Dec 1, 2018

Podcasts: Carbon Monoxide: Odorless, Colourless, and Deadly

This month's  Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safet podcasts include Carbon Monoxide: Odorless, Colourless, and Deadly and an enore presentation of Slips, Trips, and Falls: Preventing Workplace Injuries.

Feature Podcast: Carbon Monoxide: Odorless, Colourless, and Deadly

Every year in Canada, hundreds of workers experience carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Many survive, but others are not so fortunate. During the winter months, this odourless, colourless, deadly gas creeps back into the spotlight. The heightened concern is due in part to the increased use of furnaces, space heaters and generators, as we try to escape the cold, but also because of the use of fuel burning tools indoors. Understand the hazards of carbon monoxide and how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. 

The podcast runs 7:00 minutes.  Listen to the podcast now.

Nov 30, 2018

CDC Warns of Exotic Tick Spreading Across the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday that the Asian longhorned tick—a species that mysteriously traveled thousands of miles across the globe before it was discovered in the fur of a New Jersey sheep in 2017—has now spread to nine states on the eastern half of the country. As The Daily Beast previously reported, scientists aren't yet sure if the tick is capable of transmitting Lyme disease—but they do know that it transmits severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, a phlebovirus that kills 15 percent of the humans it infects. The CDC notes in its press release that no infections of any kind that can be linked to the tick have yet been found in Americans. The ticks were found in New Jersey (16 ticks), Virginia (15), West Virginia (11), New York (3), North Carolina (3), Pennsylvania (2), Connecticut (1), and Maryland (1), and Arkansas (1), between August 2017 and September 2018.

CDC full article:



The biology and ecology of H. longicornis as an exotic species in the United States should be characterized in terms of its vector competence (ability to transmit a pathogen) and vectorial capacity (feeding habits, host preference, climatic sensitivity, population density, and other factors that can affect the risk for pathogen transmission to humans) for tickborne pathogens known to be present in the United States (5). Surveillance for H. longicornis should include adequate sampling of companion animals, commercial animals, wildlife, and the environment. Where H. longicornis is detected, there should be testing for a range of indigenous and exotic viral, bacterial, and protozoan tickborne pathogens potentially transmitted by H. longicornis. Given the similarity between SFTSV and Heartland virus, a tickborne phlebovirus (https://www.cdc.gov/heartland-virus/index.html)

Nov 29, 2018

Make sure your home is fire safe for the holidays — safety tips from ReadyWisconsin

ReadyWisconsin — As families decorate their homes for the holiday season, 
keep fire safety in mind.

"Decorations can help to brighten up the holidays for many people, but it's important to make sure they are installed correctly so they don't become a hazard to your safety or your home," urged Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula.

With both live and artificial Christmas trees, it's important to take extra safety precautions when placing them inside your home. It only takes a few seconds for a tree to ignite into a large blaze. Never place a live tree close to a heat source, such as a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be sure to water your live Christmas tree every day.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical problems cause one out of every four Christmas tree fires. Make sure you inspect holiday lights each year and replace string lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Follow manufacturer's instructions for limits on the number of light strands that can be connected. Remember some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.

When it comes to holiday lights, it's not uncommon to find a shortage of outlets to plug everything in. While it may be tempting, avoid overloading electrical outlets. Do not link more than three light strands unless the di­rections indicate it is safe. Make sure to periodically check the light strands while those decorations are in use. If they are warm to the touch, unplug and remove them. Be sure to turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when going to bed or leaving the house. Unplug extension cords when they are not in use.

Most home fires caused by candles occur on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and News Year's Day. Never leave a burning candle unattended, and make sure they are kept at least 12 inches away from things that can burn. Instead of light­ing real candles, consider using battery-operated flameless candles - that way you won't need to worry about forgetting to blow them out, or the candle being accidently knocked over by pets or children.

To help alert you to fire danger, make sure you have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home. Test them monthly. Keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries. Know when and how to call for help and remember to practice your home escape plan.

For additional holiday safety tips, visit http://readywisconsin.wi.gov

Nov 28, 2018

Adult Smoking Hits a New Low in Wisconsin

Work still needed to reduce tobacco use among some groups
New data show that statewide efforts to reduce smoking rates are paying off, with the state's smoking rate falling to 16% in 2017 after several years at 17%, according to the Department of Health Services' Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (BRFSS). One of the biggest reductions is among those aged 35-44, down to 19% in 2017 from 24% in 2016. There are also signs that smoking rates may be starting to fall for some groups that have higher rates, including African Americans and people who are on Medicaid.

