Oct 26, 2020

The forklift truck drivers who never leave their desks

(BBC) During the pandemic, many of us have relied on having goods delivered to our homes more frequently than before.

But as Covid-19 spreads easily, the warehouses dotted along the world's supply chains have become potential hubs of disease transmission, says Elliot Katz, co-founder of Phantom Auto.

The solution, he suggests, is to reduce the number of people working in those environments. Take forklift operators, for instance - with remote-control technology they can now work off-site, controlling their machines from afar.

"We have customers today where we are fully remotely operating those forklifts from remote locations," says Mr Katz, whose firm has equipped a string of new clients with these systems in recent months.

Phantom Auto's technology is now installed in around a dozen warehouses in the US and Europe, he adds.

Read full from source:

Oct 20, 2020

EPA crews use color system to remove hazardous waste for Carmel Fire

Keeping track of what's safe and what's not during fire waste removal is getting clearer. The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has a color system to mark dangerous items left behind at destroyed properties.

In phase one of waste removal, EPA crews are looking to remove all the hazards from sites, which includes cleaning supplies, paints, etc. The first step, Phase I, is needed before bulldozing of the damage.

If the first phase is not completed before bulldozing over a burned out property, "that could be hazardous for the workers who come in to do that second phase of debris removal," said Jeremy Johnstone, an Environmental Protection Agency task force leader.

It's not about what a person sees on a burned out property, it's what most people visiting don't see, that needs professional eyes.

"The ash can be hazardous, there can be asbestos on site, you can get on skin and hair," Johnstone said.

Those are a few examples of hazardous materials on a site everyone who visits, should be aware of. The EPA has a color coded system to help.

Items they have marked with white spray paint are deemed safe and should be treated as debris. An orange mark means the item is hazardous such as unexploded ammunition.

A pink mark is the assumption of asbestos, to be actually tested in phase two.

This consist of a lot of work for crews who are averaging about an hour a property under new COVID-19 protocols. The new rules include keeping smaller, similar work crews together. For example crews working on Trampa Canyon Road near Cachagua Rd. in Carmel Valley, will stick with their same groups as they move to different properties

Johnstone said, "we are maintaining social spacing. In the after hours we are not hanging out having drinks or dinner together." "We're also getting regualry tested. Each individual is getting tested twice a week."

Once phase one is completed for the Carmel fire, EPA crews will move to do phase one for the River and then Dolan Fire. Once phase one is completed on a property, phase two can begin.

Read full from source:

More Than 200 Million Americans Could Have Toxic PFAS in Their Drinking Water

The study, published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, analyzed publicly accessible drinking water testing results from the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Geological Survey, as well as state testing by Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Rhode Island.

"We know drinking water is a major source of exposure of these toxic chemicals," said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG and a co-author of the new study. "This new paper shows that PFAS pollution is affecting even more Americans than we previously estimated. PFAS are likely detectable in all major water supplies in the U.S., almost certainly in all that use surface water."

The analysis also included laboratory tests commissioned by EWG that found PFAS chemicals in the drinking water of dozens of U.S. cities. Some of the highest PFAS levels detected were in samples from major metropolitan areas, including Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans and the northern New Jersey suburbs of New York City.

There is no national requirement for ongoing testing and no national drinking water standard for any PFAS in drinking water. The EPA has issued an inadequate lifetime health advisory level of 70 ppt for the two most notorious fluorinated chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, and efforts to set an enforceable standard could take many years.

In the absence of a federal standard, states have started to pass their own legal limits for some PFAS. New Jersey was the first to issue a maximum contaminant limit for the compound PFNA, at 13 ppt, and has set standards of 13 ppt for PFOS and 14 ppt for PFOA. Many states have either set or proposed limits for PFOA and PFOS, including California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.

"The first step in fighting any contamination crisis is to turn off the tap," said Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs. "The second step is to set a drinking water standard, and the third is to clean up legacy pollution. The PFAS Action Act passed by the House would address all three steps by setting deadlines for limiting industrial PFAS releases, setting a two-year deadline for a drinking water standard, and designating PFAS as 'hazardous substances' under the Superfund law. But Mitch McConnell's Senate has refused to act to protect our communities from 'forever chemicals.'"

West Texas nuclear waste plan prompts fears of radioactive trains in Fort Worth

A plan to transport 5,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste from across the country to sites on the Texas-New Mexico border poses a particular danger to Fort Worth, a group of environmental activists opposed to the plan said Thursday.

The destination for much of the nuclear waste is Andrews County, where Waste Control Specialists already operates a toxic waste site. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering a similar plan from nuclear company Holtec for a high-level waste storage facility in southeastern New Mexico. While the nuclear waste is concerning for residents of West Texas and eastern New Mexico, Fort Worth residents should also be worried, said Lon Burnam, a former state representative and the chair of the Tarrant Coalition for Environmental Awareness.

With today's rail traffic, Burnam said trains hauling the nuclear waste may have to stop overnight in Metroplex rail yards like the massive Union Pacific Davidson Yard south of the Cultural District.

"These canisters can sit here and leak radiation without anyone knowing," Burnam said.

Read full from source

Oct 19, 2020

Energy Department Announces Round One Winners of Geothermal Manufacturing Prize

DOE- U.S. Department of Energy announced the winners of the Ready! contest of the American-Made Geothermal Manufacturing Prize. Launched in April 2020, the prize is designed to spur innovation using additive manufacturing to address challenges fundamental to operating in harsh geothermal environments.

The winners of the Ready! contest – the first in a series of four progressive competitions – were announced at the Geothermal Resources Council's Virtual 2020 Annual Meeting and Expo by Daniel R Simmons, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

"Geothermal has the potential to play an important role in our energy future," said Simmons. "These projects will help unlock that potential through innovative approaches to additive manufacturing."

Read more


DNR Launches Waste Characterization Study At Wisconsin Landfills Study To Provide Insight Into Waste Reduction And Diversion Efforts

DNR, Wis. – This past September, SCS Engineers began collecting and sorting samples of municipal solid waste at landfills across the state as part of a study aimed at better understanding what Wisconsinites are throwing in the trash.

