Supplying the Beijing Olympics

Numerous U.S. companies provided safety, health, environmental, and security equipment for use during this month's games.

Billions of people beheld an Olympics of unprecedented size and beauty when the opening ceremony raised the curtain Aug. 8 on Beijing, China, home to 15 million residents. Their water system, fire protection, transportation, and air quality have been improved expressly to showcase this event, and American companies' products are involved in much of this transformation.

PPE. Beijing banned smoking in public places, including parks, on May 1, and China promised this would be a smoking-free Olympics. Not only did the Beijing fire brigade put several new fire stations in service for these games, but the department also developed and implemented a digital fire response system with help from Tsinghua University and other agencies. The system helps to pinpoint a fire's location, chooses the best route for responders, and dispatches firefighters. All 93 Olympics venues were equipped with this technology by the end of 2007. MSA China (part of Pittsburgh, Pa.-based MSA) provided SCBAs, thermal imaging cameras, and gas masks to the brigade and supplied fire helmets for use at the games' water sports venue.

A spokesman for the 3M Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division (St. Paul, Minn.) said the division was among "a number of 3M businesses providing a wide variety of products" to support the games. PPE provided by the unit to various Chinese health and Olympics agencies for use in preparation for the games included respiratory, hearing, eye protection, and reflective products. The company did not reveal how much of this equipment it provided.

Food safety. Screening efforts ahead of and during the games included use of DuPont Qualicon's BAX polymerase chain reaction detection system in food safety inspections by the Beijing Municipal Center for Food Safety Monitoring. Indeed, the November 2007 adoption of the Beijing Declaration on Food Safety underscored the concern about this area from China and the rest of the world. The adoption took place at a forum co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, China's Ministry of Health, and China's State Administration for Quality and Safety Inspection and Quarantine. The declaration urges all countries to develop comprehensive programs to improve consumer protections and to actively participate in the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN).

ARAMARK Corp. (Philadelphia, Pa.), official catering service provider for these games, expects to serve more than 3.5 million meals during the Aug. 8-24 Summer Olympics and the Sept. 6-17 Paralympic Games in Beijing. ARAMARK has about 10,000 employees in more than 15 Chinese cities providing facility management and food service for more than 200 health care operations, manufacturing and commercial office buildings, government organizations, and sporting events.

The DuPont (Wilmington, Del.) BAX System enables fast testing for salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, and other pathogens in food samples. The China division of Moody International Inc. (The Woodlands, Texas), also worked with the Beijing municipal government's food safety authorities as technical adviser on a food safety and hygiene management training program for restaurants and caterers. Moody, which said it was the first training service provider accredited by the governmental authority, said the training will extend to more than 50,000 restaurants and 100,000 food safety managers during the next two years, but the first priority was to train the food safety managers for restaurants and 20,000 catering personnel serving the games.

BOCOG, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (, will deploy more than 80,000 security personnel and an array of fixed and portable detection devices for these games.

Toxic gas and radiation monitoring. This year, RAE Systems' radiation detection and wireless toxic gas monitoring equipment was permanently deployed at the Beijing Capital International Airport. The company's devices also were used at the Barcelona (1992, summer), Salt Lake City (2002, winter), Athens (2004, summer), and Torino (2006, winter) games and the Munich World Cup (2006), spokesman Bob Durstenfeld said. "I think it's become a very unfortunate reality that you have to do atmospheric monitoring at these events," he said. With at least 10 heads of state and more than 100 corporate chieftains expected to attend the Beijing games, "security is paramount," he added. Universal Detection Technology (Los Angeles, Calif.) has provided radiation detection equipment for use at entrances to sports stadiums and the Olympic Village.

Explosives detection. American Science and Engineering Inc. (Billerica, Mass.) is supplying its Gemini Parcel Inspection Systems to screen for explosives and contraband in parcels at key checkpoints for the games. The system has two imaging systems in one machine: dual-energy transmission for metallic detection plus proprietary Z® Backscatter™ technology for enhanced organic detection.

Automated explosives detection systems also have been provided by L-3 Communications (Woburn, Mass.) to the Beijing Airport. L-3's Security and Detection Systems subsidiary will supply 22 MVT-HR multi-view tomography explosives detection systems and 81 operator workstations for the hold-baggage screening system at Terminal 3, the world's largest airport terminal, which opened earlier this year.

