Thursday, March 28, 2013

OSHA penalizes Bayonne rifle manufacturer for four repeat and four serious violations

Photo:Boaz Yiftach

Source: The Jersey Journal
A Bayonne business still recovering from damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy has been cited with four repeat and four serious safety and health violations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday.

Among the violations at Henry Repeating Arms, one of the country’s leading rifle manufacturers, was workers exposed to lead hazards, OSHA officials said in announcing $72,000 in penalties. OSHA said an inspection was performed in September.

The repeat violations, which carry a $46,800 penalty, include failing to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program for lead exposure; failing to evaluate, conduct tests and provide training for “half mask negative pressure respirators,” which protect against lead; and failing to ensure surfaces were maintained as free as practicable from lead accumulation.

OSHA considers these “repeat” violations because it says Henry Repeating Arms, on East First Street, was cited for similar violations in 2008.

Among the “serious” violations, with a $25,200 penalty, OSHA says Henry Repeating Arms failed to implement a hearing conservation program and training program and provide annual audiograms for workers exposed to noise above 85 and 90 decibels, and failed to make medical surveillance available upon a worker’s notification of signs and symptoms of lead intoxication.

OSHA officials said a serious citation is issued when there is “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard” that the employer knew or should have known about.

“Exposure to lead and noise in the firearms manufacturing industry has been well-known for decades” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s area office in Parsippany. “OSHA’s standards must be followed to protect workers from exposure that can lead to lead-related illness and occupational hearing loss.”

Henry Repeating Arms president and owner Anthony Imperato said his company is taking corrective action.

“We are investing in a new state-of-the-art test-fire facility that will cost us approximately $500,000, which will alleviate this issue along with other internal measures,” Imperato said. “We have also retained the services of an OSHA consultant to keep us compliant.”

Henry Repeating Arms has three weeks from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before an independent panel.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

3M Recalls 10,000 Air Purifiers for Potential Fire Hazard

3M has recalled approximately 10,000 Filtrete air purifiers due to a fire hazard. The ion generator in the air purifiers can overheat. 

3M has received two incident reports: one of an air purifier overheating and another of an internal room air purifier filter catching fire.  No injuries or property damage reported.  

The air purifiers are white, made of plastic and plug into the wall. They measure about 19 inches tall by 8 inches wide with a 13 inch tall by 4.5 inch wide air filter.  They have a two-speed fan knob with Filtrete embossed on the top. 

The two recalled models are Ultra Quiet, number FAP00-RS, and Maximum Allergen, number FAP00-L, which was sold only at Lowe's stores. The products serial numbers begin with E, F, G, H, I or J and the model and serial numbers are located on the bottom of the product.  

Consumers should immediately unplug the recalled air purifier and contact 3M.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Smoke-free workplaces linked to smoke-free homes

Adults are more likely to abstain from smoking at home if they are prohibited from smoking at work, a new study has found.

According to data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India, 2009/2010, 64 per cent of adults who work in smoke-free environments live in a smoke-free home, compared with 42 per cent of those who work where smoking is permitted. The proportion of smoke-free homes is higher in states with higher proportions of smoke-free workplaces.

The authors of the study, from Imperial College London and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), say the findings suggest that the implementation of smoke-free legislation in India may have resulted in substantial health benefits for the population, particularly for women and children.

“This study suggests that, in India, there is good evidence that smoke-free laws in workplaces are associated with a reduction in second-hand smoke at home,” said Dr John Tayu Lee, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, who led the study.

“The results support the idea of ‘norm spreading’, whereby restrictions on smoking in public places make it seem less acceptable to expose others to second-hand smoke more generally, including at home,” said Dr Christopher Millett, from the School of Public Health at Imperial. “They highlight the importance of accelerating the implementation of smoke-free legislation more widely in India.” Dr Millett is also a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at PHFI.

According to the survey, there are 110 million smokers in India. National legislation prohibiting smoking in public places and workplaces was introduced in 2008, but the law is not comprehensive as it permits designated smoking areas in large restaurants and hotels. Enforcement of the law is highly variable and the penalty is a modest fine of 200 rupees, equivalent to $3.80. Nationally, 30 per cent of adults report being exposed to second-hand smoke at work, with 52 per cent exposed at home.

Studies in the USA, Ireland and Scotland have found that implementation of comprehensive smoke-free laws has been associated with reduced second-hand smoke in homes, but there has been little information about whether these benefits exist in low- and middle-income countries.

Dr Monika Arora, Director of Health Promotion & Tobacco Control at the Public Health Foundation of India, said: “This is a very important and timely study as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is scaling up its National Tobacco Control Program to all states of India under its twelfth five year plan. This evidence highlights the effectiveness of smoke-free legislation in India and further highlights the changing norms in support of smoke-free, which will provide substantial population level health benefits in India. India currently allows designated smoking areas under COTPA and evidence from this study does make a case for enforcing 100 per cent smoke free public places to further enhance the impact of smoke-free legislation in India.”
Healthier workplaces are more productive and result in lower health care costs. To learn more about how improving workplace air quality can help your bottom line contact an Electrocorp Industrial and Commercial Air Quality Expert 1-866-667-0297.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Office workers carry biomarker of potentially harmful flame retardant, study finds

Photo: Salvatore Vuono

A flame retardant removed from children's pajamas 30 years ago but now used in polyurethane foam is prevalent in office environments, especially in older buildings, where urine testing of workers turned up widespread evidence of its biomarker, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health researchers has found.