"The hard work by community organizations, health educators, families and young people to provide information about the dangers of smoking, and programs available to help people quit, is making a difference, said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. "We are grateful to all Wisconsin citizens who are helping to reduce tobacco use statewide."

View the entire news release.

Nov 26, 2018

New Map Shows Why Some People Flee Their Native Countries

A new map by the University of Cincinnati illustrates one motivating force behind migrant caravans leaving Guatemala and Honduras to reach the United States.

UC geography professor Tomasz Stepinski created the new world map showing dramatic changes in land use over the last quarter century. Stepinski, a professor in UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, turned high-resolution satellite images from the European Space Agency into one of the most detailed looks so far at how people are reshaping the planet.

"Right now there are caravans of people walking to the United States. Many of them are coming from Guatemala," Stepinski said.

News agencies such as The Guardian have called some of the Central American migrants "climate-change refugees" since many are fleeing successive years of crop failure. But Stepinski said climate change tells only part of the story. His map shows how Guatemala has seen widespread deforestation.

"And they've lost the forest because people use wood for fuel," Stepinski said. "It's one part of the refugee crisis."

The project was published in the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation.

Stepinski's work in UC's Space Informatics Lab demonstrates the value that UC places on research as part of its strategic direction, Next Lives Here.

A portion of UC geography professor Tomasz Stepinski's new world map shows changing landscapes in North and South America. White indicates little or no change. Darker shades indicate the highest rate of change in each category.


 Graphic/Tomasz Stepinski/UC


The map illustrates how 22 percent of the Earth's habitable surface has been altered in measurable ways, primarily from forest to agriculture, between 1992 and 2015.

"It's very informative. There is nothing else like it," Stepinski said. "There are maps of forest loss but no maps showing everything."

The map tells a new story everywhere you look, from wetlands losses in the American Southeast to the devastation of the Aral Sea to deforestation in the tropics and temperate rainforests.

"Of course, it raises alarm bells. But they're not new ones," Stepinski said.

Read full at:

Effects of suspected radiation exposure seen in Fukushima wild monkeys: researchers

Findings of abnormalities in these monkeys have been continuously reported in British scientific journals. Researchers assume that the monkeys ingested items like tree bark contaminated with radioactive cesium emanating from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Tohoku University's Department of Pathology professor emeritus Manabu Fukumoto and his research team performed hematological analysis of adult monkeys captured after the nuclear disaster. They inspected blood cell counts in the bone marrow of 18 monkeys caught in locations within 40 kilometers from the plant, including the city of Minamisoma and the town of Namie. Fukumoto's team then compared the data to that of monkeys from other areas. The results revealed various substances destined to mature into blood, like cells that develop into platelets, had decreased in Fukushima monkeys.

Furthermore, the team observed some blood components had greatly decreased in monkeys with higher internal radiation exposure per day. They estimated the radiation dose from the concentration of radioactive cesium in the monkeys' muscles. Fukumoto explained, "We need to conduct long-term research to see if it (the abnormalities) has an effect on the monkeys' health."


Read on at:

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181125/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

Nov 20, 2018

Severe working conditions in Bolivian mines, Including Children

The severe working conditions, especially for children who labor underground. The mines extract gold, silver, tin and zinc.

These working conditions, especially for children, must be changed.

....about 250,000 to document the daily lives of miners. They're part of a centuries-old enterprise to extract silver, tin, zinc and gold from the mountains. He was struck by the harsh and sometimes dangerous conditions the miners work in — and by the number of children he saw working in the mines. Some were teenagers. One youngster said he was 11 years old...

Nov 19, 2018

EPA Watchdog Questions Safety of Sewage Used as Fertilizer

(Bloomberg) -- The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't know if the treated sewage sludge that farmers use as fertilizer is safe, according to a report from its internal watchdog.

The treated sewage known as biosolids is chock full of nutrients, which is what makes it so good at enriching soil. But it also can be chock full of pollutants, from heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic to pharmaceutical compounds, flame retardants and disease-carrying organisms.

And the EPA doesn't know enough about hundreds of pollutants found in the material, the agency's inspector general said in a report Thursday.

