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Robert A. Michaels

Robert A. Michaels
RAM TRAC Corporation - Schenectady, New York

PhD, CEP

About

113
Publications
68,577
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666
Citations
Introduction
Dr. Michaels is President of RAM TRAC Corp, and a toxicologist specializing in assessing and managing risks to public health potentially posed by contaminants. He has served many corporate clients, the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment, and public interest organizations. He chaired the State of Maine Scientific Advisory Panel and the Certification Review Board of the Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals (ABCEP). He has been Secretary of the NFPA Comm. on Classification and Properties of Hazardous Chemicals, Board Member of the National Association of Environmental Professionals, and Member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of science journals. He earned his PhD at SUNY at Stony Brook in 1979. In 2004 he was awarded ABCEP’s Kramer Medal for his contributions.
Additional affiliations
April 1986 - present
RAM TRAC Corporation
Position
  • CEO
Description
  • Using science to assess and manage health risks since 1986
Education
September 1973 - August 1979
Stony Brook University
Field of study
  • Environmental Toxicology
September 1967 - August 1971
University of Georgia
Field of study
  • Environmental Ecology
September 1963 - June 1967
City College of New York
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (113)
Book
Dr. Robert Michaels' book*, Civics and Science: Contemporary Issues for Civil Democracy, is available in hard copy (paperback) as well as digitally (Kindle). The scientist-author explores, in a strictly non-partisan manner, the nexus between civics and science, identifying contemporary issues of critical importance for American democracy. The book...
Article
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An insufficiently appreciated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been to reveal tension within the CDC and FDA between doing science and making policy. The CDC and FDA often have compromised science for politics. The time has come to examine critically the missions of CDC and FDA to see if they embody untenable conflicts. If they do, maybe the tim...
Article
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The B’nai B’rith Capital Area Holocaust Essay Contest promotes awareness and education about the Holocaust of WW-II among young people, parents, and school teachers. Contest goals also include educating students about the importance of preventing holocausts from occurring in the future. With support from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New Yo...
Article
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Eric Topol's Science Magazine Editorial of 21 January 2022 attributes the Biden Administration’s disappointing Covid-19 pandemic response largely to failure of data collection: “during the Omicron wave, we haven’t a clue as to whether and to what extent hospitalizations are being prevented by vaccinations and boosters.” I agree, but I would apply T...
Article
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With surging COVID-19, New York City Mayor Eric Adams defended his policy of retaining in-person schooling: “Fear not sending them back. … The safest place for children is inside a school.” This statement might have a grain of truth, but it should be taken with a shaker full of salt.
Research
Full-text available
I recently published the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 might enter organs, such as the brain, where immune surveillance is ineffective. An NIH study soon confirmed this. The virus could persist, reactivating when we become old, sick, or weak. The weight of evidence now suggests that 'Covid' and 'long Covid' could become 'lifelong Covid'. Opportunistic...
Article
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Pandemic Covid-19 has exposed tension between personal choice and public health policy. Vaccination has damped pan� demic inertia in the U.S., but emergence of highly infectious variants such as delta and omicron has increased infection of fully vaccinated people. This worrisome trend justifies vaccine booster eligibility and access for all vaccina...
Article
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In the Fall of 2021, the US FDA and CDC expanded eligibility for Pfizer Covid-19 booster shots but imposed inadvisable restrictions. Two issues support unrestricted booster eligibility: SARS-CoV-2 is strongly selected for exploiting personal immunological weaknesses, resulting in weakened immune protection and slower immune response with increasing...
Article
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This study explored the degree to which High School biology teachers in three Latin American countries embraced the religious concept of teleology or used it to motivate religious students to accept Darwinian evolution's scientific theory. The countries were (in increasing religiosity order): Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. We administered a one-it...
Article
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The Biden Administration wisely is promoting a farsighted infrastructure bill, costing trillions of dollars. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg described it as “generational.” The bill deserves bipartisan and unanimous support, in the context of the adage “penny-wise, dollar-foolish.” (19) (PDF) Michaels, Robert A. Infrastructure plan invest...
Article
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The perilous arrival of the Mars rover Perseverance at Jezero Crater on 18 February 2021 inspires me to place two of its technologies in a larger perspective.