The study, published in the journal Environment International, found that the chemical known as TDCPP -- chlorinated tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, or 'chlorinated tris' -- was present in 99 percent of dust samples taken from participants' homes, vehicles and offices, "demonstrating the widespread presence of this flame retardant in the indoor environment." The research team recruited 31 adults who worked and lived in the Boston area for the testing.

The study found that the office environment was the strongest predictor of metabolized TDCPP in urine, with significantly lower concentrations of the chemical among workers in a new office building than in older buildings. Similarly, the average concentration of TDCPP in dust was significantly lower in the new office building than in the older office buildings.

Urine samples were collected during the workday, which may explain why an association was found between the quickly metabolized chemical and characteristics of the office, rather than the vehicle or home.

"Overall, our findings suggest that exposure to TDCPP in the work environment is one of the contributors to the personal exposure for office workers. Further research is needed to confirm specific exposure sources (e.g., polyurethane foam), determine the importance of exposure in other microenvironments such as homes and vehicles, and address the inhalation and dermal exposure pathways," the research team concluded.

TDCPP, an additive to polyurethane foam used in upholstered furniture, is found in dust, where it can likely lead to human exposure. Potential health effects remain a concern. In 2011, TDCPP was added to the Proposition 65 list of chemicals known by the State of California to cause cancer.

In vitro studies suggest TDCPP may be neurotoxic, and one study found that increased concentrations in dust were associated with decreased semen quality and reduced free thyroxine in men, suggesting possible effects on fertility and thyroid function. Animal studies show TDCPP is readily absorbed through both the skin and gastrointestinal tract.

The researchers said the high concentrations observed in dust from offices could reflect requirements by the City of Boston that office furniture meet California fire retardant standards, a rule that is not required of residential furniture in Boston. The state of California has proposed a draft furniture flammability standard that could reduce the need for flame retardant chemicals in polyurethane foam. However, the standard used for office furniture has yet to be revised.

"It is currently very difficult to avoid flame retardants. Hopefully, better options will become available in the near future," said Courtney Carignan, a doctoral candidate in environmental health who co-authored the study. "Currently, the best advice we have for people is to wash your hands, especially before eating. Dust control, good ventilation and air purifiers may also be useful for reducing personal exposure."

The low concentrations of TDCPP in the newer office building suggest that its newer furniture did not contain TDCPP, or that it had not yet had sufficient time to migrate out of the products, the researchers said. If the new furniture did not contain TDCPP, it likely contained a different flame retardant such as the controversial FireMaster 550. Other differences between exposures include the possibility of more efficient ventilation or HVAC systems or cleaning methods in the newer building.

The authors urged that "more research is needed to determine factors that influence TDCPP concentrations in dust, in relation to building contents and characteristics."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Many of America's school buildings "unhealthy"; USGBC calls for immediate action

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today released its first “State of our Schools” report, highlighting the critical need to modernize school facilities to meet current health, safety and educational standards.

The report, featuring a foreword by former President Bill Clinton, states that schools are currently facing a $271 billion deferred maintenance bill just to bring the buildings up to working order – approximately $5,450 per student.

The last comprehensive report on America’s school facilities was conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 1995 and indicated that 15,000 U.S. schools were circulating air that at the time was deemed unfit to breathe. The USGBC report calls on the GAO to conduct an updated survey on the condition of America's schools in order to paint a more complete picture of the scale and scope of today’s needs. The USGBC report also estimates that the cost to both bring schools into good repair and address modernization needs is $542 billion over the next 10 years for Pre-K-12 school buildings.

"The places where our children learn matter. This report is a critical first step to taking action and creating healthy, sustainable school buildings," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. "Schools are the backbone of our communities, and it is unacceptable that we would allow any of our children to show up in classrooms that compromise their ability to learn. We must do more."

"Approximately 50 million students attend the nearly 100,000 public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Many of these schools barely meet today's standards, yet it’s been an astonishing 18 years since the last comprehensive study on school conditions was conducted," said Rachel Gutter, director, Center for Green Schools at USGBC. "We are confident Congress will take up the charge to commission a new report on the state of educational facilities across the country. We can’t continue to ignore a problem just because we don’t understand the extent of it."

The Center for Green Schools at USGBC is urging the GAO to commission another survey on the condition of America’s schools, with support from 24 organizations, including the 21st Century School Fund, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Lung Association, the National Education Association (NEA) and the National PTA, among others.

"Our job—as educators, as parents and as elected officials—is to remove barriers so that all students can succeed," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "This means investing in the right priorities. Children need and deserve safe and healthy environments so they can learn. It’s not more complicated than that.”

Key recommendations from the report include:

• Expand the Common Core of Data (a set of academic expectations collected annually by the National Center for Education Statistics that define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each grade level) to include school level data on building age, building size and site size.

• Improve the current fiscal reporting of school district facility maintenance and operations data to the National Center for Education Statistics so that utility and maintenance expenditures are collected separately.

• Improve the collection of capital outlay data from school districts to include identification of the source of capital outlay funding and distinctions between capital outlay categories for new construction and for existing facilities.

• Provide financial and technical assistance to states from the U.S. Department of Education to incorporate facility data in their state longitudinal education data systems.

