Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Police exposed to fumes from 'drug lab'

Air Cleaners for Law Enforcement and Evidence Protection

Four police officers have been treated for chemical exposure after they raided a suspected drug lab at a house in Sydney's inner west.

Police say they have had the home on Pile Street Dulwich Hill under surveillance for some time, and last night found a large amount of chemicals at the house.

Acting Inspector Alex De Brouwer says four officers complained of feeling ill after entering the scene.
"They showed signs of a chemical reaction, so we thought we'd err on the side of safety and we called in the drug squad chemical operations unit," he said.

"They then attended a short time later, conducted some tests and there was nothing conclusive found."
Paramedics attended to the officers.

The chemicals found in the house are still being tested and police are looking for the occupants.

Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our customized industrial air scrubbers for crime scenes and evidence protection.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Red Light Can Increase Workplace Alertness During "Post-Lunch Dip"

Acute or chronic sleep deprivation resulting in increased feelings of fatigue is one of the leading causes of
workplace incidents and related injuries. More incidents and performance failures, such as automobile accidents, occur in the mid-afternoon hours known as the “post-lunch dip.” The post-lunch dip typically occurs from 2-4 p.m., or about 16-18 hours after an individual's bedtime from the previous night.

A new study from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that exposure to certain wavelengths and levels of light has the potential to increase alertness during the post-lunch dip.

During the study, participants experienced two experimental lighting conditions in addition to darkness; long-wavelength “red” light and short-wavelength “blue” light. Participant alertness was measured by electroencephalogram (EEG) and subjective sleepiness (KSS scale).

The researchers found that, compared to remaining in darkness, exposure to red light in the middle of the afternoon significantly reduces power in the alpha, alpha theta, and theta ranges. Because high power in these frequency ranges has been associated with sleepiness, these results suggest that red light positively affects measures of alertness not only at night, but also during the day.

Red light also seemed to be a more potent stimulus for modulating brain activities associated with daytime alertness than blue light, although they did not find any significant differences in measures of alertness after exposure to red and blue lights. This suggests that blue light, especially higher levels of blue light, could still increase alertness in the afternoon.

Photo: David Castillo Dominici

Cleaner indoor air is associated with an increase in productivity and job satisfaction. Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Workplace stress poses risk to health

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net
Stress leads to an inflammatory response in the body, which can trigger cardiovascular diseases, amongst others. A new study has found that stressful situations at work can have a negative impact on the cardiovascular system and the metabolism.

The study is based on a long-term observation of more than 950 people as part of the population-based cohort study MONICA/KORA.

The work was conducted by Dr. Rebecca Emeny as part of the Mental Health working group headed by Prof. Karl-Heinz Ladwig, Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU).

Data was analyzed from questionnaires on psychological stress at work and concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers in the blood. The results showed that healthy workers who were exposed to stress at work displayed significantly elevated inflammatory parameters and faced twice the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

More than half of the participants in the study stated that they experienced psychological strain and stress at work. Stress is regarded as a cardiovascular risk factor.

In particular, the scientists found a clear association between stress and elevated concentrations of CRP (C-reactive protein), which is an inflammatory marker, and were thus able to demonstrate a stress-related inflammatory reaction in the body. Moreover, job stress led to harmful psychological effects such as depression and sleep disturbances as well as to unhealthy behavior, for example, physical inactivity. Doing sports regularly, for at least one hour per week, significantly reduced inflammatory activity. However, the differences in terms of health risks between people who suffered from work stress and those who did not still remained.

With their analysis, the scientists at HMGU have made a substantial contribution towards a deeper understanding of stress-related responses in the body. “The insights gained from this study form important starting points for finding preventive measures that will protect against stress-related diseases such as coronary heart disease,” says Dr. Emeny, first author of the study. Environmental factors and lifestyle play a major role in the development of common diseases in Germany such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus. The aim of the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to develop new approaches for the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of the most common diseases.

Cleaner indoor air is associated with an increase in productivity and job satisfaction. Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Microscopic dust may pose a danger to underground rail workers

Maggie Smith/freedigitalphotos.net
New research from the University of Southampton has found that working in an underground railway system for a sustained period of time could have health implications.

Matt Loxham, PhD student at the University of Southampton, explains: "We studied the ultrafine dust (or particulate matter) found in an underground station in Europe...It was at least as rich in metals as the larger dust particles...These tiny dust particles have the potential to penetrate the lungs and the body more easily, posing a risk to someone's health."

While coarse dust is generally deposited in the conducting airways of the body, for example nasal passages and bronchi; and the fine dust generally can reach the bronchioles (smaller airways), it is almost exclusively the ultrafine dust which is able to reach the deepest areas of the lungs, into the alveoli, where oxygen enters the blood and waste gases leave, to be exhaled. There is evidence that this ultrafine dust may be able to evade the protective barrier lining the airways (the epithelium), and enter underlying tissue and the circulation, meaning that the toxicity of ultrafine particles may not be limited to the airways but may involve the cardiovascular system, liver, brain, and kidneys.

Mr Loxham adds: "Underground rail travel is used by great numbers of people in large cities all over the world, for example, almost 1.2 billion journeys are made per year on the London Underground. The high level of mechanical activity in underground railways, along with very high temperatures is key in the generation of this metal-rich dust, and the number of people likely to be exposed means that more studies into the effects of particulate matter in the underground railway environment are needed, as well as examining how the levels of dust and duration of exposure might translate to effects on health."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

EPA Takes Action Against New Jersey Importer of Illegal Pesticides

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a legal complaint against the Caribbean Corp. of Little Ferry, New Jersey for violating federal pesticides law. The company faces fines of up to $51,200 for importing pesticides into the United States from Mexico without first properly notifying the EPA, and for importing, selling and distributing unregistered and misbranded pesticides. Under federal law, products used to kill pests, including antibacterial cleaners and disinfectants, must be registered with the EPA and contain labels written in English with instructions on their proper use.