Results of the study will provide a powerful planning tool for waste reduction and minimization efforts across the state, and when compared to prior studies conducted in 2003 and 2009, will help officials identify trends in waste and recycling.  

"Millions of pounds of materials are diverted through recycling, e-cycling or composting every year, which keeps hazardous materials out of the environment, saves valuable landfill space and supports Wisconsin's economy," said Kate Strom Hiorns, DNR recycling and solid waste section chief. "But more can be done. This study will help determine the communication, infrastructure and resources still needed."

Crews will visit 12 landfills across the state to sort 400 municipal solid waste samples and visually characterize 640 construction and demolition waste loads. Crews are trained to identify 85 material types, representing eight waste categories including plastics, organics and hazardous materials. Region, hauler type and the source of the waste will also be recorded.

"The DNR is looking for opportunities to minimize and divert waste statewide, but also at the source or regional level," said Casey Lamensky, DNR solid waste coordinator. "The DNR will continue to work with local governments, businesses and organizations to ensure they have the resources they need to divert materials from the landfill."

Waste characterization data from 2003 and 2009 provided crucial information for waste management decisions still affecting residents today. Dane County used the 2009 study
which identified construction and demolition materials as one of the top contributing material groups, to properly size a construction and demolition recycling facility at the Rodefeld Landfill.

"We hope the 2020 data will be similarly used," Lamensky said. "Dane County is a great example of why this information is important."

The final report will be published this spring. From mid-October through mid-December, crews will be sampling at landfills located in Appleton, Wisconsin Rapids, Weyerhaeuser, Watertown, Muskego, Franklin, Menomonee Falls and Eau Claire.

To learn more about recycling in Wisconsin, visit the DNR's what to recycle page.

Oct 16, 2020

Water Subcabinet Members Highlight Enhanced Aquatic Resource Mapping with Western States

EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)  — Yesterday, as part of the Western States Water Council (WSWC) virtual Fall 2020 meeting, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross highlighted ongoing cross-agency efforts to enhance the nation's aquatic resource maps. The federally-led mapping effort illustrates the enhanced interagency coordination established by the Trump Administration that will accelerate progress in developing better data, tools, and strategies for managing our nation's vital water resources, including developing maps of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) that can more accurately depict the scope of federal Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction.

"After nearly 50 years of implementing the Clean Water Act, it is disappointing that the federal government lacks the ability to point to a map and tell our stakeholders which waters are subject to federal jurisdiction, and which are exclusively reserved to the capable management of our state and tribal partners," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. "Because there are currently no maps showing the universe of waters regulated under the Clean Water Act, we are leveraging the collective expertise, tools, and resources of the Water Subcabinet to solve this problem."

Representatives from EPA, Department of the Interior (DOI), and Department of the Army (Army) along with Western State water managers and expert scientists from the EPA, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) discussed the benefits of enhanced geospatial tools and novel approaches to improve the accuracy of maps depicting surface waters nationwide. When fully developed, maps of CWA jurisdiction will promote greater regulatory certainty, relieve some of the regulatory burden associated with determining the need for a CWA permit, and play an important part in helping to implement the goals and policies of the CWA.

Under the newly formed Water Subcabinet, established by the President's Executive Order "Modernizing America's Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure," EPA and the Army are aligning their WOTUS mapping interests with DOI's established and ever-improving aquatic resource mapping efforts, including the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), National Wetlands Inventory (NWI), and other datasets. At yesterday's WSWC Fall Meeting, technical experts from EPA, USGS, and USFWS described the ongoing cross-agency efforts to enhance the existing NHD and NWI frameworks, coupled with on-the-ground field research, streamflow monitoring, and geospatial modeling approaches to improve the accuracy of the nation's stream and wetland maps.

"In developing the new WOTUS definition under the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, we heard from stakeholders that maps of jurisdictional waters could increase certainty and transparency regarding which waters are jurisdictional and which waters are not," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Ryan Fisher. "This interagency mapping effort will increase certainty and efficiency within the Corps' regulatory programs while enhancing predictability for landowners and businesses to support the economy and accelerate critical infrastructure projects."

To help inform this effort, the Water Subcabinet is engaging with stakeholders like WSWC to make progress on these mapping goals, while being advised by a work group of participants from federal agencies with interest and expertise in geospatial mapping. EPA and the Army believe the most efficient way to address their CWA mapping needs is to better align their efforts with DOI's existing processes and national mapping capabilities.

"Department of the Interior's USGS, FWS, and other bureaus have a long history of working together to map the nation's waters," said DOI Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Timothy Petty. "Now, by focusing our assets and capabilities to the needs of USACE and EPA, our aim is to accelerate enhancements to our existing national frameworks and the maps they will support for a wide variety of federal, state, tribal, and private sector water programs. This is a prime example of the cross-agency work that the Water Subcabinet can tackle to better manage our nation's aquatic resources and leverage taxpayer dollars."

For more information on mapping jurisdictional waters under the CWA, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-01/documents/nwpr_fact_sheet_-_mapping.pdf

There are currently no comprehensive datasets through which EPA and the Army can map the universe of jurisdictional waters under the CWA. While the USGS National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and the USFWS National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) are the most comprehensive hydrogeographic datasets mapping waters and wetlands in the United States and are useful resources for a wide variety of water management applications, they currently have technical limitations that present significant challenges for use as standalone tools to determine the full scope of CWA jurisdiction, regardless of the regulatory definition of WOTUS. In fact, prior to finalizing the now-rescinded 2015 rule defining WOTUS, an EPA blog post published under the previous administration entitled "Mapping the Truth" stated, "While these [USGS and USFWS] maps are useful tools for water resource managers, they cannot be used to determine Clean Water Act jurisdiction – now or ever." Due to limitations of the existing datasets, the Trump Administration agrees with Obama Administration officials that the data cannot currently be used to determine the scope of CWA jurisdiction, but rejects the premise that the tools we have today cannot be improved upon in the future to map WOTUS. The Water Subcabinet, leveraging the collective expertise, tools, and resources across the federal family, is working together with our state and tribal partners to do so.