• Mandate a GAO facility condition survey take place every 10 years, with the next one beginning immediately.

Please visit to download the full report.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Exposure to Inhaled Agents at Work Means 1 in 4 of Operated Chronic Sinusitis Patients Fail to Recover

Photo: David Castillo Dominici
Researchers in Belgium say exposure to occupational agents at work should be taken into account as a risk factor for the occurrence of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). They say that continued exposure at work may also be the cause of its recurrence or persistence, as evidenced by the need for revision surgery.

This conclusion on the chronic sinusitis study will be discussed, alongside other issues at the 9th Symposium on Experimental Rhinology and Immunology of the Nose, in Belgium next week.

Acute and chronic rihnosinusitis (ARS and CRS) are common diseases affecting up to 10 per cent of the Western population and are usually treated by functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) when medical treatment fails. However 10 to 15 per cent of operated patients respond insufficiently to FESS with the main reason believed to be exposure to inhaled noxious agents. The recent studies involving a controlled patient population further point to evidence that occupational exposure represents a large risk factor for the occurrence of rhinosinusitits and its recurrence after surgery.

Occupational agents that were most frequently mentioned by patients and controls are: bleach, inorganic dust, paints, cement, thinner, ammonia, white spirit, fuel gas and acetone with cleaners, caretakers, housewives, builders, painters, carpenters and mechanics the occupations most at risk.

The conclusion, spearheaded by Professor Peter Hellings from the Department of ENT at University Hospital Leuven, reveal that in addition to the continued need to prevent harmful chemical exposure at work, there is a further necessity for more research in this area through prospective clinical studies as well as fundamental research exploring pathophysiological mechanisms of occupational upper airway disease.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Niagara company faces OSHA fines for exposing workers to airborne lead and other hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Tulip Corp. with nine alleged serious safety and health violations for exposing workers to airborne lead and other hazards following an October 2012 complaint inspection at its manufacturing facility on Highland Avenue in Niagara Falls. The manufacturer of plastic containers faces proposed fines of $47,700.

"Exposure to lead can damage the blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems. Impaired health and disease can result from periods of exposure that can be as short as days or as long as several years," said Art Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "It is the employer's responsibility to minimize exposure levels, train employees and ensure all safeguards are in place."

OSHA's inspection found that workers were overexposed to airborne concentrations of lead. The airborne lead levels measured at the facility were 1.71 times the permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an eight-hour period. In addition, appropriate protective work clothing and equipment, including gloves, hats or respirators, were not used when employees were exposed to lead above the permissible exposure limit; all surfaces were not maintained as free as practicable of accumulations of lead; and employees entering lunchroom facilities with protective clothing or equipment were not required to remove surface lead dust by vacuuming or other acceptable cleaning methods. Other cited hazards included workroom floors not maintained in a dry condition and prohibited use of an electrical cord. 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.

"One means of eliminating hazards, such as these, is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program in which workers and management continually work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Common symptoms of acute lead poisoning are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, moodiness, headache, joint or muscle aches, and anemia. For more information about lead exposure, visit

Tulip Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

US company identified as manufacture of lead paint in Africa

House paint containing dangerous concentrations of lead is being sold in Cameroon by an American company – and the company is refusing to remove the paint from store shelves.

"There is an immediate need for regulations to restrict the lead content of paint in Cameroon to protect public health," said Perry Gottesfeld, Executive Director of Occupational Knowledge International (OK International) and co-author of a new research study about this lead hazard.

"The levels of lead are extraordinarily high, and these products have been banned in the U.S. for more than 30 years," Gottesfeld said.

The study, in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene revealed lead concentrations are as high as 50 percent by weight in household paint being sold by Cameroon's largest paint company, Seignerurie – a subsidiary of the U.S. Company PPG. This concentration is more than 5,000 times the allowable limit in the U.S.

Lead is added to paint because it is inexpensive way to add color, resist corrosion, or to improve the drying.

The research was jointly conducted by OK International and the Research and Education Centre for Development (CREPD) and involved samples from dozens of stores. Results showed that two-thirds (66%) of new paints in Cameroon made by more than ten companies had hazardous lead levels in excess of 90 parts per million (ppm). The researchers also found that none of the lead paints surveyed in stores had any hazard warnings while only 8% of the paints had labels identifying any of the ingredients. The new study is the first one which provides the names of paint companies and the lead concentrations for all 61 paints tested.

"This is the ultimate case of a company operating with double standards as they sell hazardous products in developing countries that have been banned in the U.S. since the 1970s," Gottesfeld added.

As a result of this research, consumers in Cameroon are being warned to avoid purchasing paints unless the cans are labeled with as having no added lead. Most of the paint available in the market contains hazardous levels of lead that causes birth defects, brain damage, high blood pressure, and other health effects in both children and adults.

CREPD is issuing a warning following the results of a recent survey showing that most of the new paints being sold in stores still contain lead at excessive levels despite pledges by some paint companies to reformulate.

"The problem we are seeing is that the older paint is still in stores because none of the companies have recalled products with hazardous levels of lead," said Gilbert KUEPOUO, Coordinator of CREPD. "As a result, we are asking consumers to look for labels that indicate that lead levels are less than 90 parts per million (PPM) as required in the U.S., China, and other countries."

PPG sent a letter to some of the distributors offering to exchange some products, but few responded.