"Pesticides can make people sick, particularly if they are not used according to instructions,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Companies that import pesticides into the United States without making sure these products are properly labeled put people’s health and safety at risk. It is imperative that importers and store owners remove unregistered or mislabeled pesticides from their shelves to help protect the health of their customers.”

EPA inspections of the Caribbean Corp.’s Little Ferry facility in May 2012 revealed the company was selling bottles of “Fabuloso,” a liquid cleaner, and “Clorox,” a liquid bleach, that had not been registered with the EPA. Although many Clorox products are registered with EPA, these particular bottles were not. In addition, the labels on these products were in Spanish, and not in English, as required. The labels on the bottles of Fabuloso stated it was antibacterial and the labels on the Clorox products stated it was a disinfectant, making both products subject to federal pesticide law.

Before a pesticide product is registered, the producer of the product must provide data from tests conducted according to EPA guidelines to ensure that the product will not be harmful to people’s health. The EPA examines the ingredients and the way in which the product will be used, and assesses a wide variety of potential human health and environmental effects associated with its use. Distributors and retailers are responsible for ensuring that all pesticides distributed and sold fully comply with the law.

The federal pesticides law additionally requires the filing of a "Notice of Arrival" prior to the arrival of all imported pesticides into the United States. Companies must submit detailed information on the Notice of Arrival form to allow the EPA to determine if the pesticide is approved for use in the United States or meets one of the few allowable exemptions. Products not registered with the EPA for use in the United States are denied entry and destroyed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or sent back to their country of origin under Customs supervision.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cement Manufacturer Agrees to Reduce Harmful Air Emissions at Colorado Plant

Photo: adamf/freedigitalphotos.net
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that CEMEX, Inc., the owner and operator of a Portland cement manufacturing facility in Lyons, Colo., has agreed to operate advanced pollution controls on its kiln and pay a $1 million civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

“Today’s settlement will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, which can have serious impacts on respiratory health for communities along Colorado’s Front Range,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Cutting these emissions will also help improve environmental quality and visibility in places like Rocky Mountain National Park.”

“This agreement will mean cleaner air for Colorado residents downwind of the CEMEX facility and will contribute to improved air quality in the Rocky Mountain National Park, which is one of our nation’s most cherished public spaces,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement is part of the Justice Department’s continuing efforts, along with the EPA, to bring significant sources of air pollution within the cement manufacturing sector into compliance with the Clean Air Act.”

The Department of Justice , on behalf of EPA, filed a complaint against CEMEX alleging that between 1997—2000, the company unlawfully made modifications at its Lyons plant that resulted in significant net increases of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions. The complaint further alleges that these increased emissions violated the CAA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Non-Attainment New Source Review requirements, which state that companies must obtain the necessary permits prior to making modifications at a facility and install and operate required pollution control equipment if modifications will result in increases of certain pollutants.

As part of the settlement, CEMEX will install “Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction” (SNCR) technology at their Lyons facility, which is an advanced pollution control technology designed to reduce NOx emissions. This will reduce their NOx emissions by approximately 870 to 1,200 tons of NOx per year. The initial capital cost for installing SNCR is approximately $600,000 and the cost of injecting ammonia into the stack emissions stream, a necessary part of the process, is anticipated to be about $1.5 million per year.

The settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including Portland cement manufacturing facilities.

NOx emissions may cause severe respiratory problems and contribute to childhood asthma. These emissions also contribute to acid rain, smog, and haze which impair visibility in national parks. CEMEX’s facility is located within 20 miles of Rocky Mountain National Park, and its emissions may contribute to visibility impairment and to the nitrogen pollution problem that is affecting the park’s vegetation, water quality, and trout populations. Air pollution from Portland cement manufacturing facilities can also travel significant distances downwind, crossing state lines and creating region-wide health problems.

The proposed consent decree will be lodged with the Federal District Court for the District of Colorado, and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.

Friday, April 19, 2013

EPA Proposes Options to Reduce Toxic Pollutants Discharged into Waterways by Power Plants

Photo: John Kasawa/freedigitalphotos.net
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a range of options to help reduce dangerous pollutants, including mercury, arsenic, lead, and selenium that are released into America’s waterways by coal ash, air pollution control waste and other waste from steam electric power plants. Today’s proposal includes a variety of options for whether and how these different waste streams should be treated. EPA will take comment on all of these options, which it will use to help inform the most appropriate final standard.

Steam electric power plants currently account for more than half of all toxic pollutants discharged into streams, rivers and lakes from permitted industrial facilities in the United States. High exposure to these types of pollutants has been linked to neurological damage and cancer as well as damage to the circulatory system, kidneys and liver.Toxic heavy metals do not break down in the environment and can also contaminate sediment in waterways and impact aquatic life and wildlife, including large-scale die-offs of fish.

“America’s waterways are vital to the health and well-being of our communities,” said Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Reducing the pollution of our waters through effective but flexible controls such as we are proposing today is a win-win for our public health and our economic vitality. We look forward to hearing from all stakeholders on the best way forward.”

EPA has put a focus on ensuring any final rule would protect public health while being sensible and achievable, and in line with that goal, under every preferred option proposed by EPA today, more than half of America’s coal fired power plants would be in compliance without incurring any additional cost.

The proposal updates standards that have been in place since 1982, incorporating technology improvements in the steam electric power industry over the last three decades as required by the Clean Water Act. The proposed national standards are based on data collected from industry and provide flexibility in implementation through a phased-in approach and use of technologies already installed at a number of plants. Under the proposed approach, new requirements for existing power plants would be phased in between 2017 and 2022, and would leverage flexibilities as necessary.

Fewer than half of coal-fired power plants are estimated to incur costs under any of the proposed preferred options, because many power plants already have the technology and procedures in place to meet the proposed pollution control standards.