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure

WASHINGTON ( EPA Press Office ) — Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order on "Modernizing America's Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure." This historic action ensures Federal coordination on water policy is standard practice now and into the future by formally establishing a Water Subcabinet of senior Federal agency officials to facilitate efficient and effective management and modernization of our water supplies and systems while also eliminating duplication between agencies. With this Executive Order, President Trump is demonstrating his bold vision for improving our Federal water infrastructure and prioritizing access to essential water supplies for all Americans.

The Water Subcabinet will be co-chaired by U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and will include senior officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of the Army (Civil Works). The Water Subcabinet will work in close coordination with senior officials from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and other federal agencies as appropriate.

"Clean, reliable, and safe water supplies are essential for our communities, our economy, and our environment," said CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr. "By establishing the Water Subcabinet, President Trump is bringing key policymakers together who will coordinate actions to streamline needs of our Nation. Once again, the Trump Administration is taking action to deliver practical results for the American people."

"The Trump Administration has made it a priority to ensure communities across the nation receive safe, reliable water," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. "Today's action by President Trump furthers our incredible efforts over the past three and a half years to cut bureaucratic red tape and improve water infrastructure."

"The Federal Government has the responsibility to ensure all Americans, regardless of their zip code, have access to reliable sources of clean and safe water," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "By creating the Water Subcabinet, President Trump is supporting 21st century water infrastructure that will provide all Americans with safe drinking water and surface water protection."

"From the very early days of the Administration, President Trump has recognized the importance of the energy-water nexus to U.S. economic competitiveness," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. "Through the President's Water Security Grand Challenge, DOE has advanced transformational technology and innovation to help meet the domestic and global need for safe, secure and affordable water through collaboration between industry and our 17 National Labs. DOE looks forward to continuing this work in coordination with the newly established Water Subcabinet."

"The Water Subcabinet will enhance collaboration among the Federal agencies responsible for our nation's water management, allowing for a more effective and efficient environmental and economic balance of our nation's water resources for all users," said R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. "This Administration's focus on streamlining and reducing duplication between Federal agencies will benefit the American people by the coordinated modernization of our Nation's water infrastructure and water resource management."

"It is essential that Americans have access to clean, safe, and reliable water resources. Streamlining and modernizing water management will foster innovation in water forecasting and research, bolster the resilience of our water infrastructure, promote efficiency across the Federal Government, enhance public health, and create jobs. I commend President Trump's strong leadership as well as the collective efforts across the Administration on this important issue," said OSTP Director Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier

"President Trump is committed to making it easier for farmers be successful and to ensure they are the most innovative in the world. Today's Executive Order is evidence of that commitment," said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. "Water is critical to farming and the success of Rural America. USDA has already taken the lead to invest in America's wetlands through projects that inspire creative problem-solving that boosts production on farms, ranches, and private forests – ultimately improving water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat."

Under the Executive Order, the Water Subcabinet will:

·• Promote effective and efficient water resources management by reducing duplication between Federal agencies developing water policy;

·• Develop a national water strategy to ensure the reliability of our water supplies, water quality, water systems, and water forecasting;

·• Protect taxpayer investments and improve water infrastructure planning by promoting integrated planning and coordination for drinking water, wastewater, water reuse, water storage and delivery, and water resource management; and

·• Support and enhance workforce development to recruit, train, and retain water sector professionals.

Under the Trump Administration, Federal agencies that have primary authority for water policy have coordinated like never before, to help ensure that all Americans have access to safe drinking water, reliable rural and farm water supplies, and clean water for recreation and enjoyment. Coordination by the Water Subcabinet will streamline decision-making processes across these Federal agencies, promoting effective and efficient planning to modernize our Nation's water infrastructure.

To view the Executive Order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-modernizing-americas-water-resource-management-water-infrastructure/

To view a fact sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/201013-Final-Water-EO-Fact-Sheet-.pdf

MIT Book on Repairing Infrastructures: The Maintenance of Materiality and Power

Repairing Infrastructures: The Maintenance of Materiality and Power.

The book provides an overview of infrastructure studies and maintenance and repair studies, illustrated with case studies from our own research and the work of other researchers.

You can buy the book as a paperback and/or download the chapters directly from MIT's website for free.

We're grateful to the press for offering an open access version of the book.

Oct 13, 2020

The Human Cost of Disasters - An overview of the last 20 years 2000-2019

UNDRR report published to mark the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13, 2020, confirms how extreme weather events have come to dominate the disaster landscape in the 21st century. The statistics in this report are from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) which records disasters which have killed ten or more people; affected 100 or more people; resulted in a declared state of emergency; or a call for international assistance.

In the period 2000 to 2019, there were 7,348 major recorded disaster events claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people (many on more than one occasion) resulting in approximately US$2.97 trillion in global economic losses.

This is a sharp increase over the previous twenty years. Between 1980 and 1999, 4,212 disasters were linked to natural hazards worldwide claiming approximately 1.19 million lives and affecting 3.25 billion people resulting in approximately US$1.63 trillion in economic losses.

Much of the difference is explained by a rise in climate-related disasters including extreme weather events: from 3,656 climate-related events (1980-1999) to 6,681 climate-related disasters in the period 2000-2019.

The last twenty years has seen the number of major floods more than double, from 1,389 to 3,254, while the incidence of storms grew from 1,457 to 2,034. Floods and storms were the most prevalent events.

The report "The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019" also records major increases in other categories including drought, wildfires and extreme temperature events. There has also been a rise in geo-physical events including earthquakes and tsunamis which have killed more people than any of the other natural hazards under review in this report.

Download report here:




Oct 9, 2020

NEJM Editorial about COVID and leadership

NEJM  - Covid-19 has created a crisis throughout the world. This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.

The magnitude of this failure is astonishing. According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease, far exceeding the numbers in much larger countries, such as China. The death rate in this country is more than double that of Canada, exceeds that of Japan, a country with a vulnerable and elderly population, by a factor of almost 50, and even dwarfs the rates in lower-middle-income countries, such as Vietnam, by a factor of almost 2000. Covid-19 is an overwhelming challenge, and many factors contribute to its severity. But the one we can control is how we behave. And in the United States we have consistently behaved poorly.

