Dec 11, 2017

Free Webcast on Forklift Training Tomorrow via @jjkeller

Tuesday, December 12th
1 PM Central Time
(2 ET, 12 MT, 11 PT) 

Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks are some of the most common – and most powerful – pieces of equipment in industrial workplaces. With this power, comes the potential for serious hazards. Effective training and operator evaluations help reduce and eliminate hazards. However, the regulations are vague in some cases.

This webcast will provide an overview of OSHA's forklift training and evaluation requirements, answer frequently asked questions, and share some real life experiences.

What you'll learn:

• Trainer qualifications
• Training program content
• Refresher training and evaluation
• The importance of training
• When training is not the answer
• And much more.

We'll also leave time for a question and answer session.


Title: Forklift Training: It's more than just the OSHA regulation

Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Time: 01:00 PM Central Standard Time

Duration: 1 hour

Register NOW: 

Featured Speakers:
  Mark StrommeMark Stromme
Workplace Safety
J. J. Keller & Associates

 Michelle GraveenMichelle Graveen 
 Workplace Safety
 J. J. Keller & Associates 

Recycling Chaos In U.S. As China Bans 'Foreign Waste'

The U.S. exports about one-third of its recycling, and nearly half goes to China. For decades, China has used recyclables from around the world to supply its manufacturing boom. But this summer it declared that this "foreign waste" includes too many other nonrecyclable materials that are "dirty," even "hazardous." In a filing with the World Trade Organization the country listed 24 kinds of solid wastes it would ban "to protect China's environmental interests and people's health."

The complete ban takes effect Jan. 1, but already some Chinese importers have not had their licenses renewed. That is leaving U.S. recycling companies scrambling to adapt.

"It has no value ... It's garbage."

Rogue Waste Systems in southern Oregon collects recycling from curbside bins, and manager Scott Fowler says there are always nonrecyclables mixed in. As mounds of goods are compressed into 1-ton bales, he points out some: a roll of linoleum, gas cans, a briefcase, a surprising number of knitted sweaters. Plus, there are the frozen food cartons and plastic bags that many people think are recyclable but are not.

For decades, China has sorted through all this and used the recycled goods to propel its manufacturing boom. Now it no longer wants to, so the materials sits here with no place to go.

"It just keeps coming and coming and coming," says Rogue employee Laura Leebrick. In the warehouse, she is dwarfed by stacks of orphaned recycling bales. Outside, employee parking spaces have been taken over by compressed cubes of sour cream containers, broken wine bottles and junk mail.

And what are recyclables with nowhere to go?

"Right now, by definition, that material out there is garbage," she says. "It has no value. There is no demand for it in the marketplace. It's garbage."

For now, Rogue Waste says it has no choice but to take all of this recycling to the local landfill. More than a dozen Oregon companies have asked regulators whether they can send recyclable materials to landfills, and that number may grow if they can't find someplace else that wants them.

At Pioneer Recycling in Portland, owner Steve Frank is shopping for new buyers outside of China.

"I've personally moved material to different countries in an effort to keep material flowing," he says.

Without Chinese buyers, Frank says U.S. recycling companies are playing a game of musical chairs, and the music stops when China's ban on waste imports fully kicks in.

"The rest of the world cannot make up that gap," he said. "That's where we have what I call a bit of chaos going on."

Adina Adler, a senior director with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, says China's new standards are nearly impossible to meet. The group is trying to persuade China to walk back its demanding target for how clean our recycling exports need to be. But Adler doesn't think China's decision is all bad.

"What China's move is doing is probably ushering in a new era of recycling," she says.

Read on at:

Dec 6, 2017

EPA"s RCRA Generator Improvement Rule - FREE Workshop Invitation: Feb 7, 2018

The EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery is pleased to offer a full-day workshop on the 2016 Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule (8:30 am to 3:00 pm). The workshop will be held on Wednesday February 7, 2018, in Arlington, VA, and is free for all participants.

This workshop, given by the staff implementing the rule at the federal level, will cover all the major provisions of the rule, looking at regulatory text and common implementation questions that have come up since the rule was finalized. Specifically, the training examines provisions changed by the rule for hazardous waste determinations, counting hazardous waste, marking and labeling, episodic generation, VSQG waste consolidation at LQGs, satellite accumulation areas, emergency planning and preparedness, closure, recordkeeping, and reporting using the updated Site ID Form.

