Friday, November 30, 2012

Study: Use of dispersants made Deep Water Horizon spill 52- times more toxic

If the 4.9 million barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deep Water Horizon spill was a ecological disaster, the two million gallons of dispersant used to clean it up apparently made it even worse – 52-times more toxic. That’s according to new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes (UAA), Mexico.

The study found that mixing the dispersant with oil increased toxicity of the mixture up to 52-fold over the oil alone. In toxicity tests in the lab, the mixture’s effects increased mortality of rotifers, a microscopic grazing animal at the base of the Gulf’s food web. The findings are published online by the journal Environmental Pollution and will appear in the February 2013 print edition.

Using oil from the Deep Water Horizon spill and Corexit, the dispersant required by the Environmental Protection Agency for clean up, the researchers tested toxicity of oil, dispersant and mixtures on five strains of rotifers. Rotifers have long been used by ecotoxicologists to assess toxicity in marine waters because of their fast response time, ease of use in tests and sensitivity to toxicants. In addition to causing mortality in adult rotifers, as little as 2.6 percent of the oil-dispersant mixture inhibited rotifer egg hatching by 50 percent. Inhibition of rotifer egg hatching from the sediments is important because these eggs hatch into rotifers each spring, reproduce in the water column, and provide food for baby fish, shrimp and crabs in estuaries.

“Dispersants are preapproved to help clean up oil spills and are widely used during disasters,” said UAA’s Roberto-Rico Martinez, who led the study. “But we have a poor understanding of their toxicity. Our study indicates the increase in toxicity may have been greatly underestimated following the Macondo well explosion.”

Martinez performed the research while he was a Fulbright Fellow at Georgia Tech in the lab of School of Biology Professor Terry Snell. They hope that the study will encourage more scientists to investigate how oil and dispersants impact marine food webs and lead to improved management of future oil spills.

“What remains to be determined is whether the benefits of dispersing the oil by using Corexit are outweighed by the substantial increase in toxicity of the mixture,” said Snell, chair of the School of Biology. “Perhaps we should allow the oil to naturally disperse. It might take longer, but it would have less toxic impact on marine ecosystems.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Asbestos lawsuit targets Honeywell, 3M, Black & Decker, Ford, Georgia-Pacific + 23 other companies

Source: The West Virginia Record

A West Virginia couple are suing more than two dozen of the country's most prominent companies over asbestos exposure.

Allen Johnson says he was exposed to large quantities of asbestos-containing products during his career which lead to his lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

 Johnson and his wife, Janet Canterbury Johnson, claim the defendants required him to handle products containing asbestos and exposed him to other asbestos products present in the workplace.

They also say the defendants failed to timely and adequately warn him of the dangers of asbestos and failed to provide him with information on safety and proper protective equipment.

The Johnsons are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

The 28 companies named as defendants in the suit are 3M Corporation; A.O. Smith; Black & Decker (U.S.) Inc.; Blue Bird Corporation; Blue Bird Motor Company; Borg Warner Morse Tec, Inc.; CBS Corp.; Certainteed Corporation; Eaton Electrical, Inc.; Ford Motor Company; Genuine Auto Parts; Georgia-Pacific Corporation; Honeywell International, Inc.; Industrial Holdings Corporation; Ingersoll-Rand Company; Kelsey-Hayes Company; Maremont Corporation; Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; Ohio Valley Insulating Company, Inc.; Pneumo-Abex Corporation; Rockwell Automations, Inc.; Schneider Electric USA, Inc.; State Electric Supply Company; Thomas Built Buses, Inc.; UB West Virginia, Inc.; Union Carbide Chemical & Plastics Company; Vimasco Corporation; and West Virginia Electric Supply Company.


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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Worker files suits against Refineries in PA, NJ, OH, DE for benzene exposure
A former independent laborer has filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court, claiming that his exposure to benzene-containing products lead to his acute myelogenous leukemia.

The suit contends that Andre Harvey’s work as an independently contracted laborer and boiler maker at several refineries in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Ohio exposed him to the chemical.

Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It is among the top 20 most widely used chemicals in the U.S. The EPA has classified benzene as a Group A, know.n human carcinogen and says people occupationally exposed to benzene have an increased incidence of leukemia


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

VIDEO: Dangers of Formaldehyde in Indoor Air

Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used by industry, in laboratories, as embalming fluid, and as a sterilizer.

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Video uploaded to YouTube by Paul Cochrane:

Monday, November 26, 2012

N.J. mortician says embalming fluid gave him cancer; sues employer, manufacturers

A mortician in New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against his employer and a number of manufacturers of the chemicals he used in embalming.

William Moore, 38, was diagnosed two years ago with acute promyelocytic leukemia. In the suit, Moore says manufacturers of the embalming fluid either knew or should have known their products raised the cancer risk for those with higher levels of formaldehyde exposure. Formaldehyde was officially listed as a known human carcinogen in 2011 after the release of  The Report on Carcinogens, a congressionally mandated document.

Funeral workers in particular are at risk of high formaldehyde exposure as it is commonly used in mortuaries. Exposure occurs primarily by inhaling formaldehyde gas or vapor from the air or by absorbing liquids containing formaldehyde through the skin. Formaldehyde is also used in building materials and to produce many household products.

The suit alleges Moore’s employer failed to provide him with "accommodations" such as improving the ventilation or transferring him to a newer facility in the company.


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Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Industrial Air Cleaner Deals: Free shipping. Multiple unit order accepted!

Last chance for free shipping!* Great deal for multiple unit orders.

Get industrial strength air cleaning for smaller spaces with AllerAir's heavy-duty chemical, odor and particle scrubbers.

Great for:
  • Offices
  • Workshops
  • Laboratories
  • Evidence rooms
  • Dental labs and exam rooms
  • Salons

Use code BKBE2012 until 5pm eastern!


*Contiguous US/CAN. End users only. Orders must be placed by 5pm (Eastern) on November 23, 2012.

HVAC installers find $300k in gold dust

If only we can all have a work day like this...the downside is they didn't get to keep it.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Black Friday Equipment Deals: Compact Industrial Strength Air Cleaners Free Shipping Until No. 23rd

AllerAir is offering free shipping on all black units until November 23rd, 2012.*

These rugged units use industrial-grade filtration and are ideal for offices, labs, evidence lockers and other small spaces where tough air cleaning is required.

Offer applies to AllerAir's general air purifiers and exclusive models including:

Air purifiers for odors and chemicals 
Air purifiers for tobacco smoke
Air purifiers for allergies and asthma

Multiple unit orders included!

Mention promo code: BKBE2012

*Contiguous US/CAN. End users only. Orders must be placed by 5pm (Eastern) on November 23, 2012.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New study says you can save $100 per employee on healthcare just be doing this

Encourage your employees to make a few healthier lifestyle choices and you'll see almost immediate cost savings says a new study. 

"The bottom line for employers is that if you start to change employee behaviors, you will start seeing health care cost savings very quickly. In fact, an employer can save an average of $100 in health care costs per employee per health risk eliminated in the year of the change, and $105 per risk reduced in the year following the reduction," said said Steven Nyce, senior economist at Towers Watson and lead author of the study.

"But if you don't keep healthy people healthy and employees start accumulating new health risks, you not only negate this savings but stand to add health care costs of $145 per employee per health risk added within just one year."

Specifically, the study authors suggest that employers can benefit from understanding the following key findings:
  • The financial implications for prevention may be even greater than for risk reduction. For every health risk added, costs increased by 45 percent above the cost savings that resulted from eliminating a risk. This means that if organizations prevent individuals from adding new health risks over time, their cost savings will be greater than if they focus on eliminating a health risk after it emerges. 

  • A long-term solution is better than a quick fix. In this study, a greater immediate savings was realized from reducing health risks for people with chronic conditions than for the average employee.  Cost savings were four times greater for those with chronic conditions compared to those without chronic conditions. The study authors stressed that although there always will be a highest-cost group, an ongoing focus on prevention can benefit the entire population by avoiding chronic disease altogether in some cases or slowing the progression and diminishing the severity of chronic disease. All of these potential outcomes from prevention will improve the company's total health care spend.

