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August 11, 2006

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Hazard Alert

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide, chemical formula CO, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless,

and highly toxic gas. It is a major product of the incomplete combustion of

carbon and carbon-containing compounds. Under ordinary conditions, it is

less dense than air. During fires, it accumulates on the ground, so that if

poisoning causes loss of consciousness, the amount of carbon monoxide

inhaled increases and so fatality is radically increased. It is very slightly

soluble in water and burns in air with a characteristic blue flame, producing

carbon dioxide; it is a component of producer gas and water gas, which

are widely used artificial fuels. It is a reducing agent, removing oxygen

from many compounds and is used in the reduction of metals, e.g., iron ,

from their ores. At high pressures and elevated temperatures it reacts with

hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst to form methanol. Carbon monoxide

is formed by combustion of carbon in oxygen at high temperatures when

there is an excess of carbon. It is also formed with a byproduct oxygen

by decomposition of carbon dioxide at very high temperatures (above

2,000 ºC), as the Ellingham diagram shows it is more stable oxide than

CO2 in high temperatures. It is present in the exhaust of internal-combustion

engines, such as those found in automobiles; and is generated in coal stoves,

furnaces, and gas appliances functioning in low-oxygen environments

(often due to insufficient ventilation.). Carbon monoxide from automobile

and industrial emissions is a dangerous pollutant that may contribute to the

greenhouse effect and global warming. In urban areas carbon monoxide,

along with aldehydes, reacts photochemically to produce peroxy radicals.

Peroxy radicals react with nitrogen oxide to increase the ratio of NO2 to

NO, which reduces the quantity of NO that is available to react with ozone.

Carbon monoxide is also a constituent of tobacco smoke. [1]

History: [1]

Carbon monoxide was first prepared by the French chemist de Lassone

in 1776 by heating zinc oxide with coke but thought it to be hydrogen by

mistake as it burned with a blue flame. It was identified as a compound

containing carbon and oxygen by the English chemist William Cruikshank in

the year 1800. The toxic properties of CO were first thoroughly investigated

by the French physiologist Claude Bernard around 1846. He poisoned dogs

with the gas, and noticed that their blood was more rutilant in all the vessels.

‘Rutilant’ is a French word, but also has an entry in English dictionaries,

meaning ruddy, shimmering, or golden. However, it was translated at the

time as crimson, scarlet, and now is famously known as ‘cherry pink’. During

World War Two, carbon monoxide was used to keep motor vehicles running

in parts of the world where gasoline was scarce. External charcoal or wood

burners were fitted, and the carbon monoxide produced by gasification was

piped to the carburetor. The CO in this case is known as “producer gas”.

Carbon monoxide was also used as an extermination method during the

Holocaust at some Nazi extermination camps.

Health Effects: [2]

Acute Health Effects

• Exposure to Carbon Monoxide can cause headache, dizziness,

lightheadedness and passing out.

• Exposure to lower levels can affect concentration, cause memory and

vision problems, and loss of muscle


• Extremely high exposure levels can decrease the ability of the blood

to carry oxygen. This can cause a bright red color to the skin and

mucous membranes (formation of carboxyhemoglobin), and coma with

convulsions and death.

• Skin contact with liquid Carbon Monoxide can cause frostbite.

Chronic Health Effects

• Exposure to Carbon Monoxide among pregnant women can cause

lowered birth weight and nervous system damage in the offspring.

• Carbon Monoxide can cause heart disease and damage to the nervous


Personal Protection: [2]


• Avoid skin contact with liquid Carbon Monoxide. Wear protective gloves

and clothing. Safety equipment suppliers/manufacturers can provide

recommendations on the most protective glove/clothing material for your


• All protective clothing (suits, gloves, footwear, headgear) should be clean,

available each day, and put on before work.

• Where exposure to cold equipment, vapors, or liquid may occur, employees

should be provided with special clothing designed to prevent the freezing

of body tissues.

Eye Protection

• Wear splash-proof chemical goggles and face shield when working with

the liquid, unless full facepiece respiratory protection is worn.

Respiratory Protection

• Where the potential exists for exposure over 25 ppm, use a MSHA/

NIOSH approved supplied-air respirator with a full facepiece operated

in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode. For increased

protection use in combination with an auxiliary self-contained breathing

apparatus operated in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure


• Exposure to 1,200 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health. If

the possibility of exposure above 1,200 ppm exists, use a MSHA/NIOSH

approved self-contained breathing apparatus with a full facepiece

operated in continuous flow or other positive pressure mode.

