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Avatar universal

STRONG rubber/latex small in pharmacy--health risks?

Dear LungLine Nurse,

Our nearest Costco pharmacy is immediately beside their Costco tire installation center.  You guessed it, they share air conditioning with the Tire Shop & the pharmacy has a VERY STRONG odor of tires and latex.

I've become very close to many of the folks who work in the pharmacy and asked them whether there are health concerns for THEM as employees.  They said they've asked several air conditioning experts (but NO medical opinions).  I promised them I'd get info from a WONDERFUL medical resource about health risks of them inhaling these very strong odors day in & day out.  In fact, the smell was so strong, it drove me & another customer outside the building to wait (she is asthmatic & diebetic; I'm emphysematic, asthmatic & allergic).  In particular, I would suspect that this constant high level of exposure MAY increase the employees' likelihood of developing latex allergies & other health problems.  Is that correst?

Anyway, I'd appreciate any insights you could offer about risks to the customers, contamination of the medications, and risks to the pharmacy workers of smelling the STRONG rubber/latex smells in the pharmacy every day, all day.  I promise to share this information with the head pharamcist there, as to health risks to him & the other employees, the meds, and the customers.  Thank you very much!  Happy Holidays!

10 Responses
251132 tn?1198082422
Here are 2 websites that are good resources:
http://www.osha.gov where you will find further information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); and
http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult.html where the employer may request a no cost OSHA consultation.
Avatar universal
Sorry for the typo. the title should read, "STRONG rubber/latex SMELL in pharmacy--health risks?"  Thanks!  Aloha, Starion
Avatar universal
Oh yeah, the air conditioning folks keep telling them that "SMELLS can't harm anyone's health."  Starion
Avatar universal
Reference on pharmacy air quality at:

This is the html version of the file http://www.hermanmiller.com/hm/content/category/products/crgs0699.pdf

Maybe Federal & state OSHA should be notified, and State Board of Pharmacy. As well as COSTCO management. There are issues of safety to workers as well as safety of pharmacy products, due to poor air quality.

Also see:
"The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality"

United States Environmental Protection Agency and the
United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6604J)
EPA Document # 402-K-93-007, April 1995

Avatar universal
Excerpts from http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/insidest.html#Susproblem

"What to Do if You Suspect a Problem

If you or others at your office are experiencing health or comfort problems that you suspect may be caused by indoor air pollution, you can do the following:

*Talk with other workers, your supervisor, and union representatives to see if the problems are being experienced by others and urge that a record of reported health complaints be kept by management, if one has not already been established.

*Talk with your own physician and report your problems to the company physician, nurse, or health and safety officer.

*Call your state or local health department or air pollution control agency to talk over the symptoms and possible causes.

*You can encourage building management to follow guidance in EPA's IAQ Building Education and Assessment Model (I-BEAM).  I-BEAM updates and expands EPA's existing Building Air Quality guidance and is designed to be comprehensive state-of-the-art guidance for managing IAQ in commercial buildings.  This guidance was designed to be used by building professionals and others interested in indoor air quality in commercial buildings.

*Obtain a copy of "An Office Building Occupant's Guide to Indoor Air Quality,"EPA-402-K-97-003, October 1997 from IAQ INFO at 1-800-438-4318.

*Call the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for information on obtaining a health hazard evaluation of your office (800-35NIOSH), or contact the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, (202) 219-8151.
Avatar universal
I will pass them on to the pharmacy, but they're hoping for some more definitive information about the genuine health threat or risks (if any) to them (& the folks in the tire shop) from these fumes.  I'm hoping we'll receive info specific to these tire fumes.
Avatar universal
I'll look up these sites & pass the info on to the affected employees to pursue as they prefer.  Appreciate your thoughts and help.
Avatar universal
I'll pass on your suggestion, but really wanted some technical info about what breathing these fumes might be exposing these employees (& those of the tire shop) to.  As you may understand, theyr'e reluctant to "cause trouble" without FIRM medical info, so I'm trying to get them that medical info.  If the problem isn't fixed, I can always say it will cause them to lose customers, especially those of us with respiratory problems already (though it hasn't triggered my lungs--yet).

Avatar universal
Another thought is to contact your local OSHA in HI. See:
Hawaii OSH Complaint Handling Process

"HIOSH Complaint Handling Process

HIOSH evaluates each complaint to determine how it can be
handled best--an off-site investigation or an on-site inspection.
Workers who would like an on-site inspection must submit a
written request. Workers who complain have the right to have
their names withheld from their employers, and HIOSH will not
reveal this information. At least one of the following eight criteria must be met for HIOSH to conduct an on-site inspection:
Phone/Fax Investigation

HIOSH's phone/fax method enables the agency to respond more
quickly to hazards where none of the eight criteria listed above
are met or where the employee or employee representative
requests the phone/fax method.
Evaluating Employee Complaints

Before beginning an inspection, HIOSH staff must be able to
determine from the complaint that there are reasonable grounds
to believe that a violation of an OSHA/Hawaii standard or a safety or health hazard exists.
States Operating Approved Safety and Health Programs

States with OSHA-approved state plans provide the same protections to workers as federal OSHA, although they may follow
slightly different complaint processing procedures"
Avatar universal
There are many sources of pollution in a tire shop including respirable particulates, solvent & other chemical fumes, exhaust fumes from vehicles being driven in and out. I think a sample of air would need to be analyzed to see what all is there. There is also the question of how many times per hour the air is changed inside the shop, especially since its closed with A/C.

Another link: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/
NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:

   Indoor Environmental Quality
" "Indoor Environmental Quality" refers to the interactions among many factors in indoor environments, including the quality of the air (e.g., air flow, the presence of chemical or microbiological agents), physical conditions such as temperature and humidity, ergonomic factors, and stressors from social/psychological or work organizational factors.

The most common health complaints attributed by building occupants to their indoor environments are generally of nonspecific symptoms, such as eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation, headache, and fatigue. Specific causal exposures or
known diseases usually cannot be linked to these complaints. Available evidence relates these acute symptoms to multiple factors in the indoor environment.

NIOSH investigators have found IEQ problems caused by ventilation system deficiencies, overcrowding, offgassing from materials in the office and mechanical equipment, tobacco smoke, excessive moisture, microbiological contamination (e.g., mold), and outside air pollutants. "

A worker or customer could contact the HI OSH with an anonymous report. [customers are affected by IAQ too.]

The issue of the pharmacy being exposed to this same air is another question. Presumably when pills are repackaged from hermetic containers into smaller containers, this is done under a ventilation hood to prevent contamination from airborne fumes.
However the smaller containers are probably not hermetic. A customer could raise these concerns with COSTCO mgmt.

My .02, Ellis
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