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Lawsuits prove that companies need to keep workers' health and safety in mind - or they may face costly litigation.

The widow of a man who recently died of lung cancer has filed a lawsuit against the company that employed him for exposing him to asbestos.

According to an article in The Record in April, Katherine Jackson filed a lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Illinois Central Railroad, alleging that the exposure caused her deceased husband’s fatal condition.

Jackson alleges her recently deceased husband, Claudy Jackson, worked as a fireman for the railroad company from 1948 until 1951.

During that time, Claudy Jackson was exposed to asbestos, diesel exhaust, environmental tobacco smoke, silica, welding fumes, toxic dusts, gases and other fumes, according to the complaint.

As a result of his exposure, Claudy Jackson experienced great pain, disability, mental anguish and nervousness and incurred medical costs, the suit states, and on April 26, 2008, Claudy Jackson died after a battle against lung cancer.

His wife claims the company did not follow proper health and safety procedures and is seeking a judgment of more than $200,000, plus costs.

Source: The Record

The dangers of asbestos exposure

The WHO identifies asbestos as one of the most dangerous occupational carcinogens, declaring the need to eliminate asbestos use and associated health damages. An estimated 107,000 people worldwide die from asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used for insulation in constructions. It is relatively affordable, which makes it attractive in developing countries.

Asbestos-related lung diseases, particularly mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis (asbestos induced lung fibrosis), typically develop after decades of lag time from first exposure.

Protect workers’ health and safety with powerful air cleaners

Air purifiers and major air filtration systems from Electrocorp designed for mold and asbestos abatement projects can help keep the indoor air clean by removing chemicals, particles, fibers and gases from the air with a large activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners use only safe and proven filtration technologies.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.


Wildfires lead to poor air quality and health problems.

People who are exposed to wildfire smoke – particularly that from smoldering peat – are at risk of suffering from cardiac and respiratory illness, according to new research led by EPA.

The health complaints associated with wildfire smoke dramatically increased the number of emergency room visits, says the study, which examined the 2008 peat bog fire along the North Carolina coast.

ERs saw a 66 percent increase in people complaining about heart and lung conditions such as asthma, heart failure, heart attacks and others while the wildfires were burning and for several days afterwards.

Toxic chemicals released by wildfires 

Peat bog fires such as the 2008 fire the team studied release more irritating chemicals than normal forest fires, Cascio says, although scientists don’t yet fully understand how those chemicals affect the body.

Peat bog fires are different from more typical forest fires because the soil burns along with the vegetation, according to Chris Meggs of the N.C. Forestry Service.

The burning soil lends a different smell to the smoke and is the reason that these fires release more irritating chemicals.

There were at least two such fires burning in North Carolina this spring, and many more continue to rage across North America.

Officials, employers urged to act during wildfires

Researchers involved in the study hope to help public health officials manage wildfire events.

These types of studies have provided valuable insights to affected communities in the past and prompted officials to evacuate some schools and advise businesses to close during raging wildfires.

Another important goal of the EPA study, according to the article, was to shed light on which people are most sensitive to wildfire smoke.

It’s not just asthmatics who need to beware of smoke, researchers say, but also “patients with heart failure, (who) should be particularly aware.”

Source: News & Observer

Industrial-strength air cleaners for better indoor air

AllerAir and its industrial division Electrocorp offer air filtration systems with high efficiency particle filters and deep-bed activated carbon filters to help remove harmful chemicals, particles and odors associated with tobacco and wildfire smoke.

Clients can choose from powerful air purifiers for the home and office to industrial-strength units for use in various commercial and industrial applications, for spaces ranging in size from 500 sq. ft to 500,000 sq. ft.

Contact Electrocorp air quality experts at 1-866-667-0297 for more information.

The chemical DBCP was banned in the late 1970s in the US.

In a major health and safety complaint, Latin American banana workers have filed a series of lawsuits against company giants such as Shell Oil, Dole Food Company and Dow Chemical, among others, for exposure to a harmful pesticide between 1960 and 1985.

The banana farmers from Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica allege they have been exposed to the chemical dipromochloropropane, commonly known as DBCP. It was sold under the trade names Fumazone, Nemagon and Oxy 12.

The workers injected the chemical into the soil or sprayed it on the plantations to protect the produce against microscopic worms called nematodes.

They were exposed to the toxic chemical for more than two decades and suffer varying degrees of sterility, the lawsuits claim.

The chemical, which has long been banned from use in the United States, has also been linked with cancer, miscarriages, corneal damage, chronic skin disorders and renal system failure.

In the case of the banana workers, the inability to have children also left them stigmatized in their communities, where large families are the norm, the claims say.

