May 14, 2019

​EPA to Hold First Meeting of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will hold the first meeting of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act), for Pigment Violet 29 (PV29), the first chemical of the initial 10 chemicals undergoing review.

"This will be an important opportunity for the science experts on this new committee to provide their scientific and technical advice to EPA," said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. "This peer review ensures scientific rigor and enhances transparency of the risk evaluation process."

The purpose of the June 18-21, 2019, SACC meeting is for EPA to get the independent review of the science underlying the PV29 risk assessment, including the hazard assessment, assessment of dose-response, exposure assessment, and risk characterization. Additionally, this meeting will include an orientation on TSCA and how EPA is evaluating chemicals in commerce as prescribed in the Lautenberg Act. EPA will use the scientific advice, information and recommendations from the SACC, as well as public comments, to inform the final risk evaluation.

The public has an opportunity to provide comments before and during the meeting. In March 2019, EPA re-opened the public comment period on the draft risk evaluation. The public has from April 17, 2019 until May 17, 2019 to provide comments in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0604 on http://www.regulations.gov.

This peer review meeting was rescheduled from an earlier meeting that was previously canceled due to the lapse in appropriations.






May 2, 2019

EPA to Propose Revisions to Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule

(PAINT.ORG), EPA provided notice in the Federal Register that it will be releasing a proposed rule to revise its Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule. The agency said the proposed amendments would support Agency data collection efforts, align reporting with amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by requiring that confidentially claims be substantiated, and make chemical reporting easier by streamlining complex submissions.

EPA aims to amend the CDR rule to update the definition of small entities (small manufacturers), who are exempt from reporting; add exemptions for specific types of byproducts; simplify reporting, including allowing manufacturers to use certain processing and use data codes already in use as part of international codes developed through the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development; and remove outdated rule text and consolidate exemptions.

EPA noted that the proposed revised definition for small entities may reduce the burden on chemical manufacturers by increasing the number of manufacturers considered small.

TSCA Section 8(a) authorizes EPA to require, by rulemaking, manufacturers (including importers) and processors of chemical substances to maintain records and/or report such data as EPA may reasonably require to carry out the TSCA mandates. Information that can be required to be reported may include the following:

  • Chemical or mixture identity
  • Categories of use
  • Quantity manufactured or processed
  • By-product description
  • Health and environmental effects information
  • Number of individuals exposed
  • Method(s) of disposal

The current CDR rule requires manufacturers (including importers) of certain chemical substances listed on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory (TSCA Inventory) to report data on chemical manufacturing, processing, and use every four (4) years.

Once the official rule EPA proposal is published in the Federal Register, the agency will accept comments on the proposal for 60 days.

​EPA and federal partners seek public input on draft GLRI Action Plan III

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its federal partners are seeking additional input from the public on developing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Action Plan III. The plan will outline priorities and goals for the GLRI for the years 2020-2024. Input will be received until May 24, 2019.

Last summer, EPA received input on priorities for Action Plan III through six public engagement sessions convened across the Great Lakes basin. Feedback was received from the general public and representatives of agriculture, industry, academia, local government, non-profits, and metropolitan planning organizations. EPA also consulted with the Great Lakes states and tribes throughout the draft plan's development.

The draft plan and a link to provide input are available at: https://www.glri.us/action-plan-3

CSB Calls on EPA to Update HF Study in Wake of the 2017 Husky Refinery Fire

Washington, D.C. April 24, 2019 - Today, the US Chemical Safety Board released a letter calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to review its existing Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) study to determine the effectiveness of existing regulations as well as the viability of utilizing inherently safer alkylation technologies in petroleum refineries.

CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski said, "In the last 4 years, the CSB has investigated two refinery incidents where an explosion elevated the threat of a release of HF. Refinery workers and surrounding community residents are rightly concerned about the adequacy of the risk management for the use of hazardous chemicals like HF. The EPA should review its 1993 HF study to ensure the health and safety of communities near petroleum refineries utilizing HF."

