Friday, September 28, 2012

UK Firefighter awarded 24k for occupational asthma

An airport firefighter in the UK has been awarded 24 thousand dollars in compensation after being exposed to dangerous fumes.

Leigh Payne was exposed to unfiltered diesel fumes that would collect in the cargo holds of planes.

In 2010, he was diagnosed with occupational asthma, and had to take time off work.

After medical professionals concluded that his asthma was caused by the exposure to the diesel fumes, he took legal action against the airport. The Exeter and Devon airport initially denied liability, but settled the case out of court after receiving evidence about the hazardous nature of the fumes.

Simple safety measures such as exhaust ducting could have prevented his over-exposure.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Occupational and dietary exposure to acrylamide may lower breast cancer survival chances

A new study has found that of patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, those who had higher exposure to acrylamide were 123 percent more likely to die from the disease, compared with those who had lower exposure.

Acrylamide is a probable human carcinogen recognized by the U.S. National Toxicology Program. Along with occupational exposure, people can also be exposed through tobacco smoke and eating foods processed at high temperature such as french fries.

The study involved 24,697 postmenopausal women who were enrolled in a Danish cohort study between 1993 and 1997 in which 420 participants developed breast cancer before 2001 and 110 died before 2009.

Breast cancer is expected to be diagnosed in more than 230,000 U.S. women in 2012. The disease will likely kill 37,000 women in the same year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mold problem forces relocation of residents in U of SC dorm

It's a problem facing many universities with aging buildings, now mold has forced students from their dorm at the University of South Carolina.

The school conducted tests on the 73-year-old building after students noticed mold forming about two weeks ago. Three of the dorm’s 117 rooms required serious cleaning forcing six students from their rooms into temporary housing. Another nine students with respiratory problems left as a precaution.

But some parents expressed concern about the health effects from the mold.

“She was exposed to something that we might not see until much later,” parents Lynn McKenzie told local media. She says her daughter  has been fighting a persistent cough since her first weekend on campus. “It’s not making me comfortable for her to continue living there.”

Sims along with the two other dorms that make up the Women’s Quad are slated to undergo a major $27 million renovation next summer.

Despite assurances the rooms will be cleaned, some parents and students remain uneasy about Sims.

“Who knows what I’m breathing in,” student Rachel Bennett told a reporter from The State newspaper. “I don’t want to be stuck with moldy room all year.”


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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chevron employees could face jail time if EPA takes pollution case further

The Chevron Corp. may face more penalties including prison time for employees stemming from a federal investigation of a California pollution case.

The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating actions at the company’s Richmond, California refinery after local officials in 2009 determined that pollution controls were bypassed, according to company and local officials.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which enforces air-pollution rules in nine counties near San Francisco, discovered Chevron employees routed gas emissions around monitoring equipment then burned off the excess, violating local rules. The agency forced the company to end the practice it said was used at least 27 times in four years, said Wayne Kino, the district’s enforcement manager. Chevron paid a $170,000 penalty to settle the agency’s civil case.

“It now appears that EPA has chosen to take that case” as a criminal prosecution, Kino said yesterday in an interview.“There are indications that they are investigating, but they don’t talk about it.”

A flaring system is used in emergencies to eliminate gases that could be increasing to dangerous levels, Kino said. Refineries had been flaring gas for routine maintenance before the local air quality board imposed standards in 2004, he said.

A criminal prosecution might mean further fines or even jail time for employees involved at the Richmond refinery. A total of 249 individuals or companies were charged last year after an EPA criminal investigation. Agency prosecutions last year resulted in sending violators to prison for 89.5 years and fines of $35 million.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Air pollution is shortening lives by almost two years

You're likely to live two years less in some parts of Euorpe as a result of exposure to air pollution. A surprising fact for a region known to be more progressive on environmental issues than North America.

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) reported the facts today, strengthening the case for a tightening of emissions restrictions in the EU.

They also reported that legislation has been successful in cutting the amount of some toxins spewed out by exhaust fumes and chimneys across Europe, buy add there are still dangerous levels of microscopic particles, known as particulate matter and linked to diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular problems.

On average, air pollution was reducing human lives across the region by roughly eight months, the report said. It also quoted separate European Commission-funded research showing that a reduction in particulates levels could extend life expectancy by 22 months in some areas.

