"Published Occasionally at Irregular Intervals"
Arthur L. Craigmill ~
Vol. 25 No. 2 -- June 2005
"IN THIS ISSUE"
an Elemental Mercury Spill
County, Minnesota, 2004
Elemental mercury spills can cause contamination of
neighborhoods and homes and result in neurologic and kidney disorders
persons who inhale mercury vapors. Often, however, difficulties exist
determining the magnitude of exposure and effectiveness of
decontamination or in recognizing that reexposure has occurred. This
summarizes the response to an elemental mercury exposure
that resulted in the decontamination of 48 persons and the subsequent
analysis of blood and urine samples from 14 exposed youths aged 6-16
years. Demolition and
waste-disposal firms and government agencies must take actions to
ensure that elemental
mercury is adequately secured before disposal.
In preparation for demolition of a factory
in Dakota County, Minnesota, hazardous waste from the factory was
temporarily stored in a shed, which was not effectively secured. During
a late afternoon in September 2004, two teenagers entered the shed and
found two canning
jars containing approximately 21
pounds of elemental mercury
brought the mercury back to their neighborhood, where they and
12 other youths played with it, throwing handfuls of mercury at each
and splashing in a large puddle of mercury on an outdoor basketball
This initial exposure was limited to <2 hours because of rapid
by a parent who saw what the youths were doing, told them to go home
shower, and contacted the police. Subsequently, 48 persons, including
youths, were decontaminated with water and detergent and homes were
scanned for contamination by using
real-time mercury vapor analyzer. On the recommendation of Minnesota
of Health (MDH) staff, residents of 12 contaminated homes were
in a motel by the American Red Cross.
As part of its epidemiologic investigation, MDH
staff interviewed some of the youths the morning after the event and
learned that the teenagers had attempted to ignite the mercury and
might have been exposed to fumes. Subsequent sampling with the mercury
vapor analyzer in motel rooms of displaced families revealed mercury
contamination, and high concentrations of mercury vapor found near the
hair of three youths 24 hours after exposure suggested that exposures
might have been more severe than initially indicated, that
decontamination was incomplete, and that exposures were continuing.
Consequently, 14 youths aged 6-16 years with known exposures were
examined by physicians; 11 were evaluated at a hospital in St. Paul,
elemental mercury occurs largely from inhaling mercury vapors; very
is absorbed through the skin or by ingestion. Mercury spills pose a
health hazard and are difficult to clean because most common methods
sweeping or vacuuming) disperse mercury, increasing the surface area of
the mercury, increasing evaporation, and exacerbating the
report illustrates that use of real-time portable instruments such as
vapor analyzers can enable investigators to rapidly measure mercury
concentrations and determine the extent of an exposure incident.
The half-life of total mercury in blood for persons exposed to
mercury vapor is 2-5 days, reflecting distribution to tissues and
elimination through exhalation, which corresponds to the results in
this report; blood mercury levels were below the detection limit 7-13
days after initial positive measurement. Exhaled mercury concentrations
have been found to decrease, with half-lives of 13-25 hours and 1.6-2.3
days. These half-lives also are consistent with the results in this
report. However, exhalation half-lives longer than 30 hours might
indicate continuing exposure or reexposure to mercury. The patient with
the calculated half-life of 44 hours had been reexposed on day 4.
Exhaled vapor concentrations can also depend on proper exhalation by
patients. To compare data between patients, investigators should
instruct all patients to exhale in the same manner; however, mercury
vapor half-lives are repeated measures and will not be as sensitive to
individual differences. The lack of correlation between exhaled mercury
and blood mercury is likely caused by measurement of different forms of
mercury (i.e., total mercury for blood and mercury vapor for exhaled)
and the small range of exposures.
Approximately 70%-80% of inhaled mercury enters the blood before
distribution to tissues; the rest is immediately exhaled. An estimated
7% of retained mercury is exhaled in the first 3 days after exposure.
Approximately 9.2% and 2.4% is excreted in feces and urine,
respectively, within 7 days. Conversely, mercury concentrations in
blood can increase rapidly after an acute exposure to mercury,
providing timely indication of exposure. In addition, the short
half-life of mercury in blood can enable confirmation of the cessation
of exposure. However, investigators should be aware of potential
confounders to measurements of mercury concentrations (e.g., fish
consumption, dental amalgams, medicinal use, and ritualistic use of
mercury such as sprinkling on a floor for good luck).
In this report, the experiences of responders and investigators also
underscore several recommendations for demolition and waste-disposal
government agencies. These include 1) securing elemental mercury at
sites, 2) confirming mercury decontamination by sampling, 3) providing
sensitive field instruments and appropriate training for tracking
mercury contamination and exposure, and 4) incorporating
quality-assurance controls into all data collection activities.
REF: MMWR, February 18, 2005, 54(06).
Outbreaks of Salmonella Infections
Associated with Eating Roma Tomatoes
and Canada, 2004
Three outbreaks of Salmonella
associated with eating Roma tomatoes were detected in the United States
in the summer of 2004. In one multistate U.S. outbreak during June
25-July 18, multiple Salmonella
serotypes were isolated, and
cases were associated with exposure to Roma tomatoes from multiple
locations of a chain delicatessen. Each of the other two outbreaks was
characterized by a single Salmonella
serotype: Braenderup in
one multistate outbreak and Javiana in an outbreak in Canada. In the
three outbreaks, 561 outbreak-related illnesses from 18 states and one
province in Canada were identified. This
describes the subsequent investigations by public health and
agencies. Although a single tomato-packing house in Florida was common
all three outbreaks, other growers or packers also might have supplied
contaminated Roma tomatoes that resulted in some of the illnesses.
