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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: May 22, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, May 22, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

May 22, 2020

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

Chemical Plant and Hazardous Waste Sites in Path of Michigan Flooding

A major chemical plant and two hazardous waste sites stood in the path of floodwaters streaming over two breached dams in central Michigan, authorities said May 20. About 10,000 residents along the Tittabawassee River in Midland County, Michigan, began evacuating the night before as floodwaters reached "containment ponds" at Dow Chemical Co. by the next morning.

NBC News [Author: David Li]

GM to Power Tennessee Manufacturing Plant with Solar Power Only

General Motors plans to power its Tennessee manufacturing plant entirely from the sun by late 2022 under an agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to acquire solar power from one of TVA's first utility-owned solar farms. GM's vehicle assembly plant in Spring Hill will get 100 megawatts of solar power from the 200-megawatts plant TVA.

Chattanooga Times Free Press [Author: Dave Flessner]

After Coronavirus, Office Workers Might Face Unexpected Health Threats

When you finally return to work after the lockdown, coronavirus might not be the only illness you need to worry about contracting at the office. Office buildings once filled with employees emptied out in many cities and states as shelter-in-place orders were issued. These structures, normally in constant use, have been closed off and shut down, and health risks might be accumulating in unseen ways.

New York Times [Author: Max Horberry]

Hurricane Season in a Pandemic? With an Oil Crash? Disaster Expert Preps Houston for the Worst

As disaster piles on top of disaster, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Here in Texas, COVID-19 is made far worse by the oil crash, a second, separate knockout punch to Houston’s economy. Now other disasters loom. Hurricane season starts June 1, and forecasters expect this one to be more active than usual.

Houston Chronicle [Author: Lisa Gray]

What Coronavirus Is Doing to Stressed U.S. Health Workers – And Why It Will Be Felt for Years

Mental health practitioners, who themselves might be working in affected hospitals, are bracing for a surge of need in the coming months. Nurses and doctors are highly regarded in the U.S., and routinely rank high in trustworthiness in public opinion polls. However, even before the pandemic, they experienced psychological burdens associated with their work.

The Guardian [Author: Jessica Glenza]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Return to Work COVID-19 Town Hall – Speak with the Experts

Health Links is hosting a series of town hall webcasts featuring the latest COVID-19 information and guidance for employers and individuals. Their upcoming webinar on May 28 at 2:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. MT will engage in a discussion on the challenges and opportunities employers face getting employees back to work safely as cities, states, and countries gradually start reopening after coronavirus lockdown.

Webinar Information

Providing Multilingual and Multicultural Health Information

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Library of Medicine (NLM) will host a webinar on June 2 at 2:00 p.m. ET. The presentation will start with some background data about immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. It will touch briefly on concepts related to cultural competence and humility. Finally, it will review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Refugee Health Profiles, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Minority Health, and the NLM’s MedlinePlus and HealthReach.

Webinar Information

National Tribal Toxics Council Technical Support Request for Applications

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) is announcing a five year assistance agreement to eligible applicants to provide technical support to OPPT's National Tribal Toxics Council (NTTC) in order to represent tribal interests in the development and implementation of chemical risk assessment, risk management and pollution prevention programs. Applications are due on June 15.


EPA Environmental Justice Grants Opportunity to Address COVID-19 Impacts Faced by Vulnerable Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making $1 million in grant funding available to states, local governments, tribes, and territories for projects to improve the health and welfare of low income, minority, tribal and indigenous communities. EPA will give special consideration to those applications aimed at addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic communities with EJ concerns. The deadline to apply is June 30.


Superfund Research Program Occupational Health and Safety Education Programs on Emerging Technologies

The NIH Research Education Program (R25) supports research education activities in the mission areas of the NIH. The overarching goal of this R25 program is to support educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. The deadline to apply is Aug. 3 by 5:00 p.m. local time.

NIEHS Grants

New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Workplace – Risk Factors and Solutions

New Solutions seeks manuscripts on the subject of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and its occupational and environmental health policy impacts from the local to international levels. Manuscripts can be submitted immediately and for the foreseeable future. Accepted papers will be published as quickly as possible.

Call for Papers

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

PFAS-Free Firefighting Foams: Are They Safer?

Studies suggest that firefighters have higher levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals in their bodies than the general public. A study of female firefighters, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology in February, found that those who used firefighting foam in the past year had higher concentrations of PFAS in their blood than those who had not.

Environmental Health News [Author: Lindsey Konkel]

Post-Pandemic ‘Green Shift’ in Transport Could Create up to 15 Million Jobs

The study argues that recovery from the crisis cannot mean a return to “business as usual” for a sector that accounts for more than 60 million jobs globally. Instead, it provides an opportunity to advance the collective effort to achieve sustainable development for all people and the planet, by 2030 through the sustainable development goals.

United Nations News

COVID-19 and Health Equity – Serving the Underserved, Poorly Served, and Never Served

The novel coronavirus has been called “the great equalizer,” when in reality, it has only exacerbated health inequities that racial and ethnic minorities have experienced for decades, according to panelists who participated in two recent webinars. During two recent webinars, experts outlined why the fight against COVID-19 should be concentrated in cities with populations that are majority black and other underserved groups.

National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine [Author: Stephanie Miceli]

Ask an Expert: How Do You Manage a Natural Disaster During a Pandemic?

Vanderbilt University faculty are sharing their expertise on a range of topics related to COVID-19 on Vanderbilt’s “Ask an Expert” video series on YouTube. On a recent episode, Mark Abkowitz, professor of civil and environmental engineering, discusses the challenges of managing a natural disaster during a pandemic.

Vanderbilt University News

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Availability of $11.5 Million In Worker Safety and Health Training Grants

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the availability of $11.5 million in Susan Harwood Training Grants for nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, Indian tribes, and colleges and universities.


EPA Requests Input on Draft Risk Evaluation for Perchloroethylene

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a draft risk evaluation that states the chemical substance perchloroethylene poses an unreasonable risk to workers under certain conditions, according to a notice published in the May 4 Federal Register. Frequently used in consumer products, perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene or PCE, is to be evaluated for potential health and environmental risks.

Safety and Health Magazine

Federal Register Notice

U.S. Department of Labor Adopts Revised Enforcement Policies For Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted revised policies for enforcing OSHA’s requirements with respect to coronavirus as economies reopen in states throughout the country. Throughout the course of the pandemic, understanding about the transmission and prevention of infection has improved.


DOE COVID-19 Return to the Federal Workplace Framework

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) developed a framework that provides DOE guidance for Federal officials to develop Site/Facility plans as DOE moves from its current posture toward more normal operations. The status of operations varies across the DOE complex, as some essential functions in the workplace had to be maintained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Federal Inspectors Investigating COVID-19 Deaths of Mass. Nursing Home Workers

Federal inspectors have opened investigations into COVID-related worker deaths or hospitalizations at more than a half dozen nursing homes and specialty hospitals in Massachusetts. David Turcotte, director of the New England Consortium, a workplace safety training program for first responders at University of Massachusetts at Lowell, adds perspective.

WGBH [Author: Paul Singer]

Back to Work Safely

The industrial hygienists of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) launched a new site that features expert, industry-specific guidance for both businesses and consumers to safely re-open and re-engage as they emerge from the COVID-19 quarantines. These resources are free and available to the public.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

OSHA Seeks Supervisory Safety and Occupational Health Specialist

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hiring a supervisory safety and occupational health specialist position. The position leads and supervises a team of safety, data, and jurisdiction professionals. The specialist serves on multiple project teams comprising OSHA staff, solicitors, private sector stakeholders, and other agency representatives. Deadline to apply is May 26.

Job Posting

UCLA-LOSH Seeks Health and Safety Training Coordinator

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (LOSH) is hiring a new position. The Health and Safety Training Coordinator is responsible for providing open-enrollment and contract courses related to hazardous materials handling, hazardous waste cleanup, and hazmat emergency response.

Job Posting

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