The study, "Association Between Changes in Health Risk Status and Changes in Future Health Care Costs: A Multi-employer Study," was published in the November 2012 issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) and is available on the JOEM website.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black Friday Equipment Deals: Free shipping on compact industrial strength air cleaners

AllerAir is offering free shipping on all black units from November 19 - 23rd, 2012.*

These rugged units use industrial-grade filtration and are ideal for offices and smaller spaces where tough air cleaning is required.

Offer applies to AllerAir's general air purifiers and exclusive models including:

Air purifiers for odors and chemicals 
Air purifiers for tobacco smoke
Air purifiers for allergies and asthma

Multiple unit orders included!

Mention promo code: BKBE2012

*Contiguous US/CAN. End users only. Orders must be placed by 5pm (Eastern) on November 23, 2012.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Study finds breast cancer risk higher in some jobs

A study published in BioMed Central's Environmental Health confirms that certain occupations do pose a higher risk of breast cancer than others, particularly those that expose the worker to potential carcinogens and endocrine disrupters.

 In their study, James T Brophy and his colleagues set out to characterize the possible links between breast cancer and occupation, particularly in manufacturing and farming.

The study was conducted in Southern Ontario, Canada, and included 1006 breast cancer cases with 1147 randomly selected and matched community controls. Using interviews and surveys, the team collected data on participants' occupational and reproductive histories. All jobs were coded for their likelihood of exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, and patients' tumor pathology regarding endocrine receptor status was assessed.

The authors found in this group of participants that, across all sectors, women in jobs with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disrupters had an elevated breast cancer risk. Sectors with increased risk included:
  • Agriculture
  • Bar/gambling
  • Automotive plastics manufacturing
  • Food canning and metal-working
Importantly, pre-menopausal breast cancer risk was highest in the automotive plastics and food canning industries.

The findings also suggested that women with lower socioeconomic status had an elevated risk of breast cancer, which may result from higher exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the lower-income manufacturing and agricultural industries of the study area.

"Our results highlight the importance of occupational studies in identifying and quantifying environmental risk factors and illustrates the value of taking detailed occupational histories of cancer patients. Mounting evidence suggests that we need to re-evaluate occupational exposure limits in regulatory protection," said Brophy.

Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer diagnosis among women in industrialized countries, and North American rates are among the highest in the world.


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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chemicals used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment may affect couple's ability to conceive

Couples with high levels of PCBs and similar environmental pollutants take longer to get pregnant than couples with lower levels say researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment are part of a category of chemicals known as persistent organochlorine pollutants and include industrial chemicals and chemical byproducts as well as pesticides.

Some, known as persistent lipophilic organochlorine pollutants, accumulate in fatty tissues. Another type, called perfluorochemicals, are used in clothing, furniture, adhesives, food packaging, heat-resistant non-stick cooking surfaces, and the insulation of electrical wire.

Exposure to these pollutants is known to have a number of effects on human health, but their effects on human fertility-- and the likelihood of couples achieving pregnancy-- have not been extensively studied.

"Our findings suggest that persistent organochlorine pollutants may play a role in pregnancy delay," said the study's first author, Germain Buck Louis, Ph.D., director of the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at NIH.

For each standardized increase in chemical concentration the researchers measured in the test couples, the odds of pregnancy declined by 18 to 21 percent for females exposed to PCB congeners 118, 167, 209, and the perfluorchemical, perfluorooctane sulfonamide. Perfluorooctane sulfonamide is one of a broad class of compounds known as perfluoroalkyls, which have been used in fire fighting foams.

With increasing exposure, the odds for pregnancy declined by 17 to 29 percent for couples in which males were exposed to PCB congeners 138, 156, 157, 167, 170, 172, and 209 and to DDE, produced when the pesticide DDT degrades in the environment. DDT is banned for use in the United States, but is still used in some countries.

The investigators noted that they cannot rule out that some of the delays they observed may have been due to exposure to multiple chemicals. They added that these associations would need to be confirmed by other researchers.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Flame Retardant ‘Firemaster 550’ Is an Endocrine Disruptor

The flame-retardant mixture known as “Firemaster 550” is an endocrine disruptor that causes extreme weight gain, early onset of puberty and cardiovascular health effects in lab animals, according to a new study spearheaded by researchers from North Carolina State University and Duke University.