CREPD recently interviewed the managers of the 11 stores that sell Seigneurie paints and identified only three that had returned products based on the companies offer. There are no regulations regarding the lead content of new paints in Cameroon.

The World Health Organization estimates that 240 million people around the world are overexposed to lead contamination and 99 percent of those most severely exposed reside in developing countries. Lead paint in housing contributes significantly to children's exposure resulting in brain damage, mental retardation, lower educational performance, and a range of other health effects.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Petroleum use, greenhouse gas emissions of automobiles could drop 80 percent by 2050

A new National Research Council report finds that by the year 2050, the U.S. may be able to reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent for light-duty vehicles -- cars and small trucks -- via a combination of more efficient vehicles; the use of alternative fuels like biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen; and strong government policies to overcome high costs and influence consumer choices. While achieving these goals will be difficult, improving technologies driven by strong and effective policies could make deep reductions possible.

"To reach the 2050 goals for reducing petroleum use and greenhouse gases, vehicles must become dramatically more efficient, regardless of how they are powered," said Douglas M. Chapin, principal of MPR Associates, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. "In addition, alternative fuels to petroleum must be readily available, cost-effective and produced with low emissions of greenhouse gases. Such a transition will be costly and require several decades. The committee's model calculations, while exploratory and highly uncertain, indicate that the benefits of making the transition, i.e. energy cost savings, improved vehicle technologies, and reductions in petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions, exceed the additional costs of the transition over and above what the market is willing to do voluntarily."

Improving the efficiency of conventional vehicles is, up to a point, the most economical and easiest-to-implement approach to saving fuel and lowering emissions, the report says. This approach includes reducing work the engine must perform -- reducing vehicle weight, aerodynamic resistance, rolling resistance, and accessories -- plus improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine powertrain.

Improved efficiency alone will not meet the 2050 goals, however. The average fuel economy of vehicles on the road would have to exceed 180 mpg, which, the report says, is extremely unlikely with current technologies. Therefore, the study committee also considered other alternatives for vehicles and fuels, including:

-hybrid electric vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius;
-plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Volt;
-battery electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf;
-hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, such as the Mercedes F-Cell, scheduled to be introduced about 2014; and
-compressed natural gas vehicles, such as the Honda Civic Natural Gas.

Although driving costs per mile will be lower, especially for vehicles powered by natural gas or electricity, the high initial purchase cost is likely to be a significant barrier to widespread consumer acceptance, the report says. All the vehicles considered are and will continue to be several thousand dollars more expensive than today's conventional vehicles. Additionally, particularly in the early years, the report predicts that alternative vehicles will likely be limited to a few body styles and sizes; some will rely on fuels that are not readily available or have restricted travel range; and others may require bulky energy storage that will limit their cargo and passenger capacity. Wide consumer acceptance is essential, however, and large numbers of alternative vehicles must be purchased long before 2050 if the on-road fleet is to meet desired performance goals. Strong policies and technology advances are critical in overcoming this challenge.

The report identified several scenarios that could meet the more demanding 2050 greenhouse gas goal. Each combines highly efficient vehicles with at least one of three alternative power sources -- biofuel, electricity, or hydrogen. Natural gas vehicles were considered, but their greenhouse gas emissions are too high for the 2050 goal. However, if the costs of these vehicles can be reduced and appropriate refueling infrastructure created, they have great potential for reducing petroleum consumption.

While corn-grain ethanol and biodiesel are the only biofuels to have been produced in commercial quantities in the U.S. to date, the study committee found much greater potential in biofuels made from lignocellulosic biomass -- which includes crop residues like wheat straw, switchgrass, whole trees, and wood waste. This "drop-in" fuel is designed to be a direct replacement for gasoline and could lead to large reductions in both petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions; it can also be introduced without major changes in fuel delivery infrastructure or vehicles. The report finds that sufficient lignocellulosic biomass could be produced by 2050 to meet the goal of an 80 percent reduction in petroleum use when combined with highly efficient vehicles.

Vehicles powered by electricity will not emit any greenhouse gases, but the production of electricity and the additional load on the electric power grid are factors that must be considered. To the extent that fossil resources are used to generate electricity, the report says that the successful implementation of carbon capture and storage will be essential. These vehicles also rely on batteries, which are projected to drop steeply in price. However, the report says that limited range and long recharge times are likely to limit the use of all-electric vehicles mainly to local driving. Advanced battery technologies under development all face serious technical challenges.

When hydrogen is used as a fuel cell in electric vehicles, the only vehicle emission is water. However, varying amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted during hydrogen production, and the low-greenhouse gas methods of making hydrogen are more expensive and will need further development to become competitive. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could become less costly than the advanced internal combustion engine vehicles of 2050. Fuel cell vehicles are not subject to the limitations of battery vehicles, but developing a hydrogen infrastructure in concert with a growing number of fuel cell vehicles will be difficult and expensive, the report says.

The technology advances required to meet the 2050 goals are challenging and not assured. Nevertheless, the committee considers that dramatic cost reduction and overall performance enhancement is possible without unpredictable technology breakthroughs. Achieving these goals requires that the improved technology focus on reducing fuel use rather than adding greater power or weight, the report says.