HF is a highly toxic chemical that can seriously injure or cause death at a concentration of 30 parts per million (PPM), which is used in about fifty of the U.S.'s approximately 150 refineries, as well as many other industries. In a refinery, the chemical is used as a catalyst in the creation of a blending agent for high octane gasoline. In both of its investigations, the CSB conducted a public hearing in which members of the surrounding communities expressed their concerns about the adequacy of the risk management strategies for the use of HF and the effectiveness of community notification procedures in the event of a catastrophic release.

Kulinowski said, "The EPA is the appropriate agency to assess the adequacy of risk management for the use of chemicals like HF. Refiners, their workforce and communities that surround the refineries need assurances that the risk plans are adequate to prevent a catastrophic release."

LINK TO LETTER: http://www.idevmail.net/link.aspx?l=3&d=86&mid=414620&m=2008

Apr 17, 2019

The rise of Candida auris embodies a serious and growing public health threat: drug-resistant germs.

(NewYorkTimes) Last May, an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn branch of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed that he was infected with a newly discovered germ as deadly as it was mysterious. Doctors swiftly isolated him in the intensive care unit.

The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.

Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed "urgent threats."

Read full: NewYorkTimes

Apr 12, 2019

Post Fukushima - 23 countries still have bans on food imports from Japan because of the nuclear incident.

In 2015, the Japanese government filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization.

Japan said all the seafood it ships is safe because it meets strict standards on radioactive substances.

Japan called South Korea's actions unfair and discriminatory.

A WTO dispute panel supported Japan in February last year and recommended South Korea correct its restrictions.

South Korea appealed that decision.

According to Japan's Agriculture Ministry, a total of 23 countries and territories still have bans on food imports from Japan because of the nuclear incident.

Source:

Apr 10, 2019

U.S. Green Building Council Launches LEED v4.1

On April 2,  the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that the new version of the LEED green building program – LEED v4.1 – is now available for cities, communities and homes. According to USGBS, LEED v4.1 certification recognizes leadership by emphasizing performance monitoring, fully integrated design, social equity and human health factors.

Green building standards and codes contain specific restrictions and indoor air quality requirements for paint, coatings, adhesives, and sealants. LEED is one of the most prominent green building standards, alongside the International Green Construction Code, also known as the International Code Council (IgCC). Although LEED is the most dominant rating system in the United States, there is growing competition among rating systems, heightened by an interest in environmentally-friendly building materials. The implementation of these standards by jurisdictions and individuals are driving down volatile organic compound (VOC) limits. There are further efforts toward mandatory emissions testing for interior products to improve indoor air quality and the restriction of chemicals used in building materials.

The updated LEED v4.1, builds on new methodologies for measuring building performance. This includes changes to the Material and Resources (MR) categories and the Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) categories. The VOC Content standards for adhesives and sealants were updated to the most recent South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 1168. Points for low-emitting materials are now awarded on a scale based on the number of product categories that meet the requirements. The emission evaluation requirement for Paints, Coatings, Adhesives, and Sealants has been reduced to 75% from 90%. There have also been weighting changes for how environmental product declarations are counted under the new v4.1.  These are a few of the changes made under the new rating system which will impact how member companies can maximize LEED credits to their products. The smaller green building standard WELL, has released WELL V2 the Association will continue to track the standard and comment when applicable. The intent of this update was to more align with LEED where possible.

For the residential market, LEED v4.1 combines the familiar and relevant aspects from four previously-existing LEED for homes rating systems (LEED for Low-rise homes, LEED for Midrise Homes, LEED for Core and Shell and LEED for New Construction) to deliver three rating systems – LEED v4.1 Residential: New Single-family homes, LEED v4.1 Residential: New Multifamily homes and LEED v4.1 New Multifamily homes core and shell. According the USGBC, the updated rating system is designed to make the decision to implement LEED easier for residential projects and revitalize the council's approach to the housing market.

For the LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities rating systems, LEED v4.1 expands on the earlier performance based approach to deliver a comprehensive framework to support plan, design, operation and performance management phases of both new and existing cities and communities. The rating systems align with all the UN Sustainable Development Goals and incorporate leadership standards and best practices from complementary systems, like the previously integrated STAR Community Rating System, as well as the PEERTRUEEDGE and SITES programs. According to USGBC, More than 90 cities and communities around the world, representing more than 45 million people, are LEED-certified based on several factors, including water efficiency, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, materials and resources, quality of life, innovation and regional priorities.

Update: Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule

In response to a number of Supreme Court cases that have complicated what constitutes WOTUS, or the "waters of the United States," the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers pursued a rulemaking during 2014 and 2015 to revise the regulatory definition of WOTUS. In May 2015, EPA released the final WOTUS rule which disregarded many concerns expressed by industry, including ACA. The 2015 WOTUS rule gave the federal government jurisdiction over some of the smallest waterways in the country, including authority over smaller bodies of water that EPA doesn't already regulate. Since promulgation, the 2015 WOTUS rule was subject to extensive litigation leading up to the eventual stay of the 2015 rule by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

On February 28, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13778 which directed EPA and the Army Corps to review and rescind or revise the 2015 WOTUS rule. As a result, EPA and the Army Corps initiated a comprehensive, two-step process intended to repeal (step one) and revise (step two) the definition of WOTUS.

Since then, the agencies issued three rulemakings pertaining to step one of the process that attempt to: (1) repeal the 2015 WOTUS definition, (2) recodify of the pre-2015 WOTUS definition and regulation, and (3) delay the effective date of the 2015 WOTUS rule to provide additional time and regulatory certainty while the agencies complete their two-step process. These efforts were met with legal action by various entities, though, and several district courts ruled that the agencies did not follow proper procedures to delay implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule. On March 8, 2019, the Trump administration abandoned its bid to use the courts to delay implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule. This means that the 2015 WOTUS rule will remain in effect for the foreseeable future in more than 20 states across the country (the other states do not have to follow the 2015 rule because of prior legal rulings in their jurisdictions). Additionally, on March 26, a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio didn't grant an injunction sought by Ohio and Tennessee that would have effectively nullified the 2015 WOTUS definition. According to the judge, those states couldn't substantiate claims that the rule's enforcement would cause irreparable harm to the states.

Despite this setback, EPA and the Army Corps still intend to proceed with their two-step process to repeal and revise the definition of WOTUS through regulatory action. The agencies' June 2018 proposed rule to repeal the 2015 WOTUS rule in its entirety and recodify the pre-2015 regulation is still slated to be finalized sometime in mid-2019. Also, in anticipation of this final rule, EPA and the Army Corps published a proposed rule in February 2019 that formally initiated step two of their process which revises the definition of WOTUS. Of note, the agencies are proposing a baseline concept that "waters of the United States" are waters within the ordinary meaning of the term, such as oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands, and that not all waters are "waters of the United States."


EPA Publishes List of 40 Chemicals for Prioritization Review under Amended TSCA

On March 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its list of 40 candidate chemicals for high and low priority under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The list designates 20 high priority and 20 low priority candidates. Several of the high priority chemicals are used in the manufacture of paints, coatings, sealants or adhesives.

EPA must complete the 9-month prioritization process and begin risk evaluations by December 22, 2019.

Under the amended TSCA and related implementing regulations, EPA is required to prioritize 20 chemical substances as candidates for designation as High Priority Substances for risk evaluation and 20 chemical substances as candidates for designation as Low Priority Substances for risk evaluation.

EPA is accepting comments and information germane to the chemical substances through June 19, 2019. EPA is seeking information about the following:

  • The chemical substance's hazard and exposure potential;
  • The chemical substance's persistence and bioaccumulation;
  • Potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations which the submitter believes are relevant to the prioritization;
  • Whether there is any storage of the chemical substance near significant sources of drinking water, including the storage facility location and the nearby drinking water source(s);
  • The chemical substance's conditions of use or significant changes in conditions of use, including information regarding trade names;
  • The chemical substance's production volume or significant changes in production volume; and
  • Any other information relevant to the potential risks of the chemical substance that might be relevant to the designation of the chemical substance's priority for risk evaluation.

