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Posted by on in Food/Beverage

There has been research showing the presence of lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) in chocolate since 2001, although no evidence of harm from its consumption has been reported. For example, As You Sow, a consumer health protection organization, recently performed laboratory testing to measure levels of Pb and Cd on 50 different chocolate products available at retailers across California. The organization reported that 35 of the 50 chocolate products contained measurable levels of Pb and/or Cd. However, one should note that the presence of these metals in a food product alone is not sufficient to evaluate potential risks to consumers. The scientists at Cardno-ChemRisk presented work entitled “An exposure and health risk assessment of lead (Pb) in chocolate” at the annual Society of Toxicology meeting in New Orleans last week. To assess whether the ingestion of Pb-containing chocolate could pose a health risk to adults and children, our scientists used the EPA’s Adult Lead Methodology (ALM) and Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) models to predict the blood Pb levels (BLLs) of adults and children (aged 1-7) ingesting various amount of chocolate on a daily basis for 1 year. The results of this analysis demonstrated that in all cases, background Pb exposure was the primary contributor to estimated BLLs in children and adults, and Pb exposure from chocolate did not significantly increase estimated BLLs. Our findings indicate that simply reporting the Pb content of a chocolate product is not sufficient to evaluate health risk; the health risks of Pb in chocolate should be evaluated in the context of estimated background exposures using predictive blood Pb models. The SOT abstract of “An exposure and health risk assessment of lead (Pb) in chocolate” can be found here, along with the other abstracts that our staff presented. For further information, please contact Matt Abramson.  

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Posted by on in Occupational Health/IH

With the release of OSHA's Final Rule for Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica on March 25, 2016, the U.S. will likely reach a new era in silica regulation. Crystalline silica is the most well-studied and one of the oldest known causes of occupational lung disease, although thus far it has only been regulated on the national level by OSHA permissible exposure limits (PELs). However, efforts to release a comprehensive rule for the mineral have been underway for some time, with efforts toward a recommended standard headed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the 1970s, and an in-earnest effort by OSHA to promulgate a standard in the early 2000s.

This new regulation will impact a broad cross-section of American industry, and, notably, construction, foundries, and fracking. The hallmark imperative of this regulation is a PEL of 50 µg/m3, which cuts the previous PEL in half. In addition, there is an action level of 25 µg/m3 that will trigger additional requirements serving to prevent employees from developing a disease. The regulation also contains requirements for exposure assessment, controls including respiratory protection, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and a written silica control plan, among others. Notably, abrasive blasting with sand is still allowed in the U.S. despite that it can result in the highest silica exposures if workers are not properly protected, and that there are alternatives to sand. Appropriately, the new regulation contains a clause with regard to controlling exposures from sand abrasive blasting.

Many in the public health community have long seen the necessity of passing a standard that comprehensively regulates crystalline silica exposure. OSHA has estimated that the expected exposure reduction resulting from the regulation will prevent silicosis in over 900 workers annuallyand save over 600 lives annually. The Agency estimates that the annual cost to industry will be $1.03 billion, but with annual benefits to industry of over $8 billion (see Table I-1 of the Final Rule). Certain industry representatives and congressional representatives have expressed an intent to block and oppose the regulation in courts. Nevertheless, this occupational health standard, which has been a top priority both for the current OSHA administration headed by David Michaels and past OSHA administrators, is an important step toward protecting the health of U.S. workers.

For more information, please contact William Cyrs, Matthew Le, or  Thomas Slavin

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Posted by on in Centers of Excellence
From March 13-16, 2016, many of our colleagues attended the SOT annual conference in New Orleans. A few of them are pictured, from left to right: Lauren Gloekler, Christina Trusty, Derek Dreschel, Marisa Kreider, Aaron Chapman, Matt Abramson. A full list of our presenters can be seen here. We received great feedback on our presentations and posters.

In particular, we are pleased to announce that Bethany Winans, Ph.D., received the Best Paper of the Year. Her paper, titled "Linking the aryl hydrocarbon receptor with altered DNA methylation patterns and developmentally induced aberrant antiviral CD8+ T cell responses," was nominated by a researcher at Michigan State University and was selected from among four other nominated papers. The SOT cited its outstanding contribution to understanding the impact that early life exposure to pollutants has on the developing immune system.

Our staff fully enjoyed the conference, as well as the great ambiance of the city. We extend our congratulations to all of the presenters at the conference. We would like to thank the SOT organizers for hosting us. We would also like to thank everyone who took time to visit our posters and presentations. If you have any further questions, please see our presenter Q&A series, Parts I, II, III, IV and V, or reach out to the authors directly. Their contact information can be found in the professionals section of our website.  
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Posted by on in Centers of Excellence

For our final featured presenter in our SOT spotlight series, Christina Trusty shares thoughts on her recent poster presentation below.

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Posted by on in Centers of Excellence

Please read below for more information from Evan Beckett on his recent presentation, as we continue to spotlight our SOT 2016 presenters.

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