The EPA's controls over using biosolids as fertilizer are "incomplete" or have "weaknesses" and "may not have fully protected human health and the environment," said Jill Trynosky, a project manager with the inspector general's office. "The EPA is unable to state whether, and at what level, the pollutants found in biosolids pose a risk to human health or the environment," Trynosky said in an agency podcast describing the investigation.

The biosolids at issue are a byproduct of wastewater treatment -- essentially the residue that is left over after wastewater is cleaned at facilities nationwide. That sewage sludge can be sent to incinerators or landfills -- or it can go through additional treatment to remove pollutants and to make it less attractive to vermin, effectively transforming it into biosolids that can be applied to farmland as fertilizer.

Nearly half of the biosolids generated in the U.S. ultimately are applied to the land, according to the EPA.

The agency oversees the practice, with requirements to test for nine specific heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury, research additional pollutants that may need regulation and pare pathogens from the material.

Although the EPA has consistently monitored biosolids for those nine regulated substances, the agency lacks the data or tools needed to determine the safety of hundreds of other pollutants found in the material, the inspector general found. And while the EPA is reviewing additional pollutants, the agency hasn't always completed those assessments in a timely manner, the watchdog said.

According to the probe, the risks of at least 352 pollutants found in biosolids haven't been fully assessed by the EPA. And at least 61 of them have already been deemed hazardous by another federal agency or program.

Nov 5, 2018

Changing World of Work at Forum 2019

The world of work is experiencing rapid, constant change, bringing with it new and emerging health and safety challenges. Join us for two days of inspiration, innovations and discussion featuring an exciting roster of world-class speakers at CCOHS' Forum on The Changing World of Work on March 5-6, 2019, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

 

Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to learn from and engage with leaders, influencers and change makers - representing government, labour, and workplaces - from across Canada. There is no other health and safety event like this in the country.

 

The Speaker Line-Up Includes:

- Keynote: Futurist Nikolas Badminton on artificial intelligence and how the world of work will change

- Darby Allen, Fort McMurray's Fire Chief (Ret.), on leadership

- Nora Spinks, CEO, the Vanier Institute of the Family, on the availability and effectiveness of workplace supports for Canadian caregivers

- Dr. Lionel Laroche on navigating workplace diversity

- Brenda Henry, Manager, EHS Services, Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology, on the ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems standard

- Steve Tizzard on building a mentally healthy, peer to peer support program on the Hibernia Platform

- Wolfgang Zimmermann, Executive Director, National Institute of Disability Management and Research, on accommodating and inclusive workplaces

- Todd Irick, Occupational Hygienist, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, on nanotechnology and health

                                                       

Register by November 30 to save $100. Discounts are also available for CCOHS Members and full-time students.

 

To learn more and register, visit: https://www.ccohs.ca/forum/


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SOURCE:  HS-Canada Digest #5490 - 11/03/18

Nov 2, 2018

Podcasts: Scent Sensitivities in the Workplace by CCOHS

Feature Podcast: Scent Sensitivities in the Workplace

Help your co-workers to breathe easy by maintaining a fragrance-free workplace. This podcast discusses the issues of scents sensitivities in the workplace and provides information on how fragrances can impact the health of your co-workers.

The podcast runs 4:13 minutes.  Listen to the podcast now.


Encore Podcast: Recognizing Radon

Radon is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas released when uranium, found naturally in rocks and soil, decays. It is also classified as a known carcinogen and a leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. In Canada, radon can be found in new and older homes, public buildings and underground worksites. In this podcast, Dr. Cheryl Peters, Postdoctoral Fellow at Carleton University and Occupational Exposures Lead Scientist at CAREX Canada discusses radon, where it's found, the impact it can have on our health and how we can limit our exposure to it.

The podcast runs for 8:22 minutes.  Listen to the podcast now.

As you turn back the clocks check your carbon monoxide detectors.

ReadyWisconsin— As you turn back the clocks around your home this weekend, take advantage of the time change to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

"Those devices can be essential to alerting you to a fire or carbon monoxide leak in your home, so it's important to regularly check them and make sure they are working properly," said Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula. "The time change on Nov. 4 provides an excellent opportunity and a reminder to make sure that's being done."