1. /wiki/Carbon_monoxide

2. /health/eoh/rtkweb/0345.pdf


Asia Pacific

Occupational Health and Safety Regulation amended for

electrical equipment and installations

The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Electrical Equipment)

Regulation 2006 was passed in NSW on 28 April 2006. This amends the

Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 with regards to testing,

inspection and maintenance of electrical installations and electrical articles at

places of work. The Department of Energy’s Northwest National Laboratory

(PNNL) has developed a new technology, which will soon see nanosponges

sopping up pollutants to prevent their emission from coal-fired power plants

and other industries.Further amendments to the OHS Regulation were

passed on 2 June 2006 to reinstate the requirement to make and keep

records in relation to electrical installations. Enhesa Update, June 2006

Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill proposed


On 4 May 2006 the Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill was introduced into

parliament. The Bill seeks to put in place provisions and institutions which

will enable and require New Zealand businesses, public organisations and

households to dramatically decrease their disposal of waste. It would set in

place, inter alia, targets for the reduction in the amount of waste disposed

of in landfills, clean fills, and incinerators along with dates for achievement

of these targets; prohibitions on the disposal of certain classes of material;

a levy on residual waste; requirements for extended producer responsibility

programmes and organisational waste minimisation plans; and a requirement

for public procurement policies to encourage the development of markets for

products and services which result in waste reduction.

Enhesa Update, June 2006

Building Legislation Amendment Act for smoke alarms in

buildings where people may sleep


The Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 in NSW

entered into force on 1 May 2006. This amends the Environmental

Planning and Assessment Act 1979 by inserting Section 146A allowing

for Regulations to be made requiring the installation and maintenance of

smoke alarms in all places where a person sleeps. Therefore this could

apply to a workplace if persons must sleep there or there is provision for

them to do so. On 1 May 2006 the Environmental Planning and Assessment

Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 amended the Environmental

Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 to require the owners of certain

existing buildings or parts of buildings where people sleep to ensure that

smoke alarms (or heat alarms in certain circumstances) are installed there.

However, the present focus is on residential dwellings.

Enhesa Update, June 2006


New UK Fire Safety Law: guidance


Guidance note will be available for the changes coming into force in the UK.

The guides will outline what is required to comply with fire law and help to

carry out a fire risk assessment and identify the general fire precautions that

are needed to be in place. Storage of flammable substances will need to be

accounted for and necessary precautions must be determined to minimise

the likelihood of them being involved in a fire. The guides are designed

so that a responsible person, with limited formal training or experience,

should be able to carry out a fire risk assessment. More complex premises

will probably need to be assessed by a person who has comprehensive

training or experience in fire risk assessment. However these guides will

be appropriate for more complex, multi-occupied buildings to address fire

safety issues in individual occupancies.

EurOHS News, 21 June 2006

Storm over European bid to ban mercury barometers


Mercury barometers face being consigned to history thanks to a ruling drawn

up by the European Union. The rules would not only ban the manufacture

of new barometers but also forbid their repair and import. Mercury has the

potential to be harmful, but only when people are exposed to it in large

quantities. The UK’s modern mercury barometer manufacturing firms face

being wiped out under the proposals. Scottish Conservative MEP Struan

Stevenson is pressing for an exemption to the proposed legislation for the

barometer industry. There is considerable debate in the scientific community

regarding the effects of mercury. The European legislation is designed

to reduce the quantity of overall level of mercury amid concerns that the

toxins could enter the food chain. The Commission argues that mercury

and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife. A

spokesman insisted that the proposals would not mean the end of specialist

businesses since the ownership and sale of old mercury barometers will

not be banned under the legislation. The Environment Committee in the

European Parliament will meet to discuss the proposals at the start of July.

News, 22 June 2006


FDA: Recall of Comfort Shield Perineal Care Washcloths


Sage Products and the FDA have announced a recall of specific lots of

Comfort Shield Perineal Care Washcloths. This recall was initiated due

to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia, which can cause

serious infections including pneumonia and bacterial sepsis in immuno-

compromised persons, persons with cystic fibrosis (CF),in hospitalized

patients in general as well as certain other patient groups. The product was

distributed to hospitals, medical centers and long-term care facilities in the

U.S. and Canada. There was no known distribution through retail sales.