....Let's be clear about the cost of not taking even simple measures. An outbreak that has disproportionately affected communities of color has exacerbated the tensions associated with inequality. Many of our children are missing school at critical times in their social and intellectual development. The hard work of health care professionals, who have put their lives on the line, has not been used wisely. Our current leadership takes pride in the economy, but while most of the world has opened up to some extent, the United States still suffers from disease rates that have prevented many businesses from reopening, with a resultant loss of hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs. And more than 200,000 Americans have died. Some deaths from Covid-19 were unavoidable. But, although it is impossible to project the precise number of additional American lives lost because of weak and inappropriate government policies, it is at least in the tens of thousands in a pandemic that has already killed more Americans than any conflict since World War II.

Read more at:

Oct 7, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Announces $484,069 In Coronavirus Violations

OSHA – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited 37 establishments for violations, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $484,069.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

OSHA has already issued press releases relating to nine establishments, which can be found at dol.gov/newsroom. In addition to those establishments, who have received coronavirus-related citations from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations. OSHA provides more information about individual citations at its Establishment Search website, which it updates periodically.

See full list here in OSHA Press Release


Oct 1, 2020

Energy Department's Better Plants Partners Save $8.2 Billion

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Better Buildings, Better Plants partners have cumulatively saved more than $8 billion in energy costs and 1.7 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs).

More than 235 organizations now partner with DOE through Better Plants. This year, DOE welcomed 20 new partners to the program and challenge, representing 3,200 facilities and roughly 12% of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint. These partners come from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and include Fortune 100 companies, family-owned small businesses, and water treatment organizations.

"Better Plants Partners exemplify the innovative spirit of American manufacturing," said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Alex Fitzsimmons. "These partners are developing, implementing, and sharing innovative, energy-efficient practices that help their organizations save energy and money, which in turn helps the U.S. economy stay competitive."

Through the Better Buildings, Better Plants program, DOE works with partners who have set ambitious energy, water and/or waste reduction goals. As of 2020, partners have successfully met 67 energy and water goals. DOE supports these partners by providing technical expertise, managing peer-exchange opportunities, highlighting successful solutions, and expanding access to innovation.

In addition to setting energy-efficiency goals, Better Plants Challenge partners also share their solutions and best practices.  There are now 49 Better Plants Challenge partners sharing a combined 83 showcase projects, implementation models, and "solutions-at-a-glance" on the Better Buildings Solution Center.

Read full announcement at:

Sep 18, 2020

EPA Publishes “First Ever” Rule Intended to Promote Transparency in Developing Regulatory Guidance Documents

On September 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication version of a final rule establishing the procedures and requirements for how EPA will manage the issuance of guidance documents consistent with Executive Order (EO) 13891, "Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents." The final regulation provides a definition of guidance document for the purposes of this rule, establishes general requirements and procedures for certain guidance documents issued by EPA, and incorporates additional requirements for guidance documents determined to be significant guidance.

Read full from Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

EPA Releases Final Risk Evaluation Scope Documents for Next 20 High Priority Chemicals

From source: Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP - Alexandra B. Cunningham and Elizabeth Reese

TSCA requires EPA to issue final risk evaluations for each of the 20 chemicals no later than December 20, 2022, but EPA is authorized to grant itself a one-time six month extension to June 20, 2023 if it needs more time to complete its risk evaluations.

EPA will also soon proceed with risk evaluations for two phthalates—di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and di-isononyl phthalate (DINP)—at the request of industry stakeholders. Scoping documents for those chemicals have not yet been released, but companies should also keep them on their radars.

Links to each of the 20 final scoping documents, as well as non-exhaustive lists of common uses of each chemical, are provided below.

Final Scope Document Common Uses
1,3-Butadiene Adhesives and sealants; resins; sealants; fuels; synthetic rubber; tires; paints and coatings
p-Dichlorobenzene (Benzene, 1,4-dicholoro-) Plastics; resins; solvents; odor agents and air fresheners; synthetic dyes and pigments; cleaning and furnishing care products; lubricants and greases; plastic foam insulation and foam sealants; fuel additives
1,2-Dichloroethane Intermediate in manufacturing (petrochemical, plastic material and resin, organic chemicals); adhesives and sealants; lubricants and greases; plastic and rubber products; embalming; degreasing and cleaning solvents
trans-1,2-Dicholoroethylene Plating and surface treating agents; cleaning and degreasing solvents; adhesives and sealants; inks; aerosol spray cleaners/degreasers; spot and stain removers; refrigerants; polyurethane foam building insulation
HHCB (1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta [g]-2-benzopyran) Odor agents; soaps, fragrances; air fresheners; scented candles; cleaning products (including all-purpose liquid and bathroom cleaners); laundry products (including detergent and fabric softeners); plastic and rubber products
TBBPA (4,4'-(1-Methylethylidene)bis[2,6-dibromophenol]) Flame retardants; adhesive manufacturing; building and construction products; batteries; fabric, textile, and leather products
TPP (Triphenyl Phosphate) Flame retardants; paint and coatings; plasticizers; lubricants and greases; fluids and oils; foam seating and bedding products; electrical and electronic products
TCEP (Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate) Flame retardants; aircraft interiors; paints and coatings; fabric, textile, and leather products; building and construction products; foam seating and bedding products
Diethylhexyl Phthalate (DEHP) Plasticizers; adhesives and sealants; plastics and resins; paints and coatings; arts, crafts, and hobby materials; automotive and interior car care products; batteries; building and construction products; dyes and pigments; electrical and electronic products; furniture and furnishings; fabric, textile, and leather products; lawn and garden care products; paints and coatings; plastic and rubber products; toys, playground, and sporting equipment
Dicyclohexyl Phthalate (DCHP) Paints and coatings; plastics and resins; rubber products; adhesives; inks, toners, and colorants; asphalt paving; roofing materials; building and construction products; arts, crafts, and hobby materials
Diisobutyl Phthalate (DIBP) Plasticizers; adhesives and sealants; paints and coatings; fuels and related products; inks, toners, and colorants; fabric, textile, and leather products; building and construction products; air fresheners; floor coverings; toys, playground, and sporting equipment; plastic and rubber products
Butyl Benzyl Phthalate (BBP) Plasticizers; asphalt paving; roofing materials; fabric, textile, and leather products; plastic and rubber products; adhesives and sealants; automotive care products; building and construction materials; floor coverings; inks, toners, and related products; paints and coatings; arts, crafts, and hobby materials; toys, playground, and sporting equipment
Dibutyl Phthalate (DIBP) Plasticizers; asphalt paving; roofing and coating materials; adhesives and sealants; pants and coatings; resins; rubber products; soap and cleaning products; cleaning and furnishing care products; furniture; inks, toners, and colorants; personal care products; arts, crafts, and hobby materials; fabric, textile, and leather products; floor coverings; toys, playground, and sporting equipment; light sticks
Phthalic Anhydride Adhesives and sealants; paints and coatings; lubricants and greases; synthetic dyes and pigments; inks, toners, and colorants; plastic and rubber products; textile, apparel, and leather manufacturing; flame retardants; building and construction products; water filtration products
o-Dicholorobenzene (Benzene, 1,2-dichloro-) Solvents; plastics; resins; lubricants and greases; inks, dyes, toners, and pigments; paints and coatings; air fresheners; cleaning and furnishing care products; fuel additives; ceramics glaze
Formaldehyde Adhesives and sealants; plastics and resins; soaps and cleaning compounds; bleaching agents in wood products; textile, apparel, and leather manufacturing finishing agents; roofing materials; paints and coatings; asphalt paving; solvents; floor coverings; foam seating and bedding products; cleaning and furniture care products; water treatment products; laundry and dishwashing products; personal care products; building and construction products; lawn and garden products; electrical and electronic products; food packaging; plastic and rubber products; inks, toners, and colorants; arts, crafts, and hobby materials; automotive care products; toys, playground, and sporting equipment

