Cancer-Causing Food Additives Banned by FDA

October 08, 2018
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration effectively banned seven cancer-causing chemicals added to a variety of food and beverages for artificial flavoring—from ice cream and baked goods, to gum and beer. The chemicals are often only listed as “artificial flavors” rather than by name, and are added to give items cinnamon, floral, mint and other flavors.  The food additives addressed by the rule are:
  1. Benzophenone (also known as diphenylketone) (CAS No. 119-61-9);
  2. Ethyl acrylate (CAS No. 140-88-5);
  3. Eugenyl methyl ether (also known as 4-allylveratrole or methyl eugenol) (CAS No. 93-15-2);
  4. Myrcene (also known as 7-methyl-3-methylene-1,6-octadiene) (CAS No. 123-35-3);
  5. Pulegone (also known as p-menth-4(8)-en-3-one) (CAS No. 89-82-7);
  6. Pyridine (CAS No. 110-86-1); and
  7. Styrene (CAS No. 100-42-5)
The decision came in response to legal action brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council and a coalition of health, consumer and environmental groups: Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
Olson, Senior Director of Health and Food at NRDC issued the following statement, “carcinogens have no place in the food we feed our families. This is welcome news for millions of Americans who have been unknowingly snacking on cancer-causing chemicals for far too long. FDA’s free pass for these dangerous secret ingredients stops now.”
Job Openings at Environmental Resource Center
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New Respirable Crystalline Silica Monitoring Software
Mines can now monitor worker exposure to hazardous respirable crystalline silica (RCS) more effectively thanks to new software developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program in beta version. This novel, field-based tool called “FAST” (Field Analysis of Silica Tool), works together with commercially available FTIR analyzers (Fourier Transform Infrared) to determine a worker’s exposure to RCS dust, providing detailed results immediately following a worker’s shift.
Mineworkers face the danger of potential overexposure to respirable crystalline silica dust every day. Overexposure can lead to the development of diseases such as silicosis, lung cancer, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) (commonly known as black lung), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These diseases are disabling, irreversible, and potentially fatal.
Key to controlling RCS at mines is the ability to quickly assess the degree of exposure. Traditional methods require mines to send samples to a commercial lab for analysis and wait for the results to be returned. Because the conditions in mines change constantly, however, immediate RCS results are needed to establish when and where high concentrations exist and to ensure that, when they do, they do not persist across shifts. The new software coupled with the FTIR analyzer allows for these immediate results.
“FAST provides a vital link for mines seeking better RCS monitoring tools by bringing the laboratory to the field,” noted NIOSH Associate Director for Mining, Dr. Jessica Kogel.
The FAST software is designed to work in concert with an easily implemented monitoring approach also developed by NIOSH, which uses portable FTIR analyzers and dust sampling cassettes at the mine site.
The combination of the FAST software, the NIOSH-developed monitoring approach, and the use of portable FTIR analyzers allows mines to quickly address the source of the exposure by eliminating the wait time between collecting a sample and receiving the lab results. Further, the monitoring approach does not degrade the dust sampling cassette, so mines can still send samples for lab testing to verify the RCS results if they wish. The results generated by FAST at the mine site can be used immediately to identify high-exposure areas and associated work tasks, which helps mines both to stay within exposure compliance limits and to proactively protect the health of their workers.
NIOSH extensively lab tested the monitoring approach that works with the FAST software, then field tested the approach in the United States and internationally, collecting dust samples in coal mines as well as samples from other types of mines. This testing led to the release of the beta version of the software to allow for further user feedback.
Respirable crystalline silica results from this initial release of FAST are accurate if a sample is collected in a coal mine. For samples collected in other types of mines, the results should be considered as approximations, since the possible presence of other minerals may decrease the accuracy of the quantification model. Future releases of FAST will offer improved accuracy for commodity types besides coal and will also have the potential to be used beyond the mining industry.
National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation Safety
OSHA has updated the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on preventing trenching and excavation collapses in response to a recent spike in trenching fatalities.
OSHA's NEP will increase education and enforcement efforts while its inspectors will record trenching and excavation inspections in a national reporting system, and each area OSHA office will develop outreach programs.
"Removing workers from and helping workers identify trenching hazards is critical," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "OSHA will concentrate the full force of enforcement and compliance assistance resources to help ensure that employers are addressing these serious hazards."
The emphasis program began October 1, 2018, with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach. During this period, OSHA will continue to respond to complaints, referrals, hospitalizations, and fatalities. Enforcement activities will begin after the outreach period and remain in effect until canceled. OSHA-approved State Plans are expected to have enforcement procedures that are at least as effective as those in this instruction.
OSHA has developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from trenching and excavation hazards. The trenching and excavation webpage provides information on trenching hazards and solutions.
NIOSH Recommendations for Firefighters in Basement Fires
According to a recently published report from NIOSH, entrapment from floor collapse, burns and asphyxiation are among the dangers faced by firefighters who respond to fires in basements and other below-grade structures.
In the Workplace Solutions report, the agency points out that the increased risk from these fires often stems from limited entry and exit points, weakened floor structures, being caught in the fire’s flow path, and ventilation issues, among others. The report calls basement and below-grade firefighting one of the most challenging situations these first responders face.
Among the agency’s recommendations are conducting a 360-degree “size-up” to locate the fire, attacking the fire externally and reassessing fire conditions before entering a building. In addition, NIOSH advises firefighters to use thermal imagers during an initial assessment, but cautions that these tools have limitations.
