User login

Please log in using your Environmental Health computer login. For help, please call 513-558-1040.

Follow UC_ERC on Twitter

ERC Logo

ERC NY/NJ Trip 2013

ERC NY/NJ Trip 2013

University of Cincinnati ERC Blog

By Ifeanyi Nwaneshiudu/ Angela Wills


The ERC NY/NJ 2013 Historical Perspectives on Occupational Safety and Health Tour started on Sunday. We visited Lackawanna Coal Mine, Carrie Furnaces (Rivers of Steel Heritage), NIOSH PPTL, Ford River Rouge Factory, Materion Brush, and Love Canal.  UC students from Occupational Medicine and Occupational Safety and Ergonomics joined the interdisciplinary students and faculty from the NY/NJ ERC.

Day 1: Lackawana Coal Mine Tour 2013 (Scranton PA) (Angela)

The Coal Mine group (Ifeanyi and 3 others from NJ/NY) gave a brief but detailed presentation on the bus of the history of the Lackawana mines, the hazards associated with coal mining and the various ways of hazard prevention.  When we got to the mine, we descended into the mine in a trolley/cart, 300 feet below the surface.  The mine itself was a cold 54 degree compared to the outdoor surface temperature in the 80s.  We learned about room and pillar mining.  The guide also taught us about the different jobs that workers had, starting with 5 year old boys who helped moved the coal with the help of mules to the role of the mine safety manager.  We saw the severe conditions the miners had to endure in those days from, lack of adequate lighting to lack of personal protective equipment.  Miners were paid between $1.15 and $1.25 per car load of coal which was up to 5 tons.  Although at the end of the day, they had nothing to take home, as they had to purchase their tools and supplies, pay other workers for their help.  All together it was a good experience seeing how things were and how much things have changed.


Day 2: Carrie Furnaces/Homestead Steel and NIOSH PPTL ERC Tour 2013 (Pittsburg) (Ifeanyi)

Carrie Furnaces was a steel plant we visited to see the blast furnaces that produced iron. The Carrie Furnaces were built in 1884 and they operated until 1982.  We had two tour guides who previously worked at the plant who gave us an insight to how thing ran there.  We got to walk through the plant, saw the blast furnaces and the conveyor systems used during the iron production.  It was nice to hear the actual experience from people who worked in the plant when it was operational.

We then went to the NIOSH Personal Protective Technologies Lab. While there we broke up into small groups with two tour guides for each and we visited four labs to see the research NIOSH conducts on personal protective equipment.  These labs were a) Mine Rescue and Escape Training Laboratory (Virtual Reality) b)The Advanced Respirator Test Headform c) Fit Testing Labs d) Sweating Manikin.  The most interesting part of the lab was to see the manikin used to test the respirators; this was an advanced technological model (only one of its kind) which could be programmed to simulate facial expressions (grimacing, smiling etc), phonation and movement.  This was used to test how well the respirators fit.  The virtual reality show of the mine was also interesting to see; it gave a 3D view of an underground and went over the responses to different hazardous scenarios.


Day 3:  Ford River Rouge plant (Detroit) (Angela)

We then journeyed to Detroit MI to visit the Ford River Rouge plant to get a better understanding how cars are assembled. The tour starts with a video overview of the River Rouge plant, which opened in 1913, and the history of Ford Motor Corporation. The video shows how Henry Ford who started in a small garage type building developed the assembly line to increase productivity in the manufacturing of automobiles.  Henry Ford successfully reduced the time it took to make an automobile from 12 hours to around 90 minutes.  We then moved to another room where we were shown a multi-sensory video (felt sprinkles of water, wind during the video for effect).  This video showed the assembly process at the River Rouge Factory for the F150 trucks. We are able to walk above the assembly line and assess the types of work that workers perform during the assembly process, as well as how mechanized the process was. 


Day 4: Materion Beryllium plant (Toledo) (Ifeanyi)

From Detroit MI, we headed over to Toledo OH to visit the Materion Beryllium plant. The tour provided us with an opportunity to see how beryllium alloys are manufactured. The beryllium alloys are made into strip coils, wires, and rods, bars, and tubes.  These alloys are used in computers and cell phones, and in the oil and gas, and aerospace industries.  In general it was a good experience in the beryllium plant; we wore a PAPR respirator, which gave me a little insight to how workers felt with them on., I often do physicals for respirator clearance and this experience definitely helps. I was impressed with the plant employee safety programs i.e. workers involved in casting were given a break every 15 minutes in a cold room, with fluids, and ice to prevent heat-related illness.