Doors will open at 8:30 am and the workshop will run from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (with an hour for lunch on your own) at EPA's Conference Center in the Potomac Yard building in Arlington, VA. Hotels are plentiful in the area, if needed.

We expect this training to fill up and will have a waitlist option on the registration site. If you do sign up and then cannot join us for the training, please take a moment to cancel your enrollment so someone else can take your spot.

Dec 5, 2017

Free Webcast on Forklift you know what's required via @jjkeller

Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks are some of the most common – and most powerful – pieces of equipment in industrial workplaces. With this power, comes the potential for serious hazards. Effective training and operator evaluations help reduce and eliminate hazards. However, the regulations are vague in some cases.

This webcast will provide an overview of OSHA's forklift training and evaluation requirements, answer frequently asked questions, and share some real life experiences.

What you'll learn:

• Trainer qualifications
• Training program content
• Refresher training and evaluation
• The importance of training
• When training is not the answer
• And much more.

We'll also leave time for a question and answer session.

  Tuesday, December 12th at 1 PM Central Time (2 ET, 12 MT, 11 PT) 
 Register Now

Haunting reminder of importance of using proper grounding and bonding.

Video shows fire/explosion at NY cosmetics factory.

Video showing a worker pouring from a drum into a plastic tote (IBC). The fire starts when a worker wipes off tote with cloth near pouring location.

Just tragically preventable. 

JCINF article: The CompTox Chemistry Dashboard: a community data resource for environmental chemistry

The CompTox Chemistry Dashboard: a community data resource for environmental chemistry

Despite an abundance of online databases providing access to chemical data, there is increasing demand for high-quality, structure-curated, open data to meet the various needs of the environmental sciences and computational toxicology communities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) web-based CompTox Chemistry Dashboard is addressing these needs by integrating diverse types of relevant domain data through a cheminformatics layer, built upon a database of curated substances linked to chemical structures. These data include physicochemical, environmental fate and transport, exposure, usage, in vivo toxicity, and in vitro bioassay data, surfaced through an integration hub with link-outs to additional EPA data and public domain online resources. Batch searching allows for direct chemical identifier (ID) mapping and downloading of multiple data streams in several different formats. This facilitates fast access to available structure, property, toxicity, and bioassay data for collections of chemicals (hundreds to thousands at a time). Advanced search capabilities are available to support, for example, non-targeted analysis and identification of chemicals using mass spectrometry. The contents of the chemistry database, presently containing ~ 760,000 substances, are available as public domain data for download. The chemistry content underpinning the Dashboard has been aggregated over the past 15 years by both manual and auto-curation techniques within EPA's DSSTox project. DSSTox chemical content is subject to strict quality controls to enforce consistency among chemical substance-structure identifiers, as well as list curation review to ensure accurate linkages of DSSTox substances to chemical lists and associated data. The Dashboard, publicly launched in April 2016, has expanded considerably in content and user traffic over the past year. It is continuously evolving with the growth of DSSTox into high-interest or data-rich domains of interest to EPA, such as chemicals on the Toxic Substances Control Act listing, while providing the user community with a flexible and dynamic web-based platform for integration, processing, visualization and delivery of data and resources. The Dashboard provides support for a broad array of research and regulatory programs across the worldwide community of toxicologists and environmental scientists.


Dec 1, 2017

Fatal Ammonia Leak at Municipal Arena

CCOHS: Three workers in Fernie, British Columbia lost their lives due to an ammonia leak at the municipal arena and 95 residents living near the arena were evacuated from their homes for five days. The exact cause of the leak has not yet been determined but this incident highlights the need to understand ammonia and the risks that come with its use in the workplace.

What is ammonia?

Ammonia is a toxic chemical commonly found in refrigerants, cleaning products, and fertilizers. It is naturally found as a gas, but it can be pressurized and stored or transported as liquid. . Exposure to a high concentration of ammonia can be fatal. Ammonia has the following characteristics:

  • Colourless with a distinct strong odour. However, repeated exposure reduces your ability to smell the gas. This odour fatigue can occur even if the levels of the gas are high.
  • As a gas, it may explode if heated. High concentrations can be a fire and explosion hazard, especially in confined areas.
  • Very toxic and can be fatal if inhaled.
  • Corrosive to the respiratory tract, and causes severe skin burns and eye damage.
  • May cause frost bite.

