Category Archives: Announcements
New developments in environmental testing
By Peter Dockrill, http://www.sciencealert.com/
One of the most chilling facts about asbestos is that harmful exposure to the dangerous substance can take decades to reveal itself, at which point conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy offer little hope to terminal patients.
However, a new treatment developed by scientists at the University of Technology, Sydney in Australia has been shown to arrest the development of mesothelioma tumours, the cancer caused by asbestos exposure, in 60–80 percent of cases.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive, incurable cancer that occurs after asbestos fibres become lodged in our lungs. The disease can take 20–50 years to present itself, at which point most patients sadly don’t have very long to live. The average lifespan after a diagnosis of mesothelioma is nine months, with chemotherapy only giving patients an extra three months in most cases.
The new compound discovered by UTS researchers could offer a lifeline to those at risk. The reason asbestos is so dangerous is because lodged fibres can cause cells to die off by suppressing the operation of our immune system. The new treatment overcomes this mechanism at a genetic level, giving our natural defences a chance to start fighting back against the fibres.
That’s the theory anyhow, but how effective is it? Well, it’s had an impressive run in pre-clinical lab trials so far. With testing on mice exposed to asbestos, the compound stopped the development of mesothelioma tumours in 60–80 per cent of cases. The researchers are currently applying for a patent and are looking to bring on board a pharmaceutical manufacturer, with hopes a treatment could be available on the market within five years.
“We think the compound could be used through a puffer or a nebuliser, just like those used with asthma, where it could either prevent the fibres taking hold in people exposed to asbestos, or improve the condition for people suffering now,”said Tony George, one of the researchers, in an announcement of the results. Read more
The Environmental Information Association held its 2015 National Conference and Exhibition last month in Atlanta. The conference hosted it’s second annual SExy Awards to celebrate Superior Exhibitor Booths and Salespeople.
John Barnett and Cristal Veech were in attendance, looking quite dapper in their ‘Gone with the Wind’ inspired outfits which earned the Best Costume award for QuanTEM Labs.
The Environmental Information Association, with its beginnings as the National Asbestos Council, has spent over 30 years at the forefront in providing the environmental industry with the information needed to remain knowledgeable, responsible, and competitive in the environmental health and safety industry.
Next year’s conference will be held March 06, 2016 to March 09, 2016 in Las Vegas.
Each year around Christmas the staff at QuanTEM works to raise money for a local charitable organization. This year’s recipient is the Angels Foster Family Network of OKC. Angels is a private foster child placing agency in Oklahoma County, rescuing children who have often been traumatized while living in emergency shelters or in a series of short term foster homes after being abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents.
This year QuanTEM employees engaged in a multitude of activities, including; bake sales, card games, prize drawings and coin drops, in order to raise money. Some employees even went above and beyond by agreeing to dress-up in costume when benchmarks were reached. The money raised by employees will be matched by QuanTEM and donated to Angels as a Christmas gift.
Thank you to everyone who participated, especially these brave souls.
We raised $1305 this year. QuanTEM will match that total so the Angels Foster Family Network will be receiving a $2610 donation. Way to go team!
Most of you have heard that IAQA is in the process of a transition with our new partner, ASHRAE. It has been my honor to serve on the Transition Team on behalf of IAQA along with Don Herrmann, Eva King, and Kent Rawhouser. John Barnett of QuanTEM Laboratories asked me to write a short article on the transition and what it means to all IAQA members.
It has been a real learning experience for me to see how another professional organization works. ASHRAE’s volunteers and staff have been very helpful in the transition, and I personally look forward to a bright future for IAQA as it partners with ASHRAE. In this article, I will outline what has already been accomplished, and what remains to be done.
Each Tuesday, the Transition Teams of both IAQA and ASHRAE meet by teleconference with staff to discuss the previous week’s event, and what is planned for the upcoming week. These meetings were critically important in July and August because we had a deadline of August 15th for the transition of the IAQA association management from A&A Communications to ASHRAE. With help from all parties, we met that deadline with little in the way of hitches. For most members, there was a change of street and web addresses and phone numbers that were posted on all appropriate web pages and correspondence. However, there was little else that changed, with the continuation of the great membership service we have all come to expect. I was pleased to note that the IAQA Digest continued each week, and ASHRAE staff was answering the phones and emails from IAQA members in a timely fashion. The transition was as smooth as possible.
For now, ASHRAE staff is providing organizational management for IAQA. This has helped with our planning for the March 2015, Annual IAQA Conference and Expo. All members will be receiving notifications shortly regarding registration and details on the program. I expect that, under Convention Committee Chair Eva King, we can expect a terrific conference and expo with lots of interesting and exciting presentations. Please plan to attend!
The IAQA and ASHRAE Transition Teams will be meeting in early November to discuss, negotiate, and finalize an agreement between the two organizations. I can say that it is both Teams’ intention that this agreement will be signed as soon as possible so that both organizations can begin to work together on items of common interest. At the meeting, the Teams will discuss the future of IAQA, including the tremendous opportunities for both organizations. As much as IAQA is looking forward to working with ASHRAE, I can assure you that ASHRAE is looking forward to working with the members of IAQA. They are looking forward to tapping into our expertise in indoor air quality, mold, residential buildings, and remediation. With their expertise in mechanical engineering and HVAC systems, this is a great combination for the members of both organizations to learn from each other. This has already begun at some of our Chapters in both organizations where IAQA and ASHRAE members have networked and begun the dialogue.
