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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: October 22, 2021 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, October 22, 2021

Weekly E-Newsbrief

October 22, 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

Public Health Workers Request Federal Aid to Combat Threats

The barrage of threats against teachers, school board members and other education workers has gotten so bad amid the coronavirus pandemic, that the U.S. Department of Justice pledged earlier this month to intervene. But as public health workers have endured similar abuse in response to pandemic-related work—including verbal and physical assaults, stalking, attacks on their offices—they are asking for help.

Route Fifty [Author: Andrea Noble]

LCI Aims to Help Shape President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative

President Joe Biden ordered federal agencies to direct 40% of the government’s investments in climate and clean infrastructure to benefit people in disadvantaged communities. Implementing the directive will not be simple, but a new report by scholars from the University of California Los Angeles Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI), advised by environmental justice leaders, provides a framework that federal officials could use to maximize Justice40’s impact.

LCI Newsroom

LCI Justic40 Report

In North Carolina, Poultry Workers Are Quitting in Large Numbers After an Unknown Chemical Was Introduced at Their Plant

Workers at the Mountaire Farms poultry plant in rural Robeson County, North Carolina, say that about four months ago, something changed. At the time, they couldn’t immediately identify the strange new chemical they’d begun to smell floating around the production lines.

The Counter [Author: Tina Vasquez]

'Orphaned' Wells Are a Problem in Pennsylvania and There Are More of Them Than We Thought

The number of abandoned oil and gas wells that exist in the United States is the subject of a new report by the Environmental Defense Fund. Researchers found more than 81,000 documented wells have been left unplugged by former owners, which far exceeds the previous estimate of 56,000.

WESA [Author: Kiley Koscinski]

Ire Over Georgia Power’s Coal Ash Plan: ‘Don’t Gamble with Our Lives’

Georgia Power drew heavy criticism over plans to bury more than 20 million cubic yards of coal ash at its Plant Bowen in Bartow County. “Please don’t gamble with our lives,” Vicki Freeman of Atlanta pleaded during an online public hearing on the proposal. “Mandate that Georgia Power move that coal ash to a safe landfill with a proper liner.”

The Current Georgia [Author: Tim Darnell]

John Deere Put Temporary Workers on The Factory Floor. It's Going About as Well as You'd Expect

John Deere workers are striking this week, in large part because they’re looking for an increase in wages. Deere decided to staff the assembly line with temporary, non-union workers. Turns out, that wasn’t such a good idea. On the first full day of Deere using those non-union workers, an ambulance arrived on the scene well before eight in the morning.

Jalopnik [Author: Elizabeth Blackstock]

Exxon Tells Texas Refinery Workers Lockout Will End If Contract Approved or Union Removed

Exxon Mobil Corp told workers at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery their six-month lockout will end if they ratify the company's contract offer or remove the United Steelworkers union as their representative. Decertification is the process to remove a union from representing employees at a given location.

Reuters [Author: Erwin Seba]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Assessing Ventilation for COVID-19 Mitigation

The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of California Berkeley is offering a course on ventilation. Adequate ventilation is a key mitigation factor in the global fight against COVID-19. This hybrid, online and in-person course will review the basics of assessing ventilation at the occupant level and help you establish a framework to identify ventilation vulnerabilities. It will be held on Oct. 26-27.

More Information

APHA Occupational Health and Safety Section Awards Luncheon

The Occupational Health and Safety Section (OHS) of the American Public Health Association (APHA) will be recognizing the contributions of seven exceptional leaders in the fight for worker health and safety during its annual OHS awards luncheon. The luncheon will be held virtually on Wednesday, Oct. 27, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET.

Registration Link

NIHB Save the Date for the 2021 Infectious Disease Regional Institute

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is excited to announce the 2021 Infectious Disease Regional Institute. The Institute will be virtually held on Thursday, Nov. 4. NIHB is hosting three free regional institutes to provide a learning environment for Tribal frontline personnel and communities experiencing significant disease outbreaks.

Registration Link

Federal Transit Administration Announces Request for Information on Transit Worker Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is seeking the input of transit industry personnel, researchers, contractors, government entities, transit users, and other interested parties to make American transit safer for millions of frontline staff. The FTA Request for Information (RFI) closes on Nov. 23.

FTA RFI

Texas A&M Superfund Research Center Disaster Research Training Workshop

The Texas A&M Superfund Research Center is sponsoring a two-day, hands-on workshop that will be held at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Disaster City, Emergency Operations Training Center, College Station, Texas, on Dec. 2-3. Registration and the workshop agenda are now available.