Firemaster 550 is made up of four principal component chemicals and is used in polyurethane foam in a wide variety of products, ranging from mattresses to infant nursing pillows. The flame-retardant mixture was developed by Chemtura Corp., and was first identified by the research community in 2008. It was developed to replace a class of fire retardants being phased out of use because of concerns regarding their safety. This new study represents the first public data on whether Firemaster 550 has potential health effects.

In this pilot study, pregnant lab rats were assigned to three groups: a control group, which was not exposed to Firemaster 550; a “low-dose” group, which ingested 100 micrograms of Firemaster 550 once per day throughout pregnancy and nursing; and a “high-dose” group, which ingested 1,000 micrograms on the same schedule. These environmentally relevant doses are lower than the doses used in industry-funded studies. Researchers then evaluated the physiological outcomes of the exposure in both the mothers (called dams) and the offspring (called pups).

Importantly, the researchers detected TBB, one of Firemaster 550’s component chemicals, in the fat of all the exposed dams and offspring, but none of the unexposed animals. This means the flame retardant is capable of crossing the placenta during pregnancy, reaching infants via breast milk, or both.

Because flame retardants that have been phased out are known to disrupt thyroid function, and Firemaster 550 includes chemicals with structural similarities, the researchers looked at circulating thyroid hormone levels in dams at the end of the nursing period. The high-dose dams had much higher thyroid hormone levels than the control group, while low-dose dams had marginally higher thyroid hormone levels. This is significant because thyroid hormones influence brain development during pregnancy, as well as a host of other biological functions, such as metabolism.

Researchers also found extremely rapid weight gain in the offspring. By the time they were weaned from nursing, high-dose male pups were 60 percent heavier than the control group – and high-dose female pups were 31 percent heavier than the control group.

The increased weight in female pups contributed to the early onset of puberty. The control group hit puberty at 33 days old, while the high-dose group hit puberty at 29 days.

High-dose female pups also had difficulty regulating their glucose levels as adults. High-dose males had thickened walls in the left ventricle of the heart, suggestive of cardiovascular disease.

“This study indicates that Firemaster 550 is an endocrine disruptor, and that raises a lot of important questions,” says Dr. Heather Patisaul, an assistant professor of biology at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. “This was a small-scale study. We need to continue this work with a larger sample size and look at a broader range of potential effects related to obesity, thyroid hormone function and metabolic syndrome. We also want to determine which of the component chemicals in Firemaster 550 are responsible for the various effects.”


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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Study: Exposure to Even Low-Level Radioactivity Is Damaging

Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life say scientists. Reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years, researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of Paris-Sud found that variation in low-level, natural background radiation had small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health.

The review is a meta-analysis of studies of locations around the globe that have very high natural background radiation as a result of the minerals in the ground there, including Ramsar, Iran, Mombasa, Kenya, Lodeve, France, and Yangjiang, China. These, and a few other geographic locations with natural background radiation that greatly exceeds normal amounts, have long drawn scientists intent on understanding the effects of radiation on life. Individual studies by themselves, however, have often only shown small effects on small populations from which conclusive statistical conclusions were difficult to draw.

“When you’re looking at such small effect sizes, the size of the population you need to study is huge,” said co-author Timothy Mousseau, a biologist in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina. “Pooling across multiple studies, in multiple areas, and in a rigorous statistical manner provides a tool to really get at these questions about low-level radiation.”

Mousseau and co-author Anders Møller of the University of Paris-Sud combed the scientific literature, examining more than 5,000 papers involving natural background radiation that were narrowed to 46 for quantitative comparison. The selected studies all examined both a control group and a more highly irradiated population and quantified the size of the radiation levels for each. Each paper also reported test statistics that allowed direct comparison between the studies.

The organisms studied included plants and animals, but had a large preponderance of human subjects. Each study examined one or more possible effects of radiation, such as DNA damage measured in the lab, prevalence of a disease such as Down’s Syndrome, or the sex ratio produced in offspring. For each effect, a statistical algorithm was used to generate a single value, the effect size, which could be compared across all the studies.