Smoke detectors are often the first alert you will get that there is a fire in your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of every five home fire deaths occurred when smoke detectors were either not present or were not working properly. Detectors should be tested monthly and the device itself should be replaced every 10 years.

In addition to smoke detectors, make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Approximately 500 people are treated at hospital emergency rooms across the state annually for carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Health officials say many of these cases could be prevented by having working carbon monoxide detectors.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. If you suspect you or someone may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, go outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:
  • All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores. Daylight saving time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the test button to be sure it's working properly. Replace your detector every five years.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
  • Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs and boats with enclosed cabins.
  • Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.

For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/air/co.html

Oct 31, 2018

Free Webinar - The Top NFPA 70E 2018 Changes Worth Discussing

November 08, 2018
2:00pm EST

Electrical equipment and electrical safety devices are constantly being changed and improved, hence why your electrical safety program must address those changes. The NFPA 70E Committee addresses these changes and updates the standard every three years as part of keeping up with current technology and safety concerns. This is a standard not only used by facility managers and safety officers, but also by OSHA inspectors, continually educating them on existing trends in electrical safety. In this webinar, we will go over the top 2018 NFPA 70E updates worth discussing.

What You Will Gain from Our Webinar:
  • Understanding of what changes were made to NFPA 70E
  • How changes will affect my company
  • How do I implement these changes?
  • When do these changes take effect?
Speaker

David Weszely
Safety and Training Manager
Lewellyn
About David Weszely
David is the Safety and Training Manager at Lewellyn Technology and has been with the company for 6 years. He provides vision, leadership, safety training, and technical expertise in areas of workplace safety including electrical safety program development. He also advises management on loss control and risk reduction strategies. 

Register Now

Oct 30, 2018

WWF report reveals a 60% decline in wildlife populations since 1970

A new WWF report has painted a grim picture of the impact human activity is having ... 

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released its latest Living Planet Report, an assessment of the health of our planet, and paints a rather grim picture of the damage caused by humanity's growing footprint on Earth.

.. Continue Reading WWF report reveals a 60% decline in wildlife populations since 1970

Oct 29, 2018

Fact sheet outlines questions for employers to consider before making naloxone available at work

WASHINGTON – Opioid misuse and overdose deaths are a public health crisis affecting the nation, including workplaces. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announces a new resource for employers and workers dealing with the opioid crisis. The new factsheet, Using Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose in the Workplace: Information for Employers and Workers at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2019-101/default.html¸ is a resource for workplaces that are considering implementing a naloxone program.

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse many of the life-threatening effects of overdoses from opioids. As the opioid crisis continues, employers and workers are confronting overdose situations at the workplace. Workers, clients, customers, and visitors may be at risk of an opioid overdose in a workplace. This factsheet provides a series of steps for employers to consider when deciding if their workplace should establish a naloxone program, making the overdose reversal medication available in the event of an overdose.
 
According to 2017 data from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, on average 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Workplaces are increasingly becoming sites where overdoses are occurring, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that between 2013 and 2016, overdose deaths at work from non-medical use of drugs and alcohol increased by at least 38% annually.

"With overdose events increasing in the workplace, having naloxone available can provide a tool that workplaces can use, along with first aid measures to support breathing, to provide aide in the event of an opioid overdose while waiting on first responders to arrive on the scene," said NIOSH Director John Howard, MD. "NIOSH developed this factsheet to help employers decide if having naloxone available is right for their workplace."

The NIOSH factsheet provides an overview of opioids and naloxone. It also gives employers and workers a series of questions to consider when looking at whether a naloxone program in their workplace is appropriate, as well as information about resources needed to implement and maintain such a program.

NIOSH developed this resource as part of its broader effort to confront the opioid crisis. The NIOSH framework at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/opioids/framework.html, which is NIOSH's plan to fight the opioid crisis from an occupational perspective, includes providing resources for workers, employers, and occupational safety and health professionals to learn more about the opioid crisis including data, field investigations, and research, as well as tools to help.

The NIOSH effort is part of the larger response by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which outlined a 5-point strategy to combat the crisis, including improving prevention, data collection, and research.

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/.

CSB Releases "Call to Action" on Combustible Dust Hazards

Washington, D.C., October 24, 2018 -  the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, as part of its investigation into the May 2017 Didion Mill explosion, issued "Call to Action: Combustible Dust" to gather comments on the management and control of combustible dust from companies, regulators, inspectors, safety training providers, researchers, unions, and the workers affected by dust-related hazards.