Sep 17, 2020

Memorial Honoring Eula Bingham

On June 13, 2020, workers lost one their best allies, when Dr. Eula Bingham passed. She leaves behind a remarkable and indelible legacy.

The NIEHS Worker Training Program, the University of Cincinnati, and the Collegium Ramazzini are convening a 90-minute zoom remembrance to honor a true giant of occupational health.

Throughout the 90 years of her life, Dr. Bingham insisted tirelessly that workers had the absolute right to be safe on the job. Her thoughtful and generous wisdom shaped the entire field of occupational safety and health.

Her bold and courageous actions prevented countless illnesses and injuries in workers around the world. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Bingham was a long-time Fellow and Past President of the Collegium Ramazzini.

We include here a link to her eulogy from the College.

Please join us as we honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Bingham.


Meeting ID: 160 400 5915
Passcode: 692153

Dial by your location
+1 669 254 5252 US (San Jose)
+1 646 828 7666 US (New York)


Sep 16, 2020

Chemical Data Reporting Is Due to EPA on November 30

Every four years, manufacturers and importers of chemicals must report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under its Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule, 40 C.F.R. Part 711. The CDR rule, issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), requires manufacturers or importers to file reports for all chemical substances they manufacture or import over certain volume thresholds — subject to some exemptions. The CDR rule is not limited to companies that sell chemicals; it applies to any entity that manufactures or imports chemical substances in commerce in the United States (that is, listed on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory).

The CDR rule applies to a broad range of industries including biotechnology companies, paper and metal manufacturers, and electric utilities. Many manufacturers and importers may be unaware of this obligation, especially start-up companies and fast-growing midsize companies. CDR reports for 2020, which cover calendar years 2016 through 2019, are due to EPA by November 30. Required information includes chemical identities of substances, total annual production or import volume, volumes used onsite and exported, and risks to onsite workers.

Read full at:


Sep 10, 2020

[p2tech] Join NPPR for two virtual events during P2 Week

Join the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable for two P2 Week virtual events.

On September 21 from 4-5:30 pm EDT, reconnect with your colleagues at the NPPR 35th Anniversary P2 Virtual Reunion to catch up and discuss the past, present, and future of P2. Anyone who has been involved with pollution prevention during the past 40 years is welcome. Register for the event at https://p2.org/event-3964942.

On September 22 from 1:30-3 pm EDT, NPPR and U.S. EPA Region 4 are partnering for P2 Week and NPPR'S P2U kickoff webinar. People, Prosperity, Planet…the Journey to Sustainability will celebrate 30 years of the P2 Act, 35 years of NPPR, and 50 years of the EPA.

Session Topics
  • Definition and impact of P2.
  • A brief discussion of the evolution of P2, including federal P2 legislation in 1990, EPA programs that advance P2 principles and foster implementation, P2 in today's world, and where

EPA's P2 program is headed in the future.
  • Brief history of NPPR's origins and how it currently supports P2 work being done at the local, state, and national level.
  • Announcement of NPPR's 2020 MVP2 Award Winners.
  • Launch of NPPR's P2U Training Series, a collaborative effort between [p2tech] Join NPPR for two virtual events during P2 Week

NPPR and EPA Region 4 that supports networking and professional development for P2 practitioners.

Open to all who seek a better understanding of P2, relevant federal programs, and/or resources to support the P2 community. It's brought to you by NPPR and EPA Region 4 at no cost. Register at https://p2.org/event-3965171.

We hope you can join us for both of these events.

Sep 9, 2020

Washington State Safer Products Update on Paints

(paint.org) In July, the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) submitted its Priority Consumer Products report to the Washington Legislature and included Paints on the list under the "Safer Products for Washington" program. Washington DOE included food and beverage cans (bisphenols) and cited concerns over inadvertent Polychlorinated biphenyls (iPCBs) as the reasoning.

Notably, DOE has identified all paints — not just paints used by consumers —  in the scope of iPCBs under the Safer Products program.

In 2019, the Washington State Legislature directed DOE to implement a regulatory program to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products (Chapter 70.365 RCW), known as the "Safer Products for Washington." The Legislature identified five priority chemical classes: flame retardants; Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); Phenolic compounds; and Phthalates. The law requires Ecology to identify priority consumer products that are significant sources or uses of the chemical classes. DOE suggests that iPCBs may form as a byproduct in the production of certain chlorinated color pigments including Diarylide yellows, Phthalocyanine blues and greens, and possibly certain titanium dioxides.

