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Blood lead screenings offered near Exide plant

Posted by KABC-TV/DT, http://abclocal.go.com

Exide plantFree blood lead screenings are available for people who live, work or attend school near the Exide Technologies plant in Vernon.

Los Angeles County health officials made the screenings available Monday after excessive levels of lead were detected in recent emissions from the battery recycling plant. Elevated levels of lead were found in the yards of 39 homes around the plant.

“There are many sources of lead in our daily environment,” Director of Public Health Jonathan Fielding said. “However, it is clear that Exide Technologies has emitted unacceptably high levels of lead and other toxic chemicals into the surrounding communities for years.”

Exide recycles batteries and has been under close scrutiny by state and local regulators over the past year.

Residents from Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles have voiced concerns about their safety numerous times.

This is the latest in a string of problems surrounding the plant. In January, regional air quality officials sued Exide for $40 million, saying the plant exposed people to cancer-causing chemicals such as arsenic. Read More

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3D Maps Reveal a Lead-Laced Ocean

By David Malakoff, http://news.sciencemag.org

oceanmap

3D graphics by Steven van Heuven, courtesy Hein de Baar, Rob Middag, Abigail Noble, and Christian Schlosser

About 1000 meters down in a remote part of the Atlantic Ocean sits an unusual legacy of humanity’s love affair with the automobile. It’s a huge mass of seawater infused with traces of the toxic metal lead, a pollutant once widely emitted by cars burning leaded gasoline. Decades ago, the United States and Europe banned leaded gas and many other uses of the metal, but the pollutant’s fingerprint lingers on—as shown by remarkably detailed new maps released here this week at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting.

The 3D maps and animations are the early results of an unprecedented $300 million international collaboration to document the presence of trace metals and other chemicals in the world’s oceans. The substances, which often occur in minute quantities, can provide important clues to understanding the ocean’s past—such as how seawater masses have moved around over centuries—and its future, such as how climate change might shift key biochemical processes. Over about 30 cruises in the past few years, researchers have collected nearly 30,000 water samples at 787 study sites. Then, using painstaking techniques—including wearing “moon suits” and working in clean rooms to prevent contamination—they’ve measured elements like iron, nickel, and zinc. The effort, known as GEOTRACES, “is a huge improvement over what we were able to do in the past,” says ocean chemist Hein de Baar of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research in Texel.

GEOTRACES is tracking some 200 elements and other substances, but the lead maps released this week tell an especially sobering story of past pollution—and continuing contamination. In the central Atlantic, for example, the maps show a huge slug of subsurface seawater with lead levels higher than those in surface or deeper waters. That tainted water was once at the surface, where it collected airborne lead particles, explains chemical oceanographer Abigail Noble of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. But the surface water slowly sank into the deep ocean, essentially becoming a time capsule recording “the incredible impact that we have had on the oceans in the past, and how it changes over time.”

Although the elevated lead levels stand out as red and yellow blotches on the GEOTRACES maps, the concentrations are too low to pose a major threat to humans or wildlife, says MIT ocean scientist Edward Boyle. “You probably aren’t going to see stupid fish or whales swimming around,” he says, alluding to the brain damage that can be caused by lead exposure. The lead concentrations are roughly equivalent to what you’d get if you dissolved a small spoonful of frozen orange juice in 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools, Noble estimates. And lead levels in much of the Atlantic have dropped dramatically over the past few decades, Noble and Boyle note, mostly thanks to the lead phaseout in the United States and Europe. Read More

Lead And Asbestos-Ridden ‘Alcatraz Of The East’ Available For Lease At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

 By Emily Corwin, http://nhpr.org

Credit rjzii via Flickr Creative Commons

Credit rjzii via Flickr Creative Commons

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

More asbestos found in Rock Island school

Rock Island Clock Tower

Rock Island Clock Tower (Photo credit: wonder_al)

By Tara Becker, http://qctimes.com

An additional 10,000-square-feet of asbestos discovered on the second floor of the former Audubon Elementary School in Rock Island will cost $57,000 to remove, a spokeswoman for the Rock Island-Milan School District said Monday.

 

Holly Sparkman said the removal may add only a day or two to the asbestos abatement process, with demolition scheduled to begin the first week in December.

 

The school board will vote on the additional work and cost during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Administration Center, 2101 6th Ave.

 

Valley Construction of Rock Island began removing asbestos from the building Nov. 7 to prepare the building to be demolished.

 

Sparkman said the construction crew recently discovered that tiles on the ceiling of the second-floor had layers of mastic glue, a heavy-duty adhesive primarily made out of asbestos. Read More

 

Factory planned on South Side raises pollution fears

By Spencer Hunt, http://www.dispatch.com

A glass-recycling factory planned for the South Side has renewed many neighbors’ fears of pollution.

Phoenix-based Closed Loop Glass Solutions plans to build a new type of furnace and recycling system that promises to remove lead from old glass television tubes without sending the toxic metal into the air.

Closed Loop must emit less than 1 pound of lead per year, according to a permit approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

“We will be way under that in terms of our operations,” said Brent Benham, the company’s chief financial officer.

