Feb 11, 2020

Department of Energy Invests $74 Million in Building and Construction Technologies and Innovations

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $74 million for 63 selected projects to research, develop, and test energy-efficient and flexible building technologies, systems, and construction practices to improve the energy performance of our Nation's buildings and electric grid. Awardees include National Laboratories, universities, small businesses, and industry partners.

America's 125 million residential and commercial buildings use more energy than any other sector in the United States, accounting for 40% of the Nation's energy use and nearly 75% of its electricity consumption. The research partnerships announced today will pursue new technologies to enhance the energy productivity of buildings and improve the capacity of buildings to operate more flexibly.

"DOE is accelerating its quest to improve the energy productivity and flexibility of America's residential and commercial buildings," said Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons. "We're renewing our commitment to develop state-of-the-art building technologies that will empower Americans with more options to enhance buildings performance quickly without disruption to their lives." 

Many of the projects announced today will advance technologies to unlock deep energy savings through grid interactive efficient buildings and advanced building construction technologies and practices, without sacrificing the comfort of building occupants or the performance of labor-saving devices and equipment. For example, the grid interactive efficient building projects will make advances in technologies to link buildings to one another across the internet and the power grid, which would enable a greater degree of flexibility over conventional buildings to reschedule operations to periods of the day when energy is cheaper and more efficient to use.

Crucially, those projects are also required to address the cybersecurity of flexible buildings and verify the performance of their equipment. Other projects will focus on developing novel thermal energy storage materials, advancements in non-vapor compression HVAC technologies, fuel-driven building equipment, and solid-state lighting.

Learn more about these projects from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy HERE and HERE.

Department of Energy Awards $187 Million to Strengthen U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $187 million in funding, including $48 million of cost share, for 55 projects in 25 states to support innovative advanced manufacturing research and development. These projects address high-impact manufacturing technology, materials, and process challenges that advance the Trump Administration's goal to strengthen domestic manufacturing competitiveness and position the U.S. for global leadership in advanced manufacturing.

"The manufacturing sector is on the leading edge of American innovation and plays an integral role in our economy," said U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. "By investing in advanced manufacturing projects that enhance energy productivity, we're supporting the competitiveness of the entire U.S. manufacturing industry."

The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office will provide funding for projects in the following three topic areas:

  • Innovations for the Manufacture of Advanced Materials: $124.6 million for 36 projects focused on new, low-cost manufacturing processes to catalyze domestic battery manufacturing, phase-change storage materials for heating and cooling applications, and the development of innovative materials for harsh service conditions.

 

  • Lower Thermal Budget Processes for Industrial Efficiency & Productivity: $28.7 million for 8 projects to conduct novel research on industrial process heating and drying technologies to increase energy efficiency and product quality. These projects are related to process heating which accounts for 70% of all manufacturing process energy use.

 

  • Connected, Flexible and Efficient Manufacturing Facilities and Energy Systems: $33.5 million for 11 projects that support more efficient industrial power conversion equipment, new opportunities for converting process energy to electrical energy while better integrating with the electrical grid, and projects that build upon recent advances in new, wide-bandgap semiconductors supported by DOE. A number of projects will also support advancements in combined heat and power, energy-efficient technologies for simultaneous onsite production of electricity and heat, as well as address technical challenges in district energy systems.

As part of the first topic, the selections include $65.9 million toward lowering the cost of battery energy storage through manufacturing innovation, as part of DOE's Energy Storage Grand Challenge, recently announced by U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. The Grand Challenge will accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in energy storage. The battery manufacturing selections were co-funded by EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office and with support from the Vehicle Technologies Office.

Read more about the individual projects HERE.

Coronavirus Rare Incubation of 24 Days Means quarantines need to be 6 weeks long instead of 3 weeks.

Feb 6, 2020

EPA Hires Wisconsin Environmental Rockstar as Administrator for EPA's Region 5!

(FET) EPA Names new Administrator for Region 5 Kurt Thiede of Wisconsin has been named regional administrator for EPA Region 5, overseeing environmental protection efforts in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.
He comes to this role with extensive experience promoting and protecting the environmental health of the Great Lakes region.
He is an 18year veteran of WDNR, and previously spent four years as the administrator for the Land Division. 
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management and biology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, and in 2016 he received an outstanding alumnus award from their school of natural resources.

Read more about Mr. Thiede at EPA:

Feb 4, 2020

Energy Department Announces $18.8 Million for Hydrothermal and Low Temperature Geothermal Research

(DOE) the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $18.8 million toward the research and development (R&D) of innovative subsurface geothermal technologies. DOE's Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) will fund up to six projects focused on two topic areas:
  • Topic 1: Exploration RD&D: Hidden Geothermal Systems in the Basin and Range; and
  • Topic 2: Advanced Energy Storage Initiative (AESI): Bi-directional Energy Storage Using Low-Temperature Geothermal Applications.

This multi-topic funding opportunity aims to drive down costs and risks associated with the discovery of hidden geothermal systems in the Basin & Range region of the western U.S., and to enhance energy system resilience through utilization of Reservoir Thermal Energy Storage (RTES), Deep Direct-Use (DDU), and other geothermal direct use applications. These applications can be deployed at military installations, hospital complexes, and other large energy end-uses across the U.S., such as university campuses.


Read full at DOE

Feb 3, 2020

Anhydrous Ammonia Chemical Release — Lake County, Illinois, April 2019

On April 25, 2019, a farm tractor towing two 2-ton ammonia tanks on a county road in Lake County, Illinois, experienced a mechanical failure that resulted in the release of anhydrous ammonia, a colorless, pungent, irritating gas that can cause severe respiratory and ocular damage (1). Approximately 80% of anhydrous ammonia produced in the United States is used as a fertilizer in agriculture (1). Eighty-three persons, including first responders, motorists, and neighborhood residents, were evaluated at area hospitals because of exposure to the gas. Two weeks after the release, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and CDC's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) collaborated with the Lake County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health on an investigation using ATSDR's Assessment of Chemical Exposures program to describe the release, review the emergency response, and determine health effects associated with the exposure. First responders, community residents, and hospital personnel reported communication challenges related to the nature of the gas release and effective protective measures. Among the 83 persons evaluated at six area hospitals for effects of the chemical release, 14 (17%) were hospitalized, including eight (10%) who were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), seven (8%) of whom required endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation; no deaths occurred. In addition, ICU health care providers experienced symptoms of secondary exposure. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance Program has specific recommendations and tools to protect responders during all phases of a response (2). Hospitals also need to review institutional policies and procedures for chemical mass casualty events, including decontamination (3). Prompt and correct identification of hazardous material (hazmat) events, and clear communication among responding entities, including on-scene and hospital responders, is important to ensure effective response after a chemical release.

