Chemicals Policy

Category archives for Chemicals Policy

As more research is emerging on the potential health effects of fracking, a new study — perhaps the largest to date of its kind — has found that people living near natural gas wells may be at increased risk for adverse health impacts, including skin and respiratory conditions.

If you’re in the market for a paint remover and head to your local hardware store, most of the products you’re likely to find will contain methylene chloride. These products carry hazard warnings that say “Danger!” and “Poison” along with cautionary statements about the chemical’s nervous system effects and the possibility that exposure can cause blindness, birth defects, cancer and respiratory harm. But there’s little – if anything – to suggest such products are so hazardous that they were responsible for at least 14 deaths in the United States between 2000 and 2011. These products are banned in the EU. Are there alternatives and why are they still for sale in the U.S.?

Occupational Health News Roundup

Staten Island worker death highlights risks facing Latino construction workers; fight continues to ban asbestos; Minnesota minimum wage increase in jeopardy for tipped workers; and researchers look for ways to protect respiratory health among dairy farm workers.

2012 train derailment, first responders and “indefensible actions”

Emergency responders to a 2012 train derailment were exposed to vinyl chloride. Many did not wear respiratory protection, and some suffered acute health effects. An MMWR report describes those findings, but an NTSB report illuminates how and why their safety was compromised.

Chronic work exposure to lead and risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Individuals with chronic occupational exposure to lead have an 80 percent higher odds of developing Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) than individuals who do not have the exposure.

“In the 602 days since the West, Texas tragedy there have been 355 chemical accidents resulting in 79 deaths and 1500 hospitalizations,” said Committee Chair Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) opening the hearing. “Essentially,” said Boxer, since the West, Texas accident, there’s been a U.S. incident involving hazardous chemicals every other day. “This,” she said, “is absolutely outrageous.”

Occupational Health News Roundup

Petrochemical companies spend millions to undermine the science on benzene; in-depth series sheds light on the horrific working conditions in Mexico’s agricultural sector; National Labor Relations Board rules in favor of worker organizing; and federal officials grilled on response to West fertilizer explosion.

Decreased lung function, breast cancer, miscarriage, depression and neurological disease. These are just a few of the health and disease risks that salon workers disproportionately face while on the job, according to a new report on the impact of toxic chemicals within the beauty and personal care industry.

In the span of just a couple years, five of Heather Buren’s colleagues at the San Francisco Fire Department were diagnosed with breast cancer. At first, Buren thought the diagnoses were part of the unfortunate toll that comes with age. Still, something felt amiss — “it just felt so disproportionate to me,” she said.

A recent study of air quality around unconventional oil and gas extraction sites — more commonly referred to as fracking — found high levels of benzene, hydrogen sulfide and formaldehyde, all of which pose risks to human health. But what makes this study particularly interesting is that the air samples were collected by the very people who live near the extraction sites, and the collection times were specifically triggered by the onset of health symptoms.