Monthly Archives: October 2013

Halloween Costume Related Health Hazards

By Janelle Cabuco, http://www.neontommy.com

Some makeup may contain toxic chemicals that can be easily absorbed into the skin (Vancouver Film School / Flickr Creative Commons).

Some makeup may contain toxic chemicals that can be easily absorbed into the skin (Vancouver Film School / Flickr Creative Commons).

Halloween is a time for shrieks of horror, thrills, and laughter. It calls for celebration and superstition, and most importantly, costumes!

Unfortunately, there are some hidden health hazards that come with dressing up for Halloween that most people don’t think about. Some are even scarier than the scariest of Halloween costumes.

According to a 2008 study in Science of the Total Environment, fake teeth and paints used as Halloween props run high risks of lead contamination, a neurotoxin. Many Halloween products such as Halloween themed drinking cups, candy buckets, and fake teeth have been found to have an excess of six percent more lead than the US regulatory limit.

Many other children’s products have been contaminated with lead over the years. In 2007, Toys “R” Us had two recalls in a single month because their children’s products surpassed the legal limit. This is definitely a cause for concern, considering that all of us who buy fake teeth do put them in our mouths. Lead enters the body the fastest when ingested. Read More

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Upton library gears up to fight mold

By Mike Gleason, http://www.milforddailynews.com

The Upton Town Library is plagued with mold, and officials hope that fixes planned over the next few months will solve the problem.

Library officials were alerted to the problem by bad odors.

“Historically, there has been a problem like this with the library,” Library Trustee Chairman John Robertson Jr. said. “We did feel we eliminated the problems and apparently, over time, we had. It was recently noticed, though, that an odor had returned to the library.”

In May, the library hired Gordon Mycology Laboratory in Littleton to inspect the building. The laboratory’s report, issued in July, detailed what it called “unacceptable” or “abnormal” levels of mold on building materials in the first-floor children’s section and unfinished basement, as well as evidence of rodents nesting in the walls.

“The first floor is not currently providing a healthy environment, particularly for mold-sensitized individuals or those with respiratory conditions or immune system deficiencies,” the report reads. “Ideally, although likely not possible, the library should not be occupied until the mold and moisture problems have been fully resolved.”

The report further recommends that people avoid the basement until the problem is fixed. It does note, however, that air samples from the first floor showed low mold levels consistent with indoor environments. Read More

 

High lead levels an issue for backyard chickens, soil

Eggs

Eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By Mary Flaherty, http://www.berkeleyside.com

 

Last month a local veterinarian had a Berkeley client bring in a very sick chicken.

 

“It was almost dead,” said Dr. Lee Prutton, of the Abbey Pet Hospital in El Cerrito. Prutton said he put the chicken to sleep and, wondering if it had a contagious disease, sent the body to the state lab for testing. The results: heavy metal poisoning, mainly lead.

 

The vet is now concerned that people are raising chickens in lead-contaminated urban soils, unaware that the lead can enter the chickens’ eggs that we eat.

 

Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, miscarriage, high blood pressure and learning and behavior problems, and is especially problematic for growing children, according to the Alameda County Healthy Homes Department.

 

Last October, the New York Times reported that “…a New York State Health Department study show(ed) that more than half the eggs tested from chickens kept in community gardens in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens had detectable levels of lead, unlike store-bought counterparts.”

 

A study in the 2003 Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation confirms the transmission of lead from a chicken to its eggs.  According to ‘Lead Contamination of Chicken Eggs and Tissues from a Small Farm Flock,’ “The data show a strong positive correlation between (chickens’) blood lead and the concentration of lead in the yolk of eggs… Eggs and chicken tissues containing significant concentrations of lead are a potential human health hazard, especially to young children.”

 

In Berkeley, backyard chicken keeping is on the rise, but how many chickens are out there is unknown, since licenses are not required. At the Urban Farm Store at BioFuel Oasis on Sacramento and Ashby, a clerk says they sell about 20 bags of chicken feed a day. She estimated at least 500 households in town are raising chickens.

 

So lead in the soil is something those chicken owners need to know about. It’s also a concern for backyard gardeners, of course.