The four preferred options differ in the number of waste streams covered (such as fly ash handling systems, treatment of air pollution control waste and bottom ash), the size of the units controlled and the stringency of the treatment controls to be imposed. EPA estimates that the regulations would reduce pollutant discharges by 470 million to 2.62 billion pounds annually and reduce water use by 50 billion to 103 billion gallons per year.

EPA also announced its intention to align this Clean Water Act rule with a related rule for coal combustion residuals (CCRs, also known as “coal ash”) proposed in 2010 under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The two rules would apply to many of the same facilities and would work together to reduce pollution associated with coal ash and related wastes. EPA is seeking comment from industry and other stakeholders to ensure that both final rules are aligned to reduce pollution efficiently and minimize regulatory burdens.

There are approximately 1,200 steam electric power plants that generate electricity using nuclear fuel or fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas in the U.S. Approximately 500 of these power plants are coal fired units which are the primary source of the pollutants being addressed by the proposed regulation. Power plants that are smaller than 50 megawatts would not be impacted by these new standards, and the majority of coal-fired power plants would incur no costs under the proposed standards.

The public comment period on the proposed rule will be open for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The agency is under a consent decree to take final action by May 22, 2014.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Demanding physical work associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Two studies presented at this year's EuroPRevent 2013 congress suggest that demanding physical work has a detrimental effect on an individual's risk of coronary heart disease.

The first was a case-control study described by Dr Demosthenes Panagiotakos, Associate Professor of Biostatistics-Epidemiology at Harokopio University, Athens, which evaluated occupation in 250 consecutive patients with a first stroke, 250 with a first acute coronary event and 500 equally matched controls.(1) Overall, when assessed on a 9-unit scale (1 = physically demanding work and 9 = sedentary/mental work) the analysis showed that those suffering the stroke and coronary events were more commonly engaged in physically demanding occupation than the controls.

After adjusting for various potential confounding factors such as age, sex, body mass index, smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, family history of cardiovascular disease and adherence to the Mediterranean diet, results confirmed that those occupied in progressively less physically demanding jobs (that is, for each unit increase of the scale) were associated with a 20% lower likelihood of acute coronary events (a statistically significant odds ratio of 0.81%) or of ischaemic stroke (odds ratio 0.83%).

Commenting on the results, Dr Panagiotakos said that subjects with physically demanding manual jobs should be considered a primary target group for prevention of cardiovascular disease because of their higher risk.

Within the context of exercise recommendations, he noted that the somewhat paradoxical results could possibly be attributed to the stress experienced by people with physically demanding jobs. Stress, he added, may be one reason why hard physical work may not be comparable to the physical exercise recommended for health and well-being, which tend to be non-stressful behaviours. In addition, he explained, such work is often not well paid, which may restrict access to the healthcare system.

A second study reported here from investigators in Belgium and Denmark also supports the view that physically demanding work is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, even when leisure-time activity is taken into account.(2)

This was a cohort study of more than 14,000 middle-aged men who were free of coronary disease at the outset of the study in 1994-1998. Standardised questionnaires were used to assess socio-demographic factors, job strain and the level of physical activity at work and during leisure time. Classical coronary risk factors were also measured through clinical examinations and questionnaires.

The incidence of coronary events was monitored during a mean follow-up time of 3.15 years, with statistical modelling applied to assess the association between physical activity and coronary disease. Again, adjustments were made for age, education, occupational class, job strain, body mass index, smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Results during follow-up showed an overall beneficial effect of leisure time physical activity, but an adverse effect of demanding physical work. However, Dr Els Clays, from the Department of Public Health at the University of Ghent, Belgium, added that an "interaction effect" was also evident in the results: while moderate-to-high physical activity during leisure time was associated with a 60% reduced risk of coronary events in men with low occupational physical activity (a statistically significant hazard rate of 0.40), this protective effect was not observed in those workers who were also exposed to high physical work demands (HR 1.67).

Dr Clays added that, after adjusting for socio-demographic and well established coronary risk factors, men with high physical job demands were more than four times likely to have coronary heart disease when they also engaged in physical activity during leisure time (HR 4.77).

Commenting on the results Dr Clays said: "From a public health perspective it is very important to know whether people with physically demanding jobs should be advised to engage in leisure time activity. The results of this study suggest that additional physical activity during leisure time in those who are already physically exhausted from their daily occupation does not induce a 'training' effect but rather an overloading effect on the cardiovascular system. However, only few studies until now have specifically addressed this interaction among both types of physical activity, and conflicting findings have been reported. More research using detailed and objective measures of activity is needed."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

OSHA cites Joy-Mark Inc. for repeatedly exposing workers to respiratory hazards at ceramics mold plant

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Joy-Mark Inc. for six health violations, including two repeat, for exposing workers to airborne refractory ceramic fiber at the mold manufacturing facility in Cudahy. OSHA has proposed penalties of $50,050, as a result of the October 2012 follow-up inspection.

"Joy-Mark has a responsibility to monitor worker exposure to respiratory hazards and to provide and train workers on the proper use of appropriate respirators," said Christine Zortman, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee. "Employers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of knowledge and commitment to protecting worker safety and health."

The first repeat violation involves allowing workers to use non-HEPA respirators, which are ineffective in filtering exposure to known respiratory hazards. The second violation involves exposure to airborne refractory ceramic fiber above the recommended exposure limits set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Exposure to refractory ceramic fibers can result in adverse respiratory health effects, such as irritation and compromised pulmonary function, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. These violations were previously cited at the Cudahy facility in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Also cited were four serious violations of OSHA's respiratory protection standards, including a lack of medical evaluation for a worker required to wear a respirator, not conducting initial or annual respirator fit testing and allowing a respirator to be worn with a beard. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knows or should know exists.

Joy-Mark employs 65 people at the Cudahy facility, which manufactures ceramic molds to be used as pouring aids in the foundry industry. The company has 15 days from receipt of the citations and proposed 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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

USW Study Warns Public about Dangers of Hydrofluoric Acid Use in Refineries: More than 26 million at risk

A United Steelworkers (USW) study warns that refiners that use hydrofluoric acid (HF) in their alkylation process to make clean-burning gasoline do not have adequate safety systems in place and are not prepared to handle a release.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulate HF as a highly toxic chemical. Exposure to HF can cause deep severe burns and damage the eyes, skin, nose, throat and respiratory system. The fluoride ion enters the body through a burn or by the lungs and can cause internal damage throughout the body. At high enough exposures, HF can kill.
If released into the atmosphere, HF rapidly forms a dense vapor cloud that hovers near land and can travel long distances. HF releases from U.S. refineries range from three to 25 miles, depending on the amount stored. More than 26 million people live within this range, many in urban areas such as Philadelphia, Memphis, Salt Lake City and Houston that are impossible to evacuate quickly should there be a major HF release. No other chemical process puts as many people at risk.

Fifty U.S. oil refineries use HF alkylation and on average each stores 212,000 pounds of highly concentrated HF. The USW represents workers in 28 of these refineries, and local unions in 23 of them formed site survey teams and completed the USW's standardized questionnaire on HF. These 23 refineries put about 12,000 workers and 13 million community members at risk of exposure from an HF release.

Safety experts from inside and outside the USW examined the safety of USW-represented refineries using HF alkylation by reviewing the survey results and data from OSHA, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and the industry. Their aim was to see how well these refineries were managing the risk of an HF release.

At three-quarters of the refineries surveyed, a total of 131 HF-related incidents or near misses had occurred the previous three years. Sixteen sites that reported their most serious or potentially serious HF-related events said workers either were or could have been injured, and half said these events could have caused injuries to people in the community.

More than half of the site survey teams reported that 26 out of 32 safety systems were less than very effective in maintaining the integrity of HF alkylation processes and related processes such as storage and transfer, and in handling an HF emergency. A majority of the survey teams rated the six remaining safety systems as being very effective.

Almost two-thirds of the survey teams said their site was less than very prepared in providing emergency personal protective equipment for on-site workers who might need it during a release.

More than half of the survey teams rated on-site and off-site emergency responders and medical personnel as being less than very prepared for an on-site emergency. Sites were assessed to be even less prepared for a release spreading into the local community.

A number of site survey teams commented that staffing levels were too low to ensure the safe operation of alkylation units.

The USW study cites alternatives to using HF and suggests ways existing alkylation units can be made safer. It also says the government could help the process by doing intensive inspections of HF alkylation units.
"The industry has the technology and expertise and money to eliminate HF alkylation entirely," said USW International Vice President Gary Beevers , who heads the union's oil sector. "It lacks only the will, and if it cannot find the will voluntarily, it must be forced by government action."

The following locations are at risk of an HF release:
California— Wilmington, Torrance
Illinois— Robinson, Lemont, Channahon
Indiana— Mt. Vernon
Kansas— El Dorado, Coffeyville, McPherson
Kentucky— Catlettsburg
Minnesota— St. Paul Park
Montana— Billings, Laurel, Great Falls
New Jersey— Paulsboro
New Mexico— Artesia, Jamestown
North Dakota— Mandan
Ohio— Canton
Oklahoma— Ardmore, Ponca City, Wynnewood
Pennsylvania— Trainer, Philadelphia
Tennessee— Memphis
Texas— Port Arthur, Texas City, Corpus Christi, Three Rivers, Borger, Sweeny, Pasadena, Big Spring
Utah— Salt Lake City, North Salt Lake, Woods Cross
Washington— Ferndale
Wisconsin— Superior
Wyoming— Cheyenne, Newcastle

Monday, April 15, 2013

Productivity Pains: New Survey Finds Majority of American Office Workers Experience Physical Pain at Work

Photo: David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

New research released today by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reveals that the majority of Americans who work in an office are experiencing physical pain with some frequency. In fact, the new survey indicates 2 in 3 office workers have experienced physical pain in the last six months, and nearly 1 in 4 believe it’s just a standard part of having an office job. This misconception can lead office workers to ignore or under-treat their pain, creating a debilitating cycle that results in chronic, or reoccurring pain. Chronic pain is a serious public health issue affecting 100 million Americans today – impacting more people than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined.

To address the issue, the AOA launches a new phase of the “Break Through Your Pain” public education campaign to help office workers be productive and pain-free with the tips, tools and advice they need to prevent and relieve pain.

“Sitting at a desk all day can take a serious toll on your body, and with busy work schedules and full family lives many office workers don’t seek help to prevent or treat their pain until it reaches the point where it interferes with their ability to do their job without the added distraction of constant pain,” said Rob Danoff, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician with Aria Health System in Philadelphia and co-spokesperson for the “Break Through Your Pain” campaign. “I want to encourage everyone to get up and move! Take the long route to the printer or walk up the stairs instead of using the elevator. Making these small changes now will have a great impact on your overall health.”

Workplace Pain Triggers

The office environment offers numerous opportunities to trigger physical pain, including the five-plus hours that 70% of office workers spend sitting at their desks each day.  Nearly all (94%) office workers can name work habits that boost their chances of pain. Topping the list are:
  • Hunching over a desk (61%)
  • Sitting in an uncomfortable chair (58%)
  • Staring at a computer monitor (46%)
  • Using a computer mouse (38%)
Technological advances have made us less mobile, as people work more hours than ever before behind desks and on smart phones. Remaining sedentary throughout the day is the most common habit among office workers, with 2 in 5 admitting they wouldn’t get up from their desks if they needed to talk to a colleague. Even when they arrive home, staying active isn’t a priority. Half of all office workers work out fewer than 30 minutes each day, if at all. 

