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Nano-Particle Emissions Promote Air Quality Reduction

Airborne emissions are a fact of life for many in the world, levels of harmful compounds in the air and corresponding emissions rates have all seen significant increases over time. A layer of complexity accompanies these emissions as many of the necessities and comforts of life, rely in part on production methodologies that utilize high emissions processes. Nowhere is this more evident than in the power sector, where nearly 40% of the power generated in the U.S originating from coal fired power plants[1].

Though vital to the economic growth and stability of many industries, the use of coal fired power-plants is accompanied by detrimental environmental and health related issues. These issues were recently added to as environmental scientists out of Virginia Tech discovered an unusual variant of titanium oxide being emitted at high levels from coal fired power plants [3]. The discovery of this new variant of titanium oxide is alarming as it is a byproduct of the coal burning process. The study into this newly discovered molecule indicates that it is freely introduced into the air unless prevented by high-tech particle traps [3].

A subsequent study into this molecule established the bioactivity of this variant of titanium oxide displays and affinity for the respiratory system [2]. In testing particles of this form of titanium oxide, investigators observed that the particles traveled all the way into the air sacs then moved oxygen into the bloodstream when inhaled [2,3]. Given the method of dispersal and the affinity for the respiratory system, these particles were classified as having a high risk of toxicity [1,3]. Supplementary studies have shown that particles similar in composition to the titanium oxide variant are known to be responsible for many chronic and acute conditions like inflammation and irritation of the lungs as well as increased susceptibility to viruses and bacteria [3,4].

Recent air pollution data estimates that about 3.3 million premature deaths are attributed to polluted air; mainly due to pollution caused cardiovascular and respiratory illness [1]. In the major metropolitan cities, this is a major concern as many of the hazy days these cities experience are due to compounds like titanium oxide and other similar molecules [1,3].

For companies in that require specific conditions for manufacturing and production, a compound like titanium oxide can pose a serious threat. To mediate these concerns organizations have climate control systems equipped with HEPA filters [2,3,4]. These HEPA filters work by forcing incoming outdoor air through a fine mesh which removes particles like titanium oxide. Often, the maintenance and corresponding indoor environmental monitoring lag behind under stringent production deadlines [4]. As such, these organizations can be at significant risk of contamination and sub par products.

EPA guidelines advise that accredited testing laboratories, such as Sure-BioChem Laboratories, be utilized to ensure the integrity of HEPA filters as well as the overall quality of indoor air for manufacturers [3,4]. Implementing testing regimes with testing laboratories certified in environmental monitoring significantly helps to reduce the effects of industrial emissions affecting indoor air quality. At Sure-BioChem we also recommend homeowners and consumers be cognizant of their own indoor quality by using a HEPA filter air purifier, replacing filters regularly and introducing indoor plants. For more information concerning environmental monitoring, particulate matter testing and other air quality tests, contact Sure-BioChem at 888-398-7247 to get your consultation today.

References

1. Gurjar, B. R., et al. "Evaluation of emissions and air quality in megacities." Atmospheric Environment 42.7 (2008): 1593-1606. 
2. Seaton, Anthony, et al. "Particulate air pollution and acute health effects." The lancet 345.8943 (1995): 176-178.

3. Virginia Tech. "Potentially harmful nanoparticles produced through burning coal: Environmental scientists led by the Virginia Tech College of Science have discovered that the burning of coal produces incredibly small airborne particles of a highly unusual form of titanium oxide with the potential to be toxic to humans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2017.

4. Xu, Ying, et al. "Effectiveness of heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with HEPA filter unit on indoor air quality and asthmatic children's health." Building and Environment 45.2 (2010): 330-337.

Bath Towels Boost Microbial Growth and Diversity

Microorganisms often garner significant attention within the pharmaceutical and biotech industries; however, the influence of these microbes is routinely experienced by everyone. A commonly overlooked household object where microbes often proliferate unchallenged is with cloth towels. As part of our daily routine, we shower and bathe with little concern to the fact that cloth towels, specifically washing towels, are some of the most microbe laden objects in our homes.

