(c) 2017 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Legislation Introduced for Medical Monitoring for Burn Pit Exposures

Rep. Tim Bishop (NY-1) and lead cosponsor Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1) introduced the Military Personnel Toxic Exposure Registry Act. This bill builds on successful legislative efforts over the last year to prohibit the disposal of toxic waste in open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan and to ensure that the thousands of troops exposed to these dangerous burn pits receive proper medical care. 

The Omaha World-Herald has recently reported about a US Marine who died of lung cancer following exposure to dust and fumes from burn pits in Iraq,

The new legislation calls for a complete history of all burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan; a registry of all troops exposed to those burn pits; physical examinations for those exposed to burn pits; annual reports to Congress on burn pits related sicknesses; and a ban on the burning of plastics in large burn pits. 

“This new legislation is exactly what we need,” said John Wilson, Assistant National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans. “It is critically important that our government takes the next logical step to protect and care for our veterans who are suffering and who will potentially suffer from exposure to toxic fumes and debris in Iraq and Afghanistan. Likewise, we must also acknowledge and assist survivors of those service members who died from this exposure. We at the Disabled American Veterans strongly urge the military to determine and document what has been put into these pits and who has been exposed to them...."

Hundreds of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming sick and even dying from what appears to be overexposure to dangerous toxins produced by these burn pits. Symptoms include chronic bronchitis, asthma, sleep apnea, chronic coughs, and allergy-like symptoms. Several also have cited heart problems, lymphoma, and leukemia.

Click here to read more about burn pit exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Click here to read more about Iraq and Afghanistan worksite burn pit exposure claims.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making a Fatal Circus Out of Safety

The terrible and tragic death of Daum Brancheau, the trainer who was attacked at SeaWorld by a killer whale, provides striking evidence that the present system, to make the workplace safer, is not working. The corporate incentive to maintain a safe workplace unfortunately only can be induced by economics.

Two things need to happen so that workplaces become safer. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) need to be strengthened, and the workers' compensation system needs to remove the exclusivity bar that prevents liability claims against employers.

Workers' compensation has been in place since 1911 and limits recovery for an employee injured at work and shields employers from liability claims by injured workers. The system provides for a limitation of recovery and economic caps that shield employers from threatening damage claims. Without an economic incentive employers just won't do what's necessary to prevent accidents and injuries to employere.

Legislation, Protecting America's Workers Act H.R. 2067 S.1580 and Protecting Workers From Imminent Dangers Act of 2009 H.R.2199 ,  is presently under consideration to put teeth back into OSHA. Those pending changes, sadly will not help Dawn, they would be a good first step in preventing injuries and deaths like what occurred at SeaWorld in Florida.

Click here to red more about OSHA and workplace accidents and illnesses.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Novel Approach-Eliminate the Need to Go To Court

Scotland is working on a way to speed up compensation benefits in wrongful death compensation cases. Bill Butler, Minister from Glasgow has proposed that in admitted cases the parties should not have to appear in court.Joe O'Neill, of the Clydebank Asbestos Group, said: "This is welcome news for the people we represent.

"Too often protracted legal proceedings place undue strain on families and I would urge all MSPs to get behind these proposals and ensure that justice can be accessed as quickly as possible."
Speeding up the process is something that Nebraska does already also through the elimination of court appearances. Nebraska allows resolution of lump sum dispositions by merely filing a release.

Institute of Medicine to Start Burn Pit Health Study

The Institute of Medicine is going to commence a study of the health effects of the exposure to dust and fumes. Burn pits were utilized in Iraq and Afghanistan to improperly incinerate trash including toxic substances and human biological waste.
Soldiers and civilian contractors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have serious medical issues and some have been fatal.
The NY Times reported:
"Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) attended the committee meeting and applauded the VA for taking 'an important step forward.'"
"'This is an issue that should be definitive in terms of the science,' Bishop said. 'I don't think this is mysterious. I think that a careful, methodical study will yield the results that anecdotal evidence has already shown, and that will allow us to act.'"
Click here to read more about the chemical exposures in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trauma of Job Loss Often Includes Health Problems

Occupational heart attacks are notorious issues in workers' compensation claims. The New York Times reviews the phenomenon cardiovascular episodes attributed to work related stress due to plant closings.

