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NIEHS WTP: October 27, 2023 Newsbrief

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Weekly E-Newsbrief, October 27, 2023

Weekly E-Newsbrief

October 27, 2023

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

Tennessee State Profile Now Available on the WTP Webpage

The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) annually funds training for more than 5,500 workers through about 500 health and safety courses in Tennessee. Read more about WTP’s hazardous materials and emergency response training efforts in Tennessee in a new state profile.

Tennessee State Profile

A Seasonal Viral Stew is Brewing with Flu, RSV, COVID and More

As the weather cools down, health officials are gearing up for a new season of sickness. It's the time for gathering indoors and spreading respiratory viruses. Last year, 40% of U.S. households were hit with either the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), or COVID-19. There are other viruses in the mix, too, such as rhinoviruses and non-COVID coronaviruses which cause the common cold, and parainfluenzas that can cause croup and pneumonia. WastewaterScan, a program that provides a real-time look at circulating pathogens based on testing wastewater samples, is currently showing medium levels of COVID-19 and low levels of other respiratory viruses.

NPR [Author: Pien Huang]


Millions of Rural Americans Rely on Private Wells. Few Regularly Test Their Water

More than 43 million Americans rely on private wells, which are subject to a patchwork of state and local regulations, including standards for new construction. In most cases, residents are free to use outdated wells without having them tested or inspected. The practice is common despite concern about runoff from farms and industrial sites, plus cancer-causing minerals that can taint groundwater. Federal experts estimate more than a fifth of private wells have concentrations of contaminants above levels considered safe. Many states offer financial aid to homeowners to cover well testing, repairs, and treatment. Experts suggest that users of private wells have them tested annually, as changes in the water table level, septic systems, or fertilizer and pesticide use can impact groundwater quality.

Kaiser Health News [Author: Tony Leys]

AI Could Help Doctors Make Better Diagnoses

With artificial intelligence seemingly working its way into every technology out there, one area where it's considered particularly promising is in helping doctors make medical diagnoses. Occasionally, doctors will turn to UpToDate, a computer program that is like Google for doctors, to search for information on mysterious infections or illnesses they don’t recognize. Currently, an experimental version of UpToDate is being tested. The beta version uses generative AI to help doctors access more targeted information from its database, but users have experienced program errors and unreliability that needs to be remedied before the program can be released. Still, some doctors hope to use AI in the future for summarizing patient history before an appointment and for researching uncommon diagnoses.

NPR [Author: Craig LeMoult]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

AI in the Workplace: Implications for Mental Health

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace could bring about numerous benefits, from increased efficiency to innovation. However, it also raises important questions about its impact on the mental health and well-being of employees. This webinar will delve into the promise and perils of AI in the modern workplace. Presenters will share real-world case studies of AI-driven initiatives and their mental health implications, and explore the balance between AI-driven productivity and potential implications for employee mental health and well-being. The webinar will take place on October 30, 2023, from 1-2 p.m. ET.

Event Registration

Recovery Ready Workplace New York Symposium

Between 2009 to 2015, an estimated 225,000 New York workers were lost from the labor market due to opioids. Recovery Ready Workplace initiatives have emerged around the U.S. as important interventions in addressing substance use disorder (SUD) and the opioid overdose crisis. This symposium, hosted by the New York State Coalition to Prevent Addiction and Support Recovery in Employment, will share information on the importance of Recovery Ready Workplaces and why they are necessary in New York. The symposium will take place on December 4 and 5, 2023 in Albany, New York.

Event Registration

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Wildfire Smoke Leaves Harmful Gases in Floors and Walls − Air Purifiers Aren’t Enough, New Study Shows, But You Can Clean It Up

In a new study published in the journal Science Advances, researchers tracked the life of harmful gases in a home exposed to wildfire smoke. Getting rid of these gases isn’t as simple as turning on an air purifier or opening a window on a clear day. The study found that air purifiers can remove only some of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are in the air – they can’t clean the VOCs on your floors or in your walls. Cleaning surfaces by vacuuming, dusting and mopping with a commercial, nonbleach solution can effectively and permanently reduce indoor VOC levels. With wildfires becoming more frequent, surface cleaning can be an easy, cheap, and effective way to improve indoor air quality.

