Category Archives: News

How to Have a Healthy Home

According to experts, air pollution is the main cause of virtually all respiratory problems – and the pollution could be higher inside your home than outdoors.

Air pollution can cause a myriad of health problems, the least serious of which include headaches, blurred vision, sore throat, dizziness and difficulty in breathing.

And since many people now spend much of their lives indoors, it’s vital that you do all you can to minimise indoor pollution because contaminants can remain for extended periods of time.

Research shows that complete air exchange in your house will only happen around once every six hours and new figures from experts in the USA suggest that pollutants in the home can be anywhere from two to five times higher than those you face outside!

In extreme cases (such as homes which have a smoker, pets and a cupboard full of regularly–used products such as cleaning sprays and beauty products), the air pollution could even be up to 100 times higher than outdoors.

Indoor Pollutants

There are a number of obvious culprits such as air fresheners, cleaning products, animals, dust and CFC sprays and of course, one major hazard is cigarette smoke (and second-hand smoke to which children are particularly vulnerable.)

Smoke can trigger asthma and a range of other respiratory problems but lesser known forms of pollution include black mould – the type that you often see on the ceiling or walls of a poorly heated or ventilated room.

Then there’s Radon, a radioactive gas formed in the soil which can find its way inside homes where walls and floors are in direct contact with the ground but are not adequately sealed.

Radon is an invisible, odourless gas – but its effects can be serious. In fact, Radon is thought to be the second highest cause of lung cancer in Britain (after cigarette smoke.)

Levels of Radon vary throughout the UK – but there are isolated pockets of heavy pollution with some areas having levels almost 30 times those of elsewhere.

Radon affected areas have been identified in parts of Cornwall, Derbyshire, Scotland, Northampton, Somerset and Northern Ireland and the government has now produced online maps showing identification of high radon areas.

People living in homes with fuel burning appliances can also be at risk of pollution from nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide where the appliances do not have sufficient vents.

The health effects include throat irritation, shortness of breath and in the case of severe carbon monoxide poisoning, weakness, nausea and even death.

Everyday Pollutants

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are found in most homes in paints, varnishes, waxes, air fresheners and building materials – to name just a few.

They release toxins into the air when the product is used or poorly stored. Some are thought to have cancer-causing agents and the side effects of VOC exposure can include damage to the nervous system, liver and kidneys.

How to Improve Indoor Air

The first action should be to ventilate your home as far as possible. In days gone by, most houses had their windows open during daylight hours to bring in fresh air but many people now keep windows closed to keep the heat in.

But the more fresh air you bring into the house, the quicker the toxins will be replaced by “good” air. If you have air conditioning, make sure the filters are changed regularly because they will trap dust and other toxins.

Other long term actions include:

  • Vacuuming weekly to eliminate dust which can trigger asthma
  • Asking smokers not to smoke indoors
  • Washing sheets and blankets weekly in very hot water
  • Keeping pets out of bedrooms and off the furniture

Be Wary of Cleaning Products

Don’t just assume that all the ingredients in your bathroom cleaner or polish are harmless! On the contrary – companies are not required to release ‘trade secrets’ on product packaging, so you can’t always see how much of a certain chemical they contain.

(In fact, 80% of household products have been found to contain ingredients linked to allergies in children.)

Children are far more vulnerable than adults to illnesses caused by toxins in the home because their organs are yet to fully develop and their immune systems are still learning to fend off illness.

Natural and Eco-friendly Products

When shopping for products for use in your home – everything from anti-perspirant deodorant to oven or bathroom cleaners – go for the least toxic. There are now alternatives to many chemical products so look first for those in which ingredients are 100% derived and sourced from plant-based material.

As well as helping to protect your family from harmful and easily avoidable toxins, you will also be protecting the planet by using products which have less impact on the environment.

To read more on healthy home and housing visit – Sustainable Build

Healthy ways to keep out critters and bugs

Let’s face it: Most people hate pesky invaders in their home. But that seldom stops critters and bugs to find a way in.

When temperatures drop, a natural response is to seek warmer and cozier surroundings — not just for people but for all kinds of creatures. Most homeowners are aware and on the lookout for signs that critters and insects try to invade their buildings and living spaces.

Pest management is an important part of home ownership and building maintenance. But while many people may turn towards chemical-laden pesticides as a control measure, experts have been calling for a more environmentally friendly and prevention-based way to control bugs and critters: Integrated pest management.

What are pests?

We may call annoying family members or co-workers a pest sometimes, but pests are defined as animals or plants with harmful effects on humans, food or living conditions.

These include

  • Mosquitoes (they can spread diseases)
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Silverfish (they may damage clothing)
  • Termites (they may damage the building)
  • Bedbugs
  • Cockroaches
  • Flies
  • Lice
  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Spiders

Seeing the occasional spider or mosquito inside a home is nothing to fret about, since they occasionally enter the home through open doors or windows. But many pests carry diseases and contribute to bad air quality, so preventing infestations is key.

What to do about pests

Integrated pest management is all about prevention, monitoring and control. It includes regular inspections of the home or building, keeping records of the findings and pinpointing trends in outbreaks.

Most experts will tell you that you can never fully get rid of pests – you can only control their population and make sure they are not turning into an all-out infestation.

It’s nevertheless possible to control pests with proper cleaning and maintenance, structural repairs, mechanical and living biological controls, non-chemical methods, and the least toxic pesticides – if, and only if, all other methods of control have been exhausted.

According to Beyond Pesticides, the least toxic pesticides include boric acid, desiccant dusts (diatomaceous earth and silica gel), microbe-based pesticides and pesticides made with certain essential oils.

Examples of IPM measures:

  1. Inspect a home and identify points of entry for pests such as mice. Even tiny holes above ground level can allow mice to squeeze through. Use caulk to seal cracks.
  2. Install screens on doors and windows.
  3. Store food properly and keep the kitchen free of dirt, grease and crumbs.

How toxic pesticides affect your health

Toxic pesticides are quite dangerous and should only be used when needed and according to the instructions. Government websites in North America feature long lists of possible health effects linked to pesticide use.

Mild poisoning: Effects include irritation to eyes, nose and throat, headaches, nausea, insomnia and many more

Moderate poisoning is characterized by vomiting, coughing, rapid pulse, weakness and mental confusion, among many other symptoms

Severe poisoning includes symptoms such as inability to breathe, muscle twitching, chemical burns and even death.

Children are most susceptible to pesticides and they should be protected as much as possible. Pesticides are made with complex chemicals, many of which are known to affect the neurological system or lead to the development of cancer. Traces of them can build up in human bodies and lead to health effects over time.

Article Source – Environmental Expert

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Measurement of dustfall rate within a residential home using small filters

A very interesting read – measurement of dustfall rate within a residential home using small filters.

“Nuisance Dusts” – Validation and Application of a Novel Dry Deposition Method for Total Dust Fall Gary T. Hunt TRC Corporation, Wannalancit Mills, Lowell, MA USA

1. Introduction

Nuisance dust complaints received from residents living in the vicinity of a coal fired power plant in the eastern United States prompted development of a monitoring program to quantify the frequency of incidents as well as the magnitude of the problem (if any).

Nuisance dusts (in this context defined as visible dust deposits on solid surfaces) while regulated by some state and local agencies, have no quantitative standards or guidelines associated with them that define acceptable levels (concentrations) in ambient air or deposited on surfaces. Methods historically used to measure and/or characterize airborne dusts have included manual (Wheeler, J.P. and J.P. Stancliffe, 1998., ASTM D6966-08.) and automatic wipe sampling techniques (Wheeler, J.P. and J.P. Stancliffe, 1998.) use of adhesive tapes (Wheeler, J.P. and J.P. Stancliffe, 1998.) passive sampling using open faced containers (Estokova, A, N. Stevulova and L. Kubincova, 2010, ASTM D-1739-98, Reapproved 2004., James P. Lodge, Jr, Editor Lewis Publishers, 1989.) and vacuum or suction sampling apparatus (Byrne, M.A., 2000., ASTM D- 5438-05, 2005.)

While all of these techniques have been employed for collection of surface dusts they were not suitable for the current application for one or more of the following reasons: 1) not suitable for gravimetric measurements (wipe sampling for example) , 2) designed for the collection of wet and dry dusts combined and not dry surface dusts only (passive collection in open faced containers for example), 3) qualitative characterization only of dry dusts present on surfaces (adhesive tape sampling for example 4) ease in deployment and recovery at multiple stations simultaneously.