Jan 30, 2020

Audit Health and Safety Conditions with New HazardAssess App

(CCOHS) Take action to reduce or eliminate health and safety risks in your workplace with the new HazardAssess app, available free of charge on iOS and Android. Audit your health and safety conditions, identify concerns, and report them for action and follow-up.

HazardAssess guides you through 12 distinct health and safety topics, prompting you to describe the hazard and identify its source so it can provide you with ideas on how to fix it. The app allows you to take pictures and mark them up with circles and arrows if needed. You then have the ability to create a PDF report which can be saved and emailed to your organization's workplace health and safety contacts for follow-up.

Links to prevention resources are provided so that you can learn more about various hazards and their associated risks, along with ideas on how to improve workplace conditions.

HazardAssess is a collaboration between CCOHS and the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW).

Download the app:

iOS version from the App Store.

Android version from the Google Play store.

Safeguarding: The First Line of Defence

(CCOHS) Working with machinery puts workers at risk. Safeguarding is the essential first line of defense against potentially serious injuries caused by machine operation. Understand how safeguards can protect you and reduce the risk of injury.

Many machines found on shop floors and in factories have moving parts that rotate, reciprocate, punch, slide, grind, use toxic or corrosive chemicals, or generate extreme heat, noise, and vibration. Guards are permanent devices fitted on the machinery and equipment to provide protection against direct contact with moving parts, mechanical failure, electrical failure, and human error. When guards are missing or improperly used, there is the potential for injuries ranging from severe cuts to crushed hands and arms, amputation or even death.

Safeguards include barrier guards, safety devices, shields, awareness barriers, and warning signage. Some examples include wire cages around fans, blade guards on table and band saws, and covers on drive belts and electrical switch boxes. These methods can be used on their own or in combination to protect the machine operator and other employees in the work area. In some equipment, there is a built-in interlock switch that does not allow the machine to be activated unless the machine guard is in place. Never disable the interlock switch!

Hierarchy of Controls

When selecting a safeguard or combination of safeguards, always start at the top of the hierarchy to control the hazards. Use a lower control method only when the more effective solution isn't possible.

Control method and examples from most effective to least effective:

Elimination - remove the hazard from the workplace

  • Process design, redesign or modification including changing the layout to eliminate hazards
  • Eliminate or reduce human interaction in the process
  • Automate tasks, material handling (e.g., lift tables, conveyors, balancers), or ventilation

Substitution - replace hazardous materials or machines with less hazardous ones

  • Machines that have energy containment
  • Machines with lower energy (e.g., lower speed, force, pressure, temperature, amperage, noise, or volume)

Engineering controls - remove the hazard at the source

  • Installation of safeguards
  • Installation of complementary measures such as emergency stop devices, platforms, or guardrails for fall protection

Systems that increase awareness of potential hazards      

  • Lights, beacons, strobes
  • Backup alarms, notification systems
  • Hazard warning signs, placards, labels

Administrative controls - controls that alter the way the work is done

  • Training
  • Housekeeping processes
  • Safe job processes, rotation of workers, changing work schedules

Personal protective equipment - equipment worn by individuals to reduce exposure

  • Protective eyewear and face shields
  • Hard hats
  • Hearing protection
  • Hand protection
  • Protective footwear

Never operate any equipment without a machine guard in place. If the guard is missing, your hands, clothes or tools could contact the moving parts, hot spots or high voltage conductors. If you think a guard is missing, do not operate the tool. Report the situation to your supervisor.

 

Resources:

Occupational Cancer: Take Action to Prevent Exposures

Every day millions head out to work, maybe not fully aware that in their job or place of work, they are being exposed to cancer-causing substances. These carcinogens can be viruses, chemicals, naturally occurring minerals, or solar radiation.

Recent statistics from the World Health Organization show that cancer kills an estimated 9.6 million people globally each year. Approximately 3-6% of these cancers are caused by exposures to carcinogens in the workplace, according to research cited by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

These work-related cancers may be preventable if exposures to known or suspected carcinogens are reduced or eliminated.

There are some occupations where cancer has been linked with exposure to specific substances. Common occupational cancers include lung cancer (exposure to arsenic, asbestos, benzo[a]pyrene, and several other chemicals), mesothelioma (exposure to asbestos), and bladder cancer (exposure to aromatic amines, and other chemicals).  For more examples, please see the CCOHS fact sheet on cancer sites associated with occupational exposures.

Three Common Workplace Cancer Issues

Asbestos

Historically used in construction materials because of its heat resistant properties, tensile strength and insulating characteristics, asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. Asbestos has been banned in Canada since 2018 but may still be encountered during remediation projects.

In Canada, there are approximately 1,900 cases of lung cancer and 430 cases of mesothelioma from workplace exposure diagnosed each year. Because mesothelioma symptoms typically appear 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos there are still new cases being diagnosed every year.

CAREX Canada has identified that most asbestos-related cancers occur among workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Safely removing all existing asbestos from buildings and workplaces before the asbestos deteriorates (becomes airborne) is the most common way to reduce exposure.

Diesel Engine Exhaust

According to CAREX Canada, approximately 900,000 Canadians are exposed to diesel engine exhaust at work. Burning diesel fuel in engines produces diesel exhaust, a complex mixture of gases and particulates. This mixture can contain known and suspected carcinogens such as benzene, hydrocarbons, and metals.

Inhalation is the most common route of exposure and each year in Canada there are 560 lung cancers and 200 suspected bladder cancers associated with workplace diesel exhaust exposure. Sectors most affected are mining, oil and gas extraction, transportation and warehousing.

Strategies for reducing exposure include replacing old diesel engines with low-emission models, using diesel fuel alternatives, performing regular engine maintenance, implementing exhaust treatment systems, and using exhaust extraction systems in indoor work environments.