A "....paper, published last year by Kate W. Strully, a sociology professor at the State University of New York at Albany, found that a person who lost a job had an 83 percent greater chance of developing a stress-related health problem, like diabetesarthritis or psychiatric issues."

The Occupational Disease Pilot Program & Healthcare

Health Care reform continues to be at the forefront of the Obama administration’s agenda.   Legal Talk Network Host and Attorney Alan S. Pierce welcomes Jon L. Gelman to discuss health care and workers’ compensation and the Occupational Disease Pilot Program: a close look at the delivery of  medical benefits when it comes to occupational disease and how workers' compensation may or may not fit into the big picture of universal health care or health care reform.

Click here to listen to the interview (duration 27:58):
MP3 Link: (20.6MB)

To read more about the Libby MT Pilot Project click here.

To read more about workers’ compensation and universal health care solutions click here. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

VA Officials Set Plan to Study Burn Pit Exposures

At recent hearings at the Institutes of Health, Veterans Affairs Department officials set out a plan to study burn pit exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have a particular need to solve this as best as we can,” said Victoria Cassano, acting director of VA’s Environmental Agents Service. “You tell us what the science is. You tell us what the evidence is. Do we have enough to [move] forward with a presumption or not?”

Complete report in the Army Times.

Air Force Veteran Warns of Burn Pit Hazards

A former member of the US Air Force, Tony Roles, tells of his exposure to toxic waste dust and fumes of burn pits in Iraq. He was stationed at Balas Air Force Base in Iraq as a weather forecaster. Upon his return he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder.

Exposures to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan have give rise to a multiple of law suits against government contractors who operated the burn pits.

Click here to read more about the chemical exposures in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Click here to read more about the Iraq and Afghanistan worksite chemical exposure cancer claims. 

Senator Levin Calls for Greater Scrutiny of Government Contractors

A US Senate Committee concluded an investigation of government military contractors and has called for greater scrutiny of them. The need for more oversight was the finding of of the Senate Armed Services Committee after it investigated their actions and found troubling gaps.

"Blackwater operated in Afghanistan without sufficient oversight or supervision and with almost no consideration of the rules it was legally obligated to follow," said Sen. Carl Levin, the committee's chairman.

Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan have been reported to have exposed military personnel and civilians to toxic dust and fumes through the inappropriate use of burn pits.

Complete article is reported in The Hill.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Taking Aim At Carcinogenic Cosmetics

The fragrance and cosmetic industry is now the target of potential regulation as the State of Colorado is considering legislation to ban cosmetics that contain cancer producing substances. Legislation has been introduced by Senator Betty Boyd and Representative Dianne Primavera to ban the products.The proposed legislation is entitled "Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act." [HB 1248]

Recently the NJ Courts upheld a workers' compensation claim of a worker who suffered a medical condition as a result of merely sustaining a bystander exposure to perfume

The cosmetic and fragrance industry is largely self-regulated. The proposed Colorado legislation comes as a new national effort is being made to create a safer environment in the workplace.

The read more about occupational exposures and workers' compensation click here.

Death of Soldier Alleged to be Result of Burn Pit Exposure

The exposure to toxic dust and fumes from burn pits in Iraq have been reported to have been allegedly linked to the death of a soldier.  The Omaha World-Hearld reports that the death of 25 year old Sgt. Klayton Thomas from lung cancer was reportedly causally connected to the exposure that he suffered in Iraq.

Burn pits have been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan  by the military and civilian contractors to disposed of hazards waste. Congress had held hearings concerning their use and alleged resulting disease prompting The National Academies to hold hearings on the exposures. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against major military contractors seeking benefits. 
Click here to read more about the chemical exposures in Iraq.

Asbestos Deaths Predicted to Continue for Decades

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a draft Intelligence Report concerning asbestos and mesothelioma in an effort to create a "road-map for research."

