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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: August 30, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, August 30, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

August 30, 2019

The E-Newsbrief of the National Clearinghouse is a free weekly newsletter focusing on new developments in the world of worker health and safety. Each issue provides summaries of the latest worker health and safety news from newspapers, magazines, journals, government reports, and the Web, along with links to the original documents. Also featured each week are updates from government agencies that handle hazmat and worker safety issues such as DOE, EPA, OSHA and others.

Subscribing to the National Clearinghouse Newsbrief is the best way to stay on top of the worker health and safety news.

Top StoriesBack to Top

New NIEHS PFAS Webpages

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Office of Communications and Public Liaison, in collaboration with Population Health Branch and Superfund Research Program, has created new Division of Extramural Research and Training webpages on initiatives in Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) research. NIEHS is committed to studying the health outcomes and cleanup of PFAS, as well as communicating research findings to diverse audiences. NIEHS-funded research has revealed associations between PFAS exposures and a variety of adverse human health outcomes, including immune system dysfunction, impaired child development, and cancer.


The Waste that Remains

Even as Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) takes on contracts for new weapons manufacturing, taxpayers are still shelling out for the clean-up costs of contamination dating back to atomic bomb testing. The latest clean-up proposals will likely leave hazardous waste in the ground. Meanwhile, recent hazardous waste safety violations add up to $222,313. N3B, the company recently contracted by the U.S. Department of Energy to complete a significant portion of remaining clean-up efforts, gave a presentation to the public at the Santa Fe Community College recently as part of a series of community meetings leading up to the process to decide methods for cleaning up several contaminated legacy waste sites around LANL.

Santa Fe Reporter [Author: Leah Cantor]

Sick and Dying Workers Demand Help After Cleaning Coal Ash

The Tennessee Valley Authority, long respected for providing good jobs and cheap electricity, is facing a growing backlash over its handling of a massive coal ash spill a decade ago, with potentially serious consequences for an industry often opposed to environmental regulation. A jury in Knoxville decided within hours that the TVA's contractor, Jacobs Engineering, breached its safety duties, exposing hundreds of cleanup workers to airborne "fly ash" with known carcinogens. The jurors said Jacobs' actions were capable of making the workers sick. The key question of whether they caused each worker's injuries was left for a different jury in a second phase of the civil trial. More than 200 workers blame the contractor for exposing them to ash they say caused a slew of illnesses, some fatal, including cancers of the lung, brain, blood and skin.

Associated Press [Author: Travis Loller]

Waking Up to the Risks of Workplace Fatigue

For many people struggling to cope with the pressures of life in a 24/7, on-demand world, sleep gets relegated to the bottom of their to-do list. Sleep is sacrificed to squeeze in an extra hour of productivity, or because rest time is equated with wasted time. The failure to prioritize rest is a growing concern and taking a toll on U.S. workers. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. However, data from the National Health Interview Survey published in the journal Sleep shows that about 30% of U.S. civilian workers got less than six hours of sleep a night in the mid-2000s – up from 24% in the 1980s. Data from 2010 published in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in 2012 shows those percentages were even higher in certain industries, and especially among night shift workers.

Safety and Health Magazine [Author: Susan Vargas]

Measles Cases in Texas Could Skyrocket Due to Unvaccinated Children, Study Finds

Measles outbreaks could be more commonplace in Texas communities as an increasing number of children in the state show up to school unvaccinated, a new study claims. The study, based on a computer simulation by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, shows that "an additional 5 percent decrease in vaccination rates, which have been on a downward trend since 2003, would increase the size of a potential measles outbreak by up to 4,000 percent in some [Texas] communities,” researchers said in a news release regarding the findings, which were published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Fox News [Author: Madeline Farber]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Bridging Silos: Collaborating for Environmental Health and Justice in Urban Communities

Please join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program for a presentation and discussion with Dr. Katrina Korfmacher on her new book about how communities can collaborate across systems and sectors to address environmental health disparities; with case studies from Rochester, New York; Duluth, Minnesota; and Southern California. The event will be held on Sept. 16, 2019 1-2 pm ET at the U.S. EPA-RTP Main Campus in Durham, North Carolina.

