Thursday, May 26, 2011

Heading home....

Last night a bunch of us walked into Canada and saw the beauty of Niagara Falls. They are beautiful to look at, and very powerful. The Falls are one stop you show experience in your lifetime. I wish we had time to go on the Maid of the Mist, but we have a tight schedule. Some of us got caught in the rain, some worse off than others.

Today we left the hotel in the rain, but when we got to Love Canal the rain stopped. First, thanks to John P from Glenn Springs Holdings to for hosting us. John provided a nice overview and history of the Love Canal. The tour included a look at the treatment facility on site. Then we walked on the cap of the Love Canal site. The site looks park-like, with a few monitoring wells around the perimeter.

Love Canal is a main reason for the development of the Superfund and the listing of National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites. Love Canal was de-listed in 2004, and now is in a monitoring and treatment operation.

We are now heading back towards home. We had a great week, learned a lot, and had great fun doing it. It was a pleasure spending a week with everyone! And also a great big thanks to Peter, our driver. He got us everywhere safe and sound!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Today we were welcomed into the Materion Brush facility in Elmore, OH. They manufacture and produce beryllium products. They walked us through the different manufacturing processes they have on site, including extrusion, coils, rod and tubes, and pure beryllium. We learned about the safety procedures put in place to protect the workers from beryllium exposure, and were provided with an in depth discussion of medical issues related to beryllium exposure. Dr. Deubner discussed the research he has conducted on why and how they set their exposure limits for their workplace.

For the tour we donned PPE, including full face PAPR, tyvek suits, and booties. By wearing PPE, it gives our participants a sense of what workers experience as they have to work in PPE ensembles. And looking back to our visit at NIOSH, we can see the value of the research they are conducting on PPE and respiratory protective devices.

Thanks to Dr.Deubner, Mike Berakis, Keith Smith, and all the other staff at Materion Brush for hosting us and provide such a valuable learning opportunity for our program.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday, we must be in....

Tuesday we must be in….. Detroit. Well, actually Dearborn and Livonia. We started the day at the Ford River Rouge Factory Tour. They assemble Ford F-150 pickup trucks, as well as a few specialty versions of the pickup. Two versions are the Raptor and the Harley Davidson special models of the truck. The tour is provides an excellent overview of the River Rouge Plant, and the history of Ford. Then we viewed the assembly plant from a catwalk around the assembly line.

After lunch, we visited the Livonia Transmission Plant. They showed us two process lines. The new process line is much more computerized, and uses robotics and computers to move parts. These advances in ergonomics has had a significant effect on the reduction of repetitive motion injuries, strains, and other musculoskeletal injuries. The Health and Safety staff from the UAW provided a great overview of the H&S program, and provided a wealth of information for us.

Monday, May 23, 2011

ERC Historical Perspectives Tour 2011 - Pittsburgh

Two great tours today. We started the day with a visit to the Carrie Furnace/Homestead Steel. We were on the Rivers of Steel Hardhat Tours ( The tour started in the Bost Building, where we saw an overview of the Homestead Site, and learned how steel is manufactured. In 1892 the Bost Building served as headquarters for the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. We drove over the Carrie Furnaces, two of the last blast furnaces left. The Carrie Furnaces were in operation for over 100 years, ending in the 1980s.They produced molten iron, which was transported across a “hot metal bridge” over the Monongahela to be made into steel. At its height, Carrie Furnaces employed over 4000 workers.Now, it is just another relic of our industrial heritage. But we are glad we had the opportunity to see it. Thanks to our excellent guides, Bob and Sam, who provided an enormous amount of information about the history and workings of the steel industry.

After the steel tour, we visited the NIOSH Personal Protective Technology Lab. Ed provided an overview of the activities that take place at the NIOSH PPTL. Then we toured three of the labs.The first was the lab that tests facial shapes to determine the best fit of respiratory protection.They image a face to create a 3-D image of the head, so they can identify how best to fit a respirator. The second lab was the physiology lab, where they test different types of PPE and how it effects the body. The third lab was the fit testing lab, which includes testing and certifying of all respirators. We thank the Staff at the PPTL for hosting us and providing such a comprehensive and informative visit. (And thanks to NIOSH!)

We are driving to Detroit, and look forward to our visit to Ford River Rouge and Livonia Transmission.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The first stop on the tour was the Lackawanna Coal Mine. The coal mine, located in Scranton, PA was mined from 1860 – 1966. Although this is not an active mine, they provide an excellent opportunity to learn about coal mining issues. Children as young as 8 years old worked in the mines, performing very dangerous jobs. Our tour guideprovided a lot of information about the dangers of mining, including explosions, collapses, and other safety and health issues. We all remember the tragedies in West Virginia, and the miraculous Chilean mine rescue, that have occurred in mines over the last few years. Seeing the conditions first hand puts those events into perspective.

We are now heading to Pittsburgh for tomorrow’s tour of the steel mill and a visit to the NIOSH Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.

Monday, May 16, 2011

ERC Historical Perspectives Tour 2011

We are almost ready to go on our 2011 Historical Perspectives Tour. We leave on May 22. The tour will visit the Lackawanna Coal Mine, Carrie Furnaces/Homestead Steel, Ford River Rouge, Brush Wellman Beryllium, and Love Canal. We are excited to have 18 ERC students and 10 faculty attending the tour.

Stay tunes for more information and pictures from our tour.