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Mesothelioma Awareness: Asbestos and Occupational Safety

by Sarah Wallace, Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center

For many years, the natural mineral known as asbestos was used in constructing buildings, insulation, roofing, and homes. Asbestos is heavily regulated in the United States today, but many people are still exposed daily to asbestos containing materials (ACMs) that still exist in buildings, structures, and homes. During demolition, DIY, or renovation projects, asbestos can become friable and people are then susceptible to inhaling the small fibers. When asbestos becomes lodged in the body, specifically in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart, it can lead to lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Even though the use of asbestos has decreased dramatically in the United States since the late 20th century, mesothelioma is still the leading occupational cancer. This is because the disease can take up to 50 years to develop, and those who were exposed to asbestos prior to the 1980s are still being diagnosed today. On top of that, professionals who work in different industries that have a history of asbestos use, such as construction, manufacturing, and shipyard work, are still at risk of exposure they may come into contact with materials and products made before regulations were put in place. Due to the microscopic size of asbestos fibers and ambiguity around where the toxin could have been used in the past, it’s important for workers to stay educated on where asbestos might be hiding and what safety precautions to take on the job.

Occupations most at risk and how to stay safe:

Construction Workers– Because asbestos was used heavily in the construction of homes and other buildings, many construction workers have been exposed to asbestos, and they are still at risk for exposure. With ACMs still existing in buildings, approximately 1 million construction workers could still be vulnerable to asbestos annually. Today, professionals in the construction industry are at risk for first-hand exposure more than any other profession. Workers in multiple trades including roofers, carpenters, electricians, and masonry should be aware of asbestos as they work.

In order for workers to protect themselves, professionals in these fields should take the precaution of wearing the proper masks during any type of construction project. Understanding the age of the building and what asbestos looks like is also important because this could help workers know the risks associated with a certain structure, making them less vulnerable to exposure. Keep in mind that asbestos can exist in a variety of products including drywall, shingles, ceiling tiles, and insulation, so even those participating in DIY projects should be aware of where their health and safety could be at risk.

Firefighters– Asbestos fibers can be released into the air when a building or home catches on fire. This puts first responders like firefighters in danger of inhaling the toxin in the process of putting out a fire. This leaves firefighters at risk to develop peritoneal mesothelioma, which originates in the lining of the lungs after being inhaled.  While the initial danger to firefighters is the fire itself, even after the flames are put out, asbestos could be present in the air as the structure cools off. Firefighter equipment is designed to keep out hazardous materials like asbestos, but many people do not understand that certain risks persist even after the initial fire is put out. Asbestos fibers can attach to clothing, leading to the possibility of second-hand exposure for those who might come in contact with any type of clothing used at the scene of the fire.

In order to limit exposure to asbestos particles, firefighters should wear a certified self-containing breathing apparatus (SCBA) mask that covers the mouth and nose in order to protect themselves while on the job. They should also keep masks on even after the fire has been put out while debris is cooling, because asbestos fibers could still be in the air. To eliminate risks of exposure for family, friends, and colleagues, firefighters should also remove their gear before leaving the scene and wash off before returning home.

 Shipyard Workers– At one time, asbestos exposure was a large risk for laborers and those employed on ships. Due to the mineral’s strong and heat resistant attributes, was often used for things like boilers and steam pipes on Navy ships and shipyards. As a result, many shipyard laborers were exposed to asbestos, especially if they worked as electricians, painters, machinists, or “asbestos insulators.” This is one of the reasons veterans make up about 30 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses in the United States.

Shipyard workers are less likely to be exposed first-hand to asbestos today, but anyone working with older shipbuilding materials or piping should be aware of the possible risks and wear the appropriate masks to limit inhaling fibers. Workers who have been exposed in the past should let their primary care doctor know and stay up-to-date on appointments. Symptoms of mesothelioma specifically can often go undiagnosed because they are similar to symptoms of the flu, manifesting as a cough at first and eventually leading to shortness of breath and fever. If you know that you have been exposed, paying careful attention to your health and communicating with your doctor could lead to an early diagnosis, improving prognosis and life expectancy.