"Asbestos has been a highly visible issue in public health for over three decades. During the mid- to late-20th century, many advances were made in the scientific understanding of worker health effects from exposure to asbestos fibers and other elongate mineral particles (EMPs). It is now well documented that fibers of asbestos minerals, when inhaled, can cause serious diseases in exposed workers. However, many questions and areas of confusion and scientific uncertainty remain. For instance, due to the mineralogical complexity of the asbestos minerals, the scientific literature contains various inconsistencies in the definition and application of the term asbestos for health protection guidance and regulatory purposes."

"The purpose of the Roadmap is to outline a research agenda that will guide the development of specific research programs and projects that will provide a broader and clearer understanding of the important determinants of toxicity for asbestos and other EMPs. NIOSH recognizes that results from such research may impact environmental as well as occupational health policies and practices. Many of the issues that are important in the workplace are also important to communities and to the general population.Therefore, NIOSH envisions that the planning and conduct of the research will be a collaborative effort involving active participation of multiple federal agencies, including the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), as well as labor, industry, academia, health and safety practitioners, and other interested parties, including international groups. This collaboration will help to focus the scope of the research, to fund and conduct research, and to develop and disseminate informational materials describing research results and their implications for establishing new occupational and public health policies."

Asbestos Deaths Predicted to Continue for Decades
"NIOSH has annually tracked U.S. asbestosis deaths since 1968 and malignant  mesothelioma deaths since 1999 using death certificate data in the National Occupational  Respiratory Mortality System (NORMS). NORMS data, representing all deaths among  U.S. residents, show that asbestosis deaths increased almost 20-fold from the late 1960s  to the late 1990s (Figure 6) [NIOSH 2007b]. Asbestosis mortality trends are expected to substantially trail trends in asbestos exposures (see Section 2.4.2) for two primary  reasons: (1) the latency period between asbestos exposure and asbestosis onset is 2 typically long, commonly one or two decades or more; and (2) asbestosis is a chronic disease, so affected individuals can live for many years with the disease before succumbing. In fact, asbestosis deaths have apparently plateaued (at nearly 1,500 per year) since 2000 (Figure 3) [NIOSH 2007b]. Ultimately, it is anticipated that the annual  number of asbestosis deaths in the United States will decrease substantially as a result of  documented reductions in exposure. However, asbestos usage has not been completely  eliminated, and asbestos-containing materials remain in place in structural materials and  machinery, so the potential for exposure remains. Thus, asbestosis deaths in the United  States are anticipated to continue to occur for several decades."

Mesothelioma Strongly Linked to Occupational Exposures
"Malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive disease that is nearly always fatal, is known to be  caused by exposure to asbestos and some other mineral fibers [IOM 2006]. The occurrence of mesothelioma has been strongly linked with occupational exposures to asbestos [Bang et al. 2006]. There had been no discrete International Classification of Disease (ICD) code for mesothelioma until its most recent 10th revision. Thus, only seven years of NORMS data are available with a specific ICD code for mesothelioma (Figure 4); during this period, there was a 9% increase in annual mesothelioma deaths, from 2,484 in 1999 to 2,704 in 2005 [NIOSH 2007b]. A later peak for mesothelioma deaths than for asbestosis deaths would be entirely expected, given the longer latency for mesothelioma [J√§rvholm et al. 1999]. One analysis of malignant mesothelioma incidence based on the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program data found that an earlier steep increase in incidence had moderated and 1 that mesothelioma incidence may have actually peaked sometime in the 1990s in SEER-2 covered areas [Weill et al. 2004]. In contrast to NORMS data, which represents a census 3 of all deaths in the entire United States, the analyzed SEER data were from areas in 4 which a total of only about 15% of the U.S. population resides."

NIOSH  has invited Public Comment Until April 16, 2010 5:00pm EDT

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Veterans Tell of Burn Pit Toxins

Veterans are beginning to speak openly about the toxic exposures they were subjected to at the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan and the serious health problems that they now are experiencing. Organized groups of disabled veterans have called upon the military to address their concerns reports Daniel Zucchino in The Los Angeles Times.

