January 28, 2022
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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Deadly Avian Flu Found in NC; Zoo Closes Aviary, Poultry Farmers on Alert
The North Carolina Zoo announced it's closing its aviary to visitors after wildlife officials reported a highly dangerous strain of bird flu found in the state. A "highly pathogenic" and deadly strain of bird flu, carried from Europe by migrating waterfowl, has been found in 40 birds shot by hunters in North Carolina.
Pascrell Calls for Federal Investigation of Passaic's Massive Chemical Plant Fire
New Jersey U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. asked a federal safety agency to probe Jan. 14's massive fire at the Qualco pool chemical plant in Passaic. In frigid temperatures, about 200 firefighters from 100 towns beat back the flames, which had ignited some 100,000 pounds of chlorine in one building.
NorthJersey.com [Author: Matt Fagan]
Even Low Levels of Soot Can Be Deadly to Older People, Research Finds
Researchers at the Health Effects Institute, a group that is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as automakers and fossil fuel companies, examined health data from 68.5 million Medicare recipients across the United States. They found that if the federal rules for allowable levels of fine soot had been slightly lower, as many as 143,000 deaths could have been prevented over the course of a decade.
New York Times [Author: Lisa Friedman]
EPA Takes Action to Combat Industrial Air Pollution
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched sweeping changes this week to address long-standing problems brought to light by ProPublica’s reporting on industrial air pollution. Shortly after the November publication of the investigation, administrator Michael S. Regan toured some of the largest toxic hot spots identified by ProPublica’s analysis.
ProPublica [Authors: Ava Kofman and Lisa Song]
New Study Underscores Dangerous Levels of Chemical Pollution
Chemical pollution has reached a dangerous level globally, according to a new study published in Environmental Science & Technology. The study, led by researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute, found that chemical production and pollution are outpacing the global capacity for monitoring and assessment and are beyond the limit for safe management.
Human Rights Watch [Author: Krista Shennum]
Peru Declares Environmental Emergency in Area Fouled by Oil Spill Following Tonga Volcano Eruption
The stunningly powerful eruption last Saturday of an undersea volcano near Tonga unleashed tsunami waves around the Pacific and as far away as the United States. In Peru, the oil spill near Lima has fouled beaches, killed birds and harmed the fishing and tourism industries. With its 90-day decree, the government said it plans "sustainable management" of 21 beaches tarred by 6,000 barrels of oil that spilled from a tanker ship unloading at a refinery.
Health-Care Virus Standard Close to Nine Months Away, OSHA Says
A new Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 standard to protect health-care workers should be completed in six to nine months, the agency said. James Frederick, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, revealed the timeline in a statement that is part of the agency’s legal defense of its Dec. 27 decision to cancel the health-care COVID-19 emergency temporary standard.
Bloomberg Law [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]
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Understanding Exposure Hazards and Controls in the Upstream Oil and Gas Industry
Honeywell Personal Protective Equipment is hosting a webinar with Bradley King, industrial hygienist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), on Feb. 10 at 2:00 p.m. ET. This presentation will provide an overview of chemical exposures this worker population faces, and the past and current work NIOSH has conducted to assess them.
“Why is Climate Change a Health Threat” NIMHD Webinar
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)is hosting a webinar on Feb. 9 at 12:00 p.m. that will feature Robert D. Bullard, Ph.D., Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University. The webinar will look at how climate change affects the most vulnerable in our society and exacerbates social and environmental determinants of health.
EPA Publishes Second Installment of Risk Evaluation for Asbestos
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comment on a draft of Part 2 of a final risk evaluation that concludes asbestos – a known human carcinogen – presents an unreasonable health risk to workers under certain conditions. Part 2 of the evaluation focuses on legacy uses and disposal of asbestos. The comment period ends Feb. 14.
U.S. Department of Labor Reminds Specific Employers to Submit Required 2021 Injury, Illness Data by March 2
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds employers that the agency began collecting calendar year 2021 Form 300A data on Jan. 2. Employers must submit the form electronically by March 2. Electronic submissions are required by establishments with 250 or more employees currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records.
Call for Papers for Health Security Journal Special Feature on Climate Change and Health Security
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s Health Security Journal is a collaboration with the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The journal is accepting manuscripts for a special feature on climate change and health security. All manuscripts should be submitted for consideration by March 21.
|On The Web This Week
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On-the-Job Pesticide Exposure Increases Risk of COPD
Workplace exposure to pesticides was linked to a higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a large U.K. study found. Risk of COPD increased among adults ages 40-74 ever exposed to pesticides on the job, reported Sara De Matteis, M.D., Ph.D., of Imperial College London, and colleagues.