"Our dust investigations have identified the understanding of dust hazards and the ability to determine a safe dust level in the work place as common challenges," said CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski. "While there is a shared understanding of the hazards of dust, our investigations have found that efforts to manage those hazards have often failed to prevent a catastrophic explosion. To uncover why that is, we are initiating this Call to Action to gather insights and feedback from those most directly involved with combustible dust hazards."

This initiative asks for information from all individuals and entities involved in the safe conduct of work within inherently dust-producing environments at risk for dust explosions. The agency seeks input on a variety of complex issues, including: recognizing and measuring "unsafe" levels of dust in the workplace, managing responsibilities and expectations that sometimes are at odds with each other (e.g., performing mechanical integrity preventative maintenance while simultaneously striving to minimize dust releases in the work environment), and the methods for communicating the low-frequency but high-consequence hazards of combustible dust in actionable terms for those working and overseeing these environments. A full list of questions can be found HERE.

Comments can be emailed to combustibledust(at)csb.gov now until November 26, 2018. The CSB will use the information provided to explore new opportunities for safety improvements.

Dust incidents continue to impact a wide swath of industries. In 2006, the CSB identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005. One hundred and nineteen workers were fatally injured, 718 more were hurt, and industrial facilities were extensively damaged. The incidents occurred in 44 states, in many different industries, and involved a variety of different materials.

Since the publication of the study in 2006, the CSB has confirmed an additional 105 combustible dust incidents and conducted in-depth investigations of five, including most recently the Didion Milling dust explosion in Cambria, Wisconsin, that fatally injured five workers and demolished the milling facility.

The CSB has issued four recommendations to OSHA calling for the issuance of a comprehensive general industry standard for combustible dust, and combustible dust safety is on the agency's Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change list. To date, there is no general industry standard.

CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie said, "Our investigation of the Didion incident continues and we are analyzing evidence to understand the specifics leading up to the tragic event. However, this investigation reinforces what we are seeing across many industries—that there needs to be a more inclusive approach to creating and maintaining a safe work environment amid processes that inherently produce dust."

The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency whose mission is to drive chemical safety change through independent investigations to protect people and the environment. The agency's board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical incidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems. For more information, contact public(at)csb.gov.

Oct 23, 2018

EPA Webcast: Building Resilience in Partnership with Vulnerable Communities

A Watershed Academy Webcast
The ability of a community to respond, recover, and bounce back from increased risk to local waters from extreme weather and natural disasters is not equally distributed. Environmental justice recognizes that some communities experience higher exposure to local water pollution and degraded local waterways on top of other social factors that increase vulnerability. 

Join us for this webinar that will look at the environmental justice factors contributing to vulnerability and examples of how EPA and its partner programs have effectively worked to help build resilience with vulnerable communities. We will also explore how the Urban Water Partnership model can build more resilient networks.

You must register in advance to attend this webcast. Register at the Watershed Academy Webcast website at 

When?
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Two-Hour Audio Web Broadcast
EST: 1pm – 2:30pm
CST: 12pm – 1:30pm
MST: 11am – 12:30pm
PST: 10am – 11:30am

Speakers:
  • Brenda Torres, Executive Director of the San Juan Bay National Estuary Program
  • Roberta Swann, Director of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
  • Melissa Deas, Climate Program Analyst, Urban Sustainability Administration; DC Department of Energy and Environment

Webcast participants are eligible to receive a certificate for their attendance.

Participants are encouraged to download them prior to the webcast.  
The Webcast presentations are posted in advance at


The Watershed Academy:
The Watershed Academy is a focal point in EPA's Office of Water for providing training and information on implementing watershed approaches. The Academy self-paced training modules and webcast seminars provide current information from national experts across a broad range of watershed topics. For more information, please visit www.epa.gov/watershedacademy.

Oct 19, 2018

Farewell to the GREAT Gary Greenberg...he will be missed.

I am sad to announce that Gary Greenberg, has passed away. 
Gary has been a part of Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics since the early 90's.

I can not speak highly enough of Mr. Greenberg as a person.
He gave his all to help others...what more could this world ask.

Gary Greenberg, MD.  was a ferocious advocate for healthcare for all, and especially for the underserved, Gary exemplified all that is good in this world. 

