July 23, 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.
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- Top Stories
- Calendar Features
- On The Web This Week
- Federal Agency Update
- Awardee Highlights/Online Learning
- Job Openings
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- Newsbriefs Past Issues
|Top Stories||Back to Top|
Evacuation for Portion of La Porte Continues After Tanker Truck Was Found Venting Hazardous Chemical
A voluntary evacuation order continues for a small portion of La Porte near the Dow facility where a tanker truck was found to be venting early on July 21. The first alert went out at about 7:30 a.m., with the office of emergency management telling residents east of Bay Area Boulevard to shelter in place. That order has since been lifted, but the evacuation area continued as of 12:30 p.m.
KHOU [Author: Doug Delony]
Circumventing COVID-19 with Better Ventilation and Air Quality
Gathering outdoors has provided people a safer alternative to meeting inside during the COVID-19 pandemic. But for those who spend their days in crowded indoor spaces — workers in office buildings and industrial facilities, students in schools, and the like — how can their indoor environments be made more similar to the outdoors? With better air quality and ventilation.
Stat News [Author: Leslie Boden, Will Raderman, and Patricia Fabian]
Study Finds Lung Damage in Firefighters Years After a Major Wildfire
Recent research from Canada seems to show that wildfires can continue to hurt the lungs of firefighters for years after they’ve burnt out. The study found that first responders who combated the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 were more likely to experience chronic lung ailments like asthma in the years after than the general public, while many also had visible signs of long-term lung damage.
Gizmodo [Author: Ed Cara]
Armed Guards Protect Tons of Nuclear Waste That Maine Can’t Get Rid of
In the summertime, the picturesque village of Wiscasset is infamous for its long lines of people hungry to try a lobster roll at Red’s Eats and cars that crawl through town on the often-clogged U.S. Route 1. But just a few miles south of downtown is a different kind of roadblock: 550 metric tons of nuclear waste stored on a coastal peninsula at the now-decommissioned Maine Yankee atomic energy plant that have nowhere to go.
Bangor Daily News [Author: Abigail Curtis]
Study: Rising Heat Plus Strenuous Jobs Could Hurt Worker Health
A new study led by a University of Oregon researcher is raising the alarm that physically demanding work in hot temperatures could increase rates of kidney disease in the United States among workers who toil outdoors.
DOE Jobs Report: EVs Up, But Unions Back Fossil Fuels
A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) effort that tracks energy jobs in the U.S. has returned to DOE. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm marked the reappearance of DOE’s role in the U.S. Energy and Employment Jobs Report at a virtual meeting with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who had pressed for the government to do the accounting.
|Calendar Features||Back to Top|
NYCOSH: A Forum on Vaccines
The New York Committee on Safety and Health (NYCOSH) is hosting a forum on vaccines on July 28 at 10:00 a.m. ET. The event will feature experts that will cover the following topics, including herd immunity and booster shots, vaccine history and efficacy, union and worker center programs and policies, and employer vaccine mandates.
Achieving Environmental Justice Through Disaster Citizen Science
The National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program is hosting a webinar on July 29 at 2:00-4:00 p.m. This webinar will introduce attendees to the growing field of disaster citizen science and present a toolkit designed to provide guidance on using citizen science strategies to support community preparedness, response, and recovery. Disaster citizen science is the use of scientific principles or methods by nonprofessional scientists to address issues related to disasters or community hazards.
Needs and Challenges in PPE Use for Underserved User Populations
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. Comments must be submitted by Aug. 23.
2021 National Cleanup Workshop
The National Cleanup Workshop is hosted by the Energy Communities Alliance with the cooperation of the Energy Facility Contractors Group and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM). The 2021 workshop will be held on Sept. 8-10. The workshop will bring together senior DOE executives and site officials, industry executives, and other stakeholders to discuss EM’s progress on the cleanup of the environmental legacy of the nation’s Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons program.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ICMA are committed to ensuring the National Brownfields Training Conference provides the best networking and learning environment possible for the Brownfields community. Several considerations were made related to the current, and anticipated, COVID-19 situation. The event has been rescheduled from its September dates to December 8-11, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
|On The Web This Week||Back to Top|
Low Dose: Scientists Study Low-Radiation Impacts on Organisms at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Geoffrey Smith, a biology professor at New Mexico State University, working in tandem with Los Alamos National Laboratory, intended to use the vault in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) underground to study the impacts of extremely low-levels of radiation on a variety of organisms.
