Sep 18, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 17, 2020

Memorial Honoring Eula Bingham

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting ID: 160 400 5915
Passcode: 692153

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


Sep 16, 2020

Chemical Data Reporting Is Due to EPA on November 30

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

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

Read full at:

Sep 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 9, 2020

Washington State Safer Products Update on Paints

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

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

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

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

Read full from source at (

Sep 8, 2020

High Levels of Toxic Chemicals Found in Dust Inside College Classrooms

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

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

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

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

Sep 3, 2020

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

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

Feel free to disseminate, tweet , facebook

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Course duration: Approximately 1 hour.

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

Course contents

  • Introduction:

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

  • Module 1: Infectious risks to health and safety:

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

  • Module 2: Physical risks to health and safety:

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

  • Module 3: Psychosocial risks to health and safety:

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

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

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

Sep 2, 2020

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

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

Participants can follow the conversation on Twitter at #EnviroHealthMatters.

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

Aug 31, 2020

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

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

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

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

Read the entire report here:

Aug 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the link to register for the free webinar:

Aug 12, 2020

Respiratory protection training for HCWs in low-resource settings

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

Jul 31, 2020

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

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

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

Read more

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

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

Webinar Registration

Tentative Speakers:

- Letitia Davis, ScD, Massachusetts Department of Health

- Amy Liebman, MPA, MA, Migrant Clinicians Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Linda Langston, Former Linn County (Iowa) Supervisor


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


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine


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

Download here

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

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

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

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

Read full at

Jul 21, 2020

Study concludes that PFAS disposal increases contamination

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

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

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

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

Jul 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read full from:

Jul 9, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story Source:

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

Journal Reference:

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

Jul 7, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read on:

Protective gear could expose firefighters to PFAS

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

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

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

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

Read on:

OSHA Instruction establishes inspection procedures and enforcement policies for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum on June 29, 2020, announcing an "addendum on termination" to its March 26, 2020, COVID-19 temporary enforcement policy.  The memorandum notes that as states and businesses begin to re-open, there will be a period of adjustment as regulated entities plan how to comply with environmental legal obligations and with public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies regarding actions intended to stem the transmission and spread of COVID-19.  The memorandum states that "it is now appropriate to expressly include a provision in the temporary policy that covers termination of the temporary policy, and to make such changes to the policy as are needed to reflect the impact of the changing circumstances on facility operations, worker shortages, and other constraints caused by the public health emergency."  For more information, please read the full memorandum.

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Jul 2, 2020

Free Webinar - Anaerobic Digestion Resource for Farms

July 16, 1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. (eastern)
The Northeast Waste Management Official's Association and the Northeast Recycling Council are hosting the AgSTAR—Anaerobic Digestion Project Development Handbook webinar on July 16 at 1:30 p.m. (eastern). The webinar will feature EPA AgSTAR's Handbook as a resource for setting up and operating an on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) system, Bar-Way Farm's experience with implementing AD, and Vanguard Renewables AD project process.
Register Here
Webinar Presenters
Vanessa McKinney, Program Manager of EPA's AgSTAR Program - Ms. McKinney works with U.S. livestock, biogas, and government stakeholders to advance the deployment of digesters and biogas systems. She has over a decade of experience in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and air emissions regulation and policy.
Peter Melnik, co-owner of Bar-Way Farm—a family-owned dairy farm for more than 100 years in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Melnik will present a farmers' perspective in running a farm with an Anaerobic Digester for managing manure and producing electricity.

John Hanselman, Chairman and CEO of Vanguard Renewables - John has thirty years of experience in leading renewable energy, environmental, and mission-based companies. Mr. Hanselman will present about the anaerobic digester project development process and their experience with working with Bar-Way Farm.

Jun 18, 2020

A Briggs & Stratton employee who pushed for more coronavirus restrictions in the workplace died from the virus

(JSONLINE) In response to his death, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of the immigrant and workers rights advocacy group Voces de la Frontera, said the group sent a public letter to the company and filed a complaint with the regional Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The letter and complaint list specific requests, including greater access to testing for employees, a mandatory mask wearing policy and ensuring there is 6 feet of distance in all departments and production lines. 

Neumann-Ortiz is also asking the company to implement or strengthen the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards at the factory.

"His precious life and premature death are a reminder to all of us, that time is of the essence," Neumann-Ortiz said. 

Neumann-Ortiz said the communications staff at Briggs & Stratton reached out to her on the day of the news conference. However, since that time, Neumann-Ortiz said she has not heard back from the company after sending two emails about a follow-up phone call. 