Day 5: Love Canal (Niagra NY) (Angela)

We then embarked on a journey to NY. In the evening some of us got to walk into Canada to see the Niagara Falls.  The next day we went to the Love Canal site, Tour guides there presented an overview of the history of Love Canal, including how toxic wastes were dumped into the canal, development and design of the landfill, and control of the wastes that are buried on site. Many of the present environmental and health and safety regulations were made possible because of Love Canal, including Superfund and the creation of the National Priorities List (NPL) of hazardous waste sites. We proceeded to the water treatment section where we were told about some of the treatment process. Unfortunately it began to rain as we walked on the cap of the Love Canal site and the tour ended with a group picture.  We then got dropped off at the Buffalo airport to return back to Cincinnati.


Special Thanks to the NY/NJ ERC for the opportunity to tour with them of this trip and being able to interact with other ERC group members





The Annual Students Research Findings Symposium was on April 9, 2013. Two workshop groups (see photos above) and seven Targeted Research Training students presented.
The link to student presentations can be found at: 

Interdisciplinary Trip to Eastern Shore of Virginia, March 17-20


On March 17, 2013 a group of ERC students and two faculty members from Occupational Health Nursing and Environmental and Occupational Hygiene Programs travelled by bus to Eastern Shore of Virginia to explore chicken processing industry and several other interesting sites on Virginia coast.  We were invited by a Kettering alumnus, Dr. Frank Renshaw, who arranged the site visits and took very good care of us. 


NASA Wallops Flight Facility

Reported by J’ai Watson

On March 18, after an hour journey to Wallops Island, students were welcomed by Jennifer Beebe, Assistant Education Program Coordinator of NASA.  Once all were cleared by security, we took a tour of the fabrication and testing shop.  The tour was led by Susan Salusky.  Machinists operate several large machines (usually four days a week) by using computer models.  These models must be entered properly into the computer to reduce the risk of injury.  Other potential hazards and risks include slips/trips/falls, sprains & and strains, pinch points, lacerations, and noise-induced hearing loss.  Previous operations used oil-based machining fluids for lubrication; this practice resulted in buildup and potential employee exposures.  Currently, only water based solutions are used.  It was noted by the shop manager that the shop’s atmosphere is “laid back”.  In order to keep machinists at their bests, an employee friendly approach is used to limit stress and fatigue, both of which can cause errors and increase risk.  

After leaving the fabrication and testing shop, we took a narrated bus tour of Wallops Flight Island.  Security restrictions prohibited exiting the bus; however, we were able to see all of the island’s structures.  The island is also home to a US Navy Training Base and ship simulators.  From what we learned later during the trip about barrier islands, it was interesting to consider how long NASA’s infrastructures would hold up due to the changing of the island.  

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility gave students an overall understanding of how rockets are made and launched, and the hospitality of the staff was greatly appreciated.  Maybe for future visits we’ll be able to try on some astronaut gear!



Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)

Reported by Shuang Gao

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) – Eastern Shore Laboratory (ESL) is located at 40 Atlantic Ave., Wachapreague, VA, right at the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Before the tour, a short introduction was given by Dr. Mark Luckenbach. The VIMS was established in 1938. It is one of the oldest and largest schools of oceanography focused on coastal ocean and estuarine disciplines. For ESL, the main purpose is marine and agriculture research. The ESL serves as a field station in support of research and teaching as a site for coastal ecology and aquaculture. The laboratory and costal region has unique coastal habitats, excellent water quality, and an extensive seawater laboratory.

Marine agriculture is one of the fastest growing research focuses. VIMS uses techniques of artificial cultivating such as: growing, managing, and harvesting, then applies these techniques to marine plants and animals. The by-products are often used for human consumption. The primary sea foods they produced are oyster and clam. About 70 percent of oysters grown in the United States are American cupped oyster. The majority of clams consumed in the United States are hard clams and Manila clams. Hard clams are native to the East Coast of the United States. The oyster and clam farming has several advantages including: chemicals and feed are not used, costs are low. Because the oysters and clams reduce the nitrogen load in the coastal waters, there is less resistance from environmentalists and concern from consumers.

After the introduction, the student visited the lab. The lab also can be used as a classroom. They provide internship and short-term classes for under-graduate and graduate students. In the lab, there were various sizes of tanks used for research. The potential hazards for doing the experiment in this lab are hazardous materials. In order to control this hazard, the lab has established the strict rules to protect workers in ESL.