The report, which includes a case study on a fire that started below street level and killed two firefighters, offers additional strategies and tactics for fighting basement and below-grade fires, along with a list of suggested controls before, during and after an event.
Bevacizumab to be Listed as Reproductive Hazard
 The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) intends to list bevacizumab as known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity (developmental and female endpoints) under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. This action was proposed under the “Formally Required to Be Labeled or Identified” listing mechanism.
Bevacizumab is a vascular endothelial growth factor- directed antibody indicated for the treatment of certain types of cancers.  It has been identified and labeled to communicate a risk of reproductive harm (developmental and female endpoints) (FDA, 2018) in accordance with formal requirements by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The FDA-approved label indicates that uses of bevacizumab have the potential to increase the risk of ovarian failure and may cause fetal harm. Avastin® is a trade name of bevacizumab.
New Jersey Pet Food Manufacturer for Failure to Correct Prior Workplace Safety, Health Hazards
OSHA has cited Hamiltime Herb Co. LLC after inspectors found employees exposed to safety and health hazards in a follow-up investigation at its Howell, New Jersey, facility in May 2018. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $152,829.
OSHA cited the pet food manufacturer for failing to develop a lockout/tagout program to prevent unexpected machine startup, and a respiratory protection program for employees required to wear tight-fitting respirators; exposing employees to unguarded machinery; and failing to adequately train and certify employees to operate a forklift. The recent inspection was a follow-up to two investigations in June and August 2017 when an employee had four fingers amputated when a batch mixer activated while being cleaned.
Wisconsin Manufacturer Settled Whistleblower Allegations
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Wisconsin in Green Bay has awarded a machine operator $100,000 in back wages and compensatory damages after his employer Dura-Fibre LLC - based in Menasha, Wisconsin - terminated him for reporting injuries he and a co-worker sustained.
The judgment resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor against Dura-Fibre LLC under the anti-retaliation provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The court considered whether the company terminated the employee based on the company's policy of assigning disciplinary points to employees who reported injuries. The court found this policy to be a potential deterrent to reporting work-related injuries.
"This employee's commitment to workplace safety should be commended," said Occupational Safety and Health Administration Chicago Regional Administrator Kenneth Nishiyama Atha. "Dura-Fibre has agreed to change its policy to allow employees to report work-related injuries without fear of discipline or retaliation."
In addition to paying back wages and damages, Dura-Fibre agreed to expunge the termination and all references to this action from the employee's record. The company will also train managers and employees on proper reporting of injuries and illness; inform employees of their rights under the OSH Act, and post information about OSHA whistleblower rights.
New Jersey Lumber Company Fined for Exposing Employees to Health Hazards
OSHA has cited DuBell Lumber Company, of Medford, NJ for exposing employees to combustible dust and other hazards. The company faces $106,432 in proposed penalties.
OSHA inspectors responded to a complaint of workplace safety and health hazards, and determined that DuBell Lumber failed to properly control combustible dust resulting from wood processing; train employees on how to control the release of hazardous energy; and use lockout/tagout procedures, and machine guards to protect employees from amputations.
Wisconsin Refinery Cited for Failing to Control Hazardous Chemicals
OSHA has cited Superior Refining Company LLC - based in Superior, Wisconsin - for failing to control the use and release of highly hazardous chemicals after an explosion and fire injured several employees. The company faces $83,150 in proposed penalties.
Investigators cited the refinery for eight serious violations of OSHA’s process safety management procedures.
"Ensuring the mechanical integrity of critical equipment used during the refinery shutdown operation could have prevented this incident," said OSHA Eau Claire Area Office Director Mark Hysell. "Superior Refining Company LLC has been working cooperatively with OSHA to ensure a comprehensive process safety management program is implemented at the facility before resuming production."
Ohio Art Supply Manufacturer for Exposing Employees to Amputation Hazards
OSHA has cited Larose Industries LLC - which operates as Cra-Z-Art - for continuing to expose employees to amputation hazards. The Fayette, Ohio, art supply manufacturer faces proposed penalties totaling $152,441 for repeated and serious safety violations.
OSHA investigators determined that the company failed to implement and train employees on lockout/tagout procedures, exposed employees to crushing hazards, lacked adequate machine guarding, failed to train workers on safe electrical work practices, and ensure employees wore required personal protective equipment.
Plastics Manufacturer Cited for Exposing Workers to Machine Hazards
Continental Structural Plastics Inc. faces proposed penalties of $107,168 after an OSHA investigation found employees exposed to amputation and struck-by hazards at its Carey, Ohio, facility.
OSHA cited the plastics manufacturer for one repeated and three serious violations for failing to adequately train employees on lockout/tagout procedures, and ensure locking devices were attached to the machine as required; and for exposing workers to struck-by hazards from improperly stored materials. OSHA cited the company for similar violations in 2015.
American Excelsior Fined for Safety Violations After Employee Injury
OSHA has cited American Excelsior Company – based in Norwalk, Ohio – for machine guarding hazards after an employee required hospitalization when he suffered a crushed arm. Proposed penalties total $213,411.
OSHA investigators determined that the employee sustained injuries when the machine began operating while he removed product build-up. OSHA cited the company, which manufactures biodegradable erosion control blankets, for failing to develop or implement energy control procedures to prevent unintentional machine start-up during maintenance, and train employees in energy control procedures. American Excelsior Company received citations for similar violations at its Rice Lake, Wisconsin, plant in 2017. OSHA has also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
"This employer failed to implement safety procedures to prevent known hazards," said OSHA Toledo Area Office Director Kimberly Nelson. "This injury could have been avoided if machine locking devices had been installed."
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