Archives for February, 2008

New Asbestos Exposure Limit for US Mine Workers

For the first time, beginning on April 29, it will be unlawful for employers in the mining industry to expose workers to asbestos concentrations higher than 0.1 fiber (per cubic meter of air) over an 8-hour shift.  MSHA published today a new exposure limit for asbestos to replace a 2.0 fiber limit which has been on the books since 1978 when the agency…

Friday Blog Roundup

The safety and sustainability of the world’s food supply has been on people’s minds lately. Andrew Schneider at Secret Ingredients reminds us of the tainted food problems we’ve had here over the past several years, from E.Coli-contaminated spinach and salmonella-tainted pot pies to the latest record-breaking beef recall. Tom Philpott at Gristmill brings us up…

We’ve written before about the problems with conflicts of interest on EPA scientific advisory panels. In particular, we think scientists working for product defense firms, whose money comes from clients seeking to avoid regulation of their products, ought to be barred from such panels. Now, a group is raising concerns about bias on an EPA…

China, Pig Intestines, and the FDA

I wrote last week about how the FDA’s mixup with Chinese factory names kept it from inspecting the Chinese facility producing the main ingredient for Baxter’s heparin; this problem came to light after the drug was implicated in four deaths. (To date, more than 400 adverse reactions have been reported.) Today, articles in the New…

Setback for CA Ports’ Air Quality

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that California’s regulation of pollution from ships using its port is pre-empted by the Clean Air Act, and thus requires a waiver from the EPA. This is bad news for the state, since the last time it requested a waiver from EPA, the…

Occupational Health News Roundup

The Charlotte Observer’s excellent series on poultry workers began by detailing the injuries workers suffer and the way company officials dismiss their complaints (highlighted in a previous roundup), and continued with a look at the inadequate regulations, inspections, and fines for poultry-processing plants. For the company House of Raeford Farms, which it cited for dozens…

Diacetyl Still Around, Still a Problem

Diacetyl – the butter-flavoring chemical linked to severe lung disease in food and flavoring workers – hasn’t been in the news much recently. It got a lot of attention in September, when we drew attention to the case of a Colorado man who appeared to have developed bronciolitis obliterans from eating microwave popcorn twice a…

Med School “Not Worth the Headaches Anymore”

Today’s front page story in USA Today is about a shortage of surgeons at U.S. hospitals, with a focus on rural areas; the shortage threatens the health of 54 million rural Americans, reports Robert Davis. Part of the problem is that medical schools held enrollment steady for too long, rather than increasing it to account for the…

What’s In Your Sewage?

Most of us are lucky enough not to have to worry about our sewage. We flush the toilet, it goes away somewhere, and we don’t have to worry about cholera or other diseases that spread when waste contaminates the water supply. While most of sewage systems do a great job of making the water look…

USDA Inspectors Can’t Keep Up

In the LA Times, Victoria Kim follows up on the issue of USDA inspections related to the record-setting beef recall. The terrible practices caught on tape at the Hallmark slaughterhouse evidently occurred under the nose of USDA inspectors, and Kim’s article explains how this can happen: