Calif. official blames Mexico for pest problem.
SAN DIEGO (Reuters, Oct. 20, 1998) - San Diego County's chief agriculture officer said
Monday the Mexican government was largely to blame for the worst fruit fly infestation in
the county in almost 25 years. San Diego County Agriculture Commissioner Kathleen Thuner
said the Mexican government's decision to end a key pest control program earlier this year
helped create the problem that now jeopardizes the county's citrus and avocado crop,
valued at $176 million annually. Already, New Zealand and South Korea have banned
importing agricultural goods from the county because of the infestation, she said.
Deerfield Parents Decry Pesticide From the Chicago
Tribune : September 17,1998. A growing number
of Deerfield School District 109 parents are rallying together to urge the village
park district to reconsider the use of certain pesticides on playgrounds and open fields
near the six school campuses. The Deerfield Park District originally planned to spray
areas surrounding each of the schools last Saturday, but parent opposition brought the
yearly process to a halt.
Asbestos watch keeps risk low. 78 Halton public schools have
some form of the carcinogen. Carolynne Wheeler, The Hamiliton Spectator.
Asbestos isn't the attention grabber it used to be but Halton public school officials
continue to keep a close watch on schools containing the fireproofing material to ensure
staff and students aren't inhaling the carcinogenic fibres.
Annual inspections -- or in some cases as often as every three months -- are a regular
occurrence in 78 public schools in Halton that contain some form of asbestos.
But a spokesman for the Halton District School Board says officials had no problems of the
magnitude of those that closed an Ancaster school in the Hamilton-Wentworth District
School Board earlier this month.
"Over time we've removed things, we've repaired things," said Brian Eggleton,
the board's co-ordinator of occupational health and safety. "The mere presence of it
does not indicate a hazard, it's whether it's
in good, fair or poor condition that determines whether action needs to be taken."
Catholic board schools are believed 99.9 per cent asbestos free after an aggressive
removal plan in the early 1990s, said superintendent of plant Giacomo Corbacio. The tiny
remaining percentage that may still
remain consists of pipes coated with asbestos that are hidden behind solid walls.
When found in schools, asbestos generally falls into one of four categories: as thermal
insulation on pipings, fittings, valves and equipment for heating systems and water;
bonded into ceiling, wall or floor tiles; inside fire-rated doors; or in acoustic sprays,
spray-on fireproofing and decorative plaster.
The material, a mineral commonly used to fireproof building materials in the 1950s and
1960s until its health effects became known, is not dangerous unless broken or
deteriorating, when its tiny fibres are released into the air. Health risks come from
breathing in those fibres, as they can cause scarring and certain types of cancer after
lodging in lung tissue.
Theoretically, any level of fibre exposure is a potential health risk, though experts say
in actual fact, risk of exposure to asbestos in schools and office buildings is minimal.
Of the three types of asbestos in existence, the type in Halton public schools --
chrysotile -- is considered the least dangerous. That in Ancaster was crocidolite,
which is considered the most hazardous because its tiny fibres are most easily lodged in
In older public schools, the use of asbestos in boiler rooms and on pipes and valves is
most common. But it's the sprayed-on asbestos, in fireproofing on structural steel beams
and in acoustic sprays in some gymnasiums, that must be watched most carefully in
case it becomes "friable," or crumbly. Such spray-on asbestos exists in
Burlington at Dr. Charles Best and Tecumseh elementary schools, and Aldershot, Lord
Elgin and Nelson high schools.
No matter the type, all asbestos must be watched carefully for cracks and holes. Its
existence is recorded in layout plans left in each school and in five-inch binders in
Eggleton's office; repairs and removals are also documented. This year, board budget
documents show about $25,000 was committed to asbestos inspections and repairs under a
facilities renewal grant; other minor repairs might come from schools' own budgets.
Eggleton said the Ministry of Labour did an audit of their process in 1996 and recommended
some inspections be stepped up to every three months, which he said was done.
A ministry spokesman said that audit simply updated where asbestos was located in the
board's schools and said inspectors have no complaints about how asbestos is managed here.
"They're doing fine. We're aware -- they notify us routinely when they've got an
asbestos management item or issue. But generally they call us for advice," said Rene
Laframboise, Halton district manager for the provincial Ministry of Labour. "That
board is fortunate in the sense that they've got people dedicated to that =C9 They're
willing and they're prepared to manage asbestos, even if sometimes that task is
The problem hasn't gone away and asbestos remaining in schools requires constant attention
to make sure it isn't deteriorating. "It's considered a health risk and I think it
has to be managed, and we have a responsibility to do that," Eggleton said.
Agency's new image means business (11 September 1998) Health Canada's
Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OHSA) has adopted a new image to promote its
program of meeting the occupational health and safety needs of all levels of the public
sector. OHSA offers a comprehensive range of services that include:
-Health assessment -Employee assistance; -Traumatic stress management; -Health and
safety education and training; -Public health services such as food and water inspection,
quarantine, and VIP services
For more information, visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ohsa/nehsi.htmn
Greenpeace dumps gene corn at Novartis's door. BASLE, Switzerland (Reuters, Sept.
14, 1998) - Environmental activists from Greenpeace dumped two tons of genetically
modified corn at Novartis AG's Basle headquarters Monday and demanded the company pull
gene-altered seeds from the market. But Novartis defended the product as safe for humans
and animals and distributed the corn to local farmers to feed their cows. Greenpeace had
harvested the so-called Bt corn, developed by Novartis to resist the European corn borer
pest, from fields in Germany and France last week to protest against the cultivation of
genetically modified seeds.
Common disinfectant could breed superbugs. August 19, 1998. Microbiologist Laura
McMurry and colleagues at the Tufts University School of Medicine, in the most recent
edition of the journal Nature, say triclosan, a disinfectant widely used in products as
diverse as kitchen sponges, soap, fabrics and plastics, is capable of forcing the
emergence of "superbugs" that it cannot kill. Recent experiments have shown that
tricolsan may not be the all-out germ-killer scientists once thought it was. Changing just
one gene in the E. coli bacterium allowed it to resist triclosan's effects.
Top British scientist backs genetically made
food Aug. 14, 1998. A leading British scientist dismissed fears over genetically
modified food as irrational and said engineering new crops was no different from the
selective breeding farmers had carried out for centuries. Oxford University professor
Richard Dawkins, an award-winning science author, said in a letter to the Independent
newspaper that many types of food eaten today would not exist without changes introduced
by humans. A fierce debate is raging in Britain over the merits of genetically modified