Environmental investigations are continuing. Because current knowledge
of mechanisms of tomato contamination and methods of eradication of Salmonella
in fruit is inadequate to ensure produce safety, further research
should be a priority for the agricultural industry, food safety
agencies, and the public health community.
Editorial Note: This
report describes three outbreaks in the
and Canada in which Roma tomatoes were implicated; as a result of these
outbreaks, 2004 had the highest number of recorded annual
tomato-associated Salmonella infections.
Salmonella can enter tomato plants through roots or flowers
and can enter the tomato fruit through small cracks in the skin, the
stem scar, or the plant itself. However, whether Salmonella
can travel from roots to the fruit, or if seeds can contaminate
subsequent generations of tomato plants, is unknown.
Understanding the mechanism of contamination and amplification of
contamination of large volumes of tomatoes is critical to prevent
large-scale, tomato-associated outbreaks. Contamination might occur
during multiple steps from the tomato seed nursery to the final
kitchen. Eradication of Salmonella from the interior of the
tomato is difficult without cooking, even if treated with highly
concentrated chlorine solution.
Public health professionals should be aware of tomatoes as a
vehicle when investigating Salmonella outbreaks. Current
of mechanisms of tomato contamination and methods of eradication of Salmonella
in fruit are inadequate to fully define interventions that will ensure
produce safety. Studies into these concerns should be a priority for
the agricultural industry, food safety agencies, and the public health
REF: MMWR, April 8, 2005, Volume 54, No. 13
EPA to Strengthen
Protection from Lead in Drinking Water
EPA is initiating the Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan to strengthen,
update and clarify existing requirements for water utilities and states
to test for and reduce lead in drinking water. This action, which
follows extensive analysis and assessment of current implementation of
these regulations, will tighten monitoring, treatment, lead service
line management and customer awareness. The plan also addresses lead in
tap water in schools and child care facilities to further protect
vulnerable populations. Lead is a
highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in
and around homes. Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health
effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Children
six years old and under are most at risk because this is when the brain
is developing. The primary source of lead exposure for most children is
lead-based paint in older homes. Lead in drinking water adds
to that exposure.
Drinking water does not start
out containing lead. Lead is picked up as water passes through pipes
and household plumbing fittings and fixtures that contain lead. Water
leaches lead from these sources and becomes contaminated. In 1991, to
reduce lead in drinking water, EPA issued the LCR. The LCR requires
water utilities to reduce lead contamination by controlling the
corrosiveness of water and, as needed, replace lead service lines used
to carry water from the street to the home.
Under the LCR, if 10 percent of required sampling show lead levels
above a 15 parts per billion (ppb) action level, the utility must 1)
take a number of actions to control corrosion and 2) carry out public
education to inform consumers of actions they can take to reduce their
exposure to lead. If lead levels continue to be elevated after
anti-corrosion treatment is installed, the utility must replace lead
Because virtually all lead
enters water after it leaves the main system to enter individual homes
and buildings, the LCR is the only drinking water regulation that
requires utilities to
test water at the tap. This also means that individual homes will have
different levels of lead in their tap water due to the age or condition
plumbing materials and fixtures or other factors. For this reason,
awareness and education are important components of the LCR and state
water utilities lead reduction programs.
EPA plans to propose regulatory changes to the LCR
in the following areas by early 2006:
- Monitoring: To ensure
that water samples reflect the effectiveness of lead controls, to
clarify the timing of sample collection and to tighten criteria for
reducing the frequency of monitoring.
- Treatment Processes: To
require that utilities notify states prior to changes in treatment so
that states can provide direction or require additional monitoring. EPA
will also revise existing guidance to help utilities maintain corrosion
control while making treatment changes.
- Customer Awareness: To
require that water utilities notify occupants of the results of any
testing that occurs within a home or facility. EPA will also seek
changes to allow states and utilities to provide customers with
utility-specific advice on tap flushing to reduce lead levels.
- Lead Service Line Management:
To ensure that service lines that test below the action level are
re-evaluated after any major changes to treatment which could affect
- Lead in Schools: The agency
will update and expand 1994 guidance on testing for lead in school
drinking water. EPA will emphasize partnerships with other federal
agencies, utilities and schools to protect children from lead in
In addition, the agency
will convene a workshop in mid-2005 to discuss actions that can be
taken to reduce the lead content of plumbing fittings and fixtures. EPA
will also promote research in key areas, such as alternative approaches
to tap monitoring and
techniques for lead service line replacement.
information on National Review of LCR Implementation and Drinking Water
Lead Reduction Plan is available online at: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lcrmr/lead_review.html. Information about lead in drinking water is available
online at: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead or by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at
1-800-426-4791. Information about lead around the home is available
online at: http://www.epa.gov/lead or from EPA's National Lead Information Center (NLIC)
at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
News Release, March 7, 2005.
EPA has issued guidelines for carcinogen risk
assessment. EPA over time has changed its position on how to list
chemicals that are/maybe carcinogenic. The Cancer Guidelines recommend
that the descriptor not be
separated from the narrative which fully characterizes the weight of
evidence. The groupings are as follows.
• Carcinogenic to Humans: The
Guidelines recommend this descriptor when there is convincing
evidence demonstrating causality between human exposure and cancer, or
exceptionally when there is strong epidemiological evidence, extensive
animal evidence, knowledge of the mode of action, and information that
the mode of action
is anticipated to occur in humans and progress to tumors.
• Likely to be Carcinogenic to Humans:
The Guidelines recommend this descriptor when the available tumor
effects and other key data are adequate to demonstrate carcinogenic
humans, but does not reach the weight-of evidence for the descriptor
"carcinogenic to humans."
