Monthly Archives: July 2015

Pet allergies are big business

By Darcy Reynolds, http://www.columbusceo.com/

allergydogIt’s that dreaded season. Allergens are bountiful and wreaking havoc on our eyes, noses and throats. But the allergy suffering isn’t exclusive to humans. The misery many of us have to deal with can extend to our very best friends; our beloved household pets.

Allergic symptoms in dogs and cats can translate into frustration, misery and big business. If you have spent time in the company of a favorite canine and witnessed persistent licking and paw chewing along with incessant scratching, red skin and “hot spots” plus itchy ears and runny eyes, you are likely watching the effect of allergies in action. Cats, too, present allergies in a similar manner along signs such as hair loss, scabs or open sores, excessive scratching and discharge in the ears.

In both people and pets, an allergy is a state of hypersensitivity in which exposure to an allergen induces the body’s immune system to overreact. Gwendolen Lorch, DVM and assistant professor of dermatology at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, believes cases of pet allergies are trending upward, particularly in the Midwest. “Puppies that are bred and raised in Arizona may never present themselves with an allergy. But for areas like Ohio, an average vet practice may treat pet allergies and related ailments in 30-40 percent of all appointments booked,” Lorch says. Read more

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Alarming Spike in Imported Asbestos Products in Canada

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

canadian-flagsThe importation of asbestos into Canada increased by a startling 22 percent in 2014, raising safety concerns for the unsuspecting general public and those still working with the toxic products.

Brake pads and brake linings were the most popular asbestos import, valued at a seven-year high of $3.6 million, according to The Globe and Mail news service research.

Other related imports included various friction materials, compressed asbestos fiber jointing and shipments of crocidolite fibers — the most dangerous form of asbestos. Much of the findings came from Statistics Canada, a government website that provides economic, social and census data. Read more

Firefighters test positive for toxic mold exposure

By John Dzenitis, http://www.wpbf.com/

firefightersmoldTwo firefighters have tested positive for toxic mold exposure, and the firefighters’ union believes old, run-down fire stations are to blame.

The two firefighters worked at Station No. 7 in Vero Beach and Station No. 10 in Fellsmere. In recent years, O’Connor said the firefighters have been complaining about leaky roofs at their stations, as well as mold and dead rats in the ceiling.

“We became very concerned when a lot of guys were complaining about watery eyes, upper respiratory infections, runny noses,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor claims the county has largely ignored firefighters’ complaints, and not enough money has been allocated to fixing up fire stations with serious health concerns. Read more

US cleanup would leave some asbestos in contaminated town

By Matthew Brown, Associated press

LibbyA long-delayed cleanup proposal for a Montana community where thousands have been sickened by asbestos exposure would leave some of the dangerous material inside houses rather than remove it, as government officials seek to wind down an effort that has lasted more than 15 years and cost $540 million.

Details on the final cleanup plan for Libby, Montana, and the neighboring town of Troy were to be released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Health workers have estimated that as many as 400 people have been killed and almost 3,000 sickened by asbestos dust from a W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine that operated outside Libby for decades.

Asbestos-containing vermiculite would be left behind only where it does not pose a risk of exposure to people, such as underground or sealed behind the walls of a house, EPA Libby team leader Rebecca Thomas said.

“You might have vermiculite in the walls. But as long as it’s sealed within plaster or behind drywall and nobody can breathe it, it does not pose a risk,” Thomas said.

Some residents worry the material eventually would escape. An EPA research panel concluded last year that even the slightest exposure to asbestos from Libby can scar lungs and cause other health problems. Read more

Massachusetts Students Show Academic Gains After Reducing Lead Exposure, Study Shows

By Hanna Sanchez, http://www.ischoolguide.com/

schoolkidsA new study suggests reducing the children’s lead exposure in Massachusetts have helped them do better in school, Jasmine Garsd of NPR News reported. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, an Amherst College associate professor of economics, has been researching on the effects of lead since the 1990s. Her interest on the metal started when she was a graduate student at Harvard and was pregnant with her first child.