The troops constructed massive burn pits to dispose of waste and burned medical waste, plastics, electrical components, oils, lubricants, paint, tires, dioxin, benzene,  and many other toxic substances without any environmental controls. Congressman Timothy H. Bish (D-NY), who co-sponsored legislation prohibiting such activity indicated that the US Army is operating 84 burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The National Academies are holding hearing to study the long term consequences of these exposures,

Returning veterans are reporting alleging multiple medical conditions including respiratory illness and cancer, sometime fatal. Many soldiers and civilian contractors have been exposed to dust and fumes from the burn pits.  Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the veterans and civilian contracts who have been exposed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Defense Expert Found Contradictory in Psych Claim

The NJ Appellate Division affirmed the trial decision of Judge Kovalcik who ruled that the testimony of the defense expert was "contradictory and inconsistent and cannot credit his conclusion that Petitioner no longer suffers from post traumatic stress disorder."

The injured worker was struck from behind by two co-workers who had threatened to kill him.

Sormaz v. Alpha Moving & Storage, Inc. .. JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. A-3482-08T33482-08T3  Decided 2.18.2010

Click here to read more about psychiatric claims and workers' compensation.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Camp Lejeune Toxic Exposure

Newly reported information is now demonstrating that the water at Camp Lejeune NC military base may have been  contaminated as a result of a toxic spill. Marines, sailors, their families and other civilian contractors may be been exposed to benzene, a human carcinogen.

Benzene was reported in the well water used for drinking on the base. The substance has been causally linked to cancer.It has been alleged that a dry cleaners leaked the toxin into the water for over three decades. Benzene has been liked to childhood cancers and birth defects.

Representative Brad Miller (D-NC) has requested an investigation into the exposure and possible concealment of information. As many as 1 million may have been exposed.

Click here to read more about claims arising out of benzene contamination.

Canadian Asbestos Hypocrisy

Despite the fact that asbestos is a know cancer producing agent, Quebec liberals have won their battle to continue asbestos mining. In 2008 asbestos amounted to a $100 Million dollars business in Canada. Canada exports the majority of its asbestos to developing counties which amounts to 175,000 tons per year. 

Over 100 scientists from 28 nations had written a letter in support of a ban on asbestos production in Canada.  “We appeal to you to respect the overwhelmingly consistent body of scientific evidence and the considered judgment of the World Health Organization (WHO) that all forms of asbestos have been shown to be deadly and that safe use of any form of asbestos has proven impossible anywhere in the world,” the letter began. “Under Canadian law, chrysotile asbestos is classified as a hazardous substance, but the Quebec government has successfully lobbied to prevent it being recognized as such under international environmental law, thus creating a double standard of protection as if some lives were less deserving of protection than others.”

The Canadian Journal of Medicine had also endorsed a ban on Canadian asbestos production. "Canada's government must put an end to this death-dealing charade. Canada must immediately drop its opposition to placing chrysotile under the Rotterdam Convention's notification and consent processes and stop funding the Chrysotile Institute. More importantly, Canada should do its part in alleviating the global epidemic of asbestos-related disease by ending the mining and export of chrysotile, as the WHO recommends."

Asbestos causes multiple diseases including: asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. For decades US victims of asbestos related disease have sought benefits under the workers' compensation system from employers. They have also filed claims under the civil justice system against suppliers, manufacturers and distributors of asbestos products. Due to the latency of the disease from exposure to manifestation, despite the reduction in the use of asbestos fiber, the disease continues to be very prevalent in the US and throughout the world.