How workers are exposed

Ammonia is most commonly found on farms, in refrigeration systems and in fertilizers and cleaners. On farms, ammonia gas is generated by compost piles on mushroom farms. Manure pits and any indoor or confined spaces where farm animals are kept can contain ammonia gas. Ice rinks and ice manufacturing plants use liquid ammonia in their refrigeration systems. If this liquefied ammonia leaks, it becomes a gas.  In its liquid form, ammonia is often diluted and combined with other chemicals and found in fertilizers and cleaning products.

The risks

The highest risk comes from breathing the gas, which can be fatal. The level of risk depends on the concentration of ammonia and the length of exposure time. In low concentrations, exposure can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and respiratory system. It can also cause chemical and freezing burns on the skin. At high concentration, ammonia gas can be fatal within a few breaths.

How to reduce the risks

Controlling the risks and hazards in the workplace can reduce the potential for injury or disease. The most effective way to manage the risk of exposure to ammonia is to eliminate the source of exposure. If that's not possible, there are other control measures to use. When choosing control measures, start by asking yourself these questions, listed in order of effectiveness.

  1. Elimination or substitution
    • Can a less hazardous material be used?
  1. Engineering controls
    • Can a process that generates less ammonia be used?
    • Can ventilation be improved?
    • Can ammonia-producing tasks be enclosed by barriers that prevent gas from leaking into other areas of the workplace?
  1. Administrative controls
    • Can warning signs be posted in the work area?
    • Can signs explaining ammonia exposure symptoms be posted?
    • Can written safe work procedures be posted?
    • Can a 24-hour continuous ammonia monitor be connected to an alarm system?
  1. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Do workers have the required respirators, eye wear, and protective clothing?
    • Has personal protective equipment been tested to make sure it is working properly?

If there's an ammonia leak, notify a supervisor immediately. Clear the area, and begin emergency procedures.



Plan, Prepare, Prevent, Protect: Brand New Flu Portal is Live

CCOHS: Are you prepared for flu season or an infectious disease outbreak?  Flu season may not yet be upon us but a brand new website that offers advice and useful tools to help you plan, prepare, prevent and protect against infectious disease outbreaks is live and online.

The Flu and Infectious Disease and Outbreaks web portal from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides tools and resources including posters, publications, fact sheets, flyers, stickers, mobile apps, checklists, articles, and training to help workplaces, families and communities minimize the impact of flu and infectious disease outbreaks.

Organized by topic, audience (workplace, home, and community) and resource type this mobile-friendly website is a gateway to information and resources from across Canada on topics including continuity planning, infection prevention and control, and personal protective equipment.

Visit the Flu and Infectious Disease and Outbreaks web portal.

Impairment in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

CCOHS: This month's featured podcast is an interview with CCOHS Senior Technical Specialist Jan Chappel, who discusses workplace impairment and what employers can do to prepare before the sale and use of recreational cannabis becomes legal.

Feature Podcast: Impairment in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

In this episode, Jan Chappel, Senior Technical Specialist at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) addresses workplace impairment; what it is, why workplaces need to be concerned about it, and what employers can do right now to prepare before the sale and use of recreational cannabis becomes legal in Canada in 2018.

The podcast runs 6:28 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.


Encore Podcast: Addressing Work-related Stress

This podcast discusses the causes of a stressful workplace, and offers helpful tips on how workers can avoid or minimize stress, and what employers can do to address this important issue.

The podcast runs 5:19 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.


CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to keep you current with information, tips, and insights into the health, safety, and well-being of working Canadians. You can download the audio segment to your computer or MP3 player and listen to it at your own convenience... or on the go!

See the complete list of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode

Job Safety Analysis - The Proactive Approach

CCOHS: Celine's job includes filling propane tanks used for backyard barbecues. The task seems simple enough but when the process is broken down into steps, beginning from the time the customer puts their tank down at the filling station to when she hands them the freshly filled tank, it becomes clear that the job involves a number of hazards. Potential exposure to flammable gas, working with gas under pressure, noxious fumes, and back strain from lifting the tanks are just a few. Performing a job safety analysis for each job or process is a proactive approach to workplace health and safety, allowing you to identify hazards and determine the safest way to complete the work or process.