The biggest hazard for VIM is hurricanes. The site is well prepared because the buildings’ walls are thick and have been tested for hurricanes. Other hazards are slips, trips, and falls and ergonomic hazards when working on the sea. Workers may be cut by sharp shells or they may be bitten by sea animals. Workers are advised to wear gloves to protect them from these hazards. Additionally, workers may be exposed to vibration hazard when certain tools are used.



U.S Coast Guard Boat Station

Reported by Geunjae Lee and J’ai Watson

Upon arrival to the U.S Coast Guard boat station, we were welcomed by a very fit looking crew.  It was rather cold outside; however, no one complained because of the amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The small station is located in the quaint town of Wachapreague, Virginia.  The crew’s main job tasks include responding to emergency calls, protecting the island inlets, and patrolling the water.  Sometimes, they face extremely dangerous situations such as finding drugs, rescuing people from burning ships; without the use of helicopters or airplanes.  Members of the US Coast Guard undergo specialized training to operate boats around the station and barrier islands.

We asked several questions regarding their job tasks and occupational job hazards. They received nearly 200 calls during 2012. Most of the requests were for help from small boats stuck in sand.  One of the crew members told us a very interesting story about a recent event that took place.  They were notified that kids were kidnapped; however, it was actually revealed the kids had stolen the boat and went for a cruise.  

Potential occupational hazards identified included sprains, back injuries, lacerations, contusions, and joint pains. The root cause of most injuries would come from handling tools, slips/trips/falls, and water craft hazards. 

The trip was very interesting and educational, plus it gave us a break from all our everyday stressors. We are all respectful and appreciative of the members of the U.S Coast Guard for their sacrifice and loyalty to our country.




After a busy schedule visiting three different sites, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner in Frank and Sharon Renshaw’s residence. Their new house was a good example of how to build on a flood prone area:  the building has to be set back at least 110 feet from the shore and the bottom floor has to be raised at least 11 feet above sea level.  We had a great opportunity to discuss the sea level rise and the continuous changing of the barrier islands on the Virginia coast with Dot, Richard and Greg, local residents and staff members of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.




Tyson Foods, Inc, Temperanceville Complex

Reported by Cheryl Estill, Angela Wills, and Kevin He

On the second day, we were hosted by Chet Gnagey EHS Supervisor and David Redinger, EHS Manager.  The Tyson Foods plant in Temperanceville has about 1000 employees, and includes a hatchery, feed mill, contract growers, biological nutrient treatment facility, and the processing plant.  The Temperanceville facility processes 210 birds per minute, resulting in weekly production rate of 980,000 birds.  Tyson partners with Cobbs-Ventress the chicken breeder.  Tysons’ college relations website is where one can find employment opportunities:

We started the tour in the hatchery. The eggs are shipped in from other sites and are unloaded in a warehouse and kept at 68 degrees along with high humidity and positive pressure until the incubation process is imitated. The eggs are then put into incubators at 80 degrees with 60% RH.

Potential health hazards in the hatchery are formaldehyde, slips, trips, and falls, and ergonomics. The hatchery is disinfected nightly with formaldehyde at 3 AM and by 8 AM employees are permitted to work in the facility. After the eggs hatch, the chicks move through a conveyor line where they are counted and given a spray vaccine for Merrick’s disease. Potential hazards of the packing area are machinery safety, injuries due to constantly moving parts, and possibly dust from the down of the chicks.

The chicken processing starts in the unloading area and moves to the live hang area. In this area the chickens are placed on conveyors at waist height. Employees pick up the chickens by their legs and hang them at shoulder-height onto a processing line. The hanging line is in the dark, which help to calm the chickens. The line then moves to an area where the chickens are cut and bled. Workers here monitor the line for missed cuts. The floor throughout the facility is kept wet to facilitate a clean environment.  Workers are required to wear slip resistant shoes to prevent slips, trips, and falls. Some of the potential hazards in the live hang area are biological and bacterial pathogens and dust, along with moving machinery, and slips, trips, and falls. The next processing area was for eviscerations, inspection and de-boning. Each worker could adjust their foot support to facilitate working at the right height on the production line. De-boning involved working with knives. A potential hazard in this area is knife handling that could cause cuts to the worker and or their co-workers. Workers wear mesh metal gloves and Kevlar gloves to minimize this hazard. 

