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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: May 7, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, May 7, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

May 7, 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

NIEHS Acting Branch Chief Sharon Beard Honored with 2021 AIHA Rachel Carson Award

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) named NIEHS Acting Branch Chief Sharon Beard winner of the 2021 Rachel Carson Award. This award honors an environmental health and safety professional who has attained outstanding success in their field.


New Training Tool: Building Programs to Protect Workers from COVID-19 in the Workplace, Replaces the Essential and Returning Worker Training Tool

Among other additions and revisions, the updated version adds the following: an icebreaker to gauge participants’ concerns, a graphic illustrating transmission, information on asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission, new slide on vaccines, information on portable air cleaners, data on mental health effects during COVID-19, new slides on ventilation filtration, and a slide on the use of ultraviolet light to disinfect air.

WTP COVID-19 Resources Page

An Underground Tank in Washington Is Leaking Gallons of Radioactive Chemical Waste

An underground radioactive chemical storage tank in southeast Washington state is leaking gallons of nuclear waste, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology, which is overseeing the site's cleanup. The 75-year-old tank B-109 at Hanford Nuclear Reservation is estimated to be leaking 3.5 gallons of waste a day into the ground.

CBS News [Author: Tori B. Powell]

The Mess of Meth Lab Cleanups

As the opioid crisis rages on, the powerful, highly addictive stimulant methamphetamine (meth) has made a silent but deadly comeback in the United States. Although the number of domestic clandestine meth labs has declined, meth production poses public health and environmental risks to those who live in or around former labs. Unfortunately, only about 10 percent of illicit labs are ever identified.

The Regulatory Review [Author: Larissa Morgan]

Roads to Recovery: How the Pandemic Is Accelerating Workforce Training

For decades, manufacturers in the U.S. have warned of a massive skills gap: There just aren't enough new skilled workers to make up for older ones who are retiring. In this installment of our series, "Roads to Recovery," NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker reports from Connecticut on how the pandemic has accelerated a push to improve and expand job training for the state's large manufacturing workforce.

PBS News

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

May Monthly WTP Awardee Update: Evaluation Community of Practice

The purpose of the Community of Practice webinars is to support WTP grantees in sharing evaluation methods and lessons learned and providing feedback to NIEHS on moving evaluation forward for the program. This webinar will allow participants to talk to other WTP grantees involved in evaluation about their practices and challenges. The webinar will be held on Monday, May 10 at 12:00-1:30 p.m. ET.


EPA Announces White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) 2021 Public Meetings Series

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed dates for the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) public meetings. The meetings are open to the public. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments relevant to the specific issues being considered by WHEJAC. The next meeting is scheduled for May 13, beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

More Information

NASEM Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity Webinar

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity is hosting a May 13th webinar at 1:00 p.m. ET that will explore current and historical efforts to vaccinate communities of color and indigenous communities to evaluate lessons learned and their applicability to COVID-19 currently.

Meeting Registration

Pain in the Nation: How High Rates of Suicide, Alcohol, and Overdose Deaths Require a Comprehensive Resiliency Strategy

Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust is hosting a virtual Congressional briefing on the soon to be released update in their Pain in the Nation report series. Over the past decade more than one million Americans have died from alcohol, drugs and suicide. Now this trend has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a fragmented health system, and social and community conditions. The meeting will be held May 19 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

Achieving Health Equity: What’s Next?

The National Institute for Health Care Management (NICHM) Foundation is hosting the webinar Achieving Health Equity: What’s Next? on May 21st at 2:00 p.m. ET. Leaders in public health will discuss key issues that harm health in America’s Indigenous, Black and Latino communities, as well as possible policy solutions.

Meeting Registration

EPA EJ Small Grants and Collaborative Problem-Solving Grants Extended to June 1

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) anticipates the potential for additional funds up to approximately $10.5 million to be made available through the 2021 Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants and EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving funding opportunities along with the original amount of EJ funds. These potential additional funds can be used for COVID-19 projects specifically to address clean air issues and/or training for a safe drinking water workforce.

EJ Small Grants

EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving

Stigma of Addiction Summit

The National Academy of Medicine, Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, and Shatterproof are pleased to announce the Stigma of Addiction Summit on June 10. It is a half-day, virtual, action-oriented summit entirely dedicated to understanding, addressing, and eliminating the harmful impacts of stigma on people who use drugs. The goal of the Summit is to elevate current efforts at reducing stigma, identifying successes and gaps in the evidence base, and prioritizing and identifying areas for future research.

Meeting Registration

Save the *NEW* Dates for Brownfields 2021!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ICMA are committed to ensuring the National Brownfields Training Conference provides the best networking and learning environment possible for the brownfields community. Several considerations were made related to the current, and anticipated, COVID-19 situation. The event has been rescheduled from its September dates to December 8 – 11, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

WHO Updates Close-Range Inhalation as Mode of Transmission

The World Health Organization (WHO) updated COVID-19 information on their website. Current evidence suggests that the virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, typically within one meter (short-range). A person can be infected when aerosols or droplets containing the virus are inhaled or come directly into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.


Modeling of Future COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths, by Vaccination Rates and Nonpharmaceutical Intervention Scenarios

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) details the continued need for social distancing and workplace health and safety standards. Increases in COVID-19 cases in March and early April occurred despite a large-scale vaccination program. Increases coincided with the spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants and relaxation of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs).


Why the Air Quality in Philly Might Be Worse Than We Know

A recent report by the American Lung Association ranked the Philadelphia-Reading-Camden metro area among the top 25 most polluted in the United States in terms of two of the most common, and dangerous, ambient air pollutants measured nationally. But experts say the ranking doesn’t tell the whole story of how air quality affects those in the region.

