16 new chemicals added to the toxic list

  • 1-amino-2,4-dibromoanthraquinone
  • 2,2-bis(bromomethyl)-1,3-propanediol
  • Furan
  • glycidol
  • isoprene
  • methyleugenol
  • o-nitroanisole
  • nitromethane
  • phenolphthalein
  • tetrafluoroethylene
  • tetranitromethane
  • vinyl fluoride
  • 1,6-dinitropyrene
  • 1,8-dinitropyrene
  • 6-nitrochrysene
  • 4-nitropyrene

The following list of chemicals and compounds have been classified as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen” and have, as such, been added to the EPCRA section 313 list of toxic chemicals.

Want to find out if any of the chemicals in your home or workplace are listed as toxic? You can search by chemical on the CDC NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.


Just wanted to send a short apology to my regular readers for posting nothing for the past few days. Here’s what happened…

Monday, here in Seattle, we got hit by a snowstorm, followed by a sudden drop in temperature, followed by a big wind storm. I got home early, without too much trouble, unlike a lot of people who got stuck in gridlock for hours (Heard stories of people taking over 12 hours to go less than 20 miles). Once I got home, however, the power went out because of falling trees. Power stayed out at my house till 10:30 AM on Friday morning. Adding to this was the fact that the area where I live got hardest hit. It’s a hilly area and with the iced up roads and the trees that were down we literally couldn’t get out till Thursday. We were actually fine as we have a wood stove that kept us nice and warm and which we were able to use to cook on as well. Thanksgiving consisted of steaks cooked on the barbeque. We didn’t actually have Thanksgiving till Saturday.

All this to explain that, having no power, no internet connection and no way of getting anywhere to get a connection the blog ended up with no postings on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

Things are back to normal so let me wish you all a belated Happy Thanksgiving and a hearty apology.



Ergonomic Tip of the Week # 48

Grab a large rubber band and put it around all your fingertips, cup your hand so your finger tips are touching each other. Now use the force of the rubber band and try and spread your fingers out as wide as possible. Repeat 10 times with each hand 3 to 5 times a day. This will strengthen your inner hand ligaments and tendons.

The ergonomic tip of the day is provided by Ken Oswald at SafetyCommunity.com

Which Respirator Cartridge should I use?

One of the questions that we get almost every day, sometimes several times a day, is “Which cartridge should I use for _________ (fill in the blank with the process or chemical in question)?”

It is also one of the questions that we will not answer for you.

Why? First and foremost because of liability and secondly because we don’t know the full story and cannot be telling you what you should use.

So, how do you find out what to use?

The answer really isn’t all that complicated but the procedure might be…

  1. What are you being exposed to?
  2. What are the concentrations?
  3. How long are you going to be exposed to it?

The answers to the three questions above are going to determine which respirator cartridge, and, in some cases, which respirator you need to be wearing. The problem is that, most often, the person on the phone can’t give us an answer to one or more of these questions. If you can’t answer all three than you need to find the answers before you start wearing a respirator.

One of the first places to start, is to look at the MSDS sheet or the back of the can or bottle of whatever it is that you are trying to protect against. The manufacturer should have done the research for you. They should be able to tell you which cartridge you need to use to protect yourself. If you can’t find the information you need, you should call the manufacturer and insist that they get you the information you need. Call them, not us (not that we don’t want to help, it’s just that we can’t provide you with the information that they have).

Secondly is the issue of concentrations. Knowing how much of the “methel-ethel-bad-stuff” you are being exposed to is important in determining two things:

  1. Is a cartridge going to be good enough or do you need to step up to a supplied air system, SCBA, etc…
  2. How long the cartridge is going to last. Every cartridge has a service life (the manufacturer of the cartridge should be able to give you this information). Match the concentration of the substance you are protecting against to this chart and it will tell you when you need to swap the cartridge out.

Finally, the issue of how long you will be working around the stuff will further tell you the level of protection you need. Exposure to 10 ppm for one hour is obviously not the same as exposure to 5 ppm over a period of 10 hours. In the first case you are only exposed to 10 ppm for the whole day, while in the second case you are exposed to 50 ppm.

For a fuller study and explanation concerning respiratory protection, download “The Basics of Respiratory Protection

Ergonomic Tip of the Week # 47

When lifting, break larger loads into smaller, lighter loads. Repetition is better than heavier weights. Use manual movement devices such as carts, dollies, or forklifts to move items, even if it takes longer to perform the task.