The report did not spell out where those areas were, but it said that Poland and other industrial regions of eastern Europe had particularly high levels or particulate pollution.

"This (the report) is a really serious warning about the importance to our quality of life and health,"  EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik told Reuters.

Apart from the impact on health, EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said that the pollution cost the bloc 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) a year in healthcare and dealing with the wider impact on ecosystems.

"European Union policy has reduced emissions of many pollutants over the last decade, but we can go further," she said.

Source: Reuters

Friday, September 21, 2012

Secondhand smoke responsible for $6.6 billion in lost productivity

Secondhand smoke is accountable for 42,000 deaths annually to nonsmokers in the United States, including nearly 900 infants, according to a new UCSF study.

Altogether, annual deaths from secondhand smoke represent nearly 600,000 years of potential life lost – an average of 14.2 years per person – and $6.6 billion in lost productivity, amounting to $158,000 per death, report the researchers.

The study, which involved the first use of a biomarker to gauge the physical and economic impacts of cigarette smoke, revealed that secondhand smoke exposure disproportionately affects African Americans, especially black infants.

The new research reveals that despite public health efforts to reduce tobacco use, secondhand smoke continues to take a grievous toll on nonsmokers.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

“In general, fewer people are smoking and many have made lifestyle changes, but our research shows that the impacts of secondhand smoke are nonetheless very large,” said lead author Wendy Max, PhD, professor of health economics at the UCSF School of Nursing and co-director of the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging. “The availability of information on biomarker-measured exposure allows us to more accurately assess the impact of secondhand smoke exposure on health and productivity. The impact is particularly great for communities of color.”

Exposure to secondhand smoke is linked to a number of fatal illnesses including heart and lung disease, as well as conditions affecting newborns such as low birth weight and respiratory distress syndrome.

About a decade ago, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – using data from the California Environmental Protection Agency – reported that 49,400 adults died annually as a result of secondhand smoke exposure. Additionally, the CDC reported that 776 infants annually died as a result of maternal exposure in utero.

Those widely-cited statistics relied on self-reporting to gauge the impact of secondhand smoke.

The new study led by UCSF shows that the statistics on fatalities resulting from for ischemic heart disease are 25 percent lower than previously reported (34,000 deaths compared to 46,000), but nearly twice as high for lung cancer deaths (7,333 deaths compared to 3,400). The new study also shows higher infant mortality (863 deaths compared to 776).

The researchers used serum cotinine – a biomarker which detects the chemical consequences of exposure to tobacco smoke in the bloodstream - to measure exposure to secondhand smoke. That measurement reflects secondhand exposure in all settings, not just home or work, the authors wrote.

The scientists gauged the economic implications – years of potential life lost and the value of lost productivity – on different racial and ethnic groups.

Mortality was measured in two conditions for adults: lung cancer and ischemic heart disease; and four conditions for infants: sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, respiratory distress syndrome, and other respiratory conditions of newborns.

Of the 42,000 total deaths resulting from secondhand smoke, 80 percent were white, 13 percent were black, and 4 percent were Hispanic. The vast majority of deaths were caused by ischemic heart disease. Black babies accounted for a startling high 24 percent to 36 percent of all infant deaths from secondhand smoke exposure, the researchers reported, although blacks represented only 13 percent of the total U.S. population in 2006.

The value of lost productivity per death was highest among blacks ($238,000) and Hispanics ($193,000).

“Black adults had significantly greater exposure rates than did whites in all age groups,” the authors wrote. “The highest secondhand smoke exposure was for black men aged 45 to 64 years, followed by black men age 20 to 44 years. Black women aged 20 to 44 years had a higher exposure rate (62.3 percent) than did any other women.”

“Our study probably under-estimates the true economic impact of secondhand smoke on mortality,” said Max. “The toll is substantial, with communities of color having the greatest losses. Interventions need to be designed to reduce the health and economic burden of smoking on smokers and nonsmokers alike, and on particularly vulnerable groups.”


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Commercial charbroilers pollute more than trucks

Restaurateurs may be the next on the chopping block with air quality regulators after a new study revealed that  commercial charbroilers emit even more particulate matter into the air than diesel engines.