Medwatch Update, 26 June 2006

Bans on Human Studies Extended to Nursing Women


EPA is issuing a direct final rule that bans using nursing women in intentional

dosing research for pesticides. The final rule guarantees nursing women

are not involved in human studies and provides protection to nursing infants

who may also be exposed. EPA will not rely on data from previous studies

that included nursing women. The new restrictions mirror the protections

explicitly provided for studies involving pregnant women and children in the

final rule issued by EPA in January 2006. This final rule banned all third-

party intentional dosing research involving children and pregnant women

intended for submission to EPA under the pesticide laws.

EPA Pesticides update, 26 June 2006


Moolenaar’s dioxin bill passed by committee


A bill unanimously approved by the House Government Operations

Committee, would require the state to recalculate its dioxin contamination

cleanup criteria based upon findings in a report, expected to be released in

upcoming months, by National Academy of Sciences. “The best available

science, used on a national level, should be incorporated to guide our state

level public health policy,” Moolenaar said. “This bill requires the state to base

their designations on sound, unbiased science, not arbitrary assumptions. I

hope the governor will allow the state to turn to scientific data when resolving

issues for residents of mid-Michigan.” The Academy has been reviewing

the 15-year-long Environmental Protection Agency reassessment of dioxin

toxicity. Earlier this year, Moolenaar proposed that cleanup criteria for any

cancer-causing substance be derived under the state’s existing methods,

unless the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has a different

level. In that case, the federal level would trump the state one. For dioxin,

ATSDR has an action level set at 1,000 parts per trillion, while the state of

Michigan considers anything higher than 90 parts per trillion unsafe. The

Governor vetoed this bill. The latest bill will ensure that any action taken by

the DEQ will incorporate the best available science to get a true indicator

of dioxin toxicity and exposure. The NAS review will address uncertainties

in the EPA reassessment, including assumptions used in calculating risk.

It also will update the assessment with information collected since 1991,

when the EPA first released the document. Moolenaar hopes the bill will get

a full House vote this week, and make it to the state Senate by fall.

Our Midland News, 21 June 2006

Bioengineering guides issued


Federal regulators have taken a step toward guarding against genetic

engineering experiments that could contaminate corn, grain or other crops.

The Food and Drug Administration advised companies testing bioengineered

plants to report their work first and vouch for its safety. The agency said it

wants to make sure commercial crops aren’t threatened by cross-pollination

or commingling of seeds during the testing of experimental plants. Many

European countries would likely block imports of American food if it contained

genetically modified substances. Critics of genetically engineered plants

have called on the government to conduct mandatory testing and certify that

products are safe before allowing their sale. More than 47,000 field tests

involving genetically engineered crops were performed in the United States

from 1987 to 2004, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. In

its guidelines, the FDA recommends - but does not require - that companies

file a report attesting to the harmlessness of any bioengineered protein they

intend to test.

After reviewing the reports, the FDA will either raise questions about the

possible impact on food safety or say it is satisfied. The agency itself will not

draw a conclusion. The action does not cover a large supply of genetically

modified plants: crops, such as cotton, made to resist insects. It also doesn’t

cover plants grown for pharmaceutical use.

Baltimore Sun News, 22 June 2006


Globally Harmonized Labeling System to be Adopted in



The globally harmonized system (GHS) packaging, classification and labeling

of chemicals will likely be adopted by the U.S. The system being developed

by the United Nations is intended to promote regulatory efficiencies,

enhance the protection of humans and the environment and assist countries

and international organizations to ensure the sound management of

chemicals. The system is expected to be adopted in 2007 according to the

U.S. Department of Transportation expects to adopt the system in 2007.

OSHA will soon seek public comments, and the EPA is investigating the

impact of implementing the system. Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada and

New Zealand have or are in the process of adopting the system. The EU

will incorporate it into its Reach (registration, evaluation and authorization of

chemicals) legislation.