Night Shift Work

Night shift work is work scheduled consistently outside of the standard daytime work hours. Generally, when we are awake between the hours of 12am and 5am, night shift work disrupts circadian rhythms, or the internal biological 'clock' that generates the sleep-wake cycle in humans. As a result, it suppresses melatonin production, and disrupts sleep patterns and food digestion. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen.

Approximately 844,000 women perform regular night or rotating shiftwork in Canada, based on 2006 labour data. Each year in Canada, there are up to 1,200 new cases of suspected female breast cancers due to shiftwork. CAREX Canada reports that the healthcare and social assistance sector accounts for 43% of new cases, and accommodation and food services 18%.

Completing work during standard, daylight hours is the best way to limit circadian rhythm disruption, however eliminating nights is not a practical option. Night work is necessary to maintain essential services such as healthcare and law enforcement. Shift changes should be made in such a way that the worker can adapt easily to them. 'Rotating forward' (morning - afternoon - night) has been proven to be easier to adapt to than rotating backwards or having irregular shift changes.

Long Latency Period

The long latency of cancer and the involvement of many factors in its development make it challenging to track and study occupational cancer. The time between the initial exposure to a carcinogen in the workplace and cancer diagnosis can be difficult to define. For example, mesothelioma rarely appears less than 10 years from the time of the first exposure and it may only appear after 40 years. Cancer risk is highest when you breathe in carcinogens or absorb them through your skin. The level of risk depends on how often and how long your body is exposed to the carcinogen, the strength of the carcinogen, whether you are exposed to other risk factors, and how prone you are to certain types of cancer.

Occupational Cancer is Preventable

The presence of a chemical agent or situation in the work environment does not automatically mean that workers are exposed to it. There is no risk of cancer unless an agent is incorporated into the body.

Eliminating the hazard is the most effective way to prevent exposure. This control is followed by substituting products with less hazardous materials. Other methods of controlling worker exposure include: engineering controls (isolation; enclosure; local exhaust ventilation and process or equipment modification); administrative controls (good housekeeping, work practices, and hygiene practices); and as a last resort, personal protective equipment.

Employee training and education is an essential component of hazard control programs. Workers need to be knowledgeable about control measures as well as the adverse effects associated with exposures at their workplace.

 

Resources:

Source:

EPA Posts Great Lakes Trash Free Waters RFA Questions and Answers

EPA has posted an updated set of questions and answers pertaining to its Great Lakes Trash Free Waters RFA.

On Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 GLNPO held an informational webinar on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Trash Free Waters Request for Applications (RFA). During the webinar, the EPA team shared key information about the RFA's funding opportunities with approximately 130 attendees. Participants included a wide range of entities across the Great Lakes basin, including multiple states, local governments, universities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. During the webinar, the EPA team responded to over 60 questions covering many different aspects of the RFA. Questions and answers from the webinar and from other inquiries are posted on the RFA website. The RFA website is a helpful resource that includes links to the RFA, grants.gov, contact information, and answers to questions.

Applications are due in Grants.gov by 10:59 pm Central / 11:59 pm Eastern on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. Please ensure your SAM.gov and Grants.gov registrations are current and active!

General RFA Contact for administrative, eligibility, and other general RFA questions:
Victoria Raymond (glri-rfa@epa.gov) 312-886-7981

Technical Contact for questions about Trash Removal in Great Lakes Communities (EPA-R5-GL2020-TFC):
Sara Westergaard (westergaard.sara@epa.gov) 312-353-9660
 
Technical Contact for questions about Trash Removal from Great Lakes Rivermouths and Harbors (EPA-R5-GL2020-TFH): James Schardt (schardt.james@epa.gov) 312-353-5085
 
Sign up for the Great Lakes News email list to get information about funding opportunities to support Great Lakes environmental work and updates about Great Lakes environmental projects.
For more information on the GLRI, visit https://www.glri.us/


 GreatLakesNews is hosted by the Great Lakes National Program Office of USEPa

Jan 29, 2020

U.S. Surgeon General Highlights the Value of Worker Well-Being and the NIOSH Total Worker Health(R) Approach

(CDC) In a recent article in Public Health Reports, the U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral (VADM) Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, recognizes the important relationship between employment and health. The article, "The Value of Worker Well-being," also highlights the efforts of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the NIOSH Office of Total Worker Health®, the NIOSH-funded Total Worker Health (TWH) Centers of Excellence, and NIOSH TWH affiliates.

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that employers and companies ensure that worker well-being programs are implemented more broadly and meet the needs of workers, which will lead to better health and business outcomes. To accomplish these goals, NIOSH recommends a TWH approach, which is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being. A TWH approach recognizes that work is a social determinant of health and is consistent with recommendations of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

As the Surgeon General has noted in previous publications, jobs can improve individual and community healthand better community health is linked to economic prosperity. Workers who report being in good physical, mental, and emotional health are more likely to deliver optimal performance in the workplace, as well as to have better health outcomes and lower risk of? injury. The design of job tasks and activities (work design); workplace management practices; and the physical, mental, and social aspects of a job environment ­are all ways in which work can significantly affect a person's safety, health, and well-being [i]. Workplace conditions can influence workers' mental health and stress levels. Studies have found differences in health indicators, such as cardiovascular conditions and prevalence of obesity, among occupational groups [ii]. For example, rotating or shift work, along with long work hours, can disrupt sleep and the circadian rhythm, which is our internal biological clock that regulates sleep. Research shows inadequate sleep has a negative effect on one's mood and thinking and is associated with varied safety and health issues including motor vehicle accidents, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and musculoskeletal disorders [iii]. Additionally, a recent study estimated that, between 2002 and 2011, more than 120,000 fatalities per year were associated with certain work-related stressors [iv]. These include unemployment, job insecurity (which can include non-standard or irregular and unstable work arrangements), shift work, high job demands, work-family conflict, and limited social support on the job. Job stress and job insecurity are particular concerns as the nature of work is changing through increases in nonstandard work employments and automation.

Examples of Successful TWH approaches

In his article, the U.S. Surgeon General highlights successful research and practice related to worker well-being from the NIOSH Office of TWH and the Centers of Excellence. These included NIOSH partnering with the National Institutes of Health to identify TWH research needs through the 2015 workshop, Pathways to Prevention Workshop: Total Worker Health—What's Work Got To Do With It?. The article also recognized the Health Improvement Through Training & Employee Control (HITEC) Program, developed by the Connecticut Department of Corrections and the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW), a NIOSH TWH Center of Excellence. This program provides peer health mentor­ing to new correctional officers to support healthier behavior and improved well-being. HITEC includes health-related interventions designed by workers. CPH-NEW researchers found this type of participatory approach resulted in higher employee participation than programs developed by organizational leaders. According to CPH-NEW, HITEC also led to correctional officers having improved physical and mental health, associated with decreased hypertension, increased muscle mass, and decreased job burnout.

Next Steps for Advancing Worker Well-being

While the U.S. Surgeon General recognizes the above-mentioned initiatives, as well as efforts by NIOSH partners including the National Academy of Medicine and the National Business Group on Health, the article states that more research is needed on workplace well-being interventions across a variety of settings detailing the positive impacts on multiple health, human capital, and financial outcomes. NIOSH has developed a conceptual framework for worker well-being, funds six Centers of Excellence, and supports an Affiliate network to build the scientific evidence base and identify promising practices related to a TWH approach. Through collaborations among public health leaders, employers, and other stakeholders, the U.S. Surgeon General believes we can help workers achieve their highest potential.


Source:
https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2020/01/29/twh_sg/

Jan 28, 2020

Two Nasty Traits Of This Coronavirus, Typically Not Seen Together

Compiled what follows from a Series of Thirteen Tweets by physician (MD) and scientist (PhD) Dr. Dena Grayson. Emphasis is mine.

  1. Dr. Dena Grayson: Having YEARS of experience developing an Ebola treatment, I was concerned about this Coronavirus Outbreak from the outset, because this coronavirus strain is very contagious, causes severe illness, and NO treatments or vaccines are available.
  2. Dr. Dena Grayson: Unlike H5N1 "bird flu" (which does not spread easily between people) or SARS (which was spread by only a handful of "super spreaders"), this coronavirus DOES appear to spread easily between people, even after making the jump from an animal (this is not common).
  3. Dr. Dena Grayson: In addition to being highly contagious, this novel coronavirus can cause a SEVERE infection that can kill even healthy people. It's rare to see BOTH of these (bad) attributes in the same novel virus. Usually, it's one or the other.
  4. Dr. Dena Grayson: One way experts judge how deadly a pathogen (virus, bacteria, etc) is by the "case-fatality rate," which is the # of deaths / # infected people. It's WAY too early to know what this is, because it takes time for patients to succumb to the infection.
  5. Dr. Dena Grayson: Thus far, the case-fatality rate appears to be ~4%…but its' WAY too early to know what it really is, due to spotty reporting (both of deaths and cases), and because patients are still sick and could die tomorrow, next week, etc., even if no new infections occur.
  6. Dr. Dena Grayson: Per @CDCgov, "Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood/animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread." Now, many newly diagnosed patients have NO connection to the market, supporting human-human spread = BAD
  7. Dr. Dena Grayson: @CDCgov I get asked: "How will I know if I have the coronavirus?" Answer: it's very hard to tell, because the symptoms are similar to having influenza — anywhere on the spectrum from a very bad cold to severe pneumonia with respiratory compromise.
  8. Dr. Dena Grayson: @CDCgov Although there are no specific treatments (medicines to combat the coronavirus) or vaccines, excellent supportive care, such as IV fluids, intubation (on a "breathing machine"), can help support patients while their immune system battles (and hopefully, defeats) the infection.
  9. Dr. Dena Grayson: @CDCgov In an "outbreak," local hospitals can get overwhelmed, and there aren't enough hospital beds, staff, ventilators (breathing machines). This appears to be the case in Wuhan, where authorities are working to build a 1000-bed (mobile) hospital in JUST 10 DAYS. This is ALARMING.
  10. Dr. Dena Grayson: @CDCgov China has a history of not accurately reporting outbreaks, so it's hard to know exactly what is happening, especially with no free press, internet, etc. China's massive response is VERY telling and strongly suggests that the Coronavirus Outbreak is VERY bad, especially in Wuhan
  11. Dr. Dena Grayson: @CDCgov How can you protect yourself and others? 1: Avoid contact with people who are visibly ill (even loved ones) 2: Stay home if YOU are sick 3: Cover your nose/mouth with a tissue (not hand) when coughing/sneezing 4: Don't touch your face (difficult) 5: Wash your hands frequently
  12. Dr. Dena Grayson: @CDCgov Right now, the risk appears low in the US, with only a few isolated cases. Unfortunately, I expect that this will change, as more cases arise here, especially with global travel and how readily this coronavirus appears to spread (via droplets in the air).
  13. Dr. Dena Grayson: @CDCgov I will continue to provide commentary about the emerging Coronavirus as news emerges over time. In this Tweet link , you will find links to excellent @who and @CDCgov websites that track the Coronavirus Outbreak.

Jan 27, 2020

CDC Page on Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (termed "2019-nCoV") that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which continues to expand. Chinese health officials have reported more than a thousand infections with 2019-nCoV in China, including outside of Hubei Province. Infections with 2019-nCoV also are being reported in a growing number of international locations, including the United States, where 5 cases in travelers from Wuhan have been confirmed in four states (AZ, CA, IL, WA) as of January 26, 2020.

Please read full at:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

Jan 21, 2020

Nimonik hosting a Free Online Comprehensive Compliance Workshop.

Hello,

On January 30th, Nimonik is hosting a Free Online Comprehensive Compliance Workshop.

To benchmark your compliance efforts in 2020, here are 5 powerful questions to ask your teams:
  1. Do you understand your compliance obligations?
  2. Does your team have the competence to stay in compliance?
  3. Are there controls in place to meet your compliance obligations?
  4. Do you audit your controls for effectiveness and use?
  5. In your opinion, what is the probability of a non-compliance to regulations, corporate or industry standards in your department?

Based on your responses, you can quickly determine the compliance maturity, competency of your teams - allowing you to prioritize your compliance efforts in 2020.

Hope you see you at workshop where we will dive into details together!

Register Here
https://sendy.nimonik.com/l/2LXG40BDOTzSnwvdGmEZWg/7yPGUAoPsHwIFnuK0IGsvw/a8929Pcfwhr2vaw20n2HYiZg

EPA’s Final Rule to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to the universal waste program

(FETinc.org) EPA has released a pre-publication version of its Final Rule to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to the Universal Waste program.  Adding aerosol cans to the universal waste program offers potential cost savings and will simplify things for generators, who currently manage aerosols under a patchwork of State-level laws, regulations, policies, and guidance documents. As with all new Federal environmental reliefs, though, authorized States may choose to adopt the new universal waste rules into their State programs (or not).