“Emissions from commercial charbroilers are a very significant uncontrolled source of particulate matter…more than twice the contribution by all of the heavy-duty diesel trucks,” said Bill Welch, principal development engineer for the study at UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-Cert).

“For comparison, an 18-wheeler diesel-engine truck would have to drive 143 miles on the freeway to put out the same mass of particles as a single charbroiled hamburger patty.”

A proposed control — a device that removes grease from the exhaust and traps it in water — will be tested  at the CE-CERT test laboratory . Researchers will evaluate the air stream released by the commercial charbroiler before and after they pass through the control device and measure how effective it is.

According to Welch, the testing involves “cooking a lot of hamburger patties,” but they don’t go to waste. After the emissions test, the hamburger patties are donated to a Redlands Regional food bank.

Looking for affordable industrial particle control? Contact an Electrocorp air quality expert at 1-866-667-0297.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

City wastewater system caused smell that plagues residents

(Florida) The residents of Paradise Island mobile home park have smelled it. But they did not cause it. That was what a $60,700 study concluded, settling once and for all a yearslong disagreement between Paradise Island park manager Nancy Perry and Largo City Manager Mac Craig over who's to blame for the funky smell that periodically blankets the 828-unit park.

The study, summarized last week for the City Commission, puts the blame on the city's wastewater system. Which is what Perry has been saying for two years.

"Do I feel vindicated? Yes, I do," Perry said. "I pinpointed the problem. And I feel very good about that."
When Perry first complained in 2010, Craig told her the problem had to be in Paradise Island's private lines because Largo spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on odor control for its wastewater system. The odor control works by neutralizing the chemical that causes sewage stink: hydrogen sulfide.

Staff from Webster Environmental Associates, a Louisville, Ky., company that specializes in odor control, still found high levels of hydrogen sulfide in the city sewer system near Paradise Island, 1001 Starkey Road.
Webster Vice President J.W. "Buz" Rush told commissioners several factors create the high levels of hydrogen sulfide, including a lift station not far from the park. Lift stations are spots where pumps move wastewater through low-lying areas because gravity doesn't do the trick.

"Any time you have a lot of splashing and turbulence," Rush told the commission, "that's when hydrogen sulfide is released."

The city will enact a number of short-term fixes over the next six months that cost about $10,000, said City Engineer Leland Dicus. Among them: trying different odor control chemicals and making design improvements to the city's wastewater system in the area.

City staff will also incorporate the study's findings into more expensive long-term improvements. Largo is making those improvements to its wastewater system already as part of a 2006 consent order from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for violating federal and state regulations.

Dicus did not say, however, whether Largo will reimburse Paradise Island $15,000 Perry says the park spent repairing corrosion in private sewer lines that caused a sinkhole in 2009. Perry says more repairs are needed, and she said her park will spend another $15,000 to $20,000 to fix corrosion caused by hydrogen sulfide from Largo's system.

Craig said he will meet with Perry to discuss a resolution.

"We are willing to work out something that both sides can live with," he wrote in an email.
Perry is happy the city paid for the study and hopes the recommended fixes to the city's sewer lines work.
"We're watching the situation," she said, "as it flows along."

Source: Tampa Bay Times


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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Worldwide liquor conglomerate ordered to cut down on warehouse vapors

Louisville officials have asked London-based bourbon producer, Diadeo to cut down on vapors coming from warehouses because residents are complaining about odors and a black fungus accumulating on houses.

The action by the city's Air Pollution Control District arrives as several makers of Kentucky's signature drink are facing lawsuits blaming their bourbon barrel storage warehouses for emitting ethanol vapors that promote the growth of a sooty black fungus on nearby properties in Louisville and Frankfort.

The black fungus does not present any health problems, said Thomas Nord, an air district spokesman.
The air district says London-based Diageo could face steep fines if it doesn't control the vapors at its bourbon warehouses in southern Louisville.

Kentucky's bourbon warehouses, filled with wood bourbon barrels stacked to the rafters, can be seen nestled into the rolling landscapes of the state's bourbon country, where they have sat for generations. Distillers have long called the escaping vapors the "angel's share" of the bourbon.

But warehouses found closer to residential areas have run afoul of some neighbors, who say they have wondered for years where the mysterious black soot came from.

