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Posted by on in Centers of Excellence
Pierce et al. published “An updated evaluation of reported no-observed adverse effect levels for chrysotile asbestos for lung cancer and mesothelioma” in the online version of the Critical Reviews in Toxicology journal last month. This article is an update to the review article published in 2008 titled “An evaluation of reported no-effect chrysotile asbestos exposures for lung cancer and mesothelioma.”

The general findings of the updated study are:

·         Based on our review of 16 eligible groups of chrysotile-exposed workers, we determined a best-estimate NOAEL range for lung cancer of 89-168 fibers/cc-years and for pleural mesothelioma of 208-415 fibers/cc-years. 

·         None of the studies of workers exposed to medium and short (grade 4 – 7) chrysotile reported an increased risk of either disease at any exposure level.  This supports that medium and short fiber chrysotile, which was used in hundreds of products (e.g., automotive brakes, and clutches, gaskets, roofing products, joint compound, etc.) may have no carcinogenic potential.

·         Of the seven cases of peritoneal mesothelioma reported in all studies combined, none were observed in the analyses of medium and short chrysotile-exposed workers in the absence of crocidolite exposure.

The abstract of the article is available here.

Please contact Jennifer Pierce for more information.
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Posted by on in Centers of Excellence

Brooke Tvermoes, Ph.D., will be speaking at the GMA Science Forum – Connecting Sound Science with Sound Policy, to be held April 18-21, 2016, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. The GMA, or Grocery Manufacturers Association, is a trade association "representing the makers of the world's favorite food, beverage and consumer products" and assisting their members with diverse issues such as to "spur economic growth; ensure access to safe, healthy, and affordable foods; market [their] products responsibly; and tackle hunger relief." For the past decade, the GMA Science Forum has kept scientists and decision makers in the industry informed. This year's Forum will "provide attendees with multiple views and actions to be taken in order to ensure policies, laws and regulations are based on sound, up-to-date science, and achieve compliance with the ever changing regulatory environment."  

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Posted by on in Epidemiology
Over the past several weeks, the National Football League (NFL) has once again faced increased scrutiny regarding its response to concussion-related health effects.  The league’s top official for the health and safety of players only recently formally acknowledged the link between playing football and degenerative brain disorders, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).  And last week, the New York Times raised more questions about the legitimacy of NFL-funded concussion research conducted by the league’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee in the 1990s and 2000s.  Here, we continue our discussion of occupational injuries sustained by NFL players.  Our previous post can be found on our website

Perhaps overshadowed by the publicity surrounding the aforementioned issues, last week the league approved several new rule changes for the upcoming 2016 season, many of which are intended to protect players from injury.  One noteworthy change will move touchbacks from the 20- to the 25-yard line.  This rule is intended to protect players by discouraging returns made during kickoffs, plays that have especially high injury rates.  Our recent study of the effects of the NFL’s 2011 amendments to the Free Kick rule, changes that were similarly aimed at reducing the incidence of injuries during kickoffs, demonstrated that almost all of the positive effects of the rule changes were attributable to a decrease in active gameplay rather than to safer gameplay (see abstract here).  We additionally showed that, though kickoff injury rates decreased, the types of injuries suffered, including those to the head, did not significantly change.  Our study highlights the need for detailed assessments of injury prevention interventions to understand exactly how they influence injuries and why. 

Furthermore, additional research into the mechanisms of and risk factors for sports injuries, particularly those that can lead to long-term disability, will be key to their prevention.  The need for the rapid collection and synthesis of such information has become critical to the viability of the game of football.  Our company’s collective expertise in program evaluation, risk assessment, study design, and data analysis can help organizations maximize the effectiveness of their injury prevention strategies, conduct high-quality research, and effectively disseminate findings. For more information about our work in this area, please contact Dr. Peter Ruestow.  
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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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