Consider the following tips when sitting at your desk to prevent pain and become more active throughout the workday:

Get Up and Get Moving

1. Listen to Mom, Don’t Slouch: Sit up straight and don’t hunch over your computer to engage your abdominal muscles and reduce strain on your back.
2. Keep Feet Flat on the Floor: Put both feet flat on the floor and the rest of your body will respond and improve your posture.
3. Keep Those Eyes Straight Ahead: Place your computer monitor to where the top of the screen is at eye level to reduce strain on your neck muscles.
4. Avoid The Mouse Trap: As you type and move your mouse, make sure your elbows stay close to your body and your wrists are not bending too far forwards or backwards. 
5. Get Up, Stand Up: Set an alert on your calendar or phone for every 30 minutes to remind yourself to take a stretch break.
6. Visit a Neighbor: Walk to a colleague’s desk to speak with him or her in-person, instead of emailing or calling. For longer conversations, hold a walking meeting.
7. Take the Road Less Traveled: If possible, don’t take the elevator when you arrive at the office, take a few extra minutes to climb the stairs to get your blood flowing. 

“Whether pain is caused by habits at work or at home, it can have a significant physical and psychological impact. That’s why it’s so important to find a physician you feel comfortable speaking with who can effectively treat your pain,” said Lisa A. DeStefano, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician in East Lansing, Mich. and co-spokesperson for the “Break Through Your Pain” campaign. “Since every individual is different, a physician can help develop a personalized pain management plan that best fits your life in and outside the office.” 

Cleaner indoor air is associated with an increase in productivity and job satisfaction. Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Asbestos exposure, asbestosis, and smoking combined greatly increase lung cancer risk

Image: DreamDesigns/freedigitalphotos.net
The chances of developing lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure, asbestosis and smoking are dramatically increased when these three risk factors are combined, and quitting smoking significantly reduces the risk of developing lung cancer after long-term asbestos exposure, according to a new study.

"The interactions between asbestos exposure, asbestosis and smoking, and their influence on lung cancer risk are incompletely understood," said lead author Steven B. Markowitz, MD DrPH, professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Queens College in New York. "In our study of a large cohort of asbestos-exposed insulators and more than 50,000 non-exposed controls, we found that each individual risk factor was associated with increased risk of developing lung cancer, while the combination of two risk factors further increased the risk and the combination of all three risk factors increased the risk of developing lung cancer almost 37-fold."

The findings were published online ahead of print publication in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study included 2,377 long-term North American insulators and 54,243 male blue collar workers with no history of exposure to asbestos from the Cancer Prevention Study II. Causes of death were determined from the National Death Index.

Among non-smokers, asbestos exposure increased the rate of dying from lung cancer 5.2-fold, while the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure increased the death rate more than 28-fold. Asbestosis increased the risk of developing lung cancer among asbestos-exposed subjects in both smokers and non-smokers, with the death rate from lung cancer increasing 36.8-fold among asbestos-exposed smokers with asbestosis.

Among insulators who quit smoking, lung cancer morality dropped in the 10 years following smoking cessation from 177 deaths per 10,000 among current smokers to 90 per 10,000 among those who quit. Lung cancer rates among insulators who had stopped smoking more than 30 years earlier were similar to those among insulators who had never smoked.

There were a few limitations to the study, including the fact that smoking status and asbestosis were evaluated only once and that some members of the control group could have been exposed to relatively brief periods of asbestos.

"Our study provides strong evidence that asbestos exposure causes lung cancer through multiple mechanisms," said Dr. Markowitz. "Importantly, we also show that quitting smoking greatly reduces the increased lung cancer risk seen in this population."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Workers struggling with work-life balance reported less satisfaction with their lives and jobs

Research at Michigan State University suggests the growing number of workers who are single and without children have trouble finding the time or energy to participate in non-work interests, just like those with spouses and kids.

Workers struggling with work-life balance reported less satisfaction with their lives and jobs and more signs of anxiety and depression.

"People in the study repeatedly said I can take care of my job demands, but then I have no time for working out, volunteering in my community, pursuing friendships or anything else," said Ann Marie Ryan, MSU professor of psychology and study co-author.

Traditionally, companies have focused on helping workers find "work-family" balance. The broader new concept is called "work-life," though for many employers it remains just that -- a concept, said Jessica Keeney, study co-author and recent doctoral graduate in psychology at MSU.

"As organizations strive to implement more inclusive HR policies, they might consider offering benefits such as flexible work arrangements to a wider audience than just parents," said Keeney, who works for APTMetrics, a human resources consulting firm. "Simply relabeling programs from 'work-family' to 'work-life' is not enough; it may also require a shift in organizational culture."

Take, for example, an employee who is single and without children and wants to leave work early to train for a triathlon, Ryan said. Should that employee have any less right to leave early than the one who wants to catch her child's soccer game at 4 p.m.?

"Why is one more valued than the other?" Ryan said. "We have to recognize that non-work roles beyond family also have value."

Childlessness among employees has been increasing in the United States, particularly among female managers, the study notes. Further, a large portion of employees today are single and live alone.

The research encompassed two studies of nearly 5,000 university alumni. Roughly 70 percent of the participants were married or in a domestic partnership and about 44 percent had one or more children living at home. The participants worked in a wide range of industries including health care, business, education and engineering.

The three areas in which work interfered the most for all participants were health (which includes exercising and doctor's appointments); family; and leisure (which includes hobbies, playing sports and reading and watching TV).

Ryan said the findings were similar for both workers with families and those without. Each group reported challenges with maintaining friendships, taking care of their health and finding leisure time -- and this had negative effects above and beyond the challenges of balancing work and family.

The findings were published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior. The other co-authors were MSU doctoral graduates Elizabeth Boyd, Ruchi Sinha and Alyssa Westring.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Retired UK postal worker died from job-related asbestos exposure

A UK coroner has confirmed that a former postal worker died as a result of contaminants he encountered while on the job. Malcolm Roshier breathed in deadly asbestos spores during mail collections at Southampton Docks, an inquest heard.