Carlsbad Current-Argus [Author: Adrian Hedden]
Measuring Houston’s Environmental Injustice from Space
Earlier this month, the Houston Health Department reported that elevated levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, were prevalent throughout Galena Park and other predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods. "Air pollution is…an invisible killer," Bakeyah Nelson, executive director of Air Alliance Houston, told EHN, "And communities of color and working-class neighborhoods have really been the dumping ground for [high-polluting] facilities."
EHN [Author: Krystal Vasquez]
More Action Needed to Fix Chemical Safety Board Crucial to N.J., Advocates Say
While President Joe Biden has nominated three people to the independent board that investigates chemical accidents, supporters of the Chemical Safety Board said other steps also must be taken so the agency properly can do its job. A letter from 22 unions, environmental groups and other advocacy organizations to Chair Katherine Lemos, the last remaining member of the board, called for more investigators and addressing the backlog of probes.
More Allegations That EPA Scientists Are Pressured to Alter Reports
Whistleblowers responsible for completing chemical risk assessments have come forward with allegations that their reports have been and continue to be “improperly altered to completely eliminate or minimize risk calculations,” according to a complaint filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on behalf of four scientists who work in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
Western Pa. Among Nationwide Areas Seeing Dangerous Rise in Opioid Epidemic
Throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed as if the opioid epidemic had come to a sudden halt — largely because coronavirus headlines dominated newsstands, television broadcasts and everyday conversation. The latest overdose death figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, convey a starkly opposite truth.
Jobs Are Coming to Hampton Roads’ Offshore Wind Industry. Who Will Fill Them?
Desk jobs aren’t for everyone. For people with hands-on skills and ambitions to work in the burgeoning offshore wind energy industry, hundreds of Hampton Roads jobs will open up in a couple years. In 2023, major equipment manufacturing will begin to support Dominion Energy’s eventual offshore wind energy farm, which will be some 180 turbines strong. Short-term construction and long-term technician positions will be up for grabs.
The Virginia Pilot [Author: Elizabeth Moore]
|Federal Agency Update||Back to Top|
Updates to the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) released updates to the popular AirNow Fire and Smoke Map based on feedback we received on the 2020 version. The updates include a “dashboard” to give users quick access to key information they can use to help activities, including: the current NowCast AQI category at a monitor or sensor location; information about actions to consider taking; and information showing the recent PM 2.5 trend for the location.
Labor Department Seeks Funding for Staffing Surges
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) wants to staff up to combat shortages across the department, including in worker protection agencies like the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Secretary Marty Walsh told lawmakers at a July 14 Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. The Biden administration’s budget request proposes a 13.5% staffing surge at DOL, which would mean an additional 2,100 full-time-equivalent employees.
Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction: Opportunities for DHS to Better Address Longstanding Program Challenges
In April 2016, Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to consolidate chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear security programs into the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office. GAO recommended DHS use, where appropriate, the key mergers and organizational transformation practices identified in prior work, such as conducting adequate stakeholder outreach. However, GAO observed that significant challenges remained at the CWMD office—such as low employee morale and questions about program efficacy. GAO has ongoing work evaluating these issues and plans to issue a report in early 2022.
A New Partnership is Created to Promote the Safety and Health of Temporary Workers
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Staffing Association (ASA) announced a five-year partnership agreement to advance the protection of temporary workers, those who are paid by a staffing company and assigned to work for a host employer company.
Occupational Health and Safety Online [Author: Shereen Hashem]
|Awardee Highlights/Online Learning||Back to Top|
NIEHS WTP COVID-19 Webinar Series: Practical Considerations for Using Portable Air Cleaners to Prevent Transmission of Infectious Aerosols
NIEHS WTP is hosting a webinar on Aug. 16 at 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET. In this webinar, participants will learn about 1) assessing ventilation systems within a building or space and 2) selection and use of portable air cleaner(s), when appropriate. English/Spanish interpretation will be available during this webinar.
|Job Openings||Back to Top|
EDF Seeks Director of Chemical Policy
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is hiring a Director of Chemical Policy. The director is responsible for directing and managing the execution of the Health Program’s chemical policy priorities to drive significant reductions in the use of and exposure to toxics across the supply chain using the Toxic Substances Control Act, with a particular focus on protecting high-risk populations and communities.
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.
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