Article
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Development of vaccines to protect against Covid-19 has progressed to clinical trials against a largely invisible background of rapid genetic evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA virus in the UK and other countries (Kupferschmidt, 8 January). The UK, however, has been a standout for detection of the B.1.1.7 variant and others. Coincidentally, the AstraZ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Citation: NFPA, including RA Michaels, et al. Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response; NFPA 704, 2022 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Classification and Properties of Hazardous Chemicals Data, 38 pages, 2020;
Article
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The need to adopt effective strategies to suppress our surging COVID-19 pandemic lends urgency to the question of whether schools should be open or closed. Infection risks at schools may be lower than at students’ homes. Many New Yorkers therefore advocate keeping non-residential elementary, middle and high schools open. This reasoning is simplist...
Article
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Pearson's Syndrome (PS) is a rare multisystemic mitochondriopathy caused by deletions and/or duplications in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). We describe a girl, age 3 years and 10 months, who was diagnosed with PS. The case highlights two main characteristics of PS: dysfunction in the hematopoietic system, and pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. The PS d...
Article
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The main purpose of the CEP (Certified Environmental Professional) credential, now four decades old, is to validate senior environmental practitioners. The CEP credential was instituted by the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) in 1979. That was a time of rapid growth in population, pollution, environmental specialties, and...
Article
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Tension exists between managing the current pandemic with economies open vs. closed. The optimum, as in New York State, embraces both sequentially. New York’s Covid-19 data responded predictably, enabling phased re-opening of regional economies. This is a tribute to science. In other states, as science deniers are tragically learning, inadequate da...
Article
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ABCEP Mentoring Program Robert A. Michaels and Jim Yawn, Co-Administrators Many of us have been influenced positively by people in our lives. If a Mentor has been one of those influences, you may already know how powerful that can be. One of the most valuable benefits of ABCEP membership is the Mentoring Program.
Article
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In our brave new pandemic world, risks of Covid-19 virus infection have skyrocketed. We missed the opportunity to limit U.S. cases mainly via isolating travelers from China and other hotbeds of infection, and their contacts. Further risk management now is urgent. The pandemic might end in the U.S. with less impact than flu, but only if we implemen...
Presentation
Full-text available
Concern about historic (‘legacy’) contaminants may be emerging as information about their toxic effects and toxic potency increases, and with discovery of their presence at toxic levels in various environmental media. Two classes of substances exemplify such concerns: lead (Pb) and its compounds, and perfluorinated compounds (PFAs). PFAs have been...
Article
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As a heavy metal industrially mined for millenia, lead (Pb) is a legacy contaminant. It is also a contaminant of emerging concern because of its persistence, toxicity, and recent discovery of its resurgence in drinking water serving homes and schools, recently and most notoriously in Flint, Michigan. Concern about lead, however, has re-emerged beyo...
Article
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Does nature have rights, or do such rights inhere to people based upon their “natural right” to enjoy nature and benefit from its ecosystem services? Chapron, et al. (2019) address this issue in Science (29 March). Natural rights, including the divine right of kings to rule, derive from the Doctrine of Natural Law, which also has been cited as the...
Article
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Background: Cancers collectively pose a major public health challenge globally. Lung cancer is among the most common and deadly cancer types, but its incidence and mortality rates in small- and medium-sized municipalities may be difficult to explain adequately where inadequate data collection hampers health studies. Objective: to investigate lung c...
Article
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Telecommunication generates electromagnetic fields (EMFs) at radio and microwave frequencies. Transmitters have proliferated with siting of wireless communication networks, often co-located among other transmitters. ‘Cell’ phones also have proliferated, representing small transmitters used in contact with human heads, and stored on human bodies. Te...
Article
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Talent drives baseball standings, but team performance is an emergent phenomenon that resists reductionism; much variation remains unexplained. Performance ultimately depends upon efficiency: optimizing resource allocation to balance competing offensive and defensive imperatives. This kind of efficiency, however, typically is unquantified. We defin...
Article
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Nature has inspired awe throughout history, stimulating scientific study often conflicting with theology. Conflict is manifest as promotion of creationism and its euphemisms in school curricula, and science denial, recently in the U.S. Government. Unification, however, is an emerging reality for the science/ religion relationship, driven by converg...