“Lead is a very useful metal, which is kind of how we got in this situation,” said Reyes, who lived in a lead-rich house.

“Throughout history people keep using lead despite the fact that it has these neurotoxic effects,” she added. The effects of lead in kids could lead to lower IQ and behavioral problems.

The study, published in the Harvard Educational Review, also found that schools with a larger decline in lead showed greater improvements in test scores. Reyes said the “unsatisfactory performance” in the state would have been 5 percent higher if lead usage remained at 1990 levels.

And “because the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program reduced children’s lead when they were very young,” she added, “those children performed substantially better when they were in elementary school.”

The report also showed 2 percent of children who would have been failing are now doing well because of the state’s lead policy. Read more

Black fungus may provide cheaper jet fuel

By Brett Smith, redOrbit.com

jetWe all want cheaper airfare, but the high cost of jet fuel is a major driver of today’s ticket prices.

However, a new report from researchers at Washington State University indicates that cheaper jet fuel could be on the way thanks to a common black fungus found in rotting fruit called Aspergillus carbonarius.

By providing a special diet, the study team was able to get the fungus to produce hydrocarbons similar to those in jet fuel.

“It’s very promising,” said study author Birgitte Ahring, a bioproducts expert at WSU, in a press release.”I think that the fungus-based fuels are something that is going to happen. It’s a tremendous opportunity.” Read more

Jury Awards Woman $13 Million for Asbestos Exposure

By Brian Melley, Associated Press

talcum powderA Los Angeles jury awarded $13 million to a 73-year-old woman who contracted a deadly disease from using asbestos-containing talcum powder manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive Co.

Jurors deliberated for two hours Tuesday before finding that New York-based Colgate was 95 percent responsible for Judith Winkel’s mesothelioma, a fatal lung disease, according to her lawyers. The verdict included $1.4 million in damages for her husband.

Winkel’s lawyers said she got the rare cancer from using Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder.

“This is an example of the legal system exposing what a company should have been honest about 50 years ago,” attorney Chris Panatier said. “Judith Winkel only wanted a jury to hear the truth about this product and hopefully to help others who are similarly exposed.”

While billions of dollars have been paid in verdicts and settlements to people sickened by exposure to asbestos, it’s often in cases related to use of the mineral in construction materials or insulation. Tiny fibers of the carcinogen can be breathed in and lodge in the lungs, leading to fatal illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

The Food and Drug Administration conducted a study more than five years ago that found no asbestos in cosmetics it tested containing talcum powder. However, the agency said there’s been concern about asbestos contamination in talc since the 1970s. Some studies have shown a possible association between use of talc powders and ovarian cancer but have not conclusively linked the two, the agency said. Read more

Testing Around Exide Plant Continues, Community Voices Frustration over Lack of Clarity in Results

By Sahra Sulaiman, http://la.streetsblog.org/exidmeeting

“I still don’t have a clear picture of what the results [of the lead testing in the Expanded Assessment Areas] are,” said a representative of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard.

We were now nearly two hours into a community workshop explicitly intended to brief residents on the extent to which lead emissions from Exide Technologies’ secondary smelting operations may have contaminated properties found within the Expanded Assessment Areas (see explanation, at left). And a number of stakeholders had met one-on-one with representatives of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and L.A. County Department of Public Health (DPH) in the two hours prior to the meeting to get the specific results of testing done on their property.

Having tracked Exide’s many air quality standards violationsover the years and watched family members and friends suffer from the kinds of issues that run rampant in environmental justice (EJ) communities — asthma, cancer, developmental delays, etc. — residents were frustrated. Even as they celebrated the pending closure and dismantling of the battery recycler that they had battled for so long, they were still looking for definitive answers about what Exide had done to their community while it operated for 15 years under a temporary permit and with minimal oversight.

But the science doesn’t always comply with people’s wishes.

“[DTSC] can’t make sense of the data,” head of permitting Rizgar Ghazi acknowledged. “There is no defined pattern” to the contamination discovered. Read more

Happy 4th of July

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Have a happy 4th of July, from QuanTEM Labs.

Have a happy 4th of July, from QuanTEM Labs.