Packaging involves packing, labeling, boxing, and palletizing. Meat pieces were manually placed in trays, wrapped, and weighed by a machine. The wrapped packages were manually boxed then these boxes were manually palletized. There was a shrink wrap machine to wrap the pallets. This phase includes repetitive work. The palletizing appears to be very heavy work, each box weighs 30-60 pounds and the employee must position those boxes at varying levels and horizontal distances on the pallets. Employees are certified as forklift operators after completing a course and a training apprenticeship program. The forklift operators are required to inspect the shipping trailer, chock  the truck’s wheels in place so no one will move the trailer, and assure that the area is clean and ready for product. The biggest potential safety issue with forklifts operation is traffic or pedestrian accidents and battery acid exposures.

Visiting this facility was a very interesting experience. We appreciate Tyson Foods for letting us tour the facility. 


Anheuser Busch Coastal Research Center

Reported by Kelley James

A small research facility is located on the barrier islands of the Virginia coastline, the Anheuser Busch Coastal Research Center of the University of Virginia (ABCRC).  The center is a temporary home to visiting scientists from all across the United States of America.  These scientists embark on various ecological, environmental, and geographical studies around the barrier islands, using collected data from meteorological stations, tide gauges, well transects and water level recorders located along Virginia’s coastline.  ABCRC is located in a small town Oyster, Virginia and provides housing for visiting researchers from various institutions.  The facility is associated with the University of Virginia and is available all year long.  Some safety concerns around the site include environmental hazards and flooding hazards due to working outdoors and on constantly changing islands and ecosystems.  This facility was used by the University of Cincinnati ERC as a housing facility throughout the Virginia coastline trip.  The group is very grateful to the ABCRC’s hospitality and kindness.  This truly was a wonderful and insightful experience.



After 2 days of touring the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the group is getting ready to board the bus for a 12-hour ride back to Cincinnati.

--- End.



River View Coal Mine Trip, April 2-3, 2013

9 students (2 Occupational and Environmental Health students, 1 Occupational Medicine resident and 3 Occupational Health nurses from University of Cincinnati, 1 industrial and organizational psychology student and 1 Occupational Medicine resident from University of South Florida and 1 Industrial Hygiene student from University of Chicago, Illinois) and 1 professor (Dr.  Carol Rice, University of Cincinnati) traveled from Kettering Laboratory to River View Mine in Waverley, Kentucky.   

We were welcomed by a very friending and inviting River View staff.   Our first order of busy was to complete a hazard training course to ensure proper use of mining safety equipment.   Examples of equipment used were safety lights, signs, trackers (to locate personnel), head lights, and self-contained self-rescuers (SCSR).  After completion of the hazard training, we were shuttled through the surface mine.   We were able to view the surface mine’s infrastructure that included a 3.5 mile long conveyor belt, stacking towers, shafts, and many buildings.

Our first stop was at the coal processing plant where shakers are used to separate rock from the raw coal in order to produced clean coal.   Once cleaned the coal is transferred, by conveyor belt, to the Ohio River to be loaded on barges.   Each barge holds 15,000 tons of clean coal, which is transferred to purchasers.   This was our last stop for the day.

We returned to the bus, checked into our hotel, and then ate dinner at Rookies where the Tuesday Special was prime rib! After dining we retired to our hotel for the evening.

On day two, we returned to the mine and were given specific instructions to follow on the way to and while inside the underground mine.  We were required to wear protective clothing that included an M-20 emergency escape breathing apparatuses on our belt; as well as, tracking tags which made sure that operators on the ground can monitor our exact location underground.  Standard PPE (hard hats, safety glasses, hearing protection, safety shoes, rubber gloves and coveralls) were also provided.  With hopes of unraveling the “coolness” of underground mining along with learning about its operational details first hand, our team embarked on our mission.  We were accompanied by the mine’s General Manager, Assistant General Manager, and Safety Manager.

         Once we stood on the elevator to go down to the mining seam, we realized why Professor Rice had asked us to wear warm clothes.  The elevator shaft also serves as the mine’s primary air intake for ventilation.  Cold air is sucked in using three 300 HP fans! It made the ride on the elevator pretty chilly.   However, the excitement of what lay ahead of us (or should I say below us!) kept our minds distracted.  We descended 405 feet (for the roller coaster fanatics: that’s about 100 feet more than the Drop Tower at King’s Island) to reach mining seam number 9.  Once we got off the elevator, we could barely feel the breeze.  Then we got on man-trains (primary locomotive in underground mines) and proceeded to a section which was being currently mined.  Just like we had been told, this underground mine unlike most others, was about 5’ 6” to 6’ high on average.  Some of us moved along walking funny with their knees bent while some chose to follow the lead of our tour guides and just bent their neck.  While a couple of us were trying to blind others by flashing our head lights in their eyes, others were just looking around with awe! As soon as we reached the mining site, our team fired away with a lot of “smart” questions.  Our tour guides answered all our questions spot-on. 