Click here to read more about efforts to ban asbestos production in the US.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CMS Postpones Production Date for Mandatory Reporting

CMS has postponed first production date until January 1, 2011:
"CMS advises all NGHP RREs that the date for first production NGHP Input Files is changed from April 1, 2010 to January 1, 2011, effective immediately.
  • NGHP File data exchange testing will continue.  All NGHP RREs should now be registered with the COBC, and either in or preparing for file testing status.  NGHP file data exchange testing may continue during 2010, as needed.
  • All NGHP file data exchange testing will be completed by December 31, 2010.  NGHP RREs that have completed file data exchange testing at any time are encouraged to proceed to production file data exchange status.
During the week of February 22, on this Website CMS will post the next version of the "Section 111 NGHP User Guide" and a number of Alerts relating to particular NGHP policy issues.
Also during the week of February 22, on this Website CMS will post an alert for NGHP RREs describing the steps those RREs can take to assure their ongoing compliance with the Section 111 reporting requirements."

Click here to read more about CMS and workers' compensation.

Time to Collect the Salt Shakers

The reduction of factors contributing to cardiovascular disease would make any workplace a lot healthier. Recently, Mayor Bloomberg equated the deadly effects of asbestos exposure with salt intake.

Now comes a recent study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that illustrates that even a minor reduction of salt intake would produce a significant reduction in cardiovascular events.

NEJM states in an editorial, "The large potential benefits of reducing salt intake observed by Bibbins-Domingo and colleagues may even represent an underestimate. Salt reduction is associated with reduced blood pressure in children and an attenuated age-related rise in blood pressure in adults. Neither of these benefits was modeled in the present analysis. There is also evidence that salt reduction may reduce the risk of gastric cancer, end-stage kidney disease, left ventricular hypertrophy, congestive heart failure, and osteoporosis."

As employers have eliminated other co-exisitng contributing factors such as tobacco smoke, they would be indeed wise to also consider the reduction of other factors, such as salt intake. Such action could only make the workplace a healthier environment.

Click here to read more about salt intake and possible workers' compensation consequences.

Senators Call for Toxic Substances Act Update

The New York Times today reports that Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ.) is anticipated to introduce new legislation to modernize The Toxic Control Substances Act (TSCA) originally enacted in 1976. 

"There's no question that chemicals are essential to our modern lives ... but when we use these products, the chemicals in them can end up in our bodies," Lautenberg said. "And when the chemicals used in flame retardants, plastics or rocket fuel show up in our children's bodies, we have a potentially dangerous situation."

Click here to read more about toxic exposures and workers' compensation.

National Academies to Hold Meetings on Burn Pit Exposures in Iraq & Afghanistan

The long term consequences of exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan will be the subject of  committee meetings at The National Academies. The first committee meeting is scheduled on February 23 and 24, 2010 at the Keck Center, 500 5th Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20001. 

The exposures to burn pits have been the subject of multiple law suits alleging multiple medical conditions including respiratory illness and cancer, sometime fatal. Many soldiers and civilian contractors have been exposed to dust and fumes from the burn pits.

The planned agenda is:

February 23, 2010

NOTE: Space is limited; please let us know in advance if you plan to attend the meeting. An open microphone session is planned for the end of the public meeting. Each speaker will be limited to five minutes to address the committee due to time constraints and in the interest of allowing as many people to speak. Please let us know in advance if you wish to address the committee during this session.

1:00 – 1:30 pm Background and Charge to the Committee

Dr. Victoria A. Cassano, Director, Radiation and Physical Exposures, Acting Director Environmental Agents Service, Department of Veterans Affairs

1:30 – 2:15 pm DOD's Current and Future Health Surveillance Studies Related to Burn Pit Smoke Exposures

R. Craig Postlewaite, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs, Department of Defense

2:15 – 3:15 pm Overview of Army Public Health Command's (Provisional;
formerly US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine) Completed and Ongoing Studies on Health Risks Related to Burn Pits

Mr. Jeffrey S. Kirkpatrick, Director of Health Risk Management; Dr. Coleen B. Baird, Program Manager, Environmental Medicine Program US Army Public Health Command (Provisional; formerly US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine)

3:15 – 4:15 pm Open Microphone [5 minutes per speaker]

4:15 pm Adjourn Open Session

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss a proposed project to study the long term consequences of exposure to the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Project Scope
An IOM committee will determine the long term health effects of exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Specifically, the committee will use the Balad Burn Pit in Iraq as an example and examine existing literature that has detailed the types of substances burned in the pits and their by-products.  The committee will also examine the feasibility and design issues for an epidemiologic study of veterans exposed to the Balad burn pit.