The Final Rule is effective on February 7, 2020.

For more information, visit EPA at:
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-11/documents/aerosol_can_final_rule_prepublication_version.pdf

And

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/12/09/2019-25674/increasing-recycling-adding-aerosol-cans-to-the-universal-waste-regulations

Jan 20, 2020

China building more nuclear power facilities than any other country

BEIJING, China - There are currently eleven nuclear power units under construction in China, the largest number of nuclear power facilities under construction in the world.

The country has 47 nuclear power units already in operation, the third highest across the globe, accoding to a report by The People's Daily.

The Chinese government made the decision to venture into nuclear power in 1955. It is now a leader in reactor research and development, nuclear power station design, equipment manufacturing, engineering construction, and management of nuclear power units.

The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) held a press conference on Wednesday to mark the 65th year of China's nuclear industry. Since 1955, CNNC has built five nuclear power bases in China, with its commercial nuclear power units amounting to 21, and six nuclear power units currently under construction.

CNNC's nuclear power units generated approximately 136.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity last year, and accumulatively about 969.1 billion kilowatt hours, which voided the consumption of around 390 million tons of standard coal, which would have added about 966.1 million tons of carbon dioxide and about 29.1 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

The ecological benefit of the electricity generated by CNNC's nuclear power units over the years, according to CNNC, is equivalent to that of 2.6 million hectares of trees.

China has an enviable safety record, avoiding any major nuclear incident in its 65 year history, its slogan is "not one gram lost and not one piece missing.".


Read full from source:

https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/263764204/china-building-more-nuclear-power-facilities-than-any-other-country  

Jan 13, 2020

2020 PFAS Seminar on remediating PFAS contaminants

The 2020 PFAS Seminar that will bring together renowned industry leaders with knowledge on remediating PFAS contaminants in surface water, groundwater, drinking water, wastewater/bio solids, and recycled water.  Learn what's working now!

 
Keynote Speaker
Mike Abraczinskas, Director
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
Division of Air Quality
Presenting:  Emerging Compounds from an Air Perspective - A Case Study of Atmospheric Deposition of PFAS/GenX

More information and registration here:

Jan 10, 2020

Occupational Reproductive Hazards for Female Surgeons in the Operating Room

JAMA: Importance  Higher rates of infertility and pregnancy complications have been found for female surgeons compared with the general population. Several reproductive hazards are present in the operating room and may be associated with these findings. Hazards should be identified and controlled to minimize risks.

Observations: 
Studies comparing surgeons with the general population show increased rates of infertility and pregnancy complications, including conditions affecting both mother and fetus, such as spontaneous abortion, preterm delivery, growth restriction, and congenital abnormalities. Attention has focused on older age and demanding working conditions of pregnant surgeons; however, there are reproductive hazards present in the operating room that might also be contributing. Relevant hazards include radiation, surgical smoke, working conditions, sharps injury, anesthetic gases, and intraoperative use of toxic agents. Published evidence is limited to retrospective studies. Robust data are often unavailable to guide specific dose-response relationships, making it difficult to quantify risk and create occupational safety guidelines. Nevertheless, regulatory agencies have set exposure limits for some agents, relying on limited evidence. Various workplace interventions have shown success in reducing exposure levels for many reproductive hazards and should be adopted by surgical workplaces.

Conclusions and Relevance:
 
Reproductive hazards exist in the operating room that may contribute to pregnancy complications and infertility in surgeons. Information and guidance should be given to female surgeons and trainees of reproductive age, and efforts should be made in the workplace to control exposures but not restrict female surgeons' activities unnecessarily.

Jan 9, 2020

Wanted: Water Department Manager in Milwaukee

Water Department Manager in Milwaukee to help their company grow.

What You Will Be Doing
  • Implement Corporate Strategic Plan
  • Create Business Unit Plan (BUP) to direct development of staff and products
  • Recognize staffing needs, assist with hiring
  • Assist Marketing in preparation of Proposals: project plan and approach, staff assignments, fee development and risk assessment
  • Review draft agreements. Provide input and approval for scope and fee
  • Build teams, and assign staff to projects based on knowledge, skills and availability
  • Monitor department performance and evaluate staff regularly (client satisfaction, project schedule, project budget, billings, QA/QC)
  • Anticipate future work surplus or shortage
  • Plan department efforts, workload and budget
  • Develop department standards and perform quality control review
  • Direct staff efforts and development according to plans and personal skills; support in achieving goals
  • Assist with planning, developing, coordinating and ensuring the successful completion of projects
  • Lead single and multi-disciplined projects
  • Represent the company in client and agency meetings to resolve questions and to plan and coordinate work
  • Communicate and coordinate efforts and ideas with peers and management team
  • Provide technical guidance and mentoring of project team members
  • Develop and enhance client relationships and business growth
  • Represent the company and become active with water industry organizations

If you are a Water Department Manager with experience, please apply at:

Contact info
Kevin Peterson
Phone: 949.381.7453

Jan 8, 2020

Despite everything, U.S. emissions dipped in 2019

From the GRIST

Surging natural gas was the biggest reason for coal's demise. Gas comes with its own problems for the climate– burning it releases carbon, and leaks release methane — but replacing coal with gas led to a decline in globe-warming gases, Houser said. Renewable energy from hydroelectricity, solar power, and wind turbines, increased 6 percent in 2019. So despite President Donald Trump's vows to resurrect coal, it's still sliding into history.

The same can't be said of gas-powered cars and gas-fired furnaces — for the moment, those look locked in.

A chart showing year-on-year changes in U.S. GHG emissions by sector for 2017–19. In 2019, the power sector saw its emissions decrease by 166 million metric tons, relative to 2018.Clayton Aldern / Grist

Cleaning up the electrical grid is a great first step to cleaning up other sectors. With enough low-carbon electricity, more people could drive electric cars and ride electric trains. Builders could start installing electric heat pumps rather than gas furnaces in houses. "But that's not going to happen on its own," Hauser said.

