August 25, 2023
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.
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Maui Water is Unsafe Even with Filters, One of The Lessons Learned from Fires in California
Experts are using strong language to warn Maui residents in Lahaina and Upper Kula not to filter their own tap water. The Maui fires damaged hundreds of drinking water pipes, resulting in a loss of pressure that can allow toxic chemicals along with metals and bacteria into water lines.
ABC News [Author: Brittany Peterson]
‘Atomic Veterans’ Overwhelmingly Denied Benefits for Illnesses Related to Radiation Exposure During Service
Thousands of veterans who say they were sickened by radiation exposure during their military service have been denied federal benefits, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said, as cancer and old age whittle the remaining number of survivors. Many veterans say they face impractical burdens to prove they were exposed to a certain dose of radiation.
NBC News [Author: Melissa Chan]
NOAA Forecasters Increase Atlantic Hurricane Season Prediction To ‘Above Normal’
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center — a division of the National Weather Service — have increased their prediction for the ongoing 2023 Atlantic hurricane season from a near-normal level of activity to an above-normal level of activity with today’s update. Forecasters believe that current ocean and atmospheric conditions, such as record-warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures, are likely to counterbalance the usually limiting atmospheric conditions associated with the ongoing El Niño event.
Tropical Storm Hilary Leaves Desert and Mountain Towns in Muddy Mess
Crews worked to dig roads, buildings, and care home residents out of the mud across a wide swath of Southwestern U.S. desert, as the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years headed north, prompting flood watches and warnings in half a dozen states. Hilary is the latest potentially climate-related disaster to wreak havoc across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
PBS News Hour [Author: Mark J. Terrill]
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National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council
The National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council (NAEHSC) is a Congressionally mandated body that advises the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the director of NIH, and the director of NIEHS on matters relating to the direction of research, research support, training, and career development supported by NIEHS. An important function of the council is secondary review of research grant applications with a focus on NIEHS scientific program priorities and program balance. The next NAEHSC meeting will be held on September 12-13, 2023.
CSB Announces Public Business Meeting Dates
The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) will convene public meetings on four dates in fiscal year 2024. The Board will review the CSB's progress in meeting its mission and as appropriate, highlight safety products newly released through investigations and safety recommendations. The first meeting will be held on October 27, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Justice Week 2023: Equity Empowered
Justice Week 2023: Equity Empowered is a five-day hybrid event aimed at advancing equity and environmental justice in the clean energy transition and ensuring climate change investments benefit the communities often left behind. Learn how the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is meeting its equity and environmental goals and embedding equity into the fabric of the DOE. The event will be held on October 30 - November 3, 2023.
|On The Web This Week
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Notes from the Field: Asthma-Associated Emergency Department Visits During a Wildfire Smoke Event — New York, June 2023
During the June 6-8, 2023 Eastern Canadian wildfire smoke event, increased concentration of PM2.5 was linked to increased asthma-associated emergency department visits across New York, with two-fold increases in the Eastern Lake Ontario and Central regions and a nearly three-fold increase among older children and young adults. As wildfire smoke events become more frequent and widespread, the findings from this analysis can enhance risk communication and better focus response efforts toward persons at increased risk for asthma exacerbations.
Toxic Trash: California’s Aging Hazardous Waste Sites Have Troubling Safety Records
Over the past four decades, California’s facilities to manage hazardous waste have dwindled. What’s left is a tattered system of older sites with a troubling history of safety violations and polluted soil and groundwater. Many are operating on expired permits and most are located in communities of color, often ones with high rates of poverty.
The LAist [Author: Robert Lewis]
Workers Are at Risk in Extreme Heat, But North Carolina Has No Protections
Extreme heat is a risk for workers, but like most states North Carolina has no standards or regulations to protect them. North Carolina has no statewide standards on heat — just some guidelines on labor and health department webpages. The state's workplace safety law doesn't mention heat or temperature. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that nearly 1.7 million North Carolina workers are in industries most affected by extreme heat.
Supporting Worker Mental Health: New Videos From OSHA
Three new videos from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are aimed at helping employers support their workers’ mental health. Employees who are experiencing mental health issues may show up to work late or impaired, be distracted on the job, and/or isolate themselves from their co-workers. Regularly asking workers how they and their families are doing can build a one-on-one relationship and, in some cases, get to the root cause of workplace incidents.
|Federal Agency Update
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Atlantic Richfield Company Agrees to $2.2 Million Cleanup at ACM Smelter and Refinery Superfund Site in Montana
The Atlantic Richfield Company and ARCO Environmental Remediation, L.L.C. (collectively, Atlantic Richfield) have agreed to the cleanup of community soils—including both residential and non-residential yards and soil affected by the refinery’s operations—at the ACM Smelter and Refinery Superfund Site in Black Eagle, Montana, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced. Under the proposed consent decree, Atlantic Richfield is required to pay for past response costs and implement a multi-million-dollar cleanup for community soils at the site.
Rite Aid Corp. Agrees to Develop, Implement Bloodborne Pathogen Safety Program for Retail Employees at All New Jersey, New York Stores
The U.S. Department of Labor announced an agreement with Rite Aid Corp. to implement a program to better protect employees, including front-end customer service staff, against hazards related to bloodborne pathogens at all its approximately 370 stores in New Jersey and New York. The agreement follows an investigation opened by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in April 2022 after a retail employee at a Rite Aid location in Niagara Falls was instructed to clean up spilled blood in February 2022 following a customer injury.
DOE Announces $70 Million in Research Training Opportunities for Students and Faculty from Historically Underrepresented Institutions
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $70 million in funding to support research by historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to diversify leadership in the physical sciences. The funding, through DOE’s Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) initiative, will support internships, training programs, and mentor opportunities at 65 different institutions, including 40 higher-learning institutions that serve minority populations.
|Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
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Urban Flooding Resources
Flooding in urban areas has become more common due to the rising number of hurricanes and other extreme weather events. These flooding events are linked to high rates of rainfall that overwhelm urban systems’ capacity for excess water. Cleanup and repairs after flooding can expose people to a variety of hazards, all of which can be avoided.
Call for Worker Training Program (WTP) Grantee News and Resources
The WTP Clearinghouse aims to support grantees by promoting your training materials and your efforts to improve workers’ health and safety. Let us know when your organizations are featured in media or podcasts; have developed new resources, such as factsheets or reports; or have upcoming events featuring your work or staff. Email your resources to be considered for posting on the WTP Clearinghouse or in the Weekly E-Newsbrief!
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EPA Seeks an Environmental Protection Specialist
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeks an environmental protection specialist for the Brownfields Redevelopment Section in Region 5. At the entry level of this position, the candidate under the direction of senior staff will review and apply policy and procedural guidance to state, local, and Tribal land agencies, and assist in coordinating and developing regulations for land remediation.
SMART Seeks an International Instructor
The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) is seeking to fill the position of International Instructor in their Education Department. The International Instructor position will be responsible for assisting the Education Director in all aspects of training, including developing curriculum, delivering training, and ensuring all content is current.
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