10 Dangerous Chemicals to Ban from your Home

Mother Earth Living (http://www.motherearthliving.com) is a website that I spent a lot of time at. My wife and I are working hard at removing all harmful chemicals from our home and our diet. We eat fresh and local as much as possible (By the way, if you’re interested in fresh produce that’s locally grown, check out your farmer’s market and/or go to Full Circle. My wife and I live pretty far out in a rural setting. If we can find a place to pickup, you can to. I won’t go into everything about why they are great, just check it out for yourself. If you do sign-up, mention Rob Vajko and I’ll get $10.00 off my next order). We also have gone all natural with our cleaning stuff (Enjo microfiber cleaning clothes and Melaleuca will help you get there if you’re interested).

Unfortunately, that isn’t all there is to living chemical free. Many of the “stuff” that makes up our daily life is also harmful. Most carpets and curtains have been sprayed with chemicals to make them flame retardant and these chemicals have been proven to be carcinogens (you best bet is to tear out all your carpets and put in hardwood floors).

Okay, sorry, this is a topic I’m passionate about so I tend to get carried away. All of the above was intended to point you to an article by Mother Earth Living entitled “10 Dangerous Chemicals to Ban from your Home” so check it out at www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/10-dangerous-chemicals-to-ban-from-your-home.aspx and start reducing your chemical exposure.

Are you trying to remove chemicals from your environment? Share your ideas and projects with us. We’d love to hear how you’re doing it!

Hazmat Training Games

Want to test your employees to find out if they’ve actually learned anything after you’ve given them HazMat training? Here’s a fun way to do just that.

Head to http://www.hazmatsolutions.net/HazMatTrainingGames/index.htm and let them play the games to find out if they really do know the stuff. Match them against each other and give a prize for the highest score. How about the day off with pay for the one who does best? Let them know ahead of time that they’ll be competing for the prize. I can guarantee they’ll pay closer attention to the training.


Anhydrous tank leak

Here’s a video that you need to watch.


It was taken by Joel Hershberger and he comments:

An anhydrous ammonia tank hose broke and sprayed all over a field in Faribault, MN. If I knew then what I know now, this video would never have been taken. I could have died.

Another reader commented:

“Holy!! you were pretty lucky the wind was carrying it away from you! I’m a refrigeration technician and work with this every day, I would have hightailed out of there as fast as I could, and I carry two gas-masks in my car.

Did any of the gas carry your way? was it your tank? was there any persons working near it when the hose broke?

Sorry if it’s to many questions, but this is pretty wild”

All this to say, when you are dealing with a leaky tank, hose or anything involving chemicals, don’t assume you know it’s safe. Get away, get out and call the hazmat team. Had the wind shifted, Joel’s video would have been upload posthumously.

GHS Got you scrambling? There’s help!

Unlike in the movies where exposure to hazardous chemicals result in mutation that give people superhuman abilities and powers, in real life exposure to hazardous chemicals results in adverse health effects (some of which can take years to show up) and, in many cases, death.

Because of this a massive undertaking entitled the “Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals” (GHS) has been under way since the middle of last year (March 2012).

Essentially what GHS is doing is to replace the MSDS with a standardized system that applies across the different countries from which chemicals are being imported and exported to.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Not sure where to get started?

The OSHA Hazard Communication page, dedicated to GHS will get you well on your way and should answer most, if not all of your questions.

You’ll find comparisons sheets between HazCom 1994 and Hazcom 2012, OSHA Briefs, Fact Sheets, Quick Cards, Downloadable Pictograms and a whole lot more.


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H2S safety facts awareness and tips

H2S Safety Factsheet

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S, CAS# 7783-06-4) is an extremely hazardous, toxic compound. It is a colourless, flammable gas that can be identified in relatively low concentrations, by a characteristic rotten egg odor. The gas occurs naturally in coal pits, sulfur springs, gas wells, and as a product of decaying sulfur-containing organic matter, particularly under low oxygen conditions. It is therefore commonly encountered in places such as sewers, sewage treatment plants (H2S is often called sewer gas), manure stockpiles, mines, hot springs, and the holds of fishing ships. Industrial sources of hydrogen sulfide include petroleum and natural gas extraction and refining, pulp and paper manufacturing, rayon textile production, leather tanning, chemical manufacturing and waste disposal.

Hydrogen sulfide has a very low odor threshold, with its smell being easily perceptible at concentrations well below 1 part per million (ppm) in air. The odor increases as the gas becomes more concentrated, with the strong rotten egg smell recognisable up to 30 ppm. Above this level, the gas is reported to have a sickeningly sweet odor up to around 100 ppm. However, at concentrations above 100 ppm, a person’s ability to detect the gas is affected by rapid temporary paralysis of the olfactory nerves in the nose, leading to a loss of the sense of smell. This means that the gas can be present at dangerously high concentrations, with no perceivable odor. Prolonged exposure to lower concentrations can also result in similar effects of olfactory fatigue. This unusual property of hydrogen sulfide makes it extremely dangerous to rely totally on the sense of smell to warn of the presence of the gas.

