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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: January 15, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, January 15, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

January 15, 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

Confronting Two Crises: The COVID-19 Pandemic, the Opioid Epidemic, and the Industrial Hygienist

Opioid overdoses in the U.S. have risen sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the absence of a real-time federal surveillance system, the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), an online platform that supports reporting and surveillance of suspected fatal and nonfatal overdoses, provides near real-time overdose data across jurisdictions.

The Synergist from the American Industrial Hygiene Association [Authors: Jonathan Rosen and Peter Harnett]

Disinfecting During Pandemic Puts Asthmatics at Risk

Increased cleaning by people with asthma during the pandemic may be triggering flares of their disease, a new report suggests. Researchers who surveyed 795 U.S. adults with asthma between May and September found the proportion who disinfected surfaces with bleach at least five times a week rose by 155 percent after the pandemic started. Use of disinfectant wipes, sprays and other liquids also increased, the researchers reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Washington Post

Top DOE Official Says Feds Are Showing Tri-Cities They Can Get Hanford Clean

The Hanford nuclear reservation is poised for a strong environmental cleanup year after successfully meeting some tough challenges in recent years, said Paul Dabbar, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) under secretary for science.

Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]

‘There’s a Red Flag Here’: How an Ethanol Plant Is Dangerously Polluting a U.S. Village

For the residents of Mead, Nebraska, the first sign of something amiss was the stench, the smell of something rotting. People reported eye and throat irritation and nosebleeds. Then colonies of bees started dying, birds and butterflies appeared disoriented and pet dogs grew ill, staggering about with dilated pupils.

The Guardian [Author: Carey Gillam]

Latino Group Prioritizes Workplace Safety This Legislative Session

Iowa leaders of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) decided their number one priority for this legislative session is improving workplace safety. Mitch Henry, LULAC’s state lobbyist, said they will focus especially on meatpacking plants, access to the COVID-19 vaccine and enforcing guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Iowa Public Radio [Author: Kassidy Arena]

Bipartisan Group Calls on USDA to Prioritize Safety Funding

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allocate specific funding to protect essential agricultural workers as the agency implements agricultural provisions from H.R.133 – the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 directed the Secretary of Agriculture to use at least $1.5 billion to purchase and distribute agricultural products and to provide grants and loans to protect agricultural workers from COVID-19.

The Packer [Author: Tom Karst]

A Crude Virus: How ‘Man Camps’ Can Cause a COVID Surge

Indigenous peoples have long challenged the proposed transnational Keystone XL pipeline, citing the risk of environmental disasters in their homelands. But now, tribes and advocates are alarmed for a different reason: the possibility that the proposed pipeline worker camps in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska could become dangerous sources of COVID-19 outbreaks.

High Country News

For Health Care Workers, The Pandemic Is Fueling Renewed Interest in Unions

Research shows that health facilities with unions have better patient outcomes and are more likely to have inspections that can find and correct workplace hazards. One study found New York nursing homes with unionized workers had lower COVID-19 mortality rates, as well as better access to PPE and stronger infection control measures, than nonunion facilities.

NPR [Author: Aneri Pattani]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Oil & Gas - Assessing Operational HSE Hazards and Applying Contemporary Solutions

Columbia Southern University, in partnership with Intelex Technologies, ULC, and Honeywell, is sponsoring a webinar on Jan. 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET. This presentation introduces the theoretical chemistry behind these techniques, as well as the most appropriate placement of these techniques within affected work system designs to keep workers safe.

Webinar Information

Register Now for the Environmental Justice and Natural Disasters/COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Meeting: Southeast and Caribbean Basin Region

The Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Environmental Justice (EJ) and Natural Disaster Subcommittee is hosting three virtual Regional Town Hall Meetings in early 2021. The first two-hour virtual Town Hall Meeting will focus on the Southeast and Caribbean Basin Region (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

EJ and Natural Disasters Town Hall

CBPR Partnership Academy Requests for Applications

The Detroit Community Academic Urban Research Center invites applicants for their Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Partnership Academy. It is designed for community members and academic researchers with little or no CBPR experience who are interested in enhancing their knowledge and skills using a CBPR approach, to conduct research and action in collaborative partnership aimed at eliminating health inequities in their communities. The deadline to apply is Jan. 27.