It is impossible to know which technologies will ultimately succeed, the report says, because all involve uncertainty. The best approach, therefore, is to promote a portfolio of vehicle and fuel research and development, supported by both government and industry, designed to solve the critical challenges in each major candidate technology. Such primary research efforts need continuing evaluation of progress against performance goals to determine which technologies, fuels, designs, and production methods are emerging as the most promising and cost-effective.

Overcoming the barriers to advanced vehicles and fuels will require a rigorous policy framework that is more stringent than the proposed fuel economy standards for 2025. This policy intervention could include high and increasing fuel economy standards, R&D support, subsidies, and public information programs aimed at improving consumers' familiarity with the new fuels and powertrains. Because of the high level of uncertainty in the pace and scale of technology advances, this framework should be modified as technologies develop and as conditions change.

It is essential that policies promoting particular technologies to the public are not introduced before these new fuels and vehicle technologies are close to market readiness, and consumer behavior toward them is well understood. The report warns that forcing a technology into the market should be undertaken only when the benefits of the proposed support justify its costs.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Night shifts may be linked to increased ovarian cancer risk

Working night shifts might increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer, indicates research published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The risk may be lower for night types (“owls”) than for morning types (“larks”), the findings suggest.

The authors base their findings on 1101 women with the most common type (epithelial) of advanced ovarian cancer; 389 with borderline disease; and a comparison group of 1832 women without ovarian cancer.

The women, who were all aged between 35 and 74, were asked about the hours they worked, including whether they had ever worked night shifts.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified shift work that disrupts the body’s normal time clock (circadian rhythm) as a cancer causing agent. And other research has suggested that shift work may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Among the women with invasive cancer, around 1 in 4 (26.6%; 293) had ever worked nights, compared with 1 in 3 (32.4%; 126) of those with borderline disease and around 1 in 5 (22.5%; 412) of the comparison group.

Use of the Pill was lower among women with ovarian cancer, who also tended to have had fewer children than those without the disease. Being on the Pill and motherhood are known to lower the risk of ovarian cancer.

The stint of night shifts averaged between 2.7 and 3.5 years across all three groups of women, with jobs in healthcare, food preparation and service, and office and admin support the most common types of employment.

Working night shifts was associated with a 24% increased risk of advanced cancer and a 49% increased risk of early stage disease compared with those who worked normal office hours.

A greater proportion (27%) of women who described themselves as “owls” had worked night shifts than women (20%) who were “larks”.

The risks of either advanced ovarian cancer were slightly higher (29%) among “larks” than among “owls” (14%), although difference this was not statistically significant. Findings were similar for borderline tumours - 57% and 43% for “larks” and “owls,” respectively.

Only women aged 50 and above were significantly more likely to have ovarian cancer if they had worked nights.

The authors say their findings are consistent with, and of a similar magnitude, as those found for breast cancer, but point out that they did not find any cumulative risk for ovarian cancer the longer a woman had worked a night shift pattern.

One possible explanation could be linked to melatonin, a powerful hormone that is normally produced at night, but suppressed by ambient light, and which regulates reproductive hormones, particularly oestrogen.

Melatonin also scavenges harmful free radicals and boosts production of other antioxidants in the body.Click here for full OEM study:
Click here for accompanying commentary:

Photo:, by teobee

Poor indoor air quality can impact productivity, job satisfaction and workplace health and absenteeism. To learn more about our solutions for improving workplace air quality contact an Electrocorp Industrial and Commercial Air Quality Expert 1-866-667-0297.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA to Pay $2.25M Civil Penalty for Air, Water, and Hazardous Waste Violations

photo: Danilo Rizzuti
Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. has agreed to pay a $2.25 million civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the State of Missouri’s Air Conservation Law, Clean Water Law, and Hazardous Waste Management Law at the company’s facility in Mexico, Mo., the Justice Department, EPA and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today.

A 2007 inspection of the Missouri facility revealed violations of the CAA. The violations included failure to control emissions of hazardous air pollutants from wastewater and failure to comply with regulations designed to prevent leaks of air pollutants from equipment at the facility.

In 2007, an EPA inspection found the Teva facility was discharging pollutants above permitted levels established by the City of Mexico’s Pretreatment Program, in violation of the CWA. In some cases, these pollutants were causing interference with the city’s ability to treat its domestic sewage, leading to pollutant discharges into the Salt River. A 2008 inspection found that Teva was discharging a green effluent that ultimately discolored a portion of the Salt River in November and December 2008.

In 2009, an inspection by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources uncovered various RCRA violations. These violations included failure to determine if waste was hazardous, illegal storage of hazardous waste, failure to comply with labeling requirements, and offering hazardous waste for transport without a manifest.

“This settlement penalizes Teva for multiple violations of U.S. environmental laws when it allowed excess emissions of hazardous air pollutants from Teva’s wastewater treatment facility and excess discharges of pollutants into the City of Mexico, Missouri’s wastewater treatment facility,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The agreement is protective of human health and the environment because it requires Teva to offset its excess emissions, install modern equipment that will increase the recovery and reuse of hazardous pollutants and reduce air emissions, as well as enhance its leak prevention capability.”

“With numerous violations over a period of years, Teva’s actions resulted in significant environmental damage to the air and water,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks. “The penalty and injunctive relief required by this agreement send a strong message to Teva and others that businesses must comply with environmental laws.”

Teva’s $2.25 million penalty includes a $1.125 million payment to the U.S. Treasury and a $1.125 million payment to the State of Missouri.