         We were shown the roof-bolting operation and the continuous miner operation.   Once, the continuous miner has mined an area and the coal has been scooped out, roof bolters come in, drill 8 feet bolts in the roof and put tubes of layer-binding resins in the drilled holes.   The resin binds the layers of coal and rocks together which keeps the roof from falling.  This operation was made mandatory for underground mining in 1956.  Roof-bolting is the most physically demanding job in underground mining.  Generally entry level miners get this job and as they work hard they move on to other jobs.  Next we got to see the continuous miner.  I was speechless when I saw the equipment in person.  By the look in their eyes, my team members had the same reaction when they saw the continuous miner.  It has hard carbon steel drill bits (around 72 of them) which can cut through the coal effortlessly.  These drill bits are sharpened very regularly to keep up the performance of the equipment.  Each such machine can be controlled by a single person via remote control.  The operator stays close to the miner and has a remote control panel suspended from his belt.  The continuous miner has water sprays coming out of the booms in the front which keep the generated dust from being aerosolized.  It also has a mesh-20 gauge screen which filters most of the dust.  The operator is required to clean the screen frequently by hosing it down with water. 

         Next we were shown what happens to the coal that is mined by the continuous miner.  The miner had a conveyer belt system that dumps all the coal behind the miner.  Then, a “scooper” comes and picks up the coal and takes it to a pit connected to another system of conveyer belts.  Before the coal is sent out of the mine on the conveyer belts, it is broken down into smaller pieces by a rotating crusher.  Conveyers from different sections converge and transfer their load to a master conveyer belt which takes the coal to the surface up a 16 degree slope.  From there the coal was taken to the Coal Preparation Plant (CPP) using belt system (River View Coal Mine has a belt system of 3 miles between the mining site and the preparation plant). 

         On our way out, we saw the Refuge Alternative that underground mines are required to keep in the mines.  These refuges are meant to hold a maximum of 12 people at a time.  They can provide clean air and food for about 96 hours.  We also saw the emergency vehicles kept underground.  The ambulance had excellent provisions for emergency response.  It had a bed for giving victims CPR and a defibrillator.  The other emergency vehicle was a fire “truck”.  It had a mini pumping station.  Once hooked to a water supply, it mixes water and chemicals to form thick foam which can be pumped out to put out fire.  Luckily, the equipment’s are not used frequently. 

          And then, it was time to leave! While I could tell all the team members wanted to spend more time in there, we were also very hungry.  We proceeded to the elevator shaft again.  While waiting for the elevator we realized that we had not taken “enough” pictures and we needed proof that the events mentioned in this blog are real life events.  Luckily, we had a photo-journalism major from Western Kentucky University shooting footage of videos for her thesis.  Her camera was better than ours or so people said! We took a lot of pictures, and also some coal as souvenir.  We came up the elevator, washed our boots, cleaned up and ate good food that was waiting for us.  I could tell from the look on my team members, that this trip to the underground mine had been every bit as educating and exciting as we had expected and more!! People at River View Coal Mine gave us a very cool leather notepad with mini calculator in it to remember them by.  Personally, I found the underground mining process to be elegant and fascinating.  I am very glad that I came on this mission!              



ERC-wide recruiting at Central State University (CSU), Wilberforce OH

Students from Occupational Health Nursing, Occupational Hygiene and the Occupational Medicine Residency discussed graduate education programs in the ERC with 40 CSU students pursuing undergraduate degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. They were accompanied by faculty from the Colleges of Nursing, Medicine and Engineering.

All participants from UC shared statements showing how he/she had meandered into the ERC disciplines.  Most paths were not direct and many CSU participants noted that they had never heard of the fields we described. Many questions were asked, from the basics of ‘what are the admission requirements?’ to ‘what is it really like to be a graduate student?’.  

Dr. Ifeanyi Nwaneshiudu, described his shift from surgery to occupational medicine based on a commitment to prevent disease, before treatment was needed in the surgery.  Occupational health nursing students Robin Saxon and Dayle Walsh shared personal experiences that led them to the specialty and a commitment to prevention; graduate Brenda Walker described how she had not thought she could complete a graduate degree, but she did with hard work and enthusiasm.  Dr. Jane Christiansen described the ERC focus on firefighter health and safety and her PhD research in this area.