Medpage Today [Author: Lei Lei Wu]
Hey, Curious305: Can I Throw Used COVID Tests in the Trash? What About Hazardous Waste?
This article was inspired by a question submitted from Miami Herald reader Marsha Cohen through Curious305. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says laboratories and test sites should treat all waste related to COVID-19 testing of both suspected and confirmed specimens and kit components as “biohazardous waste,” also known as biomedical or infectious waste.
Miami Herald [Author: Michelle Marchante]
Toxic PCBs Festered at This Public School for Eight Years as Students and Teachers Grew Sicker
For Michelle Leahy, it started with headaches, inflamed rashes on her arms and legs, and blisters in her mouth. Some students and staff at Sky Valley Education Center, an alternative public school in Monroe, also had strange symptoms: cognitive problems, skin cysts, girls as young as 6 suddenly hitting puberty.
ProPublica [Author: Lulu Ramadan, The Seattle Times]
New IAEA Report Presents Global Overview of Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management
As a growing number of countries use nuclear technology to generate electricity and radioactive material for many other purposes, there is significant progress in the safe and effective management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel arising from these activities, including the development of deep geological repositories, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report has found.
IAEA News Center [Author: Nicholas Watson]
Mayors Sign Pledge on Racial Equity
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the African American Mayors Association announced that 143 mayors—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—have pledged to advance racial equity in their cities by signing the Mayors’ Compact on Racial Equity.
GM to Invest Historic $7 Billion In Four Facilities Across Michigan, Creating 4,000 Jobs
In a big win for Michigan, General Motors will invest $7 billion in four manufacturing facilities, making the state the "hub" of electric vehicle development and manufacturing. GM will spend $2.6 billion to build a new battery factory in the Lansing area and $4 billion to convert its existing factory in Orion Township to make electric pickups.
Detroit Free Press [Author: Jamie L. LaReau]
Biden Revives ‘Clean Energy’ Program With $1B Loan Guarantee
The Biden administration has issued its first clean energy loan guarantee, reviving an Obama-era program that helped launch the country’s first utility-scale wind and solar farms a decade ago but has largely gone dormant in recent years. It would guarantee up to $1 billion in loans to help a Nebraska company scale up production of “clean” hydrogen to convert natural gas into commercial products used in manufacturing and agriculture.
AP News [Author: Matthew Daly]
|Federal Agency Update
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EPA Administrator Regan Announces Bold Actions to Protect Communities Following the Journey to Justice Tour
Following through on his commitment to action during his Journey to Justice Tour, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan announced the first in a series of actions responding directly to concerns of communities historically and disproportionately impacted by pollution. The actions range from policy changes to community-driven efforts.
GAO Questions Whether FEMA Could Cope with a Catastrophic Natural Disaster
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has testified about the challenges facing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) workforce, based on the watchdog’s previous work between July 2015 and August 2021. GAO said that FEMA’s staffing shortages are exacerbated by the increasing frequency of disasters.
Homeland Security Today [Author: Kylie Bielby]
NTSB Highlights Need for Better Rail-Worker Safety
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) used the fifth anniversary of a deadly railroad worker accident to advocate for recommendations that would address worker safety. The accident occurred Jan. 17, 2017, in Edgemont, South Dakota, where two railroad roadway workers were struck and killed by a BNSF Railway Co. train.
|Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
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Summary of Activities Funded by Disaster Relief Act, 2019
A new document summarizes WTP activities funded by the Disaster Relief Act, 2019. The document includes a summary of training activities conducted by WTP grantees to support workers and communities affected by a variety of natural disasters. The document also includes a summary of contract support activities such as the Environmental Justice and Natural Disasters Town Hall Meetings.
Draft Environmental Justice Action Plan for EPA’s Land Protection and Cleanup Programs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Land and Emergency Management released a draft “EJ Action Plan: Building Up Environmental Justice in EPA's Land Protection and Cleanup Programs." The plan highlights projects, tools, and practices to be applied to its land pollution prevention and cleanup programs.
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U.S. Department of Energy Kicks off Recruitment to Support Implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The U.S. Department of Energy announced that the Clean Energy Corps is ready to recruit an additional 1,000 employees using a special hiring authority included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help implement the Law’s historic infusion of $62 billion in funding and accelerate the nation’s drive to a clean energy future.
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