Environmental Health

Category archives for Environmental Health

Pesticide drift from a pear orchard sickened 20 farmworkers laboring in a neighboring cherry orchard. Many sought care, but the state’s health department wasn’t notified by the workers’ clinicians. It was a newspaper reporter who called authorities. Where were the clinician reports and why are they so important?

It’s not unusual for studies on community walkability to face the perplexing question of self-selection. In other words, people who already like to walk end up moving to walkable communities and so those communities naturally have higher physical activity rates. In even simpler terms, it’s about the person, not the environment. However, a new study finds that walkable community design does influence healthy behavior — even among people with no preference for walking in the first place.

Vermont Yankee Closes

The closing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant didn’t make many headlines, but for me it brought back a flood of memories and an important lesson.

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.?

Food safety is at the top of the list for local restaurant inspectors in Rockaway Township, New Jersey. Recently, however, inspectors tested out the feasibility of adding a new safety checkpoint to the menu — the safety of restaurant employees. The effort was a success and one that organizers hope will ultimately lead to safer working conditions for food service workers statewide.

With agriculture ranked one of the most dangerous industries in the country, many Americans might be surprised to know that it’s still perfectly legal for farms to officially employ children. For years, advocates have been working to address this gaping loophole in the nation’s child labor laws, often citing children’s increased vulnerability to workplace-related injury, illness and exploitation. A new study confirms those concerns, underscoring the need to better protect the children and youth working in American fields.

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.

Courtney, Stephanie and Paul: three too many asbestos disease stories

Reporter David McCumber introduces us to three individuals whose lives forever changed because of asbestos exposure. There will be more of them if companies, like the ones just cited by OSHA, continue to violate asbestos regulations.