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Friday, December 5, 2014

Library tested for mold problems

Excess mold in libraries can affect the
health and well-being of staff and visitors
and damage inventory.
Testing was underway after mold was found on a heating and cooling vent at the University of Missouri’s Ellis Library recently.

Environmental Health and Safety tested the area after the fungus was found and confirmed it was mold, according to a notice from library administrators. The vent was in the special collections area of the fourth floor.

“While we have confirmed there is mold in the area, that doesn’t mean anything,” Environmental Health and Safety Director Todd Houts said.

“Mold is in the air everywhere. It becomes an issue when there’s a lot. We’re not sure how much there is yet.”

Houts said workers set up “traps” to collect samples of the mold throughout the week. Later this week or early next week, environmental staff will examine the collected mold spores.

“Mold has a bad name because when people talk about it, they’re usually talking about extreme situations, but mold is present practically everywhere,” Houts said.

There is no imminent threat from the mold found in the library, he said, and no history of mold problems inside the library.

The notice from the library was sent to library staff, members of the Library Committee and the MU Faculty Council, library spokeswoman Shannon Cary said in an email.

“Environmental Health and Safety will be performing additional inspections and tests to make sure all affected areas are identified,” the notice reads.

“Any affected areas will be cleaned immediately by Campus Facilities, and other air ducts in Ellis Library will be cleaned as needed. In addition, MU Libraries administration is working with the Office of Energy Management to make sure that proper temperature and humidity levels are maintained at Ellis Library and the specialized libraries at all times.”

Last fall, mold damaged about 600,000 books the university had in off-site underground storage. Most were saved, with cleanup paid for through grants and a self-insurance fund.

Source: Columbia Daily Tribune.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

British government loses landmark air pollution case

Air pollution is a killer, experts say.
The Government will be forced to urgently clean up illegal air pollution in British cities, after a ruling at the European Court of Justice.

Following the case, brought by environmental group Client Earth, individuals will now be able sue the Government for breaching EU pollution laws, while ministers will be forced to prepare and implement plans to improve air quality “as soon as possible”.

In a slap-down for the Government, the court overwhelmingly dismissed a long-stated policy of seeking to comply with EU air pollution laws by simply appealing to Europe for more time.

Alan Andrews, Client Earth's lawyer, said: “Thousands of people die because of air pollution every year. This ruling will save lives by forcing the government to finally take this issue seriously. They will now have to come up with an urgent plan to rid our towns and cities of cancer-causing diesel fumes”.

In July the Government admitted that several British cities were set to meet toxic nitrogen dioxide gas limits within by 2010, at the same time in emerged NO2 legal limits were exceeded in 40 of the UK’s 43 urban zones in 2010.

Air quality campaigner Simon Birkett, founder of Clean Air in London, said “This is a massive win for Client Earth on all counts in a landmark environmental case that could be the most important in a generation."

He added: “This judgement means early next year the Supreme Court must take any necessary measure to require Defra to produce a meaningful new air quality plan that ensures the excedance period for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limit values beyond 1 January 2010 is ‘as short as possible’. The judgement also makes clear that these limit values are absolute ‘obligations’."

Campaigners say the ruling could see many diesel cars and commercial vehicles banned from city centres to cut pollution.

These are the biggest producers of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a harmful gas linked with heart attacks and asthma.

A clampdown could lead to policies like the London Mayor's plans for an “ultra-low-emission zone” being adopted across the country.

The focus of campaigners will now shift to the UK Supreme court which is expected to interpret what the time frame should be next year.

This should see the UK Supreme Court ordering the government to take action to meet limits in a much shorter time frame.

In the London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones called on Mayor Boris Johnson to “urgently review” his air pollution polices in light of the ruling.

She said: “This is great news for Londoners’ health. This judgment shatters the Mayor’s complacency on air pollution. The Mayor must urgently rewrite his strategy and reinstate emergency measures to bring pollution down from its dangerous and illegal levels.”


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

10 jobs that are bad for your lungs - Part 2

Knowing the dangers in certain occupations may help decrease the risk factors. The first five jobs that pose a threat to the lungs were:

1. Bartending and waitressing
2. Housekeeping and cleaning
3. Health care
4. Hair styling
Construction workers are often exposed
to chemicals, particles and asbestos.
5. Manufacturing

And the list continues:

6. Construction

Workers who demolish old buildings or do remodeling can be exposed to asbestos used as insulation around pipes or in floor tiles.

Even minimal exposure to its microscopic fibers has been linked to a variety of problems. One is mesothelioma, a form of cancer, Von Essen says.

Exposure also seems to raise the risk of small-cell lung cancer and can lead to asbestosis, or scarring of the lung. Removal should be left to trained and licensed crews.

"Know where the asbestos is," Von Essen says. "Follow all the rules and don't take chances."

7. Farming

Working with crops and animals can lead to several disorders. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a rare but serious problem caused by repeated exposures to mold-contaminated grain or hay. The lung's air sacs become inflamed and may develop scar tissue.

Grain in metal bins can get moldy. Breathing dust from this grain can lead to fevers, chills, and a flu-like illness called "organic dust toxic syndrome." Farmers also are more likely to report a cough and chest tightness.

"We think about 30% of farmers who grow crops in this way have had that at some point," Von Essen says. Workers in hog and chicken barns sometimes get an asthma-like syndrome.

"Dust and ammonia levels together seem to be risk factors," she says. Keep grain from getting damp, ensure adequate ventilation, and wear a respirator.

8. Auto Body Spray Painting

People who work in auto body shops are often exposed to chemicals known as isocyanates. They're a significant cause of occupational asthma.

"It's frequently a career-ending disease where they need to leave their profession," Harber says.

The right protective equipment may
alleviate some of the risks.
Using quality respirators that are appropriate for your task can lessen the risk. It also helps to enclose the area being sprayed and to have a ventilated exhaust system. Better yet, replace hazardous materials with safer ones.

9. Firefighting

People who battle blazes are exposed not only to the fire, but also to other materials, including burning plastics and chemicals. Firefighters can significantly lower their risk of lung disease and other problems by using a "self-contained breathing apparatus" (SCBA). These devices should also be used during "mop up" or the clean-up period.

"Many of the chemicals are still in the air," Harber says. Ventilation also is critical.

10. Coal Mining

Underground miners are at risk for everything from bronchitis to pneumoconiosis, or "black lung." It's a chronic condition caused by inhaling coal dust that becomes embedded in the lungs, causing them to harden and make breathing very hard.

"This can cause progressive massive fibrosis and can kill people," Von Essen says.

Again, protective equipment can limit the amount of dust inhaled.

Source: WebMD

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