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CPSC, Chinese Regulators Meet Over Chinese Drywall

Officials from China’s General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (ASIQ) arrived in the U.S. the week of June 15 to investigate problems with drywall made in their country.

According to heraldtribune.com, officials from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) met with  the ASIQ regulators earlier this month to discuss technical issues involving Chinese drywall.  The Chinese officials also traveled with a CPSC investigative team to observe inspections and sampling conducted by our agency in one home in Florida and two homes in Louisiana. A spokesperson for the CPSC told heraldtribune.com that discussions with the Chinese delegation were “preliminary”, and had not reached any conclusion.  The discussions will continue over the coming weeks. (more…)

CSI Fingerprint Toy Pulled from Connecticut Stores Due to Asbestos Contamination

Sales of the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit have been halted by the Department of Consumer Protection in Connecticut, which is alerting consumers to return the dangerous asbestos-laden toy to the original place of purchase.  “With the success of crime shows like CSI, it’s no surprise that kids want to get in on the excitement by pretending to be crime scene investigators, but our own investigation of the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit identified a real-life culprit that must be promptly eliminated,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr.  “We are immediately embargoing and recalling this item in Connecticut.”  The Department purchased the dangerous toys and Farrell Jr. contacted the Department of Public Health to request testing after reading a report identifying asbestos in the kit.  Department inspectors are embargoing the product at all retailers statewide—including Sears, Toys ‘R Us, Kay-Bee Toys, Walgreen’s Wal-Mart, and Costco—and is sending relevant information to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which may issue a national recall.

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Asbestos Found in Toys, Other Products, Consumer Group Says

Asbestos is present in many toys and consumer products, according to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.  The group, the nation’s largest asbestos victim’s organization, was created in 2004 by asbestos victims and their families, and has spent over $165,000 for government-certified laboratories to examine hundreds of consumer products and to determine asbestos contamination. 

Studies confirm that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers is linked to increased risks of lung cancer, mesothelioma-a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavity-and asbestosis-in which lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.  The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have banned several asbestos products and manufacturers have voluntarily limited asbestos use.  Many feel every exposure to asbestos fibers is associated with an increased risk of disease, thus, using asbestos-containing products may explain-in part-why some non-smokers get lung cancer and persons with no occupational exposures develop mesothelioma.

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Con Edison says Steam Pipe Involved in New York City Explosion Repaired in March, Inspected Morning of Blast

Wednesday’s violent New York City steam pipe explosion has raised questions regarding Con Edison’s maintenance of the pipe network that runs under the city. And apparently, the steam pipes under 41st Street and Lexington Avenue, the site the massive underground explosion, had been the subject of concern for some time. According to a New York Times report, a leaking steam main under the street had been repaired this past March, and the pipe had been inspected only seven hours before it ruptured. Con Edison characterized the March leak as minor, and said it could not yet say whether the repair played any part in the blast.

Wednesday’s explosion occurred when a 24-inch Con Edison steam pipe burst. New York City officials have said they suspected that cold water from recent heavy rains had collected around the pipe, causing the steam inside to condense. The building pressure inside the pipe caused it to burst, sending hot vapor and asbestos-laden debris hundreds of feet into the air. One woman died as a result of the explosion, and as many as 40 people were injured.

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Asbestos Found in New York City Steam Pipe Explosion Debris

Asbestos has been found in the debris left behind from the New York City Con Edison steam pipe explosion that rocked Manhattan yesterday. Officials for the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) said in a press release that more than half of the debris samples taken from the site of the steam pipe explosion came back positive for the toxic substance Asbestos. Air samples taken at the same time showed no asbestos in the air around the site. Officials believe that because the explosion occurred in a wet environment, the dust settled quickly, leaving the air safe to breath.

Despite the clean air findings, the asbestos in the debris is still dangerous. Therefore, the city will continue to enforce a “frozen zone” between 40th Street and 43rd Street, and between Vanderbilt and Third Avenues. While people already in the frozen zone will be permitted to stay, no one will be allowed to enter the area while clean up is taking place. The city said it would shrink the closed off area as the clean up progresses.

