September 2021 EHS News

By August 30, 2021 No Comments

Masks can reduce risk of Valley fever, Arizona experts say

Arizona has recorded more than 6,800 cases of Valley fever so far this year, according to July data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. Cases have steadily climbed every year since 2016, with the state reporting more than 11,400 cases last year.

Valley fever is a lung disease caused by the inhalation of Coccidioides,​​ a fungus common in the alkaline soil of the Sonoran Desert.

One way to protect yourself, doctors say, is by wearing something you likely already own: a mask.

“Wearing a mask, particularly an N95 mask, can also be a good way to prevent Valley fever,” said Dr. David Hatfield, chief medical officer at Hatfield Medical Group.

Two-thirds of the nation’s Valley fever cases are reported in Arizona, according to the state health department. In 2019, 18,407 cases of Valley fever were reported nationwide, most of them in Arizona and California, with the rest reported in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and “other states,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But those totals likely are an undercount: “Tens of thousands more illnesses likely occur and may be misdiagnosed because many patients are not tested for Valley fever,” the CDC said.

Valley fever can be undiagnosed because it has symptoms similar to COVID-19 and the flu – cough, fever, exhaustion, according to the state health department. Valley fever symptoms usually are mild, and the infection can’t be passed to others.

“Valley Fever – Protect Yourself Training” is a 30-minute online course offered by the Phylmar Academy that provides workers, employers, and others who are exposed to the Valley Fever fungus with the information they need to understand what the disease is, who is susceptible, what preventative measures to take, and how early detection, diagnosis and treatment can help to mitigate the severity of the symptoms. Visit—Protect-Yourself-Training.aspx


World’s climate scientists issue warning over global heating threat

The fires, floods and extreme weather seen around the world in recent months are a preview of what can be expected if global heating takes hold, scientists say, as the world’s leading authority on climate change warned of an imminent and dire risk to the global climate system.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published this summer the most comprehensive assessment yet, less than three months before vital UN talks that will determine the future course of life on Earth.

The IPCC, made up of hundreds of the world’s foremost climate scientists, publishes comprehensive assessments about every seven years, with this report the sixth since 1988.

Simon Lewis, professor of global change science at University College London, said: “We can’t know if the devastation of summer 2021 is the new normal without a few more years’ data. But what we do know is if emissions continue to rise, then increasingly severe climate impacts will occur.”


PRR is launching a series called “Coffee Roundtables” on Wednesday September 8th. Coffee Roundtables are an opportunity for PRR members to benchmark and have a live discussion on a hot topic EHS professionals are confronting. The first “episode” will be on COVID-19 & Returning to Work. Specifically, how members are preparing, implementing and responding to the new challenges of managing COVID-19 in the workplace, including vaccine requirements. Please contact Helen Cleary, for more information on how you can join PRR and have access to member-only events like this one and other exclusive resources.

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