Studies into this microbial vector, have yielded impressive results from the use of a technique called, bioburden testing. With this test, researchers were able to analyze the number and types of organisms present in household bathing towels. Results from the tests revealed that the “damp environment of the average bathroom allows germs on towels to thrive” [1,2]. One of the major conclusions the study highlighted noted that household items, like towels, often act as bacterial reservoirs that enhance the growth of microbes. From these findings, the researchers also pointed out that when bathroom towels are consistently stored in areas with high moisture, not only does it promote bacterial growth but also encourages the growth of specific bacteria.

From the study, it was understood that one type of bacteria that is specifically promoted when bath towels are stored in high moisture areas are fecal coliform bacteria. These fecal coliform bacteria are a common part of the natural microbial ecosystem called the microbiota; however, they often facilitate the growth of pathogenic microbes like Escherichia coli, otherwise known as E. coli [2]. Further characterization of these fecal coliform bacteria shows that other pathogenic bacteria like Citrobacter and Enterobacter are also present in household towels. The diversity of these pathogenic bacteria found in household towels is intensified as it was also noted that 89% of kitchen towels also tested positive for E. coli [1].

The prevalence of these pathogenic fecal coliform bacteria presents a clear threat to homeowners and other occupants and increases the chances of illnesses like food poisoning and diarrhea [2]. However, these microorganisms are most threatening to young children and the elderly as they are susceptible to infections and other illnesses due to their less robust immune systems [1]. Additionally, family pets can be at risk for these illnesses as the pathogens responsible for the illnesses can be passed on from person to pet.

Though towels can represent a risk regarding health and well-being, properly cleaning your towels on a regular basis significantly reduces the risk of illness. At Sure-BioChem Laboratories, we recommend washing your towels every four to five days. We also advise that when washing your towels, to wash them in a high-temperature washing cycle to ensure that all the microorganisms are expunged. For more information regarding fecal coliform bacteria, bioburden testing and other microbial tests contact Sure-BioChem at 888-398-7247 to get your consultation today.

References

1. Dovey, Dana. "The Gross Truth About Bath Towels."Medical Daily. Newsweek, 04 Oct. 2016. Web. 18 July 2017.

2. Sifuentes, Laura Y., et al. "Microbial contamination of hospital reusable cleaning towels." American journal of infection control 41.10 (2013): 912-915.

Prolonged Exposure to Multi-Species Biofilms Reduce Production Efficacy

            Global demand for biomedical devices and pharmaceuticals is forecasted to increase in prospective years. Addressing these requirements requires a reliable framework that introduces additional logistical oversight to prevent contamination events. Of the various potential contaminants, biological contaminants pose the greatest risk to ensured quality and production goals due to an increasing number of transmission vectors. Recent research has highlighted biofilms as potent vectors for biological contamination events that impede the ability of manufacturers to meet product demand.

            Historically, robust control systems efficiently mitigated the impact of biological contaminants, like biofilms, through environmental monitoring protocols, bioactive chemicals, and physical deterrents. However, the effectiveness of these procedures is in question as several bioactive chemicals, and physical deterrents are shown to have a reducing impact on biofilm formation. The inefficiency of these antimicrobial compounds and physical deterrents stems from the inherently rigid internal structures of biofilms. According to recent studies, difficulties in biofilm removal are attributed to the hardy matrix encompassing the microbes that allows adherence to living or nonliving surfaces. Furthermore, it's been observed that “biofilm growing bacteria exhibit increased tolerance against antibiotics, disinfectants, and innate and adaptive host immune mechanisms”(Høiby,58). As such, microbes living in these biofilms are physiologically stronger and more resistant than cells of the same organism that may exist in isolation. 

            Current biofilm removal methods have varying success rates but ubiquitously require a labor intensive process involving physical shearing and highly caustic chemicals that often spread bacteria and compromise product quality. Moreover, new research “revealed that bacteria can communicate not only with their own species but also with different types of bacteria.” potentially resulting in multi-species biofilms (Beagle, 44). For many manufacturers, this means that biofilms may actively spread different microbes and contaminants throughout production facilities. Additionally, research has also observed outcomes from interspecies communication in biofilms resulting in an accelerated expansion of biofilms on various surfaces. These observations affirm data from a recent study that 60-70% of “Foreign body infections... on intravenous catheters, intrauterine catheters, naso-laryngeal tubes, stents, alloplastic materials, hydrocephalus shunts and artificial hearts” are linked with biofilms. (Høiby, 62).