Chemical Informer Newsletter, June 2006

Feds would rule on food labels


There’s a proposal in Congress that some people say could affect the safety

of hush puppies, oysters, bean sprouts and other foods served in North

Carolina and across the nation. Others say it would simplify food regulation

without compromising safety. The bill, pushed for years by Senator

Richard Burr, would make food labels and regulations uniform nationwide,

eliminating the patchwork of state-by-state rules in favor of federal law. It

is aimed at rules in some states that require warning labels on foods with

harmful ingredients. What the bill would mean for state food inspections

is unclear. And that’s a concern for state officials, because more than 80

percent of food safety inspections are done at state and local levels. Across

the nation, 39 states’ attorneys general, along with the national associations

of agriculture departments and food inspectors, oppose the bill. Its language

is too broad and vague, they say. Burr, the bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate,

says the legislation makes for good policy and would protect consumers

and food companies from scattershot rules. Burr said the bill would not

prevent states from inspecting food. Many opponents think the bill is aimed

at a California law, called Proposition 65, passed by voters in the 1980s. It

requires companies to put warning labels on items containing ingredients

that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive problems. Gov. Arnold

Schwarzenegger, who opposes the federal bill, says the law has kept lead

from candy and arsenic from bottled water. there should be more disclosure

in food.”

The News & Observer, 8 June 2006

EPA: Risk Assessment for chlorinated triazine class of



EPA has completed its cumulative risk assessment for the chlorinated

triazine class of pesticides and concluded that, with mitigation measures for

atrazine and simazine outlined in those individual decisions, the cumulative

risks associated with the triazines are below the Food Quality Protection Act

regulatory level of concern. Triazine tolerances - residue limits in food and

feed - have been reassessed and found to meet safety standards established

by the Food Quality Protection Act. The chlorinated triazine pesticides include

atrazine, simazine, propazine, and their three chlorinated degradates. The

Interim Reregistration Eligibility Decision for atrazine has been finalized by

the agency through this cumulative assessment. The EPA has requested

public comments by 21 August 2006. EPA notes that products containing the

triazine pesticides still must complete product reregistration, through which

product labeling changes and associated risk mitigation measures will be

implemented. Atrazine and simazine are used on a variety of food and feed

crops including grains, fruits, and nuts, as well as on turf grasses grown in the

Southeastern United States. Propazine is registered for indoor greenhouse

use only and has existing tolerances established for residues on sorghum.

While EPA’s triazine cumulative assessment includes atrazine, simazine,

and their three chlorinated degradates, it excludes propazine because no

dietary, drinking The triazine pesticides share a common neuroendocrine

mechanism of toxicity that results in both developmental and reproductive

effects. The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 directs EPA to consider

available information concerning the cumulative effects on human health

that may result from dietary, residential, or other non-occupational exposure

to multiple chemicals that, like the triazines, share common mechanisms of


EPA Pesticides Update, 27 June 2006


San Francisco Board bans chemicals that may harm



San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors gave final approval to legislation

that would make the city the first in the nation to ban the use of certain

chemicals in the manufacture of plastic baby bottles, pacifiers and toys on

the grounds that they could harm young children. The Child Safety Product

Ordinance, introduced by Supervisor Fiona Ma in January, is scheduled to

take effect Dec. 1. It would prevent the manufacture, sale or distribution in

San Francisco of products intended for the use of children younger than 3

if they contain bisphenol A. Some forms of phthalate, a chemical used to

soften plastics, also would be prohibited.

San Fransico Chronicles News, 7 June

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approves

legislation limiting number of parking spaces.


San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved legislation that would limit

the number of new parking spaces in downtown San Francisco. Under the

ordinance introduced by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin,

developers of new residential buildings could provide no more than three

parking spaces for every four new units of housing. The ordinance also

would limit any above-ground parking structure to one story.

San Fransico Chronicles News, 7 June

Full ban ordered on risky cow parts


Canada moved one step closer to a mad-cow-free national herd when the

Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced a long-anticipated ban on

high-risk cattle materials in animal feeds, pet foods and fertilizers. The new

regulations beef up 1997 guidelines that barred eyeballs, brains, spines,

and other BSE-prone cow parts from cattle feed, but allowed them to remain

in food designed for other animals. At least two cows born after the 1997

ban have been diagnosed with BSE in Canada. Scientists speculate that

the infected cows could have been exposed to tainted poultry or pork feed.