He cared deeply for each and every one of his patients, students, colleagues and staff. He is already sorely missed and we will remember him forever.

Please share a story about Gary in the Tribute section for family, friends and colleagues to read at:

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Gary's favorite healthcare access project - Urban Ministries of Wake County https://urbanmin.org/donate/ 

Thank you.
-Christopher Haase

Canada is "High"....giving employers impossible enforcement task with impaired workforce

On Tuesday morning, WorkSafeBC sent out a news release reminding employers that they must not allow anyone who is impaired to do work that could endanger a co-worker or anyone else.

Great advice. But how does an employer do that when there is no good test for impairment and
 "Health Canada says that in the normal course a person can expect to experience the effects of cannabis after 24 hours after the use of cannabis."



EPA " found dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside than outside

EPA's Office of Research and Development's "Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) Study" found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. TEAM studies indicated that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.


Sources of VOCs

Household products, including:

  • paints, paint strippers and other solvents
  • wood preservatives
  • aerosol sprays
  • cleansers and disinfectants
  • moth repellents and air fresheners
  • stored fuels and automotive products
  • hobby supplies
  • dry-cleaned clothing
  • pesticide

Other products, including:

  • building materials and furnishings
  • office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper
  • graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions.


Health effects may include:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
  • Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
  • Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include:

  • conjunctival irritation
  • nose and throat discomfort
  • headache
  • allergic skin reaction
  • dyspnea
  • declines in serum cholinesterase levels
  • nausea
  • emesis
  • epistaxis
  • fatigue
  • dizziness

The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect.

As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics include:

  • Eye and respiratory tract irritation
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • visual disorders and memory impairment

At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes.

Oct 5, 2018

U.S. military is exploring the possibility of deploying insects to make plants more resilient by altering their genes.

Phys.Org: A research arm of the U.S. military is exploring the possibility of deploying insects to make plants more resilient by altering their genes. Some experts say the work may be seen as a potential biological weapon. In an opinion paper published Thursday in the journal Science, the authors say the U.S. needs to provide greater justification for the peace-time purpose of its Insect Allies project to avoid being perceived as hostile to other countries. Other experts expressed ethical and security concerns with the research, which seeks to transmit protective traits to crops already growing in the field. That would mark a departure from the current widely used procedure of genetically modifying seeds for crops such as corn and soy, before they grow into plants. The military research agency says its goal is to protect the nation's food supply from threats like drought, crop disease and bioterrorism by using insects to infect plants with viruses that protect against such dangers. The State Department said the project is for peaceful purposes and does not violate the Biological Weapons Convention. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its scientists are part of the research, which is being conducted in contained labs. The technology could work in different ways. In the first phase, aphids -- tiny bugs that feed by sucking sap from plants -- infected plants with a virus that temporarily brought about a trait. But researchers are also trying to see if viruses can alter the plant's genes themselves to be resistant to dangers throughout the plant's life.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Oct 1, 2018

Consumer Reports’ testing shows concerning levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead in many popular baby and toddler foods

ConsumerReports:

A recent study in the journal Lancet Public Health suggests that low
levels of lead from food and other sources contribute to about 400,000
deaths each year, more than half of them from cardiovascular disease.
Getting too much methylmercury can cause nerve damage, muscle
weakness, lack of coordination, and impaired vision and hearing. And
over time, cadmium exposure can lead to kidney, bone, and lung
diseases.
(http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(18)30025-2/fulltext)

"And annual sales of baby food now top $53 billion and are projected
to reach more than $76 billion by 2021, according to Zion Market
Research.

Our tests had some troubling findings:
• Every product had measurable levels of at least one of these heavy
metals: cadmium, inorganic arsenic, or lead.

• About two-thirds (68 percent) had worrisome levels of at least one
heavy metal."

...Exposure to even small amounts of these heavy metals at an early
age may increase the risk of several health problems, especially lower
IQ and behavior problems, and have been linked to autism and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"The effects of early exposure to heavy metals can have long-lasting
impacts that may be impossible to reverse," says Victor Villarreal,
Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of educational
psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has
researched the effects of heavy metals on childhood development.

Exposure to inorganic arsenic may also affect IQ, according to a
recent Columbia University study of third- through fifth-graders in
Maine. Students who had been exposed to arsenic in drinking water had
IQ levels 5 to 6 points lower, on average, than students who had not
been exposed.