Occupational Hygiene students Koni Chatterjee and Tiffany Poole-Wilson shared their interest in furthering research in evaluating exposure in order to prevent disease and injury; Ms. Poole-Wilson has developed an interest in better understanding head injuries among football players.   Dr. Jay Kim described programs in the College of Engineering, including his interest in noise, and Dr. Henry Spitz’s work in radiation protection and nuclear forensics. 




Date: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 

Time: 1:30 to 3:00 pm

Location: 121 Kettering


Respiratory Protection for Health Care Workers


Speaker: Bonnie Rogers, DrPH, COHN-S, LNCC

Director, NC OSHERC and Director, OHN Program, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC USA


We will watch the online seminar and have a group discussion led by Dr. Reponen.




Interdisciplinary Bourbon Trail Trip: Observing Occupational Hazards in Bourbon Production, December 7, 2012

 Reported by Rafid Kakel


The clear blue sky of the days before our journey was replaced with clouds squirting the road just often enough to keep it wet—a good back drop to observing indoor production of bourbon, a celebrated product of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


Upon arrival at “Makers Mark distillery”, our tour started at building # 1 where eight giant containers contain the wheat that concentrates as it moves from one container to another. We noticed that while leaning toward the surface of those giant containers, an odor was detectable indicating chemicals at the surface. We asked about carbon dioxide production as the mash cooked, and were assured by the staff that carbon oxide concentration is monitored in the area. We left that building and our next stop was the printing station where two women were working. When asked about use of hearing protection, we learned that it is available and used only if the two printing machines are operated simultaneously.  At the time of the visit, we observed an exposure level of 70 dBA, measured with a smart phone.  This is well below any workplace standard or guideline.  If both operated at the same time, the exposure would be about 73 dBA, still lower than guidelines, if the smart phone app is accurate. 

In the third building we observed where the bourbon is bottled, the noise was higher (about 80 dBA) and workers were observed using hearing protection.

We then had opportunity to discuss the work of making bourbon with the safety officer. He explained most of the hazards workers may be exposed to, and the number one was “wax burn” during the application of the signature red wax bottle seal. He also pointed out how the cooperation between the company and local health professionals helped any injured worker have a speedier recovery and faster return to work.

The fifth and last stop at the distillery was where empty used barrels are stored. The Maker’s Mark unique taste is maintained by strict adherence to recipe, continuous tasting, and single use of charred oak barrels.  After single usage, the barrels are sold to other whiskey manufacturers, wineries, beer producers, and tobacco manufactures who will age their product in Maker’s Mark barrels. 


After a short stop for a quick lunch, our next destination was the factory where barrels are made,  Kentucky Cooperage, in Lebanon KY . Here the oak barrels are constructed and then charred on the inside.  This char imparts flavor as the bourbon ages.  

Potential exposures here included noise, carbon monoxide and smoke from the charring process; the mechanical transfer of barrel staves and barrels could also result in physical injuries. The noise level made it impossible to communicate so we did so through communication headsets.

We hopped into our bus that carried us back to UC. For all of us it was a new experience and a great day to see how Kentucky bourbon is produced and the inside of barrels before filling.  

Now I can say I saw the bourbon trail and I have the T-shirt to prove it.

-- The End.


13th Annual Pilot Research Program Symposium, October 4-5, 2012


Reported by: Kelley James, Kanistha Chatterjee and Ja’i Watson



The University of Cincinnati Education and Research Center’s 13th annual Pilot Research Project (PRP) Symposium brought together scientists and local professionals to discuss a wide range of health related topics. The poster sessions, with submissions from environmental health, engineering and occupational health, showcased the excellent research being performed throughout the Tristate region.

Following the academic sessions, the picnic brought together students, professors and professionals in a networking opportunity. Networking through the PRP provides an opportunity for students to develop ties to established peers in their field, and the opportunity to strengthen the existing ties.

After another successful PRP symposium, thanks due to the hosts Drs. Bhattacharya and Reponen, and hardwork by PRP coordinator Cyndy Cox and PRP student volunteers, we all look forward to the next PRP.




Keynote Lecture by Dr. Linda McCauley


An important and extremely interesting presentation was performed by the dean of Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Dr. Linda McCauley.  Her presentation began with a review of her background the route she has taken to achieve the opportunity to act as the dean of the School of Nursing at Emory University.  Dr. McCauley is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati Environmental Health program.  She has used the experiences and opportunities obtained from professors like Dr. Grace LeMasters and Dr. Carol Rice to advance her career in Occupational Health Nursing and Environmental Health.          