Article
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Describing research on microplastics pollution in oceans, rivers, lakes, and terrestrial environments, Chelsea M. Rochman (Science, 6 April 2018) ignores the more fundamental issue of the permissive regulatory environment that allowed such pollution to occur despite warnings as early as the 1970s. The field of ‘emerging contaminants’ is replete wit...
Article
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The privatized, ‘quasi-public’ U.S. Postal Service is the largest commercial entity sending and delivering letters and packages. USPS vehicles drive a billion miles/year, visit 150 million addresses/day, and stimulate fossil fuel mining and vehicle pollutant emissions, with potentially significant environmental impacts and public health risks. Send...
Conference Paper
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Technology, where he investigated surface behavior of mine tailings water that had been contaminated with heavy metal ions: zinc, lead, copper and mercury. He has designed remediation systems for pollution abatement of aquifers, stripping systems for the removal of MTBE (methyl-tert-butyl ether) and other volatile organic compounds from water, and...
Conference Paper
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Modern environmental regulation prioritizes pollution prevention, but persistent ‘legacy contaminants’ already have been disseminated. Examples include arsenic, lead, chlorinated dioxins, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), PFCs, and radioactive fallout. Risks posed by so...
Article
Full-text available
Making measurable that which is not measurable often is a critically important responsibility of public health professionals, for example to identify environmental causes of cancer clusters as a valuable step toward addressing them. In epidemiology such associations cannot be measured directly, but they can be inferred probabilistically. The approp...
Article
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The controversial decision to ban fracking in New York State, most notably in the Marcellus Shale formation, was informed by global, national, state, and local issues that have general relevance. Without prejudging whether fracking can be undertaken safely, we discuss the science of fracking, focusing primarily on widely reported public health and...
Article
Full-text available
Modem environmental regulation prioritizes pollution prevention, but persistent "legacy contaminants" already have been disseminated. Examples include arsenic , lead, chlorinated dioxins, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltri-chloroethane), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), PFCs, and radioactive fallout. Risks posed by s...
Article
Full-text available
We have studied the proposal to dredge, and its implementation, since 2007. Our contributions regarding reasonably anticipated and actual project effectiveness were ignored in EPA’s first five-year evaluation and in its proposed second five-year review. Our studies, ignored by EPA, focused on all stages of the dredging proposal, starting with EPA's...
Article
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The trend toward increasing frequency and intensity of storms has exacerbated mold and other moisture-related health problems, and can be extrapolated to the future. Mold growth therefore exhibits increasing significance in the context of changing climate. The decades-old hypothesis of mold causation and/or exacerbation of asthma previously has bee...
Article
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GE recently completed a seven-year US EPA-mandated clamshell dredging project to remediate PCB contamination of the Hud-son River. Post-project PCB levels in water and fish, however, are higher than anticipated, suggesting to some the need to extend the project to remove more PCB-bearing sediments. Our investigation of the effectiveness of the dred...
Article
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For baseball teams as elsewhere, efficiency contributes to bottom-line performance. The efficiency statistic, proposed and defined here, is maximized when a team scores just one more run than each opponent in each game. The efficiency statistic becomes sub-maximum in proportion to excess scoring, defined here as when runs scored in games won could...
Article
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Legacy contaminants, those predating modern environmental statutes, are exemplified by arsenic, lead, chlorinated dioxins, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), PFCs, and radioactive fallout. Some pose risks recognized for decades. Concern about others is emerging. Until re...
Article
Full-text available
The main purpose of the CEP (Certified Environmental Professional) credential, now approaching four decades old, is to validate senior environmental practitioners. The CEP credential was instituted by the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) in 1979, in an era of rapid growth in population, pollution, environmental specialties...
Article
Full-text available
Citation: Michaels, Robert A.. Perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) in the Village of Hoosick Falls, Rensselaer County, New York: health risks and successive approximation toward enforceable national standards. Albany, New York State Bar Association, NYSBA New York Environmental Lawyer, 36(2):88-111, Fall 2016.
Presentation
Full-text available
Testimony before a joint New York State Assembly and Senate hearing on drinking water quality and contamination, Standing Committees on Health and Standing Committees on Environmental Conservation; Albany, New York State Assembly and Senate, 6 pages, 7 September 2016
Presentation
Full-text available
Testimony on drinking water contamination with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) before the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Health and Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation; Albany, New York State Senate, 5 pages, 30 August 2016;
Article
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Michaels, Robert. Comment on Cristian Tomasetti and Bert Vogelstein, Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions; Science, 347(6217):78-81, 2 January 2015; Comment posted at http://comments.sciencemag.org/content/10.1126/science.1260825, 31 January 2015. Tomasetti and Vogelstein pessimistically repo...