Health Effects of Hydrogen Sulfide

H2S is classed as a chemical asphyxiant, similar to carbon monoxide and cyanide gases. It inhibits cellular respiration and uptake of oxygen, causing biochemical suffocation. Typical exposure symptoms include:


0 – 10 ppm Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat


10 – 50 ppm Headache
Nausea and vomiting
Coughing and breathing difficulty


50 – 200 ppm Severe respratory tract irritation
Eye irritation / acute conjunctivitis
Death in severe cases

Prolonged exposures at lower levels can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia, migraine headaches, pulmonary edema, and loss of motor coordination.

Working with Hydrogen Sulfide

Most countries have legal limits in force that govern the maximum allowable levels of exposure to hydrogen sulfide in the working environment. A typical permissible exposure limit in many countries is 10 ppm. While the distinctive odor of H2S is easily detected, its olfactory fatigue effects mean that one cannot rely on the nose as a warning device. The only reliable way to determine exposure levels is to measure the amount in the air. Regular monitoring will help to identify areas and operations likely to exceed permissible exposure limits, and any areas that routinely pose overexposure hazards should be equipped with continuous monitoring systems.

With a vapor density of 1.19, hydrogen sulfide is approximately 20 percent heavier than air, so this invisible gas will collect in depressions in the ground and in confined spaces. The use of direct reading gas detection instrumentation should be required before entering confined spaces such as manholes, tanks, pits, and reaction vessels that could contain an accumulation of H2S gas.

Wherever possible, exposure should be minimised by employing adequate engineering controls and safe working practices. Such methods include ensuring good ventilation and changing work procedures and practices. Where engineering controls cannot adequately control levels of exposure, it may be necessary to supplement them with the use of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) such as supplied-air respirators. A qualified industrial hygienist or safety professional should be consulted for guidance on the suitability and correct use of respirators.

Should a co-worker ever be overcome by H2S gas, do not attempt a rescue until you are properly protected yourself. The rescuer can very easily get caught out by venturing into a confined space without adequate protection. Remember that at levels above 200 ppm, collapse, coma and death due to respiratory failure can occur within seconds after only a few inhalations so you can be overcome yourself very quickly. Such incidents are sadly all too common and only serve to make the rescue effort twice as difficult.

NOTE: The information contained in this factsheet is presented for informative purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. You should consult the hydrogen sulfide standard for your country or consult the appropriate health and safety regulatory body for guidance.

Information from RRCommision of Tx and Texas WC.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau (koswald@plateautel.com)

Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management

Here’s a great computer program to download! It’s the CHEMM, the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management.
What is it?

From the CHEMM website:

  • Enable first responders, first receivers, other healthcare providers, and planners to plan for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of mass-casualty incidents involving chemicals
  • Provide a comprehensive, user-friendly, web-based resource that is also downloadable in advance, so that it would be available during an event if the internet is not accessible

With an impressive lineup of names for those who were involved in developping it, the software won the 2011 Risk Communication Award from the Alliance for Chemical Safety. The software is available for Windows or Mac.

Spend a little time on the site as well. It has an impressive amount of information about understanding chemical exposure and risks, toxic sydromes, patient care guidelines, types and categories of hazardous chemicals and a whole lot more.

Don’t wait till you’ve got a chemical spills or events to try to figure out how to handle it.

CSB 2012 – 2016 Strategic Plan

From the CSB website:

US Chemical Safety Board Releases 2012 2016 Strategic Plan

July 12, 2012

Washington, DC, July 12, 2012 The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released its 2012 2016 strategic plan. The plan is an update of the 2007 2012 CSB Strategic Plan, and includes the CSBs strategic goals, strategic objectives, and associated measures for managing and evaluating agency operations.

CSB Chairperson Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso said, The CSBs strategic plan contains 13 strategic objectives that enable the agency to work towards its mission of accident prevention. The plan builds on the agencys legislative mandate and includes an updated mission and vision statement.

The strategic plan was approved unanimously by CSB board members and is now posted on the CSBs website and available at http://www.csb.gov.

The CSBs updated strategic plan was developed by interviewing stakeholders in industry, academia, and other government agencies as well as considering public comment, which was submitted to the board for review. As a result the final version of the plan includes a CSB Most Wanted Program that will allow the CSB to focus on outreach initiatives surround key CSB recommendations. In addition, there are measurable objections and the final plan focuses on three main goals. Goal 1:Conduct incident investigations and safety studies concerning releases of hazardous chemical substances. Goal 2: Improve safety and environ- mental protection by ensuring that CSB recommendations are implemented and by broadly disseminating CSB findings through advocacy and outreach. Goal 3: Preserve the public trust by maintaining and improving organizational excellence.

Goal 1 drives the core mission of the agency by ensuring that the CSB selects and completes incident investigations that have the potential to generate recommendations with high preventive impact. It also focuses the agency on developing and completing safety studies with an emphasis on emerging safety issues. Goal 2 focuses on implementing our recommendations and their associated advocacy and outreach. The highly successful CSB safety videos are an important component of the agency information dissemination efforts. Goal 3, on organizational excellence, serves to bind all agency processes using best practice project management. This includes all of the agencys high-performing administration and services functions.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, http://www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at 202.446.8094 or via email at Hillary.Cohen@csb.gov.