More Information

Forklift Safety & Compliance: Answering the Tough Questions

Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks (PITs) have seen a renewed focus recently with the observance of National Forklift Safety Day, a revised ANSI lift truck industry standard, and a regulatory agenda item to revise the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard. The webinar will be held on Feb. 11 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Information

Online Abstract Submissions for APHA’s "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness"

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is now accepting abstract submissions for oral and poster presentations for the APHA 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo. Authors are encouraged to submit abstracts on the meeting theme, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness," and current and emerging public health issues. The deadline to submit is March 21.

More Information

Save the Date: Brownfields 2021

The goal of the National Brownfields Training Conference is to provide a networking and learning environment for the brownfields’ community. Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and having these considerations in mind, Brownfields 2021 will be rescheduled from its current April dates. Brownfields 2021 will now be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from Sept. 27-30, 2021.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Current Issues in the Assessment of Respiratory Protective Devices for Occupational and Non-Occupational Uses

To address approaches to the respirator approval process in the current landscape for both occupational and non-occupational use of respirators, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Standing Committee on Personal Protective Equipment for Workplace Safety and Health convened a virtual workshop, Current Issues in the Assessment of Respiratory Protective Devices: Nontraditional Workers and Public Use on Aug. 4-5, 2020. Proceedings from the workshop are available.

National Academies Press

New Poll Reveals Most Effective Language to Improve COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance

The findings of a new national poll, “The Language of Vaccine Acceptance,” reveal the urgent need for political and health leaders to adjust their messaging to improve confidence in COVID-19 vaccines. The poll identifies the language that will be most effective in reaching all Americans, especially those who are currently less likely to take a vaccine.


Air Grievances: Silence Swirls Around the Toll of Bushfire Smoke During Pregnancy

Janet Frank was trying to conceive by IVF and gave it another shot later that year, but miscarried again in January 2020 and then once more in April 2020. The bushfire season of 2019-20, known as Black Summer, burned through 18.6m hectares of land and caused some of the worst bushfire smoke in living memory to descend on Sydney. When asked whether she would have gone for another two rounds of IVF if she’d known that the smog that descended on Sydney could have increased her risk of miscarriage, Frank responds without hesitating.

The Guardian [Author: Isabelle Oderberg]

Listen: Dana Williamson on Bringing Communities to the Forefront of Environmental Justice Research

Dana Williamson joins the Agents of Change in Environmental Health podcast to discuss the crucial role of social science in examining and maximizing the impact of environmental justice research and on-the-ground work.

Environmental Health News

Listen: Kristina Marusic Discusses the Health Effects of Fracking On "In This Climate"

EHN's Pittsburgh reporter Kristina Marusic recently appeared on the podcast In This Climate to discuss the impacts of fracking in southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond. She shared the story of a community in Braddock, Pennsylvania, that's been fighting to stop a fracking well from being drilled on the property of a U.S. Steel mill.

Environmental Health News

Local News Articles on Increased Opioid Use

The opioid epidemic continues to harm communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Three local stories from Ohio, Oklahoma, and Massachusetts explain efforts to combat the crisis: Ohio AG warns opioid epidemic is getting worse during the pandemic; Hunter asking federal regulators for update in fight against opioid epidemic; and Mass. US Attorney says opioid epidemic remains biggest threat.

Cleveland 19 News

Oklahoma City KFOR

Massachusetts WCVB

Retailers: Potential Problems When Dealing with Hazardous Waste

Recently, Dana Palmer, a partner at Allen Matkins, presented a webinar titled Hazardous Waste Management and Regulatory Interpretations: Perils & Pitfalls for Companies Regarding Salvageable/Usable Goods vs. Waste. The webinar focused on the challenges of complying with federal and state environmental laws regarding the proper disposal of hazardous waste, particularly as they relate to retail goods moving through the supply chain.

