May 17, 2019
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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More People Qualify for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, but the Money’s Running Out
The number of people eligible for help under the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is surging, even as the fund is running low on money, according to data released Friday. Statistics released by the Department of Justice, which runs the fund, say that 23,390 people are eligible for compensation because of their exposure to the terror attacks of 2001 — a jump of more than 1,000 since the end of December.
New York Daily News [Author: Michael McAuliff]
‘Stay Away From the Water’ Safety Zone Around Chemical Spill at Houston Ship Channel Expands
The safety zone surrounding a massive barge crash at the Houston Ship Channel near Galveston Bay has been expanded. It now includes the water off the shores of Seabrook, Clear Lake Shores, Kemah, Baycliff and San Leon. Recovery crews are trying to get a hold of tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline additives that spilled during the crash Friday. Residents who live along the shoreline are being told not to come in contact with the water – and they shouldn’t fish.
KHOU [Author: Matt Dougherty]
Officials Say Nothing to Fear From Smoldering Hot Spot at Waukegan Factory Explosion Site
Waukegan Fire Department officials said Wednesday that there is no danger from a small hot spot on the site of the AB Speciality Silcones factory that exploded earlier this month. “We are aware there is a spot that is still smoldering,” Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi said. “This presents no immediate hazard.” The department has responded to the site a couple of times to put dry extinguisher on the hot spot, which Lenzi described as a small area where chemical products are still reacting.
The Chicago Tribune [Author: Frank Abderholden]
Piketon School Closes Because of Radioactive Contamination Fears
A school district in southern Ohio has closed its middle school because of concerns of radioactive contamination from a shuttered uranium enrichment plant fewer than five miles away. The Scioto Valley Local School District announced it was closing Zahn’s Corner Middle School on Monday after U.S. Department of Energy officials said they had no plans to stop their work at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, a 3,000–acre facility that stopped producing enriched uranium in 2001. Energy Department contractors are building a waste disposal site on the plant as they work to clean up the site.
Columbus Dispatch [Author: Jessica Wehrman]
N.J. Accuses Chemical Giants of Selling Toxic Firefighting Foam Despite Knowing Health Risks
Firefighters across New Jersey — particularly those working on military bases and at airports — use a special type of foam which smothers fires that water would be otherwise ineffective against. The foam is called aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). Not all AFFF products are the same, but for decades many of them were made with toxic chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid) that today are being found in drinking water systems across the Garden State. Exposure to the chemicals can have a wide range of effects, including an increased risk of developing cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Giant Pile of Toxic Coal Ash Is Being Moved From Puerto Rico to Florida, Sparking Outcry
Puerto Rico outlawed the dumping of coal ash back in 2017, but the Applied Energy Systems Puerto Rico (AES) coal plant continues to produce this waste. Now the ash must be exported. In April, the Osceola County Board of Commissioners agreed to start taking it and adding it to a local landfill owned by Waste Connections, a multinational company with sites across the U.S. and Canada. Since then, the county has received some 44,000 tons, according to ClickOrlando.com, with another 100,000 tons expected. While the county is getting paid $2 per ton, the commissioners are now trying to reverse their decision, per a local ABC station, sending a letter Monday to Waste Connections asking them to voluntarily kill the contract, which doesn’t expire until the end of the year.
Earther [Author: Yessenia Funes]
Nuclear Waste Disposal -- Isn't Science Supposed To Reduce The Uncertainty?
If left to itself, science usually does this very well. But it’s rarely left to itself. Science exists within the larger framework of society and has to deal with the realities of politics, economics, history and even religion. Nowhere is this more obvious then with nuclear waste disposal. Unfortunately, even though we in the scientific community have answered these questions pretty well, our nuclear waste program is presently in shambles.
Forbes [Author: James Conca]
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Environmental Health Disparities in Massachusetts Webinar
The Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH) and the Boston University Superfund Research Program invite you to take part in a webinar that will highlight original data constructs related to neighborhood factors that can impact health, including indexes of heat vulnerability, environmental quality, and segregation. Please join us to learn more about these datasets, to brainstorm potential applications, and to discuss data sharing opportunities. The webinar will be held on May 22, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Fall Protection: When Your Job Takes You to the Edge
In work sites of every variety, edges are much more common than people realize, and they may pose a greater risk than you'd expect. Whether you're laying roofing, traversing a beam, or simply working near the unprotected sides of an upper floor, falls over an edge are more hazardous than other falls. Join this webinar to discuss the issues, applications, and solutions workers need to eliminate these dangerous hazards. The webinar will be held on May 23, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Opiates and Work Injury: Lessons on the Ground
National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) is hosting a Protecting Workers Alliance webinar on Thursday, May 23, at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT. The web call with cover the following topics: Learn about efforts from around the country that are confronting work-induced opiate addiction and overdose with a focus on prevention. Hear directly from workers and unions who have been part of these efforts as they share their stories and experiences. Discuss ways to maximize our collective impact and promote shared resources to stem this epidemic.
Introduction to the Planning for Natural Disaster Debris Guidance – Date Change
Natural disasters challenge communities every year and are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. To assist communities (including cities, counties, states, tribes) in planning for debris management before a natural disaster occurs, EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery updated its Planning for Natural Disaster Debris Guidance. Pre-incident planning can significantly aid decision-making during a response and enhance a community's resiliency. This webinar will provide an overview of the guidance and highlight lessons learned and best practices. After the presentation, we look forward to answering stakeholder questions. The webinar will be held on June 20, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET.
The Building Bridges to Enhance the Well-Being of American Indian and Alaska Native Workers Workshop
Please join us July 30 – 31 in Aurora, Colorado for the Building Bridges to Enhance the Well-Being of American Indian and Alaska Native Workers Workshop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in partnership with the Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE) are excited to bring together American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, organizations, and other stakeholders to identify safety and health priorities for American Indian and Alaska Native workers.
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Governments Agree Landmark Decisions to Protect People and Planet From Hazardous Chemicals and Waste, Including Plastic Waste
Decisions on plastic waste have been reached May 11 in Geneva, as approximately 180 governments adopted a raft of decisions aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste. Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources.
Ebola Cases Top 1,700 in DRC As Four Health Workers Infected
Once again, violent clashes in the Ebola outbreak region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have resulted in a spike of cases. Over the weekend and through today, the DRC's ministry of health recorded 56 new Ebola cases, including 4 in healthcare workers, and 19 new deaths. The new cases bring the outbreak total to 1,705, including 1,124 deaths. A total of 251 suspected cases are still under investigation. The total number of health workers infected during the outbreak is now 101.
Workplace Safety in the Gig Economy: New Hazards and Liabilities
The growth of the gig economy has transformed the modern workforce and upended traditional models for developing a workplace safety culture and worker safety training. New and inexperienced workers confront evolving safety hazards. Given this transformed environment, employers must address safety hazards proactively or face OSHA citations or other liability.
New Electrochemical Method Detects PFOS and PFOA
Bubbles and tiny electrodes may hold the key to faster, more cost-effective detection of perfluorinated surfactants that can contaminate drinking water. Researchers have developed an electrochemistry-based method to detect surfactants, specifically perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), with high sensitivity and specificity.
Chemical and Engineering News [Author: Emma Hiolski]
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U.S. Department of Labor Awards $3 Million in National Dislocated Worker Funding to Iowa for Storm Recovery Activities
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on May 9 approved a Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant (DWG) awarded to Iowa Workforce Development to assess workforce needs in response to recent storms and floods affecting more than half of the state. On March 12, 2019, a major storm system, described as a “bomb cyclone,” brought heavy rains and unusually warm temperatures after a winter of substantial snow and cold temperatures, resulting in historic flooding. Rising water levels breached levees along multiple waterways, leaving entire towns underwater and prompting community evacuations.
Report: CSB Still Needs to Improve Its 'Incident Response' and 'Identity and Access Management' Information Security Functions
The Office of Inspector General performed this audit to assess the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s (CSB’s) security practices related to the performance measures outlined in the fiscal year (FY) 2018 Inspector General (IG) reporting metrics document for the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA). The CSB lacks established procedures for automated processes and authentication technologies, which could permit unauthorized access to agency systems.
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Inflammation Resolution Gets Top Billing at NIH Workshop
Researchers from around the country gathered to discuss an area of broad importance at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — inflammation, its resolution, and especially, the failure to resolve, which leads to chronic inflammation. The Inflammation Resolution Biology Workshop, a trans-NIH initiative, was planned to assess scientific understanding of inflammation and to develop coordinating strategies to promote this research area across NIH. The March 25-26 event was held at NIEHS.
SRP Researchers Develop Tools and Methods to Characterize the Exposome
Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center scientists and engineers are developing new tools and methods to better understand the exposome. These elements include exposure tools to describe the complex nature of the environment, methods to assess biological response from multiple stressors, and ways to integrate different types of data to characterize the effects of multiple exposures on health. A more comprehensive understanding of how the environment influences human health throughout the lifespan is an important step toward identifying and reducing disease risk.
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ILO Programme Manager, Better Factories Cambodia Job Opportunity
Under the Direction of the Better Work Programme Director, the Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) Programme Manager reports to the Head of Better Work in Asia (Bangkok based) for Better Work-related activities. The BFC Programme Manager will remain under the direct supervision of the International Labour Organization (ILO's) Country Director with respect to political and administrative matters of the BFC Programme. The incumbent will manage all aspects of the BFC project as part of the global Better Work programme and within the policy and procedural requirements established by the global programme and the ILO. The application deadline is June 3, 2019.
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