DOE is scheduled to complete Phase 3 and over the next two years will identify alternatives and report back to the Legislature any proposed regulatory actions on June 1, 2022. Then, DOE would adopt any such regulations by June 1, 2023. Ultimately, DOE could decide "no regulatory action is needed," if alternatives are not available or feasible, or DOE could possibly restrict the use of the certain pigments that contain iPCBs.

Read full from source at (paint.org)

Sep 8, 2020

High Levels of Toxic Chemicals Found in Dust Inside College Classrooms

(Science Daily) Researchers detected 43 different types of flame retardants and found the composition of flame retardants varied from space to space based on the flammability standard the different schools followed. Overall, flame retardant levels were significantly higher in spaces with outdated furniture meeting TB117 and/or TB133 than in spaces meeting the newer TB117-2013 standard.

In older TB133 classrooms, levels of a phased-out flame retardant and its replacement (BDE 209 and DBDPE) were three and eight times higher, respectively, than the highest levels previously reported in indoor spaces in the United States. That report came from an earlier study by Silent Spring that looked at dust in college dorm rooms.

The team also detected the carcinogen TDCIPP and a structurally similar flame retardant called TCIPP in rooms meeting the newer standard, likely due to the chemicals' widespread use in many other materials such as plastics, rubber, and textiles.

"This is an important study and the first to evaluate the impact of the new TB117-2013 standard on flame retardant levels in dust," says Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. "It shows that updating an obscure fire standard leads to lower levels of harmful flame retardants and healthier indoor spaces."

Sep 3, 2020

New WHO free-online course Occupational health and safety for health workers in the context of COVID-19

WHO has launched a new  free-online course Occupational health and safety for health workers in the context of COVID-19: All health workers require knowledge and skills to protect themselves and others from the occupational risks they encounter, so that they can work safely and effectively. This course covers four areas in response to these needs: infectious risks to health and safety, physical risks to health and safety, psychosocial risks to health and safety and basic occupational health and safety in health services.

Feel free to disseminate https://openwho.org/courses/COVID-19-occupational-health-and-safety?tracking_user=79KWbMERvlyJs93otUBThL&tracking_type=news&tracking_id=5G2Mpe2LUQH0UI1yw8p8pV, tweet https://twitter.com/workershealth/status/1300754382892478471?s=20 , facebook https://www.facebook.com/ivan.d.ivanov.712/posts/10159147472461435

There will be translations to Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese, and to many other languages.


Overview: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, working conditions for health workers may deteriorate. In addition to the risks of infection with COVID-19, health workers continue to experience other occupational health and safety risks of biological, physical or psychosocial nature. Therefore, for the protection of physical and mental health, safety and well-being of health workers, WHO recommends a combination of measures for infection prevention and control, occupational health and safety and psychosocial support.

Health workers participating in pandemic response are exposed to many different occupational risks to health and safety. These include: COVID-19 infection, illness, and transmission to others; fatigue from working longer hours and heavy workload, insufficient sleep or rest, dehydration, and inadequate nutrition; musculoskeletal injury from handling of patients and heavy objects, prolonged work while using personal protective equipment which can cause heat stress, skin and mucosal damage; workplace violence and stigma, and a variety of mental health problems, emotional distress and occupational burn-out.

The target audience for this course is health workers, incident managers, supervisors and administrators who make policies and protocols for their health facilities.

Learning objectives: By the end of this course, you should be able to:

·         describe the most common occupational risks to health and safety to which health workers are exposed while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic;

·         describe the rights of health workers to decent working conditions;

·         describe how to apply measures for protecting their health and safety and actively propose improvements; and

·         access and use supportive services for protection of health and safety of health workers.


Course duration: Approximately 1 hour.

Certificates: A Confirmation of Participation will be available to participants who complete 100% of the course material.

Course contents

  • Introduction:

This introductory module gives an overview of occupational health and safety in the context of COVID-19.

  • Module 1: Infectious risks to health and safety:

By the end of this module, you should be able to: explain how health workers can be exposed to infectious hazards; describe how respiratory infections and bloodborne pathogens are transmitted to health workers; and describe the steps that health workers can take to protect themselves from respiratory infections: standard precautions and control measures to prevent different infections.

  • Module 2: Physical risks to health and safety:

By the end of this module, you should be able to: list the major risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in the health sector; describe high risk activities when handling patients; and describe the major types of occupational hazards that health workers face and how to prevent them.

  • Module 3: Psychosocial risks to health and safety:

By the end of this module, you should be able to: list the major sources of psychosocial risks for health workers; describe the signs of fatigue and how to prevent it; describe the risk factors, signs and preventive actions for workplace violence; and describe how health workers and managers can protect and support mental health.

  • Module 4: Basic occupational health and safety in health services:

By the end of this module, you should be able to: describe the responsibilities of employers and managers in occupational health safety and describe actions that can be taken by health workers to promote occupational health and safety.

Sep 2, 2020

FREE - Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A Virtual Workshop

There is much we don't know about the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. We know it can spread from an infected person's sneeze or cough. But what do we know about transmission via speech and exhaled breath? How long do infectious particles linger in the air? How far can they travel? This Environmental Health Matters Initiative (EHMI) workshop will delve into the rapidly evolving science on the spread of the virus, as part of a larger body of COVID-19 related work at the National Academies. We will feature experts in aerosol science, virology, infectious disease, and epidemiology.

Participants can follow the conversation on Twitter at #EnviroHealthMatters.

Join Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A Virtual Workshop here


Aug 31, 2020

New CDC data shows 94% of people who died with COVID-19 had underlying health conditions

New data released by the CDC shows 94% of Americans who have died with coronavirus also had other underlying health conditions.

The report shows that COVID-19 was the only cause of death listed in 6% of deaths.

On average, those who died with other underlying conditions had 2.6 additional conditions of causes of death. Those underlying conditions include respiratory diseases, influenza, pneumonia, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, dementia and more.

