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NIEHS WTP: May 18, 2018 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, May 18, 2018

Weekly E-Newsbrief

May 18, 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

Los Alamos Scientist’s Patented Radiation Detector Could Boost Worker Safety

Safety concerns at Los Alamos National Laboratory have made headlines in recent years. Jonathan Dowell, who specializes in engineering physics, has patented a radiation-detection device that could make places like the Los Alamos lab safer for workers.

Santa Fe New Mexican [Author: Andy Stiny]

Ebola Outbreak in Congo Enters 'New Phase' as It Spreads to Large City

An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has entered a "new phase" after it spread to a large city, said Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the country's health minister. The new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Congo, the World Health Organization confirmed. The spread of the virus from rural areas into a city has raised fears it could quickly spread and become harder to control.

CNN [Authors: Euan McKirdy and Meera Senthilingam]

Experimental Vaccine to Be Used Against Ebola Outbreak in the DRC

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has formally asked to use an experimental vaccine being developed by Merck. The WHO has a stockpile of 4,300 doses of the vaccine in Geneva. Merck also has 300,000 doses of the vaccine stockpiled in the U.S. The WHO and its partners are responding quickly, concerned that this outbreak has the potential to spread because of its location.

STAT [Author: Helen Branswell]

Senate Health Committee Approves Bill to Establish Cancer Registry for Firefighters

Bipartisan legislation to establish and maintain a voluntary registry intended to improve research into firefighters’ risks of cancer was passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on April 24. The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (HR 931), co-authored by Reps. Chris Collins (R-NY) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), would direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters, and to initiate long-term research into the links between their work and the diseases.

Safety + Health

Toxic City Part III: Sick Schools

Toxic City is an investigative series about the ongoing struggle to protect Philadelphia’s children, many poor and minority, from environmental harm. Philadelphia district schools are filled with acres of damaged asbestos in ceilings, floor tiles, and insulation. As part of its Toxic City series, the Inquirer investigated how environmental hazards in district buildings across Philadelphia put employees and children at risk. The investigation tested for four health hazards: mold spores, lead in water, lead dust from chipping and peeling paint, and asbestos fibers in settled dust.

Philadelphia Inquirer [Authors: Wendy Ruderman, Barbara Laker, and Dylan Purcell]

Toxic City Series

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Webinar Program for National Healthy Homes Month 2018

During May and June, the National Healthy Homes Partnership is hosting webinars in support of the theme Unlocking the Potential of America’s Children: Check Your Home-Protect Your Family. Webinars will focus on the importance of protecting current and future generations of children from the exposures to lead from contaminated paint, dust, and soil. The first webinar is this series, Improving Your Home Environment, will be held on May 22, 2018 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET.

Webinar Registration

Webinar Program

Webinar Session II: Tools for Assessing Exposure and Toxicity

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Research Program (SRP) invites you to join a series of free Risk e-Learning webinars on New Approaches and Alternatives for Toxicity Testing. Assessing environmental exposure and identifying health hazards are both important aspects of chemical safety evaluation, and rapid screening tools may be used to improve our understanding of both aspects. In this session, speakers will discuss tailoring read-across methodology to address chemical evaluation challenges, explore analysis of environmental toxicants, and highlight genetic screening tools to examine mechanisms of toxicity. The webinar will be held on May 23, 2018, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. ET.

Session II Webinar Registration

Session II Abstracts

National Environmental Justice Public Teleconference Meeting

The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will host a public teleconference meeting focusing on several topics, including the discussion and deliberation of the final report from the NEJAC Youth Perspectives on Climate Change Workgroup. The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 31, 2018, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. ET. Registration is required and closes on May 28, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Information and Registration

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Wristbands for Research: Using Wearable Sensors to Collect Exposure Data after Hurricane Harvey

Over the course of four days in August 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped up to 61 inches of rain on parts of Greater Houston, an area larger than New Jersey. The floodwaters that swirled through many of Houston’s streets contained arsenic, lead, and dangerously high levels of Escherichia coli, among other agents. After Hurricane Harvey raged, Texas A&M associate professor of epidemiology Jennifer Horney, led a study funded by the NIEHS Superfund Program to investigate environmental exposures related to hurricane flooding. They asked residents to wear silicone wristbands, a novel passive sampling device that can gather information on hundreds of chemicals to which people are exposed.

Environmental Health Perspectives [Author: Wendee Nicole]

Gilbane Building Company Implements Wearable Safety Technology on Construction Sites

Gilbane Building Company has adopted the Spot-r network and suite of wearable and sensor devices to gain real-time, digital visibility into its workforce, equipment, and site safety. The Spot-r Clip connects to a project-specific network that automates worker headcount procedures and provides the real-time locations of each worker on site. The wearable devices detect slips, trips, and falls on the job, triggering an automatic alert to designated site personnel including medics.


The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Why It Matters 100 Years Later

One hundred years ago, an influenza (flu) pandemic swept the globe, infecting an estimated one-third of the world’s population and killing at least 50 million people. The pandemic’s death toll was greater than the total number of military and civilian deaths from World War I, which was happening simultaneously. At the time, scientists had not yet discovered flu viruses, but we know today that the 1918 pandemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus. The following article describes five things you should know about the 1918 pandemic and why it matters 100 years later.

CDC Public Health Matter Blog

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Training Lag for Non-native Workers in Small Construction Companies

Non-native workers in the United States employed in small construction companies received less safety and health training than non-native workers in larger companies, according to research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). Construction is an industry with one of the highest work-related death rates in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, almost one fifth of work-related deaths occurred among construction workers.

NIOSH Research Rounds

NIOSH and ASSE Research Study

NIOSH and ASSE Report

OSHA Issues Direct Final Rule Revising Beryllium Standard for General Industry

On May 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a direct final rule clarifying aspects of the beryllium standard for general industry as it applies to processes, operations, and areas where workers may be exposed to materials containing less than 0.1% beryllium by weight. The direct final rule will go into effect on July 4 unless OSHA receives significant adverse comments by June 4. OSHA also announced that it will begin enforcing certain requirements of the beryllium final rule, including the permissible exposure limits in the general industry, construction, and shipyard standards.

OSHA News Release

Federal Register

NIOSH Extends Comment Period on Draft Agenda for Respiratory Health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of a draft NORA Agenda entitled National Occupational Research Agenda for Respiratory Health for public comment. In response to a request from an interested party, NIOSH is extending the public comment period to July 13, 2018.

Federal Register

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

National Employment Law Project’s Debbie Berkowitz to Accept Organization’s Award at 2018 NYCOSH Gala

National Employment Law Project (NELP) is being honored at the New York Committee for Occupations Safety and Health’s (NYCOSH) 2018 Gala for its tremendous contributions to the workers’ rights movement, but in particular, for their advocacy and research in relation to occupational safety and health. This project has been led by NELP’s Worker Health and Safety Program Director Debbie Berkowitz. Ms. Berkowitz came to NELP to build the organization’s portfolio of work and to strengthen workplace health and safety protections, especially for low wage workers in high hazard industries, who are disproportionately people of color and immigrant workers.


Podcast: Enhancing Community Resilience for Disaster Preparedness

In the context of environmental health research, resilience refers to a community’s ability to withstand, adapt, and recover from a disaster or emergency. In this podcast, hear how researchers are working with communities to develop research questions related to resilience, while learning how communities and individuals are impacted by disasters and how they recover from them. Plus, learn how these efforts are helping to inform future disaster response preparations to improve human health and resiliency.


Work-Related Asthma Prevention Materials in Multiple Languages

To reach workers who do not speak fluent English, the Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program created a series of fact sheets about how working around disinfectants, fragrances, and cleaning products may cause asthma. The fact sheets are now available in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean.

California Department of Public Health Resources

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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