Initial benefits from developing a job safety analysis will become clear in the preparation stage. The analysis process may identify previously undetected hazards and increase the job knowledge of those participating. Safety and health awareness is raised, communication between workers and supervisors is improved, and acceptance of safe work procedures is promoted.

It's up to employers to protect the health and ensure the safety of their employees. This responsibility includes keeping employees informed of workplace hazards and providing the procedures and equipment necessary to protect them. By assessing health and safety risks and developing safety procedures they can eliminate or mitigate these risks before anyone gets harmed.


  1. Select the job to be analyzed

Ideally all jobs should undergo a job safety analysis which should be revised whenever there is change to the process. When selecting the jobs that need to be analyzed first, base your decision on factors such as accident frequency and severity, the potential for severe injury or illness, newly established jobs, modified jobs and infrequently performed jobs. The most critical should be examined first.

  1. Break the job down into a sequence of steps

A job step is defined as a segment of the operation necessary to advance the work. Consider what is done rather than how it's done; for example, putting the propane tank on to the filling scale. Generally, most jobs can be described in less than ten steps. Keep the steps in their correct sequence because any step that is out of order may miss serious potential hazards or introduce hazards which do not actually exist. This step is usually completed through job observation, which should be completed during normal times and operations. Collaboration is important and the worker, supervisor and health and safety representative/committee member should review the analysis to ensure all steps have been identified and in the correct order.

  1. Identify potential hazards

The job hazard identification process is also a collaborative effort of both workers and supervisors. Once the basic steps have been recorded, potential hazards must be identified at each step. Based on observations of the job, knowledge of accident and injury causes, and personal experience, list the things that could go wrong at each step. It's important to get the input of workers who have experience in that job and to consider all categories of hazards – physical, biological, chemical, ergonomic and psychosocial.

  1. Determine the preventative measures

The final stage in a job safety analysis is to determine ways to eliminate or control the hazards that were identified.  This may include changing or modifying processes, improving the environment, or substituting with a less hazardous substance or changing the tools being used. If the hazard can't be eliminated, controls should be investigated to avoid contact or exposure by using enclosures, machine guards, worker booths or other forms of containment. Reviewing work processes and procedures should also be considered. This can involve modifying, or changing steps of the job that may be hazardous, or adding steps to the process.

Lastly, if there are no other possible solutions you can consider methods to reduce exposure to the hazards, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These measures are the least effective and should only be used if no other solutions are possible. You can also reduce the severity of an accident by providing emergency facilities such as eyewash stations.

Discussing and sharing the information

An effective job safety analysis covers all aspects of a specific task. Workers performing the job as well as the supervisor and a representative from the health and safety committee should participate in the development of a comprehensive job safety analysis. Once the analysis is completed, be sure to communicate the results to all workers who are, or will be, performing that job.

Proactive vs reactive

Taking the time upfront to learn about the hazards of a job and address them is one of the best ways to prevent the pain and suffering of work-related injuries and illnesses.


CCOHS Resources:

Scott Mugno Nominated to Head OSHA

President Donald Trump will nominate Scott Mugno as assistant secretary of the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the White House said Friday.

Mr. Mugno is currently the vice president for safety, sustainability, and vehicle maintenance at FedEx Ground, a unit of FedEx Corp. Previously, Mr. Mugno was the managing director for corporate safety, health and fire protection at FedEx Express in Memphis, Tennessee, according to a statement from the White House.


Nov 30, 2017


Some establishments are coming up on an important OSHA deadline for online submission of their 2016 OSHA Form 300A. That deadline is December 15, 2017. Please note that on November 22, 2017, OSHA issued a press release stating that the previous December 1, 2017 deadline had been pushed back to December 15, so if this new date looks weird to you, that's why.

You can upload and submit your information here on OSHA's site.