In my view, this partnership is the best of all outcomes for IAQA. We remain an independent member-based professional organization with the support of another professional organization that has the resources to help IAQA realize all of its potential. I believe that ‘The future is bright’ and the best is yet to come.
Please contact any members of the IAQA Transition Team with any questions or comments that you have. We look forward to hearing from you! Click here for a list of IAQA Officers and Directors.
By Alison Young and Donna Leinwand Leger,http://www.usatoday.com
Dozens of CDC scientists and other workers are now taking antibiotics and anxiously watching for any signs of disease, even though the agency issued a statement saying the risk of infection is “very low.”
A team of investigators from the Federal Select Agent Program, which polices labs working with potential bioterror germs, was expected to arrive at the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters today or tomorrow, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said Monday. Their investigation and an internal CDC inquiry seek to find out how one of the world’s premier public health laboratories mistakenly sent live samples of the particularly deadly Ames strain of anthrax to other agency labs, where workers believed the bacteria had been deactivated.
The CDC said Thursday that it may take disciplinary action against any employee whose failure to follow biosafety protocols led to the potential exposure of more than 80 employees to the deadly microbe.
Skinner said the head of the CDC’s Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory had been “detailed to another job” pending completion of the agency’s review, but he said he could not confirm the employee’s name. Reuters, citing two CDC scientists who are not authorized to speak to the press, identified the employee is Michael Farrell.
Even with antibiotic treatment, anthrax has a fatality rate of 28% to 45%, depending on the type of exposure, according to information on the CDC’s website. It can take weeks or even months for symptoms to develop.
“There are a lot of people going through a lot of unnecessary anxious moments,” Skinner said. “Things like this shouldn’t happen. These are ‘never’ events. They should never happen. Period.”
Most of the staffers who are counted among possible exposures are scientists, lab technicians, administrative and maintenance staff who may have passed through areas where the live anthrax samples were handled without proper protective equipment and barriers, Skinner said.
About seven CDC scientists are at heightened risk because they had more direct exposure, he said. They would most likely have been vaccinated against anthrax previously because of their jobs. Now they’re taking antibiotics and would have been offered a booster vaccine, he said.
Some of this small group of scientists were involved in agitating or shaking test tubes of what they thought were deactivated anthrax spores, then lifting the tops off the tubes. That may have aerosolized the spores, creating the risk that these scientists inhaled some of the anthrax.
When working with live anthrax, scientists work in Biosafety Level 3 labs with safety equipment to prevent exposure. Live anthrax is supposed to be handled under negative air pressure in a special safety cabinet, and scientists wear personal breathing equipment.
But in the recent incident, because the scientists thought the spores were deactivated, the test tubes were opened in two Biosafety Level 2 labs with minimal protections, Skinner said. The scientists might have been wearing gloves, gowns and goggles, but they would not have been using a safety cabinet or a personal air supply. Read more
Alex Bastian & Maxwell Szabo, http://www.sfdistrictattorney.org
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, along with 31 other California District Attorneys and two city attorneys, announced today that Alameda County Superior Court Judge George C. Hernandez has ordered North Carolina-based Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC, to pay $18.1 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution.
“The dangers inherent in dumping hazardous waste cannot be understated, it is absolutely essential that we protect our environment for future generations,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Those who would jeopardize our environment are on notice – they will be held liable.”
The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement action filed yesterday in Alameda County claiming that more than 118 Lowe’s stores throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a six and a half year period. Those hazardous wastes and materials included pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.
Lowe’s was cooperative throughout the investigation and has adopted enhanced policies and procedures designed to eliminate the disposal of hazardous waste products in California. Stores are required to retain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers so as to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions. Hazardous waste produced by California Lowe’s stores through damage, spills and returns is being collected by state-registered haulers, taken to proper disposal facilities and properly documented and accounted for.
From 2011 to 2013, district attorney investigators along with investigators from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and environmental regulators statewide, conducted a series of waste inspections of dumpsters belonging to Lowe’s stores. The inspections revealed that Lowe’s was routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills throughout California that were not permitted to receive those wastes. The inspections also revealed that at some Lowe’s stores, instead of recycling batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs that the company had gathered from customers at store recycling kiosks as part of a program to responsibly reduce waste, employees were unlawfully discarding these items directly to the trash. Read more
By JC Sevcik, http://www.upi.com
The department announced their have been eight cases of invasive meningococcal disease in the county so far this year, the L.A. Times reports.
Invasive meningococcal disease causes meningitis, an inflammation of the the meninges, the protective membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be spread through exposure to sneezing and coughing and contact with saliva and mucous. Kissing, sharing beverages or cigarettes, and living in group settings can transmit the bacteria responsible for infection.
Symptoms usually onset within five days of exposure to the bacteria, and may include a high fever, stiff neck, aches, and an aversion to bright lights.
By Emily Corwin, http://nhpr.org
The US Navy will offer for lease the former Naval Prison on the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
The Navy has twice before sought private-sector redevelopment of the old Naval Prison, which closed in 1974. It was built in 1908, and has been called the “Alcatraz of the East.”
The medieval-looking multi-story building is 265,000 square feet and has 11 and a half acres of waterfront land.
The new tenant would be responsible for ensuring structural stability in the now-dilapidated building, and cleaning up hazardous waste, including asbestos and lead paint. 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