Read the entire report here:

Aug 19, 2020

Free Air Permitting Webinar on August 20th - Improve and Streamline Air Permit Compliance with These Best Practices

Air permit compliance is complex and unique to each facility, making it a common challenge for EHS professionals. Because air permits can be so individualized, it can be difficult to find best practices and solutions for your specific needs. You don't want a cookie-cutter approach - you need something tailored to your permit.

That's why GT Environmental and ERA Environmental have joined forces to take a deep dive into air permit compliance monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting and discuss solutions aimed at simplifying compliance, including how manufacturers can automate specific parts of their data collection and report generation to reduce the effort that goes into compliance.

The presenters will examine some of the most complicated permit requirements they've encountered and discuss how monitoring and recordkeeping can be automated and improved. Our experts will also cover the fundamentals of air permits.

Event Details
When: August 20, 2020 at 2-3pm EDT
Panelists: Katie Milk (GT) and Erin Manitou (ERA)
Registration is free. Seating is limited.
Attendees will receive a recording of the session for their organization
Here's what the experts will cover in their presentation:
  • The top metrics used in air permit compliance
  • Challenges in air permit monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting and how to overcome them
  • Which parts of your compliance program can benefit from automation
  • Experience from their decades of air permit compliance, including real-world examples and unique scenarios

Here is the link to register for the free webinar:

Aug 12, 2020

Respiratory protection training for HCWs in low-resource settings

This is a six-part training program for respiratory protection for English-speaking healthcare workers in low resource settings that features elastomeric respirators with cartridge filters. You can access the powerpoint slides and the handouts from the link at the end.

Jul 31, 2020

Department of Energy Announces $97 Million for Bioenergy Research and Development

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $97 million in funding for 33 projects that will support high-impact technology research and development to accelerate the bioeconomy. These projects will improve the performance and lower the cost and risk of technologies that can be used to produce biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts from biomass and waste resources.

"Advancements made in bioenergy technologies will help expand America's energy supply, grow our economy, and enhance our energy security," said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. "These projects will ensure the United States' leadership across all segments of the growing global bioeconomy, and allow us to provide U.S. consumers and businesses more homegrown energy choices for their fuels and products."

Read more

Webinar Workplace Outbreak Investigation, Contact Tracing and Testing: Intersection between Occupational & Public Health

Register now for the next webinar in the NIEHS WTP COVID-19 Summer Webinar Series. This webinar, being held Aug. 5 at 2:00 p.m. ET is co-sponsored by the American Industrial Hygiene Association. It will explore considerations for performing COVID-19 outbreak investigations, SARS-CoV-2 contact tracing, serum testing, and infection screening. The panelists will provide unique perspectives on the opportunities and challenges with conducting these important public health functions and how they apply today in the workplace. Hear from leaders that are doing it and the experiences, frustrations, and successes they have had.

Webinar Registration

Tentative Speakers:

- Letitia Davis, ScD, Massachusetts Department of Health

- Amy Liebman, MPA, MA, Migrant Clinicians Network

- George DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH, FACP, Chair, Princeton New Jersey Board of Health, Steering Committee; New Jersey Climate Change Alliance; Executive Committee, New Jersey Local Boards of Health Association

- Robert Harrison, MD, MPH, University of California, San Francisco, and the California Department of Health

- Christina Armatas, MD, MPH, University of California, San Francisco, and the California Department of Health

This webinar is sponsored by the NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) and AIHA.

Webinar: Understanding COVID-19 Data - What Decision Makers Need to Know

Join this webinar for a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of COVID-19 data and their applications for state and local decision making.

The Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a data guide for decision makers at all levels to make sense of COVID-19 data, such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and number of confirmed cases, among others. By understanding the characteristics of these data types, decision makers can work with the data type best-suited to the question at hand, and use the data available to inform effective decision making.

Date and Time
Thu, August 6, 2020
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT


Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, Co-Chair of the Societal Experts Action Network and director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University

Janet Currie, Ph.D., Co-Author of the guide and Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University 

Adrian Raftery, Ph.D., Co-Author of the guide and Boeing International Professor of Statistics and Sociology, University of Washington 

Linda Langston, Former Linn County (Iowa) Supervisor


A Guide for Decision Makers using Data to Understand the Extent and Spread of COVID-19 (2020)


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine


This rapid expert consultation provides insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the data on the COVID-19 pandemic by applying five criteria to seven types of data available to support decision making. It was produced through the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN), an activity of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. SEAN links researchers in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences with decision makers to respond to policy questions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download here

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on individual risk assessment for the workplace

(gov.scot) have developed this guidance to help staff and managers consider the specific risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. It is relevant to all staff, but will be particularly relevant to those who are returning to work after shielding, those who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions, those who are returning to the workplace after working from home or anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.

The guidance was developed using the latest clinical evidence that sets out best practice on risk assessment for COVID-19 as an easy to follow tool. We will keep the tool under review as we learn more about COVID-19 in Scotland. Employers should continue to follow public health and sector-specific advice, and where possible, home working should continue.

Employers have a legal responsibility to keep their staff safe and promote their wellbeing. They also have important duties under equalities legislation, and should make reasonable adjustments to support workers with disabilities. We encourage employers to use this tool with their staff to help them to return to work safely.

Read full at

Jul 21, 2020

Study concludes that PFAS disposal increases contamination

The three standard practices for waste management outlined in the review, such as landfilling, wastewater treatment and incineration, have been found to not effectively contain or destroy PFAS.

According to a study published in Chemosphere, scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Washington, D.C., have concluded that burning, discarding and flushing waste containing the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS all contribute to environmental contamination.

The three standard practices for waste management outlined in the review, such as landfilling, wastewater treatment and incineration, have been found to not effectively contain or destroy PFAS.

"The three common 'disposal' options for getting rid of PFAS do not eliminate these contaminants but rather end up just returning either the same chemicals or their byproducts back into the environment," said Tasha Stoiber, EWG senior scientist and primary author of the study, in a release. "PFAS disposal is really just another step in the contamination cycle."

Jul 16, 2020

Business owners forced to throw recycling into landfill, or face fine

Commercial producers of recycling waste are now being asked to put the once recyclable material into the landfill or face a monetary fine if they try to recycle in existing residential bins.