"I didn't have no inkling where that stuff was coming from," said Chester Holloway, who lives across the street from the Diageo bourbon warehouses in south Louisville. He said he has seen more of the moldy substance in the last five years as it gathers on his gutters, exterior walls and the awnings in front of his red brick home.

"It looks awful," Holloway said.

Diageo said in a statement that it is taking the allegations very seriously and they are reviewing the complaints. Diageo and other bourbon makers released a joint statement after bourbon fungus lawsuits were filed over the summer.

"As we have stated previously, the appearance of a black substance on some buildings and structures is due to a naturally-occurring common mold that is found widely in the environment, including areas not related to whiskey production," Diageo said in the statement.

There have been 27 neighbor complaints of the black mold and seven odor complaints since last year, the air district wrote in the letter.

The vapors "accumulate inside aging warehouses, and are eventually emitted into the ambient air and across property boundaries," the Sept. 7 violation letter to Diageo said. The company, which owns owns popular brands Crown Royal, Smirnoff and Bushmills, has until Nov. 3 to come up with a compliance plan.

Diageo is one of five bourbon-making defendants in lawsuits filed in June that blame storage warehouses in Louisville and Frankfort for causing the black fungus to gather on properties. The suits name some of Kentucky's most famous bourbon producers, including Jim Beam; Brown-Forman, which produces Woodford Reserve; Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace. The suits say the black fungus causes property damage.
The air district said it has found that the sooty substance resembles baudoinia, a fungus that grows rapidly in ethanol-rich environments. The violation letters say Diageo could face fines of up to $10,000 a day if it does not comply.

"Our goal is to get them to come up with a control plan to stop this," Nord said.
Nord declined to comment on whether other bourbon makers will be receiving similar violation letters.

 Source: AP

Monday, September 17, 2012

Study: Green Office Means Higher Productivity

Bucking the idea that environmentalism hurts economic performance, a new UCLA-led study has found that companies that voluntarily adopt international "green" practices and standards have employees who are 16 percent more productive than the average.
Professor Magali Delmas, an environmental economist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Sanja Pekovic from France's University Paris–Dauphine are the first to study how a firm's environmental commitment affects its productivity.
Their findings are published online Sept. 10 in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.
"Adopting green practices isn't just good for the environment," Delmas said. "It's good for your employees and it's good for your bottom line. Employees in such green firms are more motivated, receive more training, and benefit from better interpersonal relationships. The employees at green companies are therefore more productive than employees in more conventional firms."
For their study, "Environmental Standards and Labor Productivity: Understanding the Mechanisms That Sustain Sustainability," Delmas and Pekovic collected data from a survey of employees at 5,220 French companies, randomly selecting two employees from each company for a pool of more than 10,000 people. Companies that had voluntarily adopted international standards and eco-labels such as "fair trade" and "organic" or the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 14001 certification were identified as green.
The researchers determined each company's productivity by taking a logarithm of its value added (revenue minus costs), divided by the number of employees, which produced the average value of production per employee. They discovered a difference of one standard deviation, which corresponded to 16 percent higher-than-average labor productivity, in firms that voluntarily adopted environmental standards. 
The employee surveys showed how much training employees received and how often they interacted with co-workers — which Delmas and Pekovic found also correlated with green companies.
"It's truly a big difference between firms that have adopted these practices and firms that haven't," Delmas said. "I expected a contrast, but not such a strong, robust jump in productivity."
Green certifications should be used by managers to increase productivity, by potential employees as a sign of a better work environment, and by investors as an indicator of good management practices, Delmas said. Previous research has already shown that sustainable business practices can result in cost-efficiencies, but Delmas and Pekovic are the first to explore the link to labor productivity.
"It's a counterpoint to people thinking that environmental practices are detrimental to the firm," Delmas said. "Green practices make a company more attractive because so many employees want to work for a company that is green, but we also argue in this paper that it's more than just wanting to work there — it's working more."
The findings reflect a change in attitudes, according to Delmas.
"When you talk now to M.B.A. students, there's a big change in the way they look at their future job," she said. "They don't want to work just to make money. They also want to make a difference. There's a little more social consciousness than there was before."
The 'virtuous circle'
Because fair trade, organic and ISO 14001 are international certifications that are commonly used in the United States, the findings are applicable in the U.S. and around the world, the authors said.
All three eco-labels are third-party certified: Fair trade certification requires fair wages and treatment for employees; organic certification recognizes commitments such as working without pesticides and other chemicals; and ISO 14001 certification requires firms to set up an organizational structure to investigate the company's environmental impact and how to reduce it.
The higher-productivity effect stems from employees' appreciation for their workplace, Delmas said. The certifications, especially ISO 14001, include educating employees about a firm's environmental commitment and require employees to work together across departments to reduce the organization's environmental impact. This education and training helps increase employees' identification with their office, while interdepartmental cooperation increases employees' engagement.
"It's a virtuous circle," Delmas said — the opposite of a vicious cycle. "You attract the best people, and because you're open-minded, then you adopt green standards, and then you attract even better people, and this continues to feed itself. Companies that adopt these policies tend to be better. It could be they were better to start with, but there are mechanisms built into these policies that mean they continue to get better."
Real-life examples
Although the companies from the survey retain confidentiality, it's an effect Delmas said she has seen elsewhere many times. At Patagonia, a sports-clothing company well known for its sustainable practices, every job opening receives an average of 900 applicants eager to work for a green company, she said. At the Ambrose Hotel, a boutique hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., adopting wide-ranging sustainability measures made employees happier and healthier, Delmas found in a case study. Housekeeping workers reported fewer headaches, allergies and sick days after switching from chemical cleaners to non-toxic, green cleaning products.
In her research, Delmas has found that wineries also adopt the organic label to improve employees' health.
"I hope managers look at this and see the potential for their firms and employees," she said. "Socially responsible investors say green practices are a proxy for good management. It's also important for regulators to see that some voluntary practices can have beneficial effects."
Source: UCLA news