In order to meet the needs of the monitoring program the preferred method was characterized as follows: 1) ease in deployment and recovery of dust collection devices at multiple stations simultaneously,
2) samples represent passive dry dust fall on surfaces (these types of dusts were the basis for the nuisance complaints),
3) inexpensive,
4) citizens/homeowners could participate with minimal training
5) ability to collect gravimetric data (weight of particulate per unit time and unit surface area),
6) field samples after gravimetry were suitable for further chemical analyses employing non destructive techniques without the need for pretreatment (filter based device).

As a result, a pre-existing filter sampling technique (Dzubay, T. and R. Barbour, 1983.) was selected for use in dust fall monitoring. The filter sampling technique was modified and a monitoring program designed to meet the above characteristics.

The total dust fall monitoring program included measures for validation of the customized monitoring method as well as collection of data defining what constitutes background particulate levels in the study area. These background levels were needed as a “benchmark” in assigning significance to the program’s collected data in the absence of published regulatory values. The monitoring program was designed to measure total dust fall (non-respirable) as surface dust deposits and relied on passive particulate collection devices. Preconditioned and pre-weighed filter media were deployed at ten (10) sites in the metropolitan area. Residential hosts who agreed to participate in the program on a voluntary basis operated the majority of the sites used. Criteria for site selection included coverage of all wind vectors in the vicinity of coal handling processes at the power plant as well as residential properties where nuisance dust complaints had been recorded previously. Filter collection media were employed for sampling events expected to last one calendar week or seven (7) days.

This provided an exposure period that maximized collection of particulate matter, and yet limited non-detected values. All residential hosts received training in filter deployment, recovery, handling and shipping procedures.

2. Program purpose and objectives

The primary purpose of the program was to conduct a total particulate or “total dust fall“ monitoring program in the vicinity of the coal fired power plant employing passive dry deposition techniques. It was anticipated that the results of this program would assist the facility in determining the fate of dusts potentially released during coal handling events at the facility, as well as, in the identification of likely sources of dust deposits observed in offsite residential properties.

Please follow the link to continue reading about measurement of dustfall rate – Intech – Open Science

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Measurement of dustfall rate

Livestock Confinement Dust And Gases

Happy New Year!  Here’s an interesting read from the National Ag Safety Database regarding Livestock Confinement Dust And Gases

Summary

In typical modern livestock housing, where animals are densely confined, dusts from the animals, their feed, and their feces, ammonia (NH3) which comes primarily from the animals’ urine and feces, and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) from manure pits, especially during agitation and emptying, can rise to harmful levels. Dust and gas levels are highest in winter, although dust levels increase whenever animals are fed, handled, or moved. Hazardous dusts and gases induce the strongest and most frequent human respiratory responses in swine confinement buildings. This unit concentrates on workers in these buildings, although similar respiratory responses could occur among poultry confinement workers or (less commonly and severely) workers in other types of confinement operations.

Confinement dusts and gases can affect any exposed person within a short time, and in extreme cases have caused sudden death or have forced owners, employees, and veterinarians to stay out of confinement buildings or seek other employment. Responses often vary from person to person, may affect any part of the respiratory tract, and may include irritant, toxic, or allergic processes. Potential responses include acute or chronic bronchitis (the most common reaction), increased airways reactivity, asthma, chronic airways obstruction, and a systemic influenza-like reaction, the toxic organic dust syndrome or TODS. When manure pits constructed underneath confinement buildings are agitated for emptying, the level of H2S can rise to lethal levels within seconds; this has caused a number of deaths. Researchers suspect that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may occur among confinement workers with long-term exposure.

When diagnosing and treating respiratory illness in confinement workers, physicians should make a conscientious attempt to discover links between exposure to dusts and gases in the houses and the illness. This will avoid use of nonspecific treatments that are ineffective in the long run. Instead a patient must be protected by reducing dust and gas levels in the confinement house through engineering and management practices, or by use of respirators. Confinement house workers should be monitored for development of chronic respiratory problems. Manure pits should never be entered without proper respiratory protection, and when pits are being agitated or emptied, workers should stay out of the pits and out of the buildings above them.

I. CONFINEMENT HOUSING AND ITS HAZARDS

Compared to conventional livestock housing, the typical confinement system is more enclosed and tightly constructed. A much higher density of animals is housed in these buildings, usually for 24 hours a day from birth to shipment to the slaughter house. Because large numbers of animals are confined in small spaces, these buildings must include devices to ventilate and heat the buildings and to dispose of animal wastes. Often, feeding and watering operations are semiautomatic or automatic. (See Fig. 1) Poultry confinement operations first appeared in the United States in the late 1950’s. Swine confinement operations came into use a decade later. Today sheep, beef cattle, dairy cattle, and veal calves also are housed in confinement buildings, although far less commonly than swine and poultry. Quarters for these other animals often are not completely enclosed, or the animals may be kept outside for at least part of the year.

Manure is handled by one of two systems: it either drops through a slatted floor into a pit beneath the house where it remains until the manure slurry is pumped out to be distributed on fields (usually twice a year), or it is removed through any of several mechanisms to a storage pit or lagoon outside the building. Outside storage is typical of most newer systems, but a large number of older buildings with pits directly below the house remain in operation.

What toxic dusts and gases are found in confinement houses?

Dust is generated from animals and their feed, and dust and gases from animal wastes. These dusts and gases accumulate to concentrations that may be hazardous to human and animal health.

Each confinement house contains its own complex mixture of dusts and gases, which is dependent on numerous factors including ventilation of the building, the type of animals, how they are fed, and how their wastes are handled. (See Fig. 2) Dust and gas composition change within a single house over time. The types of confinement operations and corresponding dust and gas exposures are listed in Table 1. This unit concentrates on swine operations, where potentially hazardous dusts and gases and resulting health problems are best studied and are thought to be most extreme. Similar responses would occur most commonly among poultry confinement workers.

Table 1

Dusts and Gases In Various confinement Operations: Implications for Human Health

Type of

Confinement                            Gases
operation        Dusts              NH2        H2S(following manure
                                                   agitation)
=================================================================
swine         major concern         moderate   major concern
                                    concern

poultry       moderate concern      major      none (manure is
                                    concern    stored as solid)

sheep         minimal concern       moderate   major concern, if
veal calf     (lower dust           concern    have liquid manure
dairy cattle  concentrations,                  system
beef cattle   resulting in
              fewer and less
              severe inflammatory
              reactions)

Dust particles contain approximately 25% protein, and range in size from less than 2 microns to 50 microns in diameter. One-third of the particles are within the respirable size range (less than 1011 in diameter). 125 Fecal material particles including proteins from gut epithelium are quite small and constitute the major alveolar burden, while large particles of feed grains form the major airways burden. Also present are animal dander, broken bits of hair, bacteria, bacterial endotoxins, pollen grains, insect parts, and fungal spores. The dust absorbs NH3 and possibly other toxic or irritating gases (e.g. H2S), multiplying the potential hazards of each gas individually. Ammonia, for example, may adsorb to respirable particles and be drawn deep into the lungs where it possibly could cause irritation or increase inflammatory responses to the dust.

Toxic, irritating, and asphyxiating gases are continuously generated in the manure pit, and can rise into a confinement house. Of the 40-plus gas types in anaerobically degenerating manure, H2S, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and carbon monoxide (CO) are present most commonly and in highest concentrations. The majority of NH3 is thought to be released by bacterial action on urine and feces on the confinement house floors. Carbon monoxide and CO2 may be produced by heating systems in winter, as well as by the animals’ respiration (CO2 only).

Who is exposed to these dusts and gases, and when?

Dust and gas concentrations in swine confinement buildings can be high enough to affect anyone who enters, but persons with long-term occupational exposures are in greatest danger of developing chronic problems and possibly irreversible lung damage. Confinement house owners and managers, hired hands, and farm family members may work in the houses anywhere from a few hours a week to eight or more hours daily. (See Fig. 3) During this time, workers are preparing feed, feeding animals, cleaning the building, sorting and moving animals from one building to another, and performing routine vaccinations, treatments, or other management and maintenance procedures. The turnover rate of hired swine confinement house workers is quite high, and some owners have had to sell their operations because they could not work in their own units, reportedly because of respiratory problems. Some veterinarians who entered houses sporadically to treat sick animals have reported that the severity of their respiratory reactions forces them to stay out of these buildings, or to use respirators effective in reducing exposure.