"We are trying again because we are taking them at their word that they do want to respond to these issues," she said.

Rick Carpenter, the vice president of corporate marketing and communications at the Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton, said the company has been doing its best to fight the coronavirus. 

"Know that we are working hard to remain vigilant against this virus," Carpenter said in an email.

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Jun 15, 2020

America fails the Covid-19 pandemic marshmallow test for society.

( ) One way to think about the Covid-19 pandemic is that it poses a kind of marshmallow test for society.

At this point, there have been enough international success stories in dealing with the coronavirus to leave us with a clear sense of what beating the pandemic takes. First, you have to impose strict social distancing long enough to reduce the number of infected people to a small fraction of the population. Then you have to implement a regime of testing, tracing and isolating: quickly identifying any new outbreak, finding everyone exposed, and quarantining them until the danger is past.

This strategy is workable. South Korea has done it. New Zealand has done it.

But you have to be strict and you have to be patient, staying the course until the pandemic is over, not giving in to the temptation to return to normal life while the virus is still widespread. So it is, as I said, a kind of marshmallow test.

And America is failing that test.

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Jun 14, 2020

Review of 16 cohorts found 40-45% of people who tested positive with RT-PCR using nasopharyngeal swabs are asymptomatic

Review published in Annals of Internal Medicine and covered by Time

This can profoundly impact the utility of COVID-19 screening for symptoms before clinical procedures such as pulmonary function testing since, even though the asymptomatic people appear to shed virus at the same rate as symptomatic people, they will pass the symptom screening.

EPA Adds More Indoor Air Quality Questions and Answers to our COVID-19 FAQ Webpage

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is on everyone's mind as we spend more time inside our homes. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have guidance for states & territories, tribes, and local governments (including public health agencies), homeowners, business owners, schools, and others to address questions about risks, exposures and protection from COVID-19.

Examples of Frequent Questions about Indoor Air and Coronavirus (COVID-19):

Answers to these questions and more about indoor air and COVID-19 can be found here. Each FAQ includes links to additional information for managing IAQ in your home and relevant CDC guidance to help protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. 

If you have additional questions about indoor air, disinfectants, drinking water or other topics, please visit EPA's Coronavirus (COVID-19) website and Frequent Questions Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) for more information. For more multilingual web content on the Coronavirus, indoor air quality and other environmental health issues, visit: EPA is continuing to add multilingual content and updating this FAQ list frequently, so please consider checking it routinely.

Free ACOEM Webinar on Prevention of COVID-19 in Construction Workers

The ACOEM Webinar "Prevention of COVID-19 in Construction Workers" is posted at the link below.  It will be next Wednesday, June 17 at 12 noon Eastern. It is free, but those interested must register here:

Jun 12, 2020

First Reported Cases of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Companion Animals

What are the implications for public health practice?

Human-to-animal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally occur. Animals ar

The figure shows an image of a cat with text overlay describing that there is currently no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people.

e not known to play a substantial role in spreading COVID-19, but persons with COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals. Companion animals that test positive for SARS-CoV-2 should be monitored and separated from persons and other animals until they recover.


On April 22, CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported cases of two domestic cats with confirmed infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). These are the first reported companion animals (including pets and service animals) with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the United States, and among the first findings of SARS-CoV-2 symptomatic companion animals reported worldwide. These feline cases originated from separate households and were epidemiologically linked to suspected or confirmed human COVID-19 cases in their respective households. Notification of presumptive positive animal test results triggered a One Health* investigation by state and federal partners, who determined that no further transmission events to other animals or persons had occurred. Both cats fully recovered. Although there is currently no evidence that animals play a substantial role in spreading COVID-19, CDC advises persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to restrict contact with animals during their illness and to monitor any animals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and separate them from other persons and animals at home (1).

SARS-CoV-2 is a zoonotic coronavirus that likely originated in bats (2). A small number of animals worldwide, including dogs, cats, zoo tigers and lions, and farmed mink, have been infected naturally with SARS-CoV-2, mostly through suspected human-to-animal transmission (3). In addition, experimental studies in ferrets, golden Syrian hamsters, Egyptian fruit bats, and cats show that these species can transmit infection to cohoused animals of the same species (47).

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Trends in Pneumoconiosis Deaths — United States, 1999–2018

What is already known about this topic?

Pneumoconioses are a group of occupational lung diseases caused by inhaling organic dust and inorganic mineral dust particles. From 1968 to 2000, death rates for all pneumoconioses decreased with the exception of those for asbestosis. Although preventable, deaths continue to occur.

What is added by this report?