National Law Review

Webinar Recording

These Are Some of the New Jobs Emerging In 2021 And Beyond

With the acceleration of technology adoption, new business models, and increased demand for certain skills and roles within organizations, the pandemic has changed much about the way we work, but it has also changed the very jobs we’re doing. The environmental sector is one of them.

Fast Company [Author: Gwen Moran]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Contiguous U.S. Ranked Fifth Warmest During 2020; Alaska Experienced Its Coldest Year Since 2012

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) summarizes the U.S. climate from 2020. According to the report, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 54.4°F, 2.4°F above the 20th-century average, ranking fifth warmest in the 126-year period of record. The five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2012. The annual precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 30.28 inches, 0.34 inch above average, ranking in the middle third of the historical record.

NOAA Assessing the U.S. Climate in 2020 Report

EPA Publishes First Installment of Controversial Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos

Critics of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are renewing their call for a complete ban on asbestos after the agency’s release of Part 1 of a final risk evaluation concludes that the substance – a known human carcinogen – presents an unreasonable health risk to workers under certain conditions.

Safety and Health Magazine

Federal Register

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

NIEHS Podcast Episode with ECWTP Graduate, Now Mayor

A new podcast episode is the second installment for a series celebrating the 25th anniversary of the NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP). The podcast features an interview with Rocio Treminio-Lopez, an ECWTP graduate from the previously funded Alice Hamilton Occupational Health Center. Treminio-Lopez describes how the ECWTP changed her life and helped shape her career path. Today, she is happily serving others through her work as mayor of Brentwood, Maryland.


CPWR Looks at Prescription Opioid Use Among Construction Workers with MSDs

Employers in the construction industry need to promote “effective, non-opioid pain-management methods” for injured workers, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training is saying after two of its recent studies found construction workers with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are three times more likely than their co-workers to use prescription opioids.

Safety and Health Magazine

Working Safely with Nanomaterials: CPWR Publishes New Resources

In an effort to protect workers who handle products containing nanomaterials, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training has released a pair of toolbox talks and an infographic. Nanomaterials have at least one dimension that is smaller than 100 nanometers – thinner than a human hair. According to CPWR, hundreds of construction products such as cement, adhesives, and paints and coatings contain engineered nanomaterials.

Safety and Health Magazine

CPWR Small Study Grant Funding Available

The Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Small Study Program, which supports promising new research initiatives on improving construction safety and health, has a particular interest in studies that plan to work with and/or target small employers, those with 19 employees or fewer. CPWR are also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

UCLA LOSH Is Seeking a HAZMAT Outreach and Education Specialist

The UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (LOSH) is currently seeking a Hazmat Outreach and Education Specialist to lead LOSH’s efforts to prevent worker and community exposures to hazardous materials, toxic releases, and environmental hazards. The Specialist oversees high-quality hands-on training programs, including the 40-hour HAZWOPER, 24-hour Hazardous Waste Operations, 8-hour annual Refresher, First Responder Operations, and other courses based on need.

Job Posting – Requisition No. 32961

Remote Positions in Promoting Health Equity for Farmworkers

The National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) has posted 12 new job openings. All jobs can be remote and are part of a cooperative agreement program between NCFH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address COVID-19 in farmworker communities. Jobs range from helping build national partnerships to helping farmworkers find health care providers to research and evaluation.

Job Posting

BlueGreen Alliance Seeks Three Field Organizers

The BlueGreen Alliance is hiring an Appalachian, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain Regional Field Organizer. The position will build, maintain, and mobilize labor and environmental coalitions across the region to support BGA’s federal initiatives. BGA unites America’s largest labor unions and its most influential environmental organizations.

Appalachian Regional Field Organizer Position

Midwest Regional Field Organizer Position

Rocky Mountain Regional Field Organizer Position

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