            Many current biological contaminant control strategies often lack new protocols addressing the robustness of prospective threats as well what recent research is advising. Presently, remediation of biological contaminants, like biofilms, requires an increased level comprehensive monitoring regimes as well as analysis of cleaning methodologies. FDA regulations encourage medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers to utilize certified testing laboratories like Sure-BioChem Laboratories to develop and expand biological prevention protocols as well as supplement their existing testing regimes. With our experienced and industry-leading team, Sure-BioChem Laboratories can help you meet your logistical and quality goals.

References:

1. Beagle, Sarah D., and Steve W. Lockless. "Microbiology: electrical signalling goes bacterial." Nature 527.7576 (2015): 44-45.

2. Høiby, Niels, et al. "Antibiotic resistance of bacterial biofilms." International journal of antimicrobial agents 35.4 (2010): 322-332.

3. Høiby, Niels, et al. "The clinical impact of bacterial biofilms." International journal of oral science 3.2 (2011): 55

Protracted Regulatory Oversight Reduces Product Viability

 Medical devices play an integral part in the current medical ecosystem; advances in software and material science now allow for efficient diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of persistent diseases. Production and manufacturing of medical devices are often complex and require rigorous regulatory oversight by organizations like the FDA here in the U.S and other analogous agencies in overseas markets. Despite the stringent regulatory standards, lapses in regulatory oversight are commonplace and thus significantly increasing the risk of harm to consumers.

            Recently a well-regarded medical device manufacturer, known for its epinephrine injection devices, had to recall over 80,000 of its products worldwide due to a defect in their injection mechanism [1]. Analysis by the FDA and the company concluded that the error rendered the device ineffective for patients who bought the device [1,3]. Since the clientele who purchase these epinephrine injection devices are often susceptible to sudden acute allergic reactions, the risk to consumers was deemed unacceptable and required an immediate recall of the affected products. Currently, the recall affects the 0.3 mg and 0.15mg strengths of the epinephrine injection devices manufactured between 2015 and July 2016 [1]. Due to the scale and size the distribution network, regulatory agencies like the European Medicine Agency and other regulatory bureaus in the affected countries are working with the company to expedite and coordinate the recall efforts [3,4].

            Though this company is expected to absorb the financial, social and regulatory setbacks posed by this recall a comparable recall involving other businesses in the medical device industry could be crippling. Recalls like the one currently in progress are, unfortunately, an unavoidable part of industries that provide lifesaving and revolutionary products to consumers [1,4]. Though the FDA other agencies detect the majority of these faults, the steady increase in the prevalence of medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs highlights a pressing demand for more efficient ways to mitigate these recall events [2,3].

            Ensuring the quality and safety of these devices and medicines is critical not only for the welfare of the consumers but the companies that manufacture them. Widespread device failures that aren't promptly detected often result in costly losses through litigation [2]. Regulatory agencies like the FDA all advise that in-depth training be provided for staff at these manufacturing plants so as to reduce production, documentation and human error at these manufacturing plants [1,3]. It should also be recognized that mechanical failure, though responsible for some recalls, is an often secondary risk factor for pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers. The majority of the recalls that these companies experience are often due to biological contaminants [1,2].

            Consistent training of staff and revision of quality standards is recognized as the best way to prevent recalls like the one above [1]. Furthermore, testing for chemical and organic contaminants that often find their way into these production facilities provides an additional assurance to the consumer, company and regulatory agencies. Currently, industry standards advise that quality training and testing for biological contaminants be performed by an accredited laboratory like Sure-BioChem Laboratories. Ensuring the efficacy and safety of your products is the top priority of our industry leading testing specialists.

 For more information, Contact Sure-BioChem at 888-398-7247 to get your consultation.

