March 18, 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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WTP Spring Workshop Registration Is Now Open
The Spring 2022 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop registration is now open. This workshop’s theme is “Preparing for the Impacts of Climate Change through Training.” The awardee meeting will be held on Tuesday afternoon, May 17. The technical workshop will be held on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, May 18-19. The workshop will focus on sharing strategies regarding mitigating occupational hazards related to climate change.
COVID-19 Brief on Respiratory Hazard Assessment
A new WTP COVID-19 Brief, Workplace Respiratory Hazard Assessment: Preventing Inhalation of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus, is now available. The brief covers various precautions to protect workers from inhalation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and includes a framework to assess occupational risk categories and select respiratory protective equipment.
Critics Blast Utah Mill that Accepted 300,000 Tons of Tonawanda's Radioactive Waste
More than 300,000 tons of radioactive waste have left the Town of Tonawanda, New York, for a uranium mill in Utah, where the material threatens the environment and those living near the site, critics say. The waste – enough to fill about 21,000 large dump trucks – dates to work at a Tonawanda industrial site during the World War II-era effort to produce the atomic bomb.
Buffalo News [Author: Stephen Watson]
Hanford Funding Increases for Key Construction in Fiscal 2022 Budget Deal
The final fiscal 2022 compromise budget reached by Congress continues the era of flush funding for the Department of Energy’s nuclear cleanup branch, which rises to nearly $7.9 billion for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, up from $7.6 billion. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management will see its Defense Environmental Cleanup appropriation rise to $6.7 billion, or $284 million more than the fiscal 2021 budget.
Exchange Monitor [Author: Wayne Barber]
China's COVID-19 Cases Double as Other Nations Eye Resurgences
A flurry of lockdowns and other strong measures in China are keeping millions of people at home and workplaces shuttered, amid the country's quickly rising Omicron surge that saw COVID-19 cases double over the last day. Elsewhere, a number of countries in Europe are eyeing rising cases again in the wake of eased restrictions, with some U.S. experts warning of potential rises based on what they see in wastewater surveillance.
CIDRAP [Author: Lisa Schnirring]
Two Years of COVID-19: The Battle to Accept Airborne Transmission
The World Health Organization (WHO) early on denied COVID-19 was spreading through these tiny aerosols suspended in air. As evidence mounted, alongside pressure from scientists like Catherine Noakes, the agency eventually acknowledged the possibility of airborne transmission — but continued to downplay its significance in favour of droplets, placing a heavy emphasis on handwashing and disinfecting surfaces instead of more stringent measures.
Al Jazeera [Author: Natalie Grover]
Omicron BA.2 Sub-Variant Now Nearly a Quarter of New COVID Cases in U.S., CDC Estimates
The BA.2 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant now makes up nearly a quarter of new COVID-19 infections nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up from around 1 in 10 new cases just a week prior. Since January, Omicron has made up virtually all new infections in the U.S. Like in many countries abroad, most cases in the U.S. had been caused by a sub-lineage of Omicron known as BA.1.
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Coal Ash: How Safe Is It and How Should We Manage It?
The Duke University Superfund Research Program is hosting an in-person and online coal ash symposium on March 25. The symposium will feature a panel of speakers that will address the following topics: environmental chemistry and risks of coal ash, health risks of coal ash, remediation and management of coal ash, and policy, law, and community impacts.
Biden-Harris Administration Issues Call for Wildfire Commission Member Applications
The Departments of Agriculture, the Interior and Homeland Security through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are now accepting applications for members to the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law authorized establishment of the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. Applications are due March 25.
Eighth Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference
The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in collaboration with Texas Southern University will host the in-person Eight Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference April 13-16 in New Orleans. The purpose of the conference is to bring together HBCU faculty and students, researchers, climate professionals and environmental justice and coastal community residents impacted by toxic facilities and severe weather events related to climate change.
U.S. Department of Labor Announces $3.2M in Susan Harwood Grants for Workplace Safety, Health Training on Infectious Diseases, Including COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the availability of $3.2 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, Including COVID-19 grants. The deadline to apply is May 6.
U.S. Department of Labor Announces Proposed Rule to Update Powered Industrial Trucks Standard for General Industry, Construction
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to improve worker safety and health by ensuring the agency’s general industry and construction industry rules reflect current industry practice and state-of-the-art technology. The comment period ends May 17.