Nudging people toward clean electricity requires policy: Efficiency standards, building codes, incentives, and taxes. Some state and local governments are making these changes, but at the federal level, the Trump administration is doing its best to stop them. As a result, the country's energy use seems to have its own laws of motion. It takes a lot of work to change direction, but it's relatively easy to let things keep running as normal. You can see that in coal's continued slide, as well as in the status quo in emissions from factories, cars, and buildings.

134 million Americans – more than 41% – lived in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particulate pollution

The American Lung Association's 19th annual "state of the air" report found that 134 million Americans – more than 41% – lived in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particulate pollution in 2014-2016. In a country with over 270 million vehicles, America's air suffers from tailpipe pollution. Health impacts of air pollution include asthma and respiratory illness, heart disease and stroke, cancer, low birth weights due to reproductive toxicants, premature death, and traffic morbidity and mortality. In Massachusetts, where one in 11 people already suffer from asthma, these vehicular implications are particularly concerning.

Read full at:

Can adoption of pollution prevention techniques reduce pollution substitution?


The open source journal PLOSOne had a recent article of potential interest to the P2 community. The researchers used TRI data to determine the extent to which adoption of P2 practices reduces pollution substitution. They found that adoption of P2 techniques reduces toxic air and water releases equally, but it is associated with increases in treated and recycled wastes over total releases to the environment. The conclude that:

"We find that adopting greater numbers of P2 techniques contributes to increases in wastes emitted for treatment and recycling over total releases. Specifically, process and equipment modifications have a greater effect than do raw material, product, and procedure modifications. These results suggest that the potential of P2 techniques in reducing or eliminating overall reliance on toxics in manufacturing may be limited, as facilities focus on reducing releases to the environment through combining end-of-pipe and in-process waste management strategies with particular types of P2 techniques that do not necessarily address the root causes of toxic wastes. Thus, pollution control policy should emphasize waste minimization, considering the life cycle of toxics, and prioritize the use of raw material and product modification. As noted by Ranson et al. [6], raw material and product modifications are likely to be more resource intensive, thus grants and technical assistance programs should target them."


You can download the full article at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224868.

EPA's Final Rule to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to the universal waste program

From HAzMat-TSP

"The Environmental Protection Agency is adding hazardous waste aerosol cans to the universal waste program under the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. This change will benefit the wide variety of establishments generating and managing hazardous waste aerosol cans, including the retail sector, by providing a clear, protective system for managing discarded aerosol cans". 

"Aerosol cans are widely used for dispensing a broad range of products including paints, solvents, pesticides, food and personal care products, and many others. The Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) estimates that 3.75 billion aerosol cans were filled in the United States in 2016 for use by commercial and industrial facilities as well as by households. Aerosol cans can account for nearly 40 percent of retail items that are managed as hazardous waste at large retail facilities".

With this rule, EPA adds hazardous waste aerosol cans to those "universal wastes" regulated under title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 273. This change in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations is expected to reduce regulatory costs for a wide variety of establishments generating and managing aerosol cans, including the retail sector, by providing a clear, protective system for handling hazardous waste aerosol cans".



STATE PROGRAMS

"The aerosol can universal waste programs in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah allow for puncturing and draining of aerosol cans by universal waste handlers, as long as specific management standards and waste characterization requirements are met".... "EPA used these state programs as models for this rule". 



RULE HISTORY

"The federal Universal Waste program, established in 1995, creates a streamlined mechanism for collection and recycling of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste. From 1995 to 2018, four waste streams had been added to the federal Universal Waste program". 

"EPA is adding aerosol cans to the list of universal wastes because this waste meets the factors found at 40 CFR 273.81 that describe hazardous waste appropriate for management under the streamlined universal waste system. Adding aerosol cans to the Universal Waste Rule simplifies handling and disposal of the wastes for generators, while ensuring that universal waste aerosol cans are sent to the appropriate destination facilities, where they will be managed as a hazardous waste with all applicable Subtitle C requirements to ensure protection of human health and the environment. Management as universal waste under the final requirements is also expected to facilitate environmentally sound recycling of the metal used to make the cans".

"The streamlined universal waste regulations are expected to:

Ease regulatory burdens on retail stores and others that discard aerosol cans,

Promote the collection and recycling of aerosol cans, and

Encourage the development of municipal and commercial programs to reduce the quantity of these wastes going to municipal solid waste landfills or combustors".


AEROSOL CAN

"EPA is finalizing a definition of "aerosol can" that is consistent with language in the DOT regulations. In the final rule, aerosol can is defined as a non-refillable receptacle containing a gas compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure, the sole purpose of which is to expel a liquid, paste, or powder and fitted with a self-closing release device allowing the contents to be ejected by the gas. Using language from the DOT regulation will help ensure consistency across Federal regulatory programs, avoid unnecessarily narrowing the scope of the rule to aerosol cans that aerate their product, and will not inadvertently include compressed gas cylinders in the definition of aerosol can". 



HAZARD WASTE

"Aerosol cans frequently contain flammable propellants such as propane or butane which can cause the aerosol can to demonstrate the hazardous characteristic for ignitability (40 CFR 261.21).[3] In addition, the aerosol can may also be a hazardous waste for other reasons when discarded. More specifically, an aerosol can may contain materials that exhibit hazardous characteristics per 40 CFR part 261, subpart C. Similarly, a discarded aerosol can may also be a P- or U- listed hazardous waste if it contains a commercial chemical product found at 40 CFR 261.33(e) or (f)".



CYLINDERS

"Because compressed gas cylinders, unlike aerosol cans, require special procedures to safely depressurize, it would not be appropriate to include them in the final rule. Finally, because the DOT language is more inclusive than the proposed language, it better matches the intent of the proposal to apply to all types of aerosol cans, including cans that dispense product in the form of paste or powder, and would not require states that have already added aerosol cans to their universal waste program to change their regulations".



NON-ACUTE EMPTY

"Under 40 CFR 261.7(b),[19] a container that has held non-acute hazardous waste is "empty" if (1) all wastes have been removed that can be removed using the practices commonly employed to remove materials from that type of container, e.g., pouring, pumping, and aspirating (applicable in all cases), and (2) no more than 2.5 centimeters (one inch) of residue remains on the bottom of the container or inner liner, or (3) no more than 3 percent by weight of the total capacity of the container remains in the container or inner liner if the container is less than or equal to 119 gallons in size. In addition, a container that has held a hazardous waste that is a compressed gas is empty when the pressure in the container approaches atmospheric pressure".