Dust and gas loads increase in winter when the houses are tightly closed to conserve heat, and when CO and CO2 are released from poorly vented or improperly functioning heaters. Dust loads also increase when animals are being moved, handled, and fed. Ventilation systems frequently do not reduce dust or gas levels adequately, so that levels remain unhealthful for humans. When ventilation systems fail for several hours, CO2 from animal respiration, heaters, and manure pits can rise to asphyxiating levels. Although some massive animal losses have been attributed to this situation, it is probably not a human health threat.

Hydrogen sulfide from manure pits is most hazardous when the pits are fully or partially beneath the houses. However, if gases from outside pits are permitted to backflow, they too can enter confinement units. Manure pit gases pose an acute hazard when the liquid manure slurry is agitated, a common operation performed to suspend solids so that pits can be pumped empty. During agitation, H2S can be released rapidly, soaring from usual ambient levels of less than 5 ppm to lethal levels of over 500 ppm within seconds.20 Animals have died and workers have become seriously ill in swine confinement buildings when H2S has risen from agitated pits underneath. Several workers have died when entering a pit during or soon after the emptying process to repair pumping equipment or clean out solids.20 Persons attempting to rescue these workers also have died. Workers may be exposed to high H2S levels when they enter the pit to retrieve animals or tools, or to repair ventilation systems or cracks in the cement.

Swine confinement houses and resulting health problems are concentrated in the Corn Belt of the Midwest, but are also found in western Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and in southeastern states including North Carolina and Georgia. Poultry confinement houses and resulting respiratory problems are concentrated in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Far West. Other types of confinement operations are ,primarily located in the Midwest’s Corn Belt.

How commonly does such exposure occur?

In the United States, an estimated 700,000 persons work in confinement operations. This number includes owner-operators, spouses, children, employees, and veterinarians. In a highly agricultural state such as Iowa, over 80,000 persons (or an estimated 53% of the people working with swine) work in swine confinement buildings. Included in this number are spouses and children who may work short periods of time.

The largest group of exposed workers with the most frequent and severe health problems is associated with swine confinement houses. Here, the average dust load is six milligrams per cubic meter. Buildings with 10 to 20 milligrams are common, concentrations high enough so that one is unable to see clearly across a 100 foot room. Concentrations of H2S, CO2, and CO may exceed levels recommended as safe in industrial occupational settings. Nearly 70% of swine confinement workers experience one or more symptoms of respiratory illness or irritation. Prevalence of respiratory illness among workers in nonswine confinement operations is lower.

II. RESPIRATORY EFFECTS OF INHALING CONFINEMENT HOUSE DUSTS AND GASES

Inhalation of confinement house dusts and gases produces a complex set of respiratory responses. An individual’s response depends on characteristics of the inhaled components (such as composition, particulate size, and antigenicity) and on the individual’s susceptibility, which is tempered by extant respiratory conditions (including allergies and asthma), reactivity of the bronchi, and smoking history. Irritant, toxic, or allergic processes may be involved, alone or in combination. Since dusts include both respirable (~10 microns ) and larger (10–50 microns ) particles, lung tissues, large airways, and small airways may all be affected. For the most part, responses cannot be tied to a specific dust or gas component. Specific mechanisms involved often cannot be defined, and conditions may be described symptomatically.

Acute, delayed, and chronic responses are described in following paragraphs and outlined in Table 3. Descriptions concentrate on health problems of swine confinement workers. Hazardous exposures of other types of confinement operations have been listed in Table 1; respiratory problems vary accordingly.

Symptoms of swine confinement workers are listed in Table 2. The most common respiratory symptoms (cough, sputum production, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing) are manifestations of airways disease, composed of bronchitis often associated with increased airways reactivity Evidence suggests that those exposed become increasingly reactive to the confinement environment with increasing exposure (greater than two hours per day and six years work experience). In general, the symptoms increase among smokers and also increase as the number of swine raised increases. Health effects are also greater among those with pre-existing respiratory problems (hay fever, bronchitis) and among those with heart trouble or allergies. Chest tightness, coughing, nasal, and eye symptoms have been experienced in some persons within 30 minutes of entering these houses for the first time, but usually two or more hours of exposure are required. These symptoms usually disappear 24 to 48 hours after leaving the unit, although they can persist for several days or weeks or even months among workers exposed for several years. A small percentage, 12%, of these cases are thought to be specific allergic-mediated illnesses such as asthma (classical type 1 reactions), while the remaining proportion appears to be nonallergic reactions.

Table 2 Symptoms of Swine Confinement Workers

Symptom                   Prevalence
Cough                        67%
Sputum or phlegm             56%
Scratchy throat              54%
Runny nose                   45%
Burning or watering eyes     39%
Headaches                    37%
Tightness of chest           36%
Shortness of breath          30%
Wheezing                     27%
Muscle aches and pains       25%

Manure pit agitation can result in the sudden release of large quantities of H2S causing H2S intoxication (See Fig. 4) At moderately high concentrations (100-400 ppm), H2S produces rhinitis, cough, dyspnea, tracheobronchitis, and possibly pulmonary edema; at higher concentrations, sudden collapse associated with respiratory paralysis and pulmonary edema occurs. A number of deaths of confinement workers have resulted from this exposure.

Delayed responses include a toxic organic dust syndrome (TODS) experienced four to six hours after working for several hours in a confinement house during particularly dusty operations such as handling, moving, or sorting animals. Symptoms include fever, malaise, muscle aches and pains, headache, cough, and tightness of chest. This episodic problem, experienced by about 10% of workers in confinement buildings,1 may be the same toxic syndrome resulting from exposure to decayed plant material (see Unit 2) and grain dusts (see Unit 3). Inhaled endotoxins from aerosolized gram-negative bacteria might cause this syndrome.

Chronic health effects are manifest as chronic bronchitis with or without airways obstruction, experienced by 58% of all swine confinement workers. This is the most commonly defined chronic health problem of this occupational group, and is suffered by three times as many swine confinement workers as farmers who work in conventional swine housing units or in agricultural operations other than swine or poultry production. Symptoms include chronic cough, with excess production of phlegm and sometimes chronic wheezing. Smokers experience a greater prevalence and severity of chronic bronchitis than do nonsmokers. Most workers removed from the confinement house environment become asymptomatic (in the absence of smoking) within a few months, but bronchitic symptoms in some workers can persist for two years or more.

Chronic or irreversible airways obstruction other than chronic bronchitis has not been identified, but long-term lung damage may be occurring. Confinement workers’ lung functions do not differ significantly from those of workers in conventional swine buildings when baseline PFT’s (FEV and FVC) are measured in the morning, before work begins.1721 However, these pulmonary function values of most confinement house workers do decrease significantly through the workday. In addition, the severity of chronic bronchitic symptoms increases in workers with a longer history of confinement house work. This suggests that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may occur among these workers in future years. Evidence of permanent lung damage has not yet been found, possibly because swine confinement houses are a relatively new innovation or because there have been no systematic clinical studies to assess confinement workers. In 1981, the average swine producer with confinement structures had used these structures for only six years.

Because of the high concentrations of animals and associated microorganisms, infectious diseases transmissible to humans are especially hazardous when contracted by confined animals. Some of these infectious diseases are described in Unit 7.

Diagnosis

Use of diagnostic aids is of secondary importance to a detailed clinical and occupational history. Remember that a patient’s response to confinement dusts and gases is variable, and that one or more conditions may be occurring simultaneously. Question a patient in detail about chief complaints, including questions on how long symptoms have been present and the time relationship of symptoms to work exposure. Take an in-depth personal and family medical history, including questions on allergies, asthma, and hobbies or personal habits (such as smoking) that might complicate the issue. Ask how many hours per day or week the patient works in confinement buildings, how long the patient has held this job, and what conditions prevail within the confinement building.

Physicians may fail to relate a patient’s symptoms to exposure to a confinement house atmosphere. In addition, misdiagnosis and subsequent treatment of confinement-related respiratory conditions as allergic responses are not uncommon; such treatment may provide symptomatic relief through bronchodilation, but is nonspecific and probably ineffective in the long run.