U.S. Department of Labor Newsroom
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Changes for the Better: EPA Looks Out for Workers in Revised Risk Finding for HBCD
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started to fulfill its promise to take another look at many of the chemical risk findings made during the former Administration. First up was “HBCD,” a collection of flame retardants present in many goods, including building insulation, furniture, and electronics. In its revised risk determination for the chemical EPA proposed important changes that are needed to protect health and the environment.
EDF Blog [Author: Samantha Liskow]
A New Monitor Could Revolutionize the Way Air Pollution Is Regulated
The monitor, dubbed the Duo PM300, is capable of giving a more accurate measure of PM2.5 than any retail, residential air monitor on the market. It’s also capable of measuring particles much, much smaller than PM2.5 — which many scientists believe are key to preventing health harms from air pollution exposure.
Environmental Health News [Author: Kristina Marusic]
Report: Climate Change Threatens These 29 Michigan Chemical Sites
Climate change is likely to bring more catastrophes to Michigan, and a new federal report warns that 29 sites that use hazardous chemicals are in the pathway of worsening floods driven by a changing planet. The sites include a plastics manufacturer in Wyandotte, a sewage treatment plant in Jackson, an ice-cream maker in Ludington and a petroleum fuel terminal in St. Clair, according to a recent federal report that reviewed climate risks throughout the nation.
Michigan Environment Watch [Author: Kelly House]
Governor Hogan Announces Elimination of Four-Year Degree Requirement for Thousands of State Jobs
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the launch of a multi-pronged, first-in-the-nation workforce development initiative to formally eliminate the four-year college degree requirement from thousands of state jobs. Spearheaded by the Maryland Department of Labor and the Maryland Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the state will work with partners to recruit and market these roles to job seekers who are “Skilled Through Alternative Routes” (STARs).
Iowa Ranks High in Emergency Preparedness, Report Says
A new report finds Iowa’s public health systems have improved their rankings and now are well-prepared for a range of emergencies. The annual report published by nonprofit health policy think tank Trust for America’s Health showed Iowa improved in its ratings this year, moving up from the middle tier to the top team.
The Gazette [Author: Michaela Ramm]
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DOE EM Releases Updated Strategic Vision Outlining Coming Decade of Accomplishments
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) recently released its Strategic Vision 2022-2032, a blueprint to the program’s anticipated cleanup achievements over the next decade. The Strategic Vision outlines goals for 2022-2032 focused on safety, environmental cleanup priorities, innovation, and improved performance.
DOE Awards $36 Million to Reduce Waste from Advanced Nuclear Reactors
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $36 million for 11 projects seeking to increase the deployment, and use of, nuclear power as a reliable source of clean energy and limit the amount of waste produced from Advanced Nuclear Reactors.
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U.S. Department of Labor Offers New Resources to Help Combat Employer Retaliation Against Workers Who Exercise Their Legal Rights
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division published and launched several resources to help combat retaliation by employers against employees for exercising their worker rights. These resources include the following: Field Assistance Bulletin “Protecting Workers from Retaliation,” Presentation: “Unlawful Retaliation Under the Laws Enforced by the Wage and Hour Division,” and Wage and Hour Division Anti-Retaliation website.
NIOSH Webinar Recording: Where Occupational Safety and Health Intersects with Preventive Medicine
The August 2021 Preventive Medicine Grand Rounds features Dr. Randall Nett, Chief of the Field Studies Branch in the Respiratory Health Division at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Dr. Nett will help Preventive Medicine learners understand the background and mission of NIOSH, key activities at NIOSH, and examples of how work at NIOSH helps protect the health of the nation’s workers.
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NUHW Seeks Researcher
The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) is searching for a talented, hard-working individual committed to building a powerful and democratic union. The successful candidate for this position will be a creative thinker who is resourceful and hard-working. They will work as part of a team of researchers, organizers, and other staff on ongoing campaigns. The position works out of our Emeryville or Glendale office in California.
NIEHS Seeks Director of Extramural Research and Training
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is accepting applications for Director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training. The ideal candidate will have executive and managerial leadership experience, to include experience in scientific review and grants management. Candidates must have an M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent degree in a field relevant to the position. The application period began on March 1 and will remain open for 60 days.
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