Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Heat Stress Information

NOAA produces a HEAT index chart that helps determine the risk for Heat Stress.

CDC - Healthy safe summer recommendations. -  Protect from Sun, Swim safety, Safe boating, Move, Drink water, and leave the fireworks to the professionals.

According to CBS NEWS, revised heat stroke guidelines from the National Athletic Trainer's Association (NATA) advises immediate cooling before transferring to a hospital. 

Basic principles: keep hydrated with water (no caffeine or alcohol) , rest more often, use shade or air conditioned space.   It is important to adapt to higher temperatures by gradually increasing the amount of time in the heat.  Drink water even when not thirsty.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are serious conditions that can occur. With heat stroke, the person will often be belligerant, irrational and may be hallucinating.

Treatment of heat stroke

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sewers provide renewable energy

Minnesota Public Radio reports on an effort in Brainard, Minnesota to recover the energy in sewers.  The Hidden Fuels group has been monitoring the temperatures of the city sewers to determine if it is feasible to use this heat energy to reduce the cost of heating buildings.  Essentially a closed loop heat pump system would be installed in the sewer system.  They would need to overcome problems working with a contaminated water system.  More information is provided by CERT (Clean Energy Resource Teams).

Earl Wolleat photo by Ann Schwartz

Friday, May 25, 2012

Silica exposure during hydraulic fracturing

A study by the CDC found significant exposure to crystaline silica during hydraulic fracturing operations.  The sand in the process is used to keep holes open to allow the retrieval of natural gas. 
Respirable dust samples (116) were taken at 11 sites throughout the US.  47% of them exceeded the OSHA PEL for silica. 36% of the samples exceeded the NIOSH REL by more than a factor of 10.  This means that half faced respirators would not provide adequate protection.
There is also a field effort to determine chemical exposures to oil and natural gas workers.  NIOSH is funding this study and is looking for companies to volunteer to participate.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Slippery bottle can save 1 Billion tons of food waste

MIT researchers have developed a nontoxic slippery substance that allows liquids to easily flow out of bottles.  This has the potential to signficantly reduce food waste and reduce time wasted trying to get ketchup out of bottles.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Working safely with nanomaterials

The California Nanosafety Consortium of Higher Education released a Nanotookit in pdf. form on April 19, 2012.   It is a best practices document for researches using manufactured nano materials. A 2007 article in the Economist asked for something like the document above to be printed.   

There is an increase in research on nano particles.  Nano technology also plays an increasing role in hydraulic fracturing.  The number of US patents granted for nano technology has increased from 578 in the year 2000 to 4,398 in 2009.

Careful research into proper controls is needed.  Preliminary information appears to suggest that fractal structured nanoaggragates added to HEPA filters improves the filtration of nano particles.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Foot tile energy generation

UK designers have been capturing the energy of people's footsteps and using them to provide low level power for lighting systems and wifi networks.  Thomas K. Grose writes about a UK company, Pavegen Systems, that has been designing and installing pedestrian powered electrical power generating systems in schools and malls.  The pads are designed out of recyled tires or tyres if you are in the UK.

This would seem to be a natural fit in workout facilities and other high traffic areas.  The power is generated by a slight change in height caused by people stepping on the tile.  The current cost of the tile $50 each will need to drop further to make this economical.  The tile also needs battery storage.  The tile is tested to last at least 5 years. 

Could similar devices be used in roadways to power street lighting?  What other applications do you envision?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Safety tips for businesses after a flood

The Hartford loss control department has published safey tips for businesses after a flood event.   The sheet covers building security, electrical safety, structural safety and keeping an eye out for snakes and other creatures that may have chosen the building as a safe place to ride out the storm.

Flood in patient care area - N. Carlson

Amphibious Car

Two for the price of six.  Not really a good trade off but there is some James Bond like coolness to this new amphibious car.