The scientists reported significant negative effects in a range of categories, including immunology, physiology, mutation and disease occurrence. The frequency of negative effects was beyond that of random chance.

“There’s been a sentiment in the community that because we don’t see obvious effects in some of these places, or that what we see tends to be small and localized, that maybe there aren’t any negative effects from low levels of radiation,” said Mousseau. “But when you do the meta-analysis, you do see significant negative effects.”

“It also provides evidence that there is no threshold below which there are no effects of radiation,” he added. “A theory that has been batted around a lot over the last couple of decades is the idea that is there a threshold of exposure below which there are no negative consequences. These data provide fairly strong evidence that there is no threshold – radiation effects are measurable as far down as you can go, given the statistical power you have at hand.”

Mousseau hopes their results, which are consistent with the “linear-no-threshold” model for radiation effects, will better inform the debate about exposure risks. “With the levels of contamination that we have seen as a result of nuclear power plants, especially in the past, and even as a result of Chernobyl and Fukushima and related accidents, there’s an attempt in the industry to downplay the doses that the populations are getting, because maybe it’s only one or two times beyond what is thought to be the natural background level,” he said. “But they’re assuming the natural background levels are fine.”

“And the truth is, if we see effects at these low levels, then we have to be thinking differently about how we develop regulations for exposures, and especially intentional exposures to populations, like the emissions from nuclear power plants, medical procedures, and even some x-ray machines at airports.”


Occupational exposure to airborne chemicals and dust may also have negative effects and trigger liability issues. Contact an Electrocorp air quality expert for customized solution for your business.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Manufacturer of asbestos containing joint compounds to pay $1,979,228 to retired L.A. brickmason

A Los Angeles jury has found against Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., a manufacturer of asbestos containing joint compounds, in the case of a 63 year old cancer patient and former brickmason.

Vincent Monaco worked as a brickmason at Kaiser Steel, Fontana, California, and at numerous residential sites and commercial buildings throughout Southern California between 1968 and the 1990s.  He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a debilitating and fatal cancer of the lining between the lungs and chest wall, in August 2011.

The jury found that the defendant's asbestos-containing joint compounds were defectively designed and
 assessed $479,228 in economic damages and $1,500,000 in non-economic damages.
At trial, plaintiffs presented evidence showing that the knowledge of hazards of exposure to asbestos dates back to 1898. Indeed, Kaiser Gypsum’s own internal documents starting in 1965 acknowledge that inhalation of asbestos dust from any source can cause mesothelioma decades later.

"Mr. Monaco can live out his last few months knowing that Kaiser Gypsum was held accountable today for contributing to cause his mesothelioma," stated his lawyers.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Study Examines Financial Pain of Workers' Heart Attacks

  • $8,100+ found in worker expenses
  • $52,000+ in employer long-term disability costs
The economic impact of a heart attack goes beyond the hospital to the home and workplace, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.
Men and women with acute coronary syndrome face additional economic burdens in lost time and income from work and possible inability to return to work, researchers said.
Using data from Integrated Benefits Institutes’ Health and Productivity Benchmarking Databases and IMS Lifelink, researchers analyzed medical, pharmacy and short- and long-term disability claims to calculate direct and indirect costs for more than 37,000 employees and their dependents from 2007 to 2010. Of the total, 77 percent were men and 95 percent were younger than 65.
They found:
  • Annual healthcare cost for each worker, including out-of-pocket expenses, was $8,170. Of that, $7,545 was for hospitalizations and other medical care and $625 for pharmacy costs.
  • Workers lost 60.2 days of work in the short term and 397 days in the long term.
  • For employers, disability costs outweighed direct costs. The estimated per claim productivity loss for short-term disability was $7,943 and $52,473 for long-term disability.
  • Hospitalizations accounted for 75 percent of total annual costs
The study is unique because 95 percent of participants were under age 65.
“About 47 percent of all acute coronary syndrome patients  (ACS) are younger than 65, so we were looking at a working class population,” said Page, an associate professor of clinical pharmacy and physical medicine and a clinical specialist in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy in Aurora, Colo. 
ACS has non-cardiac and cardiac complications such as possible structural heart damage or depression.
“We want to target individuals early on in terms of risk factor modification for ACS, including smoking cessation, weight loss, appropriate diet, pharmacotherapy for high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” Page said. 
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Massachusetts Town Files Class Action Lawsuit Against PCB Makers


A Massachusetts town has filed a class-action chemical exposure lawsuit against three companies over potential harm caused by high levels of PCBs.

The lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of Lexington and other school districts of Massachusetts that have school buildings affected by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) made by Pharmacia Corp., Solutia Inc., and Monsanto Co., according to

The suit alleges that the makers of PCBs were aware of the risks that the chemical posed to public health and the environment when it was being used in the construction of schools spanning almost three decades, starting from the 1950s. The class action seeks to represent Massachusetts schools that were built between the 1950s and the 1970s. Monsanto says that the suit lacks merit.

The manufacturing and use of PCBs was banned by Congress in 1976.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Minnesota company fined for selling gun care product with high VOC chemical levels

A Minnesota-based distributor of gun-care products will pay the state of California half a million dollars after one of their products was found to exceed VOC levels.
The product, Casey Gun Scrubber Solvent/ Degreaser exceeded the state’s limits for chemicals known as volatile organic compounds which contribute to the formation of smog. The product was also found to contained trichloroethylene, a toxic air contaminant that is strictly prohibited from use in ‘General Purpose Degreasers’.

The Air Resources Board " vigilant about ensuring that products sold to consumers in California meet the standards for smog-causing chemicals,” said ARB Enforcement Chief Jim Ryden. “It is equally important that the General Purpose Degreasers do not contain toxic chemicals.”
 As part of the settlement, Birchwood also agreed that it would not sell, supply, offer for sale or manufacture for sale in California any items in violation of state standards for consumer products.


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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

U.S. jury awards troops $85 million over Iraq chemical exposure

(Reuters) - An Oregon jury awarded 12 Army National Guardsmen $85 million in damages from defense contractor KBR Inc. on Friday after finding that the company failed to protect them from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals when they served in Iraq.

Each Guard soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and another $6.25 million in punitive damages for "reckless and outrageous indifference" to their health in the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland.

"Justice was definitely served for the 12 of us," Guardsman Rocky Bixby said, adding that two of his children were about to enter the military. "It wasn't about the money, it was about them never doing this again to another soldier."

The Oregon Guardsmen were providing security for civilian workers restoring an oil industry water plant in 2003 in southern Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. The plant water was used to push oil to the surface.

The plant was contaminated with sodium dichromate, a chemical used to fight corrosion. Sodium dichromate contains hexavalent chromium, the toxic chemical made famous in the film "Erin Brockovich" starring Julia Roberts.

The chemical was blowing around the plant known as Qarmat Ali, the soldiers' lawyers told the court.

Geoffrey Harrison, lead trial attorney for KBR, said the contractor would appeal.

"We believe the trial court should have dismissed the case before trial," he said. "KBR did safe and exceptional work in Iraq under difficult circumstances, and we believe the facts and law ultimately will provide vindication."

The soldiers had also claimed that KBR committed fraud, but jurors rejected that claim.

The 12 Guardsmen in the suit have suffered various illnesses and disabilities and are at risk for various kinds of cancer, their lawyers said. Hexavalent chromium is "a highly potent carcinogen," they said.

Another 22 Oregon soldiers or their widows have sued KBR Inc. in Portland. More than 100 soldiers from other states have sued the company in Houston, where the company is based.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Landowner and Waste Management Company Convicted of Dumping Asbestos into Wetlands in Upstate New York

The owner of a 28-acre piece of property on the Mohawk River and the owner of a New Jersey solid waste management company were found guilty by a federal jury in Utica, N.Y.,  of charges that they conspired to defraud the United States and violate the Clean Water Act by illegally dumping thousands of tons of asbestos-contaminated construction debris on the property in upstate New York.
“Mazza and his co-conspirators flouted numerous federal laws designed to protect Americans from exposure to toxic materials when they dumped asbestos contaminated waste into an area that included sensitive wetlands. They also committed fraud and lied to federal investigators in the process,” said Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno. “This conviction is a just result because these men have been held accountable for egregious environmental crimes that harm human health and the environment.”

