February 8, 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.
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- Top Stories
- Calendar Features
- On The Web This Week
- Federal Agency Update
- Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
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Federal Judge Orders Chemical Safety Board to Require Disclosure of Chemical Emissions from Accidents
More than 1,000 industrial chemical accidents take place every year. The biggest include the explosions that killed 15 people at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, and the explosions that took place at the Arkema chemical plant in the Houston area after unprecedented flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. In a lawsuit filed after Hurricane Harvey, a federal judge has ordered the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board to force the disclosure of chemical emissions resulting from accidents that the public and first responders have been exposed to.
The Washington Post [Author: Steven Mufson]
Waste from Hurricane Florence Continues to Overwhelm Landfills
More than four months after Hurricane Florence, North Carolina is still suffering from the effects of this powerful storm. Rivers of waste are flowing to landfills in eastern North Carolina. Landfills provide a lasting impression of the storm’s destruction and continue to hold debris soaked in flood bacterial-infested waters, affecting both professional sanitation workers and untrained homeowners.
The News & Observer [Author: John Murawski]
Wildfires, Hurricanes and Other Extreme Weather Cost the Nation 247 Lives, Nearly $100 Billion in Damage During 2018
The number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States has more than doubled in recent years, as devastating hurricanes and ferocious wildfires that experts suspect are fueled in part by climate change have ravaged swaths of the country, according to data released by the federal government. Since 1980, the United States has experienced 241 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage reached or exceeded $1 billion, when adjusted for inflation, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Washington Post [Authors: Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney]
The Cost to Clean Up America’s Cold War Nuclear Waste Jumps to $377 Billion
The United States developed and built tens of thousands of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. A new report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates the total cleanup cost for the radioactive contamination incurred by developing and producing these weapons at a staggering $377 billion, a number that jumped by more than $100 billion in just one year.
Popular Mechanics [Author: Kyle Mizokami]
‘A Match Into a Can of Gasoline’: Measles Outbreak Now an Emergency in Washington State
Measles, declared eliminated as a major public health threat in the United States almost 20 years ago, has re-emerged this winter in the Pacific Northwest. Seventy-nine cases of measles have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since the start of this year. Fifty cases were in Washington State. Clark County, Washington declared a medical emergency in January and has seen 49 cases—most occurring in children under the age of ten.
The New York Times [Author: Kirk Johnson]
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COSH Webinar: Workers’ Memorial Week (2/14 at 2 pm ET)
Join the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) for a webinar dedicated to individuals across the country who are taking action to remember workers killed on the job and drive home the message of the need to fight for the living. This webinar will include an overview on how to mobilize your community, families, and co-workers. The webinar will be held on February 14, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. EST.
CHE Webinar: Climate Change and Toxic Hazards: During the Storm (2/14 at 1 pm ET)
The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) will host a webinar on how to protect the public during a catastrophic storm. This webinar is the second in the three-part series, Climate Change and Toxic Hazards: Preparing for Before, During, and After the Storm. This webinar will discuss a past catastrophic storm and the potential efforts that community organizations, community members, and civic leaders can partake in to protect citizens from toxic exposure during the storm. The webinar will be held on February 14, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. EST.
PEPH Webinar: Culturally Appropriate Communications (2/15 at 1 pm ET)
An upcoming Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) webinar, titled Culturally Appropriate Communications in Environmental Health Sciences Research, will delve into the intersection of communication, cultural competence, and environmental health. The webinar will explore how two investigators have implemented culturally appropriate communications in their studies of environmental risks among Latino cleaning staff and Native American women. Although their approaches differ, each investigator relies on similar underlying principles of cultural sensitivity. The webinar will be held on February 15, 2019, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST.
Call for Papers: Special Collection on Access to Care During Disasters for America's Underserved Communities
Recent disasters have disrupted or displaced many vulnerable people and similar events are expected to increase in frequency. For this Special Collection, the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health would like to include current research studies on the impact of major disasters (such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the California Fires and Floods) on access to care for vulnerable populations and underserved communities in the U.S. The submitted manuscripts for this special collection will be peer-reviewed before publication. Manuscripts are due February 15, 2019.
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Meetings on the Sunshine Act
An upcoming hearing on the Sunshine Act aims to: 1) gather information from Department of Energy (DOE) Field Offices regarding Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) interfaces and access to information, facilities, and personnel managed; and (2) receive input from the public, regarding the role of independent oversight and interfaces between DNFSB and the DOE. Session 1 will take place from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. MST. Session 2 will be held from 7:15 - 9:00 p.m. MST and will allow members of the public to provide comment. The meeting will take place on February 21, 2019, at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Call for Abstracts: APHA's 2019 Annual Meeting & Expo
The American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Occupational Health and Safety section is seeking high-quality abstracts on topics related to workers’ health and safety for the 147th Annual Meeting of the APHA in Philadelphia, PA. To complement the APHA 2019 meeting theme, preference will be given to abstracts which address research, policy, and action. Please submit an abstract for a poster, oral, or roundtable presentation. The submission deadline is February 23, 2019.