• Suggestive Evidence of Carcinogenic
Potential: The Guidelines recommend this descriptor when the
evidence from human or animal data is suggestive of carcinogenicity,
which raises a
concern for carcinogenic effects but is judged not sufficient for a
• Inadequate Information to Assess
Carcinogenic Potential: The Guidelines recommend this descriptor
when available data are judged inadequate to perform an assessment.
• Not Likely to be Carcinogenic to
Humans: The Guidelines recommend this descriptor when the
available data are considered robust for deciding that there is no
basis for human hazard concern. (Federal Register, April 7,
REF: Pesticide Reports (Oklahoma State University) May 2005.
Herbal Medicine Products May Contain
Twenty percent of Ayurvedic herbal medicine
products (HMPs) available in Boston-area grocery stores contained
potentially harmful levels of heavy metals, according to an analysis of
70 products. Ayurvedic medicine originated in India more than
2,000 years ago, and relies on HMPs. Ayurveda has been increasing in
popularity in the U.S. and remedies are available from South Asian
markets, Ayurveda practitioners, health food stores, and the Internet.
Since 1978, at least 55 cases of heavy metal
intoxication associated with Ayurvedic HMPs have been reported in
in the U.S. and abroad.
In this study, (JAMA
292(23):2868-2873, Dec 15, 2004) researchers bought 70 different HMPs
at 30 Boston-area stores, and sent them to the New England Regional
Environmental Protection Agency laboratory for analysis. The HMPs were
27 companies in India and Pakistan, and cost an average of $2.99 per
package. The products had a variety of indications, most commonly
gastrointestinal (71%). Seven specifically recommended pediatric use.
Results of product analyses showed that 14
(20%) contained lead, mercury, and/or arsenic. Those who took
the products as recommended could be at risk for heavy metal intake
above U.S. Pharmacopoeia standards.
The authors recommended mandatory testing of all
imported Ayurvedic HMPs for toxic levels of heavy metals as well as
users, encouraging them to consult their physicians about heavy metal
screening. In addition, physicians should consider Ayurvedic HMP intake
in the differential diagnosis of unexplained heavy metal toxicity.
REF: Nutrition Perspectives, 30(2), 2005.
USDA Pesticide Data Program Releases 2003 Data
The USDA’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) has
released data for samples collected in the calendar year 2003 and is
the 13th annual summary. The PDP collects food samples (both
nationally grown and imported) from around the U.S. and analyzes them
for pesticide residues. This publication, the PDP database file
for 2003, and annual summaries and database files for previous years
are available on the Internet at www.ams.usda.gov/science/pdp.
In 2003, sampling and testing program operations were carried out with
the support of 10 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland,
Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. PDP tested
fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, barley, wheat flour, butter,
and drinking water for various insecticides, herbicides, fungicides,
and growth regulators. In late 2002, EPA identified the
triazole-derivative class of fungicides and their metabolites as a
critical data need. PDP immediately responded by developing specialized
methods of analysis for apples, peaches (fresh and canned), and wheat
flour. These commodities were introduced for triazole and metabolite
analyses in January 2003. Canned peaches and wheat flour were also
multi-residue methods for a number of additional pesticide
Of the 12,316 total samples collected and analyzed, 9,732 were fruit
and vegetable commodities including asparagus (fresh and canned),
cantaloupe, corn (frozen, sweet), cucumbers, green beans (canned),
mushrooms, onions, peaches (canned), pears, pear juice (concentrate and
puree), peas (frozen, sweet), spinach, sweet bell peppers, sweet
potatoes, and tomatoes; and apples and fresh peaches, which were
analyzed only for triazoles. PDP also tested 452 barley, 606 wheat
flour, 732 butter, and 794 drinking water samples.
Excluding drinking water, approximately 87 percent of all samples were
domestic and 12 percent were imported. One percent was of unknown
origin. Asparagus, cantaloupe, cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, and
tomatoes accounted for most of the imported commodities.
Of the samples tested by multiresidue methods, 43 percent of the fruit
and vegetable samples, 8 percent of barley samples, 45 percent of wheat
flour samples, and 99 percent of the butter samples had detectable
residues. Residues detected in wheat flour resulted primarily from low
level detections of the triazole alanine and triazole acetic acid
metabolites. Residue findings in butter were primarily low level
residues of endosulfan sulfate and the environmental contaminants
dieldrin and DDE p,p’.
Overall, approximately 54 percent of
all samples tested by multiresidue methods contained no detectable
pesticides (parent compound and metabolite(s) is combined), 22
percent contained one pesticide, and 24 percent contained more than one
pesticide. Generally, fewer pesticides were found in processed products
and grains than in fresh commodities. Low levels of environmental
contaminants were detected in cantaloupe, cucumbers, spinach, and
butter at concentrations below levels that trigger regulatory actions.
In finished drinking water, PDP
detected low levels (measured in parts per trillion) of some
pesticides, primarily widely used herbicides. None of the detections exceeded established
EPA Maximum Contaminant Levels or Health Advisory levels.
PDP testing found residues exceeding
an established tolerance in 0.3 percent of the 11,522 samples
(excluding drinking water). A tolerance is the maximum amount of a
pesticide residue allowable on a raw agricultural commodity.
Established tolerances are listed in the Code of Federal Regulations,
Title 40, Part 180. Residues with no established tolerance were found
in 1.5 percent of all samples (excluding drinking water). These
residues were detected at very low
concentrations and may be the result of spray drift, crop
rotations, or the use of sanitizers in food handling establishments.
PDP communicates these
findings to FDA when they are reported by testing laboratories.
This 2003 PDP Summary is available on the PDP Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/science/pdp.