WHYY [Author: Grant Hill]

D.C. Circuit Dismisses Case to Invalidate NRC's Nuclear Waste Rule

A federal appeals court dismissed a bid by a nuclear industry trade group to invalidate a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) policy that now requires owners and operators of nuclear power reactors to obtain the agency’s approval to dispose of very low-level radioactive waste where certain states’ authorizations previously sufficed.

Reuters [Author: Sebastien Malo]

‘Staggering’ 25,000 Barrels Found at Toxic Dump Site Off Los Angeles Coast

Marine scientists say they have found what they believe to be more than 25,000 barrels that possibly contain DDT dumped off the Southern California coast near Catalina Island, where a massive underwater toxic waste site dating back to World War II has long been suspected.

Global News [Author: Julie Watson]

Screening Healthcare Workers Could Serve as Early Warning System for Future Viruses

New research has shown that COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers during the first wave of the pandemic provided an accurate sample of the general population, suggesting that data from healthcare workers could be used to estimate the severity of future viruses more quickly. The study, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in collaboration with IBM Research, is published in PLOS ONE.


Enhancing Safety and Sustainability through a Data-Driven Approach to Gas Detection

As the gas detection market has matured over the years, a growing number of industrial organizations have invested in high-tech monitoring devices, such as personal and wearable gas detectors, in order to analyze levels of gas exposure and keep their people safe.

Occupational Health and Safety [Author: Mark Silverster]

The Corpus Christi Water Wars

In Texas, it’s normal to see an oil refinery or a petrochemical plant as big as a football stadium, with another one behind it, and another one behind that. And it’s just as normal to see a neighborhood in the shadows of those massive polluters.

Rolling Stone [Author: Reed Dunlea]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Biden Nominates Three for Chemical Safety Board

President Joe Biden has nominated Sylvia Johnson, Steve Owens and Jennifer Sass to serve as members of the Chemical Safety Board, which has operated for a year with only one of its five board seats filled. If the Senate confirms the nominations, issued April 28, the trio will join Chair and CEO Katherine Lemos on the board.

Safety and Health Magazine

Workers Memorial Day 2021: Recognizing NIOSH’s First 50 Years

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director John Howard issued a statement for Workers Memorial Day, recognized every year on April 28. It is a day established to honor workers injured or killed on the job, while reaffirming our commitment to safe and healthy workplaces for all. This date is also the anniversary of the date the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970 went into effect, a law signed by President Nixon in December of 1970.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Science Blog

NIOSH Announces Release of ErgoMine 2.0 App Update

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has launched version 2.0 of the ErgoMine app, an on-the-ground resource for mine workers and mine safety and health professionals. The auditing app helps to identify, record, and track ergonomics and safety hazards that can lead to injuries, illnesses, and fatalities at the worksite.


OSHA Extends Comment Period for Proposed Rule to Update Hazard Communication Standard

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extended the comment period for the proposed rule to update the agency's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to May 19. OSHA extended the comment period by 30 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the proposed rule and collect information and data necessary for comment.


EPA Researchers Contribute to American Thoracic Society Workshop Report on Wildland Fire Smoke Research, Respiratory and Cardiovascular Health Effects

To assess current research on wildland fire smoke and its health effects in the U.S., the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Environmental Health Policy Committee and Assembly on Environmental, Occupational, and Population Health, and partners, have released “Respiratory Impacts of Wildland Fire Smoke: Future Challenges and Policy Opportunities: An Official American Thoracic Society Workshop Report.” The report discusses the present and current knowledge on wildland fires and their impacts on human health.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery for Workers, Communities

In April, NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) awardees began work on COVID-19 recovery centers to promote health, safety, and recovery training for essential workers and their communities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, health care and other essential workers have faced significant risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

Environmental Factor [Author: Kenda Freeman]

Hurricane Experience Benefits Later Industrial Fire Research Response

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey affected more than 30,000 Texas residents and destroyed more than 200,000 homes. Following that experience, the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) teamed up with community, academic, and government partners to create a location-specific disaster research response (DR2) toolkit.

Environmental Factor [Author: Kelley Christensen]

Inhalation Exposures, Emerging Chemicals Addressed by NIEHS Scientists

Natural disasters, exposures with unknown health effects, and respiratory diseases caused by inhalation of harmful agents are just a few of the topics discussed at the April 23 meeting of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Board of Scientific Counselors, held online. Scientists from the NIEHS Division of NTP (DNTP) discussed two initiatives to both improve public health and advance toxicological science.

Environmental Factor [Author: Jesse Saffron]

Data Center Launches Fatality Map Dashboard

To continue raising awareness of construction hazards and the need for improved safety in the industry, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training’s Data Center has developed the Construction Fatality Map Dashboard. It builds on the Construction Fatality Maps, which were launched in 2011 to support the National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction.


CPWR Small Study Grant Funding Available

The Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Small Study Program, which supports promising new research initiatives on improving construction safety and health, has a particular interest in studies that plan to work with and/or target small employers, those with 19 employees or fewer. CPWR is also interested in innovative approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation, distancing, and respirators.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

EPA Seeks Environmental Education Experts to Serve on the National Environmental Education Advisory Council

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting applications for environmental education professionals to fill two vacancies on the National Environmental Education Advisory Council (NEEAC). Selected applicants will contribute to the balance of perspectives, professional qualifications, and experience of the council and be appointed by the Administrator. The deadline to apply is May 14.


NIHB Public Health Project Coordinator (Emergency Preparedness)

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) seeks an experienced public health professional to work on current and future public health projects and initiatives. The position will have a focus on emergency preparedness and response and will work with a Public Health Program Manager, Director and Deputy Director of Public Health Policy and Programs Department to coordinate NIHB’s response to current and future public health threats and emergencies, such as COVID-19.

Job Posting

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