January 27, 2020
A new study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, shows that exposure to diesel exhaust particles (DEPs) can increase an individual’s susceptibility to pneumococcal disease.
The bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of pneumonia and meningitis and the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in under-5s and elderly groups worldwide. In the majority of healthy people, this bacterium lives harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat without causing any symptom. However, if the pneumococcus gains access to normally sterile sites in the body, such as the lungs and blood, it has the potential to cause life-threatening diseases.
To find out more about the conditions that allow this ordinarily harmless bacterium to progress into such severe invasive diseases researchers from the University of Liverpool, Queen Mary’s University, London and Trinity College Dublin, conducted a study examining the role of DEPs in the development of pneumococcal disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths per year, with 7% of these attributable to pneumonia. An estimated 37% of the world’s population live in areas where levels of airborne pollution exceed WHO guideline limits.
DEPs, a major component of air pollution worldwide, is the particulate component of diesel exhaust, which includes diesel soot and aerosols such as ash particulates, metallic abrasion particles, sulphates, and silicates.
The researchers found that following exposure to DEPs, airway macrophages, which are key immune cells for controlling bacterial infections and removing debris from the body, become congested with DEPs, reducing their ability to kill the pneumococcus. This allows the bacteria to survive more easily in the airways, invade the lungs, and cause significant inflammation, which eventually leads to bacterial translocation into blood, thereby causing severe disease.
Professor Aras Kadioglu
, said: “We know that exposure to air pollution is harmful, responsible for millions of deaths every year, of which a significant proportion is due to pneumonia. What we did not know however, was how pollution, such as diesel exhaust particles, actually causes airway disease.”
“In this study, we have now discovered the cellular mechanisms behind this. Our study highlights an urgent need to tackle airway pollution if we are to reduce life threatening respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.”
Dr Rebecca Shears
, who is first author, added: “Our study shows that exposure to DEPs, which is a major airborne particulate pollutant both here in the UK and abroad, may be one of the key factors involved in the switch from harmless pneumococcal colonization of the nasal tissues to severe disease, such as pneumonia.”
“Our data provides further insight to support previous observations of increased pneumonia hospital admissions in countries such as China, where airborne pollution levels are highest.”
“The reduced ability of DEP exposed airway macrophages to control the infection appears to be key in the increased number of cases of pneumococcal disease. This study adds further impetus to reduce global pollution levels.”
The full paper, entitled ‘Exposure to diesel exhaust particles increases susceptibility to invasive pneumococcal disease’, can be found here.
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Is Saccharin Good for You?
If you ever saw the Woody Allen Movie “Sleeper,” this is going to sound familiar. Saccharin received a bad rap after studies in the 1970s linked consumption of large amounts of the artificial sweetener to bladder cancer in laboratory rats. Later, research revealed that these findings were not relevant to people. And in a complete turnabout, recent studies indicate that saccharin can actually kill human cancer cells. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
have made artificial sweetener derivatives that show improved activity against two tumor-associated enzymes.
Saccharin, the oldest artificial sweetener, is 450 times sweeter than sugar. Recently, scientists showed that the substance binds to and inhibits an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase (CA) IX, which helps cancer cells survive in the acidic, oxygen-poor microenvironments of many tumors. In contrast, healthy cells make different –– but very similar –– versions of this enzyme called CA I and II. Saccharine and another artificial sweetener called acesulfame K can selectively bind to CA IX over CA I and II, making them possible anti-cancer drugs with minimal side effects. Alessio Nocentini, Claudiu Supuran and colleagues wondered whether they could make versions of the artificial sweeteners that show even more potent and selective inhibition of CA IX and another tumor-associated enzyme, CA XII.
The team designed and synthesized a series of 20 compounds that combined the structures of saccharin and acesulfame K and also added various chemical groups at specific locations. Some of these compounds showed greater potency and selectivity toward CA IX and XII than the original sweeteners. In addition, some killed lung, prostate or colon cancer cells grown in the lab but were not harmful to normal cells. These findings indicate that the widely used artificial sweeteners could be promising leads for the development of new anticancer drugs, the researchers say.