Update: AIM VOC Rulemakings in New York, Colorado and California

Colorado and New York are proposing to adopt the Northeast Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) Phase II model rule limiting volatile organic compound (VOC) content for AIM (Architectural and Industrial Maintenance) coatings. In addition, the OTC states will likely begin working on the OTC Phase III AIM model rule in the next year or two, which will be based on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) AIM Suggested Control Measure (SCM) that is likely to be adopted in May 2019.

On Jan. 11, 2019, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment proposed to adopt the OTC Phase II AIM model rule for Colorado. Given that Colorado is currently complying with the federal AIM Rule limits combined with potential climate concerns with the mountainous portions of the state, ACA suggested Colorado instead adopt the more reasonable OTC Phase I Aim model rule limits, or at least first adopt the OTC Phase I limits and then phase in the OTC Phase II limits after two years. Notably, Colorado intends to adopt the AIM rule in July 2019 and include a May 1, 2019 compliance date in its final rule. ACA typically requests at least a one-year compliance date to allow manufacturers and users to prepare for the new limits.

On March 6, 2019, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) also proposed to adopt the OTC II AIM model rule. However, the NYSDEC is also proposing to potentially eliminate the small container exemption and provide only a two-year sell through; every other AIM rule includes at least a three-year sell through period. ACA is preparing comments for NYSDEC's comment deadline of May 20. The department will conduct public hearings on its proposal on May 6, 13 and 14.

As aforementioned, CARB is scheduled to adopt a new AIM coatings SCM in May 2019. The SCM is important since the various California Air Districts will use it to develop their future AIM rule revisions. In addition, the OTC states will likely utilize the SCM in the development of the OTC Phase III AIM model rule in the next year or so.

Apr 9, 2019

A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy

" In the United States, two million people contract resistant infections annually, and 23,000 die from them, according to the official C.D.C. estimate. That number was based on 2010 figures; more recent estimates from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine put the death toll at 162,000. Worldwide fatalities from resistant infections are estimated at 700,000."

Last May, an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn branch of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed that he was infected with a newly discovered germ as deadly as it was mysterious. Doctors swiftly isolated him in the intensive care unit.

The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.

Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed "urgent threats."

...Tests showed it was everywhere in his room, so invasive that the hospital needed special cleaning equipment and had to rip out some of the ceiling and floor tiles to eradicate it.

"Everything was positive — the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump," said Dr. Scott Lorin, the hospital's president. "The mattress, the bed rails, the canister holes, the window shades, the ceiling, everything in the room was positive."

C. auris is so tenacious, in part, because it is impervious to major antifungal medications, making it a new example of one of the world's most intractable health threats: the rise of drug-resistant infections.

Read full at NY Times:


Apr 8, 2019

Giant Daily Drivers and Cellphones have U.S. Pedestrian Deaths Still Climbing

According to the National Highway Association, 6,227 people were killed on the road last year, more than any year since 1990. The upward trend in pedestrian deaths started at the beginning of this decade and shows no signs of slowing down. Bigger cars and distractions from cellphones are two leading causes of this growing problem.

Read full at:

Apr 5, 2019

OSHA's Occupational Medicine Resident Elective

The Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing (OOMN) in OSHA serves as an instructional site for current resident physicians who are receiving training in occupational and environmental medicine, general preventive medicine, and aerospace medicine. At any time throughout the year, OOMN may host up to four resident physicians for an eight week training rotation. Future occupational and preventive medicine leaders have the opportunity to fully participate in OOMN activities and will also receive an organized series of lectures and presentations on the clinical and administrative aspects of occupational medicine. OOMN staff members have participated on the Residency Advisory Committees of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, The University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Apr 3, 2019

OSHA’s new webpage Available on Radiation Emergencies

SHA's new webpage on radiation emergency preparedness is intended to help protect the health and safety of workers during situations ranging from small, isolated incidents in laboratories to potentially catastrophic radiation releases at nuclear facilities. The webpage also provides resources on health and safety planning, medical monitoring and dosimetry, and other relevant topics.
OSHA:

Apr 2, 2019

DOE Announces Up to $26.1 Million to Advance Hydropower and Marine Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons announced up to $26.1 million in funding to drive innovative industry-led technology solutions to advance the marine and hydrokinetics (MHK) industry and increase hydropower's ability to serve as a flexible grid resource. The Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) will select projects that aim to increase affordability of hydropower and marine energy, strengthen U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, and build on Department-wide energy storage initiatives to improve the capability of technologies to deliver value to the grid.    