Technical Report
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“Fracking,” short for “hydrofracturing,” in New York State would enable drillers to extract gas from vast deposits in the Marcellus shale, which also extends into Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. The Southern Tier and Western New York State include a high proportion of economically depressed areas that might benefit from fracking if done corr...
Article
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Phase 1 of Hudson River dredging fractionally reduced the amount of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated sediment remaining in the river bottom, but greatly increased its downstream transport, as “clamshell” dredge buckets leaked more material than they retained. Clamshells were especially inefficient at capturing liquid PCBs and PCBs adsorb...
Article
Full-text available
As voters, automobile drivers, and home owners with oil-burning furnaces, we must count ourselves among those responsible for the recent Gulf of Mexico oil blowout involving the Macondo mine and Deepwater Horizon oil rig. We may fail to realize how toxic gasoline and number 2 fuel oil are. As a toxicologist who has addressed oil industry risks to h...
Article
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c1 Address correspondence to: Robert A. Michaels, President, RAM TRAC Corporation, 3100 Rosendale Road, Schenectady, NY 12309; (phone) 518-785-0976; (email) bam@ramtrac.com
Article
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The US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) baseline Hudson River health risk assessment (HRA) is evaluated and found to be biased toward keeping polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in sediments. The HRA systematically mis-quantified parameters, underestimating PCB movement from sediments to water and from water to air. The EPA excluded from it...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Citation: NFPA. Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response; NFPA 704, 2007 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Classification and Properties of Hazardous Chemicals Data, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.32358.01608, 21 pages, 28 July 2006.
Article
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Environmental Biotechnology: Concepts and Applications. Hans-Joachim Jördening and Josef Winter, eds. 2005. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York. 488 pp. $160 cloth. Environmental Biotechnology: Concepts and Applications, edited by Hans-Joachim Jördening and Josef Winter, is the most recent of six Wiley environmental and wastewater microbiology titles...
Article
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For decades, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has considered dredging the Hudson River to remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The cost would be hundreds of millions of dollars initially, and over a billion dollars cumulatively, for limited PCB "hotspot" dredging. The USEPA now has postponed dredging to 2007, allowing t...
Article
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As figuratively as chess simulates military combat on a game board, land mines actualize consequences of combat on wartime battlefields and beyond. Global activism for years has protested land mine use because of its nonmilitary human consequences, but land mines also have environmental consequences. Though eclipsed by the human consequences, the e...
Article
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In the film “A Few Good Men” Marine Corps Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) defends against Castro’s bullets entering U.S. air space over a literal ‘wall’ at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Marine Base. Like the U. S. Ma� rines, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must defend a more figurative ‘wall’ against smaller, more insidious forms o...
Technical Report
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Citation: NFPA. Code for the Storage of Organic Peroxide Formulations; NFPA 432, 2002 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Hazardous Chemicals, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.34035.73768, 23 pages, 19 July 2002.
Technical Report
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Citation: NFPA. Code for the Storage of Pyroxylin Plastic; NFPA 42, 2002 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Hazardous Chemicals, 10.13140/RG.2.2.12225.35682, 15 pages, 19 July 2002.
Technical Report
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Citation: NFPA. Code for the Storage of Pesticides; NFPA 434, 2002 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Hazardous Chemicals, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.25647.12964, 14 pages, 19 July 2002.
Technical Report
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Citation: NFPA. Code for the Storage of Ammonium Nitrate; NFPA 490, 2002 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Hazardous Chemicals, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.18936.24328, 11 pages, 19 July 2002.
Article
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A prerequisite to technology transfer is community acceptance of a new technology to be transferred. Health risk assessment is the instrument typically used for evaluating technologies relative to public health issues, which often constitute one basis for community concern about a technology. Technology transfer, therefore, also depends upon commun...
Technical Report
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Citation: NFPA. Hazardous Chemicals Data; NFPA 49, 1994 Edition, Revised 2001. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Classification and Properties of Hazardous Chemicals Data, 163 pages (1994), DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.20613.96487, 170 pages, 2001.