Roshier, a delivery driver would collect mailbags contaminated with fibres from ships carrying asbestos. He worked until 1972 and like many asbestos-related cases, his health began to deteriorate years later in 2006. In died in October from malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer linked to the inhalation of asbestos. He was 77.
Source: Daily Echo

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Polluting Plastic Particles Invade the Great Lakes

Floating plastic debris — which helps populate the infamous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in the Pacific Ocean — has become a problem in the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world. Scientists reported on the latest findings from the Great Lakes here today at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

“The massive production of plastic and inadequate disposal has made plastic debris an important and constant pollutant on beaches and in oceans around the world, and the Great Lakes are not an exception,” said Lorena M. Rios Mendoza, Ph.D., who spoke on the topic at the meeting. It continues here through Thursday, with 12,000 presentations on new advances in science and other topics.

Fish and birds could be harmed from accidentally eating the plastic particles, or absorbing substances that leach out into the water, Rios said. Her team knows from analyses of fish stomachs that fish are consuming the plastic particles. Fish also could pass such substances to consumers, but Rios said research on that topic is just beginning.

Much of the plastic pollution in the oceans and Great Lakes goes unnoticed by the casual observer because it is so small. In the samples Rios’ team collected in Lake Erie, 85 percent of the particles were smaller than two-tenths of an inch, and much of that was microscopic. Her group found between 1,500 and 1.7 million of these particles per square mile.

Fish, however, often mistake these bits of plastic for food. “The main problem with these plastic sizes is its accessibility to freshwater organisms that can be easily confused as natural food and the total surface area for adsorption of toxins and pseudo-estrogens increases significantly,” Rios said. It is not yet understood whether these toxins enter the food chain in harmful amounts.

Rios also pointed out that the problem of ocean plastics is quickly growing. Plastic production has increased 500 percent since 1980, and plastics now account for 80 to 90 percent of ocean pollution, according to Rios. Some of this comes from plastic bags, bottles and other trash, or from fishing lines. Another source is household products like abrasive facial cleaners or synthetic fibers shed by clothes in the washing machine. The researchers also found large numbers of plastic pellets, which are shipped around the world to be melted down and molded into everything from plastic milk jugs to parts for cars.

The plastic pollution problem may be even worse in the Great Lakes than in the oceans, Rios said. Her team found that the number of microparticles — which are more harmful to marine life because of their small size — was 24 percent higher in the Great Lakes than in samples they collected in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. With a volume equal to 1.65 million Olympic swimming pools, the Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, and this is the first time that scientists have looked there for plastics.

The problem of plastic pollution in the oceans, however, has been widely known since at least 1988, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first described the so-called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” an area in the North Pacific Ocean where currents have concentrated plastics and other pollution. The patch varies in dimensions, but estimates indicate that at times it has been twice the size of the state of Texas.

Monday, April 8, 2013

OSHA fines Newark food-flavoring company over workplace chemical exposure

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Natural Flavors Inc. for 12 workplace safety and health violations at its Newark facility. OSHA began its inspection after receiving information that workers were potentially exposed to diacetyl, a chemical used in flavorings. Proposed penalties total $60,400.

The inspection confirmed that workers were overexposed to diacetyl, a serious violation that was cited with a $2,800 penalty. Studies have linked exposure to diacetyl to the development of permanent lung damage, including the rare lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans.

"As early as 2004, the flavoring manufacturing industry has been aware that its workers who are overexposed to diacetyl on the job have developed severe, life-threatening lung disease. It is outrageous that Natural Flavors would expose workers to this debilitating chemical without taking the necessary steps to properly assess exposure and protect its employees," said Robert D. Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

One willful violation, with a penalty of $28,000, was cited for the company's failure to adequately identify and evaluate respiratory hazards. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Two repeat violations, with a penalty of $9,600, reflect the company's failure to implement a site-specific respiratory protection program and update material safety data sheets within three months of receiving significant new information regarding chemical hazards or ways to protect against the hazards. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcements states within the last five years. The same violations were cited in 2008.

Eight additional serious violations, with $20,000 in penalties, were cited for failing to properly mark a doorway which could have been mistaken for an exit; improperly store and transfer flammable liquids; improper use of a respirator; and for use of excessive compressed air pressure, above OSHA's limit of 30 pounds per square inch, for cleansing purposes.

"The conditions OSHA cited jeopardize the safety and health of workers at this facility," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. "It is critical that the company take immediate steps to abate these hazards."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Parsippany, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Concerned about workplace chemical exposure? Contact an industrial air cleaning expert at 1-866-667-0297.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tyson Foods to Pay $3.95M Penalty for Clean Air Act Violations at Facilities in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska

Tyson Foods, Inc., has agreed to pay a $3,950,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of Clean Air Act regulations covering the prevention of chemical accidents at its facilities in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

As part of a consent decree lodged today in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Mo., Tyson has agreed to conduct pipe-testing and third-party audits of its ammonia refrigeration systems to improve compliance with the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requirements at all 23 of the company’s facilities in the four Midwestern states.

Those facilities include Tyson operations in Cherokee, Columbus Junction, Council Bluffs, Denison, Perry, Sioux City, Storm Lake and Waterloo in Iowa; Emporia, Finney County, Olathe, South Hutchinson and Hutchinson in Kansas; Concordia, Dexter, Monett, Montgomery City, Noel and Sedalia in Missouri; and Dakota City, Lexington, Madison and Omaha in Nebraska.

Today’s settlement stems from a series of eight separate incidents between 2006 and 2010 in which accidental releases of anhydrous ammonia at Tyson facilities resulted in property damage, multiple injuries, and one fatality.

Through a series of inspections and information requests, EPA found multiple occasions of noncompliance with the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention provisions at Tyson’s facilities. Dating back to October 2006, those violations included failures to follow the general industry standards to test or replace safety relief valves, improperly co-located gas-fired boilers and ammonia machinery, as well as failures to abide by the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program prevention and reporting requirements.

Tyson, headquartered in Springdale, Ark., is the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork.