REF: Agricultural Marketing Service News Release, March 1,
Exposure to Mosquito-Control Pesticides
North Carolina, and Virginia, 2002 and 2003
Public health officials weigh the risk for
mosquito-borne diseases against the risk for human exposure to
pesticides sprayed to control mosquitoes. Response to outbreaks of
mosquito-borne diseases has focused on vector control through habitat
reduction and application of pesticides that kill mosquito larvae.
However, in certain situations, public health officials control adult
mosquito populations by spraying ultra-low volume (ULV) (<3 fluid
ounces per acre [oz/acre]) mosquito-control (MC) pesticides, such as
naled, permethrin, and d-phenothrin. These ULV applications generate
aerosols of fine droplets of pesticides that stay aloft and kill
mosquitoes on contact while minimizing the risk for exposure to
persons, wildlife, and the environment. This
report summarizes the
results of studies in Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia that
assessed human exposure to ULV naled, permethrin, and d-phenothrin used
in emergency, large-scale MC activities. The findings indicated ULV
application in MC activities did not
result in substantial pesticide
exposure to humans; however, public health interventions should
on the reduction of home and workplace exposure to pesticides.
Editorial Note: Although ULV
applications of naled and synthetic pyrethroids have a
low toxicity to humans, occupational studies suggest that excessive
exposure to these pesticides can cause serious health effects.
Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of naled and synthetic
pyrethroids can cause dermatitis, reactive airway disease,
gastrointestinal distress, central nervous system depression,
paralysis, and death. Exposure often results from use of
these pesticides in food production, treatment of wool, wood products,
and pest-control efforts; however, few studies have quantitated the
level of human exposure to MC pesticides in nonoccupational settings.
The studies described in this report represent the first efforts to
quantitate human exposure to MC pesticides during large-scale MC
activities. Two of these studies used a prospective crossover design
that compared urine metabolite concentrations after ULV spraying of
pesticides with baseline concentrations. Use of sensitive analytic
methods in these studies indicated that the urine pesticide metabolite
concentrations measured were low (parts per billion). The concentration
of urine metabolites in these studies are comparable with those
measured in the general population. In addition, these
three studies did not indicate an overall increase of pesticide
metabolite concentrations in the urine of participants after spraying
during MC activities. The concentrations of naled, permethrin, and
d-phenothrin during emergency ULV applications might be too low to
cause important human exposure.
In certain participants, investigators found an association between
home and/or work application of pesticides and pesticide metabolite
concentrations. The concentrations in participants who had histories of
exposure were within the range of the general U.S. population. These
findings are consistent with occupational studies in which prolonged
exposure to pesticides through several hours of work in plant nurseries
and greenhouses was associated with low but measurable concentrations
of urine pesticide metabolites. These findings also are compatible with
a prospective study that quantitated higher 3-phenoxybenzoic acid
concentrations in the urine of pest-control operators 1 day after
Aerial spraying with ULV naled and truck-mounted spraying with
permethrin/d-phenothrin were not associated with an increase in urine
pesticide metabolite concentrations among residents of these rural,
suburban, and urban communities. These findings suggest
that ULV application of naled, permethrin, and d-phenothrin is safe to
humans as part of integrated vector control. The findings are
noteworthy because ULV applications of pesticides that kill adult
mosquitoes are an important tool in the public health response to WNV. Future
studies should address the long-term safety of low-concentration
exposure to naled and synthetic pyrethroid applications. In addition,
public health interventions might be needed to reduce home and
workplace exposure to pesticides.
REF: MMWR, 54(21), June 3, 2005.
Topical Lindane Ingestions - United States, 1998-2003
Lindane is an organochlorine pesticide found in
certain prescription-only shampoos and topical lotions used to treat
pediculosis (i.e., lice infestation) and scabies; lindane has been
associated with human neurologic toxicity. In 2004, CDC was alerted to
cases of illness caused by unintentional ingestion of lindane by
persons mistaking the product for a liquid oral medication (e.g., cough
syrup). To assess the extent of illness from ingestion of lindane, CDC,
with assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Food and
Drug Administration (FDA), and state health departments, collected case
reports and analyzed data from the Sentinel Event Notification System
for Occupational Risks-Pesticides (SENSOR-Pesticides) program and the
Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS). This
report summarizes the
results of that analysis, which identified 870 cases of unintentional
lindane ingestion during 1998-2003, and describes two examples of
lindane ingestions. To reduce the risk of lindane ingestion, public
health authorities should alert clinicians to the hazards of lindane
and the importance of following FDA usage guidelines, which include
dispensing lindane in manufacturer-produced, 1- or 2-ounce single-use
Case 1. In November 2004, the Washington State Department of
Health reported that a boy aged 3 years ingested approximately 1
teaspoon of 1% lindane shampoo from a previously used 2-ounce bottle.
Subsequently, the mother induced vomiting in the boy twice; 1 hour
later the boy collapsed and experienced a tonic-clonic seizure lasting
4-5 minutes. After 3 hours, the child was discharged from the emergency
department in stable condition.
Case 2. In December 2003, a man aged 47 years in Texas
mistakenly ingested 1 ounce of lindane (percentage concentration
unknown) from a bottle he believed to be cough syrup. The man vomited;
he contacted the poison control center the following morning. He did
not seek clinical evaluation.
Editorial Note: Pediculosis
and scabies are common human parasitic infestations.
This report indicates that when lindane, a treatment for pediculosis
and scabies, is unintentionally ingested, illness can occur, including
vomiting and seizures. In 1995, lindane was changed to a second-line
therapy for pediculosis because safer alternatives existed. In 2003, in
light of continued postmarketing surveillance reports of toxicity, FDA
revised product labeling guidelines to limit the amount of lindane
dispensed to 1- or 2-ounce single-use containers and to require
providing patients with a Medication Guide warning of risks from
inappropriate use. In addition, FDA issued a Public Health Advisory
with these changes. The new advisory, along with a substantial increase
in retail price for lindane, appear to have resulted in a declining
number of cases of lindane ingestion. This decline is similar to the
67% decrease in lindane prescriptions from 1998 to 2003.