Table 3 Occupational Respiratory Conditions Associated with Swine Livestock Confinement–Diagnosis, Treatment, and Control

BRONCHITIS

 

     Symptoms/History:
         Cough, with sputum production, possibly tightness of
          chest.
         Very frequently seen among swine confinement workers;
          somewhat less often in poultry workers.
         Smoking associated with increased frequency and more
          severe symptoms.
         Symptoms continuing for 2 or more years classified as
          chronic bronchitis.
     Work Exposure:
          Usually occurs in those who work in swine confinement for
          2 or more hours per day. More frequent and severe for
          those who have worked 6 or more years in confinement.
          Generally occurs in buildings with poor environment:
          dusty (appears hazy and dust accumulates on accumulates
          on horizontal surfaces) poor ventilation, often older
          building (built before 1975).  Nursery buildings and
          those with manure pits under slatted floors may be
          biggest offenders.  Usually worst during cold weather.
     Diagnostic Aids:
         Symptoms and history usually sufficient for diagnosis.
         PFT may show decreased flow rates.
         Skin tests or other immunological tests not indicated.
     Treatment/Control:
         Protection from environment most important action.
         Medications usually not indicated.
         Antihistamines, decongestants, antibiotics may provide
          temporary relief of symptoms but should not be used
          long-term.
         Improved ventilation crucial.
         Employ management procedures to limit dust generation
          (i.e. frequent cleaning).
         Install dust and gas control technology.
         Establish a respirator program.
         Abstain from smoking.
     Prognosis:
         Most improve if environmental exposure is controlled
          through engineering, management, or use of respirator.
          Cessation of smoking also crucial.
         Temporary removal from the environment or use of a
          respirator may help until other measures can be taken.
         Long-term or permanent damage has not been reported to
          date.
         Usually not necessary to quit working.


INCREASED AIRWAYS REACTIVITY

     Symptoms/History:
         Chest tightness, mild dyspnea, some restriction and
          obstruction during breathing.
         Often accompanied by bronchitis.
         Very common in exposed workers.
         History similar to bronchitis, but often with a
          nonproductive cough.
     Work Exposure:
         Identical to bronchitis (above).
     Diagnostic Aids:
         PFT following a workshift shows flow decreased flow
          rates, primarily FEV, and FEV25-75.
         Respiratory challenge with methacholine or histamine show
          decreased PFT flow rates.
     Treatment/Control:
         Identical to bronchitis (above).
     Prognosis:
         Identical to bronchitis (above).

OCCUPATIONAL ASTHMA

     Symptoms/History:
         Wheezing within minutes (immediate asthma) or for up to
          24 hours (delayed asthma) following exposure.
         Only seen in small percentage of workers (less than 10%).
     Work Exposure:
     :    Among atopics or those who already have asthma from
          another source, often occurs with first exposure.
     :    With other workers, a period of sensitization is
          required, which may vary from a few months to several
          years.
         Extent of exposure not as important (environment may be
          relatively clean, and a person may spend very small
          amount of time in building).
     Diagnostic Aids:
         Same as asthma from any other source: obstructive air
          flow patterns following exposure; skin test often
          positive to one or more of feed grains, hog dander, hog
          hair, various molds, dusts; associated with atopic status
          and increased airways reactivity.  Reversible with
          bronchodilators.
     Treatment/Control:
         Medication and treatment same as any asthmatic.
         Attempts to control exposures by environmental control
          and respirators may or may not be helpful.
         Desensitization usually not applicable because of
          multiple antigens and irritant gases.
     Prognosis:
         Same as for any asthmatic.
         Depending on degree of sensitivity, may be almost
          impossible to protect these people from their
          environment.
         This may be one condition for which patient must quit
          working in confinement house.
         Increased airway reactivity and asthma may continue past
          employment.

TOXIC ORGANIC DUST SYNDROME (TODS)

     Symptoms/History:
     :    Fever, muscle aches, chest tightness, cough, malaise.
         Symptoms develop 4-6 hours following exposure.
         Self-limited symptoms usually resolve 24-72 hours.
         Recurrent episodes common.
         Seen in 10-15% of the swine farming population.
         Often observed in clusters where 2-3 workers have similar
          exposure.
     Work Exposure:
         Usually condition associated with work in a totally
          enclosed building.
         Usually follows a particularly heavy exposure (e.g. 4-6
          hours of very dusty work such as handling or sorting
          hogs).
     Diagnostic Aids:
         Elevated white blood cell count, usually neutrophilia.
         PFT will show decreased FEV, and diminished flow rates.
         PO2 may be decreased.
         Bronchoalveolar lavage usually shows PMN response.
         May show serum precipitins to various molds or dust
          extracts, but these are not diagnostic.
         X-ray may show scattered patchy infiltrates.
         Lung biopsy may show inflammatory polymorphonuclear cell
          infiltrates.
     Treatment/Control:
     :    Symptomatic treatment in acute stages may include oxygen,
          IV fluids to correct acid-base imbalance and dehydration.
         Aspirin may be used to control fever.
         Most cases do not seek medical attention; often confused
          with influenza.
     Prognosis:
         Usual recovery period 3-4 days, but patient may feel
          tired and have shortness of breath for several weeks.
         Subsequent attacks may occur in future following heavy
          exposure.

H2S INTOXICATION

     Symptoms/History:
         Sudden and immediate onset of nausea, dizziness, possibly
          sudden collapse, respiratory distress, apnea.
         May lead to sudden death or patient may recover if
          removed from environment, often with dyspnea, hemoptysis,
          and pulmonary edema, following intensive treatment.
     Work Exposure:
     :    Almost always occurs with agitation of a liquid manure
          pit while emptying it.
     :    Respiratory effects will occur within seconds of
          encountering high concentration of H2S.
     Diagnostic Aids:
         If patient survives: - x-ray often shows pulmonary edema.
          - possibly presence of sulfhemoglobin and sulfide in
          blood.
         If deceased: - autopsy shows pulmonary edema, froth in
          trachea, possibly greenish tinge to viscera. - blood
          contains sulfide and sulfhemoglobin.
     Treatment/Control:
         Avoidance.
         Remove exposed person from environment (without exposing
          others) and resuscitate. May have to ventilate.
         Seek medical care, watch for and control pulmonary edema.
     Prognosis:
         If patient survives initial exposure, will probably
          recover usually with minimal loss of lung function.
          Recovery period may be from days to 2-3 years, depending
          on severity of exposure.

Table 3 lists the primary respiratory conditions associated with confinement dusts and gases, including symptoms and signs, associated work exposure, and specific diagnostic aids. This table was developed from experience with swine confinement operations. Conditions provoked within other types of confinement buildings may differ.

Treatment

Medically, little can be prescribed excluding treatment of some of the acute illnesses (asthma, pulmonary edema from H2S intoxication). These treatments, specific control measures, and the prognosis for these illnesses are listed in Table 3.

Respiratory conditions must be controlled through protecting the patient from the environment, either by reducing dust and gas levels or by isolating the patient from these substances. A patient may need to get in touch with a consulting veterinarian or agricultural engineer who has knowledge of environmental control. The local veterinarian or the Cooperative Extension Service agricultural engineer should be able to recommend an appropriate expert.

Physicians need to address the patient’s anxiety as well as the patient’s medical problems. Confinement workers often are told to quit working in confinement structures if they are having respiratory problems. Usually this recommendation is unnecessary. It may produce extreme mental stress, and should only be given once the cause and prognosis of illness have been determined and other avenues of controlling harmful exposures have been fully explored. In many instances, the farmer has no reasonable occupational choice other than to continue working in the confinement building. Also, quitting farming is leaving a life-style as well as a job.

Farmers are becoming increasingly aware of confinement-associated respiratory conditions. A physician can explain potential long-term respiratory conditions but also instill confidence regarding maintenance of the farmer’s health status, and assist in protecting the farmer from health problems of the work environment. Monitoring the patient’s respiratory status may be reassuring to many patients. An initial exam should include a thorough occupational history, spirometry, and a chest x-ray if patients are symptomatic. These can be repeated if clinically indicated at later annual check-ups.