In addition to the penalty, Teva will complete other actions at the facility valued at approximately $2.5 million. These include the installation of equipment to recover and reuse approximately 59.5 tons of methylene chloride and reduce other emissions by 19 tons over a five-year period. Teva will also conduct an audit to identify past causes of CWA violations, implement a program to prevent leaks of hazardous air pollutants at the facility, take actions to prevent future violations, and implement an Environmental Management System with third-party monitoring.

As a result of this Consent Decree, Teva has certified that it is in full compliance with CAA, CWA and RCRA regulations.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Job Burnout Can Severely Compromise Heart Health

Top 20% of burnt-out employees have a dramatically increased risk of heart disease

Americans work longer hours, take fewer vacation days, and retire later than employees in other industrialized countries around the globe. With such demanding careers, it's no surprise that many experience job burnout — physical, cognitive, and emotional exhaustion that results from stress at work. Researchers have found that burnout is also associated with obesity, insomnia, and anxiety.

Now Dr. Sharon Toker of Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Management and her fellow researchers — Profs. Samuel Melamed, Shlomo Berliner, David Zeltser and Itzhak Shpira of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine — have found a link between job burnout and coronary heart disease (CHD), the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries that leads to angina or heart attacks.

Those who were identified as being in the top 20 percent of the burnout scale were found to have a 79 percent increased risk of coronary disease, the researchers reported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Calling the results "alarming," Dr. Toker says that these findings were more extreme than the researchers had expected — and make burnout a stronger predictor of CHD than many other classical risk factors, including smoking, blood lipid levels, and physical activity.

 Taking a toll on the heart

Some of the factors that contribute to burnout are common experiences in the workplace, including high stress, heavy workload, a lack of control over job situations, a lack of emotional support, and long work hours. This leads to physical wear and tear, which will eventually weaken the body.

Knowing that burnout has been associated with other cardiovascular risk factors, such as heightened amounts of cholesterol or fat in the bloodstream, the researchers hypothesized that it could also be a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Over the course of the study, a total of 8,838 apparently healthy employed men and women between the ages of 19 and 67 who presented for routine health examinations were followed for an average of 3.4 years. Each participant was measured for burnout levels and examined for signs of CHD. The researchers controlled for typical risk factors for the disease, such as sex, age, family history of heart disease, and smoking.

During the follow-up period, 93 new cases of CHD were identified. Burnout was associated with a 40% increased risk of developing CHD. But the 20% of participants with the highest burnout scores had a 79% increased risk. Dr. Toker predicts that with a more extended follow-up period, the results would be even more dramatic.

Avoiding long-term damage

These results are valuable for preventative medicine, says Dr. Toker. Healthcare providers who know that their patients are experiencing burnout can closely monitor for signs of coronary heart disease as well.

Once burnout begins to develop, it sparks a downwards spiral and ultimately becomes a chronic condition, she warns. Employers need to prioritize prevention by promoting healthy and supportive work environments and keeping watch for early warning signs of the condition. Simple diagnostic questionnaires that identify burnout are already available online. Workers can contribute to prevention by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercising more regularly, getting seven to eight hours sleep per night, and seeking psychological therapy if required.

Poor office air quality can impact productivity, job satisfaction and absenteeism. To learn more about our solutions for improving workplace air quality contact an Electrocorp Industrial and Commercial Air Quality Expert 1-866-667-0297.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

LA tops list of cities with Energy Star certified buildings

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the most Energy Star certified buildings in 2012, highlighting how owners and managers of commercial buildings across the country are taking action on climate change while delivering real financial savings.

“Through their partnership with EPA, the owners and managers of Energy Star certified buildings are helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions while saving on utility bills,” said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “With Energy Star, cities across America are helping achieve President Obama’s goal to cut in half the energy wasted by our businesses over the next 20 years.”

In 2012, more than 20,000 Energy Star certified buildings across America helped save more than $2.7 billion in annual utility bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equal to emissions from the annual electricity use of more than two million homes.

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. EPA continues to see an increase in buildings applying for and earning Energy Star certification each year. The cumulative number of Energy Star certified buildings has increased by more than 24 percent compared to last year, representing more than 3 billion square feet of floorspace nationwide. In 2012 alone, more than 8,200 buildings earned EPA’s Energy Star certification.

For the fifth year in a row, Los Angeles continues to hold on to first place, with 528 buildings. Washington, D.C., with 462 buildings, is a competitive front-runner. In third place, with 353 buildings, Chicago has risen through the rankings each year, starting in sixth place in 2008 and increasing the number of buildings certified by an average of 32 percent each year. New York, which recently required its commercial buildings to publicly disclose their energy use, secured fourth place.

Phoenix broke into the top 10 for the first time, with 202 buildings. Boston, a newcomer to the list last year, held on to 10th place, with 11th place Philadelphia not far behind. Seventh-place Houston, with 241 buildings, is home to one in particular that stands out: Phoenix Tower, a 34-story office building, has earned EPA’s Energy Star 14 times—more than any other building in America.

Commercial buildings that earn EPA’s Energy Star must perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide, as verified by a professional engineer or a registered architect. Energy Star certified buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average buildings. Fifteen types of commercial buildings can earn the Energy Star, including office buildings, K-12 schools, and retail stores.