Which establishments have to submit online, you ask? Good question:

There are some exceptions for establishments covered by OSHA-approved state plans that have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically. Those states are:

  • California

  • Maryland

  • Minnesota

  • South Carolina

  • Utah

  • Washington

  • Wyoming

In addition, state and local government establishments in the following states are also not currently required to submit their data electronically:

  • Illinois

  • Maine

  • New Jersey

  • New York

For additional information on these exceptions, contact your State Plan with the contact information available here.

This December 15, 2017 deadline is only for the 2016 300A forms and only for the establishments defined above. However, for those of you who are forward-thinking, you might want to know about following upcoming deadlines as well:

  • July 1, 2018, for all covered establishments with 250 or more employees: 2017 Forms 300A, 300, and 301

  • July 1, 2018, for all covered establishments with 20-249 emplyees: 2017 Form 300A

  • March 2, 2019 and future years: Online submissions must be made by March 2

EPA Determines that Update to Standards for “Small Manufacturers and Processors” is Warranted for TSCA Reporting

On November 30, 2017, EPA will publish a final determination, as required under the amended TSCA, that an update is warranted to the size standards for small manufacturers and processors currently used to determine which small businesses are exempt from reporting regulations under TSCA Section 8(a).

As required by the amended TSCA, EPA reviewed the adequacy of the existing standards that define what constitute small manufacturers and processors used in connection with reporting regulations under TSCA section 8(a). After reviewing public comments and consulting with the Small Business Administration (SBA), EPA has determined that a revision to the existing standards is warranted.  The future revisions to the standards will occur by subsequent rulemaking, which allows for further opportunities for consultation with the SBA and public notice and comment.

Read the Federal Register notice announcing EPA's determination.

Read the May 9, 2017, notice requesting public comment on the necessity for an updated standard.

Learn more about the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Nov 22, 2017

Russia finds 1,000-times normal level of radioactive isotope after nuclear incident claims

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's meteorological service said on Tuesday it had measured pollution of a radioactive isotope at nearly 1,000 times normal levels in the Ural mountains, the first official Russian data supporting reports that a nuclear incident had taken place.

The data appears to back up a report by the French nuclear safety institute IRSN, which said on Nov. 9 a cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe had indicated some kind of leak had taken place at a nuclear facility either in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September.

Neither Russia nor Kazakhstan has acknowledged any accident.

Russian state weather service Roshydromet said in a statement it had found "extremely high pollution" of ruthenium 106 in samples from two meteorological stations in the southern Urals region in late September and early October.

At the Agrayash weather station the levels were 986 times those of the previous month, while at the Novogorny station they were 440 times higher. The weather service did not rule out that the radioactive isotope could be absorbed into the atmosphere and reach Europe.

Western scientists said the ruthenium 106 levels disclosed did not by themselves indicate any major health threat, although it was still unclear what had happened.

"Ruthenium is very rare and hence its presence may suggest that an event of some nature has occurred. That being said, the natural abundance is so low that even a factor of 900 up on natural levels is still very low," said Malcolm Sperrin, director of the Department of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering at Oxford University Hospitals in England.

Professor Paddy Regan at the University of Surrey said the fact that the ruthenium was found in isolation, rather than with other radioactive materials "suggests a leak from a fuel/reprocessing plant or somewhere they are separating the ruthenium" rather than a bigger nuclear accident.

"If it was a reactor leak or nuclear explosion, other radioisotopes would also be present in the 'plume' and from the reports, they are not," Regan said.

He said any health effect would be negligible.

"The measurement of its presence in the amounts reported suggest that any biological effects of exposure to this source are essentially similar to that of the normal, naturally occurring radiation background," he told Reuters.

Russia's Consumer Rights Protection service said in a statement that the ruthenium 106 posed no threat to public health.

Read full from Reuters Staff

Nov 21, 2017

The Guardian: Russian nuclear facility denies it is source of high radioactivity levels

The Guardian: A secretive Russian nuclear facility has denied it was behind high atmospheric concentrations of the radioactive isotope ruthenium-106, after Russia's meteorological service confirmed levels several hundred times the norm were found in several locations in the country during tests in late September.

Greenpeace has called for an investigation into a potential cover-up of a nuclear accident after Russia's nuclear agency had denied European reports of increased ruthenium-106 levels. Rosgidromet, the weather monitoring service, released test data on Monday that showed levels were indeed much higher than normal. The most potent site was Argayash in the south Urals, where levels were 986 times the norm.