III. PREVENTION

Health hazards associated with confinement houses must be addressed through improvements in the environment and protection of the individual. Techniques for reducing or eliminating the sources of dusts and gases include delivering feed by extension spouts into covered feeders, rather than letting feed fall freely several feet from automatic delivery systems into open feeders (See Fig. 5), frequently and systematically washing buildings with power sprayers to keep them as clean as possible, using wire mesh floors which are more self-cleaning, and assuring that heating units are clean, vented, and functioning properly. Control techniques can be assessed by measuring dust and gas concentrations (see Unit 8).

Because it is impossible to eliminate the formation of dusts and gases, techniques for removing contaminants from the air of confinement houses are critically important. Ventilation will reduce gases, but not necessarily dusts, to healthful levels. Ventilation systems must be properly designed and maintained, and ventilation rates adjusted to include consideration of air quality. These rates often are kept low in winter because of concerns for conserving heat, causing dust and gas concentrations to rise. A number of engineering techniques (e.g. use of heat exchangers which allow increased ventilation while capturing some waste heat) have been tried with varying degrees of success.

Anyone working in a swine or poultry confinement house would be wise to wear a dust mask. Persons exposed to houses with high dust or gas concentrations, or persons with respiratory conditions, may need to use a more sophisticated respirator such as a half-mask cartridge respirator or air helmet. (See Unit 9)

Preventing exposure to high concentrations of H2S from manure pits requires stringent controls. General safety measures include constructing manure pits outside of the confinement building, constructing openings so that lids or other objects cannot fall into the pit requiring a worker to enter the pit for retrieval, and erecting safety guards and warning signs. Whenever a pit that is under a confinement house is being agitated, people should stay out of the building, ventilation of the house should be maximized, and animals should be removed or observed from outside the building.

Even when not being agitated, manure pits can seldom be entered safely. If entrance is imperative, only a self-contained breathing apparatus, worn by an individual trained in its use, will provide adequate protection. All operators should understand that high concentrations of H2S cannot be smelled and that H2S above 1000 ppm produces unconsciousness in only one to three breaths.

Noise-induced hearing loss protection and Mining Safety

This article from Mining Safety provides interesting information on Noise-induced hearing loss protection and Mining Safety
Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable.
Unlike most occupational injuries, there is no visible evidence of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). It is not traumatic and often goes unnoticed when it first occurs. Noise-induced hearing loss accumulates over time, its effects realized long after the damage has been done. NIHL is permanent and irreversible. With proper education, motivation and protection, however, it is also 100% preventable.
According to the World Health Organization, noise-induced hearing loss is the most common permanent and preventable occupational illness in the world. In the European Union, NIHL is the most commonly reported occupational injury.
20% of EU workers are exposed to hazardous noise half their working time, 10% exposed full time (source: EU OSHA).
Howard Leight is committed to providing new motivational and training tools to build an effective Hearing Conservation Programme that works for your employees. Visit howardleight.com to learn more and receive these tools.
When is noise considered hazardous? Anytime you must shout at someone an arm’s length away to be heard.
While exposure to hazardous noise is common, prevention of NIHL is simple:
Consistent use of properly fitted hearing protection when exposed to hazardous noise. That is the goal of every Hearing Conservation Programme.
Noise-induced hearing loss is not solely a workplace issue. It can happen off the job, too. Many employees use power tools, attend loud rock concerts and sporting events, or participate in shooting sports.
All are opportunities for exposure to hazardous noise. Prevention is the key, on and off the job.
Indicators of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Although there are no visual signs, there are a few simple indicators of NIHL. Identification in its early stages can help prevent further damage.
Gradual Progression
NIHL rarely happens overnight. Rather, it accumulates over time with every unprotected exposure to hazardous noise, usually in both ears. This progression can be detected through healthy hearing practices, including the performance of annual audiograms on all employees in your Hearing Conservation Programme. Audiograms can identify whether your employees are experiencing a degradation in hearing, which indicates permanent damage and requires further preventative action.
High-Frequency Hearing Loss
When hearing impairment begins, the high frequencies are often lost first, which is why people with NIHL often have difficulty hearing high pitched sounds such as human voices, alarms and signals. Compared to other sounds, they will seem muffled or distorted.
With normal hearing, conversations are understandable if they are loud enough. When someone suffers from noise-induced hearing loss, simply turning up the volume does not make speech clearer. The clarity is adversely affected regardless of how loud the volume.
Common Symptoms
Those suffering from noise-induced hearing loss will experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or muffled hearing. Non-auditory effects of NIHL may include increased stress, high blood pressure, sleep problems and/or headaches.
Create a successful Hearing Conservation Programme through best practices.
As manufacturing, construction and other industrial endeavors are on the rise in Europe, so are the number of people exposed to harmful levels of noise in the workplace. Over 29% of all employees are exposed to hazardous levels of noise in at least one-quarter of their time in the workplace, and 11% are exposed at all times1 – and these trends are increasing.
While noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and irreversible, it is completely preventable. The new European Union Directive 2003/10/EC, aims to prevent employee exposure to harmful noise, while promoting a healthier and more productive workforce.
The following outlines the provisions of the Directive, including best practices in implementing a successful Hearing Conservation Programme.
Determination and assessment of risk
  • Assessment – A noise exposure assessment must be obtained for all employees exposed to 80 dBA LEq. But not every employee must be personally monitored through dosimetry. Representative samples may be taken, if it can be shown that noise exposures are equivalent to other employees in the same area or performing the same task.
  • Professional Service – Noise levels throughout the workplace must be measured through representative sampling by a competent service.
  • Document Changing Conditions – Whenever you make a change in equipment or process, you need to document this change, even if the noise level is reduced.
  • Post a Noise Map – A noise map in common areas is an effective way to notify employees of area noise and related changes.
  • Document Exposure – Each employee’s TWA noise exposure should be recorded in his/her personnel file.
Avoiding and reducing exposure
  • Engineering Controls – Apply engineering controls at the noise source or along the noise path to reduce exposures. These controls may include vibration dampeners, absorptive panels, barriers, muffler, or variations in force or drive speed of motors.
  • Maintenance – Perform regular maintenance on machinery to prevent additional noise.
  • Administrative – Implement administrative controls to limit the exposure time for employees. These controls may include rotating employees in noisy areas, providing quiet breaks for noise-exposed employees, or moving processes such as maintenance or cleaning to quieter workshifts.
  • Buy Quiet – Purchase new products or machinery with enhanced noise control.
  • Maintain – Noise is often a machine’s cry for maintenance. Repairs can reduce noise levels.
  • Block or Isolate the Source – Erect barriers, or relocate noisy equipment (or their operators) behind heavy walls. Doubling the distance from a noisy piece of equipment effectively reduces the sound energy by half (about a 3 dB drop in noise level).
  • Schedule Employees – Administrative controls include such actions as giving noise-exposed employees breaks in quiet areas, or rotating employees into noisy jobs for short durations.
Personal protection
  • Voluntary Usage – A variety of hearing protectors must be made available to employees exposed to the Lower Action Level of 80 dBA (8-hour exposure).
  • Mandatory Usage – Employees must utilise hearing protectors when noise exposure meets or exceeds the 85 dBA Upper Action Level (8-hour exposure).
  • Usage – Employer must ensure proper use of hearing protection amongst noise-exposed employees.
  • Offer a True Variety – Make available to all your employees at least one style of single-use, multiple-use, and banded earplugs, and one earmuff.
  • Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) – Determine employees’ earplug fit effectiveness by using field verification systems, such as VeriPRO™. Find out if they are receiving optimal protection, require additional training on earplug fitting, or need to try a different model.
  • Make HPDs Convenient – Increase accessibility to hearing protection by installing earplug dispensers near time clock or by placing earmuffs at supervisor stations.
Health surveillance
  • Audiometry – Preventive audiometric testing must be made available to employees whose exposure exceeds the lower exposure action levels.
  • Recordkeeping – Employer is responsible for maintaining up-to-date health surveillance records.
  • Access – Employees have access to health surveillance records upon request.
  • Retain Records – This will help your audiologist compare audiograms serially over time.
  • Get Follow-Up Reports – Ensure that your testing service provides understandable follow-up reports.
  • Review Results Immediately – Studies show that reviewing audiometric test results with employees right after testing yields a more positive impact.
Worker information and training
  • Training – Employees must receive information on risks of noise exposure, methods of avoiding/reducing exposure, exposure limits/values per Directive, assessment/measurement of noise, proper use of hearing protectors, detecting/reporting signs of noise exposure, circumstances of health surveillance, and safe working practice to avoid noise exposure.
  • Provide One-on-One Training – This individualized attention will make for a more memorable training experience.
  • Offer Ongoing Education – Distribute informational flyers and hang motivational posters in common areas and near hearing protection sources. Offer “toolbox” trainings throughout the year.
Consultation and participation of workers
  • Participation – Employees can actively participate in the decisions affecting their hearing health.
  • Teamwork – Assembling a cross-departmental team for your Hearing Conservation programme can enhance support, provide input and help implementation in a variety of areas. Include staff from safety and health, employees in your hearing conservation program, medical personnel, purchasing, human resources and senior management.
Understanding the Risks
Employees are generally unaware of the potentially harmful noise levels they are exposed to every day — both on the job and off. The Howard Leight® Noise Thermometer is a highly effective visual tool that helps employees understand noise risks in everyday activities and European hearing protection requirements.
Main Components of European Union Directive 2003/10/EC
Action Level – 80 dBA
Monitor all noise levels Annual audiometric testing for exposed workers Annual training for exposed workers Variety of suitable hearing protectors must be made available at no cost to the employee
Permissible Exposure Limit – 85 dBA
Hearing protectors required for noise-exposed workers
Hours Per Day 8 6 4 3 2 1.5 1 0.5
Sound Level (dBA) 85 86 88 89 91 92 94 97