 

But Daniel Miller, executive director of Spiral Gardens, the community garden on Sacramento Street, cautioned about being too worried. “It is something we need to be educated and concerned about, but not something to be alarmist about.”

 

Lead, more than the low, naturally occurring amounts, is all around us in an urban setting, Miller said. The question, he said, is, how much, and how to remediate it.

 

Read More

 

 

 

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Prevent Lead Poisoning. Get your home tested. Get your child tested. Get the facts! Click here…

Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet approximately half a million U.S. children have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the reference level at which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends public health actions be initiated.

A simple blood test can prevent permanent damage that will last a lifetime. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), CDC, is committed to eliminating this burden to public health.

October 20 – 26th is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. During this time the CDC will strive to:

  • Raise awareness about lead poisoning;
  • Stress the importance of screening the highest risk children younger than 6 years of age (preferably by ages 1 and 2) if they have not been tested yet;
  • Highlight partners’ efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning; and
  • Urge people to take steps to reduce lead exposure.

For more information on how you can prevent lead poisoning in your home and community visit the Lead Paint Resources page at Occupational Knowledge International.

 

Temple City disposes of more than 700 public documents due to asbestos contamination

By Zen Vuong, http://www.pasadenastarnews.com

The City Council passed a resolution Tuesday declaring seven filing cabinets’ worth of public records “toxic” and had a contractor dispose of the infected files on Wednesday.

The documents were contaminated with asbestos dust or friable asbestos, so safety was a concern, said City Attorney Eric Vail.

“Because paper is porous, there’s no way to save the paper, and they essentially become toxic,” Vail said. “You’d have to have someone in a hazardous material suit scanning the documents (if you want to preserve them). It’s very costly and it’s also very dangerous.”

City staff provided the public with a 36-page list of 759 documents that Alliance Environmental Group, an asbestos removal service, removed from the city’s premises on Wednesday. Documents are listed in categories such as permits, agreements (with companies), city charter, legal and conflict of interest.

The list includes “original certificate from Secretary of State declaring incorporation of the City of Temple City” and “Sunnyslope Water Company versus City of Temple City,” which is categorized under “legal.”

While exposure to tiny, flexible asbestos fibers causes some people to develop health problems, others are unaffected, reported the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Health dangers include chronic respiratory disease or lung, stomach and kidney cancers.

The public would misplace their concern if they worried the disposal of public documents dating back to 1964 and extending all the way to December 2012 is questionable, Vail said.

Other lawyers who specialize in public freedom of information rights are skeptical.

“Destroying documents that are less than two years old sounds like it violates the spirit of the public records act,” said Don Zachary, an attorney and adjunct professor at USC. “On its face, it sounds like this municipality is ignoring that reality in an effort to be super safe with regard to the asbestos dust.” Read More

 

Johnson & Johnson recalls schizophrenia drug after discovering mold

English: Risperdal Consta injection syringe Ma...

English: Risperdal Consta injection syringe Magyar: Risperdal Consta injekció (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By Sakthi Prasad & Jeremy Laurence, http://www.reuters.com

 

Johnson & Johnson is voluntarily recalling one lot of schizophrenia drug Risperdal Consta after discovering mold during a routine testing process, a company spokeswoman said, the latest in a string of recalls over the past two years.

 

Risperdal Consta is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson. The company is recalling the drug from wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies and healthcare providers.

 

The medicine is a long-acting form of J&J’s Risperdal anti-psychotic medication, and is used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It is injected, unlike basic Risperdal, which is a pill.

 

“We estimate that fewer than 5,000 dose packs remain in the market considering our current inventory levels and the usage of this product,” spokeswoman Robyn Reed Frenze said in an email to Reuters. A single lot of Risperdal Consta consists about 70,000 dosage packs.

 

Frenze said that the risk to patients is considered low, and “there have been no trends of adverse events of infection associated with this lot”. Read More

 

 

Efforts to stop lead poisoning could be at risk

By Liz Szabo, http://www.usatoday.com

Lead poisoning

Lead poisoning (Photo credit: firexbrat)

Pediatricians and public-health advocates are working to revive programs to protect children from lead poisoning, after what they describe as a series of devastating blows to their efforts.