Tyson’s 23 facilities listed in the consent decree are subject to the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requirements because their refrigeration systems each contain more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. The facilities have a combined inventory of more than 1.7 million pounds of the chemical.

“EPA Region 7 regularly analyzes the accident history of industrial facilities in our four states that are covered by the Risk Management Program regulations,” Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “These studies have shown that ammonia refrigeration facilities have a higher accident rate than other processes. As a result, we focus a significant portion of our inspection resources on these high risk facilities. The vast majority of these accidents are preventable.”

“Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can cause serious health issues, and in extreme cases, even death,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement with Tyson Foods will ensure the proper safety practices are in place in the future to protect employees, first responders and communities located near processing facilities from the threat of dangerous chemical releases.”

“This settlement will protect workers at Tyson facilities throughout Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska that use anhydrous ammonia, and make the communities surrounding these 23 facilities safer,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It will also provide emergency response equipment for first responders to chemical releases. The requirements of this agreement, which include comprehensive third-party audits, will help mitigate the impact of releases of anhydrous ammonia by ensuring compliance with the Risk Management Program under the Clean Air Act.”

In 2005, with a goal of preventing accidents and helping regulated entities understand their obligations in accordance with environmental laws, EPA Region 7 published an Accident Prevention and Response Manual for Anhydrous Ammonia Refrigeration System Operators. That guide, now in its third edition, is available online at www.epa.gov/region7/toxics/pdf/accident_prevention_ammonia_refrigeration.pdf.

Anhydrous ammonia is considered a poisonous gas but is commonly used in industrial refrigeration systems. Exposure to its vapors can cause temporary blindness and eye damage and irritation of the skin, mouth, throat, respiratory tract and mucous membranes. Prolonged exposure to anhydrous ammonia vapor at high concentrations can lead to serious lung damage and death.

In addition to the $3.95 million penalty, pipe-testing and third-party audits, Tyson will also spend at least $300,000 as part of a Supplemental Environmental Project that will purchase anhydrous ammonia related emergency response equipment for fire departments in eight environmental justice communities where the company’s operations are located: Council Bluffs, Iowa, $78,990; Perry, Iowa, $72,156; Dexter, Mo., $25,795; Monett, Mo., $26,855; Noel, Mo., $35,829; Dakota City, Neb., $16,630; Lexington, Neb., $25,858; and Omaha, Neb., $17,934.

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Once it is published in the Federal Register, a copy of the consent decree will be available on the Justice Department web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia cited by OSHA for exposing workers to hexavalent chromium

Photo: Pakorn
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia with one willful and two repeat health violations after a follow-up inspection of the Macon facility found several of the same violations identified in 2010. Proposed penalties total $83,160.

One willful violation, with $61,600 in penalties, involves failing to provide change rooms where workers operate with hexavalent chromium. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Two repeat violations, with $21,560 in proposed penalties, involve exposure to airborne concentrations of hexavalent chromium and allowing workers to consume food where hexavalent chromium was present. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

"Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia was previously cited for the same violations and has failed to take action to protect workers from the hazards associated with hexavalent chromium exposure," said Nadira Janack, assistant area director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Management needs to take immediate action to eliminate these hazards from the workplace."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

EPA Settles with Hydrofarm, Inc. for Selling Unregistered Pesticides

Company to Pay $316,000 in Fines
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Hydrofarm, Inc. for selling two unregistered pesticides in violation of federal pesticide law. As part of the settlement, the Petaluma, Calif.-based Hydrofarm, Inc., one of the nation’s largest distributors of agricultural and hydroponic supplies, has agreed to pay $316,000 in fines and has stopped selling both products.

“This action is part of EPA’s effort to protect agricultural employees and consumers from pesticide products that are not approved by the federal government,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “It is critical that companies selling pesticides provide users with the information they need to safeguard their health and the environment.”

Hydrofarm sold sulfur to control mildew through vaporization in greenhouses without any instructions or precautionary language to minimize risks to individuals from exposure to the product. EPA has not yet evaluated the human health risks associated with the use of vaporized sulfur in greenhouses.

The company also sold “Nutralife Plant Products H2O2”— a 29 percent hydrogen peroxide product used to sanitize and disinfect hydroponic equipment and growing areas—without adequate directions for use and safety precautions. Registered products with similar hydrogen peroxide concentrations require users to wear protective clothing. Hydrogen peroxide at this concentration can cause irreversible eye damage and skin burns, and may be fatal if inhaled and harmful if swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

The inspection at Hydrofarm was conducted by EPA staff. Hydrofarm was targeted based on a tip resulting from a California Department of Pesticide Regulation inspection at a separate hydroponic store.

Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, companies must register the pesticide with the EPA. The domestic sale or distribution of pesticides that have not been registered with the EPA, such as the two unregistered pesticides sold by Hydrofarm, is a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which ensures the safe and appropriate distribution, handling, and application of pesticides.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monkey study reveals why middle managers suffer the most stress

Photo: Trentham Monkey Reserve
A study by the universities of Manchester and Liverpool observing monkeys has found that those in the middle hierarchy suffer the most social stress. Their work suggests that the source of this stress is social conflict and may help explain studies in humans that have found that middle managers suffer the most stress at work.

Katie Edwards from Liverpool's Institute of Integrative Biology spent nearly 600 hours watching female Barbary macaques at Trentham Monkey Forest in Staffordshire. Her research involved monitoring a single female over one day, recording all incidences of social behaviour. These included agonistic behaviour like threats, chases and slaps, submissive behaviour like displacing, screaming, grimacing and hind-quarter presentation and affiliative behaviour such as teeth chatter, embracing and grooming.

The following day faecal samples from the same female were collected and analysed for levels of stress hormones at Chester Zoo's wildlife endocrinology laboratory.

Katie explains what she found: "Not unsurprisingly we recorded the highest level of stress hormones on the days following agonistic behaviour. However, we didn't find a link between lower stress hormone levels and affiliative behaviour such as grooming."