Before the advisory, bottles of bulk lindane were sometimes
repackaged by pharmacies into smaller bottles resembling those used for
liquid oral medications (e.g., cough syrup). This resemblance likely
contributed to many unintentional ingestions. Subsequent to the
advisory, bottles of bulk lindane still in use were not recalled from
pharmacies. Therefore, some repackaging might still occur. In addition,
consumers might have repackaged lindane in their homes.
In September 2004, the North American Task Force on Lindane drafted
an action plan for future use. On January 1, 2005, Canada withdrew
registration of lindane for agricultural pest control; Mexico is
working on a plan to phase out all uses of lindane. However, with the
exception of California, which banned lindane for medicinal use on
January 1, 2002, U.S. representatives to the North American Commission
for Environmental Cooperation announced that the United States will
continue to allow use of lindane as both a pesticide and
REF: MMWR, 54(21), June 3, 2005.
Reduce Risks of Using Manure as a
Vegetable gardeners add fertilizers to gardens to
improve the soil and add nutrients for an extra growing boost. However,
there are potential food safety risks if you plan to use manure as a
fertilizer on your vegetable garden.
Some bacteria that are associated with foodborne
illnesses can be found in fresh manure because these bacteria are a
natural part of animal intestinal tracts. Vegetables can be
contaminated if they are grown in soil where manure has been applied or
where soil splashes onto vegetables due to rain or irrigation.
The USDA National Organic Program is concerned about
vegetable growers using manure as a fertilizer, and recommends that
manure be applied at least 120 days before harvesting vegetables. For
most gardeners in Minnesota, this recommendation does not work because
the time between fertilizing and harvesting is shorter than 120 days!
To reduce risks of contaminating vegetables when
using manure, consider these options:
All produce grown in a manure-fertilized garden
should be thoroughly washed in clean cold water and peeled (if
possible) to reduce the risk of contamination. Cooking vegetables also
reduces or eliminates the contamination risk.
- Move your vegetable garden to a location that is not affected by
surface runoff from manure storage or from crop land spread with
- Avoid contaminating your vegetable garden from wind-borne drift
during manure spreading.
- Use sterilized manure, which is available from gardening stores.
- If you plan to apply manure to your garden this year, use
properly composted manure.
- Apply non-composted or fresh manure only in the fall of the
preceding harvest year. Minnesota's winter weather will destroy
pathogens that may be present in fresh manure.
- If you apply non-composted or fresh manure in the spring, make
sure there are 4-6 months of time between fertilizing and harvesting or
on soil used in growing late-season vegetables.
Tips for washing fresh produce include:
To enjoy your home-grown produce and reduce
contamination risks from using manure as a fertilizer, use a common
sense approach and wash the produce before eating.
- Wash produce just before serving, not before storing. Washing
causes produce to spoil faster.
- Scrub produce that has a firm skin or hard rind, such as carrots,
potatoes, melons or squash, with a vegetable brush and cool running
- Always wash squash and melons, even if you never eat the rind or
skin. When cut, dirt or bacteria that are on the outer surface can be
transferred to the inner flesh.
- Throw away outer leaves of leafy vegetables (lettuce and cabbage)
- Do not wash fresh produce with detergent or bleach solutions.
Fruits and vegetables are porous and can absorb the detergent or
bleach, which is not intended for use on food. Consuming them has the
potential to make you sick.
REF: University of Minnesota Extension Service News, May
Tuberculosis Cases Prompt Advisory
Cheese Made From Raw Milk
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is
that some soft cheeses made with raw milk present a health risk,
to high risk groups, such as pregnant women, newborns, older adults,
people with weakened immune systems. Such raw milk soft cheeses can
cause several serious infectious diseases including listeriosis,
salmonellosis and tuberculosis. Recently, cases of tuberculosis in New
City have been linked to consumption of queso fresco style cheeses,
imported from Mexico or consumed in Mexico, contaminated with Mycobacterium
bovis, the causative agent.
The raw milk soft cheeses of most concern can
originate from Mexico and Central American countries. Queso fresco
style cheese, which is soft and white, has been found to be the most
popular kind of cheese
among the Hispanic community and can include Queso Panela, Asadero,
and Ranchero, among other styles and may be imported or produced in the
FDA recommends that consumers do not eat any
unripened raw milk soft cheeses from Mexico, Nicaragua, or Honduras.
Data show that they are often contaminated with pathogens. FDA further
consumers not purchase or consume raw milk soft cheeses from sources
as flea markets, sellers operating door-to-door or out of their trucks
shipped or carried in luggage to them from Mexico, Nicaragua, or
This includes cheeses made at home by individuals.
FDA further advises that there is some risk of
infection from a number of pathogenic bacteria for anyone who eats raw
milk soft cheese from any source.
Clarification: On March 14th, FDA issued a raw milk soft
cheese advisory that mentioned a number of cheeses, including
"Ranchero." We've become aware that "Ranchero" is a trademark of the
Cacique company, in Industry, California. Cacique's "Ranchero" is made
with pasteurized milk. The milk cheese advisory was not intended to
include this specific product.
REF: FDA STATEMENT, March 14, 2005 http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2005/NEW01165.html
West Nile Virus Detected in 19
Heavy rains and warm temperatures have led to the
early arrival of mosquitoes and West Nile virus (WNV) in California,
State Public Health Officer Dr. Richard J. Jackson announced today. To
date, WNV has
been detected in 19 of California’s 58 counties. No human cases have
been reported in 2005.