Company Cited for Safety Failures After Employee Injured in Trench Cave-In
OSHA has cited Goose Lake Construction Inc. after an employee suffered serious injuries when an unprotected trench collapsed, burying him up to his waist at a Glencoe, Illinois, worksite. OSHA proposed penalties of $233,377.
Inspectors determined that the company failed to follow required safety measures for employees working on residential storm sewers in a trench deeper than 5 feet. OSHA cited Goose Lake Construction Inc. for failing to provide a safe means of entry and exit from the trench, and install a trench box or other protective system to prevent trench walls from collapsing. The company also failed to place excavated material at least 2 feet from the trench’s edge, as required; ensure employees wore hard hats to protect from struck-by hazards; and train employees to recognize, avoid and control hazardous conditions associated with trenching and excavation work.
“This employee suffered serious injuries that could have been prevented if the employer complied with trenching and excavation standards,” said OSHA Des Plaines Area Director Angeline Loftus. “OSHA regulations and industry standards require employers to slope, shore, or shield trench walls in trenches to prevent collapses.”
In 2018, OSHA updated the National Emphasis Program
on preventing injuries from trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards. OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage
provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions including a trenching operations QuickCard
that provides information on protecting workers around trenches and OSHA’s “Protect Workers in Trenches”
poster that provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses. The poster is available in English and Spanish.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Power Banks Recalled Due to Fire and Burn Hazards
PCNA of New Kensington, Pa., owner of Leedsworld Inc., has recalled about 5,000 lithium ion batterypower banks that were made in China. The power banks have a 10,000 mAh Grade A lithium ion battery, LED indicator lights, and a flashlight. The power banks are white and are decorated with various logos. PO number 1813582 is printed on the back of the power bank. The power banks measure about 5 1/2 inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide.
The power bank’s lithium-ion battery can overheat and ignite, posing fire and burn hazards. The company has received one report of fire. No injuries have been reported.
If you have one of these power banks, you should immediately unplug and stop using it and dispose of it as hazardous waste. Also note that transportation of lithium batteries is subject to DOT hazardous materials regulations.
For additional information, call PCNA at 800-860-1555, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email at CustomerService@leedsworld.com
or visit www.pcna.com
and click on the “Recalls” link at the bottom of the page for more information
Pressure Washer Wands Recalled
STIHL Inc., of
Virginia Beach, Va. has recalled the spray wand supplied with STIHL RE 90 Pressure Washers. The pressure washer is gray and orange with “STIHL RE 90” printed on the front. The recalled spray wand measures 15 inches long and attaches to the spray gun. Interchangeable nozzles connect to the spray wand.
STIHL has received seven reports of the nozzle detaching from the spray wand during use. No injuries have been reported.
If you have one of these pressure washers, you should immediately stop using the recalled pressure washers and contact STIHL or an authorized STIHL servicing dealer to receive a free replacement spray wand.
Aerosol Waterproofing Wood and Masonry Protectors Recalled Due to Fire Hazard
The Thompson’s Company, of Cleveland, Ohio has recalled Thompson’s WaterSeal waterproofing wood and masonry protectors in aerosol cans. The products, which were manufactured in the US, are used to coat exterior wood to prevent water damage. The aerosol cans are 11 ounces and have a green or blue cap. “Thompson’s WaterSeal,” “Wood Protector” or “Masonry Protector,” the item number and UPC code are printed on the can.
The contents of the cans can react with the package, causing rust to form along the can seam, which could spread to other areas of the can and create pinhole leaks. Leaking propellant poses a fire hazard when it comes into contact with sources of ignition. Leaking sealer can also result in property damage. The company has received approximately 18 reports of leaking cans from retailers. No injuries, fires, or property damage were reported.
Specific product recalled, together with their UPC codes are listed below.
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