She continues: "Unlike previous studies that follow a group over a period of time and look at average behaviours and hormone levels, this study allowed us to link the observed behaviour of specific monkeys with their individual hormone samples from the period when they were displaying that behaviour."

Another key aspect of the research was noting where the observed monkey ranked in the social hierarchy of the group. The researchers found that monkeys from the middle order had the highest recorded levels of stress hormones.

Dr Susanne Shultz, a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester oversaw the study: "What we found was that monkeys in the middle of the hierarchy are involved with conflict from those below them as well as from above, whereas those in the bottom of the hierarchy distance themselves from conflict. The middle ranking macaques are more likely to challenge, and be challenged by, those higher on the social ladder."

Katie says the results could also be applied to human behaviour: "It's possible to apply these findings to other social species too, including human hierarchies. People working in middle management might have higher levels of stress hormones compared to their boss at the top or the workers they manage. These ambitious mid-ranking people may want to access the higher-ranking lifestyle which could mean facing more challenges, whilst also having to maintain their authority over lower-ranking workers."

The research findings have been published in the journal General and Comparative Endocrinology.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Registry to help U.S. veterans who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals at Canadian base

Photo: Bill Longshaw

Source: BDNMaine

For decades members of the Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island National Guard and reserves trained at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, about 100 miles east of the Maine border.

In 2007 the Canadian government admitted to working with the United States military in testing the herbicides Agent Orange, Agent Purple, Agent White and other unregistered pesticides at locations around the base in the late 1960s and began paying one-time settlements to its own veterans who served on the base.

Last week Rep. Mike Michaud, ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, reintroduced a bill to help Maine veterans who trained at Gagetown after the testing period and may be concerned they were exposed to toxic levels of the herbicides.

To date, according to Michaud’s office, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not have comprehensive data on veterans looking for compensation based on chemical exposure at Gagetown.

Michaud’s bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree, would “establish a voluntary CFB Gagetown registry containing the names of veterans who apply for care or services from the VA based on a condition linked to their time at CFB Gagetown. The legislation would also provide a health exam to these veterans at their request. A registry would allow these veterans to officially list their possibly service-connected illnesses and increase opportunities for outreach and research,” according to a release from his office.

“No veteran should be denied the care they have earned. It’s extremely frustrating that the VA doesn’t track these concerns,” said Michaud. “This is not a new issue, and the VA must improve its ability to reach out to veterans who may face special challenges in establishing service-connection. A registry will provide us more information to get a better handle on the full scope of the problem, and I believe it’s a critical first step toward helping these veterans get the care they need.”

Establishing the registry is a good first step on the way to gaining full compensation for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals, according to Richard Pelletier, a former United States Marine and National Guardsman who advocates for veterans as a service officer with the American Legion in Maine.

Use of toxic herbicides at Gagetown, Pelletier said, was not limited to two years in the 1960s and instead included spraying of toxic herbicides Agents Orange, White and Purple from 1956 to 1984 by the Canadians.

U.S. troops taking part in training exercises at Gagetown since 1971 were never made aware of the continued use of the chemicals on base or the possibility of exposure, he said.

“We know the United States government sprayed 83 acres [with Agent Orange] in 1966 and 1967,” Pelletier said. “But the Canadians continued spraying until 1984 and our guys were exposed to that.”

In 2005 a health registry was established and opened up to U.S. veterans who were at Gagetown in 1966 and 1967 and suspect they were exposed to the chemicals, but Pelletier said the registry needs to be opened to all veterans who served up to the present.

Michaud’s bill, he said, will do that.

“This is an issue we have been hearing about for far too many years without any action,” Ed Gilman, spokesman with Michaud’s office, said last week. “It’s a good first step.”

Robert Owen, Maine American Legion department service officer, agrees.

“We fully support it,” he said last week. “Too many of our vets out there who trained at Gagetown are getting things like cancer and diabetes [and] those are all presumptive illnesses that showed up in vets who served in Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange.”

While not providing immediate relief or compensation to those Gagetown veterans, a health registry, Owen said, will establish a firm database of those veterans and let the U.S. government see the scope of the need for follow-up care and compensation.

“This is a major start,” he said. “Very little has been done over the years [and] a registry will open things up and make people aware.”

Sen. Susan Collins met recently with U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and requested his agency undertake a study of possible effects of toxic chemical exposure to veterans who had trained at Gagetown.

“I request that you commission an independent study to examine potential health risks to veterans, including Maine National Guardsmen, who may have been exposed to harmful toxins while training at CFB Gagetown,” Collins said in a March 29 letter to Shinseki. “Such a study should be carried out by an independent organization with expertise in the conduct of similar studies. I further request that the Department consult with Maine veterans who served at CFB Gagetown in carrying out this request.”

Collins also urged Shinseki to establish a registry within his department for those veterans.

“This is our chance to start this process here in Maine,” Peter Ogden, director of the bureau for veterans services in Maine, said. “Our goal is to start gathering this information now so whenever the VA does decide [to compensate veterans] it will have the necessary information.”

That information, he said, will allow the Veterans’ Administration to better track exposed servicemen and woman establish health trends.

“We had started a registry and list like that awhile back,” Ogden said. “But we did not ask enough questions so now we want to know where they served [at Gagetown], what unit they were with and what medical issues they have now.”

At the same time, Ogden said, his office will work with veterans to assure they have the most up-to-date information on the Gagetown chemical exposure situation.

Owen and Pelletier are hoping that information will prompt the U.S. government to begin compensating veterans much like the Canadian government has already done for its troops stationed at Gagetown.

Starting in 2007 and up through 2011, Veterans Affairs Canada awarded one-time payments to 5,000 of those veterans totalling $100 million, according to Janice Summerby, veterans affairs spokesperson.

“We would like to see the VA accept that the people who were in Gagetown do have health issues and should be compensated,” Owen said. “That is really the bottom line.”