Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Trimet toxic environment

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Some time ago someone told me that the carbon monoxide detectors were not working at the Clackamas Town Center layover garage.  So I decided to take a look for myself, to see if the story was true, last week I was in the area and took a stroll over to the parking garage.  While there I was asking questions of fellow drivers to see if they knew about the detectors not working, of which no one had any idea.  Since I had not been in that garage for some time, I noticed a faint smell of what can be described as a “slight hint of bleach-water” (although carbon monoxide is lighter than air and is odorless).  I was there maybe 8 minutes or less, but within another 10 minutes I felt light-headed with a little nausea.
Some facts concerning carbon monoxide exposure are:  When carbon monoxide passes through the lungs, it enters the red blood cells and binds to hemoglobin in the same place as oxygen. This forms carboxyhemoglobin, which interferes with the transportation and gas exchange of oxygen in the red blood cells. This starves the body of oxygen, permanently damages brain and lung tissue, and induces suffocation. Perhaps most troubling is that before symptoms turn lethal, they may come off as symptoms of a flu or cold, such as shortness of breath, nausea, or mild headaches.
Some facts concerning treatment are:  High-dose oxygen, usually using a facemask attached to an oxygen reserve bag.  Carbon monoxide levels in the blood may be periodically checked until they are low enough to safely send the patient home.  In severe poisoning, if available, a hyperbaric pressure chamber may be used to provide even higher doses of oxygen to the patient.  But the most important thing is to remover yourselves from that environment.
In an article done the KGW recently (May 23, 2016), talked about the relationship between diesel fumes and cancer.  Some of the points in the article include:  Diesel emissions are putting 90 percent of Oregonians at an increased risk of getting cancer, according to a new study by the Oregon Environmental Council.  That "it" is pollution that according to a new study can carry a toxic combination of chemicals and heavy metals. "There is no safe level of diesel particles," said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis.  "In the long run, heart attacks, strokes and cancer are three of the biggest killers all made worse by diesel exhaust," he said. "There's estimates that as many as 400 deaths here in Oregon could be attributed each year to diesel pollution," said Jen Coleman with the Oregon Environmental Council, which authored the study. The group found diesel pollution levels in 90 percent of the state were above the state safety benchmark.   In Multnomah County, those levels were ten times what the state considers safe. (
Lastly, this subject has been brought up by another operator to the company and the union for years with no corrective action.  As frontline workers we are vulnerable to this type of toxic environment, we need to raise awareness of our health issues when they arise.  In our ongoing struggle with our company over healthcare and cost, we have to look at prevention as a way to cut healthcare cost expenditures.  While I’m not talking “before or after work” with things like T.E.I, I’m talking about “during work” like “preventative maintenance.”  In this case the detectors have not worked in years and currently are just ornaments on columns with no power.  Another thing that was raised was the removal of 2/3rds of those detectors since the garage opened.  So if there is no detection of high levels of carbon monoxide/ diesel fumes then no exhaust fans to draw it out.  We should stay out of this area for extended periods of time; so if you have layovers please (due to over exposure to carbon monoxide/ diesel fumes) Turn off you vehicles, get out of the bus (take your lunch with you) and get out of the garage area; your long-term health depends on it.  
This should not be treated as a joke because we as frontline workers know or have known fellow workers who have/had cancer.  We just lost another one recently and that should be a wakeup call to protect our health at all times.  Even in an environment where the company wants to cut costs and push more and more costs onto the worker.
This is a massive SAFTEY HAZARD for workers and the general public, who are waiting in the same area to catch their busses.
Henry Beasley
Your Brother on the Front lines

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