Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 H1N1 Flu Situation Update

Key Flu Indicators (as per the CDC)
Each week CDC analyzes information about influenza disease activity in the United States and publishes findings of key flu indicators in a report called FluView. During the week of August 16-22, 2009, a review of these key indictors found that influenza activity is either stable, or is increasing in some areas. Activity appears to be increasing in the Southeast based on influenza-like illness data reported by health care providers.

A summary of the most recent key indicators can be found at

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How You Can Become Exposed to Asbestos?

Before it was known that inhalation of asbestos fibers causes several deadly diseases— including asbestosis, a progressive and often fatal lung disease, and lung and other cancers—asbestos was used in a large number of building materials and other products because of its strength, flame resistance, and insulating properties. Asbestos was used in asbestos-cement pipe and sheeting, floor and roofing felts, dry wall, floor tiles, spray on ceiling coatings, and packing materials. When buildings containing these materials are renovated or torn down, or when the asbestos-containing materials themselves are disturbed, minute asbestos fibers may be released into the air. The fibers are so small that they often cannot be seen with the naked eye; the fact that you can inhale these fibers without knowing it makes asbestos an even more dangerous hazard.

For more information on this, and other health-related issues impacting workers, visit
OSHA’s Web site at

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Refractory ceramic fibers (CASRN Not found)

Refractory ceramic fibers; CASRN Not foundHealth assessment information on a chemical substance is included in IRIS only after a comprehensive review of chronic toxicity data by U.S. EPA health scientists from several Program Offices and the Office of Research and Development. The summaries presented in Sections I and II represent a consensus reached in the review process. Background information and explanations of the methods used to derive the values given in IRIS are provided in the Background Documents.

More info at

What can I do to prepare for Hurricane Isabel or other drinking water emergencies?

EPA recommends that you should have at least a three-gallon supply of water per person. Typically, this would be enough water for three days. Water should be stored in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Soft drink bottles, for instance, work very well. The containers should be tightly sealed, labeled and stored in a cool, dark place. Under these conditions, water can be stored for six months. If you do not have stored water and there is an emergency, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. The water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl) can also be used as a last resort. The following Web sites provide additional information, including where to find water outside your home, ways to purify water and other steps you can take to prepare for natural disasters.

Federal Emergency Management Agency -- / American Red Cross -- /home Department of Homeland Security -- /

Facemask and Respirator Use to Reduce Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Transmission

This document has been updated in accordance with the CDC Recommendations for the Amount of Time Persons with Influenza-Like Illness Should be Away from Others . This document provides interim guidance and will be updated as needed.

This document provides updated interim guidance on the use of facemasks and respirators for decreasing the exposure to novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. This guidance replaces other CDC guidance on mask and/or respirator use that may be included in other CDC documents in regards to the outbreak of novel H1N1 virus. No change has been made to guidance on the use of facemasks and respirators for health care settings. This document includes guidance on facemask and respirator use for a wider range of settings than was included in previous documents and includes recommendations for those who are at increased risk of severe illness from infection with the novel H1N1 virus compared with those who are at lower risk of severe illness from influenza infection.For more information about human infection with novel influenza A (H1N1) virus, visit the CDC H1N1 Flu website. Other CDC novel H1N1 guidance will be updated with the information contained in this document as soon as possible.

For more info go to

Friday, August 28, 2009

EPA Announces New Steps to Protect Americans from Lead Poisoning

Actions to reduce overall exposures to lead
Release date: 08/26/2009

Contact Information: Dale Kemery 202-564-7839 202-564-4355


August 26, 2009WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a series of steps to increase protections against and raise awareness of lead-based products in our environment and communities, particularly to prevent lead poisoning in children. The steps announced today are:

· Additional proposed requirements to protect children from lead-based paint
· A new effort to ban the manufacture of lead in tire weights
· A lead poisoning prevention video contest, asking people to submit videos demonstrating steps that can be taken to prevent childhood lead poisoning

“As both EPA Administrator and as a mother, my highest priority is protecting our children from environmental threats in the places where they live, play and learn. Lead is still present in many of our neighborhoods, but we can limit exposure to children and adults by working together on comprehensive actions like these,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We're committed to giving our nation’s children the fullest protection possible, and giving parents clear assurance that their children are safe from harm.”

The additional requirements on lead-based paint that EPA intends to propose are the result of a settlement of litigation brought by the Sierra Club, the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning and other stakeholder groups in 2008. The settlement calls for proposed revisions to the 2008 rule governing lead safe work practices used during repair, remodeling and renovations to reduce exposures to lead-based paint hazards for young children, the most sensitive population, as well as for older children and adults.

EPA will propose to expand lead safe work practices and other protective requirements for renovation and painting work involving lead paint to most buildings built before 1978, when lead-based paint was banned for residential use. Under the proposed requirements, renovation firms would have to conduct tests to ensure that lead levels in dust comply with EPA’s regulatory standards after certain renovation, repair, and painting activities are performed and provide information to building occupants on the lead safe work practices utilized during renovations.