Content kindly provided by HSE Solutions.
www.hsesolutions.co.za

Scientists observe gravitational anomaly on Earth

Modern physics has accustomed us to strange and counterintuitive notions of reality—especially quantum physics which is famous for leaving physical objects in strange states of superposition. For example, Schrödinger’s cat, who finds itself unable to decide if it is dead or alive. Sometimes however quantum mechanics is more decisive and even destructive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symmetries are the holy grail for physicists. Symmetry means that one can transform an object in a certain way that leaves it invariant. For example, a round ball can be rotated by an arbitrary angle, but always looks the same. Physicists say it is symmetric under rotations. Once the symmetry of a physical system is identified it’s often possible to predict its dynamics.

Sometimes however the laws of quantum mechanics destroy a symmetry that would happily exist in a world without quantum mechanics, i.e classical systems. Even to physicists this looks so strange that they named this phenomenon an “anomaly.”

For most of their history, these quantum anomalies were confined to the world of elementary particle physics explored in huge accelerator laboratories such as Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. Now however, a new type of materials, the so-called Weyl semimetals, similar to 3-D graphene, allow us to put the symmetry destructing quantum anomaly to work in everyday phenomena, such as the creation of electric current.

In these exotic materials electrons effectively behave in the very same way as the elementary particles studied in high energy accelerators. These particles have the strange property that they cannot be at rest—they have to move with a constant speed at all times. They also have another property called spin. It is like a tiny magnet attached to the particles and they come in two species. The spin can either point in the direction of motion or in the opposite direction.

When one speaks of right- and left-handed particles this property is called chirality. Normally the two different species of particles, identical except for their chirality (handedness), would come with separate symmetries attached to them and their numbers would be separately conserved. However, a quantum anomaly can destroy their peaceful coexistence and changes a left-handed particle into a right-handed one or vice-versa.

Appearing in a paper published today in Nature, an international team of physicists, material scientists and string theoreticians, have observed such a material, an effect of a most exotic quantum anomaly that hitherto was thought to be triggered only by the curvature of space-time as described by Einstein’s theory of relativity. But to the surprise of the team, they discovered it also exists on Earth in the properties of solid state physics, which much of the computing industry is based on, spanning from tiny transistors to cloud data centers.

“For the first time, we have experimentally observed this fundamental quantum anomaly on Earth which is extremely important towards our understanding of the universe,” said Dr. Johannes Gooth, an IBM Research scientist and lead author of the paper. “We can now build novel solid-state devices based on this anomaly that have never been considered before to potentially circumvent some of the problems inherent in classical electronic devices, such as transistors.”

New calculations, using in part the methods of string theory, showed that this gravitational anomaly is also responsible for producing a current if the material is heated up at the same time a magnetic field is applied.

“This is an incredibly exciting discovery. We can clearly conclude that the same breaking of symmetry can be observed in any physical system, whether it occurred at the beginning of the universe or is happening today, right here on Earth,” said Prof. Dr. Karl Landsteiner, a string theorist at the Instituto de Fisica Teorica UAM/CSIC and co-author of the paper.

IBM scientists predict this discovery will open up a rush of new developments around sensors, switches and thermoelectric coolers or energy-harvesting devices, for improved power consumption.
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-scientists-gravitational-anomaly-earth_1.html#jCp

Have a great Day! Chris

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Robot can inspect water or gas pipes from the inside to find leaks

Robot can inspect water or gas pipes from the inside to find leaks long before they become catastrophic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Access to clean, safe water is one of the world’s pressing needs, yet today’s water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. These leaks not only make shortages worse but also can cause serious structural damage to buildings and roads by undermining foundations.

Unfortunately, leak detection systems are expensive and slow to operate—and they don’t work well in systems that use wood, clay, or plastic pipes, which account for the majority of systems in the developing world.

Now, a new system developed by researchers at MIT could provide a fast, inexpensive solution that can find even tiny leaks with pinpoint precision, no matter what the pipes are made of.

The system, which has been under development and testing for nine years by professor of mechanical engineering Kamal Youcef-Toumi, graduate student You Wu, and two others, will be described in detail at the upcoming IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in September. Meanwhile, the team is carrying out tests this summer on 12-inch concrete water-distribution pipes under the city of Monterrey, Mexico.

The system uses a small, rubbery robotic device that looks something like an oversized badminton birdie. The device can be inserted into the water system through any fire hydrant. It then moves passively with the flow, logging its position as it goes. It detects even small variations in pressure by sensing the pull at the edges of its soft rubber skirt, which fills the diameter of of the pipe.

The device is then retrieved using a net through another hydrant, and its data is uploaded. No digging is required, and there is no need for any interruption of the water service. In addition to the passive device that is pushed by the water flow, the team also produced an active version that can control its motion.

Monterrey itself has a strong incentive to take part in this study, since it loses an estimated 40 percent of its water supply to leaks every year, costing the city about $80 million in lost revenue. Leaks can also lead to contamination of the water supply when polluted water backs up into the distribution pipes.

The MIT team, called PipeGuard, intends to commercialize its robotic detection system to help alleviate such losses. In Saudi Arabia, where most drinking water is provided through expensive desalination plants, some 33 percent is lost through leakage. That’s why that desert nation’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals has sponsored and collaborated on much of the MIT team’s work, including successful field tests there earlier this year that resulted in some further design improvements to the system, Youcef-Toumi says.

Those tests, in a mile-long section of 2-inch rusty pipe provided by Pipetech LLC, a pipeline service company in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, that frequently uses the same pipe system for validating and certifying pipeline technologies. The tests, in pipes with many bends, T-joints, and connections, involved creating an artificial leak for the robot to find. The robot did so successfully, distinguishing the characteristics of the leak from false alarms caused by pressure variations or changes in pipe size, roughness, or orientation.

“We put the robot in from one joint, and took it out from the other. We tried it 14 times over three days, and it completed the inspection every time,” Wu says. What’s more, it found a leak that was about one gallon per minute, which is one-tenth the minimum size that conventional detection methods can find on average, and a third as large as those systems can find under even the best of conditions.

These leakage issues are widespread. “In China, there are many newly built cities and they all use plastic water pipes,” says Honghai Bi, CEO of Banzan International Group, one of the largest plastic pipe manufacturers in China. “In those new pipe systems there is still about 30 percent of water lost due to leaks every day. Currently there is not an effective tool to locate leaks in those plastic pipes, and MIT PipeGuard’s robot is the disruptive change we have been looking for.”

The next step for the team, after the field tests in Monterrey, is to make a more flexible, collapsible version of their robot that can quickly adapt itself to pipes of different diameters. Under the steets of Boston, for example, there are a mix of 6-, 8- and 12-inch pipes to navigate—many of them installed so long ago that the city doesn’t even have accurate maps of their locations. The robot would expand “like an umbrella,” Wu says, to adapt to each pipe.

