What is in your Toothbrush?

October 30, 2017

In September, a ban on triclosan in over-the-counter antiseptic soaps, gels, and wipes went into effect in the U.S. But the antibacterial ingredient is still allowed in toothpastes for its reported ability to reduce gum inflammation, plaque, and cavities. Now a study, “Nylon Bristles and Elastomers Retain Centigram Levels of Triclosan and Other Chemicals from Toothpastes: Accumulation and Uncontrolled Release,” in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology has found that triclosan accumulates in toothbrush bristles and elastomer parts, and is readily released when users switch toothpastes, potentially prolonging users’ exposure to the compound.

Past research has demonstrated that triclosan has the potential to disrupt hormones in animals and humans, contribute to antibiotic resistance, and cause acute toxicity to aquatic organisms. In light of the reported adverse effects and the lack of scientific evidence on its benefits over plain soap and water, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned triclosan in antiseptic washes. However, the ruling doesn’t apply to toothpaste and other products, including clothing and cookware. Jie Han, Wei Qiu, Baoshan Xing and colleagues suspected that triclosan might stick to materials commonly used on commercial toothbrush heads and get released in an uncontrolled manner, creating a hidden route of exposure and transport of the chemical that hadn’t been previously considered.

The researchers simulated toothbrushing with a range of commercial brushes and pastes. Their testing showed that more than one third of the 22 toothbrushes tested, including two children’s varieties, accumulated significant amounts of triclosan equivalent to seven to 12 doses of the amount used per brushing. Toothbrushes with “polishing cups” or “cheek/tongue cleaners,” typically made of a class of materials called elastomers, absorbed the largest amounts. When the researchers switched to triclosan-free toothpastes but continued to use the same brushes, triclosan was continuously released from the toothbrushes over the next two weeks. This release could lead to a user receiving prolonged exposure to triclosan, and potentially to other transformation products that previously hadn’t been accounted for, even after switching toothpastes. Additionally, regular landfill disposal of used toothbrushes that have accumulated triclosan could result in the chemical leaching into the environment. The study also raises broader questions about the design of consumer products—particularly those used for personal care—with absorptive polymer components that are regularly exposed to chemicals during use.

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OSHA 300A Reports Can Now Be Submitted Online

A rule which took effect January 1, 2017, required certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their on-site OSHA Injury and Illness forms (Form 300A). OSHA was unable to meet this deadline, so the Agency published a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the date by which certain employers are required to submit the information electronically from July 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017.

Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website. OSHA indicated that it believed that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers, and the general public. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry.

In anticipation of the December 1 deadline, OSHA has provided a secure website that offers three options for data submission. Users are able to manually enter data into a webform. Users are also able to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. Last, users of automated recordkeeping systems will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface).

The Injury Tracking Application (ITA) is accessible from the ITA launch page, where you are able to provide the Agency your 2016 OSHA Form 300A information.

Ski Masonry Fined $201,354 for Fatal Electrocution

OSHA cited Ski Masonry LLC for exposing workers to serious dangers including fall and electrical hazards after an employee was fatally electrocuted in April.

On April 20, 2017, OSHA conducted an investigation of the company after a 21-year-old laborer doing restoration work at a Pittsburgh residence was electrocuted. The residential and commercial masonry contractor received two willful and five serious citations for violations, including knowingly allowing employees to work within 10 feet of overhead, energized, and uninsulated electrical lines, failing to provide fall protection, and using scaffolding without a secure base plate.

"Ski Masonry knowingly took unacceptable risks when performing masonry work close to overhead powerlines," said OSHA Area Office Director Christopher Robinson, in Pittsburgh. "Companies must assess their worksites and follow all safety requirements to prevent such tragedies from recurring."

OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $201,354, and has added the company to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

OSHA Investigation Finds Hazards Remain at North Jersey Warehouse

OSHA has again cited a Moonachie hair distribution company, and proposed $181,280 in penalties, after finding continued safety hazards at the employer's warehouse.

In April, OSHA initiated an inspection after a complaint alleging imminent safety hazards. Inspectors found that the company failed to keep exit routes free and unobstructed; improperly used required work space around an electrical panel box for storage; and failed to properly store materials to prevent struck-by hazards. OSHA issued one repeat, one serious, and two willful violations. The company was cited in February for similar violations.

"Mane Concept's repeated disregard of OSHA standards is unacceptable and jeopardizes the safety of its workers," said OSHA Area Director Lisa Levy, in Hasbrouck Heights. "This company should immediately address these workplace hazards to ensure a safe work environment for its employees."

Read more about the recent citations that OSHA issued to Mane Concept.

$150,000 Fine for Injecting Employee with Flammable Gas

OSHA and Shield Packaging Co. Inc., ASI Staffing Group Corp., and Southern Mass Staffing have reached agreements to correct hazards and enhance safety following a May 2016 incident in which an employee was injected with a flammable propellant gas.

OSHA found that the Dudley, Massachusetts, company—which packages aerosol containers—failed to implement required procedures to lock out the machine's power sources or train the employee on how to recognize and avoid the hazard.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Shield Packaging will pay $150,000 in penalties; provide OSHA with documentation that all hazards have been corrected; retain a professional engineer to approve the design and installation of a safety interlock on the machine that injured the worker; retain a qualified safety consultant to perform a comprehensive inspection of the plant; and develop a workplace safety and health program.

OSHA also cited ASI Staffing Group Corp., of Leominster, MA, and Southern Mass Staffing of Worcester, MA; the temporary staffing agencies that supplied more than half of the workers at Shield Packaging. ASI Staffing agreed to pay $12,471 in penalties, implement comprehensive safety and health measures at all host companies, and delineate safety responsibilities between ASI and its host companies. Southern Mass Staffing agreed to pay a $12,222 penalty, attend safety and health training, implement a written safety and health management system, and hire an outside safety consultant.

"The Shield Packaging Co., Inc., ASI Staffing Group Corp., and Southern Mass Staffing are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers," said OSHA Area Director Mary Hoye. "These settlements will help ensure that a comprehensive safety program will be developed to protect all workers—permanent and temporary—from injuries and illnesses."

Acme Parts Fined $40,000 for Worker Lead Exposure

OSHA and Acme Parts, Inc., of Brooklyn, New York, have reached a settlement agreement to improve Acme Parts' workplace safety and health.

OSHA found high levels of lead throughout the facility presenting serious lead hazards to employees. Workers who ingest or inhale lead are at risk of serious lead-induced health hazards, including hypertension; cardiovascular, kidney, and neurological diseases; adverse reproductive effects; and cancer.

Under the terms of the agreement, Acme Parts will pay $40,000 in penalties. Additionally, Acme Parts has agreed to hire a qualified lead hazards and abatement consultant to evaluate the facility and to recommend improved practices.

"Once implemented, the changes from the Acme Parts' settlement will have a significant and long-lasting impact for workers at this facility," said OSHA Regional Administrator Robert Kulick.

"The fines and abatement measures packaged together will raise awareness among employers working with leaded brass about the potential serious health effects of occupational lead exposure. This result highlights the need for comprehensive risk assessment and implementation of policies, procedures, and equipment to reduce such exposure," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff.

OSHA cited the company in April 2016 after an inspection by its Manhattan Area Office. Attorneys Kathryn L. Stewart and R. Alexander Cárdenas of the Department's New York Regional Solicitor's Office litigated the case.

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