everyday jobs for many years, according to the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center.


After finding asbestos in samples taken from the mill’s crusher plant, “we took this issue very seriously and immediately notified regulators,” Norm Ladouceur, the mine’s health and safety superintendent, said at the recent Nunavut Mining Symposium in Iqaluit. Read More


Even After FDA Found Mold At Pharmaceutical Facilities, GOP Is Still Skeptical Of More Regulation

By Sy Mukherjee,

In the wake of last year’s horrific meningitis outbreak stemming from unsanitary practices at a Massachusetts-area compounding pharmacy — facilities where certain drug batches are mixed and prepared — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a comprehensive investigation into compounders in 18 states. These facilities are largely out of the purview of federal oversight, which is why FDA director Margaret Hamburg has begged Congress to give her agency more power and clearer guidance to regulate them. But even though the FDA revealed last Thursday that its investigation had found unsafe practices at nearly every facility it audited, House Republicans aren’t sold on Hamburg’s request, and question whether stronger FDA oversight of compounders is warranted.

During a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, Republican lawmakers expressed skepticism that giving more power to the FDA would accomplish much. GOP committee members pointed out the FDA’s past failure to avert crises such as the meningitis outbreak that killed over 50 Americans. “Ten years of warning signs, alarm bells and flashing red lights were deliberately ignored. Ultimately, the FDA knew [the compounding facility] was breaking the law but chose to do nothing,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Tom Murphy (R-PA). Read More


Asbestos Exposure, Asbestosis, and Smoking Combined Greatly Increase Lung Cancer Risk

-American Thoracic Society (ATS) via ScienceDaily

The chances of developing lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure, asbestosis and smoking are dramatically increased when these three risk factors are combined, and quitting smoking significantly reduces the risk of developing lung cancer after long-term asbestos exposure, according to a new study. Read More