The defendants, Cross Nicastro, owner of the property in Frankfort, N.Y., along with Mazza & Sons Inc., and its owner, Dominick Mazza, were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States, as well as violate the Clean Water Act and Superfund laws. In addition, Nicastro, Dominick Mazza and Mazza & Sons Inc. were convicted of violating the Superfund law’s requirement to report the release of toxic materials and obstructing justice. Dominick Mazza was also convicted of making false statements to EPA special agents.

According to evidence presented during the 10-day trial, the defendants engaged in the illegal dumping of thousands of tons of construction and demolition debris, much of which was contaminated with asbestos, at Nicastro’s property, which contained federally-regulated wetlands. The dumping occurred without a permit.

Evidence demonstrated that the defendants, along with co-conspirators, concealed the illegal dumping by fabricating a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permit and forging the name of a DEC official on the fraudulent permit. In addition, the evidence demonstrated that Mazza & Sons, Inc. obstructed justice by destroying and concealing documents responsive to a grand jury subpoena.

The conspiracy, substantive Superfund and false statement counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of either $250,000, twice the gross gain to the defendants, or twice the gross loss to a victim, whichever is determined to be greater. The obstruction of justice count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and similar fines.


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Friday, November 2, 2012

Company that restores windows for historical buildings cited for exposing workers to airborne leads

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited History Construction Management LLC of Odell, Illinois for 22 alleged serious health violations. OSHA opened an inspection in May in response to a complaint and found that some workers were exposed to airborne lead at more than 40 times the permissible limit. Proposed fines total more than $59,000.

"Employers such as History Construction Management have a responsibility to ensure that operations are conducted in a way that eliminates or minimizes lead hazards, including exposure," said Tom Bielema, director of OSHA's Peoria Area Office. "Training workers to recognize lead hazards and take necessary precautions to prevent exposure is necessary to protect their health."

Fifteen of the violations relate to OSHA's lead standard, including failing to implement engineering and work practice controls to reduce exposure, collect full shift personal samples for monitoring, provide clean protective clothing, provide clean changing rooms or separate storage facilities for protective work clothing to prevent cross-contamination with street clothes, keep surface and eating areas free from lead dust accumulation, properly sweep up lead dust, provide training to employees about lead and post lead hazard warning signs.

Five violations of OSHA's respiratory protection standard involve failing to implement a respirator protection program that includes proper respirator selection, medical evaluation, fit testing and training. The remaining two violations are using flexible electrical cords as a substitute for fixed wiring and improperly altering electrical cords. 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.

History Construction Management, which specializes in restoring windows for historical buildings, previously was cited by OSHA in 2009 for failing to provide a hazard communications program and require the use of personal protective equipment.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Massachusetts medical provider cited by OSHA after workers exposed to biohazards

A medical service provider in Newton, Massachusetts has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for an alleged  "willful and serious violation" of workplace safety standards after an OSHA inspection revealed that workers were being exposed to biohazards. The proposed penalties for New England Hematology/Oncology Associates PC, is over  $46,000.

An inspection was made in April in response to complaints by medical workers that the needles used to treat cancer patients were not safety-engineered devices and that, in removing the needles, workers were at risk of needlestick injuries. OSHA found that the workers were potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens from needlesticks because safer needle systems, such as automatically sheathing needles, were not used.

OSHA also found that the medical provider had been made aware by workers that a safer needle system was needed but continued to use a system that was not engineered to reduce the risk of injury.

"The willful violation exists because the employer initially agreed to address the issue, as required by the regulation, but did not follow through," said Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA's area director in Andover. "This medical provider put workers at risk of coming into contact with needlestick injuries because it failed to use the safest technology available to them."

OSHA also has issued a citation with a $4,900 fine for one serious violation that involves failing to review and update an exposure control plan; document the evaluation and implementation of appropriate, commercially available and effective medical devices designed to minimize occupational bloodborne pathogen exposure; and document employees' hepatitis B vaccination status. 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.