Preventing asbestos-related disease

 If you come across asbestos on the job, contacting a professional who knows how to handle the material will be the best way to move forward. No amount of asbestos exposure is safe, and handling the mineral should be taken seriously before proceeding with a project. Mesothelioma is a deadly but preventable cancer, if the correct steps are taken by employers and employees. Although asbestos has been heavily regulated over time, there is still not a ban on the material in the United States. Taking the time to check labels before using any products and educating others in your industry on how to protect themselves are sure ways to help bring an end to mesothelioma and other health issues caused by asbestos.

 

Canadian Government Announces Action on Pollution Prevention and Toxic Chemicals

The Canadian government recently issued a press release which states that it is undertaking actions to strengthen Canada’s approach to managing harmful substances and is committing to reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The announcement is in response to a 2017 report issued by the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (“Standing Committee”) that entitled “Healthy Environment, Healthy Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999”.

The 2017 report issued by the Standing Committee made 87 recommendations to the federal government, including prohibiting substances of very high concern unless industry can prove the substances can be used or emitted safely and there are no feasible substitutes; ensuring that vulnerable people are taken into consideration when the government assesses and manages new substances; implementing timelines throughout the Act to oblige action on toxic substances; and facilitating public participation in environmental decision-making and in enforcement of the Act.

At the time of the release of the 2017 report, the Committee Chair Deb Schulte stated, “The Act has now been in place for almost three decades. It is time to bring it into the 21st century by taking into account new scientific knowledge and evolving concepts in environmental law.”

Photography of Factory https://www.pexels.com/photo/photography-of-factory-929385/The Government of Canada is taking action to implement many of the Committee’s recommendations including:
• The development of a policy framework for considering vulnerable populations—such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly—in the assessment and management of chemicals;
• Action to protect Canadians from chemicals of high concern, such as endocrine disruptors, which can affect how hormones work and lead to long-term health issues; and
• Updating standards and developing new instruments to improve air quality and reduce air pollution from industrial sources, including oil refineries.

As a first step in the legislative reform of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and updating of Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan, the Canadian government will conduct a thorough review and consult with various groups

Couple admits illegally storing 4,500 tons of hazardous waste in warehouse

As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a husband and wife recently plead guilty to a U.S. federal charge and admitted improperly transporting 4,500 tons of hazardous waste and storing it in a warehouse near St. Louis, Missouri.

The couple, both in their 60’s, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to a misdemeanor charge of placing someone in danger of death or serious bodily injury from a hazardous waste.

Green Materials LLC facility in Missouri (Photo Credit: Robert Patrick, Post Dispatch)

Their company, Missouri Green Materials LLC, Missouri Green Materials LLC stored a large quantity of spent sandblasting materials inside a warehouse located in the town of Berger, approximately 70 miles west of St. Louis.  They couple admitted that they arranged for the transport and storage of the hazardous waste from Mississippi, and failed to tell both the trucking companies that hauled the waste and the personnel that unloaded it of the danger.  Their storage facility was not properly permitted was not registered as a permitted hazardous waste storage or recycling facility.

The sandblasting waste materials are considered to be hazardous because they contain amounts of certain metals, including cadmium, that exceed regulatory limits established by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA).

The materials were stored in a warehouse in a flood plain for more than four years.  There are no indications of any release of the materials from the warehouse.

The couple have agreed to pay $1.5 million to the U.S. EPA for the costs of dealing with the waste. They could face probation or a sentence of six months behind bars for the crime under federal sentencing guidelines.

The source of the sandblasting waste was for a site in Mississippi.  An Ohio company, U.S. Technology Corp had been buried the waste.  The company was repeatedly ordered by regulators to remove it.

In 2016, the U.S. EPA and U.S. Technology signed a consent agreement whereby the company agreed to remove the waste from Green Material’s facility in Missouri and test the site for soil contamination.  According to prosecutors, this work was never performed.

U.S. Technology and president Raymond Williams, 71, both pleaded not guilty in the case. A hearing has been scheduled to change both pleas later in June.

Some sandblasting waste is classified as hazardous

Amendments to Canada’s Hazardous Products Regulations

The Canadian government recently made amendments to the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) under the Hazardous Products Act.

The objective of the recent amendment of the HPR is to provide industry with the option to use prescribed concentration ranges to protect the actual chemical ingredient concentrations or concentration ranges on Safety data sheets (SDSs) for hazardous workplace products in Canada rather than submitting CBI applications under the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA).

