June 03, 2019
Although there is ample evidence that air pollution—specifically airborne particulate matter—is associated with an increased risk of premature death, it is still not known which specific particles are responsible for this effect. The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) participated in a study that used wild moss samples to estimate human exposure to airborne metal particles in order to analyze the relationship between atmospheric metal pollution and risk of mortality.
This unique study, based on an innovative approach, has been published in the journal Environment International. It included data from 11,382 participants belonging to the Gazel cohort who were living in rural areas throughout France, a cohort that had been followed up for 20 years. The data on mosses came from the BRAMM biovigilance program, which collects and analyses moss samples from areas all over France situated at a distance from the country’s largest industrial and population centers. These samples are analyzed in the laboratory to measure the presence of 13 elements: aluminum, arsenic, calcium, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, mercury, sodium, nickel, lead, vanadium and zinc.
“There have been very few studies on the health effects of airborne metal pollutants, partly because of technical limitations, such as the lack of stations measuring air pollution. We thought that moss, because of its capacity to retain these metals, would be a useful tool for estimating the atmospheric metal exposure of people living in rural areas,” explains Bénédicte Jacquemin, ISGlobal and INSERM researcher and last author of the study.
The scientists constructed a mathematical model based on the geolocation data for each moss sample and the results of the BRAMM laboratory analysis. This model was then used to map the exposure of each participant to the metals under study. The metals were classified into two groups, according to whether their origin was considered natural or anthropogenic. The final analysis showed that participants exposed to higher atmospheric concentrations of metals of anthropogenic origin had an increased risk of death.
The metals deemed to be of anthropogenic origin were cadmium, copper, mercury, lead and zinc. While all of these metals are naturally present in the earth’s crust, their presence in the atmosphere is due to human activities, such as industry, traffic and heating.
“Our results indicate that the metals present in the airborne particulate matter could be a key component in the effects of air pollution on mortality”, explains Jacquemin. “It is important to bear in mind that the people we included in this study live in rural areas far from major urban and industrial centers and road networks. This means that they are very likely to be exposed to lower levels of air pollution than people living in urban environments, which gives us an idea of the seriousness of the health effects of air pollution, even at relatively low levels of exposure,” she stresses.
“These findings support our hypothesis that moss bio-monitoring can be a good complementary technique for identifying the toxic components in suspended particulate matter,” the researcher added.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations. Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training
is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training
, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on a new Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
Draft Reference Exposure Levels for Toluene Released
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released a draft document
summarizing the toxicity and derivation of Reference Exposure Levels (RELs) for toluene
. This document will be reviewed and discussed by the Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants (SRP) at its meeting on June 28, 2019 in Sacramento, CA. RELs are airborne concentrations of a chemical that are not anticipated to result in adverse noncancer health effects for specified exposure durations in the general population, including sensitive subpopulations.
OEHHA is required to develop guidelines for conducting health risk assessments under the Air Toxics Hot Spots Program (Health and Safety Code Section 44360(b)(2)
). In response to this statutory requirement, OEHHA develops RELs for many air pollutants. The Toluene RELs were developed using the most recent “Air Toxics Hot Spots Program Technical Support Document for the Derivation of Noncancer Reference Exposure Levels,” finalized by OEHHA in 2008.
A draft of the Toluene REL document was released for a 75-day public review and comment period on December 1, 2017. One set of comments was received. The received comments
and OEHHA’s responses to those comments
are also available at this time. The Agency is not seeking further comments from the public on the draft document.
The Toluene REL values proposed are as follows:
- Acute REL (for a 1–hour exposure): 5000 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3)
- 8–Hour REL (for repeated 8–hour exposures): 830 µg/m3
- Chronic REL (for long–term exposures): 420 µg/m3
NIOSH Interpretation Allows ISO Canadian Certified SCBAs
NIOSH requires that compressed breathing gas and liquefied breathing gas containers (cylinders) must meet minimum requirements of the DOT for interstate shipment of such containers when fully charged. According to a recent interpretation, cylinders conforming to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 11119-2, “Gas cylinders of composite construction – Specification and test methods – Part 2: Fully wrapped fiber reinforced composite gas cylinders with load-sharing liners” and bearing a DOT competent authority approval are considered to be in compliance with DOT regulations for transportation to, from, and within the United States.
NIOSH considers cylinders originating in Canada (CAN) that are in compliance with DOT regulations to be in compliance with the requirements in 42 CFR 84
Georgia Tire Manufacturer and Contractors Cited for 22 Safety and Health Violations
OSHA has issued a combined 22 citations to Kumho Tire Georgia Inc., Sae Joong Mold Inc., and J-Brothers Inc. after a follow-up inspection found safety and health hazards at the tire manufacturing facility in Macon, Georgia. The three companies collectively face $523,895 in proposed penalties.