Friday, September 14, 2012

Company faces $82K in fines for employee formaldehyde exposure

A Newark, NJ company faces $82,500 in penalties from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for overexposing employees to formaldehyde, along with other health and safety violations.

Cardolite, which develops adhesives and other products was cited with one “willful” and 13 “serious” violations.

Cardolite was cited for failing to monitor employees at its Doremus Avenue factory for formaldehyde exposure at six-month intervals as required by law.

OSHA says workers were breathing in levels of formaldehyde 1.6 times greater than what’s acceptable, and 5.5 times more than recommended during 15-minute periods.


Protect employees and your business from the threat of litigation. Consult an Electrocorp air quality expert for more on our affordable industrial air cleaning systems.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Law enforcement officers being exposed to dangerous levels of toxic mold on the job

Researchers are warning that police officers could be facing potentially harmful levels of airborne mold while raiding pot-growing operations.

The team reviewed 30 marijuana-growing operations in Colorado and discovered mold levels 100 times higher than considered safe. In some cases the levels were so high the testing equipment couldn`t take a reading. 

"These are pretty incredible exposures," said Dr. John Martyny who conducted the study. "These are extremely high levels that we would consider dangerous.”

The team found that seventy percent of the sites studied had levels that would "be a sufficient concern for anyone who might live there." 

"The threat to the health and safety of our officers posed by these marijuana grows is a different kind of danger that we had not adequately considered," said Barbra Roach, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration-Denver Division. 

The research was funded by a Justice Assistance Grant and the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, and County Sheriffs of Colorado.

Does your law enforcement agency need to provide better protection from on the job mold exposure? Electrocorp has worked with numerous agencies to customize affordable air cleaning equipment for raids and tear downs involving drugs as well as air cleaning units for evidence storage. Contact an Electrocorp air quality expert for recommendation and pricing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Florida building could pose a health threat to top law enforcement agents and other employees

Water leaks and wet insides have plagued Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Tampa headquarters for years. Now half a dozen employees are wearing protective masks to work.

Air samples from the building show high levels of mold spores in both the upper and lower floors. Testers also found high levels of one of the most toxic and destructive forms of mold growing on the wall and inside a cabinet in the biology lab where DNA testing is carried out.

The report came in more than three weeks ago yet there is no date set for remediation. As per state policy, the scope of work must go through a bidding process.

The FDLE says only one person has reported getting sick. All employees have been told about the air quality report and been given the opportunity to ask questions.

