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In this issue:
TeV Particle Astrophysics Meeting Highlights
New Course: Heat Illness Prevention
SLAC Safety Note: Avoiding Heat Stress

SLAC Today

Tuesday - July 21, 2009

TeV Particle Astrophysics Meeting Highlights

(Photo - TeV Particle Astrophysics 2009 participants)
Participants of the TeV Particle Astrophysics 2009 Conference. (Photo by Nicholas Bock.)

Last week SLAC hosted the TeV Particle Astrophysics 2009 conference, the fifth in a series of annual workshops exploring current results at the intersection of particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. There were more than 170 attendees, which was a record for this meeting and is one indication of a growing and very healthy field. With extra financial help from the Department of Energy Office of High Energy Physics, many graduate students and postdocs were able to attend. Exciting new results were presented by many experiments, reflecting expectations for tremendous progress in particle astrophysics in next few years. Provocative and exciting theoretical work was also strongly represented in the session presentations. Copies of the presentations can be downloaded from the conference Web site.

John Ellis of CERN gave the first talk, an overview of progress and expectations at the Large Hadron Collider. This very interesting overview set the tone of excellence for the conference. As invited speakers Persis Drell and Roger Blandford discussed in their conference summary talks on Friday, this meeting was successful at bringing together scientists from astrophysics and particle physics and having them learn much from their interchange of physics on the interface. Among many topics, there was a strong focus on the search for dark matter using direct and indirect detection techniques with many new experimental limits and theoretical interpretations, which is of particular interest to the high energy physics community.  Read more...

New Course: Heat Illness Prevention

The Environment, Safety and Health Division is offering a new course, #416 – Heat Illness Prevention. This course is for those who work in the sun and/or heat with the associated risk of heat-related illness. Supervisors of those workers should also take this course, as it addresses methods to recognize the risks of heat stress and appropriate preventative measures. For registration and more information, please see the course Web page.

SLAC Safety Notes

Avoiding Heat Stress

Whether working at home or here at SLAC, be aware of the potential for heat-related illness, especially when working for extended periods in the sun or any hot environment. To be prepared for the hot summer weather, know what to look for and how to protect yourself, your co-workers and your family.

People suffer heat-related illness when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded and sweating isn’t enough. If the body cannot dispose of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body's core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As this progresses, heat-related illness can occur.

The four heat disorders are, from least to most serious: heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating and looks like red clusters of pimples or small blisters that itch. Treating heat rash is simple—cooling off, bathing in cool water and using calamine lotion can help—and it usually does not require medical assistance. Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms or legs, that may occur in association with strenuous activity. Heat exhaustion develops after several days of exposure to high heat conditions and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Warning signs include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and even fainting. If you experience symptoms of heat cramps or heat exhaustion, stop work, cool down, check in with SLAC medical and be sure you’ve had enough water to drink.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency that can be fatal if not properly and promptly treated. You can lose concentration, have difficulty focusing on a task, and actually loose the desire to drink water. Other common symptoms include the absence of sweating, with hot, red or flushed dry skin. Cooling the victim of heat stroke is the first priority. And always call 911 immediately.

Environmental factors affecting the amount of heat stress a worker faces include air temperature and movement, relative humidity, and radiant heat from the sun and other sources. Conductive heat sources such as the ground, and workload severity and duration should also be considered. Additionally, protective clothing and personal protective equipment worn by employees can also affect the body’s ability to cool down.

Supervisors and employees should consider personal risk factors that can increase a person’s susceptibility to heat illness, including increased age, lack of acclimatization, health issues, insufficient water intake, alcohol or caffeine consumption, and use of prescription medications that affect the body's ability to retain water or other physiological responses to heat.

Steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heat stress include engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation, and instituting work practices like scheduling work breaks or scheduling outdoor tasks during the cooler parts of the day. Another important component is employee education such as the new course #416: Heat Illness Prevention.

Please direct any questions on this topic to John Shepardson (x4105).

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