The agency is proposing that lead safe work practices be required at the vast majority of residential buildings and public and commercial buildings undergoing exterior renovations that involve lead-based paint. EPA will determine whether renovations in the interior of public and commercial buildings create hazardous levels of lead dust.EPA will undertake at least three separate rulemakings to expand coverage and strengthen requirements of the 2008 Renovation, Repair and Painting rule, which will be available for public comment.

EPA will also pursue a ban on the manufacture and distribution of lead tire weights in response to a 2009 petition from the Ecology Center, the Sierra Club and other NGOs requesting that the agency establish regulations prohibiting the manufacture, processing, and distribution of lead tire weights. Lead weights are used predominately in the tire replacement market to balance tires of autos and light trucks in the United States. They can fall off tires and then break down and contaminate soil, wash into sewers, or end up being transported to municipal landfills or incinerators. EPA estimates that 2,000 tons of lead from tire weights are lost from vehicles and ultimately end up in the environment each year. Tire weights without lead are already being used and can be effectively substituted.

Finally, in order to further educate the public on the potential dangers of lead poisoning, EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are soliciting creative videos from the public for a lead poisoning prevention video contest.

The three agencies are interested in videos that convey easy, low-cost steps that can be taken to prevent childhood lead poisoning and inspire individuals and communities to change their behavior to prevent exposure to this harmful chemical. Examples of possible video topics include:

· Educating the public about the dangers of lead poisoning in children
· Steps you can take to prevent children from lead dust poisoning if they spend time in older homes, schools, or child care settings
· The importance of hiring a trained professional to conduct safe renovation, repair or painting work that involves lead-based paint
· Simple safe work practices to follow when renovating a home with lead-based paint
· The importance of getting your child tested for lead if you live in an older home.

The deadline for entries is October 1, 2009 12:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The winners will be awarded cash prizes in the amount of $2,500 (1st prize), $1,500 (2nd prize) and $1,000 (3rd prize). Winning videos will be featured on EPA, CDC and HUD’s Web sites. Winners will be announced during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 25-31, 2009.

Lead causes a variety of adverse health effects, including brain and nervous system disorders, high blood pressure and hypertension, and reproductive problems. For children, even low levels of exposure to lead can cause a host of developmental effects such as learning disabilities, decreased intelligence, and speech, language, and behavioral problems, which can impact children for a lifetime.

More information on today’s announcements:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mold - What is the public health problem?

Mold can cause fungal allergy and respiratory infections or worsen certain illnesses such as asthma. Molds are microorganisms that are found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. The potential health effects of exposure to indoor mold are of increasing concern. Nevertheless, no conclusive evidence exists that inhalation of indoor mold is associated with a multitude of other health problems, such as pulmonary hemorrhage, memory loss, and lack of energy.

What is novel H1N1 aka Swine Flu?

Novel H1N1 Flu

Novel H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of novel H1N1 flu was underway.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CDC Advisors Make Recommendations for Use of Vaccine Against Novel H1N1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met today to make recommendations for use of vaccine against novel influenza A (H1N1).

The committee met to develop recommendations on who should receive vaccine against novel influenza A (H1N1) when it becomes available, and to determine which groups of the population should be prioritized if the vaccine is initially available in extremely limited quantities.

The committee recommended the vaccination efforts focus on five key populations. Vaccination efforts are designed to help reduce the impact and spread of novel H1N1. The key populations include those who are at higher risk of disease or complications, those who are likely to come in contact with novel H1N1, and those who could infect young infants. When vaccine is first available, the committee recommended that programs and providers try to vaccinate:

  • pregnant women,
  • people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
  • health care and emergency medical services personnel,
  • persons between the ages of 6 months through 24 years of age, and
  • people from ages 25 through 64 years who are at higher risk for novel H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

The groups listed above total approximately 159 million people in the United States.

The committee does not expect that there will be a shortage of novel H1N1 vaccine, but availability and demand can be unpredictable. There is some possibility that initially the vaccine will be available in limited quantities. In this setting, the committee recommended that the following groups receive the vaccine before others:

  • pregnant women,
  • people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
  • health care and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact,
  • children 6 months through 4 years of age, and
  • children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.

The committee recognized the need to assess supply and demand issues at the local level. The committee further recommended that once the demand for vaccine for these prioritized groups has been met at the local level, programs and providers should begin vaccinating everyone from ages 25 through 64 years. Current studies indicate the risk for infection among persons age 65 or older is less than the risk for younger age groups. Therefore, as vaccine supply and demand for vaccine among younger age groups is being met, programs and providers should offer vaccination to people over the age of 65.

The committee also stressed that people over the age of 65 receive the seasonal vaccine as soon as it is available. Even if novel H1N1 vaccine is initially only available in limited quantities, supply and availability will continue, so the committee stressed that programs and providers continue to vaccinate unimmunized patients and not keep vaccine in reserve for later administration of the second dose.