The committee will explore the background on the use of burn pits in the military.  Areas of interest to the committee might include but are not limited to investigating:

·         Where burn pits are located, what is typically burned, and what are the by-products of burning;
·         The frequency of use of burn pits and average burn times; and
·         Whether the materials being burned at Balad are unique or similar to burn pits located elsewhere in Iraq and   Afghanistan.

The project sponsor is the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The approximate start date is November 1, 2009.

Members of the committee are:
Dr. David J. Tollerud, Sr. - (Chair)
University of Louisville, School of Public Health and Information Sciences

Dr. Tollerud is a professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. He has extensive clinical training, with specialty board certifications in internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine, and occupational medicine. Dr. Tollerud has research expertise in environmental and occupational health, epidemiology, and immunology, and consulting experience in the areas of occupational and environmental respiratory disease, medical surveillance, and workplace injury prevention programs. He served as the chair of the Committee on the Disposition of the Air Force Health Study, and he has served on the IOM's Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice and on a number of IOM committees since 1992.

Dr. John R. Balmes
University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine

Dr. Balmes is a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital. He is also a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Northern California Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. Dr. Balmes studies the respiratory health effects of various air pollutants. He has a particular interest in occupational respiratory disease. He has investigated the acute effects of inhalation exposures to ambient air pollutants in his human exposure laboratory at San Francisco General Hospital and the chronic effects of such exposures in epidemiological studies with collaborators at the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Balmes also is investigating genetic determinants of responses to air pollutants. He has led research, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to assist in the development of a national program to link environmental hazards with health outcome data to improve the tracking of diseases potentially related to environmental exposures. He is also the physician member of the California Air Resources Board. He is currently a member of the NRC's Committee for the Review of the Army's Enhanced Particulate Matter Surveillance Project Report. Dr. Balmes received his M.D. from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Dr. Edmund A.C. Crouch
Cambridge Environmental, Inc. 

Dr. Crouch is a senior scientist with Cambridge Environmental Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has published widely in the areas of risk assessment, and presentation and analysis of uncertainties. He has co-authored a major text in risk assessment, Risk/Benefit Analysis. Dr. Crouch serves as an expert advisor to various local and national agencies concerned with public health and the environment, and has served on a number of National Academy of Science committees, including the Committee on Health Effects of Waste Incineration. Dr. Crouch received his Ph.D. in High Energy Physics from Cambridge University.

Dr. Francesca Dominici
Harvard University 

Dr. Dominici is a professor of biostatistics in the Harvard School of Public Health at Harvard University. Dr. Dominici’s research has focused on the interface between the methodological development of hierarchical models and their applications to multi-level data. She has extensive experience on the development of statistical methods and their applications to clinical trials, toxicology, biology, and environmental epidemiology. Her main research interest is in the development of statistical models and the conduct of epidemiological studies to estimate the health effects of air pollution. She has served on a number of National Academies’ committees including the Committee on Gulf War and Health: Review of the Medical Literature Relative to Gulf War Veterans’ Health; the Committee to Assess Potential Health Effects from Exposures to PAVE PAWS Low-Level Phased-array Radiofrequency Energy; and the Committee on The Utility of Proximity-Based Herbicide Exposure Assessment in Epidemiologic Studies of Vietnam Veterans. Dr. Dominici received her Ph.D. in statistics at the University of Padua, Italy.