SDSs, which accompany hazardous products sold or imported for use in Canadian workplaces, must disclose the concentrations or concentration ranges of the ingredients in a product that present health hazards in accordance with the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR).  This information could be considered confidential business information (CBI) to industry.  CBI for workplace hazardous products can be protected by filing an application with Health Canada under the (HMIRA) and paying the associated fee.

Regulated parties proposed that they should have a means to protect the concentrations or concentration ranges of ingredients without having the burden and cost of the HMIRA application process.

Health Canada is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and its regulations.  The purpose of the HPA is to protect the health and safety of Canadians by regulating the sale and import of hazardous products for use in the workplace.

All Hazards Waste Management Planning (WMP) Tool

The U.S. EPA recommends that communities have a Waste Management Plan (WMP) that addresses the management of waste generated by all hazards, particularly from homeland security incidents ranging from natural disasters and animal disease outbreaks to chemical spills and nuclear incidents to terrorist attacks involving conventional, chemical, radiological, or biological agents.

This tool is intended to assist emergency managers and planners in the public and private sectors in creating or updating a comprehensive plan for managing waste generated from man-made and natural disasters. The tool walks the user through the process of developing and implementing a plan. The tool also contains many resources that can be used as aids to various aspects of the planning process. View and use at https://wasteplan.epa.gov.

New ASTM International standard supports hazardous materials packaging

A new ASTM International standard helps with pressure testing certain containers that are used to transport hazardous materials.  The standard will help meet requirements of entities that regulate and support global trade. According to ASTM International member Larry Anderson, current regulations are limited in describing how to perform such a test.

Specifically, the new test method provides instructions for performing hydrostatic pressure testing on intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). “This guide provides the detail on how to conduct pressure testing on IBCs and will provide a more consistent process for container manufacturers, test labs, and regulatory agencies,” says Anderson, who works at TEN-E Packaging Services, Inc., which assists companies with packaging testing and the certification of dangerous goods.

The new standard aims to help manufacturers pass performance tests and qualify their container designs to meet requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, as well as the United Nations recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods.

The new standard (soon to be published as D8134) was developed by ASTM International’s committee on packaging (D10).

 

Five New U.S. Hazmat Rules to Look for in 2018

By Roger Marks, Lion Technology Inc.

Ask a U.S. dangerous goods (DG) professional to name the most challenging part of his or her job, and you’re likely to hear about dense regulatory standards that overlap and seem to change on a near daily basis.

As dangerous goods shippers, freight forwarders, and carriers roll into 2018, new rules for hazmat air and vessel shipments are already in effect.  In addition, U.S. DOT’s Pipeline and the U.S. Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) plans to start finalizing new hazmat rules as soon as February 2018.

Here, we’ll review the new U.S. DG air and vessel requirements that are mandatory now and review five new or changing U.S. DOT hazmat rules most likely to hit the books as Final Rules this year.

New IATA DGR Rules for Air Shippers

For hazmat air shippers, the 59th Edition of the International Air Transport Association’s Dangerous Goods Regulations, or IATA DGR, is in effect as of January 1, 2018.  The 59th Edition of the IATA DGR includes stricter requirements for lithium batteries shipped by air, a re-ordered list of Class 9 materials in Subsection 3.9.1, and a new Appendix I that details changes planned for air shippers in 2019.

Just before January 1st, IATA published the first Addendum to the 2018 DGR, which includes additional updates for air shippers and airline passengers.  IATA uses these addendums to make ongoing revisions to the current DGR before the publication of the next edition.

2016 IMDG Code Mandatory as of January 1st

Compliance with the latest International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, or IMDG Code, is also mandatory as of January 1.  Updates made in the 2016 edition, compliance with which was voluntary throughout last year, are now officially in force.  These include new dangerous goods marking and labeling criteria; new packing instructions for certain shipments of engines, lithium batteries, and aerosols; and adjustments to the IMDG Code Dangerous Goods List.

The U.S. DOT, along with other federal agencies, recently released a semiannual agenda of rulemaking activities, many of which will impact hazardous materials professionals in 2018. The five rulemakings below, in progress now, are all scheduled to be published as final rules before Fall 2018.