The novel H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal flu vaccine. It is intended to be used alongside seasonal flu vaccine to protect people. Seasonal flu and novel H1N1 vaccines may be administered on the same day.



Friday, August 14, 2009

Hazards of Silica and Health Effects of Silicosis

Occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica occur in a variety of industries and occupations because of its extremely common natural occurrence and the wide uses of materials and products that contain it. At least 1.7 million U.S. workers are potentially exposed to respirable crystalline silica [NIOSH 1991], and many are exposed to concentrations that exceed limits defined by current regulations and standards.

Silicosis, usually a nodular pulmonary fibrosis, is the disease most associated with exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Although the reported mortality associated with silicosis has declined over the past several decades, many silicosis associated deaths still occur (nearly 300 deaths were reported each year during the period 1992-1995) [NIOSH 1996a; Althouse 1998]. In addition, the number of silicosis associated deaths among persons aged 15 to 44 has not declined substantially [CDC 1998a,b]. An unknown number of workers also continue to die from silica-related diseases such as pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), lung cancer, and scleroderma. The number of cases of silicosis and silica-related diseases in the United States today is unknown.


Friday, August 7, 2009



As per the Texas Department of State Health Services -

Since the 1890's, asbestos use has been expanded to hundreds of common industrial applications. However, increased environmental distribution of these products has also enlarged the size of the population exposed to asbestos. The health effects associated with occupational and non-occupational asbestos exposure, can create severe human diseases. The potential impact of these diseases has motivated public health authorities to control the use of asbestos. Ongoing federal and state programs oversee efforts to prevent environmental release, and abate existing asbestos sources.

On the website they answer several questions regarding asbestos:

What is asbestos?
How might I be exposed to asbestos fibers?
How do asbestos fibers enter and leave the body?
How can asbestos affect my health?
Is there a medical test to determine whether I have been exposed to asbestos fibers?
I have asbestos in my home. Do I need to do anything about it to protect my health?
I am going to perform a renovation or demolition to my building. Is there anything I should know about asbestos before I begin my project?
How do I get licensed to perform asbestos-related work in Texas?
I do site assessment surveys. Do I need a license to inspect for asbestos?
I need to get properly trained with respect to asbestos. Where can I receive the proper training?
I hear that to remove floor tile or sheet vinyl flooring that I don't need a license. Is that true?


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Engineering Controls for Silica in Construction

As per NIOSH - Construction workers may be exposed to hazardous dust containing silica during construction tasks, including tuckpointing brick, grinding concrete, breaking concrete pavement with a jackhammer, and cutting block and brick. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that exposure could be reduced through the use of engineering controls, including the use of local exhaust ventilation to capture dust at its source and the use of water sprays to suppress dust where it is produced. These pages provide information about those controls and utilize video-exposure monitoring clips to demonstrate their effectiveness.

For more information go to

Monday, August 3, 2009

Symptoms of Silicosis as Per OSHA

What are the symptoms of silicosis?

Silicosis is classified into three types: chronic /classic, accelerated, and acute.
Chronic/classic silicosis, the most common, occurs after 15–20 years of moderate to low exposures to respirable crystalline silica. Symptoms associated with chronic silicosis may or may not be obvious; therefore, workers need to have a chest
x-ray to determine if there is lung damage. As the disease progresses, the worker may experience shortness of breath upon exercising and have clinical signs of poor oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange.

In the later stages, the worker may experience fatigue, extreme shortness of breath, chest pain, or respiratory failure.

Accelerated silicosis can occur after 5–10 years of high exposures to respirable crystalline silica. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss. The onset of symptoms takes longer than in acute silicosis.

Acute silicosis occurs after a few months or as long as 2 years following exposures to extremely high concentrations of respirable crystalline silica. Symptoms of acute silicosis include severe disabling shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss, which often leads to death.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Where are General Industry Employees Exposed to Crystalline Silica Dust

Where are general industry employeesexposed to crystalline silica dust?

The most severe exposures to crystalline silicaresult from abrasive blasting, which is done to cleanand smooth irregularities from molds, jewelry,and foundry castings, finish tombstones, etch orfrost glass, or remove paint, oils, rust, or dirt formobjects needing to be repainted or treated. Otherexposures to silica dust occur in cement and brickmanufacturing, asphalt pavement manufacturing,china and ceramic manufacturing and the tool anddie, steel and foundry industries. Crystalline silicais used in manufacturing, household abrasives,adhesives, paints, soaps, and glass. Additionally,crystalline silica exposures occur in the maintenance,repair and replacement of refractory brickfurnace linings.In the maritime industry, shipyard employeesare exposed to silica primarily in abrasiveblasting operations to remove paint and cleanand prepare steel hulls, bulkheads, decks, andtanks for paints and coatings.