Kumho Tire Georgia Inc. for exposing employees to fall, struck-by, and burn hazards; failing to follow hazardous energy control procedures when employees performed service and maintenance on machinery; failing to train employees on energy control procedures; and failing to provide machine guarding on various pieces of equipment throughout the facility. Proposed penalties total $507,299. OSHA initiated the follow-up inspection of the tire manufacturer after the Agency did not receive abatement documents regarding a June 2017 inspection and citations. The Agency has now placed Kumho Tire Georgia Inc. in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program
Sae Joong Mold Inc. for using damaged slings and electrical hazards. Proposed penalties total $9,093. The Agency cited
J-Brothers Inc. for exposing employees to smoke inhalation and burn hazards by failing to mount portable fire extinguishers and failing to perform annual maintenance on fire extinguishers. Proposed penalties total $7,503.
“Potential workplace hazards must be assessed and eliminated to ensure a safe work environment,” said OSHA Atlanta-East Area Director William Fulcher. “This employer exposed workers to multiple safety and health deficiencies that put them at risk for serious or fatal injuries.”
Texas Rubber Company Cited for Safety Violations
OSHA has cited Custom Rubber Products LLC – based in Houston, Texas – for failing to properly guard machinery and exposing employees to severe injury and amputation hazards. The company faces $530,392 in fines, the maximum penalty allowable by law.
OSHA cited Custom Rubber Products LLC for four egregious willful violations for machine guarding and caught-in hazards, and the company remains in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program
. OSHA cited the company for similar hazards in 2014 after another employee was severely injured.
“Employers are required to assess potential hazards, and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace,” said OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator in Dallas Eric S. Harbin. “The inspection results demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed putting workers at serious risk of injury.”
International Travelers Experience the Harmful Effects of Air Pollution
For travelers who visit cities with high levels of air pollution, even a short stay leads to breathing problems that can take at least a week to recover from. Led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine, the study is the first of its kind, say the authors, to analyze pollution-related coughing and breathing difficulties and recovery times upon returning home, in healthy, young adults who’ve travelled internationally.
Published in the Journal of Travel Medicine
, the finding is timely given that the number of tourists travelling internationally is expected to grow to 1.8 billion by 2030, according to the World Tourism Organization.
“We had several reports that tourists were feeling sick when visiting polluted cities, so it became important for us to understand what was really happening to their health,” says senior study investigator Terry Gordon, PhD
, a professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine
at NYU Langone Health.
For the study, researchers analyzed 6 measurements of lung and heart health in 34 men and women traveling abroad for at least a week from the metropolitan New York City area. Most were visiting family in cities with consistently high levels of air pollution, including Ahmedabad and New Delhi, India; Rawalpindi, Pakistan; and Xian, China.
Some destinations studied―Beijing, Shanghai, and Milan―are heavily polluted during certain months but have relatively cleaner air at other times. Other mostly European destinations, such as Geneva; London; San Sebastien, Spain; Copenhagen; Prague; Stockholm; Oslo; and Reykjavik had consistently lower levels of air pollution. The research team noted that New York City has relatively low levels of air pollution, in part because of strict regulations, its location on the coast, and weather patterns.
Specifically, the study found that being in a polluted city reduced measures of lung function by an average of 6 percent and by as much as 20% in some people. Participants also ranked their respiratory symptoms from one (mild) to five (requiring treatment), reporting a cumulative average symptom score of eight.
People who visited the highly polluted cities reported as many as five symptoms, while those who visited lower pollution cities had fewer or none. Two patients sought medical attention because of their symptoms. The pollution levels of the cities studied did not make a significant difference in the blood pressure of visitors, researchers say.
All study participants had a normal body mass index—between 21 and 29 for men, and 18 and 26 for women—and none had preexisting health conditions. Before embarking on their travels, all were taught how to measure their lung function and heart rate daily using commercially available spirometers (to measure lung function), wrist blood pressure monitors, and heart rate sensors. Researchers then compared the health data against levels of air pollution collected from local government agencies.
The researchers used international standards to categorize highly polluted cities as those having more than 100 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter (PM), or air pollution dust. Moderate pollution is anything between 35 and 100 micrograms per cubic meter of PM, and low pollutions levels are anything less than that.
“What travelers should know is that the potential effects of air pollution on their health are real and that they should take any necessary precautions they can,” says study lead investigator M.J. Ruzmyn Vilcassim, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Environmental Medicine.
Dr. Gordon suggests that those visiting highly polluted cities should consider wearing masks or consult a doctor prior to travel if they have preexisting respiratory or cardiac health difficulties, and to consider avoiding travel during certain months. For instance, farmers burn their fields during the winter months in New Delhi, India, raising levels of pollutants in the city.
Although participants gradually returned to normal health, study investigators say there needs to be more follow-up research to know if there were long-term effects, or if longer stays would influence the pollution impact. Next, researchers plan to study international travelers who are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution, such as the elderly and people with asthma
or heart conditions.
Safety News Links