Environmental Protection
Air quality. Air pollution and the potential impact of Beijing's smoggy air on athletes' health and performance seem to have been BOCOG's top concern during the runup to the games. Two new subway lines and a new rail line built especially for the games to keep about half of Beijing's 3.3 million motor vehicles off the roads opened just in time: Opening ceremonies were held July 19, BOCOG said.

Official operations began Aug. 1 on the Beijing-Tianjin line, cutting the 75-mile journey from 90 to 30 minutes thanks to the line's CRH (China Railway High-speed) bullet trains, which reach a top speed of 220 mph in normal operations but exceeded that speed in test runs.

The Beijing South station is equipped with solar panels on its roof and 24 platforms to cope with what officials foresee as massive future demand for travel. The new, Chinese-built trains, which include soundproof and bulletproof glass, are much wider than equivalent European express trains, said Zhang Shuguang, head of the Railway Ministry's Transport Bureau.

General Electric (Fairfield, Conn.), a Worldwide Partner for these games, was one of the companies that worked with China's Ministry of Railways to introduce the new rail technology.

The new Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, uses a new line of 3M Filtrete Commercial HVAC Filters to clean the air. Installed by The Penn Air Group (Los Angeles, Calif.), a global provider of commercial HVAC system optimization, the filters' nonwoven technology was first used in facial respirators and later migrated into Filtrete filters because of the melt-blown fibers technology's ability to trap minute particles.

Air quality monitoring equipment from TSI Inc. (Shoreview, Minn.) -- indoor air quality monitors and monitors to measure dust and aerosols -- have been used for IAQ measurement, spot testing, and a study of ultrafine particles in Beijing's air that will continue throughout the games. TSI also provided a filter tester used by the Beijing National Center for Disease Control and Prevention to test first responders' respirators and face masks for possible use during a chemical or terrorist attack.

Water quality. GE installed a full-scale water treatment plant in Dongguang City and supplied a mobile water treatment plant that purifies water for neighboring villages. GE donated both; the company said this is the first time an advanced mobile water treatment system has been used in China to bring clean water to areas outside the nation's centralized municipal water infrastructure. China has set a goal of providing safe, reliable water supplies by 2015 to more than 300 million people living in rural areas, and GE hopes to provide equipment to achieve that goal, said Jeff Garwood, president and CEO of GE Water & Process Technologies.

Beijing Praxair Inc., an affiliate of Shanghai-based Praxair China, and thus of Praxair Inc. (Danbury, Conn.), signed a contract in March with Beijing Drainage Group Co. Ltd. to be the exclusive supplier of oxygen to three wastewater treatment plants in Beijing that were built for the games to improve water quality in Beijing and save water resources. In the plants, wastewater is treated via membrane filtration, activated carbon adsorption, and an ozone de-color process.

Advanced care. GE units provided medical imaging technology, 308 advanced electrocardiogram devices, five advanced ultrasound machines, and two magnetic resonance imaging machines to the Olympic Village General Hospital for use at venues during the games. Twenty-four official Olympic Games hospitals were designated throughout Beijing for these games, and BOCOG said 3,223 qualified medical workers from 84 hospitals were selected and grouped into 37 teams to handle health issues during the games.

Sports medicine. Another Worldwide Partner, as well as Official Health Care Products Partner of the Olympic Committee, Johnson & Johnson (Langhorne, Pa.) will be very visible to Olympic athletes this year. The committee's athlete dental screening program will make use of free J&J products that include toothbrushes, mouth rinse, and educational materials. Used to evaluate the athletes' visual skills, the AchieveVision™ program checks skills that are essential to sports performance, such as contrast sensitivity, depth perception, and peripheral awareness. This product was created by The Vision Care Institute™ LLC, a J&J company.

J&J also is supporting the Olympic Games' Polyclinic by installing diagnostic and sterilization equipment and supplying over-the-counter, prescription, and sports medicines. (The Olympic Village alone has a three-story clinic that includes a sports medicine department.) Through J&J's BAND-AID® Brand Olympic Education Campaign, 400 million students in China's schools will learn about the Olympic movement, as well as health and wound care. ™

This article originally appeared in the August 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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