Event Registration

Notice of Funding Opportunity: FY 2019 Brownfields Training, Research, and Technical Assistance Grant

This notice announces the availability of one $1,400,000 Brownfields Training, Research, and Technical Assistance Grant and solicits proposals from eligible entities to conduct research and provide technical assistance to new, existing, and/or prospective U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grantees. In addition to providing on-going technical assistance throughout the project period, the successful applicant will be responsible for developing an annual meeting to facilitate peer-to-peer networking and provide training to the EWDJT grantees. The award is anticipated to be funded incrementally on an annual basis over seven years, at approximately $200,000 per year. Proposals must be submitted through by 11:59 p.m. ET on September 20, 2019.

EPA Brownfields Grant

APHA Annual Meeting: Creating the Healthiest Nation: For Science. For Action. For Health.

Everyone has a role to play in creating a healthier nation. In light of today’s most pressing health issues, science and advocacy are the keys to developing health equity to improve the lives of people locally, nationally and worldwide. The American Public Health Association (APHA)’s Annual Meeting and Expo will be held November 2-6, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Annual Meeting gives more than 12,000 public health professionals an opportunity to put science and action to work to achieve a healthier nation.

Annual Meeting Registration

2019 EPA International Decontamination Research and Development Conference

Whether an industrial accident affecting water, or a viral outbreak such as African Swine Fever, or even a radiological accident like Fukushima, decontamination is one of the critical challenges facing our communities. When communities are faced with recovering from a major chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) incident, as well as natural disasters such as hurricanes that result in contaminated waste, it is important to have all the relevant research and science available. This conference is designed to facilitate presentation, discussion, further collaboration on research and development, and application of tools and research focused on an all-hazards approach to cleaning up contaminated buildings (both interior and exterior), infrastructure, and other areas/materials. The conference continues to focus strongly on matters involving CBR threat agents, but also includes all hazard elements. The conference brings together researchers, first responders, community leaders and planners, and industry. It will be held November 19-21, 2019 in Norfolk, VA.

Conference Details

National Conference on Worker Safety and Health

The National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON19) brings together a diverse, inclusive and bilingual group of participants of workers, occupational health and safety experts, unions, activists and academics united around common goals. The conference aims to empower workers, make workplaces safer and reduce the toll of on-the-job injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The conference will take place December 3-5, 2019 in Baltimore, MD.

Conference Registration

2019 National Brownfields Training Conference

Cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association, the National Brownfields Training Conference will take place December 10-13, 2019, in Los Angeles, CA at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Offered every two years, the conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. Registration is now available.

Conference Registration

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

CDC Webinar Recording: Disasters: Keeping Volunteers, Workers, and Responders Safe

This one-hour webinar from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Emergency Partners Information Connection and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health hosted a one-hour webinar for volunteers, workers, and responders who clean up, rebuild, or support other response and recovery efforts after a flood, earthquake, storm, fire, or other disaster. It discussed how to reduce risk from injuries, chemical exposures, environmental hazards, and psychological stressors. It detailed potential hazards in disaster response, and the pre-deployment phase of disaster planning.

Disaster Information Management Research Center

Graphene Shield Shows Promise in Blocking Mosquito Bites

An innovative graphene-based film helps shield people from disease-carrying mosquitos, according to a new study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The research, conducted by the Brown University Superfund Research Center, Providence, Rhode Island, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found dry graphene film seemed to interfere with mosquitos’ ability to sense skin and sweat because they did not land and try to bite. When they looked closely at videos taken of the mosquitos in action, they noticed the insects landed much less frequently on graphene than on bare skin. The graphene film also provided a strong barrier that mosquitos could not bite through, although when wet it did not stop mosquitos from landing on skin.

National Institutes of Health News Release

Explore Chemical Exposure Risks Faced by California Working Women

A new online tool – Working Women at Risk – helps researchers and advocates to visualize the exposures to chemicals that might be putting California’s working women at risk for breast cancer. Users can search data on over 1,000 chemicals, sorted into 24 chemical groups, by occupation, ethnicity/race, and age. The tool is part of a project exploring working women’s risk of breast cancer that is funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program at the University of California, and supported by occupational health experts at the Public Health Institute, the California Department of Public Health, and the University of California San Francisco.

