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NIEHS WTP: September 29, 2023 Newsbrief

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Weekly E-Newsbrief, September 29, 2023

Weekly E-Newsbrief

September 29, 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

Toxic Labor

As climate change accelerates natural catastrophes, the disaster-restoration industry has capitalized on low-wage immigrant labor. These workers — who clear debris and build anew after hurricanes, floods and wildfires — perform the most arduous tasks. And this comes at a health cost for those exposed to harmful toxins like mold, asbestos and lead. This booming industry runs on mostly working age and undocumented migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean who fled poverty, violence and natural disasters in their homelands. Preoccupied with survival, they can fall victim to abuses routinely inflicted upon immigrant workers in the U.S. — wage theft, harassment.

The Center for Public Integrity [Authors: Janelle Retka, Samantha McCabe, Jiahui Huang & María Inés Zamudio] 

Does the Risk of Getting Long Covid Increase Each Time You Get Reinfected?

More than three years into the coronavirus pandemic, fewer and fewer people are experiencing their first Covid-19 infections. But as cases climb, those who’ve had the virus before may wonder: What are their chances of developing long Covid — and does the risk increase with each reinfection? While scientists still cannot predict, prevent, or cure long Covid — or understand why it affects some people and not others, recent data suggests that reinfection contributes to additional risk of long Covid.

STAT News [Author: Elizabeth Cooney]

First of Thousands of Lahaina Residents Return to Homes Destroyed by Deadly Wildfire

The first of thousands of residents who lost their homes in the wildfire that destroyed the Hawaii town of Lahaina returned to their devastated properties, with some stopping for a moment of reflection and others searching for mementos among the ruins. In the days following the August 8 wildfire, some people were able to return to their properties to evaluate the damage. But since then, the burned area has been off-limits to all but authorized workers. Authorities opened one small part of it recently, allowing residents in for supervised visits from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. By midday, about two dozen vehicles carrying residents had entered the area.


Flesh-Eating Bacteria Infections Are on The Rise in The U.S. − Here's How One Expert Says You Can Protect Yourself

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory alerting doctors and public health officials of an increase in flesh-eating bacteria cases that can cause serious wound infections. The U.S. sees only about 150 to 200 cases of this bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, each year, but the mortality rate is high, with 1 in 5 people succumbing to the infection. Vibrio vulnificus primarily lives in warm seawater but can also be found in brackish water – areas where the ocean mixes with freshwater. People who swim, fish or wade in these bodies of water can contract the bacteria through an open wound or sore. The CDC offers several recommendations to help prevent infection, including staying out of the water and avoiding the handling of raw seafood.

CBS News [Author: Bill Sullivan]

Vibrio vulnificus & Wounds Information

Stress at Work May Raise Men’s Risk for Heart Disease

Men who experience high levels of work-related stress and feel underappreciated at work may be twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t. Canadian researchers followed nearly 6,500 male and female white-collar workers in Canada who didn’t have cardiovascular disease. They used questionnaires to gauge the workers’ stress levels and any effort-reward imbalance. Findings show that the men who reported work-related stress and effort-reward imbalance had a 49% higher risk of developing heart disease than those who didn’t. The researchers didn’t find a similar link among the women.

Safety and Health Magazine


Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Preventing Aerosol-Transmissible Diseases in Healthcare Settings: The Need for Protective Guidelines and Standards

This webinar will include a scientific review of significant gaps in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Healthcare Infection Control and Prevention Advisory Committee (HICPAC)’s proposed revisions to the guidelines. Speakers will review the science that HICPAC and CDC should be considering for preventing transmission of aerosol transmissible diseases. A list of recommended revisions will be produced that will be submitted to the CDC. The webinar will take place on October 13, 2023, from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. ET.

Event Registration and Information

2023 WTP Fall Awardee Meeting and Workshop Registration is Now Open!

Registration is now open for the 2023 NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) Fall Awardee Meeting and Workshop. The awardee meeting will be held on October 17, 2023, and will be a hybrid event to allow for remote participation. The workshop will follow on October 18-19, and will be in-person only at the NIEHS campus in Research Triangle Park, NC. Registration for the awardee meeting and workshop will close on October 11, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET.

Event Registration and Information

Just Transition Webinar: Ensuring Workers & Communities are Centered in the Clean Energy Economy

New Jersey is on the precipice of a major shift in how homes, vehicles, and businesses are powered, which will have ramifications throughout the economy. The state’s clean energy transition will create significant employment opportunities for good paying, union jobs as well as environmental and public health improvements, but as we make the transition to clean and renewable energy technologies, we need to have worker and community-based policies in place. This webinar will examine worker and community impacts from the clean energy transition, needed safeguards to keep workers and communities whole, lessons learned from other states, and worker and community centered clean energy policies. The webinar will be held on October 13, 2023, from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. ET.