 Source: ABC News

Are problems in your building causing a potential liability problem? Don't wait to mitigate the problem. Contact us for a free quote for an affordable, customized air quality solution.

OSHA cites 7 companies from Miami, and San Antonio with 46 violations for exposing workers to asbestos

Proposed penalties total more than $148,000 for hazards at San Antonio work site

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited seven construction companies – three Miami-based contractors and four San Antonio-based subcontractors – with 45 serious violations for exposing workers to asbestos hazards at a San Antonio construction work site. Proposed penalties total $148,000.

"Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that can potentially cause lifelong, irreversible health conditions," said John Hermanson, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas. "It is imperative that OSHA's safety and health standards be followed to avoid accidents, injuries and illnesses."

In response to a referral by the Texas Department of State Health Services, OSHA's San Antonio Area Office initiated a safety and health inspection in March at the Reserves at Pecan Valley apartment complex located on East Southcross Boulevard. Inspectors found that workers were remodeling apartments without the use of proper clothing and respiratory equipment that would protect them from exposure to asbestos.

Specifically, the violations include failing to abate asbestos hazards and ensure that employees work in regulated areas, perform air monitoring for asbestos exposure, use the required engineering controls to prevent exposure, require the use of proper respiratory and personal protective equipment, train workers on the hazards of working with asbestos and ensure that an asbestos assessment is performed by a qualified person. A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or
should have known.


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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Air quality one of many reasons for first-day school jitters in Fairhaven, MA

FAIRHAVEN, MA — Air quality was among the concerns of parents at Oxford Elementary School kindergarten orientation. Air-quality tests had threatened to keep students out of the building for the school year. However, results from new tests gave town officials the all clear to allow students in the building.

Oxford Elementary School has been closed since 2007, but the School Committee decided to use the building this year for students who usually attend the Wood School while a new school is being built on that site.
The start of most classes at Oxford was postponed after indoor air-quality tests came back positive for black mold spores.
"The experts say they have never seen a school district go to these extremes, and we probably overreacted," Hartley-Matteson said of the use of agents from the state's Department of Public Health. "But I would much rather overreact, because we know that everyone in this building is going to be safe."
Looking to improve indoor air quality in a school or university building? Contact an Electrocorp air quality expert for more information on our affordable industrial air cleaners.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mold in new $13M Savannah housing complex

Tenants are reporting mold, mildew and leaks in a new apartment complex that received $13 million in city funds to replace outdated public housing.
The Savannah Morning News reports one former Savannah Gardens tenant, Asia Jones, has hired an attorney. She says standing water in her son's bedroom and an outbreak of mold not only forced her family to move but also sent her and her children to the hospital with respiratory illnesses.

City leaders have touted Savannah Gardens, a $100 million development, as a public-private partnership to combat blight.

Charice Heywood, president of Atlanta-based Mercy Housing Southeast which developed Savannah Gardens, says problems have been found in six or seven units and are being fixed.

Source: The Associated Press

Does your facility have air quality problems? Addressing them quickly may help reduce liability claims. Contact an Electrocorp air quality expert for more information on affordable industrial air cleaners.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

OSHA Cites Navy for Exposing California Employees to Toxic Chemicals

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued notices to the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest regarding violations of workplace health and safety standards at its facility in Coronado that exposed workers to extremely toxic materials such as lead, cadmium and beryllium.

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest is an agency of the U.S. Navy and has a workforce of about 10,000 employees nationwide. The Coronado aircraft maintenance facility employs approximately 500 workers.

"Exposing workers to metals such as lead, cadmium and beryllium can result in serious illness and even fatal respiratory disease," said Jay Vicory, director of OSHA's San Diego Area Office. "We are encouraged by the Department of the Navy's response to OSHA's intervention, and we are working cooperatively with that department to further mitigate the hazards uncovered."