That promise has done little to mollify some South Side residents who say the area already is dominated by heavy industry.

“We don’t want to see a company that is in any way going to be emitting lead into the community,” said Eileen Neale, a member of the Alum Crest Acres Civic Community group and the Far South Columbus Area Commission. “We’re absolutely inundated with those kinds of facilities.” Read More

 

Colorado waives asbestos cleanup laws for flood recovery, but experts fear safety may be compromised

Colorado National Guard Flood Response

Colorado National Guard Flood Response (Photo credit: The National Guard)

 

By Keli Rabon, http://www.thedenverchannel.com

 

Relaxed state requirements for asbestos cleanup and removal have paved the way for a speedier recovery for homeowners and businesses affected by the devastating floods. But cleanup professionals say the trade-off could be putting people at risk.

 

 “You can’t see it, taste it or smell it. There’s no way you’ll know without having a certified person come in and test for it,” says an industrial hygienist and state-certified asbestos inspector whose name we have withheld because he fears retaliation for speaking out.

 

On average, he says one in three homes in the state contains asbestos, and despite a common misconception that asbestos-containing products are no longer manufactured, the products are often shipped in from Canada and Mexico.  

 

“If you don’t know if a material has asbestos in it, you have to assume the material does, and treat it as an asbestos-containing material until it can be sampled and proven to not have asbestos in it,” the inspector said.

 

But in flood cleanup guidance released earlier this week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said, “To enable timely cleanup of flood debris… the department will temporarily not enforce certain regulatory requirements.”  When it comes to asbestos contamination, the document states that, “If this is not known, the material may be handled as non-asbestos flood debris, and disposed of at a permitted landfill.”

 

But the asbestos inspector disagreed.

 

“Just removing the gross materials doesn’t guarantee that all the asbestos fibers are going to be gone from the structure,” the inspector said.

 

“So there could still be asbestos in the home, even though the materials are taken out?” Call7 Investigator Keli Rabon asked.

 

“Absolutely, because it’s a microscopic fiber,” he said.

 

If inhaled, those microscopic asbestos fibers can cause chronic lung disease or cancer, like mesothelioma. Studies show it can take 20 to 30 years before symptoms appear.

 

“Through this policy, is the state putting people at risk?” Rabon asked.

 

“Absolutely,” the inspector said.

 

“I don’t agree with that at all. The safety of our citizens, first-responders and cleanup crews is our number one priority,” said Will Allison, CDPHE’s Director of Air Pollution Control.  

 

Allison says the safest option is to clean flood debris as quickly as possible.

 

“We’ve seen 20,000 homes damaged or destroyed by the recent flooding, and since that’s not the traditional type of remodel we would see, we recognize that in some stances, traditional regulations, it’s not practical to have them apply,” Allison said.

 

Previous guidance from the state has said, “Buildings of any age, even those newly built, may have asbestos containing material.”

 

Allison admits many people may not know if asbestos is in their home. 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

 

Short-term asbestos exposure triggers mesothelioma

Reported by http://www.survivingmesothelioma.com

The recent death of a British man from mesothelioma is evidence of the destructive power of asbestos – even when exposure is short.

A British newspaper reports that Welwyn resident Roger Beale first began experiencing a classic symptom of mesothelioma, shortness of breath, nearly 4 years ago. Beale first noticed the problem while walking up stairs. After a chest X-ray, Beale’s symptoms were attributed to a chest infection.

But when his symptoms continued to worsen, Beale sought medical care again in January, 2010 and was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, an intractable cancer of the lung lining that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. By November of 2010, Beale’s shortness of breath had gotten worse, despite regular monitoring and treatment and he died at the age of 67.

Although mesothelioma is alarmingly common in the UK, the region with the world’s highest per capita rate of the cancer, Beale’s case was unique. To his knowledge, his only known exposure to the asbestos dust that triggered his mesothelioma occurred in 1967 for only two to three days. It was during that time that Beale worked in a factory where he was required to cut asbestos with a circular saw. Without protection, Beale likely inhaled a substantial amount of the deadly asbestos dust that is the primary cause of mesothelioma. Read More

 

Tips to improve your indoor air quality

Cleaning the air cooler filter at Stacken.

Cleaning the air cooler filter at Stacken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By BPT, http://www.jsonline.com

 

ou pride yourself on keeping a clean home. The laundry is washed, the dishes are dry and the den where the children built their pillow fort has been restored to sanity. You’ve been vigilant about cleaning up the messes you can see, but what about the messes you can’t? What are you doing to improve the air quality in your home?

 

You may not think about the air quality in your home because the problem isn’t visible, but that doesn’t stop dust, dander or chemicals from polluting your air. Everyday living generates up to 40 pounds of dust in a six-room house every year, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association.

 

Taking steps to clean the air in your home will do more than just improve air quality; it will also save you money. Twenty-five to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted because contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work inefficiently, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

If you’re interested in improving the air quality in your home and saving money while you do it, here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction.

 

Read More