The lawyer who is bringing the cases to US courts says they have evidence that the companies knew well in advance of the chemical’s harmful side-effects.

The claim quotes a confidential animal testing report from Shell, prepared by its consultant toxicology expert in 1958, which said that “among the rats that died, the gross legions were especially prominent in lungs, kidneys and testes”, and the report concluded that “Testes were extremely atrophied.”

Subsequent tests also allegedly showed that DBCP was “readily absorbed through the skin and high in toxicity in inhalation” and that “testicular atrophy may result from prolonged, repeated exposure.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified DBCP as a suspected carcinogen in 1976, and the chemical was banned in the United States by 1979. However, the lawsuits claim that use of the chemical continued on some plantations until the 1990s.

Source: Courthouse News Service, The Independent

Worried about chemical exposure?

Electrocorp has designed air filtration systems to improve the indoor air quality for workers in chemical processing plants, warehouses, and many other industrial and commercial uses.

The air cleaners use a very deep bed of activated carbon to remove chemicals, gases, fumes and irritating odors from the air.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Related articles

Volcanic eruptions release toxic gases and substances into the air.

With volcanic eruptions disrupting the lives of residents in Chile, Iceland, Hawaii and other regions, Electrocorp’s air quality experts have been receiving e-mails and calls about air filtration systems for volcanic smog (VOG).

Volcanic eruptions release noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other pollutants into the atmosphere, which react with the oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce volcanic smog (VOG) and acid rain.

The ash clouds do not only affect flight traffic – they can pose serious health risks for the people living and working in the affected regions.

Health effects of volcanic smog

VOG has been shown to aggravate pre-existing respiratory ailments, while acid rain can damage crops and leach lead into building water supplies. It consists of gases as well as tiny liquid and solid particles. VOG is composed of sulfuric acid and other sulfate compounds and it can also contain toxic metals.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2, the main component of VOG) is a poisonous gas that can penetrate deeply into the airway and cause respiratory distress in some individuals. The tiny aerosol particles in volcanic smog can also penetrate deeply into the lungs and irritate the tissue.

People living and working in areas downwind of active volcanoes have complained about a wide range of health effects, including skin irritation and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

Source: US Geological Survey (USGS)

Air cleaners for VOG

Electrocorp and AllerAir have designed air purifiers for VOG that remove dangerous airborne chemicals, gases and particles associated with VOG. Electrocorp is the industrial division of AllerAir Industries.

The specially designed air cleaners feature a custom blend of deep-bed activated carbon for enhanced adsorption of noxious chemicals and gases, as well as a medical grade HEPA or Super-HEPA for the removal of fine particles.

Suggested air purifiers from AllerAir for homes and offices affected by volcanic smog include the 5000 VOG and Air Medic+ VOG.

Electrocorp’s in-house technical design team works with environmental consultants, government agencies and IAQ professionals to provide complete air cleaning solutions to a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications.

For more information, contact an Electrocorp air quality expert at 1-866-667-0297. Ask about the special carbon blend for VOG and other groundbreaking features.

Note: Always follow public advisories and evacuation orders.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can release toxic substances into the air, say residents and reports.

One of our colleagues from the blog Air Quality Online by AllerAir posted an interesting video report done for the New York Times on the concerns of local residents living in the shadows of natural gas development.

This has been a hotly debated topic for a while, since natural gas production was touted as a “greener” energy source, and witnessed an explosion of growth all over North America.

Opponents argue that the production process spews serious pollutants into the air like VOCs and other toxins that may have serious long-term health effects. One former EPA employee says the industry has been given a pass on environmental laws.

In media reports and documentaries such as Gasland, residents in the areas near compressors started complaining about contaminated soil and water, bad smells, persistent headaches, sore throats, dizziness, nausea and nose bleeds, among other concerns.

EPA just announced seven case studies to assess potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The draft study plan and additional information:

Air quality tests in homes have shown the existence of toxic pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, benzene, toluene and formaldehyde. Health effects caused by long-term exposure to these substances (even low levels) have not been established officially – yet.

For homeowners, business owners and employees concerned about natural gas, VOCs and indoor air quality, AllerAir and its industrial division Electrocorp offer heavy-duty chemical and odor control air cleaners for residential use and air scrubbers for commercial use.

AllerAir and Electrocorp units use deep-bed activated carbon air filters (the same material often used in gas masks) to remove airborne chemicals, gases and odors.

Contact one of our air quality experts for more information, and to find the right air filtration system for your needs: 1-866-667-0297.

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This Month In Clean Air

June 2011
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