The value of the robot is not just for reducing water losses, but also for making water services safer and more reliable. “When a leak occurs, the force of the water flowing from underground can do serious structural damage undermining streets, flooding houses, and damaging other underground utilities. There is also the issue of loss of service to residents and business for extended period of time,” says Mark Gallager, director of engineering and distribution at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Water Department. The ability of this system to detect much smaller leaks could enable early detection and repair, long before serious pipe breaks occur.

Gallager says, “If we had the capability to find leaks when they first appear or before they get to the point of critical failure, that could equate to preventing the loss of millions of gallons of water annually. It could minimize the damage to infrastructure and the loss of water services to homes and businesses, and it could significantly reduce the associated cost.”

Not only could the system find leaks in virtually any kind of water pipe, it could also be used for other kinds of pipe distribution systems, such as those for natural gas. Such pipes, which are often old and also poorly mapped, have produced serious gas buildups and even explosions in some cities, but leaks are hard to detect until they become large enough for people to smell the added odorants. The MIT system was actually first developed to detect gas leaks, and later adapted for water pipes.

Ultimately, the team hopes, the robot could not just find leaks but also be equipped with a special mechanism they have designed, so that, at least for smaller leaks, it could carry out an instant repair on the spot.

The device has already attracted a series of honors and awards. The team members won the $10,000 prize at the 2017 MIT Water Innovation competition, and they were finalists in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, where they won another $10,000. In the $100K finals, they won yet another $10,000 for the Booz Allen Hamilton Data Analytics Award, and they were one of the 25 winners nationwide to receive a $10,000 2017 Infy Maker Award from Infosys Foundation.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-robot-gas-pipes-leaks-catastrophic.html#jCp

Enjoy your day! Chris

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

What’s it like working in a Coal Mine

Amit Kuma – Quora – says:

“I am an Undergraduate student of Mining Engineering and I can tell for sure that most of the people have this misconception that Coal mines are always underground and it looks something like:

or this

But truth is that with the advancement of technology, machinery and rock mechanics, nowadays, Coal mines are mostly Open -Pit Type (Surface mines). But Underground coal mines also exist in large numbers but due to heavy mechanisation, the method of working and working conditions have changed extremely.

An surface coal mine:

Underground mines too now have heavy mechanization, good working conditions like safety, temperature, ventilation etc.

“Many people ask if I have to crawl around all day long – nope! I drive an F-150 underground. Speed limit is 25, but I’ve never gotten pulled over down there (all the trucks have governor chips set to 25). Some mines in the Appa-latch-in Mountains are only 4 ft. high, but I’ve never worked there. The walls are white with “rock dust”, this prevents coal dust from being breathed in and coal dust is also combustable – you don’t want it floating around.”

– A miner from a well mecanised mine.

So, the conclusion is that in new and modernized mines the working conditions are upto mark. Even if the work is somewhat dangerous and boring but it is doable.

But still their exist some old mines where you’ll find that it is very hard to work for the miners as well as the engineers and geologists etc. In these mines, every thing is handled by human labour hence making it more difficult.

“The actual working area is like a crawl space in a house. The average height is about 40 inches. So you’re going to crawl.

When you’re bent, you can’t use your legs as much. You have to rely on your arms and back. To pick up 25 pounds standing upright is easy for most people. When you’re bent over on your knees, it becomes much harder.

The average coal miner works 60 hours a week. That’s standard. Most coal miners work 10-hour shifts, 6 days a week.

Everything is intensified in the mines. You’re in a foreign atmosphere. Deep underground the air is different. The oxygen goes down. The temperature on average is in the 50s, but you still sweat an enormous amount when you start laboring.“ – Alan Bates, working in the coal mines of Letcher County, Kentucky.

But with more mechanisation we hope these mines will also improve in coming times.

And it also depends on the type of job. If you are miner, it’ll be pretty hard compared to an machine/haulage truck operator which in turn is inferior to the Engineers.

“Mining engineering pays at about the same level as chemical engineering, computer science, and petroleum engineering. I started at $70k and moved up from there. The hours are very long though – I start at 6AM and get off at 5PM.”

Some more technologies which makes working easier in mines are:

Remote controlled machines

No Pickaxes any more

Conveyors

Improved ventilation technique

But as it is said that:

And when will work in coal you hands will surely get dirty.

And moreover, the girls now a days, are taking up mining jobs. So, it will be more fun than ever. Just j0king ;)”

Hope you enjoyed the read! Chris

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Residents call for more dust control

USA – Residents in northwest Okotoks are fed up with the amount of dust and debris they find blowing into their yards and homes from the D’Arcy site on daily basis.

Residents of northwest Okotoks are unhappy with the amount of dust in their homes due to construction on the D'Arcy site.

Construction began on the D’Arcy Ranch lands in the spring, and the site has been a flurry of scraping and rough grading activity all summer. However, some living in nearby neighbourhoods are sounding off on the amount of dust they say the work has created.

Chris Large, who lives in the 100 block of Suntree, said he’s tired of having to use a power blower to remove dust from his front and back porches and vehicles every day. He’s calling on the Town to have more dust control measures implemented on the construction site.

“They’ve got probably a dozen scrapers and bulldozers there, and they’ve got one water truck,” said Large. “It would seem to me the developer’s got more responsibility to the community than having one water truck doing however many dozen acres of scraping they’re doing.”

He took his concerns public with a post on social media last week, which garnered support from some users and generated criticism from others.

Seeing comments from other residents with similar concerns told him the Town needs to take action, he said. Others who said it’s just part of development likely don’t live in the area and aren’t exposed to the issue, he said.

“It’s development, so I guess if they wanted to go 24/7 and have all their machinery running close to those houses that I should suck it up and live with it,” said Large. “You know what? Development or not, there should still be a responsibility and a social awareness that you could do development without impacting the neighbourhood.”

He said existing residents should not be inconvenienced just for the sake of building more homes and businesses.

Hazel Tulick, who lives in the villas behind No Frills, on Sandstone Court, said it’s been a long summer living with the dust and debris coming from D’Arcy.

The situation was compounded by a couple of dust storms, which carried even more dirt into their yards and home, she said. It was so bad at one point, she said drivers had to pull over due to a lack of visibility.

“It’s just inadequate dust control and dirt control,” said Tulick. “There’s dust in our yards, on our deck, in our houses. It’s in our plants, it’s in our curtain, it’s in our windows and window sills. It’s everywhere.”

She said some people in the neighbourhood have hired professional cleaners a few times over the summer to deal with the mess, but many have given up on staying on top of it.

Though there have been two water trucks on the site recently, she said it’s still not enough to keep up with the amount of dust in the air.

“I just plead with the Town to please do something about this, please do something about this,” said Tulick. “It’s so frustrating for us people, and I think the whole town is noticing it now, too. There’s so much dust in our town.”

Mitchell Kowalski, Okotoks engineer technologist, said the developers at D’Arcy are in compliance with the Town’s policies around dust control for construction sites.

“The contractor who’s been on the site there has taken the dust concern very seriously, and they have shut down on multiple days just due to high winds and the amount of dust it was creating,” said Kowalski.

Kowalski said the developer has employed sufficient dust control methods with its water trucks according to the Town’s specifications.

It’s normal to see dust in the air during construction, but the weather this summer has compounded the issue everywhere, he said.

“That’s probably one of the worsts things, is the weather,” said Kowalski. “All the construction sites I’ve been to in the town have been really dry. It’s hard keeping up.”

Source – Western Wheel

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Reclaimed Materials

The construction industry is under increasing pressure to become sustainable. One way to address this is through the use of reclaimed materials. Reclaimed materials are those that have been previously used in a building or project, and which are then re-used in another project. The materials might be altered, re-sized, refinished, or adapted, but they are not reprocessed in any way, and remain in their original form. Materials that have been reprocessed and reused in the building industry are referred to as recycled materials.

Examples of materials that can be reclaimed include: bricks, slate roofing, ceramic tiles, fireplaces, doors, window frames, glass panels, metal fixtures and fittings, stairs, cobbled stones, steel sections and timber. A reclaimed material is often adapted for a different use, for example a roof beam might be used as a mantelpiece. This is known as re-purposing.

Why Reclaim?