  1. Enhanced Safety Provisions for Lithium Batteries by Air (RIN 2137-AF20

Expected in February 2018, this Interim Final Rule will harmonize the 49 CFR hazmat regulations with evolving international standards for shipping lithium batteries by air.  International requirements already in effect under the latest IATA DGR will now be adopted into 49 CFR and include:

  • Prohibiting lithium-ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft;
  • Limiting state-of-charge to 30%; and
  • Limiting the use of alternate provisions for small cells or batteries by air.

Lithium battery requirements are one area of the hazmat regulations that have changed rapidly in the past decade and will continue to evolve as regulators and industry learn more about the potential and hazards of these batteries.

Melted mobile phone caused from lithium battery explosion

  1. Response to Industry Petitions—RIN 2137-AF09

Under regulations found at U.S. 49 CFR 106.95, interested parties may petition US DOT to amend, remove, or add hazmat regulations to enhance safety, streamline the CFR text, or boost efficiency for shippers and carriers.  In 2018, PHMSA plans to address 19 such petitions from hazmat stakeholders to provide clarification and/or relief within the hazmat shipping regulations.

Petitions to be addressed include an increase to the service life of certain hazmat tank cars and removing the emergency response number requirement for shipments of excepted quantities of hazardous materials.

This final rule is also expected in February 2018.

  1. Miscellaneous Amendments Pertaining to DOT Specification Cylinders (RIN 2137-AE80)

The U.S. DOT will address various petitions from industry stakeholders pertaining to the manufacture, maintenance, and use of DOT specification cylinders.  The rulemaking will also incorporate two existing hazmat special permits into the U.S. 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

DOT expects to issue this final rule in April 2018.

 EPA’s Electronic Hazardous Waste Manifest System

Technically speaking, this one is a U.S. EPA rulemaking — but it does have consequences for hazmat shippers.  The Hazardous Waste Manifest is a shipping paper required for the transport of hazardous waste, and hazardous waste is regulated in transport as a hazardous material by US DOT.

On January 3rd, 2018, the U.S. EPA published a final rule to guide the process of setting and collecting fees from users of the electronic Manifest system.  Rollout of the long-planned e-Manifest system will begin in earnest on June 30th of this year, when the U.S. EPA plans to implement the system for collecting domestic hazardous waste manifests and domestic shipments of State-only regulated hazardous wastes.

As for how it will work, the U.S. EPA has determined that charging user fees to treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) and State-only waste receiving facilities is “the most effective and efficient means” of collecting user fees to fund the administration of the e-Manifest system.

  1. Oil Spill Response Plans for High-Hazard Flammable Trains

    High Hazard Flammable Train

    (RIN 2137-AF08)

This year, the U.S. DOT will promulgate a Final Rule to expand the applicability of oil spill response plans for trains transporting Class 3 flammable liquids in certain volumes and orientations across the train.

The bolstered requirements will apply to High-Hazard Flammable Trains, or HHFTs. A “High-Hazard Flammable Train” is a train carrying 20 cars of a Class 3 flammable liquid in a continuous block or 36 or more such cars across the entire train. Crude oil production and transport volumes have risen significantly in the past decade:  In 2009, 10,800 rail car loads of crude oil traveled by Class I railroad.  By 2015, that number had skyrocketed to over 400,000.1

The U.S. DOT plans to issue this final rule in July 2018.

These likely won’t be the only changes for U.S. hazmat shippers in 2018.  But, by identifying the future regulations or updates that may impact operations, shippers, brokers, and carriers can avoid confusion and panic when DOT finalizes the new rules.

 

Footnotes

  • *See 79 FR 45019

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About the Author

Roger Marks is a researcher and writer at Lion Technology Inc., a provider of 49 CFR, IATA DGR, and IMDG Code dangerous goods training in the US.  Now in his 7th year at Lion, Roger creates content to inform and empower EHS professionals, and closely monitors developing regulatory actions that impact hazmat shipping, hazardous waste management, environmental compliance, and OSHA workplace safety.  Find nationwide public workshops, 24/7 online training solutions, and live webinars at www.Lion.com.

This article is republished and first appeared on OHS Online.