Dr. McCauley continued into her presentation by explaining the study she had performed on the health of pregnant agriculture farm workers in south Florida.  This study was brought to her attention because of a mortality incident of a young pregnant immigrant worker who had died while performing agricultural farming tasks.  She studied two groups: Individuals that worked the fields, collecting crop, and individuals working the storage facilities.  The focus of these workers was determined to be the effects of heat stress, ergonomic exposures, and pesticide exposures.  She mentioned that as these women worked in agricultural farms which grew ferns for decorative use, they were exposed to extreme heat and constant ergonomic hazards.  Women that perform agricultural work with pesticides and crop must wear apron coverings, gloves, and boots to prevent dermal exposure to the pesticides found on the plants.  When performing tasks requiring this type of protective gear in around 100°F temperatures, heat stress becomes an extreme concern.  These women were not given frequent and sufficient breaks or proper heat and sun exposure protection during breaks.  Ergonomic concerns were also noticed.  Women were required to repetitively bend past 90° to cut plants for collection.  On the other hand, there was a concern for workers performing tasks for indoor storage and packaging.  These workers are constantly exposed to the gathered plants in an indoor environment which leads to the conclusion that pesticide exposures will be a problem.  But, this became a limitation for Dr. McCauley’s study due to the fact that workers did not want to wear monitoring devices for fear of losing their jobs.  These evaluations lead to final results that among other workplace hazards, women were performing hazardous tasks that could possibly lead to injuries within the workplace.  The most significant cause of these injuries was heat stress, ergonomic repetitive stress, and pesticide exposure.

Overall, the presentation was extremely interesting and insightful.  The presentation showed the importance of environmental health and some of the opportunities health professionals have.  Dr. McCauley is a prime example of the achievements that can be attained by individuals involved with the NIOSH-Supported Education and Research Center and the PRP projects.  Her study along with her achievements show the advancements and improvements that pilot research projects can add to environmental health and safety within the United States and among individuals around the world.




Keynote Lecture by Dr. Carol Rice


Dr. Carol Rice, PHD, CIH, and a professor emerita of Environmental Health at University of Cincinnati started off the second day of the PRP Symposium as the Keynote Speaker presenting, a Retrospective Exposure Assessment: Making the Best Exposure Estimate Possible with Sparse Data.  All in attendance were honored to listen to such an accomplished researcher give a very informative talk on retrospective exposure assessment.  Dr. Rice stated that “retrospective exposure assessment may be challenged as more art than science.”  During her career she formulated creative approaches using the limited available data, in order to improve the workplace environment.  After her talk, Dr. Rice was presented with a memory book signed by all who were thankful for her passion of industrial hygiene, of the ERC, and of her ability to disseminate her knowledge to wide range of audiences. 


--- The End.



Historical Perspectives Tour, May 20-24, 2012

Reported by Georganne Kincer


Sappi Somerset Paper Mill, Skowhegan, ME, May 23, 2012

For third year in a row, University of Cincinnati ERC participated in the Historical Perspective Tour organized by New York/New Jersey ERC.  This time, also students and faculty from Italy joined the tour. The visits included New Bedford, MA for commercial fishing, Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME, Sappi Paper in Skohegan, ME and Rock of Ages Granite in Barre, VT.



After arriving at the mill we were given a presentation by Skip Pratt, CIH, prior to touring the site.  There are five sites within the U.S. and they work with four different unions, the USW, IBEW, IAM, and SPFPA.  This mill started up in 1976.  The plant is OSHA 18001 certified, which is a management system for safety.  We started at the Process Safety Management area where all visitors to the site watch the company safety video.  The Somerset Mill normally has 600 employees working at one time during the day and 150 workers at night.  Their plant employees work three 12-hour day shifts and then rotate to three 12-hour night shifts with three days off in between.


This mill has three main areas (noted below) and all have their own separate safety issues:

Wood yard, issue biomass;

Pulp mill, issues heat and chemical prep area;

Paper mill, issues are various.

Skip Pratt stated there are ten plant wide safety issues:

Evacuation and emergency response, which includes Hazmat, Fire Brigade, and Confined space rescue, they also have an emergency site call number 5222

Traffic safety

Smoking and substance abuse policy

Personal protective equipment

Chemical awareness, they have MSDS’ for all chemicals on-site

Housekeeping, they have a tool inspection program and work areas are maintained daily or as needed

Slips, trips, and falls, they have barricades with tags to warn of issues

General worker responsibility, no horseplay is tolerated

Lock out/tag out, Confined space, Hot-work permit, and Product safety plan

Security, they have a well-trained team, they are responsible for coordinating emergency response system


Major chemicals on-site include chlorine dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, aqua ammonia, VAC (sodium chloride), methanol. Also present on site are steam pipes at 540o, and many moving objects and equipment. Major ergonomic issues include wrist, lifting, neck and backs, and office personnel.