References:

1. Affairs, Office Of Regulatory. "Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts - Mylan Provides Update on Meridian Medical Technologies', a Pfizer Company, Expanded Voluntary Worldwide Recall of EpiPen® Auto-Injector." U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Office of Regulatory Affairs, n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2017.

2. Gold, Kathryn M., and Victoria M. Hitchins. "Cleaning assessment of disinfectant cleaning wipes on an external surface of a medical device contaminated with artificial blood or Streptococcus pneumoniae."American journal of infection control 41.10 (2013): 901-907.

3. Sorenson, Corinna, and Michael Drummond. "Improving medical device regulation: the United States and Europe in perspective."Milbank Quarterly 92.1 (2014): 114-150.

4. Zuckerman, Diana M., Paul Brown, and Steven E. Nissen. "Medical device recalls and the FDA approval process." Archives of internal medicine 171.11 (2011): 1006-1011.

Protracted Chemical Loading Reduces Potable Water Quality

Water transfer systems are the main vectors for potable water distribution for residential and commercial occupants in the majority of inhabited communities. For decades, these transfer systems were, and continue to be, the foundation for economic and social growth in communities worldwide. However, long-term observational studies, following changes in the supplied water from these transfer systems raised several concerns. Most prominent was a consistent long-term decline in the water quality of the reservoirs that these transfer systems drew from [1]. Consistent negative trends, like the ones observed from these studies, help to anticipate and remediate prospective water quality issues.

Communities around these reservoirs have experienced a marked increase in industrial and commercial development in recent decades. As such, water drawn from these reservoirs has consistently been subjected to elevated levels of perflourinated compounds (PFCs), heavy metals, organic toxins, nitrogen, mercury and pesticides [1]. Subsequent studies focused on these reservoirs show that these large bodies of water also absorb atmospheric pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and aerosolized lead from the atmosphere [1,3]. Due to the crucial role these reservoirs and water systems play in the surrounding environment, enacting long-term sequestration protocols is vital to increasing the water quality of communities that draw from these systems [4]. 

Further studies also show that even the presence of trace amounts of organic pollutants in water can have far reaching effects on the public health and environmental stability. Historically, air based industrial pollution was a major source of consistent chemical loading of organic pollutants like poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides in reservoirs [1,4]. However, through stricter air quality regulations, concentrations of air based pollutants resulted in a dramatic pollution decrease in recent decades [4,5]. Nevertheless, potable water quality still remains an issue for municipalities worldwide. It is believed that though we have experienced a reduction in air pollution, surface runoff, heavy metal and chemical discharge from super-fund sites and old industrial parks into streams that feed these reservoirs keep the overall quality of the drawn water consistently low [3,5].

Communities that draw from reservoirs contaminated with atmospheric and ground based sources of pollution present an ongoing dilemma for federal and local regulatory agencies [1,2]. Recently, the EPA was prompted by one such case where occupants at a trade-port in Pease, New Hampshire were found to have blood PFC concentrations that were four times higher than the recommended federal limit [2]. Further, testing on ground water reservoirs around the community found that the reservoirs had PFC concentrations that were 30 times higher than current EPA regulations [2,6]. Though the long-term health risks in exposed residents are yet to be determined, federal authorities are expected to fund a health monitoring program and a long-term health study of the toxicological effects that residents were subjected to [2].

Successful reduction in water-based pollutants is often a protracted process that jointly works to increase overall water quality in targeted water systems. Investigators note that persistently high levels of surface runoff and chemical discharge are primarily due to a failure “to regularly measure and analyze pollutants” [1]. Consistent in-depth testing, analysis and management of water-based pollutants has been linked to increases in overall potable water quality. Implementing a strategy with regards to surface runoff from these toxic sites near reservoirs is the current best prevention and remediation plan [1,6]. Regulatory agencies like the EPA, DEP and NOAA all advise that testing for these pollutants be performed through accredited and certified laboratories like Sure-BioChem Laboratories. Our experienced team offers industry leading year-round chemical and biological monitoring testing services.

For more information contact Sure-BioChem at 888-398-7247 to get your consultation.  