Launched in 1992 by EPA, Energy Star is a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Over the past 20 years, with help from Energy Star, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 65 different product categories and more than 1.4 million new homes, in addition to the more than 20,000 commercial buildings.

Complete list of Top Cities:

Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces for their employees. To learn more about improving workplace air quality contact an Electrocorp Industrial and Commercial Air Quality Expert 1-866-667-0297.

Monday, March 11, 2013

OSHA fines NJ, surgical center $68,000 for failing to protect workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited CTO Management LLC, doing business as Health East Ambulatory Surgical Center, with 10 serious violations for bloodborne pathogen hazards found at its Englewood facility. OSHA's August 2012 investigation was initiated in response to a complaint and resulted in $68,000 in proposed penalties.

The serious violations include failing to counsel an employee who was stuck with a contaminated needle, test the employee's blood in a timely manner and provide the appropriate medicine to the employee to prevent contracting a potential disease. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer new, or should have known, of the hazard.

"If an employee is stuck with a needle, they must be afforded appropriate follow-up medical care to minimize any potential effect," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's area office in Hasbrouck Heights. "All medical facilities have a duty to provide a safe and healthful workplace for their employees."

Health East Ambulatory Surgical Center provides service for a wide spectrum of specialties, including same-day surgery, home nurse care and laboratory services. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Hasbrouck Heights, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces for their employees. To learn more about improving workplace air quality contact an Electrocorp Industrial and Commercial Air Quality Expert 1-866-667-0297.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Inherited asbestos claims strain Rapid-American Corp.

From Bloomberg News:

Rapid-American Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in New York to deal with debt related to asbestos personal-injury claims.

Rapid-American, based in New York and formerly a holding company for McCrory variety stores, “was never engaged in an asbestos business” and inherited about 275,000 asbestos claims through a series of acquisitions, according to an account in court papers by company Vice President Paul Weiner.

“Recently, Rapid has experienced an increase in the number of mesothelioma claims being filed against it and an increase in the dollar amount sought to settle claims,” Weiner said.

Philip Carey Manufacturing Co., established in 1888, made and sold building products, some of which contained asbestos. Through a series of mergers, Rapid incurred successor liability for claims arising from exposure to asbestos-related products, according to court papers.

“Although total claims filed have declined in recent years, mesothelioma claims, which generally result in higher settlement values, now represent approximately 34 percent of newly filed claims against Rapid,” Weiner said.

A healthy work environment decreases liability and healthcare costs while raising productivity. Consult an Electrocorp air quality expert today to learn more about what an industrial/commercial air cleaner can do for your business.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Montgomery Chemicals to pay a $36,000 penalty for methanol emissions

Montgomery Chemicals LLC will pay a $36,000 penalty as part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Clean Air Act violations at its chemical manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania.

The facility produces a hazardous air pollutant – methanol – during its manufacturing of sodium borohydride, a bleaching agent used by the paper industry. Based on data collected during an EPA inspection, EPA alleges Clean Air Act violations pertaining to methanol emissions, monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting.

In addition to the $36,000 penalty, Montgomery Chemicals has also agreed to correct the cited violations within six months. The company will also be installing a new scrubber to control emissions, as required by a previous consent order with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The Clean Air Act requires industrial facilities to closely monitor and control methanol emissions. Although human health effects associated with breathing or otherwise consuming smaller amounts of methanol over a long period of time are unknown, workers repeatedly exposed to methanol could experience adverse effects including headaches, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems and optic nerve damage.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Asbestos removal worker who lost bout with cancer wins $35 million supreme court suit

The New York Supreme Court has awarded an asbestos-removal worker $35 million dollars. Ivo John Peraica, of Queens, worked for eight years for New York-area contractors removing asbestos insulation from boilers, pumps, and other equipment. He died in December from complications related to mesothelioma, a cancer whose only known cause is exposure to toxic asbestos fibers.

His legal team told the jury that Peraica’s disease was caused by years of inhaling the asbestos dust stirred up each time he stripped asbestos insulation from the equipment at his jobsites – equipment which, according to testimony, was devoid of any warnings about the dangers of asbestos.

The sole defendant at the time of the verdict – industrial products manufacturer Crane Co. – argued that other companies and even Peraica himself were responsible for his exposure to asbestos, but the jury ultimately heaped blame on the Stamford, Conn.-based company, saying it had acted with reckless disregard for consumers’ safety.

Peraica was unable to testify in person, but before he died on December 28, provided four days’ worth of deposition testimony that his lawyers were able to read into evidence.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the sac that lines the lungs and other internal organs. It is incurable.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

High Costs for Workers with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Excess Costs of RA Total Nearly $6 Billion Nationwide, Study Estimates

Workers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) incur increased direct and indirect health-related costs, reports a study in the March Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Using a large insurance claims database, Richard A. Brook, MS, MBA, of The JestaRx Group, Newfoundland, N.J., and colleagues compared costs to employers for 2,705 workers with RA versus more than 338,000 workers without RA. The analysis included direct costs such as health care as well as indirect costs such as missed work days.

Average annual costs were about $5,200 higher for workers with RA: $8,700 versus $3,500 per employee. Ninety percent of the excess costs related to RA were for direct health care costs.

However, workers with RA still averaged about 3.5 additional health-related absence days per year, including more sick days and more short-term disability time.