Their medical surveillance is contracted out.  The local hospital is approximately five miles away so quick response is available in case of emergencies.

May 24, 2012 – Rock of Ages Granite Quarry and Hope Cemetery, Barre, VT


The Rock of Ages Granit Quarry was the E.L. Smith Quarry from 1880 to 1947 prior to being purchased.  This quarry has all gray granite with four distinct shades.  The darker shades are used for memorials and the lighter shades are used for statuary.

They normally have 25 employees on site and they work in crews of four to six people.  These crews work independently.  Each employee is tied off when anywhere close to an edge, so no one has fallen from the quarry in 30 years.  The quarry’s work season is from March through November; they are off from December 15th through the end of February.  Also, they never work during thunderstorms due to possible lightning strikes.  The average salary is approximately $65,000 per year.




A small example of the slabs removed is shown in above picture.  The lines in the granite are drill marks.  Normally these slabs are 18 to 25 ft. in height and greater than 45 ft. long.  When drilling a natural joint in the granite is followed so that the section removed has no joint in it.  The compressor building shown above feeds air down to the quarry for drilling, next to the building is the cooling pond for the compressor.


The 175 ft. tall derrick above is used to lift and move the granite slabs.  They remove 375,000 cubic ft., or 18 million lbs. of granite from this site yearly and there is still enough granite left to supply needs for approximately 4,500 years.  In the picture to the right above is an example of 100-year-old (or older) piles of “grout.”  This is what the quarry used to do with granite waste.  Piles like these are all over the area.  This waste granite is now being harvested and crushed up for use as road stone.

They “have to chase the stone” as they are drilling.  The ground in the picture below left was level in the 1860s with the rest of the tree line.  The dark streaks running down the stone is “hard water” that seeps through the natural joints in the granite.  The turquoise water at the bottom is this water filled with sediment and is about 60 ft. deep.  When needed the water is just pumped out.  In the picture to the right below the water is dark green; it is an older section where the sediment has settled to the bottom.


The company has a respirator surveillance program and there has not been a case of silicosis in 40 years.  Common injuries that occur are repetitive muscular injuries, broken fingers, and sprains.


Back at the Rock of Ages main building where work is done on monuments and statues.  “Nuisance dust was noted around the building.


Lastly, we toured the Hope Cemetery and above are just a couple of examples of the interesting monuments constructed for individuals.  Mr. Bettini had a copy of his favorite chair made and encouraged visitors to the cemetery to set in it.  The guide shared with us that they no longer allow any other granite to be used for these except that mined from Rock of Ages quarry.

-- The End.



Research Findings, 2012

All ERC students who participated in the Interdisciplinary Workshop or had research projects funded through the Targeted Research Training (TRT) program or were completing MS or PhD research presented their findings at the annual symposium, May 29.    

A full listing of presentation titles is shown below, with pictures:
Interdisciplinary Workshop Projects
Lifestyle and Safety Practices of Firefighters and Relation to   Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Identifying Near-miss Perceptions of Firefighters, Paramedics and EMTs  


Qualitative Assessment of Firefighter Knowledge Regarding Cardiovascular Health and Tools Used 

Early Criteria for Evaluating the Effect of Health Stress on Cardiovascular, Neuromuscular and Cognitive Systems of Firefighters
Individual and Team Research
Thermal Interfacing With Carbon Nanotubes to Reduce Heat Stress
Contamination of Firefighter Personal Protective Gear
Tai Chi—a way to reduce CVD in Firefighters
Manikin-based Performance Evaluation of Elastomeric Respirators against Combustion Particles
Effects of Heat Stress on Firefighters
Posters  were displayed also, representing thesis and TRT work.  
Modeling Fugitive Dust from Mining Operations
Retrospective Exposure Assessment
Heat Stress in Firefighting
Contamination of Firefighter Personal Protective Gear
Fire department personnel, representative of the Fire Science Graduate Certificate Program, and NIOSH researchers were among the more than 40 participants.        
The Occupational Health Nursing Program faculty and students took a minute to pose in the lobby, in front of the ERC booth, during a break.

The presentations will be posted, and a link added here when they are available.

Syndicate content