New changes to the way recycling is being handled in the province have resulted in commercial recycling being deemed too expensive to process, with the new Recycle BC program being rolled out not supporting industrial, commercial and institutional material.

In the Regional District of Central Kootenay, changes to the management of the local recycling program — from regional district control to Recycle BC — means business owners and commercial producers are being told to put once accepted recyclables into the landfill.

According to the regional district, global recycling markets have dropped out, meaning there is no value in recyclables — in the past the value of the material often paid for the collection, hauling, processing, and marketing.

And since producers of commercial recyclables do not contribute financially to the Recycle BC program, industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) material is not accepted and is seen as contamination, said Amy Wilson, resource recovery manager for the RDCK.

"Basically ICI left at a Recycle BC depot is seen as illegal dumping, and may also be in contravention of a number of our "site regulations" in Resource Recovery Bylaw No. 2694," she said, adding that the move could fall under the fines (up to $10,000) or bans applied through the bylaw.

"In cases of illegal dumping we pass on the full cost of clean-up, and repeat offenders may be banned from using RDCK waste facilities (including depots)."

Read full from:

Jul 9, 2020

The best (and worst) materials for masks = People making homemade masks might want to reach for a vacuum cleaner filter

Amanda Wilson, an environmental health sciences doctoral candidate in the Department of Community, Environment and Policy in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, is lead author on a recent study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection that assessed the ability of a variety of nontraditional mask materials to protect a person from infection after 30 seconds and after 20 minutes of exposure in a highly contaminated environment.

When the researchers compared wearing masks to wearing no protection during 20-minute and 30-second exposures to the virus, they found that infection risks were reduced by 24-94% or by 44-99% depending on the mask and exposure duration. Risk reduction decreased as exposure duration increased, they found.

"N99 masks, which are even more efficient at filtering airborne particles than N95 masks, are obviously one of the best options for blocking the virus, as they can reduce average risk by 94-99% for 20-minute and 30-second exposures, but they can be hard to come by, and there are ethical considerations such as leaving those available for medical professionals," Wilson said.

The next best options, according to the research, are N95 and surgical masks and, perhaps surprisingly, vacuum cleaner filters, which can be inserted into filter pockets in cloth masks. The vacuum filters reduced infection risk by 83% for a 30-second exposure and 58% for a 20-minute exposure. Of the other nontraditional materials evaluated by the researchers, tea towels, cotton-blend fabrics and antimicrobial pillowcases were the next best for protection.

Scarves, which reduced infection risk by 44% after 30 seconds and 24% after 20 minutes, and similarly effective cotton t-shirts are only slightly better than wearing no mask at all, they found.

"We knew that masks work, but we wanted to know how well and compare different materials' effects on health outcomes," said Wilson, who specializes in quantitative microbial risk assessment.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Arizona. Original written by Mikayla Mace. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Amanda M. Wilson, Sarah E. Abney, Marco-Felipe King, Mark H. Weir, Martín López-García, Jonathan D. Sexton, Stephanie J. Dancer, Jessica Proctor, Catherine J. Noakes, Kelly A. Reynolds. COVID-19 and non-traditional mask use: How do various materials compare in reducing the infection risk for mask wearers? Journal of Hospital Infection, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.jhin.2020.05.036

Jul 7, 2020

Military Firefighters Say DoD Isn’t Moving Fast Enough to Protect Them from Toxic Chemicals

An amendment to the House and Senate defense policy bills would require the Pentagon to provide blood tests for any service member suspected to have been exposed to chemicals used in most firefighting foams, as well as non-stick industrial coatings and stain repellent.

But the Department of Defense has yet to begin testing firefighters for these substances, which fall under the class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. They are required to do so by Oct. 1 under last year's National Defense Authorization Act.

Read Next: General, Colonel Rebuked After Marine Corps Finds Serious Flaws in Crash Investigation

Military firefighters say they are glad lawmakers are now considering the dangers of the chemicals, which have been linked to certain types of cancer, birth defects and other health issues. But they don't feel that the Pentagon is moving fast enough to monitor their exposure levels.

"Being a DoD firefighter for 14 years, I know I've been covered in that stuff ... what has been done for all us firefighters?" said a service member, who requested that his name not be used because he remains on active duty and fears retaliation.

The fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act called for DoD to begin blood testing on military firefighters to determine their exposure levels to PFOS and PFOA.

A Defense Health Agency spokesman said DoD is currently developing the procedures for testing the thousands of current firefighters serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

"We are actively developing policy and procedures to provide blood testing to determine and document potential occupational exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances for each firefighter of the Department of Defense during the annual occupational medical examination conducted by the department for each firefighter," a DHA official said on background, because he was not authorized to speak for the agency.

The House and Senate versions of the national defense policy bill contain at least 10 different measures to regulate PFAS, from providing funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improving research on the chemicals and prohibiting DoD from buying certain products containing PFAS, and barring DoD from incinerating PFAS products.

Read on:

Protective gear could expose firefighters to PFAS

Fluorinated compounds in water-resistant textiles break down over time, contacting the skin and shedding into the environment

Firefighters face dangers beyond the blaze itself. Their work subjects them to carcinogens from burning materials, as well as toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from flame-suppressing foams. A new study finds that firefighters can also be exposed to PFAS over time through another source: their protective clothing (Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2020, DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00410).

Firefighters suffer from disproportionately high rates of cancer, including types that have been linked to PFAS exposure such as testicular cancer, prostate cancer, mesothelioma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The clothing worn by firefighters, known as turnout gear, is made with fluoropolymer textiles and treated with PFAS for water resistance so that the material does not become soaked and heavy during use.

Graham F. Peaslee, a chemical physicist at the University of Notre Dame, began the study in 2017 when he was contacted by Diane Cotter. Her husband, a 28-year veteran of the Worcester (Massachusetts) Fire Department, had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Cotter had examined her husband's gear and found that, while it appeared outwardly intact, there was serious fabric decay on the inside. Cotter wondered whether the uniform could be shedding toxic chemicals and asked Peaslee to take a look.

Read on: