Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Season of Lungs

Seasonality
Have you ever wondered why there is an increased focus on lung health in the Autumn? The answer is not as arbitrary as you may think. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the Five Element Theory, which comprises of our connection to nature, also includes our organs. Within the framework, each vital organ is organized into a web of interconnected relationships between each other along with their respective connections to the seasons, certain foods, and more. The lungs help the body maintain a healthy immune defense against pathogens and with Autumn being most associated with the beginning of flu season and other common ailments, it is during this time that lung-related holidays are present. 

Lung Awareness Holidays (Autumn) 
Beginning in September, there is Mesothelioma Awareness Day (MAD) - a day that focuses on the rare disease that has caused over 40,000 deaths in the United States since 1999. Following MAD is Healthy Lung Month in October, and finally Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November. Since we are in the transitionary period between the two awareness months, we wanted to discuss correlations between the two since some hazardous materials can cause cancer.

Why It’s More Than Cigarettes
While we can protect our kidneys, heart, liver, and spleen from most harmful substances by avoiding ingesting toxic items or increasing a workout regimen that strengthens organs like the heart, the lungs are more complicated. Respirable particles that are invisible to the naked eye are a constant threat to lung health and the solution is not as simple as staying away from carcinogens found in tobacco products. In fact, there are several factors other than smoking (though it is a huge offender) that can contribute to the continuous attack on the respiratory system, such as gases and chemical fumes, silica dust, and asbestos. 

Who Benefits From This Information?
Lung health is important for everyone, but the people most likely to come into contact with these hazardous materials are industry workers who work closely with products that contain the aforementioned carcinogens. Zack Academy provides accredited training to those who work in these fields to help improve their health and safety while on the job and supervising projects. Three of the training categories that Zack Academy provides corresponds with lung health and safety in the areas of asbestos, chemicals/fumes, and lead. To better understand the importance and need for these trainings, an in-depth look into the three toxins are laid out below.

  • Asbestos 
Across several fields, such as construction, workers have to be mindful of asbestos, which causes a deadly cancer called mesothelioma. Though it is not harmful while contained, once the fibers are damaged or released into the air they become respirable. While lung cancer is one of the most common cancers because of smoking, asbestos is the number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States. Despite regulations, there is no safe amount of exposure, which is why it is best to have the proper training in handling it to avoid any and all possibilities of inhalation.

Zack Academy offers over 30 different asbestos courses, the most popular is focused on asbestos removal. If you would like to remove, encapsulate, enclose, repair or disturb friable or non-friable asbestos, you will need to register for a 4-day Asbestos Worker/Handler course. If you would like to supervise Asbestos Workers, performing the duties listed above, you will need to then complete a 5-day Asbestos Contractor/Supervisor course. It’s important to remember, both of these courses require refresher training (Asbestos Worker Refresher & Asbestos Supervisor Refresher) to maintain your license and keep abreast of new removal methods.

Asbestos Inspector Initial and Refresher are another pair of popular asbestos courses. As you can guess from the name, it certifies home inspectors to test for - but not remove - asbestos.


  • Chemicals
Industrial cleaning agents pose a threat to workers when there is a lack of ventilation or respiratory protection from the fumes they emit. When workers are left too long in an area where the fumes hang in the air they run the risk of the fumes causing acute or chronic inflammation to their lungs. Chemical pneumonia is associated with this type of exposure and the symptoms can vary greatly depending on the level of inhalation. Being in an open area with a pool can have minimal effects on the body such as burning eyes, whereas a smaller area with higher levels of chlorine or another toxic substance can cause respiratory failure and death. 

It would take a seriously long blog post to review all the hazardous chemicals (and their associated courses) that could affect your lungs. Instead, let’s focus on the more popular HAZWOPER courses that will prepare you for many hazardous and potentially dangerous encounters and will help to keep you working safely at your workplace. Zack Academy offers basically every HAZWOPER course there is, be it 8-hour, 16-hour, or 24-hour. Each course is more intensive and goes into great depth to show students exactly how to handle hazardous chemicals.

  • Lead
The ingestion of lead paint is not the only form of exposure that can harm you. Similar to asbestos, when lead is disturbed it creates either fumes or dust that make it harder to identify and more difficult to avoid. When lead enters the respiratory system it gets released into your bloodstream and spreads throughout your body. 

As the leading provider of lead paint training on the Internet, Zack Academy offers several courses, which are vital for contractors, construction professionals, and DIY enthusiasts. If you perform any renovations, repairs, or paintings in a pre-1978 home or child occupied facility, you must become a certified lead renovator. This requires registering for a Lead Renovator Initial (and later on Refresher) course AND signing up your company as a Lead-Safe Firm. As a lead renovator you CANNOT bid on lead abatement/removal jobs - in order to do that you must register for a Lead Abatement Worker or Supervisor course.

Conclusion
It goes without saying, all of these courses are required and if the EPA notices your company is negligent, they will fine you. But, you should not look to attain a certification because of a fine. As contractors, and other professionals working with hazardous materials that affect air quality it is vital you remember the very real consequences that can arise if you do not handle lead, asbestos, and other hazardous materials properly. Not only are you putting yourself at danger for lung disease, you are also risking your family’s health. If you work with lead paint dust and then wear those same clothes home, your child can easily breath in that dust and get stuck dealing with irreparable damages. 

Long story short - be safe, take the proper courses, and treat hazardous materials with a health respect.

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