"This is a critical time for mosquito
Jackson said. "Residents should eliminate standing water around their
where mosquitoes might breed, keep their pools in good working order
report dead birds."
As of March 17th, 32 dead birds from the following counties have
tested positive for WNV: Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno,
Humboldt, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, Santa
Clara, Santa Cruz,
Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tulare and Yolo counties. WNV has also been
in a sentinel chicken in San Bernardino County and mosquitoes in Orange
The public can report dead birds to the
Department of Health Services by logging on to www.westnile.ca.gov or phoning
"Early detection is the key to preventing the
spread of West Nile virus," Jackson said. "We anticipate that there
will be an
increase in West Nile virus activity in Northern and Central California
this year. "
Jackson also urged all horse owners to consult
their veterinarians about proper and timely WNV vaccinations for their
animals. In 2004, 540 equine WNV infections were reported statewide,
most of which involved horses that were not vaccinated.
"Although California experienced widespread West
Nile virus transmission last year, we believe that the number of human
would have been greater without the aggressive control measures
by state and local agencies," Jackson said. "Personal protection
taken by the public last year were significant in minimizing illness
death from West Nile virus. I urge all residents to be vigilant in
Last year, there were a total of 829 human WNV
infections, including 27 deaths, reported from 23 counties in
California. The virus
was detected in all 58 counties.
For more information about WNV or to report dead birds, visit www.westnile.ca.gov.
OPP Annual Report
is Now Available
EPA's Pesticide Program is pleased to make available
online its 2004 annual report, entitled Taking
Care of Business: Protecting Human Health and the Environment. The
report highlights the accomplishments and key achievements in 2004.
There are sections on registration, reregistration and tolerance
reassessment, international harmonization, E-government, endangered
species, biotechnology, partnerships, and other key areas as well.
REF: US EPA Press Release, March 2005
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
Once you have the eggs in the kitchen; Cleaning
eggs; Why are some hard-cooked eggs easier to peel than others?; What
is the nutritional value of an egg?;What goes into the feed of today’s
laying hen?.... For
answers to these questions and more link to:
Egg Basics for
the Consumer: Packaging, Storage, and Nutritional Information
REF: University of California Davis, Animal Science, Publication
8154 news release, March 2005.
Tobacco Use, Access, and Exposure to
Tobacco in Media Among
Middle and High School Students - United States, 2004
Two of the national health objectives for 2010 are
to reduce the prevalence of any tobacco use during the preceding month
<21% and the prevalence of current cigarette use to <16%
among high school students. The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS),
by CDC in 2004, provided estimates of current use of tobacco products
selected indicators related to tobacco use, including youth exposure to
media and access to cigarettes. This
report summarizes data from the 2004 NYTS and describes changes in
and indicators related to tobacco use since 2002. During 2002-2004,
school students reported decreases in pipe use, seeing actors using
on television or in movies, and seeing advertisements for tobacco
on the Internet. Among high school students, no changes were observed
the use of tobacco or in access to tobacco products; however, seeing
using tobacco on television or in movies declined slightly, and seeing
for tobacco products on the Internet increased. The lack of substantial
decreases in the use of almost all tobacco products among middle and
high school students underscores the need to fully implement
evidence-based strategies (e.g.,
increasing the retail price of tobacco products, implementing
media campaigns, and decreasing minors' access as part of comprehensive
tobacco-control programs) that are effective in preventing youth
Preventing smoking initiation and use among adolescents is critical to
ending the epidemic of tobacco use in the United States. In assessing
state and national tobacco-control efforts, multiple indicators are
needed to evaluate progress in reducing
tobacco use among adolescents, in particular, measures of exposure to
influences that promote or discourage tobacco use. NYTS serves as a
national evaluation tool and as a benchmark for the 29 states that
implemented a comparable
state Youth Tobacco Survey in 2003 and 2004. Data from two of the
indicators in NYTS indicated no change occurred in minors' access to
whereas declines in seeing actors using tobacco on television or in
occurred among both middle and high school students. Although the
of exposure to seeing actors using tobacco decreased from 91.3% in 2002
to 86.5% in 2004 among high school students and from 89.9% in 2002 to
in 2004 among middle school students, approximately three fourths of
and high school students are still exposed to these images.
Parental monitoring of and limitations on
access to media sources might reduce exposures; however, reductions in
large enough to effectively prevent smoking initiation might require
industry practices on smoking images in movies.
REF: MMWR, April 1, 2005, 54(12).
Should Be Kept Clean in Summer
One of the few downsides of warm weather occurs when
the bottled water stored in your car isn't cold, but lukewarm. What
happens if you are refilling your disposable water bottles and storing
them in a warm
or hot car? The bottles can become contaminated from the repeated
handling by your hands and mouth.
According to the May issue of the University of
"Wellness Letter," bacteria does not grow easily in water -- but it can
thrive when saliva and food particles are present, especially when it
is stored at
If you are going to refill a disposable
bottle, make sure you wash it thoroughly first. When washing the
bottles, make sure you also wash the cap and its narrow neck.
Using the dishwasher is not recommended because the
plastic is not
designed for that use and has the potential of releasing potentially
REF: FSnet May 2/05
Dioxin levels in
Dioxin levels in meat
have decreased over the past decade. In pork, the dioxin level fell by
80%, from 1.47 parts per trillion (ppt) to 0.28 ppt. In beef, residues
dropped by a third, from 1.38 to 0.93 ppt. A consultant working on
behalf of the Food Industry Dioxin Working Group also stated that none
of the levels in food exceed the international standard for these
contaminants. (Chemical Regulation Reporter, 3/28/05).
REF: Chemically Speaking, April 2005.