Argayash is about 20 miles from Mayak, a facility that reprocesses spent nuclear fuel. The plant facility issued a denial on Tuesday. "The contamination of the atmosphere with ruthenium-106 isotope registered by Rosgidromet is not linked to the activity of Mayak," a statement said.

It went on to reassure people that the measurements were well below dangerous levels: "The measurements which Rosgidromet has released suggest that the dose people might have received is 20,000 times less than the allowed annual dose and presents no threat at all to health."

Nuclear experts also said there was no evidence to suggest the leak posed a significant hazard to human health or the environment.

A report earlier this month from France's Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said ruthenium-106 had been detected in France between 27 September and 13 October.

In mid-October, the state nuclear agency Rosatom issued a statement saying that samples from across Russia during the same period showed no trace of ruthenium-106 after European agencies had reported levels that were higher than usual.

87 Percent of Newborns Have Chlorpyrifos (Neurotoxic Pesticide) in Their Cord Blood

NY Times​The pesticide, which belongs to a class of chemicals developed as a nerve gas made by Nazi Germany, is now found in food, air and drinking water. Human and animal studies show that it damages the brain and reduces I.Q.s while causing tremors among children. It has also been linked to lung cancer and Parkinson's disease in adults.

Even if you haven't heard of it, it may be inside you: One 2012 study (intro summary below) found that it was in the umbilical cord blood of 87 percent of newborn babies tested.

The Environmental Protection Agency actually banned "the Pesticide" for most indoor residential use 17 years ago — so it's no longer found in the Raid you spray at cockroaches.... The E.P.A. was preparing to ban it for agricultural and outdoor use this spring, but then the Trump administration rejected the ban.

Introduction (

Organophosphorous pesticides are widely used in agriculture in the United States(DPR, 2008); despite the voluntary phase out of residential uses of chlorpyrifos and diazinon between 2000 and 2004 (U.S. EPA, 2000U.S. EPA, 2001), some organophosphate pesticides are still registered for home garden use (U.S. EPA, 2006). Acute exposure to organophosphate pesticides can lead to neurotoxic effects through inhibition of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (Costa et al., 2008). Recent epidemiologic studies suggest associations of low dose chronic prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides with adverse birth and neurodevelopmental outcomes including reduced birth weight and length (Whyatt et al., 2004), shorter gestational duration (Eskenazi et al., 2004), increased number of abnormal reflexes in neonates (Engel et al., 2007Eskenazi et al., 2008), higher risk of reported attention problems (Marks et al., 2010), and lower intelligence in 7 year olds (Bouchard et al., 2011).

Although the majority of animal data provide evidence of organophosphate toxicity through cholinergic pathways, some studies suggest potential mechanisms for the adverse effects of organophosphate pesticide exposures, even at dose levels below the threshold for acetylcholinesterase inhibition (Costa, 2006). For instance, exposures to low doses of diazinon and/or chlorpyrifos in rat and or mouse models were associated with changes in neuronal cell development (Slotkin et al., 2008), changes in emotional behaviors (Roegge et al., 2008), up regulation of serotonin neurotransmitters(Aldridge et al., 2003Slotkin et al., 2006), and changes in thyroid hormone levels and the reproductive system(Buratti et al., 2006De Angelis et al., 2009Haviland et al., 2010). Recent studies also provide evidence that organophosphate pesticide exposure induces oxidative stress (Samarawickrema et al., 2008Slotkin and Seidler, 2009), a condition associated with common diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes (Bhattacharyya et al., 2008Li et al., 2003).

Estimating the internal dose of organophosphate pesticide exposure in biological specimens is particularly challenging because organophosphate pesticides have relatively short half-lives and are quickly metabolized and excreted from the body (Wessels et al., 2003). Organophosphate metabolites, including dialkyl phosphates, in urine have been used as biomarkers of organophosphate pesticide exposure in many studies (Bouchard et al., 2010Eskenazi et al., 2004Fenske et al., 2002Grandjean et al., 2006Lacasana et al., 2010Ye et al., 2009). Collection of urine specimens from study participants is relatively noninvasive and methods for analyzing organophosphate pesticide metabolites are well established (Bradman and Whyatt, 2005). Analysis of organophosphate pesticide levels in blood allows for direct measurement of parent compounds rather than metabolites and may more accurately represent the dose that reaches the target tissue (Bradman and Whyatt, 2005). Although the rate of clearance from the blood is initially quite rapid, chlorpyrifos and diazinon are lipophilic so the portion of compound that partitions into body fat may be eliminated more slowly (Eaton et al., 2008). Therefore, levels in blood may represent a steady state concentration (Needham, 2005). However, since concentrations of organophosphate pesticides in blood are much lower (by orders of magnitude) than metabolite levels in urine, very sensitive analytical methods are required to measure them (Perez et al., 2010). Thus far, only a small number of studies have measured prenatal organophosphate pesticide exposure in maternal or umbilical cord blood (Neta et al., 2010Whyatt et al., 2003). Only one study has compared chlorpyrifos levels in blood and urine from the same subjects (mothers and infants) and reported no association between chlorpyrifos in maternal or cord blood and levels of the chlorpyrifos metabolite 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol in urine (Whyatt et al., 2009). Additionally, there are no published analytical methods for some organophosphate pesticides in blood, such as oxydemeton methyl and thus, blood measures may not fully capture exposure especially in populations exposed to multiple organophosphate pesticides. As there are strengths and weaknesses in using either of the two biological matrices, it remains unclear which measures will be more useful in epidemiological studies of prenatal organophosphate pesticide exposures and adverse health effects.

Regulatory Alert: EPA holds public meetings on toxic chemicals

Public Meeting on New Chemicals

EPA is holding a public meeting to update and engage with the public on its  progress in implementing changes to the New Chemicals Review Program as a result of the 2016 amendments to Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), including discussion of EPA's New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework on Monday, December 6, 2017.  During the meeting, EPA plans to provide an overview of its review process for new chemicals and will provide an opportunity for interested parties to discuss their experiences and ask questions regarding the New Chemicals Review Program.

View the agenda and meeting materials here.

Register to attend the meeting either in-person or remotely here.

Public Meeting on Approaches for Identifying Potential Candidates for Prioritization for TSCA Risk Evaluation

EPA is holding a public meeting to discuss the possible approaches for identifying potential candidate chemicals for EPA's prioritization process under the Toxic Substance Control Act on Monday, December 11, 2017.  During the meeting, EPA plans to describe and take comments and questions on the number of possible approaches that the agency has identified in its discussion paper. EPA has also provided a public docket to accept written comments until January 25, 2018.

View the agenda and meeting materials including EPA's discussion paper here.

Register to attend the meeting either in-person or remotely here.

Nov 20, 2017

$1.8 Million in OSHA proposed Fines Against a Wisconsin Corn Milling Facility After Fatal Grain Dust Explosion

CAMBRIA, WI – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $1,837,861 in fines against Didion Milling Inc. following a May 31, 2017, explosion that killed five workers and injured 12 others, including a 21-year-old employee who suffered a double leg amputation after being crushed by a railcar.

OSHA found that the explosion likely resulted from Didion's failures to correct the leakage and accumulation of highly combustible grain dust throughout the facility and to properly maintain equipment to control ignition sources. OSHA cited Didion's Cambria facility with 14 willful – including eight willful per-instance egregious– and five serious citations, most involving fire and explosion hazards. The company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"Didion Milling could have prevented this tragedy if it had addressed hazards that are well-known in this industry," said OSHA Regional Administrator Ken Nishiyama Atha, in Chicago. "Instead, their disregard for the law led to an explosion that claimed the lives of workers, and heartbreak for their families and the community."

The egregious willful citations were issued for violating OSHA's Grain Handling standard by failing to perform required maintenance on operating equipment and implementing a housekeeping program to control dust accumulations. Willful citations were issued for failure to shut down ignition sources, prevent static electricity discharge, provide adequate personal protective equipment to employees, correct malfunctioning dust collection systems, maintain equipment safety controls, and have an emergency alarm system. Serious citations addressed hazards associated with fires and explosions, and the lack of employee training.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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 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

Nov 15, 2017

EPA: TSCA Risk Evaluation Public Meeting materials available

EPA is making available the agenda and other meeting materials for its planned December 11, 2017 public meeting to discuss ongoing implementation activities under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

View the agenda and meeting materials:

Background:  The December 11th meeting will focus on possible approaches for identifying potential candidate chemicals for EPA's prioritization process under TSCA. As amended, TSCA required that EPA establish processes for prioritizing and evaluating risks from existing chemicals. EPA will describe and take comment on a number of possible approaches that could guide the Agency in the identification of potential candidate chemicals for prioritization. EPA will accept questions from the public in advance of the meeting if such questions are received by November 20, 2017, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows.  Additionally, EPA will be accepting written comments in the docket until January 25, 2018.

To register to attend, submit questions, and learn more:

Arkema documents show planning, mechanical failures led to chemical fires during Harvey

HoustonChronicle - Poor planning and a series of cascading equipment failures led to dangerous chemicals erupting into flame in late August during the height of Hurricane Harvey. The miscalculations indicate the company's lack of preparation for more than 3 feet of flooding, reflected by an emergency management plan that barely addressed how to handle such a storm.

Those judgments led to the burning of nine trailers containing the company's stockpile of organic peroxides. The resulting inferno exposed first responders and local residents to dangerous fumes and pulled emergency staffers away from hurricane recovery at a critical time.

Arkema officials argue that unprecedented floods made it impossible to prevent its chemicals from catching fire. The site had only seen up to 2 feet of flooding in the past, company officials said.

A list of chemicals at the Arkema plant was passed around to people who live near the chemical plant on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Crosby. Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle / © 2017 Houston Chronicle

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle

A list of chemicals at the Arkema plant was passed around to people who live near the chemical plant on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Crosby.

The Chronicle obtained Arkema's internal records from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and conducted interviews with government employees with knowledge of ongoing investigations of the events at the plant. The emerging picture reveals nine days of chaos, culminating with the decision to intentionally burn chemicals that posed a danger to the public.

The records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and interviews show that:​

Arkema's emergency response plan provided employees with little direction for how to handle major flooding events. It contained one paragraph about flooding but a page and a half on handling bomb threats, records show.

Arkema's main power transformers and its powerful backup generators were not high enough off the ground, causing them to become submerged with floodwaters, Arkema records show. Without power, the company could not keep its stash of organic peroxides at a safe temperature inside its refrigerated buildings.

The company's last resort for keeping organic peroxides cool - refrigerated trailers - also was destined to fail. The diesel-powered trailers had fuel tanks that ran along the bottom of the vehicle. More than 3 feet of water compromised the fuel tanks, causing the freezers to die.

Arkema had a tank of an extremely dangerous chemical, isobutylene, located about 40 yards from six trailers that had been relocated during the storm, according to interviews and satellite images. Government officials were concerned about a chain reaction with that chemical that could have led to catastrophic results.

Arkema officials said again Tuesday that no amount of planning could have protected its site from the storm.​​

​"Many of your conclusions fail to recognize that Hurricane Harvey was unlike any rain event Houston ever experienced," company spokeswoman Janet Smith said in an email. "FEMA's 500-year flood map doesn't address the situation that occurred during Hurricane Harvey."

Four days after Harvey made landfall in Texas, the Arkema plant was under 7 feet of water. The last employees to evacuate the site left by boat, floating over a 6-foot chain-link fence topped by barbed wire, the records show.

"Flooding in Houston is a perfectly foreseeable event," said Paul Orum, an independent Washington, D.C., consultant and longtime chemical safety advocate. "Facilities should be prepared when it comes to several different layers of flooding."

Lines laid low

Arkema, a French multinational company, manufactures chemicals used to create plastic products. Many of its proprietary compounds are classified as organic peroxides, which must be kept at temperatures well below freezing to prevent the chemicals from catching fire.

With Hurricane Harvey bearing down on Southeast Texas and the National Hurricane Center warning of potentially "catastrophic" or "life-threatening" flooding, the company's plans for protecting its product were simple: keep the chemicals cold on-site.

The company had multiple freezer buildings, six backup generators, and, as a last resort, refrigerated trucks. Documents provided to the Chronicle did not indicate any plans to drive the organic peroxides away from Harvey's impact.

But Arkema's plan for Harvey was based on one flawed assumption: that the site would never experience floods higher than 3 feet. By the end of the weekend, the rain had exceeded that total.​