By banning high-risk cattle materials from all feed, the agency hopes to

eliminate 99 per cent of potential BSE material from the Canadian feed

system. For most in the industry the new regulations won’t come into force

until July 2007. Some small abattoirs will also be given more time to adjust

to the new feed controls. The government has set aside $80 million to

help the industry cope with the new rules. Arno Doerksen, chairman of the

Canada Beef Export Federation, said the measures send a strong signal

to Canada’s international trading partners that the country is serious about

eliminating the disease. But despite the stricter new guidelines, Canada’s

feed ban remains considerably looser than those in some other countries.

Edmonton Journal News, 27 June 2006


Africa & Middle East

Increase in maximum amount of earnings for assessment

purposes under the Compensation for Occupational

Injuries and Diseases Act


The amount of compensation a person will receive under the Compensation

for Injury and Disease Act in South Africa has increased to ZAR 189,840 per

year. This change was notified by the Department of Labour on 5 May and

will be effective from1 April 2006. This is a minor increase of less than 1%

(significantly below inflation of around 3.5%) but will affect the assessment

of employers for their contributions to the Compensation Fund. The deadline

for submitting information for the 2006 reporting year is 31 March 2007, but

a new reporting form will usually be published before then.

Enhesa Update, June 2006

Ambient air quality standards published for public



On 9 June 2006 the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in

South Africa published the Ambient Air Quality Standards for Common

Air Pollutants for public comment. The standards will implement further

sections of the Air Quality Act, 2004 (AQA) and introduce ambient air quality

standards for the seven main pollutants. This will ultimately lead to further

restrictions on what can be emitted in any given area to take account of the

ambient air quality standards.

Enhesa Update, June 2006

Janet’s Corner - Not Too Seriously!

High Achiever

The boss called one of his employees into the office. “Rob,” he

said, “you’ve been with the company for a year. You started off

in the post room, one week later you were promoted to a sales

position, and one month after that you were promoted to district

manager of the sales department. Just four short months later,

you were promoted to vice- chairman. Now it’s time for me to

retire, and I want you to take over the company. What do you

say to that?”

“Thanks,” said the employee.

“Thanks?” the boss replied. “Is that all you can say?”

“I suppose not,” the employee said. “Thanks, Dad”...

Please note: articles for Janet’s Corner are not original, and come from various

sources. Author’s credits are supplied when available.


Nanosponges go commercial - tiny particles soak up



The Department of Energy’s Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has

developed a new technology, which will soon see nanosponges sopping up

pollutants to prevent their emission from coal-fired power plants and other

industries. The nanosponges, also known as self-assembled monolayers on

mesoporous supports (SAMMS), capture and immobilize contaminants like

mercury from a wide variety of industrial wastes. The potential cost savings

are huge, because these contaminant-loaded SAMMS can be disposed

of like ordinary waste. Rick Skaggs of PNNL said that recovery of toxic

substances such as heavy metals, such as lead, chromium, and arsenic,

as well as radionuclides can also be done easily. The technology has been

licensed Steward Environmental Solutions, which are now commercially

producing the nanosponges. The initial market for the technology will

be coal-fired power plants, process industries, and municipal facilities,

according to Steward. In the longer term the company intends to develop

alternative technologies to remove mercury from fly ash byproducts, such

as concrete or gypsum. The company predicts that SAMMS could benefit

many industries, such as mining, pulp and paper processing, municipal

waste operations, and chemical plants.

Environmental Science & Technology News, 21 June 2006

MoD ignores ruling on Gulf war syndrome


In a landmark decision, the Ministry of Defense has been ordered to

recognize the condition - Gulf war syndrome. However the Ministry has

decided to ignore this decision, which will cost thousands of war veterans the

right to claim additional money. The action has provoked a row between the

judiciary and the M0D with the president of the commission which made the

ruling accusing the ministry of illegally “tampering” with the process to avoid

recognising the syndrome. According to lawyers for the veterans, the MoD

will save millions of pounds and also prevent between 2000-6000 disabled

ex-servicemen from receiving a supplement to their pensions as well as

calling into question the pension that is already paid. The pensions appeal

tribunal made the ruling on Gulf war syndrome in November last year. It was

the first time in 15 years that the ministry was forced to acknowledge the

existence of the condition and the ministry chose not to appeal against the

decision. The president of the pensions tribunal, Harcourt Concannon, has

now found that his ruling has been ignored by the MoD by changing the terms

of the award to one of the men involved in the test case, Mark McGreevy. Mr

McGreevy is suffering from a crumbling spine, which he claims, was caused

by Gulf war syndrome. The MoD has concluded that his illness has nothing

to do with the condition. Mr Concannon wrote a letter to Alan Burnham, chief

executive of the Veterans Agency, in unusually strong language. He said:

“The Ministry of Defence have clearly and deliberately departed from the

terms of the tribunal decision in order to substitute their own expression. In

my view the Ministry of Defence have no legal authority to tamper with the

terms on which a tribunal allows an appeal. The Ministry of Defense has

taken upon themselves to manipulate the terms of the tribunal’s decision.