Dr. Ellen A. Eisen
University of California, Berkeley 

Dr. Eisen is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health and Harvard School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the interface between epidemiologic methods and applied public health. Dr. Eisen has studied the respiratory effects of a variety of occupational exposures, including
granite dust containing silica, cotton dust, endotoxin, and metalworking fluids. Her studies of longitudinal decline in pulmonary function among Vermont granite workers exposed to silica identified excess test variability (poor reproducibility) of FEV1 as a biomarker of impaired respiratory health and a source of selection bias in epidemiologic studies. Dr. Eisen has also published many studies of the health effects, particularly cancer, in relation to exposure to metalworking fluids in autoworkers. Dr. Eisen has served on numerous NRC and IOM committees, including the Committee on Asbestos: Selected Health Effects and the Committee on the Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite. Dr. Eisen earned her Sc.D. in biostatistics and occupational health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Mark W. Frampton
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr. Frampton is a professor of medicine and environmental medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is also the medical director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Frampton is board certified in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Diseases, and his research focuses on human clinical studies of the health effects of gaseous and particulate air pollution. He has served as a member on the external scientific advisory committees of the Southern California and Harvard Particulate Matter Centers, and as a consultant for the California Air Resources Board. Dr. Frampton received his M.D. from the New York University School of Medicine.

Dr. Petros Koutrakis
Harvard School of Public Health 

Dr. Koutrakis received a Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Paris in 1984. He is a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, Head of the Exposure, Epidemiology and Risk Program and the Director of the EPA/Harvard University Center for Ambient Particle Health Effects. His research activities focus on the development of human exposure measurement techniques and the investigation of sources, transport, and the fate of air pollutants. In collaboration with his colleagues in the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, he has developed ambient particle concentrators and high volume samplers that can be used to conduct human and animal inhalation studies. He has also developed a personal ozone monitor, a continuous fine particle measurement technique and several other sampling methods for a variety of gaseous and particulate air pollutants. These novel techniques have been used extensively by air pollution scientists and human exposure assessors in United States and worldwide. Dr. Koutrakis has conducted a number of comprehensive air pollution studies in the United States, Canada, Spain, Chile, Kuwait, Cyprus and Greece that investigate the extent of human exposures to gaseous and particulate air pollutants. Other research interests include the assessment of particulate matter exposures and their effects on the cardiac and pulmonary health. Dr. Koutrakis is a member national and international committees and the past Technical Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. He has published over 170 peer reviewed papers in the areas of air quality, exposure and health effects assessment and instrumentation.

Dr. Jacob D. McDonald
Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute 

Dr. McDonald is a scientist and director of the Chemistry and Inhalation Exposure Program at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute. He conducts research that bridges his education and experience in analytical chemistry, aerosol science, and toxicology. Dr. McDonald has experience in the aerosolization and vaporization of gases and particles for a wide range of applications. He has an interest in developing laboratory exposures that represent “real world” conditions, and conducting characterizations of these exposures that allow toxicity results to be placed in the context of human exposures to entire environmental pollutants or drug products. His work spans the study of complex mixtures, respiratory drug delivery, animal model development, and metabolism in mammals. He is a member of the American Association for Aerosol Research, the Society of Toxicology, and the American Chemical Society. Dr. McDonald currently serves on the National Research Council Committee to Review the Army's Enhanced Particulate Matter Surveillance Project Report. He earned a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry and toxicology from the University of Nevada.

Dr. Gunter Oberdorster
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr. Oberdorster is professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester, director of the University of Rochester Ultrafine Particle Center, principal investigator on a multidisciplinary research initiative in nanotoxicology, and head of the Pulmonary Core of a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences center grant. His research focuses on the effects and underlying mechanisms of lung injury induced by inhaled nonfibrous and fibrous particles, including extrapolation modeling and risk assessment. His studies of ultrafine particles influenced the field of inhalation toxicology, raising awareness of the unique biokinetics and toxic potential of nanoscale particles. He has served on many national and international committees and is a recipient of several scientific awards. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Aerosol Medicine, Particle and Fibre Toxicology, Nanotoxicology, and the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health and is associate editor of Inhalation Toxicology and Environmental Health Perspectives. Dr. Oberdorster has served on several NRC committees, including the Committee for Review of the Federal Strategy to Address Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials and the Committee on Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate Matter. He earned his D.V.M. and Ph.D. (in pharmacology) from the University of Giessen, Germany.