Event Registration

HHS Environmental Justice Community Innovator Challenge Informational Webinar

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed the Environmental Justice Community Innovator Challenge. It is a national competition to identify innovative and effective approaches to enhance community-driven efforts to address the health consequences of communities burdened by environmental and climate change-related hazards. Desired outcomes include the development of community-driven strategies and application of data-driven tools to advance health equity and address environmental hazards including those related to climate change, and the cumulative impacts of environmental and other stressors. An informational webinar will be held on October 10, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET.

Event Registration

Environmental Justice Community Innovator Challenge Information

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

California Workers Who Cut Countertops Are Dying of an Incurable Disease

In California, silicosis has begun to debilitate young workers, largely Latino immigrants who cut and polish slabs of engineered stone. The disease dates back centuries, but researchers say the booming popularity of countertops made of engineered stone, which has much higher concentrations of silica than many kinds of natural stone, has driven a new epidemic of an accelerated form of the suffocating illness. As the dangerous dust builds up and scars the lungs, the disease can leave workers short of breath, weakened and ultimately suffering from lung failure.

Los Angeles Times [Authors: Emily Alpert Reyes & Cindy Carcamo]

Why Unexpectedly High Ambulance Bills Are Still a Problem in the U.S.

When Congress passed the No Surprises Act, it got rid of most unexpected billing for out of network emergency room visits. But the legislation left out a crucial service: ground ambulance rides. Every year, roughly 3 million insured people ride in ambulances during medical emergencies, and up to 85 percent of those transports are out of network. Ground ambulances were not covered in the No Surprises Act, because it is a complex system with ambulances being operated by fire departments, private equity firms, or hospitals, depending on the location.

PBS News [Authors: Ali Rogin, Laura Santhanam, & Kaisha Young]

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

Funding Availability for FY 2024 Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization (OBLR) is soliciting applications from eligible entities for Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grant funding. These Brownfields Grants allow more vacant and abandoned properties to be turned into community assets that will attract jobs and promote economic revitalization in communities. The application submission deadline is November 13, 2023.

Information and Resources

Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than $200 Million To Support Youth Mental Health

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $206 million in grant awards towards youth mental health. Recent data confirms that young people need more support to address their mental health and substance use disorder challenges. The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that nearly three in five U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021 – representing a nearly 60% increase over the past decade. It also found that 22% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide during the past year. These awards will help expand access to mental health services for students in schools, bolster the behavioral health workforce, and improve access to mental health prevention and treatment for children and youth in communities across the country.

HHS News Release

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Availability of $20 Million in Grants to Create Career Opportunities in the Water Workforce

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the availability of over $20 million in grant funding to support training for workers who protect and treat our nation’s drinking water and provide critical wastewater services. Through the Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grant program, EPA will support training and career opportunities in the water sector. With the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investment in water infrastructure, growing and sustaining the water sector workforce is more important than ever for ensuring clean and safe water for generations to come.

EPA News Release

Department of Labor Announces Enforcement, Compliance Initiative to Protect Workers from Silica Exposure in Engineered Stone Fabrication, Installation

The Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a new initiative focused on enhancing enforcement and providing compliance assistance to protect workers in the engineered stone fabrication and installation industries. Supplementing OSHA's current National Emphasis Program for Respirable Crystalline Silica, this initiative will focus enforcement efforts on industry employers to make sure they're following required safety standards and providing workers with the protections required to keep them healthy. It establishes procedures for prioritizing federal OSHA inspections to identify and ensure prompt abatement of hazards in covered industries where workers face exposure to high levels of silica dust.

OSHA News Release

Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

Feeling Anxious About Climate Change? Check Out These Strategies.

As climate disasters grow more obvious and immediate, climate change keeps getting harder to ignore. So many of us need to cope again and again with uncomfortable emotions. Experts share strategies to balance our thinking and cope with eco-anxiety, such as attending therapy, having conversations about climate change, and combating despair by celebrating climate wins.

Yale Climate Connections [Author: Sueellen Campbell]

Job OpeningsBack to Top

The Food and Drug Administration is Seeking an Industrial Hygienist

This position is located in the Office of Laboratory Safety, which provides executive leadership in the area of laboratory science, laboratory security, laboratory related environmental and occupational safety and health programs. Duties include participating in planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive safety and occupational health program and providing advice and direction on a broad range of scientific disciplines such as chemistry and toxicology, among others.

Job Posting

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