References: 
1. Brack, Werner, et al. "Towards the review of the European Union Water Framework Directive: Recommendations for more efficient assessment and management of chemical contamination in European surface water resources."Science of the Total Environment 576 (2017): 720-737.
2. Casey, Micheal. "Families on Edge over Water Contamination at Former Air Base."NewsOK.com. Associated Press, 04 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
3. Moss, Brian. "Water pollution by agriculture."Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences363.1491 (2008): 659-666. 
4. Stephanie T. Ota, Geraldine L. Richmond. Chilling Out: A Cool Aqueous Environment Promotes the Formation of Gas–Surface Complexes. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011; 110426082204049 DOI:10.1021/ja201027k 
5. University of Rhode Island. "Great Lakes pollution no longer driven by airborne sources; land, rivers now bigger factors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2014.
6. Wernersson, Ann-Sofie, et al. "The European technical report on aquatic effect-based monitoring tools under the water framework directive."Environmental Sciences Europe 27.1 (2015): 1-11.        

Biological Contaminants Accompany Industry Growth

The cornucopia of meals and snacks currently available to consumers, through food processing, has experienced a drastic increase in demand over time. Advances in preservation technologies, transport, logistics and economic methodologies have brought about a current reality where food processing is an indispensable part of how consumers meet their daily dietary preferences. The relative ease of acquisition, cost effectiveness, and extended shelf life has enabled processed foods to synergize flawlessly with the on-the-go lifestyle that’s become the norm for most consumers [5]. As such, the demand for these processed foods has risen and created a round-the-clock network structured around the production and distribution these food items. In response to this increased demand many food distributors to expanded their manufacturing plants with larger and more complex food distribution systems. These more modern systems often operate with a high turnover rate and with as minimal interference to production as possible. As such, the amplifying complexity, size of staff and long operational hours puts food distribution plants at a greater risk for contamination events [2,4,5].

 Contingent on a wide array of factors, contamination events are most commonly associated with contaminated machinery, cross contamination from food and staff, improper cooking practices and a lack of proper hygiene and sanitation [4]. Pinpointing the exact cause of a contamination event is an often a laborious and open-ended investigation that usually uncovers a plethora of sanitation and sterility issues [3,4]. Conclusions from investigations into contamination events often lead to significant fines, recalls and the compulsory implementation of recommendations geared toward tightened adherence to appropriate hygiene and sanitation protocols [1,3]. Though contamination events have experienced a decrease in the past decade due to varying layers of internal and external quality control; contamination events can and do still occur with regularity. Recently, a major food manufacturer was subject to a contamination event that compromised seven of its most popular cheese products.

While information regarding the contamination event is still pending, it's believed that the bacterium Listeria is culpable for the contamination [4,6]. Listeria, otherwise known as Listeria monocytogenes, is notorious among scientists and food manufacturers as it's known have large growth interval ranging from to 4°C (39.2°F) (the temperature of a refrigerator) to 37°C (98.6°F) (the body's internal temperature) [6]. Often found in ready-to-eat processed foods containing meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, Listeria monocytogenes, effectively contaminates foodstuffs stored in refrigeration units for an extended period. Consumption of these contaminated foods results in a condition called Listeriosis which causes fever, nausea, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal irregularities [2,46]. Though most cases of listeriosis often resolve themselves without the need for intensive medical treatment, 89% of listeria infections result in hospitalizations and of the infected populace there about 250 reported deaths [5]. Listeriosis is often severe in persons with weakened immune systems, young children, the elderly and pregnant women [3,4,6]. Currently, there are no reported cases of listeriosis from consumers of these cheese products.

Presently, antibiotics are the most effect way of treating severe cases of listeriosis, however medical professionals ubiquitously advocate for a prevention-based approach. Prevention of pathogenic and sometimes deadly microorganisms like Listeria monocytogenes is best accomplished through a year-round microbial monitoring regime [5,6]. Utilization of specialized testing laboratories like Sure-BioChem Laboratories is recommended by all public health and manufacturing regulatory agencies. Companies involved in food processing and packaging should remain as cautious as ever with the rise of more pathogens like listeria.

Contact Sure-BioChem to get your microbial monitoring consultation before your products are distributed.
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