More Information

Workshop Agenda

COSHCON Registration Now Open

Registration for the National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON2021) is now available. The conference brings together a diverse, inclusive and bilingual group of workers, occupational health and safety experts, unions, activists and academics united around common goals. It will be held Dec. 7-9 and 14-16.

Registration Link

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Using Rapid Drug Analysis to Reduce Opioid Overdose Deaths

The highly potent and deadly drug fentanyl is increasingly showing up in batches of heroin, cocaine and counterfeit prescription drugs and driving overdose deaths across the country. To better understand the composition and strength of illegal drugs being used and sold, Maryland law enforcement and harm reduction specialists are teaming up on a rapid drug testing pilot program that will allow them to analyze drug samples from across the state.

Route Fifty [Author: Andrea Noble]

Revealed: More Than 120,000 U.S. Sites Feared to Handle Harmful PFAS ‘Forever’ Chemicals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified more than 120,000 locations around the U.S. where people may be exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) a class of toxic “forever chemicals” associated with various cancers and other health problems that is a frightening tally four times larger than previously reported, according to data obtained by the Guardian.

The Guardian [Authors: Carey Gillam and Alvin Chang]

Chemicals Used in Packaging May Play Role In 100,000 U.S. Deaths A Year – Study

The group of chemicals called phthalates, also known as plasticizers, may contribute to the early deaths of 91,000 to 107,000 older adults in the U.S. each year, according to a new study. Adults between 55 and 64 with the highest concentrations of phthalates in their urine were more likely to die of any cause, especially heart disease, than adults with lesser exposure, according to the study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution.

The Guardian [Author: Amanda Holpuch]

Port Authority Offers More Incentives to Urge Workers to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Pittsburgh Port Authority has amended its vaccination policy to offer more incentives for employees to receive immunization against COVID-19. The new policy, which began Oct. 1, offers employees eligible for the vaccine booster a $100 bonus for getting the shot. If the percentage of active staff members below top management who have been vaccinated reaches 75%, those who have been vaccinated will get a $150 bonus.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Author: Ed Blazini]

Diesel Trucks Are Causing Environmental Injustice Across U.S. Cities

Low-income people of color in the U.S. are exposed to 28% more nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air they breathe compared to their wealthier white counterparts, a new study using satellite measurements reports. The researchers find this is largely caused by the distribution of diesel truck routes, which has long been implicated as a source of environmental inequality.

Environmental Health News [Author: Krystal Vasquez]

Understanding Poverty and Children’s Health Before Natural Disasters Strike

Studying the relationship between natural disasters and community wellbeing and recovery has been my passion since my time coordinating medical relief efforts throughout Asia as a Navy servicemember in Japan. While doing this work I learned a saying: natural disasters are national events but local crises. Gavin Rienne is an Epidemiology and Biostatistics doctoral candidate in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

Environmental Health News [Author: Gavin Rienne]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

HHS Announces Availability of $100 Million for State Loan Repayment Programs to Support Primary Health Care Workforce in Underserved Communities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing the availability of $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding for state-run programs that support, recruit, and retain primary care clinicians who live and work in underserved communities. This funding represents a five-fold increase to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s State Loan Repayment Program.

HHS News Release

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

NIOSH Funds 10 Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently recognized four new facilities as Centers of Excellence, joining six existing centers from around the country in efforts to advance the overall safety, health and well-being of the nation’s workforce. The centers serve as research and practice hubs for NIOSH’s Total Worker Health initiative.

NIOSH Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health

Safety and Health Magazine

UCI Public Health Adds the Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory as Key Research Center

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) Program in Public Health has added the Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory as a research center for the study of airborne environmental and occupational exposures. Originally created in 1973 with funding from the California Air Resources Board to understand the effects of air pollution on human health, over the years the lab has expanded its reach to cover a wide range of environmental exposures.

UCI Newsroom

Job OpeningsBack to Top

UC Berkeley Seeks Coordinator of Public Programs, LOHP

The University of California Berkeley’s (UC Berkeley) School of Public Health seeks a coordinator for their Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) is the community engagement/outreach program of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. LOHP promotes safe, healthy, and just workplaces and builds the capacity of workers and worker organizations to take action for improved working conditions.

Job Posting

Austin Public Health Hiring Community Health Workers to Address COVID-19 and Other Health Disparities

Austin Public Health is hosting a Community Health Worker Job Fair this Saturday, Oct. 16, to recruit health workers who will work within Austin-Travis County’s underserved and high-risk communities to build the trusted relationships that are the foundation of developing healthy behaviors and relationships with health care providers.

Job Posting

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