Newsletter – June 2014

QuanTEM Laboratories
June 2014
QuanTEM Chronicle
An Informative Newsletter for Environmental Professionals
In This Issue
Mr Fluffy health crisis: family faces asbestosis diagnosis
China blames ‘pencil-chewing’ on lead-poisoning in children
Workers walk out, warn of black mold at Muskegon hotel
Worcester area contractor convicted of illegal asbestos removal, endangerment
Minneapolis mom chipping away at lead poisoning hazard
Mold-infested home with no clear owner a ‘serious’ health threat to neighbors
TEM Summer Sale
 
Asbestos Spotlight

Vermiculite
Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that containedasbestos until the early 1990s. Vermiculite mines throughout the world are now regularly tested for it and are supposed to sell products that contain no asbestos. The former vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, did have tremolite asbestos as well aswinchite and richterite (both fibrousamphiboles) – in fact, it was formed underground through essentially the same geologic processes as the contaminants.
The largest and oldest vermiculite mine in the United States was started in the 1920s, at Libby, Montana, and the vermiculite was sold under the commercial name Zonolite. The Zonolite brand and the mine was acquired by the W.R. Grace Company in 1963. Mining operations at the Libby site stopped in 1990 in response to asbestos contamination. While in operation, the Libby mine may have produced 80% of the world’s supply of vermiculite.
The United States government estimates that vermiculite was used in more than 35 million homes, but does not recommend its removal. Nevertheless, homes or structures containing vermiculite or vermiculite insulation dating from before the mid 1990s-and especially those known to contain the “Zonolite” brand-may contain asbestos, and therefore may be a health concern.
The U.S. EPA advises that vermiculite from the Libby Mine should be considered to be contaminated with asbestos. Since the Libby mine has been closed since 1990, currently produced ores are considered safer because they have lower asbestos content. Danger of exposure to asbestos in these spray-applied materials is greatly increased by not following proper industrial hygieneprocedures and by not following abatement regulations. Read more
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FSIS Notice Details Beef Testing for Both Salmonella and E. coli

By Heidi Parsons

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued “Notice 28-14 – Analysis for Salmonella of All Beef Products Sampled for Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia Coli (STEC).” To be implemented starting June 29, the notice provides instructions for inspection personnel regarding sampling and analysis of raw ground beef for Salmonella and E. coli.
The new approach, which addsSalmonella testing to the E. colitesting that was already being done in beef processing plants, was first announced May 16 in a blog post by Brian Ronholm, USDA’s acting under secretary for food safety. FSIS Notice 28-14 states that the new program “will allow FSIS to gather baseline data to determine the prevalence ofSalmonella in ground beef and trim and to gather data necessary to propose new performance standards for ground beef.” Read more
John’s View

John Barnett, President
John Barnett, President

It’s with some sadness that I write this note.  For many years Barbara Holder has been an integral part of QuanTEM, but now she has decided to follow some of her grandchildren to Southern California.  She thinks they need her to keep them out of trouble.

 

For ten years she has been the voice of QuanTEM to our customers, discussing turnaround times, problem samples, making shipping arrangements, handling supply orders, and generally being there whenever a problem arose.  Barbara’s ability to connect with our customers has been enjoyed on both ends of the phone and I’m sure everyone here will miss her great smile and contagious laugh. I hope you will all join me in wishing her the best in her travels and her new endeavors.

 

When she gets settled in CA, and if she gives us her contact information, we’ll pass it along for any of you who wish to stay in touch.

 

Until Barbara’s replacement is up and running please feel free to contact Jeff, Steven, or myself and we will be happy to assist you in any way we can.

 

Thanks,

 

John Barnett

Mr Fluffy health crisis: family faces asbestosis diagnosis
By Emma Macdonald, http://www.canberratimes.com.au

At least one Canberra family is grappling with a family member being diagnosed with asbestosis – the likely result of exposure to Mr Fluffy asbestos which they installed in their home in the 1970s – while other families are having health checks for potential lung damage.

 

Meanwhile, anger over ACT government inaction on the issue is mounting among Mr Fluffy homeowners who believe their contaminated houses present a sleeping giant of potential cancer cases.

The Mr Fluffy Owners and Resident’s Action Group – which has over 300 members since setting up last month – has provided a “community voice” section on its website to allow victims to express their fears without risking their anonymity.

 

Catherine (no last name provided) wrote of her experience having Mr Fluffy installed in her home in 1976 after “being assured it was mineral wool and definitely not asbestos. When we decided to extend our home in 1985 and this blue fluffy stuff blew all around the house, we discovered it was asbestos and we became homeless with our four kids for over three months while the asbestos was partially removed and the rest sealed into the roof cavity.” Read more

China blames ‘pencil-chewing’ on lead-poisoning in children
By Karen Graham, http://www.digitaljournal.com

 

A Chinese government official in Dapu, Hunan province has suggested that the cause of an outbreak of lead poisoning in over 300 children is the result of “pencil-chewing,” downplaying the possibility a chemical plant in the town could be at fault.
The official was dismissive of the chemical plant located in the township, as well as the lab reports of airborne dust in the village containing 22 times the legal limit of lead. He also failed to mention the levels of lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic in the factory’s drainage ditch that runs into the village’s river. Those levels are three times the acceptable level considered safe.

