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March 12, 2012

Should Smoking Be Banned in Vehicles with Children Under the Age of 8 in Maryland?

Cigarette.jpgVarious studies have linked secondhand smoke to asthma and other chronic illnesses in children, therefore; the Maryland Senate opened discussions in late February 2012, in which a Ban on smoking inside vehicles with child passengers would be put into legislation. If passed, the new bill would fine drivers and passengers up to $50 if they are caught smoking in a vehicle with a passenger 8 years old or younger, but it would not be considered a moving violation and would not add points to a persons' driving record.

The bill would reduce the number of long-term illnesses caused by and associated with secondhand smoke and it would also lower the state's medical costs.

Studies have shown that secondhand smoking is more harmful in cars than in other areas and locations. The toxicity levels have sometimes reached 10 times greater than those deemed acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Children exposed to smoke are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome than babies who are not exposed to smoke. These babies have also been shown to have weaker lungs and increased risk of other health problems because they have been exposed to smoke. Also, children exposed to secondhand smoke experience more severe and frequent asthma attacks and are at a higher risk for ear infections then those not exposed to secondhand smoke.

Over 4,000 different chemicals have been identified in secondhand smoke and over 40 of these chemicals have shown to cause cancer, therefore; children exposed to secondhand smoke are being poisoned and have no choice in the matter. It is up to the parent and/or guardian to keep children safe and healthy and therefore; bills like this one should be passed.

August 22, 2011

High Levels of Lead Found in Grafton Ridge Developments in Harford, Maryland

Local health officials in Harford County, Maryland are investigating a possible contamination in the running/drinking water of residents in Fallston, Maryland. Residents in Fallston, Maryland may have been exposed to excessive levels of lead in their drinking/running water.

Health officials in Harford County, Maryland are warning residents in Grafton Ridge housing developments to boil their drinking water. The water in those developments had lead levels which exceed the limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and therefore, may be unsafe and cause health risks.

The source of the lead exposure and contamination has not yet been determined, but an investigation is underway. Health officials are not sure how long the lead levels have been over the EPA established limit and are therefore, conducting extensive testing of all area water.

Testing to date has determined that 14 out of 16 homes in the Grafton Ridge housing developments have had high levels of lead in their drinking water. Richmond American Homes, the builder of these homes in the Grafton Ridge Development, will be replacing the brass parts with stainless steel ones to see if that improved the water lead levels.

Residents in Saddle View, Watervale Farm, Deer Hollow and Martin Meadows should be careful as well, as they too are part of the Grafton Ridge communities.

The elevated lead levels could pose a risk of lead poisoning, which may result in nervous system injuries, brain damage, seizures, convulsions, growth or mental retardation, coma and even death in children. If you are a resident in the Grafton Ridge Developments and experience any health problems, please see your physician immediately. Go to your nearest emergency room and call the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

June 7, 2010

Asbestos Regulations in Maryland

Asbestos.gifAsbestos: a naturally occurring mineral found in certain rock formations, mined from open pit mines. Most of the asbestos used in the United States comes from Canada. Three kinds of asbestos are most commonly found in the US: Chrysotile, "white asbestos"; Amosite, "brown asbestos" and Crodifolite, "blue asbestos".

Asbestos was used in more than 3000 different products, ranging from pipe insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, brake pads, plasters, adhesives, paint, packing materials for valves, roofing materials, etc. Asbestos fibers were wonderful to use because they were durable, strong, flexible, and most importantly resistant to wear.

Concerns with Asbestos:
In the early 1960's evidence began to emerge showing that certain diseases were rampant among asbestos workers. These workers were ones that worked in mills, manufacturing facilities, painters and shipyards. These people were heavily exposed to airborne fibers. They were at high risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.

The diseases most common are asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and digestive system cancers. Fibers may be inhaled or ingested. The fibers are small and can remain in the air for various hours. These fibers have no color or smell and therefore; are difficult to detect. Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition where the lungs become scarred, breathing becomes difficult and the disease may worsen even if the person stops working with asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer to the lining of the lung and/or abdominal cavities and is always fatal. None of the asbestos related diseases have early warning symptoms and are usually diagnosed years after the disease begins to develop.

Regulating Asbestos:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates Asbestos. They brought to law a Clear Air Act to produce regulations to regulate air pollutants hazardous to health. These regulations are called the Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. Asbestos is one of the air pollutants that is being regulated by the act. Asbestos in schools is also regulated by the EPA, but specifically by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). Under AHERA schools are required to inspect buildings for asbestos and develop a plan to manage asbestos. The department inspects Maryland's public and private schools.


Asbestos is regulated by states and by the federal government. The State of Maryland regulates how persons work with asbestos and also regulates those who train persons to work with asbestos. The EPA regulations cover four basic asbestos activities:
1) Removal, repair, or encapsulation of asbestos containing materials;
2) Approval of asbestos training;
3) Regulation of persons accredited to perform asbestos related activities;
4) Asbestos in schools.