Pneumoconiosis deaths decreased from 2,738 deaths in 1999 to 1,632 in 2018, and age-adjusted death rates decreased from 12.8 to 5.3 per million population. All pneumoconioses decreased with the exception of pneumoconiosis attributed to other inorganic dusts.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Pneumoconiosis-associated deaths continue to occur, underscoring the importance of occupational dust exposure reduction, early case detection, and continued surveillance to monitor trends, with an increased focus on pneumoconiosis attributable to other inorganic dusts.

Pneumoconioses are preventable occupational lung diseases caused by inhaling dust particles such as coal dust or different types of mineral dusts (1). To assess recent trends in deaths associated with pneumoconiosis, CDC analyzed multiple cause-of-death data*,† for decedents aged ≥15 years for the years 1999–2018, and industry and occupation data collected from 26 states§ for the years 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2007–2013. During 1999–2018, pneumoconiosis deaths decreased by 40.4%, with the exception of pneumoconiosis attributed to other inorganic dusts (e.g., aluminum, bauxite, beryllium, iron, and tin oxide), which increased significantly (p-value for time trend <0.05). The largest observed decreases in pneumoconiosis deaths were for those associated with coal workers' pneumoconiosis (69.6%) and silicosis (53.0%). Asbestosis was the most frequently reported pneumoconiosis and was associated with working in the construction industry. The ongoing occurrence of deaths associated with pneumoconiosis underscores the importance of occupational dust exposure reduction, early case detection, and continued surveillance to monitor trends.

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Jun 8, 2020

Respiratory protection for health care workers: A 2020 COVID‐19 perspective

Abstract: As the US health care system began to respond to the coronavirus disease‐2019 pandemic, demand for respiratory personal protective equipment (PPE) increased precipitously, as did the number of users. This commentary discusses ensuing deviations from accepted respiratory PPE program practices, which potentially increased risk to health care workers. Such lapses included omitting user training and fit testing, provision of unapproved devices, and application of devices in settings and ways for which they were not intended. The temporary compromise of professionally accepted standards due to exigencies must not become the new normal. Rather, the current attention to PPE should be leveraged to enhance practice, motivate vital research, and strengthen professional, governmental, and institutional capabilities to control health care worker exposures to infectious hazards.

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Jun 5, 2020

Subject: US EPA Announces Anaerobic Digestion Funding Opportunity

US EPA has announced a competitive grant funding opportunity with an estimated $3 million available to increase anaerobic digester (AD) capacity in the United States. US EPA anticipates awarding 10 to 40 projects, with each individual project eligible to receive between $50,000 - $300,000.
Applications must achieve one or more of the following objectives:
  •  Support State, Tribal, and/or local government programs that seek to use AD to increase their organic waste diversion rates;
  • Demonstrate solutions and/or approaches for increasing AD utilization that can be replicated by other communities, governments, or other entities; and/or Establish new or expand existing partnerships that result in the development of AD capacity.
The following entities are eligible to apply:
* State, local, Tribal, interstate, and intrastate government agencies and instrumentalities; and
* Non-profit organizations (as defined by 2 CFR Part 200) that are not 501(c)(4) organizations that lobby, including non-profit educational institutions and non-profit hospitals.
Individuals and for-profit organizations are not eligible.
Application must be submitted electronically through <> by 11:59 p.m. ET on July 14, 2020 to receive consideration for funding. More information is available at the EPA Anaerobic Digestion Funding Opportunity's website <> and on <> under Funding Opportunity Announcement EPA-OLEM-ORCR-20-02.

Jun 1, 2020

OSHA Releases Summary List of Guidance Documents Taken to Protect Workers During COVID-19

On May 28, 2020 OSHA released a comprehensive list of guidance documents, statements, and actions they've taken to help protect workers during the coronavirus pandemic.  The list is categorized into the following primary topic areas.  

They are:
  • Respirator Guidance
  • Protecting Workers in High-Risk Industries
  • Enforcing Safety in the Workplace
  • Offering Clear Direction for Employers

The list is a great way to see if you've missed anything.


CDC - Sobering statistics on COVID among Healthcare Personnels

CDC released new statistics yesterday.  
One of the more sobering for the health care community are the number of cases and the number of fatalities within the health care community. This is made even more significant by the fact that CDC only has the mortality status for only 56.4% of the cases among health care personnel.
Cases & Deaths among Healthcare Personnel
Data were collected from 1,417,310 people, but healthcare personnel status was only available for 304,479 (21.5%) people. For the 66,447 cases of COVID-19 among healthcare personnel, death status was only available for 37,485 (56.4%).



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