State media is reporting that tests done on children in Dapu, Hunan province showed excessive lead levels in over 300 children, many of them too young to go to school. The head of Dapu’s governing body, Su Genlin, told reporters, “When kids are studying, they gnaw on their pencils – that also can cause lead poisoning.”

According to the official news agency, Xinhua, township chief Su Genlin was dressed down and ridiculed online for his remarks. It seems the Chinese character for the heavy metal is also used for pencil, in much the same way that “lead” has a double-meaning in the English language. Lead hasn’t been used in pencils since the 1500s. Read more

Workers walk out, warn of black mold at Muskegon hotel
By Alex Shabad, http://www.wzzm13.com

 

They were disgusted, fed up, and they took to the streets. A half a dozen workers walked out of a Muskegon hotel to warn the public about black mold and other health hazards, that they say are in several rooms.

Anyone can reach a breaking point. For six workers at the Victory Inn and Suites in Muskegon, that time is now.

 

“I’m worried about the health of me, the other employees, and our customers,” says Christopher Hill, with maintenance at the hotel.

 

The employees say the problems have been going on for at least four months and in just the past month they’ve had three different managers.  Read more

Worcester area contractor convicted of illegal asbestos removal, endangerment
By  Megan Bard, mmorse@masslive.com

 

A Webster man has been found guilty of improperly removing and disposing of asbestos and failing to provide a teenager contracted to help with the work with protective clothing during a 2008 job, according to the state attorney general’s office.
Daniel Watterson, 43, a plumbing and heating contractor working under three different company names, was found guilty of three charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act after a five-day jury trial in Worcester Superior Court, Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a news release on Monday.

Watterson had been charged with failing to file notices of asbestos removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; improper removal of asbestos-containing material; and improper disposal of asbestos-containing Materials.

 

Watterson was also found guilty of one count of child endangerment after he hired a teenager to remove asbestos insulation from around two old boilers in a Worcester residence and then demolish and dispose of the boilers. This was the first use of the child endangerment statute in an asbestos case, according to Coakley.Read more

South Minneapolis mom chipping away at lead poisoning hazard
By Beena Raghavendran, http://www.startribune.com

 

“All the windows were full of lead poisoning and I wasn’t aware of it,” Ticiea Fletcher, 43, said.

But everything changed after a checkup in 2009 revealed that her 10-month-old son, Dustin Shields, had high levels of lead in his blood – 21 micrograms per deciliter. Her daughter, 1-year-old Logan Shields, had 18 micrograms.

Dustin, now 6, has developmental disabilities blamed on chipping lead paint around windows in the apartment, and Fletcher is on a mission to make sure that other children are spared that diagnosis.

Fletcher is spreading lead awareness through events and word of mouth. To promote her free blood-testing station for children under 6, Fletcher – who has a partnership with healthy-home advocate Sustainable Resources Center – last week was passing out fliers for an event to be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday at McRae Park.

And through her organization Missions to the Streets, which works with landlords and tenants to give homes to the homeless, Fletcher ensures her clients can detect lead risks in potential apartments.Read more

Mold-infested home with no clear owner a ‘serious’ health threat to neighbors
By Tom Perkins, http://www.mlive.com

 

On any sunny, summer afternoon on Hawthorne Avenue in Ypsilanti Township, the unmistakable stench of mold and mildew wafts down the street.

 

That’s because a vacant house at 1070 Hawthorne is flooded with several feet of water and infested with mold, and officials say that’s a health threat to neighbors who have complained about issue at the property for several months.

 

At its June 17 meeting, the Board of Trustees formally approved township staff seeking a court order to bring the house up to code or to have it demolished.

 

In all likelihood, the home will soon be razed said Mike Radzik, director of the office of community standards.

 

Who the township holds financially responsible for the probable demolition is unclear, Radzik said, because it isn’t known who holds the mortgage.

 

“The basement has been flooded, it’s full of water, the stench can be smelled at the sidewalk and neighbors’ houses,” Radzik said. “We’ll be going after whichever bank we find owns it, but at this point we’re probably going for demolition because it’s so far gone that even Habitat for Humanity won’t want it.” Read more

QuanTEM Chronicle Newsletter
Produced & Edited by
Joanna Mueller, Social Media Director

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Disclaimer:

These excerpts were taken from various sources. Any publication included in this Newsletter and/or opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the views of QuanTEM Laboratories, LLC but remain solely those of the author(s). QuanTEM Laboratories is not responsible for the content or use of the information contained in this education/information service.

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