Excess risks of death from myeloid leukemia have also been reported among pathologists, embalmers and other professionals
who experience high-intensity peak exposures to formaldehyde.
The highest level of increased risk of death from myeloid
leukemia in this study occurred early on and has been declining
steadily over time. This pattern could be due to chance, but the
investigators note that similar patterns of risks over time have
been seen for agents that are known to cause leukemia relatively
soon after exposure.
Barab Named Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSHA
In April, OSHA announced that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis selected Jordan Barab to be Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSHA
and Acting Assistant Secretary, effective Monday, April 13. The
appointment does not require Senate confirmation. Barab assumes the duties of Acting Assistant Secretary until an
Assistant Secretary is nominated and confirmed.
Barab comes to OSHA from
the House Education and
Labor Committee, where he
was the senior labor policy
advisor for health and safety
to Chairman George Miller.
From 2002 through 2007, he
worked at the U.S. Chemical
Safety and Hazard Investiga-
tion Board from 1998 to 2001, he was previously employed at
OSHA as special assistant to the assistant secretary. During this
time, he helped the agency promulgate the ergonomics workplace
safety and health standard, which was repealed by Congress in
March 2001. From 2003 to 2007, Barab maintained a blog called
Barab holds a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins Univer-
sity and a bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College.
NYC Health Commissioner Is New Head of CDC
In May, President Obama selected Thomas R. Frieden to head the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Frieden
started work at the agency in June.
As New York City Health Commissioner for seven years,
Frieden led efforts to ban
smoking in bars and restaurants and trans fat in food,
according to a May 16 article in The New York Times.
The website of the New York
City Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene reports
that the number of smokers
in the city has declined by
300,000 since 2002.
Frieden also supported
requirements for publishing
calorie information on
restaurant menus and distributing condoms and clean needles to
reduce the spread of HIV.
Prior to becoming City Health Commissioner, Frieden worked
for twelve years at CDC as an epidemiologic intelligence service
officer. He is an expert in tuberculosis control and supported efforts to control tuberculosis in India and in New York City.
Frieden is a graduate of Oberlin College and holds degrees in
medicine and public health from Columbia University.
Neutrality of New York State Medical Exams Questioned
A New York Times investigation suggests that independent
medical exams of workers, which are required by the New York
state workers’ compensation system, are often biased in favor
The exams are intended to provide neutral medical opinions
about the capacity of injured workers to do their jobs. But according to N. R. Kleinfeld’s article “Exams of Injured Workers
Fuel Mutual Mistrust,” which appeared in the April 1 edition of
the Times, records indicate that many disabilities diagnosed during the exams fail to show up on the exam reports. Insurers use
the reports to reject workers’ claims for disability benefits. Few
workers choose to fight these decisions in court, a process that
can take years.
Insurers in New York state request more than 100,000 independent medical exams each year, Kleinfeld reports. The doctors
who conduct the exams are required to have a state license and
be authorized in a specialty.
State law grants workers the right to videotape the exams, although doctors often object to the practice. Kleinfeld reports that
some videotapes reviewed by the Times show doctors diagnosing
disabilities that do not appear on the exam reports.
The complete Times article is available at www.nytimes.com.
UMass Chemists Develop Test for Arsenic in Soil
Chemists at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst have developed the first accurate test to indicate levels of arsenic in soil,
according to the April 7 issue of Environmental Protection.
Julian Tyson, a professor of analytical chemistry at UMass, and
graduate student Khalid Al-Assaf
describe their new technique in the
April 4 issue of the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, published by the British Royal Society
of Chemistry. The new method calls
for scientists to extract arsenic
compounds with sodium hydroxide
and phosphoric acid, separate them
by chromatography, convert them
to volatile hydrides and measure
them by the light emitted from a high-temperature, inductively-coupled plasma (atomic emission spectroscopy). Among other
practical applications, the technique will allow scientists to determine arsenic contamination of drinking water.
Pressure-treated wood, commonly used for playgrounds and
decks, contains arsenic, which can leach into surrounding soil.
High arsenic levels also occur naturally in Asian soil and ground-water, and can be absorbed by rice plants. Adapting the new
method to determine arsenic concentration in rice may be possible.
For more information, visit www.eponline.com/articles/71549.