Extrapolating the results to the U.S. civilian labor force, the resesarchers estimated that workers with RA incurred an additional $5.8 billion in additional costs per year, of which $5.2 billion was for direct costs. Workers with RA also accounted for 4 million additional lost work days.

Rheumatoid arthritis, the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, affects many working-age adults and can have a significant impact on work ability. The new study is the first to present objective data on direct and indirect costs for U.S. workers with RA.

The results show that workers with RA incur "consistently higher" direct costs, indirect costs, and absences compared to workers without RA. The authors believe their study may underestimate the true cost impact of RA for U.S. employers—especially when reduced productivity on the job (presenteeism) is considered. Brook and colleagues conclude, "The data emphasize the need for effective management strategies that can reduce the burden of illness and economic losses incurred."

Monday, March 4, 2013

US Labor Department's OSHA cites two Missouri companies after construction worker dies from chemical exposure

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Coatings Unlimited Inc. in Bridgeton with a total of 14 safety violations from an August 2012 incident in which a worker overcome by exposure to methyl ethyl ketone collapsed and died inside an 18-foot-deep vault manhole during construction of the Boschertown sanitary sewer lift station. St. Louis-based KCI Construction Co. Inc., the project's general contractor, was also cited with one serious violation.

"Employers have a responsibility to take all necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace and to ensure workers are given the proper training to conduct required tasks. Workers should be provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment to limit exposure to hazardous chemicals," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "It is tragic that one employee lost his life during this construction project."

The three willful Coatings Unlimited violations include failing to implement safety precautions prior to assigning an employee work in six separate confined spaces, test the confined space for atmospheric conditions prior to and during entry, and control exposure to methyl ethyl ketone through the use of engineering controls, such as ventilation, to ensure workers did not exceed the permissible exposure limit. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Coatings Unlimited was also cited with 10 serious violations, five for violating OSHA's respiratory protection standards, including failing to provide work site procedures to protect employees when an atmospheric condition existed in a confined space; provide a knowledgeable person as a respirator program administrator manager; provide medical evaluations to all employees using respirators; and provide annual respirator training and maintain respirator fit-test training records. The remaining violations involve failing to provide proper chemical-resistant gloves for methyl ethyl ketone use; provide training on the hazards of chemicals used in the workplace or on confined space hazards; provide fire extinguishers on scene for use when flammable liquids were in use; and provide adequate use of portable extension ladders as a means of egress from a confined space.

Coatings Unlimited was also issued one other-than-serious citation for failing to label storage tanks with signage to identify chemical hazards. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

KCI Construction was cited with one serious violation for failing to conduct frequent and regular inspections of the job site material and equipment by a competent person and train workers to recognize unsafe confined space conditions. 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.

Due to the nature of the hazards and the violations cited, OSHA has placed Coatings Unlimited Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA's SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

The citations for Coatings Unlimited can be viewed at*
Citations for KCI Construction Co. can be viewed at*.

Proposed penalties for Coatings Unlimited total $224,000 and for KCI Construction, $5,600. Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's St. Louis Area Office at 314-425-4261.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Friday, March 1, 2013

Supporters of mandatory asbestos registry launch on-line petition

Health organizations, firefighters and emergency medical workers are asking the public to show their support for a mandatory asbestos registry by signing an on-line petition. Bill 604 or Howard’s Law would make the reporting of asbestos in public buildings mandatory in their Canadian province.

“The public has a right to know if the building they work in, the school or daycare their child attends or the nursing home their parent lives in contains asbestos. We believe the public agrees so we’re providing them with an easy way to show their support,” says Jennifer Miller, Vice-President of Health Promotion with the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.

The petition called refers to Howard Willems who died in November from a lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos on the job. Right up until his death, the 59 year old Saskatoon man advocated for a mandatory public registry of Saskatchewan buildings that contain asbestos.

“We lost our stepdad because he didn’t know there was asbestos in the buildings he inspected. If he had known, he would have taken the necessary steps to protect himself and would still be with us today. He dedicated the last 2 years of his life trying to save others from suffering the same fate as he did and we’re determined to carry on Howard’s fight through SADAO,” says Jesse Todd, spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (SADAO), the group his stepfather founded.

Support for a mandatory asbestos registry has been growing despite the government’s creation of a voluntary registry. First responders concerned about the health of their members are all urging the provincial government to pass Howard’s Law. They include the Saskatchewan Professional Fire Fighters Association (SPFFA), Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs (SAFC), Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police (SACP) and the Saskatchewan Emergency Medical Services Association (SEMSA).

“First responders and EMS personnel need to know quickly whether the building they’re entering contains asbestos and the state of that asbestos. We are pleased that the government has set up a voluntary registry but in order to protect the health and safety of all workers in the province, it should be mandatory,” says Steven Skoworodko, president of SEMSA.

Because of the age of many buildings in this province, there may be cases where asbestos that was originally encapsulated has been disturbed or deteriorated, increasing the risk of exposure to those unaware of it. Howard’s Law would begin the process of drawing upon the registry to further educate the public on how to identify asbestos, handle it and deal with its lethal fibres.

Asbestos is the leading cause of industrial cancers and deaths in Canada. CAREX Canada, a national surveillance project estimates that more than 4,200 Saskatchewan workers have been exposed to asbestos. It often takes decades after exposure for an asbestos-related cancer to develop. The Canadian Cancer Society says a mandatory public registry would reduce exposure, prevent cancer and save lives.