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Apologies for Cross-Postings
>Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 09:47:14 -0800
>From: "Mark Bowers" <>
>To: <>
>Forwarded from Kate Krebs at NRC [National Recycling Coalition], the 
>attached is detailed, practical information on protecting our industry's 
>workers from hazards posed by bioterrorism and related threats.
>Mark Bowers
>Solid Waste Program Manager
>City of Sunnyvale
>Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum


ISSUED:  November 6, 2001 (As new information on these issues becomes 
available, this guidance will be updated.)

         Anthrax spores have been intentionally released through the U.S. 
postal system and potentially other sources.  As of this writing, this 
bioterrorist action is directly affecting a limited number of post offices 
in parts of Florida, New Jersey, New York and the Washington D.C. metro 
area.  (For more information on affected post offices, see the United 
States Postal Service web site at and click on the "Security 
of Mail" icon).

What is Anthrax and How Does It Spread?

         Although the chances of spreading diseases such as anthrax are 
very slim, many employees and their managers have legitimate concerns about 
their personal safety.  Anthrax can be transmitted by inhalation, direct 
skin contact or ingestion.  Inhalation is the most dangerous.  Anthrax 
cannot be spread from person-to-person.  Direct contact with anthrax spores 
is necessary to contract the disease.  As of this writing (November 6), 
8800 postal employees have been tested for anthrax and only seven confirmed 
cases of anthrax poisoning have been found.

           For information describing the symptoms of possible anthrax 
exposure, see the Center for Disease Control anthrax information site at  The CDC's "Interim Recommendations for Protecting Workers 
 From exposure to Bacillus anthracis in Work Sites Where Mail Is Handled or 
Processed" can also be found at that site.  Always check the CDC site for 
updated information.

         For the solid waste and recycling industry, the primary concern 
about exposure is in those facilities, whether transfer stations, disposal 
facilities, or materials recovery facilities, that receive waste or 
recyclables from facilities identified as contaminated by 
anthrax.  Exposures are likely to be highest in areas such as tipping 
floors, sorting lines and baling stations where high levels of dust can be 
found.  Employees who work in these areas or who have direct contact with 
potentially exposed wastes or recyclables may be the most likely to be exposed.

         Federal health and environmental authorities have not issued 
guidance to the solid waste industry for steps we should take to avoid 
exposure of our workers to contaminated material.   Based on discussions 
with companies involved in collecting and disposing garbage and infectious 
medical waste and collecting and processing recyclables, other associations 
whose members are engaged in solid waste management, and with Federal 
officials, NSWMA suggests the following as appropriate responses.


1.      Garbage and recyclables should not be collected at sites declared 
to be contaminated by relevant authorities.

2.      If garbage or recyclables are taken from sites that are declared to 
be contaminated after the materials were collected, those materials should 
not be placed in a transfer station or processed at a MRF.  Those materials 
should be placed in quarantine until a determination has been made about 
their safe disposition.

3.      For locations of contaminated sites, check with local police and 
the United States Postal Service.

4.      In incidents of bioterrorism, the public health authorities are 
likely to make the determination if waste generated at the contaminated 
facility is itself contaminated.  In the final instance, if the waste or 
recyclables are not declared contaminated, it is up to the hauler to decide 
how to handle the material.  Written documentation by public health or 
police authorities should be obtained when material to be collected from 
contaminated sites is declared not to be contaminated.  This documentation 
allows haulers and recyclers to make an informed decision on whether to 
accept the materials and what additional precautions, if any, should be taken.


Instructions to an employee upon whom a powder or other unknown and 
suspicious substance spills from an envelope or who is otherwise 
contaminated by such a substance:

1.      Don't panic.  The chances of contamination from suspect materials 
are very slim.

2.      Don't try to clean or wash up the substance.

3.      Leave the room and close the door or section off the area to 
prevent others from entering.

4.      Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to prevent spreading 
the substance to your face.

5.      Immediately report the incident to your supervisor who will report 
it to the police.

6.      Remove heavily contaminated clothing as soon as possible and place 
in a plastic bag, or some other container that can be sealed.  This 
clothing bag should be given to the emergency responders for proper handling.

7.      Shower with soap and water as soon as possible.  Do not use bleach 
or other disinfectant on your skin.

8.      List all people who were in the room or area, especially any who 
had actual contact with the substance.  Give this list to the local public 
heath authorities so that proper instructions can be given for medical 
follow-up and to law enforcement officials.


Instructions to an employee who suspects the contaminant is sprayed or 

1.      Turn off local fans or ventilation units.

2.      Leave the area immediately.

3.      Close the door or section off the area to keep others away.

4.      Report the incident to your supervisor and local police.

5.      List all the people who were in the room or area and give the list 
to local public health and law enforcement authorities.

Protections for employees on a picking line in a MRF or a transfer station:

1.      Follow current company policy on use of latex gloves (or 
alternatives for those with latex allergies) and dust masks.

2.      Two strap masks are considered respirators under OSHA rules (see 29 
CFR 1910.134 at  for the 
regulation OR for the 
full Federal Register notice and explanation of the final rule).  Proper 
recordkeeping, respirator fit testing and training must be provided.  Note 
that the CDC currently recommends N95 respirators for persons working with 
or near machinery capable of generating aerosolized particles or at other 
work sites where such particles may be generated.

For more information on anthrax and other potential bioterrorist spread 
diseases, go the Center for Disease Control web site at   You 
can also contact Edward Mazzullo, Director, Hazardous Materials Standards, 
U.S. DOT, RSPA, 202-366-8553 or


General Rules to protect drivers and other operational employees:

1.      Employees should always practice good personal hygiene.

2.      Employees should wear the appropriate personal protective equipment 
in accordance with company policy.

3.      Employees should wash hands before rubbing face or eyes or before 
eating and drinking.

4.      Employees who smoke should wash hands before smoking.

5.      Employees should be alert for chemical substances in the trash and 
recyclables you collect.  Any employee who comes across suspicious 
materials should immediately notify his or her supervisor.

Protecting trucks, containers and facilities:

1.      Companies should control access to all solid waste management 
yards, including transfer stations, MRFs, disposal facilities and truck yards.

2.      Companies should inventory trucks daily.

3.      Companies should take normal precautions to ensure trucks are not 
stolen including control over truck keys, rules against drivers leaving 
trucks unattended with the keys in the ignition or the motor unattended, etc.

4.      Companies should inventory customer keys and ensure that they are 
provided only to drivers that must have them.

5.      Employees should immediately report missing vehicles to the police, 
the FBI and management.

6.      Employees should be alert to suspicious circumstances and unusual 
conditions in the work yard and on the route.

7.      Employees should follow their instincts if something doesn't look 
right such as:

       Missing containers
       Containers closer to the building from their usual location
       Unusual containers not consistent with the customer or your company
       Trucks and containers parked in locations that don't make sense
       Unauthorized persons driving company trucks or making inquiries 
about company trucks or equipment
       Any unusual or suspicious circumstance

Gary Liss
Fax: 916-652-0485

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