Dr. Dorothy E. Patton
Environmental Protection Agency [Retired]

Dr. Patton has over 24 years experience with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1976-2000). She began her EPA career working as an attorney in EPA’s Office of General Council on air, pesticide, and toxic substance issues. She later moved on to positions as Director of the Office of Science Policy, Executive Director of the EPA Science Policy Council, and Executive Director of the EPA Risk Assessment Forum. In these roles she was responsible for developing and implementing risk assessment policies and practices, environmental research planning and prioritization, and long-range strategic planning. After retiring from EPA in 2000, Dr. Patton taught a course in risk assessment at the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute and worked as a consultant with the Risk Sciences Institute within the International Life Sciences Institute. Dr. Patton was formerly a member of the NRC Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. She has also been a member of several NRC committees, including Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Toxicants, Metrics for Global Change Research, EPA Assessment Factors for Data Quality, Review of NASA's Earth Science Applications Program Strategic Plan, and the NRC Committee on Improving Risk Analysis Approaches Used by the United States EPA. She is currently a member of the IOM Committee on Decision-Making Under Uncertainty. Dr. Patton received a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law.

Dr. William M. Valentine
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine 

Dr. Valentine is associate professor of pathology and researcher at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His research specializes in the mechanisms of environmental neurotoxicants and neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Valentine’s current research includes delineating the molecular mechanisms of chemical agents that produce peripheral neuropathies. He is also investigating the role of copper dysregulation in neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Valentine has served on several NRC and IOM committees, including the Committee on Gulf War and Health: Literature Review of Selected Environmental Agents, Pollutants, and Synthetic Chemical Compounds, the Committee on Gulf War and Health: Review of the Literature on Pesticides and Solvents: Solvent Panel, and the Subcommittee on Jet Propulsion Fuel 8. Dr. Valentine earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, and his D.V.M. from the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL.

Dr. Bailus Walker, Jr.
Howard University 

Bailus Walker (IOM) is a professor of environmental and occupational medicine and toxicology at Howard University College of Medicine. His research interests include lead toxicity and environmental carcinogenesis. Dr. Walker has served as commissioner of public health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; chairman of the Massachusetts Public Health Council; and state director of public health for Michigan. He is past president of the American Public Health Association, and a distinguished fellow of both the Royal Society of Health and the American College of Epidemiology. Dr. Walker is currently a senior science advisor for environmental health to the National Library of Medicine and he is a member of the IOM. He has also served on several NRC committees, most recently the Committee on Improving Risk Analysis Approaches Used by the U.S. EPA; the Committee on Mine Placement of Coal Combustion Wastes; and the Committee on Toxicology. He is currently a member of the NRC’s Committee for the Review of the Army’s Enhanced Particulate Matter Surveillance Project Report. Dr. Walker received a PhD in occupational and environmental medicine from the University of Minnesota.

Click here to read more about the chemical exposures in Iraq.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Meso for Miles - Supporting Mesothelioma Research

A Walk/Run in support of research to treat and cure mesothelioma was successfully held in South Florida today. Hundreds were in attendance to support the research effort and demonstrate to ban the use of asbestos in the United States.

The legacy of disease caused by the innocent exposure to asbestos exposure continues in epidemic proportion. Asbestos, a known carcinogen, exposure results in asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Zurich May Face a Surge in European Asbestos Claims

It has been reported that Zurich Insurance in Britain may be facing a huge increase in asbestos disease claims.The British House of Lords may act on legislation permitting recovery for asbestos disease claims where there is evidence of scarring called pleural plaque.

Bloomberg News reported“There could be a material deterioration in prior year profitability,” said David Masters, a London-based credit analyst at Moody’s. “There remains a risk that pleural plaques claims costs could spiral over time.”

The century old workers compensation programs have become stagnated in processing occupational claims. Huge delays in compensating victims of asbestos disease in Britain have been reported. This mirrors what is occurring in the US. Workers' Compensation systems that have also been dilatory in with the disposition of these claims for numerous reasons.

Rating agencies have indicated that costs for asbestos related disease through Europe may have significant impact upon the reserves of insurance carriers including large one like Zurich.

Asbestos exposure is a cause of latent and fatal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. 

Click here to read more about asbestos and workers compensation.