At a price tag of around $260,000, this will certainly limit the number of people who could afford the multiple use vehicle.  CNN also has a video that includes an interview with the creators of the car.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Geoengineering consequences

Ron Meador from MinnPost offers up an analysis of several geoengineering solutions to alter the earth's climate and some of the unintended consequences.  One of the more intriging plans from Global Thermostat is to use large towers placed all over the globe to break carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon. Only 2 trillion dollars and 30 years of filtering are required for this to work.
Bill Gates has been sponsoring research on carbon capture.  The goal is to get the cost of capture under $100 per ton.  Estimates for the current cost range up to around $600 per ton. Three other companies aside from Global Thermostat: Global Research Technologies, Global Engineering, Kilamanjaro Engineering are working on possible solutions.

This report is an update to my earlier posts on geoengineering and capturing and using carbon dioxide.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tornado rebuilding hazards

The IAQ video network has produced a video on ways to avoid environmental hazards when rebuilding after a tornado.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Davy's Lamp detected methane in coal mines

This video from Periodic videos shows how Davy's lamp was built.  It was designed to have a lit lamp in a methane atmosphere without an explosion.  Methane is a colorless and odorless flammable gas that is often present in coal mine.  The metal gauze prevents the flame from escaping the lamp.  The lamps color will change to blue in the presence of methane alerting the coal miner of the need to exit the area.

Natural gas in homes and laboratories has a mercaptan compound added with an odor that allows detection. 

Ghost town developed as test site

Lea County, New Mexico will be home to a 1 billion dollar experimental test city according to the Associated Press article referenced by Fox News.  It will be used to test smart  grid technology, new WiFi applications and urban planning.  As of now the city will be unoccupied. Construction is slated to start in June, 2012.

Video on occupational Health and Safety

AIHA has produced an animated video about occupational health and safety.  It gives an overview of its importance and the profession of industrial hygiene.

We care for each other at home and at work because it is the right thing to do.  We want to protect people's health at work so they can go home safely.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Justin Bieber's Plug in Car

Justin Bieber's very shiny plug in hybrid Fisker Karma car would be a nice addition parked outside of this building.  Viewed from the right angle both can be quite blinding on a sunny day.
U of MN Weisman Art Museum
Update:  There appear to be some problems with the car if it is submerged in water see this November 2, 2012 blogpost. 

Capturing the wind without a turbine

Giant grasslike structures may be used to capture wind energy.  Alisa Danigelis reports in Discovery News about a quieter method of capturing wind energy.  It would be compatible in non ariable lands with good low to the ground wind profiles.  It would not work in crop land areas as there is very little space available on the ground.

A slide show of the pictures is available here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free CIH maintenance points online training

The Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety has 16 online safety training modules on a variety of topics including Recognition and assessment of chemical and biological hazards.  Completion of a module with a 70% passing grade provides a 0.17 CM point.  I worked as a subject matter expert on the Animal Allergen module with Lisa Brosseau.  This is a great way to pick up extra CIH (Certified Industrial Hygienist) maintenance points at a time that is convenient.  FEMA also has online courses that can qualify for CIH credits.

For those of you taking the CIH exam there is help at with over 500 practice exam questions to prepare for the test. also has CIH review questions.

Update:  A comprehensive industrial hygiene review course is being offered at the Midwest Center on September 16th - Sept 20, 2013 in Minneapolis, MN the cost is $795.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pathogen safety data sheets

The Public Health Agency of Canada has compiled a list of pathogen data sheets that are continously being updated.  The sheets contain information about the organism, the mode of transmission, chemicals that are effective in controlling the pathogen and symptoms.  There is also guidance for handling these organisms in the laboratory. 

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority has a shorter list of pathogens causing food borne inllness.  The information is provided on PDF's.  The PDF on human norovirus illustrates why it is very difficult to control.  The pie chart from the US Centers for Disease Control lists Listeria and Toxoplasma as the top two causes of foodborne deaths.