Center for Healthy Communities

When College Dormitories Become Health Hazards

Enduring less-than-ideal living conditions is something of a rite of passage for many college students. While the cost of higher education keeps rising, though, outpacing inflation every year since 1985, maintenance of student dormitories at many institutions has not always kept up. In interviews and exchanges with dozens of students across the country, heating and cooling issues were the most frequent complaints. But some reported much more serious problems, including vermin and mold. It can be difficult to reconcile such problems with university endowments that can reach billions of dollars. But the institutions often have access to just a small percentage of their endowments in any single year, and much of that money may be earmarked for student financial aid. Even relatively wealthy institutions can find themselves with tight operating budgets and little means to finance building projects other than appealing to donors.

New York Times [Author: Hanah Jun]

Personal Protective Equipment Most Critical to Safety of Seafarers

The shipping industry is vital to the existence of the global trade economy, yet seafarers face one of the highest risks of workplace injury or death. Understanding the causes and reducing the frequency of occupational injuries not only benefits the seafarers but directly benefits the shipping companies by reducing premiums, liabilities and legal costs. A new article published in Risk Analysis: An International Journal investigates the causes of these injuries and accidents and finds that injury reduction campaigns focused on personal protective equipment (PPE) would be most effective at reducing risks to workers.

Science Daily

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

EPA Seeks Public Input on 20 High-Priority Chemical Substances Proposal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is meeting another statutory requirement under the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by proposing to designate 20 chemical substances as High-Priority Substances for upcoming risk evaluations. The proposed designation is a required step in a new process of reviewing chemical substances currently in commerce under the amended TSCA. EPA is issuing designation documents for each chemical substance describing the chemical-specific information, analysis and basis EPA used to support the proposed designation. The 20 proposed chemicals are the same the agency identified in March as potential High-Priority Substances. The agency is asking stakeholders and the public to submit comments by November 21, 2019.


OSHA’s Guide to Leading Indicators

Managing workplace safety can be frustrating if you have to play catch-up with accidents, injuries, and illnesses that have already happened. The number and rate of injuries and illnesses in your facility are lagging indicators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued guidance for employers that want to get ahead of safety and health in their facilities. Using Leading Indicators to Improve Safety and Health Outcomes is a 17-page guide for those who want to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses and reduce the cost associated with safety and health incidents. Examples of leading indicators might include the percentage of workers who show up for refresher safety training, tracking brake replacement on industrial trucks, or how long it takes for lift teams to arrive.

EHS Daily Advisor

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Key Findings from CPWR Research on Heat-Related Deaths Among Construction Workers

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) published a new report on heat-related deaths among construction workers. Heat is a severe hazard for construction workers around the world and may be worsening as a result of climate change. The authors analyzed heat‐related deaths in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from 1992 to 2016 to examine this type of death in relation to time, region, and temperature and to explore a possible association with climate change. The article was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

Worksafe Seeks Legal Fellow

Worksafe is committed to increasing occupational safety and health (OSH) knowledge in the legal field. Accordingly, we are offering a new or emerging attorney the opportunity to be trained in legislative and administrative policy advocacy, legal support services, and other aspects of public interest practice. The fellow will be mentored by our Legal Team and will become familiar with OSH laws and standards, relevant scientific and technical issues, workers’ compensation law, and other areas of labor and employment law in order to provide legal and strategic advice. They will also be introduced to the social justice legal community and play an important role in coalition efforts to improve health and safety for California workers. The deadline to apply is Sept.18, 2019.

Job Posting

MassCOSH Seeks Part-Time Health and Safety Trainer

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) seeks a part-time trainer to develop and deliver health and safety training through our partnership with The New England Consortium (TNEC). Preference will be given to candidates who have expertise in worker health & safety, safety processes covered by OSHA 1910.120 hazardous waste and emergency response (HAZWOPER) regulations, work environment hazards and adult participatory/popular education. Quick learning-curve necessary. The Health & Safety Trainer helps to lead MassCOSH in meeting its goals for providing worker-oriented training, building the regional health and safety movement, and developing working relationships with labor, environmental organizations, government, and business.

Job Posting

PhD Scholarship in Political Communication at the Centre for Journalism, SDU

The PhD position at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) is embedded in the research program “The Perception and Communication of Risks of Pesticides and Biocides”. Professor David Hopmann is principal investigator of the project, funded by a grant from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. The project’s goals are delivering a detailed mapping of the scope and antecedents of (mis)perceptions about pesticides and biocides; and developing communication strategies on how to convey new information on the use and risks of pesticides so that negative consequences of possible misperceptions can be minimized.

PhD Position Posting

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