Occupational Health News Roundup

The Associated Press reports that Senators Byron Dorgan and Evan Bayh are still not satisfied with what the Department of Defense’s response to illnesses among National Guard troops who were exposed to hexavalent chromium at the Qarmat Ali water plant near Basra, Iraq. The Senators seek updates on efforts to communicate with potentially exposed National Guard troops from Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Indiana Guardsmen have already filed a federal lawsuit accusing KBR, the company contracted to rebuild the plant, of concealing the risks that the troops face.

Ten contractors who worked at the plant also allege that KBR knowingly allowed them to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, the Houston Chronicle reports. Their complaints will be heard by an arbiter at March hearing.

In other news:

MedPage Today: A study published in the journal CHEST reports that nearly one-fourth of the World Trade Center first responders in a longitudinal study still have respiratory problems.

New York Times: Many healthcare providers experience “moral distress” – the feeling that obstacles prevent them from doing what’s right.

National Partnership for Women & Families: The House approved a bill that will allow flight crew members to have access to unpaid leave provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The way that flight crews’ paid hours are calculated had made it difficult for them to qualify.

The West Australian: A study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that the hotter laser printers get, the more likely they are to emit ultrafine particles that can damage office workers’ lungs.

Chemical & Engineering News: Workers in leather tanneries in Dhaka, Bangladesh use hazardous chemicals with little protective gear; the situation may improve as old tannery operations shut down or relocate to newer facilities.