“What they have done is a purely unilateral decision.

It is a decision that at least questions and probably undermines any confidence

the tribunal might have that its decisions will be faithfully implemented.” The

National Gulf Veterans and Families Association has since written a letter to

Lord Craig of Radley, the former Air Chief Marshall at the time of the first Gulf

War, to highlight the MoD’s change of heart. The association accused the

MoD of playing “another sleight of hand”. The MoD said it would not accept

the existence of Gulf war syndrome and said money was already being

paid to ex-servicemen with disabilities, and that it did not need to pay extra

money for those who claimed they were suffering from Gulf war syndrome.

Lord Drayson, the government’s defense spokesman in the Lords, was

challenged about the change to the McGreevy decision. Initially he denied

that the decision had been overturned but then added: “ The government

cannot accept that Gulf war veterans should receive an additional payment

because of the particular condition of Gulf war syndrome. It is not a question

of geography or the cause; it is a question of the level of disability.” He said

that it was not practical to implement the decision reached by the government

last year as it would involve writing to 53,000 former soldiers to ask them

whether they were suffering from Gulf war syndrome. Lord Drayson said

that it is not possible to differentiate between those for whom the specific

issue of Gulf war syndrome is relevant and that everything was being done

to ensure that people are informed via the use of the internet and veterans’


Guardian Unlimited News, 13 June 2006


Workers may have been exposed to PCBs from Hanford



A transformer at a metal recycling yard that was not properly emptied before

being sent off the Hansford nuclear reactor reservation in Washington has

exposed as many as 5 workers to PCBs. Fluor Hanford, a contractor handling

cleanup at the highly contaminated Hanford site, sent 60 transformers to

Twin City Metals. The transformers, once mounted on poles at Hanford,

used to reduce electricity to usable voltages. All should have been drained of

dielectric fluid, a mineral oil used to keep the transformers from overheating.

However, one of the transformers was not drained. When it was dumped onto

the ground at the metal recycling yard, a part broke and about 50 gallons of

fuel drained out. Judy Connell, spokeswomen for Fluor Hansford said that

the contamination of PCBs was below Environmental Protection Agency

standards for environmental reporting and the fluid had no radiological

contamination. At the time of the spill, several workers were in the yard,

said Craig Cameron, an EPA environmental scientist. One of the workers

developed a type of rash linked to skin exposure. Fluor Hanford has offered

to move him and his family out of their home temporarily while the Hanford

contractor determines if he tracked home the PCBs, or polychlorinated

biphenyls. The level of exposure to the workers is not yet known. Sampling

has been conducted on the soil where the spill occurred to determine that

no contamination was missed. Additional sampling has been performed on

the houses and cars of workers appearing to have symptoms of exposure.

The company has also conducted a formal assessment of the incident and

the Department of Energy will conduct a formal assessment of the incident

and oversee Fluor’s response.

Seattle pi News, 22 June 2006

Parkinson’s traits reversed in rat brain cells


Research at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge,

Massachusetts, has found that brain cells that are usually destroyed in

Parkinson’s disease have been rescued in a rat model of the disease.

Easing the movement of proteins within key neurons reversed the effects

of Parkinson’s on the cells. This discovery might provide a future treatment

in humans with this debilitating neurological disorder. Parkinson’s disease

is characterised by rigid, slow movement or other problems with body

coordination. One of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s is the demise of brain

cells that produce the chemical dopamine, which transmits signals between

brain cells. The current treatment aims to boost the levels of dopamine in

patients’ brains. However, giving people dopamine precursor chemicals to

this end can create further problems by causing their natural production

of dopamine to decline even further. Previous work has suggested that an

overabundance of a protein called alpha-synuclein may be responsible. A

new study provides insight into how alpha-synuclein might wreak havoc

inside dopamine-producing cells. Susan Lindquist and colleagues began by

confirming that if yeast cells were engineered to vastly overproduce alpha-

synuclein, they died. 3000 genes were then randomly screened to identify

the ones that influenced the toxicity of the protein. This tested revealed the

genes responsible for the biological pathway for proteins within cells.

The part of the cell known as the endoplasmic reticulum was responsible for

the folding of the proteins, which are then transported to the Golgi apparatus

for packaging and shipping to their final destination. Alpha-synuclein

seemed to somehow prevent a molecule called Ypt1p from doing its job of

ferrying proteins between these two sites. So the team tried boosting Ypt1p

in the engineered yeast cells and found that this protected them. The cells

survived even with high levels of alpha-synuclein present. It is hypothesised

that dopamine-producing neurons are more prone to being killed by

excess alpha-synuclein than other cells, because dopamine accumulates

in the cell when the transport system is derailed. As dopamine is a highly

chemically reactive molecule it kills its cell. Lindquist and colleagues tested

their approach of fixing the damaged transport system by applying it to

dopamine-producing fly and rat cells that had been engineered to produce

too much alpha-synuclein. In flies they managed to fully rescue the loss of

cells. The study showed that inserting a gene for a molecule called Rab1-

the equivalent of Ypt1p- in rat neurons, saved more than 50% of the cells

from death. Researchers suggest a drug that boosts levels of the human

equivalent of Rab1 may reverse the loss of dopamine-producing cells in

Parkinson’s patients. But they caution that prospect is still a distant one, and

other biological pathways may prove more worthwhile targets.

New Scientist News, 23 June 2006


Unsafe at Any Dose?


A new study finds that radiation such as that experience by astronauts and

cancer patients can destroy a large amount of the “spongy” part of bones in

mice, potentially increasing the risk of fracture. Bioengineer Ted Bateman of

Clemson University in South Carolina, said scientists have known for awhile

that limited gravity can contribute to bone loss, but no one had looked at the

effects of low doses of radiation. In addition, therapeutic radiation is known

to weaken the bones of cancer patients--they tend to have more fractures

than the average person, for example--but just how this radiation leads to

bone loss was unclear. Bateman and colleagues administer different types of

radiation to four groups of mice to get a better idea of what was happening.

One group of 10 mice got a 2 Gray (Gy) dose of gamma radiation (equivalent

to a daily therapeutic dose for a cancer patient); another group received 2

Gy of proton radiation (what an astronaut on the moon might experience

during a solar flare); and two more groups got 2 Gy of either iron or carbon

radiation (about twice the dose an astronaut would get during a 2-and-a-

half year Mars mission). After 110 days the mice were sacrificed and using

micro-computed tomography--a 3-D imaging technique that reveals inner

bone structure-it was found that, compared to nonirradiated controls, the

gamma group had 29% less spongy bone tissue, an essential component for

structure and stability. The proton, iron, and carbon groups had about 34%

to 39% less spongy tissue than did controls. Furthermore, each radiated

group lost anywhere from 46% to 64% of the spongy connections that help

bones support weight. The results surprised Bateman, especially as the

bone effects were detected from a single dose of low-level radiation. Given

the magnitude of this effect, he says, “it may be appropriate to shield bone or

slightly modify [cancer] treatment regimens to reduce the increased fracture

risk.” As for astronauts, Bateman says scientists should further investigate

the risk of bone damage from low-dose radiation.

Science Now News, 12 July 2006


Triclosan only belongs in the clinic and doctor’s surgery!


Triclosan is a biocidal active substance and an ingredient in disinfectants

used in doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries and in hospitals. Hygienists are

concerned about the increasingly widespread use of low doses of the biocide

in consumer goods like detergents and cleaning products and as a biocidal

finish for fabrics and plastics. Firstly, there is a risk that the microorganisms

will develop increasing resistance to the active substance, triclosan.

Secondly, the resistance mechanism can also render the germs insensitive

to antimicrobial substances and antibiotics used for therapeutic purposes.