Technical Report
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Citation: NFPA. Standard for the Storage and Handling of Cellulose Nitrate Film; NFPA 40, 2001 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Hazardous Chemicals, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.27324.85122, 18 pages, 13 July 2001.
Article
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The U.S. EPA has tightened control of fine particles primarily by limiting maximum 24 h average airborne concentrations. The present investigation used real-time monitoring to record short-term PM excursions and literature evaluation to determine whether PM levels reached in excursions might be health significant. Data recorded in Birmingham, AL, P...
Article
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This study models and assesses the significance of risks to health potentially posed to individuals exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to being occupationally engaged in cleaning petroleum storage tanks. Exposure processes include hydrocarbon vapor inhalation, ingestion via hand-to-mouth contact, and dermal exposure. Under confined sp...
Article
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Ammonia is present in agriculture and commerce in many if not most communities. This report evaluates the toxic potency of ammonia, based on three types of data: anecdotal data, in some cases predating World War I, reconstructions of contemporary industrial accidents, and animal bioassays. Standards and guidelines for human exposure have been drive...
Article
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National Advisory Committee's Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs) for ammonia are critically evaluated. The technical bases for concern about AEGL-2 and AEGL-3 values derived by the committee are summarized recommendations made.
Article
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PM10 levels within the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) 24-hour, 150-μg/M standard have been associated with mortality and morbidity, which remain causally unexplained. EPA's standard, refocused on PM2.5, has been adjusted downward, assuming that effects observed daily are caused by daily exposures. Real-time particulate matter (PM) monito...
Article
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The National Advisory Committee on Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (NAC AEGL) decided to propose AEGL values for ammonia, which are lower than RAM TRAC recommendations. The values are generally too low by a factor of approximately 4.5, producing Emergency Planning Zone areas generally 20 times greater than necessary around facilities exceeding thre...
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Technical Report
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Citation: NFPA. Guide To Hazardous Chemical Reactions; NFPA 491, 1997 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Classification and Properties of Hazardous Chemicals Data, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.23969.40805, 226 pages, 24 July 1997.
Conference Paper
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Twenty-four-hour airborne particles mass levels permissible under National Ambient Air Quality Standard have been associated with mortality and morbidity in communities, motivating reconsideration of the standard whether 24-hour-average particle levels might encompass significant, undetected excursions. Toxicology experiments have demonstrated the...
Article
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Recent studies associate 24 hr PM10 levels within EPA's 150 μg/M standard with significantly morbidity and mortality. These findings remain unexplained toxicologically. This study documents the contribution of brief airborne particle excursions to 24 hr average particle levels, and evaluates the possible public health significance of such excursion...
Technical Report
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Citation: AIA. 1996-97 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospital and Health Care Facilities. Washington, DC; American Institute of Architects, AIA Press, ISBN 1-55835-151-5, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.13903.07841, xi + 143 pages, 1996.
Technical Report
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Citation: NFPA. Fire Hazard Properties of Flammable Liquids, Gases, and Volatile Solids; NFPA 325, 1994 Edition. Quincy, Massachusetts; National Fire Protection Association, Technical Committee on Classification and Properties of Hazardous Chemicals Data, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.17258.52169, 94 pages, 14 July 1994.
Article
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Article
Nature is the international weekly journal of science: a magazine style journal that publishes full-length research papers in all disciplines of science, as well as News and Views, reviews, news, features, commentaries, web focuses and more, covering all branches of science and how science impacts upon all aspects of society and life.
Article
Full-text available
Nature is the international weekly journal of science: a magazine style journal that publishes full-length research papers in all disciplines of science, as well as News and Views, reviews, news, features, commentaries, web focuses and more, covering all branches of science and how science impacts upon all aspects of society and life.
Article
Full-text available
The degree to which society will come to accept potential health risks associated with municipal waste-to-energy plants depends on three factors: the reliability with which exposure and adverse health effects associated with facility emissions can be described, quantified, and gradually reduced; the relative magnitude of the risks compared with tho...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This section addresses three issue areas relating to radon and health, only the first of which is central to the science of environmental toxicology: Risk Assessment, or the measure of how much risk is associated with given exposures; Risk Management, the attempt to control the degree of risk; and Acceptable Risks, or how much risk does society...