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NIEHS WTP: June 1, 2018 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, June 1, 2018

Weekly E-Newsbrief

June 1, 2018

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

Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Death Toll Could Exceed 4,000, New Study Estimates

As hurricane season begins, experts are still trying to count the number of deaths caused by last year’s devastating Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The latest estimate: roughly 4,600, many of them from delayed medical care. Residents of Puerto Rico died at a significantly higher rate during the three months after the hurricane than they did in the previous year, according to the results of a new study by a group of independent researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other institutions.

The New York Times [Author: Sheri Fink]

The New England Journal of Medicine [Authors: Kishore et al.]

This Mock Pandemic Killed 150 Million People. Next Time it Might Not Be a Drill.

A novel virus, moderately contagious and moderately lethal, has surfaced and is spreading rapidly around the globe. Outbreaks first appear in Frankfurt, Germany, and Caracas, Venezuela. The virus is transmitted person-to-person, primarily by coughing. So began a recent day-long exercise hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The simulation mixed details of past disasters with fictional elements to force government officials and experts to make the kinds of key decisions they could face in a real pandemic.

The Washington Post [Author: Lena H. Sun]

CSB Releases Arkema Final Report

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final investigation report into the 2017, fire at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. In the days leading up to the incident, an unprecedented amount of rain fell at the plant due to Hurricane Harvey, causing equipment to flood and fail. As a result, chemicals stored at the plant decomposed and burned, releasing fumes and smoke into the air. In its final report, the CSB called for more robust industry guidance to help hazardous chemical facilities better prepare for extreme weather events, like flooding, so that similar incidents can be avoided.

CSB News Release

CSB Final Report

CSB Safety Video

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

2018 National Health Security Award Application

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) are pleased to announce the third 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 due June 1, 2018.


CERC Webinar: Psychology of a Crisis

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) webinar on the Psychology of a Crisis addresses how people process information differently during a crisis. The webinar will examine the psychological barriers to communication that tend to emerge in crises, factors that impact perception of risk, and how to build trust to communicate more effectively. The webinar will be held on June 5, 2018, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Information and Registration

EPA Superfund Task Force Listening Sessions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Site Remediation Enforcement has scheduled a series of eight listening sessions related to recommendations contained in the July 2017 Superfund Task Force Report. These listening sessions will provide a forum for EPA personnel to obtain stakeholder input about specific recommendations, increase public participation and transparency, and strengthen communication with stakeholders. The next two sessions will be held on June 5, 2018. “Exploring CERCLA Environmental Liability Transfer Approaches” (Session 2) will be held from 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. ET and “New Tools to Support Private Party Investment in Cleaning Up and Reusing Superfund Sites” (Session 3) will be held from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. ET.

EPA Listening Sessions

Information and Registration Session 2

Information and Registration Session 3

PEPH Webinar: Translational Research Framework

NIEHS has published a Translational Research Framework. Join this NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) webinar with Kristi Pettibone, Ph.D., who will explain the framework, discuss the potential benefits to the research community, and describe some tools developed to tell a translational research story. The webinar will also include PEPH grantee Susan Pinney, Ph.D., from the University of Cincinnati. She will use the translational research framework to tell the story of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)-related work with the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program. The webinar will be held on June 13, 2018, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Information and Registration

Webinar: Disaster Health Training

In this webinar, The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) will discuss the NCDMPH Core Curriculum for Disaster Medicine & Public Health. This module is an online course covering the 11 core competencies in Disaster Medicine and Public Health. The content was developed by a team of disaster health experts and is delivered in a flexible online format. Additionally, the webinar will discuss the new website and app on Stop the Bleed, teaching lay people how to correctly apply pressure to stop life threatening bleeding. The webinar will be held on June 14, 2018, at 1:30 pm ET.

Webinar Information and Registration

SBIR E-Learning for HAZMAT and Emergency Response

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications from small business concerns (SBCs) that propose to further the development of Advanced Technology Training (ATT) products for: the health and safety training of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) workers; waste treatment personnel; skilled support personnel associated with an emergency/disaster; emergency responders in biosafety response, infectious disease training and cleanup; emergency responders in disasters and resiliency training; and ATT tools to assist in research into the acute and long-term health effects of environmental disasters. Applications are due on July 31, 2018, by 5:00 pm ET.

