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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: October 9, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, October 9, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

October 9, 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

Report: Hanford Unprepared for Potential Nuclear Waste Leak

A report by the U.S. Department of Energy has shown that the Hanford nuclear reservation could face immediate issues as double-shell tanks holding high-level radioactive waste deteriorate. An inspector general audit report released Oct. 5 said that the underground tanks at the Hanford site are planned to store waste until at least 2047, posing a threat if the deteriorating tanks fail, the Tri-City Herald reported.


Audit Report

California Bans PFAS Firefighting Foams

California is halting the sale, manufacture, and use of firefighting foam that contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as of 2022. Colorado, New Hampshire, New York, and Washington have enacted similar bans; California is the largest U.S. market to do so. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Sept. 29 banning these foams in the state, with limited exceptions.

Chemical and Engineering News [Author: Cheryl Hogue]

Corps of Engineers Discloses Remediation Plan for Niagara Falls Storage Site

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to remove the foundations of one old building at the Niagara Falls Storage Site and grind two others down to ground level as part of a remediation for the portion of the site where nuclear waste is not buried. That material is buried in the Interim Waste Containment Structure at the site in Lewiston, part of the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works property.

Buffalo News [Author: Thomas Prohaska]

Around Town: New Disaster Response Group Marks First PPE Delivery by Air

On Sept. 19, the Palo Alto Disaster Airlift Response Team (DART) made its first flight at the city's airport since its formation this summer. The new group transported 100,000 KN95 masks plus wildland fire kits, trundle beds, shampoo, hair conditioner and other items from Santa Barbara to Eugene, Oregon, to aid firefighters battling wildfire blazes.

Palo Alto Online

New Study: Pandemic Job Insecurity Taking Toll on American Worker Mental Health

Unprecedented unemployment rates don't just have an impact on the unemployed, though. For people still employed during the COVID-19 pandemic, job insecurity and financial concern are associated with greater symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to findings from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing published recently in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Forbes [Author: Bryan Robinson]

Amazon Confirms Nearly 20,000 COVID-19 Cases Among Employees

Amazon confirmed that nearly 20,000 of its employees in the United States have tested positive – or were presumed to have been positive – for COVID-19. In a blog post published on Oct. 1 the company said it conducted an analysis of its 1,372,000 frontline employees and found 19,816 positive tests between March 1st and September 19th.

Rolling Stone

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Federal Register Notice on Elastomeric Half Mask Respirators for Use in Healthcare

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)—in coordination with the Strategic National Stockpile—posted a Federal Register Notice (FRN). Elastomeric half mask respirators (EHMRs) are reusable respirators that may be worn in a healthcare setting and supplement the supply of disposable respirators available to healthcare workers. Comments must be received by Oct. 14.

Federal Register

Proper Ventilation for COVID-19

The New York Central Labor Council and New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health are sponsoring a forum on proper ventilation presented by Monona Rossol, Safety Officer. The forum will discuss strategies for modifying recirculating ventilation systems to remove virus particles from the air. It will be held on Oct. 15 at 10:00-12:00 p.m. ET.

Meeting Registration

2020 National Academy of Medicine Annual Meeting (Virtual)

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) will host a scientific symposium titled "Confronting Urgent Threats to Human Health and Society: COVID-19 and Climate Change," as part of its 50th Annual Meeting. For the first time ever, the event is free to attend and will be held entirely online. It will take place on Oct. 17-19.

Meeting Registration

Save the Date: Fall 2020 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is offering a virtual seminar that will cover the NIH grant process. If you’re new to working with the NIH grants process as an investigator or administrator, then mark your calendar for Oct. 27-30 for a unique opportunity to learn, share and meet virtually with NIH and HHS experts.

NIH Extramural Nexus

Save the Date: Brownfields 2021 Dates Are Moving

The goal of the National Brownfields Training Conference is to provide a networking and learning environment for the brownfields community. Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and having these considerations in mind, Brownfields 2021 will be rescheduled from its current April dates. Brownfields 2021 will now be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from Sept. 27-30, 2021.

More Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Oregon Representative, FEMA, the United Way and UO Align to Support Fire Victims

On Oct 3. Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) administrator Pete Gaynor, University of Oregon (UO) chief resilience officer André Le Duc and a United Way spokesperson promised an ongoing partnership in response to unprecedented September wildfires.