Two alleged willful violations involve allowing workers to store and consume food and beverages in areas contaminated by toxic materials such as lead, cadmium and beryllium; hazards associated with the accumulation of cadmium in the workplace; and hazards associated with dry sweeping, which may be used only when vacuuming or other methods to minimize the likelihood of cadmium dust becoming airborne have been tried and are not effective. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Two alleged serious violations involve the accumulation of lead dusts throughout the workplace, the use of dry sweeping to clean work areas where lead was found, and a failure to implement a program for beryllium hazard prevention and control. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The facility was inspected by OSHA three times in 2011, resulting in notices for 21 serious violations, including two related to the accumulation of cadmium. Fleet Readiness Center Southwest has 15 business days from receipt of the latest notices to comply or request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in San Diego.


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Source: OSHA

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Illinois court reverses $17.8M asbestos verdict against Honeywell, Pneumo-Abex and UNARCO

The Illinois Fourth District Appellate Court has reversed a $17.8 million verdict in an asbestos conspiracy case.

It concluded that plaintiff Jayne Menssen did not present sufficient evidence to prove that Honeywell International and Pneumo-Abex conspired with other manufacturers to suppress the serious health hazards of inhaling asbestos.

Her suit sought to damages for the pleural mesothelioma cancer that Menssen alleges she contracted as a result of being exposed to asbestos while working at the Union Asbestos and Rubber Company (UNARCO) in Bloomington.

Menssen worked at UNARCO, a manufacturer and distributor of asbestos and asbestos products, from 1967 to 1969 and claimed that during her time there, she inhaled asbestos fibers manufactured by Abex and Honeywell, among other companies.

Her suit accused Abex, Honeywell and UNARCO of entering into a civil conspiracy by agreeing to suppress information about the effects of asbestos and falsely asserting that exposure to asbestos was safe.

To bolster her conspiracy argument, Menssen presented evidence that Abex allegedly conspired with eight other corporations to conceal information from a study that Dr. LeRoy U. Gardner conducted on the effects of asbestos more than seven decades ago through the use of mice.

Two years after Gardner died, the Saranac Laboratory prepared the final report of Gardner's findings and sent it to Johns-Manville, which supplied asbestos to Abex and was one of the nine corporations that financed the study.

The general counsel of Johns-Manville passed on the draft report to the other financing corporations, the majority of which later met and voted to delete references to cancer and tumors from the final published report.

The Saranac Laboratory in 1951 published the report, which did not include any references to tumors and malignancies in the mice, according to the appellate court opinion.

In February 2010, a McLean County jury returned a verdict in favor of Menssen and against Abex and Honeywell. It awarded Menssen $3.5 million in compensatory damages, $4.37 million in punitive damages against Abex and $10 million against Honeywell for a total verdict of about $17.8 million.

The two companies appealed, alleging numerous deficiencies.


Asbestos and Mold Abatement

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Asbestos alert for renovators and DIY homeowners

Do it yourselfers and contractors alike are being warned that they could become the next generation to fall victim to asbestos exposure.

That’s what’s already happening in Australia, the country with the highest recorded rate of asbestos-related deaths from the cancer, mesothelioma.

"Now we are seeing a new wave of these preventable diseases from people exposed to asbestos ... through the home-renovation boom," says Susan Wallace, CEO of Asbestos Free Tasmania.

Every house built before 1990 in that county can have some asbestos, and many renovators still have little idea of the dangers.

Tasmanian Labor senator Lisa Singh told an asbestos summit in Sydney that without a national approach, thousands of Australians would continue to be diagnosed with the condition.

"Without a co-ordinated approach to asbestos awareness and management, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 Australians will be diagnosed with asbestos-related disease in the next 20 years," Senator Singh said.

"Most of these cases will result from poor management of asbestos in the home."

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Regional asbestos payouts in the UK South West top 1.5 million dollars

Compensation payouts for asbestos-related deaths and illnesses in the South West of England have topped 1.5 million dollars (1 million pounds).

The settlements are linked primarily to employees who worked at the former British Railways Board’s engineering plant in Swindon.

Asbestos-related illnesses and diseases – which could take up to 60 years to develop – have become so common in the region that they have been referred to as ‘Swindon disease’. Workers in the area have described how asbestos used to blow around like ‘snow’ at the former GWR works, part of which is now the Steam museum.

A charity group, The Swindon and South West Asbestos Group, has been actively lobiying for local families suffering with asbestos diseases. They now offer home visits to sufferers in the Swindon area to advise on benefits available. For further details, contact the group on 01793 532995 or email or visit at

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