Long-Term Risks
The risks from heavy metals grow over time, in part because they
accumulate in the kidneys and other internal organs.

"These toxins can remain in your body for years," says Tunde Akinleye,
a chemist in Consumer Reports' Food Safety Division who led our
testing. Regularly consuming even small amounts over a long period of
time may raise the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer; cognitive
and reproductive problems; and type 2 diabetes, among other
conditions.

And research has shown that even in adults, frequent, consistent
exposure to low levels of heavy metals can contribute to other serious
health problems.





Read full at:
https://www.consumerreports.org/food-safety/heavy-metals-in-baby-food/

New Tool Measures Effectiveness of Workplace Safety and Health Programs

NIOSH: As more organizations offer increasingly comprehensive programs for workplace safety and health, researchers and organizations alike look for the best examples and tools to measure their effectiveness. With so many programs available, how do organizations know which one is best?

Through a NIOSH-funded study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, scientists designed a new tool to help, according to research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The Workplace Integrated Safety and Health (WISH) Assessment measures policies, programs, and practices that promote worker safety, health, and well-being.

The WISH Assessment is an expansion of a previous measurement tool, developed by the same researchers in this study. The scientists created this latest assessment tool based on an extensive review of published literature on workplace wellness programs, repeated cognitive testing, and semi-structured interviews. They tested and revised the WISH Assessment to ensure that its elements were clearly understood and effectively measured the intended concepts.

The researchers finalized the tool after identifying six factors for protecting and promoting worker safety, health, and well-being: 1) leadership commitment; 2) participation; 3) policies, programs, and practices that foster supportive working conditions; 4) comprehensive and collaborative strategies; 5) adherence to federal and state regulations and ethical norms; and 6) regular evaluations that guide safety, health, and well-being activities.

Next steps include additional testing on the WISH Assessment to validate the tool across multiple samples, and designing and testing a scoring system that organizations can use. Harvard researchers plan to use the WISH Assessment in a future study focused on the association between Total Worker Health® approaches and quality-of-care outcomes in 500 nursing homes. Ultimately, the WISH Assessment could help direct priorities among organizations, guiding research in workplace policies, programs, and practices to improve worker well-being.

More information is available:

Job Design Linked to Participation in Workplace Wellness Programs

NIOSH: Workplace wellness programs often offer an array of health-improvement activities, including courses to quit smoking, exercise or physical fitness classes, nutrition or stress management education, and ergonomic testing of work conditions and equipment. In 2017, 39% of private industry workers and 63% of state and local government workers had access to such programs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, access does not always mean that employees use these programs.

To understand obstacles to use, NIOSH-funded researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the University of Connecticut explored six different factors. These included job demand, job control, social interactions, leadership, role expectations, and predictability at work. They used surveys, interviews, and focus groups to identify which factors affected participation in workplace wellness programs among 343 employees at a public university in New York.

Of the six factors, job control was the most likely to improve participation in workplace wellness programs, followed by social interactions and then job demand, according to the study published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health. Job control refers to the freedom to choose when and how to complete work. This can include providing flexibility to make time for doctor's appointments, exercising, or meeting with a nutritionist without worrying about work schedules. Social interactions include support from coworkers and management, which reflects employees' satisfaction with their relationship with their supervisors. This supervisor-employee relationship was found to play a critical role in employee participation in workplace wellness programs.

Job demand is defined as the worker's perception of the job's physical and mental demands. Study participants with either low or high levels of job demand reported increased participation in workplace wellness programs. Researchers found that workers with increased job demands participated in these programs to relieve stress.

These findings suggest that successful workplace wellness programs should also address the way jobs are designed to remove any barriers to participation, especially offering flexible work hours and supervisory support.

More information is available:

Exposure to Flame Retardants in Foam Found among Gymnastics Coaches

NIOSH investigators measured gymnastic coaches' exposure to 22 flame retardants in four gymnastics studios, at the request of the owner who expressed concern about foam blocks. First, investigators showed coaches how to wipe their hands using hand wipes. After the coaches wiped their hands, investigators sent the wipes to a laboratory for testing. Investigators collected the hand wipe samples before and after the gymnastics studios cleaned their facilities and replaced old foam blocks with new ones labeled as free of PBDEs and other flame retardants.