The Conversation [Author: Delphine Farmer]


5 Oklahoma Tribes, IHS, and State of Oklahoma Come Together to Improve Water Infrastructure

Five Oklahoma American Indian tribes, the state of Oklahoma, Indian Health Service (IHS) and communities are working together utilizing American Rescue Plan funds in a unified effort to improve the water infrastructure of communities within the state. These projects will help ensure the infrastructure improvements needed as part of sustainable management of water resources serving both Native and non-Native Oklahoma residents, businesses and communities. Altogether, federal, tribal, state and community agency contributions toward ensuring area residents have access to this vital natural resource, total more than $200 million.

Native News Online

Top Leaders Are Investing in Physical & Mental Wellness

Wellness and well-being in the business world has been a hot topic in 2023 and it’s being pushed as the next frontier for safety pros. The number of U.S. firms offering workplace wellness programs very much depends on the size of the company. A little more than half (52 percent) of all firms offer wellness programs, according to a 2022 study. It is more common for large companies, with over 100 employees, than small companies to offer wellness programs. A survey of consultants and wellness directors from health insurance brokers across the U.S. identified 23 different wellness programs. Everything from sleep, weight and stress management to health fairs, health coaching, and healthy foods.

Industrial Safety & Hygiene News [Author: Dave Johnson]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $128 Million for Environmental Justice Projects in Communities Across the Country as Part of Investing in America Agenda

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced nearly $128 million to fund 186 projects across the country that advance environmental justice. The organizations, which EPA has selected through its Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement and Environmental Justice Government-to-Government programs, will use the funds to ensure disadvantaged communities that have historically suffered from underinvestment have access to clean air and water and climate resilience solutions in alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative. This is the first in a series of environmental justice grant announcements the agency will announce before the end of the year.

EPA News Release

Community Disaster Resilience Zones Build Resilience Nationwide, Create New Opportunities for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Benefits

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the designation of 483 community census tracts as Community Disaster Resilience Zones (CDRZ), as directed by Congress in the Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act of 2022. Natural disasters and the most severe effects of climate change disproportionately impact communities that are least able to prepare for, and recover from, those harms. Communities designated as CDRZ can receive increased financial and technical assistance to plan and implement resilience projects. The CDRZ designations also provide a common framework for federal agencies to work with external stakeholders to collectively build resilience in our nation’s most at-risk communities.

FEMA News Release

Biden-Harris Administration Opens Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program for Clean Energy Projects Benefitting Underserved Communities

The Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the Treasury, and Internal Revenue Service announced the opening of applications for the Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program. This program, supported by the Inflation Reduction Act, addresses the need to expand access to cost-saving clean energy projects in underserved communities through a groundbreaking tax incentive for solar and wind projects across the country. The Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program provides a 10 or 20 percentage point credit increase to the investment tax credit for qualified solar or wind energy facilities that are less than five megawatts (AC).

DOE News Release

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

EV Jobs Hub

The EV Jobs Hub (EVJH) illuminates not only where new electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing jobs are being announced, but also what those jobs will look like. As widespread EV adoption continues to transform the auto industry—powered by historic investments from governments and automakers alike—we have an important opportunity to set a high bar for job quality in the climate-critical auto manufacturing sector. Our hope is that the EVJH will help labor and environmental advocates hold manufacturers and policymakers accountable for delivering on their investments and promises for good, union jobs in the domestic EV industry.

EV Jobs Hub

CPWR Releases New Aging Workers Resources

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) has released new resources for aging workers in the construction industry. Supporting older workers who remain on the job is especially important today, when the construction workforce overall is aging, and the industry is having difficulties recruiting and retaining enough skilled workers. New resources include a data dashboard, hazard assessment and primary prevention, supportive programs, and legal resources.

Aging Workers Resources

Job OpeningsBack to Top

UCLA LOSH Seeking an Associate Director

The Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) program at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is seeking an associate director who will help lead the center’s dynamic and growing portfolio of worker training initiatives, research, university teaching, and community collaborations. Job responsibilities include managing key programs and initiatives within the center, overseeing complex and multi-faceted projects, directing teams in planning and executing program activities, assessing their impact, and ensuring their alignment with the organization’s mission.

Job Posting

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