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New York City Rocked by Underground Steam Pipe Explosion. One Dead More than 30 Injured, Four Critically

A steam pipe used by Con Edison in New York City violently exploded yesterday, injuring more than 30 people, and leaving one dead. The force of the explosion in Manhattan left a 25-foot crater in the NYC street and sent a giant plume of steam and debris hundreds of feet into the air.

The blast occurred at 5:47 p.m. at East 41st and Lexington Avenue. Mayor Michael Bloomberg promptly announced that New York City was not under terrorist attack, saying instead that an aging steam pipe had exploded underground. The Mayor characterized the blast as a “failure of our infrastructure”. The pipe, which was installed in the NYC street in 1924, could have exploded as a result of cold water collecting around it. The 24-inch pipe is part of a network used by the Con Edison Steam Business Unit to provide heat to 1,800 buildings in Manhattan. New York City has had heavy rain recently, and if cold water collected around the pipe, it could have created a “vapor condition”, causing the steam inside to condense. Eventually the pressure inside the pipe would have caused the steam pipe to explode. Con Edison said that the pipe involved in this incident had been inspected six weeks ago.

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World Trade Center Rescue Workers Made Ill from Toxic Dust Finally Hear from Former EPA Head, Christine Todd Whitman

World Trade Center rescue workers, many of them sickened by contaminated dust, finally had a chance to hear from former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Christine Todd Whitman at a congressional hearing investigating the government’s response to the terrorist attacks. Many first-responders hold Whitman and the EPA responsible for health problems they’ve suffered since aiding in the rescue efforts at Ground Zero. They contend that statements released by the agency and its former head led them to believe the air around the fallen buildings was safe to breath.

Calling the accusation that she deliberately misled the public “utterly false”, Whitman claimed that assertions she made a week after the WTC attack regarding air quality in lower Manhattan was safe were based on what experts had told her. But her testimony contradicts a 2003 report by the EPA’s own inspector general which found that the agency did not have any scientific facts to back up claims it made following the 9/11 attacks. Shortly after the tragedy, the EPA issued a series of statements assuring the public and the WTC Emergency Rescue Workers that the air around Ground Zero was safe to breathe. On September 18th Whitman herself was quoted in a press release: “Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, DC that their air is safe to breathe.” As a result, many rescue workers spent weeks sifting through the debris with little protective gear.

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Deadly World Trade Center Dust Killing Rescue Workers and Residents; Misleading EPA Information Didn’t Help Situation

Word Trade Center rescue workers and lower Manhattan residents were exposed to deadly dust due to misleading Information from the EPA. A report is shedding new light on misleading EPA claims in the wake of the 9/11 terrorism attacks on New York City. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), residents of Lower Manhattan were never told the truth about dust contamination in their apartments and condominiums. As result of this inaccurate information, only a fraction of the 20,000 eligible residents and building owners bothered to take part in a special program designed to protect them from toxic World Trade Center dust.

In a report released last Wednesday, the GAO said that the Environmental Protection Agency used faulty methodology when it reported the results of a residential cleanup program in Lower Manhattan in 2002 and 2003. In that program, more than 4,000 residences in the area where decontaminated. At the time, the EPA reported that only a fraction of the air samples taken from those dwellings showed unsafe levels of asbestos. What the Agency did not admit at the time was that the vast majority of those samples came from homes that had previously been through the decontamination process.

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Merck Suffers Potential Legal Setback in Vioxx Case

In what may be a devastating blow to drug maker Merck, a New Jersey appeals court overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss a proposed class-action suit against the company. In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel declared that the lower court “prematurely terminated plaintiffs’ opportunity” for legal recourse and must reconsider the case.

The proposed class-action suit seeks to hold Merck financially responsible for coronary testing of former Vioxx patients–including those who haven’t yet shown signs of adverse reactions. That group may very well include hundreds of thousands of former Vioxx patients.
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Important Mesothelioma Research Foundation Receives Federal Funding

For the first time ever, federal funds have been given to a nonprofit group dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation), said it received  federal research funding from the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). Mesothelioma is a deadly disease that is most commonly associated with asbestos exposure. Workers in certain occupations, including shipyard workers and auto works, are among the hardest hit with mesothelioma.
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