Dr. Andreas Hensel, BfR President Professor Dr said “Triclosan should only

be used in clinics and doctors’ surgeries”. He says that when it when it comes

to everyday life, soap and water or conventional cleaning products are quite

capable of achieving the same effect.” There has been a dramatic increase

in the number of products containing the biocide. In contrast to the levels in

disinfectants for medical purposes, consumer goods only contain low doses

of triclosan. However, sometimes these low concentrations are not sufficient

to kill bacterial pathogens and the selection pressure is increased: pathogens

that have developed resistance to triclosan multiply more readily than non-

resistant pathogens from the same species. The emerging resistance of

the bacterial pathogens also makes then insensitive to other antimicrobial

substances and antibiotics. This resistance mechanism is based on

“efflux pumps”. These are cellular structures, which actively shuttle toxic

substances through the membrane outside the cell thereby ensuring their

survival. Hence, the manifold use of triclosan in daily life could contribute to

fostering cross-resistances. Pathogens would then be insensitive not only to

triclosan but also to antimicrobial substances and antibiotics like quinolones

and tetracyclines, which are used to treat human beings. It is still unclear

whether the increased incidence of crossover resistance to therapeutic

antibiotics is linked to the increased use of triclosan. BfR has concluded

that the use of triclosan and related biocides should be restricted and used

with the necessary degree of caution. This applies particularly to the private

household where the use of substances of this kind does not offer any

hygiene advantages and the same effect can be achieved by other classical


BfR News, 26 June 2006

http:// www.bfr.bund.de

Study links cadmium, breast cancer


Wisconsin researchers have shown that high levels of cadmium in the body

double the risk for development of breast cancer among women. Michael

Thun, vice president of epidemiology and surveillance research at the

American Cancer Society said “it is unclear whether the association between

cadmium concentrations in the urine of breast cancer patients relates to the

cause or treatment of the disease or to some other factor.” Cadmium is a

naturally occurring metal that’s found in soil, water, certain foods, tobacco

and batteries. Links between cadmium exposure and lung cancer, prostrate

cancer and kidney disease has been demonstrated in previous studies. Cell

culture studies have also shown that cadmium acts like estrogen once it

enters the body, said Mary Beth Martin, an associate professor of oncology

at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center.

An earlier study in rats showed that low doses of cadmium stimulated

signs of early breast cancer such as changing the density of breast tissue.

That study also suggested that cadmium could cause adverse effects on a

woman’s fetus. The current study analysed analyzed urine samples from

almost 500 Wisconsin women, aged 20 to 69, between September 2004

and February 2005. Each participant also answered questions about their

medical background, reproductive history, smoking history and food intake.

Foods such as liver, kidney and tuna contain high levels of cadmium.

Women with the highest level of cadmium in their urine - more than

0.58 micrograms per gram - where more than twice as likely to develop

breast cancer, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking said Jane

McElroy, co-author of the study and an associate scientist at the University

of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center. A person’s normal intake of

cadmium is one to three micrograms per day. “Everybody has cadmium in

their bodies,” McElroy said. “If this indeed ends up being a direct relationship,

we need to figure out ways to limit it in the environment and its exposure

to humans.” The Environmental Protection Agency classifies cadmium as

a probable human carcinogen due to “limited evidence from occupational

epidemiological studies of cadmium (that) is consistent across investigators

and study populations.” As cadmium is a naturally occurring element it

can not be eliminated, however, residents can take actions to reduce their

exposure to cadmium,” said Tara Bergeson, an environmental toxicologist

at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Examples of this are

keeping nickel-cadmium batteries out of reach of young children, avoid

cigarette smoke and eat a balanced diet to reduce the amount of cadmium

in the body, she said.

Occupationally exposed person should be careful to ensure that they avoid

carrying cadmium-containing dust home from work on clothing, skin, hair or

tools, Bergeson said.

Milwaukee journal Sentinel News, 25 June 2006

Bacteria, Beware: New Finding about E coli Could Block

Infections, Lead to Better Treatments


A new study has discover a receptor in a strain of Escherichia coli can be

blocked to avert infection. This finding might assist in developing better

therapies to treat bacterial infections resulting in food poisoning, diarrhea

or plague. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center discovered this

receptor - known as QseC-. This receptor is used by a diarrhea-causing strain

of E coli to receive signals from human flora and hormones in the intestine and

express virulence genes to initiate infection. The study used phentolamine,

an alpha-blocker drug used to treat hypertension, to successfully impede

signaling to the receptor. Without such signals, bacteria then pass blindly

through the digestive tract without infecting cells. Dr. Vanessa Sperandio,

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