August 20, 2021
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 Stories
- Calendar Features
- On The Web This Week
- Federal Agency Update
- Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
- Job Openings
- We Want Your Feedback
- Newsbriefs Past Issues
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Registration for Fall 2021 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop Now Open
Registration for the semi-annual WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop is now open. The awardee meeting will be held the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 19 and the workshop will be held the afternoons of Oct. 20 and 21. The topic of the workshop is “Advancing partnerships to improve worker health and safety.”
New Fact Sheets About Climate, Health, and Emergency Preparedness
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) recently published seven fact sheets that cover topics related to emergency preparedness and climate change such as air quality, drought, extreme heat, extreme storms, floods, and wildfires. The documents’ information and resources cover the heath impacts of climate change, recommendations for reducing adverse outcomes, the role of environmental health workers in mitigating impacts of environmental health emergencies, and the importance of climate justice and health equity.
OSHA Investigating Fatal 2019 Chemical Exposure at Decatur Daikin Plant
The Daikin-America plant in Decatur is on the radar of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after multiple hazardous chemical exposures. This news comes after Wesley Rusk, a 20-year employee of the company, died this week after being exposed to hazardous chemicals on the job in early July.
Lubrizol Says Organic Sulfur Material Caused Pungent Smell Coming from Its Deer Park Facility
An organic sulfur material released by a chemical leak at a Lubrizol plant in Deer Park was the source of a pungent smell that spread for miles across the Houston area, according to a spokesperson for the company. Both La Porte and Seabrook issued shelter-in-place orders that lasted until midnight and residents reported suffering from headaches, nausea and sore throats.
Houston Public Media [Author: Katie Watkins]
Heat Is Killing Workers in The U.S. – And There Are No Federal Rules to Protect Them
Cruz Urias Beltran is one of at least 384 workers who died from environmental heat exposure in the U.S. in the last decade, according to an investigation by NPR and Columbia Journalism Investigations, the investigative reporting unit of Columbia Journalism School.
Those Anti-Covid Plastic Barriers Probably Don’t Help and May Make Things Worse
COVID-19 precautions have turned many parts of our world into a giant salad bar, with plastic barriers separating salesclerks from shoppers, dividing customers at nail salons and shielding students from their classmates. Intuition tells us a plastic shield would be protective against germs. But scientists who study aerosols, air flow and ventilation say that much of the time, the barriers don’t help and probably give people a false sense of security.
New York Times [Author: Tara Parker-Pope]
Even Moderate COVID-19 Restrictions Can Slow the Spread of the Virus — If They're Timely
Tensions are high right now. As the delta variant spreads like wildfire across the U.S., vaccination rates are still low in many places and parents and school staff are anxiously wondering what will happen as schools start up again. Should there be more mask mandates? Will businesses have to close again? Will big gatherings be banned?
NPR [Author: Selena Simmons-Duffin]
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Community-Based Interpretation and the Road to Language Access
The Migrant Clinicians Network is hosting a two-part series to discuss strategies for community-based interpretation. The series will provide resources regarding community outreach to vulnerable populations and best practices for effective interpretation. A recording of Session 1: Community-Based Interpretation and the Road to Language Access is now available. Session 2: Promising Practices for Working with an Interpreter will be held on Aug. 25 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Wearable Sensors for Occupational Health and Safety - Opportunities and Challenges
Wearable sensor technologies are used in several applications for everyday life at home and at work. The adoption of these technologies for occupational health and safety is increasing with the gradual, but consistent, evolution of personal monitors. This webinar will provide an introduction of wearable sensor technologies already in use for occupational health and safety and the ones that will soon be available. The webinar will be held on Aug. 26 at 2:00 p.m.
NIH RFI: Climate Change and Health
The Steering Committee of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Climate Change and Human Health Working Group invites feedback on the approaches NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices can take to enhance research on the health implications of climate change in the United States and globally. This request for information (RFI) invites comments from diverse stakeholder groups that include scientific researchers, community advocates, clinicians, and policy makers. The deadline to comment is Aug. 30.
Climate and Health Rapid Response: Wildfires and Health
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health is hosting a webinar on wildfires and health on Aug. 31 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Across the country, skies have filled with smoke from large wildfires in the Western United States and Canada, threatening communities and health systems. Our panel of clinicians and public health experts will discuss emerging health impacts and opportunities for bolstering public health system responses and safeguarding human health.
NIOSH Expanding Research Partnerships Webinar
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is hosting a webinar on occupational safety and health challenges facing workers in the post-pandemic world. The webinar will be held on Sept. 8 at 12:00-1:30 p.m. ET. The webinar speakers represent OSH professional associations, including the American Industrial Hygiene Association.
New Survey on Workplace Testing for COVID-19
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and partners are conducting a national survey asking business leaders about their experiences with workplace testing for COVID-19. The goal of the survey is to identify barriers and facilitators of COVID-19 testing in the workplace. The online survey is now open and will be available until Sept. 15.
Physical and Mental Health Impacts of 9/11 Lecture
As part of the 22nd Annual James P. Keogh, M.D., Occupational Medicine Memorial Lecture, the James P. Keogh, M.D. Occupational Medicine Memorial Fund, the Department of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine are presenting the lecture, "Physical and mental health impacts of 9/11: Outcomes of the epidemiological health surveillance of the World Trade Center Program and lesson learned for disasters preparedness." The lecture will be held on Sept. 15 at 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET.
Needs and Challenges in PPE Use for Underserved User Populations. Comment Period Extended
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests information on the needs and challenges in personal protective equipment (PPE) use for underserved user populations. The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory is expanding its portfolio to include activities that consider the needs of U.S. worker populations who are underserved related to PPE. The comment period has been extended to Oct. 15.
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NIEHS/DOE Nuclear Training Program: Preparing DOE Workers to Perform Work Safely
This new partnership fact sheet provides information on the NIEHS/U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Worker Training Program and how DOE sites/contractors can and should partner with NIEHS-funded training organizations (grantees) for course delivery.
Too Hot to Work: Assessing the Threats Climate Change Poses to Outdoor Workers
As climate change brings one record-heat decade after another, these workers will increasingly find themselves in an impossible situation—having to choose between risking their lives to go to work or their livelihoods to stay safe. If we don’t take action on climate change, extreme heat would cause tens of millions of outdoor workers in the U.S. to risk losing a collective $55.4 billion in earnings each year by midcentury, a Union of Concerned Scientists analysis shows.
Union of Concerned Scientists [Authors: Kristina Dahl and Rachel Licker]
U.S. Laboratory to Re-Use Legacy Radioactive Source
A legacy radioactive source from a U.S. Department of Energy waste inventory is now being reused more than 40 years after it was put into storage. The collaborative effort to prepare and transport the small neutron-emitting, plutonium-beryllium source from Idaho National Laboratory to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory takes the 'reduce, reuse and recycle' concept to the next level, the Department's Office of Environmental Management said.
Global Study Evaluates Heat-Related Deaths Associated with Climate Change
More than a third of heat-related deaths between 1991 and 2018 can be attributed to increasingly severe temperatures associated with human-induced climate change, according to a new study. Published in Nature Climate Change, it is the largest attribution study to date on the human health impacts of climate change and points to the need for more and advanced mitigation, adaptation, and resilience efforts.
NIEHS Global Environmental Health Newsletter [Author: David Richards]
Cleaning Up Nuclear Waste at Hanford: Secrecy, Delays, And Budget Debates
Stephen Wiesman has worked for about three decades on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s project to convert the radioactive waste in its huge underground tanks into safer glass logs. Although he’s retired now and involved in an advisory capacity, he understands the project — and its ongoing challenges — better than almost anyone.
Crosscut [Author: John Stang]
Fix Disaster Response Now
Local governments have been unable to cope with the disasters, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been strained. This litany of destruction has brought into stark relief problems of capacity and inequity—people of color and low-income communities have been hit disproportionately hard—that have been festering for decades in the nation’s approach to disaster preparedness.
Indigenous Voices Important in Developing New Low, Intermediate Nuclear Waste Strategy
In Canada, indigenous engagement for the development of a strategy for the storage of low and intermediate radioactive waste has been hampered by more pressing concerns, including the coronavirus pandemic and forest fires blazing in many regions of the country.
Toronto Star [Author: Shari Narine]
City Eyes $3M for Two Resiliency Hubs to Aid Weather Emergency Response
City staffers are recommending a pilot project to create two facilities to act as tryout resiliency hubs that would provide basic utilities and services to nearby residents during climate emergencies and other extreme conditions. A memo released last week by chief sustainability officer Lucia Athens and climate program manager Zach Baumer suggested creating two hubs within the next two years so the city could study the operational steps and other issues related to a recent City Council resolution directing the city manager to create a plan for building the facilities.
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U.S. Department of Education Releases Resource for Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Improve School Ventilation Systems
The U.S. Department of Education released a resource to help schools, colleges, and universities improve their ventilation systems to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and provide healthy learning environments. The resource outlines how American Rescue Plan funds can be used to improve indoor air quality and is part of the Department’s broader efforts to support schools as they prepare to welcome students back to in-person learning this fall and build back better.
U.S. Workplace Regulator Says Vaccinated Workers Should Wear Masks
The U.S. agency that regulates workplace safety issued guidance urging employers to require many fully vaccinated workers to wear masks to protect unvaccinated colleagues and customers, amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommended that workers wear masks "in areas of substantial or high community transmission," such as manufacturing plants, meat processing facilities and retail establishments, unless they have medical conditions that make it difficult to wear a face covering.
Reuters [Author: Daniel Wiessner]
NIH Scientists Develop Faster COVID-19 Test
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have developed a new sample preparation method to detect SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The method bypasses extraction of the virus’ genetic RNA material, simplifying sample purification and potentially reducing test time and cost.
NIH-Funded Study Suggests a Single Skills-Based Session on Pain Management Packs a Punch
A single two-hour session of a pain management skills class could offer as much benefit as eight sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for patients experiencing chronic low-back pain (CLBP), suggests a study published in JAMA Network. Supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, both part of the National Institutes of Health, the study explored whether a compressed intervention could lead to the same benefits as a longer-course of CBT.
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New Research on Scientific Misinformation
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, rapid advances in knowledge related to the disease have contributed to contradictory messaging from public health authorities and policymakers. The public has had to grapple with not only the understandable and expected disagreements among scientists about an evolving crisis but a disheartening amount of misinformation (incorrect information perceived as valid) and disinformation (false information intended to mislead).
How And Why Are the Poorest People Most Likely to Have Exposure to Toxins?
The degradation of the environment through toxic pollution has a direct effect on human health. This burden falls disproportionately on the world’s poor and is disproportionately due to specific polluters. Researchers from NIEHS note that environmental pollution is a leading factor contributing to premature mortality for people living in low- and middle-income countries.
Medical News Today [Author: Timothy Huzar]
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Make the Road New York Seeks Safe and Just Cleaners Campaign Associate
Make the Road New York is hiring an associate for its Safe and Just Cleaners Study. The Safe and Just Cleaners Study is a community-based participatory research partnership funded by NIEHS. The study is collecting data on domestic cleaners’ chemical exposures and other working conditions to develop safer cleaning approaches to reduce exposure for cleaners and their clients.
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