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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: March 12, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, March 12, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

March 12, 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

Save the Date: Spring 2021 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop Announced

Dates for the virtual NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop have been set. The Awardee Meeting will be held the afternoon of Tuesday, April 20, and the Workshop will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, April 21-22. The workshop is tentatively scheduled at 1:00-5:15 p.m. ET both days. Meeting registration will open next week and additional information will be published in the coming days.


NIEHS WTP COVID-19 Fact Sheets Now Available

The updated Spanish and English versions of the COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Workers and the Injection Safety for COVID-19 Vaccinators and Vaccine Administrators fact sheets are now on the WTP COVID-19 webpage. This fact sheet covers sharps and needle safety to protect vaccinators from needlestick injuries and blood exposures.


Six Feet Is Not Enough. Workers Need More Ventilation.

One year into the pandemic and a half million American deaths later, our understanding of how Covid-19 spreads has grown and changed significantly. However, federal safety guidelines are still largely based on old science and in desperate need of updating to control the virus. The need is particularly urgent to protect frontline workers in essential industries who face much greater risk of infection and death, but it will also be important in the months to come for any employer who wants to reopen an office or other workplace safely.

Politico [Authors: David Michaels, Donald K. Milton, and Lisa M. Brosseau]

Hundreds of Toxic Sites at Risk for Flooding, Which Could Endanger Surrounding Communities

Millions of Americans live near Superfund sites, areas the federal government considers contaminated as a result of hazardous waste that was dumped, mismanaged or otherwise left out in the open. Many of those sites are still awaiting cleanup. And with climate change triggering sea-level rise, experts are ringing the alarm bell about the threat of flooding at Superfund sites, which could put the communities that surround them at risk.

ABC9 [Author: Joce Sterman, Alex Brauer, and Andrea Nejman]

Coal Mine Safety Regulators Issue COVID Protection Guidelines, But No Regulations

On March 10, the U.S. Department of Labor announced stronger coronavirus safety guidance intended to keep coal miners safe from COVID-19 in the workplace. However, the Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration stopped short of issuing an emergency standard — as the mine workers’ union had requested — and instead kept to voluntary guidelines.

WFPL [Author: Jeff Young]

Prepare Worker Safety Rule for Next Pandemic Now, Advocates Say

Broad federal and state rules to protect workers from future infectious diseases are a necessary complement to workplace safety regulations specific to Covid-19, some advocates say. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is considering whether to advance an emergency temporary rule in response to Covid-19, often finds itself reacting to new health hazards and trends, said Richard Fairfax, who served as the agency’s top career service official before retiring in 2013.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Bruce Rolfsen]

Death Rates Rising Among Middle-Aged and Younger Americans; Report Recommends Urgent National Response

Young and middle-aged adults (25-64 years old) in the U.S. have been dying at higher rates since 2010, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults says that rising death rates are striking working-age Americans, whose risk of dying from certain conditions — such as drug overdoses or hypertensive heart disease — has been climbing since the 1990s.

National Academies

The Legacy of an EJ Titan

For much of its history, the environmental movement has been overwhelmingly white and gave little thought to the impacts pollution and climate change had on people of color and underserved communities. The convergence of the two, which happened no more than a generation ago, came only after the tireless work of activists like Cecil Corbin-Mark.


Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Managing Inequities and Environmental Injustices Encountered on the Job Among Workers Experiencing Disadvantage NIEHS Webinar

COVID-19 illness, infectious disease, and natural disasters have disproportionately affected high risk, disadvantaged, under-resourced, and minority workers. This NIEHS webinar panel will explore challenges and opportunities for improving safety and health among these populations of workers, workplaces, and geographies. It will also address how comorbidities and disadvantages like underlying chronic disease, food insecurity, race, and income can impact occupational risk. Given the recent winter storm related events in Texas, we will also hear about how the lack of power and water across the state have disproportionately affected workers and the impact of COVID-19 in that region. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, March 16 at 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET.

Event Registration

EPA Nominations for NEJAC Membership is Now Open

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites nominations from a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to its National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). The Agency is seeking nominations to fill approximately eight (8) new vacancies for terms through September 2022. Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified persons to be considered for appointment to this advisory council. The deadline to apply is March 24.

More Information

Estimating Indoor Transmission Risks of SARS-CoV-2

The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) is hosting a presentation that will explore two case studies where the Wells-Riley model was used to calculate SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk estimates. Based on previously collected data, risk estimates were calculated for nail salons and public schools located in New York City under different exposure scenarios. The webinar will be held on April 13 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

2021 HHS Small Business Program Conference Diverse Perspectives SEEDing Impactful Innovations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for life sciences in the U.S. There is more than $1.2 billion of seed funding for small businesses who are developing innovative products and services that could potentially save lives. This conference, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will explore the theme Diverse Perspectives SEEDing Impactful Innovations. The conference will be held April 26-30.

More Information

AIHce EXP 2021

The American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce EXP) is an experience for Occupational Environmental Health Solutions professionals of all levels, specialties, and expertise. Discover the tools and strategies you need to protect worker health while taking advantage of several networking opportunities to grow your professional network. The event will take place in-person and virtual on May 24-26.

Event Registration

Notice of Intent to Publish a FOA for Understanding and Addressing the Impact of Structural Racism and Discrimination on Minority Health and Health Disparities

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications on observational research to understand the role of structural racism and discrimination (SRD) in causing and sustaining health disparities, and intervention research that addresses SRD in order to improve minority health or reduce health disparities. The estimated application due date is Aug. 20.


On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Industrial Facilities Released Millions of Pounds of Illegal Pollution During the Winter Storm

Over the course of the week-long winter storm in mid-February, industrial plants statewide emitted more than 3 million excess pounds of pollution, according to an independent analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund, Air Alliance Houston, and Environment Texas. After Hurricane Harvey, for comparison, plants along the Gulf Coast emitted 1 million pounds of excess pollution.

Texas Observer [Author: Amal Ahmed]

Five Ways to Increase Worker Safety in the Renewable Energy Industry

Workplace safety is a critical concern in this growing sector of the global employment market. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, there were 11.5 million jobs in this sector as of 2019. The number of positions available is projected to rise rapidly over the next decade. Here are five ways renewable companies can prioritize safety through training, documentation and the use of health and safety management software.

Blue and Green Tomorrow [Author: Annie Qureshi]

Michael Dourson: At What Level Does A Safe Chemical Become Harmful?

All chemicals are toxic at some level — some can cause harm at very small concentrations, while others need a large amount before there is a danger to human health. For example, ingesting large amounts of dihydrogen monoxide1 can cause low blood sodium concentrations leading to nausea, fatigue, confusion and seizures, and even death, but few people would want to ban di-hydrogen (H2) mono-oxide (O) — also known as “water” — from public sale and or other uses, since water is safe and necessary when we drink a normal amount.

Mansfield News Journal

Disaster Preparedness Is Key, 10 Years on From Japan Quake and Tsunami: UN

UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is “embarking on the very important developments in the tsunami warnings systems under a new campaign of the United Nations,” said Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the IOC-UNESCO. Recently, the IOC carried out a tsunami-preparedness exercise with the countries bordering the northeast Atlantic, the Mediterranean and adjacent seas, to assess tsunami preparedness and coordination between communities and authorities.

UN News

A Decade After Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, Contaminated Water Symbolizes Japan’s Struggles

Beside the ruins of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, more than 1,000 huge metal tanks loom in silent testament to one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, the meltdown of three nuclear reactors 10 years ago this month. The tanks contain nearly 1.25 million tons of cooling water from the 2011 disaster and groundwater seepage over the years — equivalent to around 500 Olympic-size swimming pools — most of it still dangerously radioactive.

Washington Post [Author: Simon Denyer]

Biden Infrastructure Plan Aims to Please Both Labor And Environmentalists

Joe Biden pledges to be the most labor-friendly president ever, and unions are a key part of his political coalition. He's now enlisting their support for his plan to rebuild the nation's infrastructure and transition the country to clean energy. The relationship has its complications, as NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

WAMC [Author: Don Gonyea]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Biden Administration to Invest $250 Million in Effort to Encourage COVID-19 Safety and Vaccination Among Underserved Populations

As part of President Biden's National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, the Administration announced an effort to invest $250 million to encourage COVID-19 safety and vaccination among underserved populations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) will offer the funding as health literacy grants to localities, who will partner with community-based organizations, to reach racial and ethnic minority, rural and other vulnerable populations.


DOL OIG: OSHA’s Virtual Inspections During Pandemic Likely Led to Dangerous Workplaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) decision during the COVID-19 pandemic to conduct many inspections virtually risked worker safety, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General concluded in an audit report. The report does not specifically mention OSHA’s enforcement at meatpacking plants, but the problems the report details have plagued the agency’s response to the industry.

Illinois Newsroom [Author: Sky Chadde, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting]

OIG Report

EPA Investigates Toxic 'Forever Chemicals' In Pesticides

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating the presence of toxic chemicals in pesticides, which may be coming from their plastic containers. The agency said in a statement that its testing showed that the chemicals, belonging to a family of substances called PFAS, were “most likely formed” by a reaction while fluorine was being put into the containers, and then “leached into the pesticide product.”

The Hill [Author: Rachel Frazin]

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

WTP Webinar Recording Now Available: Preventing Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 in Non-Hospital Healthcare Settings

Non-hospital based healthcare workers are at high risk of occupational exposure to infectious diseases and the COVID-19 pandemic. This webinar presented on Feb. 17 shared experiences and solutions to better protect workers in clinics, nursing homes, long term care, emergency response, and home health.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

WEC Seeks Occupational Health and Safety Trainer

The New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) is a coalition of 70 labor, community, and environmental organizations advocating for safe, secure jobs and a healthy, sustainable environment. WEC seeks a full-time bi-lingual occupational health and safety (level 1) trainer to conduct health and safety trainings, with an emphasis on COVID prevention and awareness for workers.

Job Posting

OAI Seeks Director of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Training Programs

Chicago-based OAI is looking for an exceptional Occupational Safety, Industrial Hygiene, or Public Health professional who wants to make a positive impact on people’s lives by leading OAI’s nationwide worker health and safety training programs. These programs address the needs of first responders, underrepresented workers and job seekers who are most vulnerable to workplace-related injuries and illnesses.

Job Posting

UMD Seeks Environmental and Climate Justice Outreach and Policy Specialist

University of Maryland, College Park is hiring an Environmental and Climate Justice Outreach and Policy Specialist, who will work closely with the various members of the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH) lab to assist in a wide variety of tasks related to community outreach, engagement, education, and environmental health and justice.

Job Posting

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