A Closer Look at
Produce Washes and Rinsing Meat
Fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables,
traditionally considered “low risk,” are becoming more of a food safety
concern. Produce items associated with foodborne outbreaks in recent
years have included
berries, cabbage, cantaloupe, lettuce, raw sprouts, tomatoes and
Fortunately, consumers are getting the message that it is important to
fruits and vegetables before eating. The term “wash”, however, can have
very different meanings even among the experts in the field.
This article from Colorado State University covers
issues such as: What NOT to Use; Running Water – the Reliable Standard;
Commercial Produce Washes; Vinegar and Lemon Juice Treatments; and Cold
Also in this same issue is an article on Rinsing Meat -- Food Safety
Help or Hindrance?
Link to the following website to read the entire articles: http://www.colostate.edu/
REF: SafeFood News quarterly newsletter, Winter 2005
Alcohol Warning for Pregnant Women
U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona warns that pregnant
women and women who may become pregnant should abstain from alcohol
to eliminate the chance of giving birth to a baby with the harmful
of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
a 1981 Surgeon General's Advisory that suggested pregnant women should
the amount of alcohol they drink.
A variety of birth defects caused by prenatal
alcohol exposure comprise FASD. They may include mild and subtle
changes, such as a slight learning disability or physical abnormality,
fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which can include severe learning
growth deficiencies, abnormal facial features, and central nervous
Researchers first recognized FAS in 1973. The
discovery led to widespread public education and awareness initiatives
informing women to limit the amount of alcohol they consume while
"We do not know what, if any, amount of alcohol is
safe," says Carmona. "But we do know that the risk of a baby being born
with any of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders increases with the
amount of alcohol a pregnant woman drinks, as does the likely severity
of the condition."
When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby, according to
Studies indicate that a baby could be affected by
alcohol consumption within the earliest weeks after conception, even
before a woman knows she is pregnant, the surgeon general says. For
that reason, the warning to abstain from alcohol includes women who may
A number of resources are available to assist health
care and social services professionals in advising their patients to
refrain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. These can be found at:
REF: FDA Consumer, May-June 2005.
"TOP 10" Pesticide Blunders at Home
None of the following cases resulted in
although most victims required medical treatment. (State privacy law
protects their identities.) Most cases occurred in 2003 and were
California Department of Pesticide Regulation's (DPR) Pesticide Illness
Surveillance Program. In no particular order, the "top 10" are:
of Pesticide Regulation News, April 18, 2005.
- As a 34-year-old Yolo County motorist moved her driver's seat
backward, the motion caused an insect fogger stashed underneath the
seat to discharge. She inhaled the fumes and immediately sought medical
- A mother in Merced County found a cough medicine bottle in the
storage shed. That night, she gave 1/4 teaspoon of its contents to her
son. When he reacted badly, she smelled the bottle and realized it
contained an insecticide, which a relative had given to her
- A painting crew applied a wood preservative to a fence between
two properties in Los Angeles County. The neighboring homeowner smelled
a strong odor and became ill. The property owner diluted the wood
preservative with paint thinner, contrary to label directions.
- While cleaning mold underneath the kitchen sink, a 23-year-old
resident of Los Angeles County inhaled the bleach fumes and developed
respiratory symptoms. He wore a military-type gas mask, but still
inhaled the fumes. When his symptoms worsened, he sought medical
- A Los Angeles County homeowner saw a bug in her bathroom and
sprayed it with a pesticide. As the bug kept moving, the 66-year-old
woman kept on spraying -- until the fumes overwhelmed her, and she
immediately sought medical attention.
- An elderly Fresno County woman entered her house to look for a
cat after her son-in-law set off several insect foggers to rid the
residence of roaches. She inhaled the fogger mist and began coughing.
Her son-in-law called for an ambulance to take her to a hospital for
- A Sonoma County man brought a 50/50 granular pool chlorine/water
mixture home from work in a 16-ounce bottle. The bottle sat outside in
the sun for a week. When the resident opened the bottle to pour it into
his spa, the contents shot out under pressure and into his unprotected
- A Los Angeles County tenant triggered three insect foggers in her
apartment kitchen without extinguishing the pilot lights. As she opened
the front door to leave, the material ignited and blew out her
front windows. The 32-year-old woman was taken to a hospital with chest
- A homeowner in San Luis Obispo County mixed muriatic acid and
diazinon into a hand pump sprayer in hopes of doing less work in his
yard. When he pressurized the sprayer, it exploded. He immediately
showered and sought medical attention.
- A 35-year-old homeowner in Sonoma County noticed that her
pesticide product had settled and solidified inside the container. She
mistakenly shook the container without putting the cap back on, and
some of the product shot into her right eye. She immediately flushed
her eyes with water.
Studies Provide Public With Updated
Information on CCA-Treated Playground and Decks
and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are providing
updated information on the effectiveness of sealants and stains in
reducing potential exposure to arsenic from chromated copper arsenate
(CCA)-treated wood used in residential settings. For homeowners and
others who want to reduce their potential arsenic exposure from their
decks or other CCA-treated wood structures, new studies show that use,
at least once a year, of an oil-or water-based, penetrating sealant or
stain can reduce arsenic migrating from the treated wood. The data show
that oil- or water-based sealants or stains that can penetrate wood
surfaces are preferable to products such as paint, because paints and
other film-formers can chip or flake, requiring scraping or sanding for
removal, which can increase exposure to arsenic. Consumers should
consider the required preparation steps (e.g., sanding, power washing,
etc.) before selecting a product to minimize potential exposure to
arsenic, both for initial application and re-coating.
REF: EPA News Brief, 5/11/05.
This information is based on
first-year results from two-year studies initiated by CPSC and EPA
in 2003 to determine which stains, sealants and paints are most
effective in reducing potential arsenic exposure from existing
CCA-treated structures. EPA tested the performance of 12 coatings on
older wood and CPSC tested eight coatings (seven were the same as the
EPA group) on new (as of August 2003) CCA-treated wood. CCA was a
pesticide treatment commonly used in the past to prevent deck and
playground wood from rotting and insect damage. Effective Dec. 31,
2003, the use of CCA to treat virtually all wood intended for
residential use was eliminated. More information for consumers and the
sealant studies are available on EPA's Web site: http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/#sealants and on CPSC's Web site: http://www.cpsc.gov/whatsnew.html .
Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Typhimurium
Associated with Rodents Purchased at Retail Pet Stores
States, December 2003-October 2004
During 2004, the Minnesota Department of Health
(MDH) Public Health Laboratory notified CDC about the isolation of
enterica serotype Typhimurium
from ill hamsters from a
Minnesota pet distributor. This
describes two of the first
human cases associated with this outbreak, summarizes the multistate
investigation of human S
. Typhimurium infections associated
with exposure to rodents (e.g., hamsters, mice, and rats) purchased at
pet stores, and highlights
methods for reducing Salmonella
transmission from pet rodents
owners. This is the first documented salmonellosis outbreak associated
pet rodents. Findings demonstrate that the handling of pet rodents is a
health risk, especially for children.
During June 2004, a boy aged 4 years was
hospitalized for 5 days with fever (105º
watery diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. A stool culture yielded S
Typhimurium. Nine days before the boy's illness, his family had
a hamster from a retail pet store supplied by an Arkansas distributor;
hamster was found dead 2 days after purchase.
Minnesota. During August 2004, a boy aged 5 years had
of 14 days' duration (initially bloody), abdominal cramps, vomiting,
fever (103ºF [39.4ºC]). A stool culture
yielded S. Typhimurium. Four days before the boy became ill,
his family had purchased a mouse from a retail pet store supplied by a
Minnesota distributor. The mouse became lethargic and had diarrhea
immediately after purchase.
Even though the mouse was ill, the boy frequently handled and kissed
mouse. One week after purchase, the mouse died; the mouse was frozen
later submitted for testing at MDH. Cultures of the mouse's lungs,
liver and spleen, and intestines yielded growth of S.
with a pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern
from the boy's isolate.
On August 30, a veterinarian for the Minnesota pet distributor
MDH about isolation of Salmonella from two ill hamsters
to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
The hamsters were part of a shipment of 780 received on August 1 from
Iowa pet distributor. A total of 243 hamsters from this shipment were
sent from the Minnesota distributor to 15 retail pet stores in four
midwestern states. Distribution of rodents from the Minnesota
distributor ceased on
August 23 after numerous hamster deaths. Diarrhea was present in the
of ill hamsters. By August 29, approximately 320 (60%) of the remaining
hamsters at the Minnesota distributor had died; the other hamsters were
Based on recognition of the Minnesota and South Carolina human
CDC and MDH conducted a national search for additional human cases
associated with exposure to rodents. A review of isolates submitted to
National Salmonella Database in 2004 revealed 28 matching human
case-isolates of S. Typhimurium from 19 states; patient illness
onset dates ranged from December 2003 to October 2004. Of 22 patients
interviewed, 13 (59%)
had been exposed to rodents purchased from retail pet stores; all
occurred during the 8 days before illness onset. Two (9%) patients
salmonellosis through secondary exposure. Seven (32%) of the 22
had no identified rodent exposure. Four patients remained under
and two were lost to follow-up.
Each year, an
estimated 1.4 million persons in the United States have salmonellosis,
to approximately 14,800 hospitalizations and 415 deaths. Salmonella
is found in the intestinal tract of animals and is transmitted by
of feces, which might occur from eating contaminated foods or through
with animals or their environments. Exposure to animals with higher
shedding in their feces increases the risk for
salmonellosis; among pets, these include reptiles, young animals, and
with diarrhea. In addition to reptiles, salmonellosis outbreaks have
reported after handling of pet chicks, ducklings, kittens, and
Cases described in this outbreak were dispersed temporally and
geographically, and rodent purchases occurred through multiple retail
pet store chains and pet distributors; these factors might reflect the
geographic spread of S. Typhimurium from a common source of
infection occurring earlier in the chain of pet distributors or
breeders. The recovery of S. Typhimurium from reusable
transport containers, cages, and bins contaminated with rodent
droppings offers a potential mechanism for both the environmental
and geographic spread of Salmonella. Rodents subsequently
or housed in contaminated containers might have been exposed to Salmonella
and become infected without direct contact with infected rodents.
Consumers and animal workers should be aware that rodents,
like reptiles, can shed Salmonella; therefore, they should
expect rodent feces to be potentially infectious. Salmonella
transmission to humans can be reduced by thoroughly washing hands with
soap and water after handling rodents or their cages or bedding. Young
children who are unable to reliably wash their hands should avoid
contact with rodent feces. Additional public health
recommendations for preventing salmonellosis from reptiles might also
be appropriate for preventing salmonellosis from pet rodents.
REF: MMWR, 54(17), May 6, 2005
Stay Healthy at
Animal Exhibits this Summer! Tips from CDC
Exhibits such as petting zoos and fairs allow
children of all ages to have the thrilling experience of coming face to
animals. This interaction allows people to learn more about animals and
to build an important human-animal bond. Unfortunately, many people
become sick every year because of a visit to an animal exhibit. It is
to remember that animals sometimes carry germs that are harmful to
When people forget to wash their hands after petting an animal or bring
into an area where animals are being housed, they are at risk for
ill. Let's make this spring and summer healthier seasons! For some
tips to help you prevent illness when visiting animal exhibits link
REF: National Food Safety Educator's Network, 30 Mar 2005
!! CLICK ON THE PIG !!