The investigators collected hand wipes from 20 coaches before the foam was replaced and from 18 coaches after the foam was replaced. Hand wipes were collected at the beginning and end of one shift. To look at how flame retardants might be distributed in dust deposits on windows, investigators wiped window surfaces, both inside the gyms and in other areas such as offices. Finally, they measured the levels of flame retardants in both the old and new replacement foam blocks.

When compared with the wipes taken before a work shift, post-work hand wipes showed significantly greater levels of 9 out of 13 flame retardants measured, according to the paper published in the journal Environment International. However, these across-shift increases were smaller after the studios cleaned the gymnastics studios and replaced the foam blocks with blocks certified as PBDE-free.

Measurements of 3 of the 13 flame retardants were significantly higher on windows in the gymnastics areas as compared with those in other areas, suggesting the potential for airborne exposure. The three highest levels of flame retardants found on gymnastics area windows were also found in the old foam blocks. Although the study found no PBDEs in the new blocks, it did find several other common flame retardants, highlighting the challenges of identifying chemicals in new products.

The health effects associated with flame retardant exposures are not yet well understood. While research on the potential health effects is being done, the authors recommended ways that employees and employers can minimize gymnastics coaches' airborne and skin exposure to flame retardant:

  1. Review the foam safety data sheet information or contact the manufacturer about flame retardant content before purchasing new foam equipment, even if the foam is certified as flame-retardant free.
  2. Purchase new foam products that contain little or no flame retardants.
  3. Improve housekeeping practices, including using personal protective equipment during cleaning.

The study took place in 2014 and 2015 as part of the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation program. This free program, available upon request, provides information about possible work-related health hazards to workers, employers, and unions.

More information is available:

NIOSH: Controlled Fire Study Finds High Levels of Airborne Chemicals

NIOSH: What do plastic, polyester, and foam have in common? They are synthetic materials found throughout most modern homes in everything from toys to furniture to appliances. Unlike wood, cotton, and other natural materials, synthetic mat­erials are made in laboratories through chemical processes.

During a fire, these chemicals can burn hotter and faster, and produce more toxic smoke than natural materials. Evidence suggests that work-related exposure to these toxicants among firefighters corresponds to an increased risk of acute cardiovascular events and cancer.

To understand the risk of exposure from residential firefighting, NIOSH investigators and university and industry partners measured hazardous air emissions during different stages of firefighting. The investigators set 12 separate fires in safe and controlled settings to simulate residential firefighting conditions. This included furnishing the structures with modern fixtures. Six of the fires involved firefighters entering through the front door of the building to extinguish the fire. The others involved firefighters first dousing the fire through a bedroom window before entering through the front door.

Investigators then collected air samples for several chemicals, including benzene and other volatile organic compounds, poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and hydrogen cyanide. For comparison, they tested air from three areas: 1) inside the structure during active fire; 2) inside the structure after fire suppression, also known as overhaul, when firefighters search for and extinguish any smoldering items; and 3) outside the structure near exterior crew-members like the incident commander. In addition, they took personal air measurements associated with job types in all three areas: fire attack, victim search, overhaul, outside ventilation (help vent smoke from structure), and command/pump operator tasks.

In general, median personal air measurements collected from interior crew-members were substantially higher than the recommended exposure limits for short-term exposure for the chemicals measured. Significant differences occurred by job type, with search and attack exhibiting the highest levels of chemical exposure. The maximum levels recorded for hydrogen cyanide for firefighters assigned to attack, search, and outside ventilation were higher than levels considered immediately dangerous to life and health. Outside ventilation crews may not always wear respiratory protection and as a result could breathe in the chemicals that were measured. Even though search and attack firefighters wear self-contained breathing apparatus to protect their lungs, exposure could also occur via the skin, either through direct contact or when removing contaminated gear after the fire.

Area air measurements also showed that the median amount of several chemicals tested was higher than recommended short-term exposure limits. Even in the area outside the burning structure, where workers like the incident commander typically do not wear respiratory protection, area air measurements downwind of the fire were higher than naturally occurring levels. These results highlight the importance of wearing self-contained breathing apparatus, even when firefighters are assigned to post-fire suppression jobs or exterior operations. They also show the need for establishing command centers upwind of a fire or, if that is impossible, wearing self-contained breathing apparatus for protection against airborne chemicals, according to the study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

More information is available: