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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: August 27, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, August 27, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

August 27, 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 StoriesBack to Top

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.”

Meeting Website

Meeting Registration

WTP Spring 2021 Workshop Report Now Available

The recognition and application of lessons learned are key to sustain training programs during infectious disease outbreaks, wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters. A new report from the WTP Spring 2021 workshop describes how program staff, grantees, and partners have and will continue to implement best practices, including adaptability, community engagement, risk communication, and mentorship, in the program’s path forward. Mitchel Rosen, Ph.D., workshop keynote speaker and principal investigator for the New Jersey/New York Hazardous Materials Worker Training Center said it best: “Reviewing the lessons learned from these disasters, and more importantly implementing lessons learned is how we will improve the health and safety of workers and the communities most impacted by disasters.”


Commentary on Need for Primary Prevention to Mitigate Ongoing Opioid Epidemic

Now available, open access commentary by Aurora Le and Jonathan Rosen titled, “It is time to implement primary prevention in the workplace to ameliorate the ongoing U.S. opioid epidemic,” in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. Please feel free to share widely. The full special issue of New Solutions Volume 31, Issue 3 focused on Opioids and the Workplace – Risk Factors and Solutions, will be available in November.

New Solutions

WTP Webinar: Practical Considerations for Using Portable Air Cleaners to Prevent Transmission of Infectious Aerosols

WTP hosted a webinar on Aug. 16 that provided information on 1) assessing ventilation systems within a building or space, and 2) selection and use of portable air cleaner(s), when appropriate. Presenters discussed the difference between natural and mechanical ventilation and recommendations from American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers.


WTP COVID-19 Brief: Key Information for Workplace and Training Providers: Policies for Fully Vaccinated People

Current evidence shows that authorized COVID-19 vaccines protect most people against symptomatic and severe COVID-19 illnesses. This document provides guidance for workplaces and training facilities regarding policies for people who are fully vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Information and recommendations will change over time based on what is known or anticipated about this novel (new) virus. These suggestions are based on federal guidance as of August 2021.

COVID-19 Brief

COVID-19 Resources

Environmental Group Sues to Declare 'Toxic Time Bomb' PVC a Hazardous Waste

The Center for Biological Diversity announced a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to compel it to regulate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as a hazardous waste. In the lawsuit, the environmental group noted research linking the plastic to cancer and toxic contamination to humans and the environment.

The Hill [Author: Zack Budryk]

Scorching Heat Is Killing Workers. Some States Are Stepping In.

When American farmworkers, construction laborers and trash collectors die in extreme heat, it’s rarely because their employers have broken any rules. It’s because there are none. Federal safety regulators have issued no standards to protect workers from heat-related hazards, even as climate change increases the risk of deadly heat waves and extreme weather conditions.

PEW [Author: Alex Brown]

Gig Worker Advocacy Groups React to Court Ruling that Prop. 22 Is ‘Unconstitutional’

Some California gig worker advocacy groups expressed cautious optimism about a federal court judge’s ruling against Prop. 22. Others who support the initiative argued the decision was a mistake. Prop. 22 allows companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to classify their drivers and couriers as independent contractors instead of employees who are entitled to benefits such as healthcare coverage, paid time off and the right to collectively bargain.

Mercury News [Author: Chauncey Alcorn, CNN Business]

When Environmental Racism Causes a Hygienic Hell

The nation’s wastewater infrastructure gets a D-plus from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Across much of the country, wastewater infrastructure needs to be repaired or replaced, or is simply overburdened by demands that exceed what it was built to handle.

New York Times Guest Opinions [Authors: Catherine Flowers and Mitchell Bernard]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

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.

Webinar Registration

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. 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.

Webinar Registration

EPA Webinar on Traditional Knowledge - Federal Agencies' Considerations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting a webinar as part of Environmental Justice Webinar Series for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples. This webinar will discuss how some federal agencies are considering traditional knowledge in the implementation of their programs and responsibilities. This webinar is one of a two-part webinar mini-series on traditional knowledge. The first webinar will be held on Sept. 15 at 2:30-4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

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.

NIOSH Online Survey

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.

Zoom Link

Twenty Years of Homeland Security Research: How it Started and Where We Are Now

EPA's Office of Research and Development hosts the Emergency Response Research Webinar Series to cover the latest information on research supporting EPA's response to chemical, biological, and radiological incidents, as well as natural disasters. The next webinar, held on Sept. 16 will look at homeland security research efforts.

More Information

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 has been extended to Sept. 17.


2021 Public Health Learning Forum, hosted by the Public Health Foundation's TRAIN Learning Network

The 2021 Public Health Learning Forum will be held virtually from Oct. 12-21. The meeting focuses on Working Together, Training Together: Preparedness, Public Health and Healthcare and features an exciting lineup of presentations from leaders in public health workforce development.

More Information

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.

Federal Register

Texas A&M Superfund Research Center Disaster Research Training Workshop

The Texas A&M Superfund Research Center is sponsoring a two-day, hands-on workshop that will be held at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Disaster City, Emergency Operations Training Center, College Station, Texas, on Dec. 2-3. Registration and the workshop agenda are now available.

More Information

Workshop Agenda

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Hydrogen Could Fuel U.S. Energy Transition. But Is It Safe?

The blast came from a hydrogen plant a few hundred feet from her house in Long View, N.C., northwest of Charlotte. No one was injured, and OneH2 Inc. officials say that shows their safety protocols worked. But 60 houses were damaged. The blast is a reminder that, while hydrogen is having a moment, new sources of energy bring with them new dangers.

E&E News [Author: Mike Soraghan]

‘A Combination of Failures:’ Why 3.6M Pounds of Nuclear Waste Is Buried on a Popular California Beach

More than 2 million visitors flock each year to California’s San Onofre state beach, a dreamy slice of coastline just north of San Diego. The beach is popular with surfers, lies across one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the Unites States and has a 10,000-year-old sacred Native American site nearby. It even landed a shout-out in the Beach Boys’ 1963 classic Surfin’ USA.

The Guardian [Author: Kate Mishkin]

Inside the Decades-Long Fight Over an Ohio Superfund Site

Thirty acres of desolate land stretch across the heart of Uniontown, Ohio, a vast expanse of grass, trees, and scruffy vegetation no one can use because a toxic stew of nearly one hundred deadly contaminants festers beneath its surface. Enclosed by chain-link fencing and warning signs, the Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL) is one of more than thirteen hundred hazardous Superfund sites on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List.

Public Integrity [Author: Yanick Rice Lamb]

MassCOSH Leads Call for Revision of Workplace Safety Standards as State Plans for Full Repeal

The Massachusetts state Department of Labor Standards stopped enforcing COVID-19 safety standards when the state of emergency expired in June. Yet, the delta variant has led COVID-19 transmission in the state to surge once more. Public health and labor leaders say the lack of enforcement leaves workers without a key line of defense against working conditions that may increase their exposure to the virus.

Berkshire Eagle [Author: Danny Jin]

Adaptive Staffing Can Mitigate Essential Worker Disease and Absenteeism in an Emerging Epidemic

Essential worker absenteeism has been a pressing problem in the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 20% of U.S. hospitals experienced staff shortages, exhausting replacement pools and at times requiring COVID-positive healthcare workers to remain at work.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The Science of Masking Kids at School Remains Uncertain

At the end of May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a notable, yet mostly ignored, large-scale study of COVID-19 transmission in American schools. A few major news outlets covered its release by briefly reiterating the study’s summary: that masking then-unvaccinated teachers and improving ventilation with more fresh air were associated with a lower incidence of the virus in schools.

New York Magazine

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

FEMA Launches National Risk Index Update

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the full application launch of the National Risk Index, a new online resource that provides a clear, visual guide to natural hazard risks throughout the United States, and information to help communities to understand and reduce those risks, whether they involve flooding, wildfire, extreme heat, or drought.


FEMA National Risk Index for Natural Hazards

Research Shows Gaps in How EPA, Oil Industry Measure Methane

Before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the energy industry can address climate-warming methane emissions from oil and gas production, they’ll have to improve how they track and estimate it. That’s according to a recent study that highlights problems with EPA’s data-collection methods and other research showing that major oil companies and some state regulators are underestimating oil field methane emissions.

E&E News [Authors: Carlos Anchondo and Mike Lee]

Multi-faceted EPA Research Addressing Threats to Public Health from Wildfire Smoke

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers are working to provide the science needed to better prepare and respond to outdoor and indoor wildfire smoke. The science is part of a large federal initiative by the Biden-Harris Administration outlined in a White House fact sheet to address the growing threat from wildfires, which are increasing in size and intensity, driven in large part by climate change.

EPA Science Matters

EPA Researches Strategies to Reduce Virus Transmission on School Buses

In addressing technologies typically used on school buses transporting children, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting research to evaluate different types of cleaning and disinfection methods and technologies for reducing the risk of coming in contact with viruses on surfaces and in the air.

School Transportation News [Author: Carol Brzozowski]

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

IAFF 2022 Harvard Trade Union Program

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is accepting applications for the 2022 Harvard Trade Union Program scheduled for Jan. 18-Feb. 18, 2022. The deadline for applications is Sept. 15. Three scholarships will be awarded to IAFF members to attend the five-week training program designed for trade union leaders at Harvard University.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

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.

Job Posting

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