Congress all but eliminated federal funding to prevent lead poisoning in 2012, cutting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s lead budget by more than 90%. There is no safe level of lead, the CDC estimates that 535,000 American kids have enough lead in their blood to put them at high risk for lead poisoning, which causes intellectual impairments and behavioral problems.

Although lead is no longer used in gasoline or paint, many children are still exposed by living in old housing with peeling paint. USA TODAY also has documented the hazards to children from shuttered lead smelting factories, which left layers of lead in backyards and playgrounds across the USA.

“It’s like they’re declaring victory in a war that has not been won,” says Jerome Paulson, a professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on environmental health. Read More

New technology tool to help in asbestos battle

By Peter Dinham, http://www.itwire.com

An Australian company has developed what it claims is a pioneering technology platform to help achieve the federal government’s agenda to rid the country of asbestos by 2030.

The company – Octfolio – has just launched its new Asbestos Information Management Software and website – http://www.octfolio.com – which it says is designed to aid in the battle to save lives against deadly asbestos exposure and estimated to save millions of dollars for asbestos stakeholders.

“Ultimately it’s all about an easier and efficient way to track, assess, remove and dispose of asbestos with a goal to saving lives, so we’ve created the Octfolio system to play a pivotal role in helping the Government achieve that outcome for future generations,” says Darren Anderson, Managing Director for the Octfolio company.
“Octfolio has developed the first and only fully integrated tool that will map, classify, quantify and enable the strategic cost effective removal of asbestos from workplaces and homes.

This technology offers everything from online training for asbestos assessors and removalists, and sharing medical research information, to encouraging safe storage and disposal at licensed facilities and even mechanisms for reporting illegal disposal sites.

“Plus there are many more community benefits including accessibility of the project data in situations such as natural disasters and recovery operations, and providing a way for the government and private sector to better inform the public in relation to asbestos and its safe removal.” Read More

 

The Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2013

Globally Harmonized System of Classification a...

Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) pictogram for hazardous substances; inofficial pictogram “Unknown” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Reposted from http://www.msdsonline.com

 

OSHA unveiled the Top 10 OSHA violations of 2013 at this year’s National Safety Council Congress and Expo in Chicago. Sponsored by Safety+Health magazine and The top ten list presentation drew a big crowd of attendees in the Expo hall.

Most hazards carried over from the 2012 list, with a couple gaining ground and a few falling. Fall Protection repeated as the number one violation as did HazCom Violations at #2 – which makes sense given all of the attention OSHA has put on HazCom since it revised the standard last year to align with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System (GHS). Other hazards rounding out the top are as follows:

Most Cited Violation of 2013

1. Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501) 7250 violations

2. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200)

3. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451) – 3018 violations (Big problem, people using scaffoldings as ladders and ladders as scaffolding, assuming one could work for the other.)

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134)

5. Electrical – Wiring Methods (29 CFR 1910.305)

6. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178)

7. Ladders (1926.1053)

8. Control of Hazardous Energy – Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)

9. Electrical – General (29 CFR 1910.303) 2863 violations

10. Machine Guarding – General Requirement (29 CFR 1910.212)

Read More

 

 

The Government Shutdown’s effect on the EPA

US-EPA-Seal-EO11628

US-EPA-Seal-EO11628 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reposted from http://ieconnections.com

The shutdown of the federal government that began October 1 is affecting agencies and departments that deal with indoor environmental issues.

Now that the government has run out of money due to the failure to reach a budget agreement, federal agencies must decide which employees are “essential” and which ones can be furloughed for the duration of the budget impasse.

Ninety-four percent of the employees at the Environmental Protection Agency are being furloughed. This will suspend, for the time being, the agency’s ability to enforce its rules regarding lead-based paint, which require landlords to notify prospective tenants at rental units about potential hazards and contractors to be certified with respect to their knowledge of safe practices. Individuals should, of course, remain in compliance, as the agency will certainly reopen at some point.

But the head of the union that represents EPA employees issued a statement noting that some workers will remain on duty.

“Even today, some employees will continue to assist flood ravaged communities so that they can once again have clean, safe drinking water and fully functioning bathrooms,” the letter said. “They are helping these communities put the essentials in place so that they can begin to rebuild. But they will not have the support of their colleagues in the office, because they have been sent home to wait, wait for Congress to do its job and fund the government.” Read More