The Oregon Register-Guard [Author: Matthew Denis]

Zika Infections Drastically Underreported During 2015 Epidemic

More than 100 million infections of Zika virus within Central and South America and the Caribbean went undetected between 2015 and 2018, according to a new study. The University of Notre Dame researchers who conducted the study, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, said the results show a need for improvements to current infectious disease surveillance systems.

Science Daily

At One of America’s Most Toxic Superfund Sites, Climate Change Imperils More Than Cleanup

New Jersey has 114 Superfund sites and Newark is home to four of them. The one in the Ironbound, a former chemical plant where cleanup is priced at $1.4 billion, is especially problematic: It's one of nine in the state that not only are vulnerable to the effects of climate change but contain uncontrolled toxic wastes that could damage human health, an investigation by InsideClimate News, the Texas Observer and NBC News found.

Inside Climate News [Author: Erik Ortiz]

One-Third of All Nuclear Waste Removed from Cold War Dump Site

About 35% of the 21,000 spent uranium fuel elements originally stored in three rundown tanks is so far lifted out, repacked and sent to Russia’s reprocessing plant at Mayak in the South-Urals, informs Aleksandr Krasnoshchekov, director of the SevRAO’s branch in Andreeva Bay. SevRAO is the federal enterprise for handling radioactive waste in the northwestern region.

The Barents Observer [Author: Thomas Nilsen]

How to Move the Needle on Health Worker Safety

Enforcement of policy and legislation, better surveillance and reporting systems, ongoing training, and promoting a culture of workplace safety were the key messages from experts speaking at the “Safety First: Moving the needle on health care worker safety” live event, which coincided with the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly.


Hybrid Hearing With Secretary Of Health And Human Services Alex M. Azar II

This two-hour, 53-minute Congressional hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis features Secretary Alex Azar, who responds to questions about the Department of Health and Human Services’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus

Coronavirus Can Afflict the Powerful. Yet Food Workers Remain the Most Vulnerable.

More than six months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the country, workers in the food industry remain among the most vulnerable. Researchers at the Food and Environment Reporting Network have tracked outbreaks in 810 meatpacking, poultry and food processing plants, documenting at least 54,122 infected workers and 245 deaths.

Washington Post [Author: Angela Stuesse]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

OSHA Renews Alliance with Chemical Manufacturers

On Sept. 30, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the renewal of its alliance with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) to protect the safety and health of workers handling diisocyanates, a compound used to make polyurethane. The agency first signed its alliance with the ACC’s Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) and Diisocyanates (DII) and Aliphatic Diisocyanates (ADI) panels in 2017.

Safety BLR

Safety Speak: Hazardous Chemical Exposure, OSHA's Updated Coronavirus FAQ and Safety Leadership

In this Safety Speak episode of the podcast, Editor Sydny Shepard discusses a new alliance to protect against hazardous chemical exposure, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s updated Coronavirus FAQ, and newly published articles from the October issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

Occupational Health and Safety

A National Public Health Framework for the Prevention and Control of Vector-Borne Diseases in Humans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Infectious Diseases (CDC OID)and five federal departments including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contributed to developing this 16-page national framework for vector-borne disease prevention and control, which includes federal activities necessary to detect, prevent, and control vector-borne diseases in humans in the United States.


Trends in COVID-19 Incidence After Implementation of Mitigation Measures — Arizona, January 22–August 7, 2020

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published a new report. The number of COVID-19 cases in Arizona stabilized and then decreased after sustained implementation and enforcement of statewide and locally enhanced mitigation measures, beginning approximately two weeks after implementation and enforcement of mask mandates and enhanced sanitations practices.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Advancing the Response to COVID-19: Sharing Promising Programs and Practices for Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities

The Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) hosted a virtual symposium to highlight state, tribal, territorial, and community-based efforts to address COVID-19 among racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native populations. It featured national, state, tribal and local experts leading efforts developed for public health leaders at all levels and community organizations confronting the pandemic.


Job OpeningsBack to Top

MassCOSH Seeks Youth Programs Director

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) is a nonprofit organization that builds the power of workers – both youth and adults – to lead efforts that achieve safe, healthy working conditions. MassCOSH is seeking a Youth Programs Director for its youth-led Teens Lead @ Work (TL@W) youth leadership and organizing program. The deadline to apply is Oct. 24.

Job Posting

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