NIEHS Grants

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

The Dark Secrets of the Animas River

A 2015 spill that turned the waterway orange is a reminder of mining’s disastrous legacy. Three million gallons of toxic water burst out of the Gold King Mine into the Animas River. Adapted from “River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster,” this article tells the history of chemical contamination in the Animas River.

High Country News [Author: Jonathan Thompson]

Congo Ebola Outbreak Offers First Test for Emergency Fund to Prevent Pandemics

A new financial mechanism that frees up emergency funding to ward off a pandemic has been activated for the first time, in response to an outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, or PEF, was set up after the 2013-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic, which was only brought under control at a cost of more than 11,000 lives and about $3 billion, and after late and insufficient response efforts failed to stem the disease. The World Bank says the PEF’s combination of donor cash and capital from the insurance markets provides a new model for epidemic response.

IRIN [Author: Ben Parker]

‘People Just Give Up’: Low-Income Hurricane Victims Slam Federal Relief Programs

Nine months after Harvey, middle-class Houston has recovered, but low-income neighborhoods are in disarray. A POLITICO investigation found that numerous low-income families were denied funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because much of Kashmere Gardens was in a flood zone, and homeowners were thus required to carry flood insurance — a law that many were unaware of. Other families, struggling with language issues and inexperienced with the federal bureaucracy, simply couldn’t cope with a system that even FEMA officials agree is too complicated. Others fell victim to shoddy contractors who took their money and failed to make repairs.

Politico [Author: Danny Vinik]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Funding and Performance of Key Preparedness and Capacity-Building Programs

How is Health and Human Services (HHS) helping states prepare for the next big disease outbreak? Over a 15-year period, HHS awarded about $3 billion to states and others to respond to specific disease threats, such as Zika, Ebola, and H1N1 pandemic influenza. HHS awarded an additional $18 billion for more general public health preparedness and capacity-building activities, such as getting ready for infectious disease threats and terrorist events. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessed preparedness efforts of states and others and found mixed results.

GAO Fast Facts

GAO Highlights

NIOSH Studying Condition of Stockpiled Respirators, Surgical Gowns

Millions of respirators and surgical gowns are in storage around the country, stockpiled for use during infectious disease epidemics, such as avian flu or Ebola. But after years in storage, will those items still protect the wearers as they should? A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) team is trying to answer this question through a three-year study at stockpiles around the country. Lee A. Greenawald, Ph.D., a physical scientist and project officer with the agency's National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, provided a snapshot of the project, now in its second year during the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce EXP).

Occupational Health & Safety

Vacuum Lifting System to Reduce Spinal Load During Airline Baggage Handling

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in collaboration with the Ohio State University, published an article on the effectiveness of a vacuum lifting system in reducing spinal strain or loading during airline baggage handling. The study evaluated the techniques (i.e., manual lifting or lifting with vacuum lift system), task (i.e., loading or unloading suitcase), and baggage cart shelf height (61cm or 133.4cm) on lumbar spinal loads of ten subjects, who performed industry average loading and unloading tasks (e.g. 14.5kg) in a laboratory.

NIOSH Science Blog [Author: Emily Warner and Jack Lu]

Applied Ergonomics [Authors: Lu et al.]

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

PBS News Hour Video: Self-Awareness is Key to Self-Sufficiency at Cara Job Training Program

For workers trying to break the generational cycle of poverty, keeping a job can be as important as getting the job in the first place. As part of PBS News Hour series Chasing the Dream, John Yang reports on a job training and coaching program called Cara in Chicago that teaches the personal attributes and soft skills needed to succeed.

PBS News Hour Video


Job OpeningsBack to Top

New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) Seeking Executive Director

The New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) is seeking an Executive Director. This is an opportunity for someone with the skills, experience, and commitment needed to help build a powerful movement for social change that unites labor, environmental, and community constituencies. The Executive Director (ED) is WEC’s chief executive officer, reports to the Board of Directors, and is responsible for the achievement of the organization's mission and programmatic and financial objectives.

WEC Job Description

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