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August 27
Links of Interest: Chronic Kidney Disease in Sri Lanka Linked to Agrochemicals
A grab-bag of links from OEHS in the news...

Chronic kidney disease. New study results show a possible link between heavy metals in the water (caused by fertilizer and pesticide use) in Sri Lanka’s main agricultural regions and the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the same areas. “Exposure to a combination of factors that are toxic to the kidneys (rather than one single factor) seems to cause this kidney disease. Toxic factors identified up to now include nephrotoxic agrochemicals, arsenic and cadmium,” the report reads. The study is an ongoing joint research project by the Sri Lankan government and the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
Black lung. The U.S. Government Accountability Office supported the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA’s) conclusion that tightening the limits on coal dust would reduce the risk of black lung for miners in a recently released report. Now that the report is complete, MSHA is free to finalize the rule that will toughen dust limits in coal mining.
 
Chevron Refinery accident. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has released photos of the vapor cloud from the Aug. 6 accident at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, Calif. View the photos.
 
OSHA VPP. An OSHA task force has identified several problems with the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs, including “muddled guidance, inaccurate data and regional inconsistencies.” In a new report, the task force is recommending reforms for VPP. Read more from the Center for Public Integrity
 
Diacetyl. A new study published in Chemical Research in Toxicology associates the artificial butter flavoring diacetyl with damaging effects of an abnormal brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The study results raise concerns for workers who are exposed to the ingredient in industry. 
 
Oil and gas industry. OSHA and several other federal agencies will meet Sept. 20–21 in Texas City, Texas, to discuss performance-based regulatory models to better protect workers in the oil and gas industry. Read more in the OSHA press release.
 
Short-chain chlorinated paraffins. EPA has stopped the importation of short-chained chlorinated paraffins into the U.S. under a settlement with INEOS Chlor Americas, Inc. The settlement resolves violations of the agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act. Read more in EPA’s press release.
 
Popcorn flavoring. NIOSH researchers concluded that the butter flavoring 2,3-pentanedione (introduced to replace diacetyl) could be a respiratory hazard for workers and could also potentially alter gene expression in the brain. The results are published in the American Journal of Pathology in a report titled “Respiratory and olfactory cytotoxicity of inhaled 2,3-pentanedione in sprague-dawley rats.” View the abstract.
 
Bears and small business. A new NIOSH Science Blog post, “How to Avoid Bear Attacks (and other small business concerns)” highlights the parallels between running a small business and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains—in bear country. Find out how these two activities are similar.

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