The ergonomic tip of the day is provided by Ken Oswald at SafetyCommunity.com

When was the last time you cleaned your respirator?

Respirators are designed to keep “bad stuff” out of your lungs. The respirator is fit tested to make sure that you have a proper seal and that the only air that gets in has to come through the filter medium. What filter medium will, of course, depend on what it is that you are exposed to.

While most respirator wearers understand the need to change out these cartridges on a regular basis to make sure that the air that they are breathing in is properly filtered, it never ceases to amaze me, when walking through a facility where workers wear respirators, to see how these same worker treat their respirators.

Respirators must be properly maintained and cleaned regularly in order to be effective. I have seen workers remove their respirators while going to lunch or on a break and they leave their respirator cup up while on break. Whatever it is that they are trying to protect against is slowly accumulating in the cup. The worker comes back from break, puts the respirator on and inhales a lungful of all the stuff that they’ve been trying to protect against all day.

Respirators must also be properly maintained (inhalation and exhalation valves checked and replaced regularly, for example) and cleaned using an effective respirator cleaner.

When not in use, store the respirator properly in a respirator bag, coffee can (some like the smell of coffee inside their respirator when they put it on in the morning) or large ziplock bag.

Don’t allow the very thing that is designed to protect you because the source of the problem.

Audio/Visual Demo of Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Do yourself a favor. Do your kids a favor. Listen to this audio clip from HSE (Health and Safety Executive). The 4 minutes and 15 seconds that it takes to listen to the whole thing may save you from years and years of grief later on.

Recent studies have shown that 1 in 5 teenagers are losing their hearing (See the my blog post here). Let your kids and teens hear for themselves what it’s going to sound like if in 10, 20 or 30 years if they don’t turn that IPod down.

Then, if you’ve got their attention, try to get them (and yourself) to watch the short video clip that shows the “how” and “why” of hearing loss.

If you’ve got more time, you can explore the HSE website. There’s plenty there to dig into.

External Defibrillator Improvement Initiative

AEDs, Automatic External Defibrillators, save countless lives each year. While there is little doubt about the effectiveness of AEDs or the need for AEDs in public places, including in the workplace, there have also been way too many problems. AED manufacturers have been plagued with recalls (68 recalls from Jan. 1, 2005 to July 10, 2010). According to the report…

“Many of the types of problems we have identified are preventable, correctable, and impact patient safety. As part of a comprehensive review the FDA identified several industry practices that have contributed to these persistent safety risks including industry practices for designing and manufacturing defibrillators, handling user complaints, conducting recalls and communicating with users. In some cases, these practices can contribute to device performance problems, place undue burden on users and put patients at risk.”

This new initiative includes the following three points:

  1. Promote innovation of next generation external defibrillators to improve safety and effectiveness.
  2. Enhance the ability of industry and the FDA to identify and respond to problems with devices to address potential safety risks more quickly and effectively.
  3. Designate an appropriate premarket regulatory pathway for AEDs that promotes best practices for design and testing.

You can check out the complete white paper put out by the FDA here. You can download a pdf of the white paper from that location as well.

Burning the Thanksgiving Day Turkey

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. It’s supposed to be a day of family gatherings, good food, counting blessings and relaxation. For too many, however, it will be anything but.

A new 12 page report released by the USFA (U. S. Fire Administration) outlines the findings concerning fires on Thanksgiving Day.

Here is a sampling of the statistics that can be found in the report which is accessible in the USFA’s website here.

  • An estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss.
  • Smaller, confined fires account for 71 percent of Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings.
  • Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur most frequently in the afternoon hours from 12 to 4 p.m., peaking from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings at 69 percent. Nearly all of these cooking fires (97 percent) are small, confined fires with limited damage.
  • Electrical malfunctions (14 percent), carelessness or other unintentional actions (14 percent), and open flames (13 percent) are the leading causes of the larger, nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings.
  • Nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings most often start in cooking areas and kitchens (22 percent).
  • The leading category of factors contributing to ignition of nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings is the “misuse of material or product” (35 percent). Within this category, heat source too close to combustible materials and abandoned or discarded materials account for 14 percent and 9 percent of all nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings, respectively.
  • No smoke alarms were present in 20 percent of nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in occupied residential buildings.

The 12 page report provides a whole lot more information. Understanding the dangers, the origins and the whys of Thanksgiving Day fires is the first step to making sure that your home doesn’t become one of the 2,000 who’ll experience a Thanksgiving Day fire this year.