ACUTE EMPTY 

"In the case of a container that has held an acute hazardous waste listed in 40 CFR 261.31 or 261.33(e), the container is considered empty when it has been triple rinsed or has been cleaned by another method that has been shown in scientific literature, or by tests conducted by the generator to achieve equivalent removal, per 40 CFR 261.7(b)(3)". 

"EPA also considers a container that has held an acute hazardous that is a compressed gas to meet the definition of empty when it approaches atmospheric pressure, as defined in 40 CFR 261.7(b)(2).[20] EPA is not aware of a chemical commonly found in aerosol cans that would be listed as an acute hazardous waste, but if such an aerosol can product does exist, it would have to meet the 40 CFR 261.7(b)(2) or (3) standard to be considered "empty" under the regulations". 



RECYCLING AEROSOL CANS

"However, in the case of aerosol cans being recycled, rather than disposed of, aerosol cans that have been punctured and drained prior to recycling are considered exempt scrap metal under 40 CFR 261.6(a)(3)(ii), and therefore all such punctured cans would be exempt from hazardous waste requirements when recycled".

(NOTE), "California does not allow off-site commercial processors  to puncture and drain aerosol cans without a permit and requires those handlers that do puncture and drain cans to submit a notification and guidance in effect in Minnesota at the time of publication of the final rule also allows handlers to puncture and drain their aerosol cans".

This final rule is effective on February 7, 2020. To view and download a copy of the full text in EPA Universal waste aerosol webpage:

https://www.epa.gov/hw/increasing-recycling-adding-aerosol-cans-universal-waste-regulations 

 Link to the Federal Register:

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-12-09/pdf/2019-25674.pdf  

EPA will have approximately $5.5 billion in WIFIA loans to finance approximately $11 billion in water infrastructure investment with its 2020 appropriation.

Congress provided $55 million in budget authority for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program in the "Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020," (Appropriations Act) signed by the President on December 20, 2019. The appropriation is divided into two parts:
  • $5 million for approximately $500 million in loans exclusively to State infrastructure financing authority borrowers under the State infrastructure financing authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program
  • $50 million for approximately $5 billion in loans to all eligible borrowers under the WIFIA base program

EPA estimates that it will publish a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for both the base program and SWIFIA program in May 2020. This timing is necessary due to the additional requirements mandated by the Appropriations Act, which must be completed prior to issuing the 2020 NOFA.

Read more at:
https://www.epa.gov/wifia

Dec 30, 2019

Japan Is Considering To Dump Radioactive Water From Fukushima Into The Pacific Ocean

According to TOI, the new proposal stated the methods have been implemented previously, after the core meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 to dispose of 87,000 tons of tritium water in two years. The proposal by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy has put forth three methods to get rid of the water. The agency, part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) wants to gradually release water into the sea or the air(through vaporisation) or both.

The annual radiation levels are expected to be about 0.052 to 0.62 microsievert at sea while about 1.3 microsieverts in the atmosphere near the release points. A nuclear expert from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) explained to the JapanTimes that controlled discharge of radioactive water "is something which is applied in many nuclear facilities, so it is not something that is new."

Read full at:

Chinese metal mines feed the global demand for gadgets. They’re also poisoning China’s poorest regions.

Dec 19, 2019

Fukushima: Lessons learned from soil decontamination after nuclear accident

December 18, 2019/in Focus Story, Remediation /by hazmatmag
(From https://www.soil-journal.net/5/333/2019/)

Following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Japanese authorities carried out major decontamination works in the affected area, which covered more than 9,000 square kilometres ( 3,470 square miles). On Dec. 12, 2019, with most of this work having been completed, researchers provided an overview of the decontamination strategies used and their effectiveness in the Scientific Journal Soil.

Of primary concern after the Fukushima nuclear incident was the release of radioactive cesium in the environment because this radioisotope was emitted in large quantities during the accident,  it has a half-life of 30 years, and it constitutes the highest risk to the local population in the medium and long term.

This analysis in the journal provides new scientific lessons on decontamination strategies and techniques implemented in the municipalities affected by the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima accident. This synthesis indicates that removing the surface layer of the soil to a thickness of 5 cm, the main method used by the Japanese authorities to clean up cultivated land, has reduced cesium concentrations by about 80% in treated areas.

The removal of the uppermost part of the topsoil, which has proved effective in treating cultivated land, has cost the Japanese state about $35 billion (Cdn.).  This technique generates a significant amount of waste, which is difficult to treat, to transport and to store for several decades in the vicinity of the power plant, a step that is necessary before it is shipped to final disposal sites located outside Fukushima district by 2050. By early 2019, Fukushima's decontamination efforts had generated about 20 million cubic metres of waste.

Decontamination activities have mainly targeted agricultural landscapes and residential areas. The review points out that the forests have not been cleaned up -because of the difficulty and very high costs that these operations would represent – as they cover 75% of the surface area located within the radioactive fallout zone.

Please read full by hazmatmag

Dec 3, 2019

OSHA Enforcement and Compliance Increases in 2019 To Keep America’s Workforce Safe

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) fiscal year (FY) 2019 final statistics show a significant increase in the number of inspections and a record amount of compliance assistance to further the mission of ensuring that employers provide workplaces free of hazards.

OSHA's enforcement activities reflect the Department's continued focus on worker safety. Federal OSHA conducted 33,401 inspections—more inspections than the previous three years –addressing violations related to trenching, falls, chemical exposure, silica and other hazards.

In FY19, OSHA provided a record 1,392,611 workers with training on safety and health requirements through the Agency's various education programs, including the OSHA Training Institute Education Centers, Outreach Training Program and Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. OSHA's compliance assistance programs have helped small businesses address safety and health hazards in their workplaces. In FY19, OSHA's no-cost On-Site Consultation Program identified 137,885 workplace hazards, and protected 3.2 million workers from potential harm.

"OSHA's efforts – rulemaking, enforcement, compliance assistance and training – are tools to accomplish our mission of safety and health for every worker," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "I am proud of the diligent, hard work of all OSHA personnel who contributed to a memorable year of protecting our nation's workers."

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

# # #


Clearing the Air on Respiratory Hazards

CCOHS - For many workers, their jobs can take an unexpected toll on their physical health. An occupational disease can be disruptive, disabling, and even fatal. However, workplaces can take preventive action on respiratory hazards that can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, silicosis, asbestosis, and other serious occupational diseases.

Recognizing and preventing these work-related diseases can be more challenging than trying to prevent injuries. Many occupational diseases, including respiratory conditions, are connected to workplace exposures that occurred many years before. It's possible for a worker not to experience immediate health effects such as irritation and coughing and yet develop lung cancer decades later. As well, occupational diseases often result from repeated exposures to invisible gases or particles, rather than from a single event.

Workplaces can take action to identify and address breathing hazards from agents that can lead to lung cancer and other illnesses. Particulates, in a workplace context, most often refers to particles, dust, mist or fumes that are in the surrounding air that workers are at risk of inhaling. Breathing is the most common way by which they enter the lungs. How far the particle gets in the air passages of the respiratory system, and what it does when it is deposited, depends on the size, shape, and density of the material, as well as on its chemical and toxic properties.

The Canadian picture

According to national data from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), occupational diseases caused 64% (612) of deaths vs. 36% (339) traumatic fatalities in 2017. Keep in mind that these numbers do not include deaths in workplaces not covered by a compensation board (from diseases not accepted to be work-related), illness that are not acknowledged as being associated with a workplace exposure, nor those illnesses that are not reported. Plus, there are thousands more non-fatal illnesses and health impacts, including occupational deafness, dermatitis and asthma.

Cancer Care Ontario and the Occupational Cancer Research Centre estimate that approximately 1,300 cancer cases per year in Ontario are related to exposure to asbestos, diesel engine exhaust, crystalline silica and welding fumes. According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, long latency illnesses, emerging years after exposure to a disease-causing agent, accounted for the largest portion of compensation benefit costs between 2008 and 2017. To address these workplace hazards, the Ministry is conducting an inspection blitz focused on the dusts, vapours and fumes that can lead to the most common fatal occupational diseases: mesothelioma, lung and bronchial cancers, and asbestosis. Focus will be on the construction, industrial, health care, and mining sectors.

Respiratory hazards at construction and industrial sites can include lead dust and fumes; silica dust from cutting concrete or sandblasting; solvent vapours from adhesives, paints, and strippers; isocyanate vapours from spray form insulation and coatings; and carbon monoxide from gas-powered equipment as examples. In health care and community care workplaces, employers should focus on work processes that generate aerosols and the controls that should be in place. Working in a closed underground environment, miners can be exposed to airborne hazards such as diesel exhaust, silica, radon, and arsenic. Many of these exposures have been associated with lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases (including pneumoconiosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

What employers can do

All employers, regardless of worksite or location, can take steps to improve worker safety:

  • Complete a hazard assessment to identify what respiratory agents are present in the workplace
  • Regularly review for opportunities to move control of hazards up the hierarchy of controls to minimize exposure. Can the hazard be eliminated, or prevented from entering the air in the first place?
  • Implement proper controls and work practices to prevent respiratory hazards and to ensure that worker exposure to agents is kept below legal limits
  • Make sure that work areas have proper ventilation
  • Provide information, instruction and supervision to workers
  • Train workers on respiratory hazards specific to their workplace. Employers, supervisors and trainers should encourage workers to communicate any concerns they may have about occupational disease.
  • Provide training on the correct use and fit testing of any necessary personal protective equipment, including respirators.
  • Properly maintain personal protective equipment.

About occupational exposure limits

Occupational exposure limits are the recommended maximum amount and length of time most workers can be exposed to a toxic substance without suffering any known harmful consequences. However, remember a legal limit or guideline (such as an occupational exposure limit) should never be viewed as a line between "safe" and "unsafe". It is important to strive for "as low as reasonably achievable" exposure where possible. Within Canada, the provinces, territories and the federal government list which occupational exposure limits are enforceable under their health and safety legislation. View the legislative references for exposure limits to chemical and biological agents for each jurisdiction. Please note that while you can see the list of legislation for free, you will need a subscription to view the actual documentation.

Workers have a right to be safe on the job. Employers must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for workers' protection. By identifying solutions for eliminating or reducing respiratory hazards, workplaces can take action now to prevent future harm to workers.

Resources


Nov 25, 2019

Highly Radioactive Particles From Fukushima Mapped

A recent study published in the scientific journal "Chemosphere,"
involving scientists from Japan, Finland, France, and the United
States, addresses these issues.

The team, led by Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya, Ryohei Ikehara, and Kazuya
Morooka of Kyushu University, a prestigious research school in
Fukuoka, Japan, developed a method in 2018 that allows scientists to
quantify the amount of cesium-rich microparticles in soil and sediment
samples.

They have now applied their method to a wide range of soil samples
taken from within, and outside, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
exclusion zone, and this has allowed them to publish the first
quantitative map of cesium-rich microparticle distribution in parts of
Fukushima region.

The map shows three regions of interest within 60 kilometers from the
Fukushima Daiichi site

Dr. Utsunomiya said, "Using our method, we have determined the number
and amount of cesium-rich microparticles in surface soils from a wide
range of locations up to 60 km from the Fukushima Daiichi site. Our
work reveals three regions of particular interest."

"In two regions to the northwest of the damaged nuclear reactors, the
number of cesium-rich microparticles per gram of soil ranged between
22 and 101, and the amount of total soil cesium radioactivity
associated with the microparticles ranged from 15–37 percent," said
Dr. Utsunomiya.

"In another region to the southwest of the nuclear reactors, 1–8
cesium-rich microparticles were found per gram of soil, and these
microparticles accounted for 27–80 percent of the total soil cesium
radioactivity," he said.

Professor Gareth Law from the University of Helsinki, a co-author of
the study, said that the paper "reports regions where the cesium-rich
microparticles are surprisingly abundant and account for a large
amount of soil radioactivity."

"This data, and application of our technique to a wider range of
samples could help inform clean-up efforts," Law said.



Reference:
Abundance and distribution of radioactive cesium-rich microparticles
released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the
environment, Ryohei Ikehara, Kazuya Morooka, Mizuki Suetake, Tatsuki
Komiya, Eitaro Kurihara, Masato Takehara, Ryu Takami, Chiaki Kino,
Kenji Horie, Mami Takehara, Shinya Yamasaki, Toshihiko Ohnuki, Gareth
Law, William Bower, Bernd Grambow, Rodney Ewing, Satoshi Utsunomiya.
2019. Chemosphere, Volume 241, February 2020, 125019

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.125019