Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser.

This website may not display properly with Internet Explorer. For the best experience, please use a more recent browser such as the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and/or Mozilla Firefox. Thank you.

Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: November 27, 2019 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, November 27, 2019

Weekly E-Newsbrief

November 27, 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. Subscribing to the National Clearinghouse Newsbrief is the best way to stay on top of the worker health and safety news. This is a special shortened edition of the Newsbrief. We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving!

Top StoriesBack to Top

Texas Explosion at Port Neches Chemical Plant Forces Evacuation

An explosion at a chemical plant in southeastern Texas early on Nov. 27 injured at least three people and forced the evacuation of residents within half a mile of the site, a statement from the plant and a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said. The blast at the Texas Petroleum Chemical plant in Port Neches, near Groves, east of Houston, was reported around 1 a.m., according to a company statement.

The New York Times [Authors: Iliana Magra and Daniel Victor]

Lethal Legacy: The US Wants to Bury SC’s Plutonium Stockpile Forever. Its New Home Isn’t Sure It Wants It.

In the time it will take for South Carolina’s stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium to decay, you could repeat most of human history, starting back in the Stone Age. The U.S. government will officially decide in the next few years where the plutonium — the metal used to trigger nuclear weapons — will spend that eternity. And when it does, it will ask another part of the country to bear a profound burden: to house thousands of barrels filled with scraps of the Cold War and America’s nuclear arms race, a legacy that may well outlast our civilization.

The Charleston Post and Courier [Author: Thad Moore]

Health-Worker Violence Bill Wins House Passage Amid Veto Threat

Health-care and social service workers gained bipartisan support for getting protection from violent attacks as the House passed legislation requiring the Labor Department to put rules in place to prevent such incidents. The legislation (H.R. 1309) would mandate the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop and make final a rule within 42 months of the bill’s enactment. The rule would require at least the same level of protection as any state workplace violence plan OSHA approved.

Bloomberg Law [Author: Jaclyn Diaz]

'It's Going to Get Worse': How U.S. Countertop Workers Started Getting Sick

Back then, in 2000, the material Ublester Rodriguez was cutting was also something totally different for the American countertop industry than today. The stuff looked a lot like natural granite. In reality, it was made in a factory, from bits of quartz bound together by a resin. This kind of engineered stone, often marketed as simply "quartz," is now one of the most popular options for kitchen and bathrooms. The trouble is, workers have gotten sick, and even died, after cutting this engineered stone and breathing in its dangerous dust, public health officials say.

NPR [Author: Nell Greenfieldboyce]

Major Retailers Make Progress on Toxic Chemicals

There was a “dramatic improvement” in retailers’ actions to protect consumers from harmful chemicals for the 11 companies evaluated since 2016, according to the fourth annual retailer report card published by the national nonprofit Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign. The report card assessed the chemical policies of 43 major companies with more than 190,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, though they evaluated just 11 of those retailers starting in 2016.

The Hill [Author: Nicole Javorsky]

Fairfax Co. Searching for Ways to Reduce Firefighter Exposure to Carcinogens

A study is underway to determine ways to lower firefighters’ risks of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals encountered while battling fires. Carcinogens can be clingy. The same protective equipment helping firefighters breathe and keep them protected from flames and heat also allows harmful chemicals and particulate by-products of fires to linger, creating opportunity for further exposure. To figure out ways to reduce contact, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and the National Fire Protection Association Research Foundation, recently completed the first phase of a four-phase contamination and cleaning study; with a focus on firefighter breathing equipment.

WTOP [Author: Liz Anderson]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

The Perilous State of Federal Scientific Research: Retired NIEHS Director Discusses how Sidelining Science Threatens Health

The Alaska Community Action on Toxics is hosting recently retired NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. to present The Perilous State of Federal Scientific Research: How Sidelining Science Threatens Public Health on the next CHE-Alaska call, which will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 9:00 a.m. Alaska Standard Time/1:00 p.m. ET. In this call, Birnbaum will share her perspective on the current state of federal scientific research, the public health consequences of sidelining science, and what organizations can do to restore the role of science in policy.

Webinar Registration

NACOSH Notice of Membership Meeting

The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) will hold a meeting in Washington D.C. on Dec. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET. NACOSH is comprised of 12 members appointed by the Secretary of Labor who advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on matters relating to safety and health in the workplace. The Committee meets at least two times a year. Attendees who want to address NACOSH at the meeting must submit a request to speak, as well as any written or electronic presentation by Dec. 5.

Meeting Details

Spring 2020 NIEHS WTP Awardee Meeting and Workshop Hotel Information Available

Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences Center, in conjunction with the NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP), is sponsoring a workshop on Bio-Preparedness. The workshop will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, March 17-18, 2020. The workshop is tentatively scheduled from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday and 9:00 a.m. until noon on Wednesday. A limited number of rooms have been reserved at an area hotel for this meeting. Participants are encouraged to book their room early, as the block will fill up quickly.


On The Web This WeekBack to Top

NASA Space Data Can Cut Disaster Response Times, Costs

According to a new study, emergency responders could cut costs and save time by using near-real-time satellite data along with other decision-making tools after a flooding disaster. In the first NASA study to calculate the value of using satellite data in disaster scenarios, researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, calculated the time that could have been saved if ambulance drivers and other emergency responders had near-real-time information about flooded roads, using the 2011 Southeast Asian floods as a case study.

Science Daily

Canada Rail Workers Stage Huge Strike Over Fatigue and Safety Concerns

Canada’s largest rail strike in more than a decade has paralyzed much of the nation’s freight traffic and prompted fears of a heating gas shortage as winter sets in. Nearly 3,200 workers at Canadian National, the country’s largest rail operator, walked off the job on Nov. 19, to protest against chronic overwork and unsafe conditions.

The Guardian [Author: Leyland Cecco]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

EPA Bans All Retail Distribution of Methylene Chloride to Consumers for Paint and Coating Removal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations to prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution of methylene chloride in all paint removers for consumer use will go into effect after Nov. 22. It will be unlawful for any person or retailer to sell or distribute paint removal products containing methylene chloride for consumer use, including e-commerce sales.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Lieutenant Colonel Says Nurses Can Save Veteran Patients’ Lives With One Simple Question

The U.S. veteran population was roughly 20 million strong in 2016, the last year data was collected. One of the many common threads among those millions, aside from their shared military service, is their need for quality, compassionate health care. And sometimes the smallest actions can make the biggest difference. According to Jennifer A. Korkosz, Lt. Col. (Ret.), U.S. Air Force, one of the most important questions nurses and other health care professionals can ask their patients is, “Have you ever served in the military?”

United Steelworkers

Job OpeningsBack to Top

MassCOSH Seeks Full-Time Health and Safety Trainer and Worker Center Organizer

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) is hiring a health and safety trainer and a worker center organizer. The Health and Safety Trainer helps to lead MassCOSH in meeting its goals for providing worker-oriented training, building the regional health and safety movement and developing working relationships with labor, environmental organizations, government and business. The Worker Center Organizer will provide training and support organizing and advocacy efforts of immigrant workers seeking to address unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions, discrimination, wage and hour violations, etc.

Health and Safety Trainer Position

Worker Center Organizer Position

We Want Your FeedbackBack to Top

We Want Your Feedback

What kinds of stories or other content would make this newsletter especially valuable to you?

Send your ideas for this newsletter to:

To go back and subscribe to the newsletter, click here

Back issues of our Newsbrief are available at our archives page

to Top