Disaster Research Response (DR2) Tucson Workshop
Join the fourth National Institutes of Health (NIH) Disaster Research Response Program (DR2) Workshop in Tucson, Arizona from Thurs., Feb. 28 – Fri., Mar. 1, 2019. The workshop will center around facilitated discussions using a realistic scenario to explore disaster-related research response strategies, tools, and processes. Registration will close Friday, February 15, 2019 or when capacity is reached.
2019 National Health Security Award Application
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) are pleased to announce the fourth annual National Health Security Award! This award recognizes local health departments that have demonstrated significant accomplishments in implementing health security-related initiatives within their jurisdictions. Applications are being accepted now through April 26, 2109.
Save the Date: Workers’ Memorial Week (4/22-4/28)
Join National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) and individuals across the country to honor workers killed on the job and to renew the fight to strengthen worker health and safety protections. There will be events hosted across the country in observance of both workers’ families and workers themselves. You can visit the COSH website to find ways to get involved in Workers’ Memorial Week, occurring April 22 – 28, 2019.
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Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Time to Sound a Global Alert?
The epidemic of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second largest in history after the 2014 west African epidemic. A storm of detrimental factors complicates this event: armed conflict, political instability, and mass displacement. The World Health Organization, the DRC Government, and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners have shown remarkable leadership but are badly stretched. The outbreak remains far from controlled, risking a long-term epidemic with regional, perhaps global, impacts.
The Lancet [Authors: Gostin et al.]
High Pesticide Exposure Linked to Loss of Smell
Environmental exposures may also contribute to the loss of sense of smell. According to a study published Jan. 16 in Environmental Health Perspectives, farmers in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) who reported experiencing a high pesticide exposure event (HPEE), such as getting a large amount on their skin, were more likely to have a loss of sense of smell approximately two decades later.
Environmental Factor [Author: Robin Arnette]
TVA Admits Potential Liability in Case of Sickened Coal Ash Workers, May Hit Ratepayers
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is admitting publicly for the first time that it made a deal that could put ratepayers on the financial hook for the misdeeds of a contractor, Jacobs Engineering, accused of poisoning an entire workforce. After nearly a decade, this alleged poisoning from TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County remains the nation’s largest coal ash spill to date. Repercussions from this disaster put the industry at risk for costly change and regulation.
Knoxville News Sentinel [Author: Jamie Satterfield]
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Environmental Justice Small Grants Program – Deadline Extended
The Environmental Justice Small Grants (EJSG) program awards grants that support community-driven projects designed to engage, educate, and empower communities to better understand local environmental and public health issues and develop strategies for addressing those issues, building consensus in the community, and setting community priorities. The EJSG program will award approximately $1.5 million nationwide for this competitive opportunity. EPA anticipates awarding approximately 50 grants (5 per EPA region) of up to $30,000 each. Due to the government shutdown, the deadline has been extended to March 8, 2018.
FEMA Report for Emergency Management Higher Education Community
This Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) report highlights the vast diversity of American communities and households, indicating that a one-size-fits-all strategy is not well-suited to the specific demands of variable and distinctive environments. It looks at how a “culture of preparedness” is built one community at a time. It presents a culture-based approach to the preparedness goals laid out in the Strategic Plan to Build a Culture of Preparedness.
New Mold Assessment Tools Available
A new National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) tool will help users assess areas of dampness in buildings and prioritize remediation of problems areas. Users will be guided to assess how moisture causes indoor mold to multiply on building materials and surfaces, and learn how people may be exposed to microbes and their structural components, such as spores and fungal fragments. The resource provides information about the assessment cycle, and detailed instructions on how to use the data collection instrument.
Whole-of-Government Approach: What It Means and How It Translates to Improving National Security
The 2019-2022 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS), as well as other policies, guidelines, and strategies developed under Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) leadership, takes the whole-of-government concept a step further by investing in strong partnerships with the private sector. This blog delves deeper in to the “whole-of-government” concept and how it translates to improving national security.
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Blog [Author: Daniel Dodgen]
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CPWR Study: Upward Trend in Elevator-Related Construction Fatalities
Workers are at risk of serious injury or death when installing, repairing, and maintaining escalators and elevators, as well as when cleaning elevator shafts, conducting emergency evacuations of stalled elevators, or performing construction work near open shafts. A recent study by the Center for Construction Research and Training – CPWR's Data Center found while fatalities fluctuate year-to-year, the general trend in elevator-related deaths has been upward.
New! Just in Time Preparedness Training Videos
The National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) Just in Time training (JIT) videos are part of a growing library of topics that are being produced to support preparedness training activities and provide JIT training for all frontline, assessment, and treatment facilities required to care for a patient suspected or confirmed to be infected with Ebola Virus Disease or Other Special Pathogens.
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TNEC Seeks Worker Health Educator
The New England Consortium (TNEC) is currently seeking a Worker Health Educator (WHE) for its Hazardous Waste Worker/ Emergency Responder Health and Safety Training Program based at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The WHE will help lead TNEC’s efforts to meet its worker-oriented training goals, build the regional H&S movement, and develop working relationships with labor, environmental organizations, government, and business.
OHIP Internship Applications due February 15
The Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP) summer program seeks student applicants for its field-based learning experience in occupational safety and health. Teams of two students are placed with labor unions or community-based organizations to work on projects that investigate job-related health and safety issues among workers. The program is open both to undergraduates and graduate students with an interest in occupational health or related fields.
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