The building industry has a massive impact on the environment in terms of energy consumption, use of natural resources, pollution and waste. Every year in the UK, construction materials account for around: 6 tonnes of materials per person, 122 million tonnes of waste (1/3 of total UK waste) and 18% of carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to global climate change. On top of this, the embodied costs associated with the extraction, production, manufacture and transportation of building materials are immense. Using reclaimed materials can significantly reduce these environmental impacts, and save up to 95% of the embodied costs by preventing unnecessary production of new materials, and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Where to Find Materials

The best place to source reclaimed materials is direct from a demolition or re-modelling project. Many of these projects carefully dismantle buildings in such a way that their materials can be sold and re-used. In the building trade this is known as deconstruction.

Reclaimed materials can also be sourced from salvage centres, reclamation yards and other specialist companies, who buy and sell materials that they have salvaged themselves from demolished sites. There are hundreds of salvage companies, some which deal only in high-end architectural materials, and others that are more like junkyards. Good quality, rare and heritage materials can be gleaned from salvage suppliers, and while purchasing can be more expensive than those sourced direct from a demolition site, there is a much wider choice of materials available on demand.

An Untapped Market

Although there are substantial environmental benefits to using reclaimed materials, the market is virtually untapped. At the moment, only 1% of reclaimed materials are used in new building projects, a percentage that should really be higher. One of the barriers has been a lack of information about sourcing and using the materials in design and development – including knowledge of specifications, standards, legislation and performance. But there are economic barriers too, including the cost of extraction in deconstruction, the limited flexibility of reclaimed materials, and problems of storing and double handling of materials between sites. In addition, medium to large building projects cannot take advantage of the reclamation industry, because the salvage supply chain is not yet equipped to deal with large orders.

Reclamation in Sustainable Development

Ongoing rapid development means that many historic buildings are being demolished to make way for new affordable housing and commercial space. Redirecting building materials from the waste stream of this process, and reusing them in other nearby projects is a critical component of sustainable development. There is a huge amount of construction waste, and the potential to reuse this to reduce landfill and new materials is enormous. When reclaimed materials are secured from an existing building site, the environmental impact is virtually zero. Even when they are sourced from far away, reclaimed materials are still the most environmentally friendly option for supplying materials to the building industry.

Source – Sustainablebuild.co.uk

Eco Friendly Construction Methods and Materials

Construction Green Building Methods

There is an urgent need to address the great challenges of our times: climate change, resource depletion, pollution, and peak oil. These issues are all accelerating rapidly, and all have strong links with the building industry.

There is a growing consensus from scientists and the oil industry that we are going to reach peak oil in the next twenty years, and that we might have reached this point already. Global demand is soaring, whilst global production is declining, and oil is set to become increasingly expensive and scarce. The building industry is hugely dependent on cheap oil, from the manufacture and transportation of its materials, to the machinery and tools used in demolition and construction. In the UK, it uses vast quantities of fossil fuels, accounting for over half of total carbon emissions that lead to climate change. The built environment is also responsible for significant amounts of air, soil and water pollution, and millions of tonnes of landfill waste. This is a situation that clearly needs to change.

Reducing Energy Consumption

With the inevitability of declining fossil fuels, and the threat of global climate change, reducing our energy consumption is an essential survival strategy. Choosing to build green saves energy. The low embodied energy of green products ensures that very little energy went into their manufacture and production, with a direct reduction in carbon emissions. Eco friendly design methodology can further reduce energy consumption by minimising energy inputs for heating, cooling and light, and incorporating energy efficient appliances. Saving energy for the occupant also saves money – an issue that will become increasingly important as the cost of fossil fuels inevitably rises in the near future.

Building Healthier Homes

Eco-friendly construction can not only help to create a better outdoor environment, it can also help to build a healthier indoor environment. Conventional building materials and methods have been linked to a wide range of health problems. Chemical pollutants from paints, solvents, plastics and composite timbers, along with biological pollutants such as dust mites and moulds are known to cause symptoms such as asthma, headaches, depression, eczema, palpitations and chronic fatigue syndrome. Green buildings eliminate these problems through good ventilation design, breathable walls, and the use of natural, non-toxic products and materials.

There are many good reasons why we should use eco-friendly construction methods and materials. It can improve the health of our planet, and the health of our own lives. It also supports local business and helps strengthen the local economy, which in turn helps to build our communities into vibrant, prosperous and desirable places to live.

A Necessary Choice

Green building is not only a wise choice for our future; it is also a necessary choice. The construction industry must adopt eco-friendly practices and materials that reduce its impacts, before we reach a point of irreversible damage to our life supporting systems. The UK Government is beginning to recognise this urgency, and is committed to integrating green specifications into building regulations and codes, but the process of developing policy is slow. The industry needs to take its own initiative and find alternative ways to build, using green, renewable energy resources, and adopt non-polluting practises and materials that reduce, recycle and reuse, before it is too late.

Source – Sustainablebuild.co.uk

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Pan African poised for growth, proposes R185m final dividend

Precious metals mining company Pan African, which on Wednesday proposed a R185-million final dividend, reports that it is poised for growth as remedial action regarding its operational challenges in the 12 months to June 30 delivers expected results.

The London- and Johannesburg-listed company, which reported a production decrease of 15.4% to 173 285 oz in its 2017 financial year, is looking forward to a much-improved performance from its Evander Mines in the 2018 financial year, when a substantial increase in gold production is expected.

The company’s lower production in the 12 months to June 30 was primarily the result of a 55-day suspension of production at Evander Mines, which was required for the completion of the refurbishment of critical shaft infrastructure at No 7 Shaft.

The group is also continuing to engage with all stakeholders to ensure its operations can function in a stable and consistent manner following a loss of production shifts at its Barberton Mines owing to frequent instances of community unrest in the area as a result of service delivery protests, compounded by Section 54 regulatory notices issued at both Barberton Mines and Evander Mines during the first half of the financial year.

Revenue from continuing operations decreased by 15.5% to R2 925.3-million with profit after taxation falling 43.3% to R309.9-million.

Profits were adversely impacted by reduced gold production and a flat rand gold price during the year.

Earnings a share decreased by 34.4% to 19.81c a share and gold production and realisation costs were well contained, increasing by 7.7% to R2 343.1-million.

Describing the 2017 financial year as operationally challenging, Pan African CEO Cobus Loots said the company had appropriately addressed critical shaft infrastructure repairs at Evander Mines, resulting in a leaner cost base without compromising the safety or sustainability of the business.

At the company’s flagship long-life cash flow producing Barberton Mines, high-grade panels are currently being mined at Fairview 11-block, which is set to contribute substantially to Pan African’s production guidance of 190 000 oz for the 2018 financial year.

In addition to Evander’s Elikhulu gold tailings project being environmentally approved and on schedule to produce first gold in the final quarter of the 2018 calendar year, a feasibility study has begun at Evander’s 2010 Pay Channel project, where an exploration borehole successfully intersected the Kimberley reef at a depth of two kilometres. The previous borehole into the 2010 Pay Channel yielded a reef intersection with a 49 cm width at 36 g/t.

The disposal of the Uitkomst colliery to Coal of Africa on June 30 realised a profit of R91.3-million, demonstrating the value created over the 15 months of ownership by Pan African.

The recently announced disposal of Phoenix Platinum to Sylvania reaffirmed the company’s focus on core operations, with the cash proceeds strengthening the company’s financial position.

The benefits of the PAR Gold transaction of the prior financial year has provided the accounting effect of reducing the issued share capital by 436.4-million shares in the 2017 financial year, equating to 19.53% of the issued share capital of the company.

DRA Projects has assisted Pan African in the completion of a feasibility study on the construction of a raise-bored, sub-vertical shaft from Fairview’s 42 Level to 64 Level, with the potential of continuing the vertical shaft to 68 Level in future.

This sub-vertical shaft will be used to transport employees and material to the working areas, which will allow the No 3 Decline to be used exclusively for rock hoisting, increasing overall capacity and production from this mining area.

DRA has reviewed the technical and commercial aspects of the project and the supporting feasibility study has yielded very positive results. The estimated capital expenditure for the project, including contingencies, is R105-million, to be incurred over a two-year period. The productivity improvements for Fairview are estimated to yield an additional 7 000 oz/y of gold, which can be optimised further to more than 10 000 oz/y.

The board’s proposed final dividend of R185-million, again, holds out the prospect of an attractive cash return to shareholders.

Source – Miningweekly.com

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.