"This opportunity is critical to advancing new water technologies that harness energy from our nation's rivers and oceans," said Assistant Secretary Simmons. "By supporting early-stage research and development, these next-generation water power technologies have the potential to reduce energy costs for American consumers and significantly increase the reliability of our electricity system."

Area of Interest One: Hydropower Operational Flexibility

Hydropower has significant capabilities for flexible operation, making it well-positioned to contribute to system reliability and resilience in an evolving electricity system. Today, the complexity of multi-use constraints affects many hydropower plants, and together with the wide variability in plant configurations across the fleet, understanding the fleet's potential for flexibility is a formidable challenge. This area seeks to quantify the flexible capabilities of hydropower and advance operational strategies to increase such flexibility to better serve an evolving grid.

  • Area of Interest (AOI) 1a, Quantify Hydropower Capabilities for Operational Flexibility, seeks a comprehensive framework to catalog and account for the different types of flexibility that hydropower plants can provide.

  • AOI 1b, Operational Strategies for Increasing Hydropower Flexibility, seeks research and development of operational strategies that enable enhanced provision of flexibility services at individual hydropower plants or combinations of plants within the fleet.

Area of Interest Two: Low Head Hydropower and In-Stream Hydrokinetic Technologies

Low-head hydropower and hydrokinetic river current energy converter (CEC) technologies have the potential to generate a significant amount of electricity from the nation's rivers and to support the resiliency of the U.S. electricity system. The WPTO will provide funding in this area of interest to projects that focus on the development of two types of technologies – standard modular hydropower (SMH) and current energy converters (CEC). CEC technologies extract kinetic energy from rivers without the need for a dam or diversion, whereas SMH technologies use dams or other structures with turbines to create head — differences in water elevation — and generate power.

  • AOI 2a Modular Technologies for Low-Head Hydropower Applications will focus on the design and production of entirely new standardized, modular hydropower technologies for low-head applications (30 feet or less).

  • AOI 2b, Modular Technologies for River Current Energy Converter Applications focuses on developing and testing CEC systems that can be efficiently deployed and retrieved without the need for significant port or on-site infrastructure and specialized vessels.

Area of Interest Three: Advancing Wave Energy Device Design

Marine renewable energy technologies, like wave energy converters (WEC), are still at early stages of development and require thorough design, prototyping, and testing before deployment. The WPTO will provide funding in this area of interest to projects that will drive performance improvements in WEC devices in preparation for open-water testing where wave energy has the greatest energy capture potential and lowest unit costs.

Area of Interest Four: Marine Energy Centers Research Infrastructure Upgrades

Advancing technologies towards commercialization requires ongoing testing at all levels of technological development. The limited availability of testing facilities with proper infrastructure equipped to create real-world wave and current environments to fully characterize their performance and reliability of prototypes is a challenge for the industry. The WPTO will provide funding in this area of interest to projects funded under this area of interest to upgrade necessary infrastructure at existing National Marine Renewable Energy Centers (NMRECs) to enable broader industry access and reduce technical barriers to incubating advanced marine and hydrokinetic technologies.

For more information on water power research, development, and testing please visit EERE Water Power Technology Office's website.

Apr 1, 2019

Trader Joe’s Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics Nationwide Following Customer Petition

By Madison Dapcevich

As the world suffocates from its plastic addiction, a growing number of businesses are stepping up to the plate to reduce their plastic waste. Most recently, Trader Joe's announced that it will be taking steps to cut back on plastic and other packaging waste after a petition launched by Greenpeace harnessed nearly 100,000 signatures.

At the end of last year, the company announced several improvements geared towards making packaging more sustainable in an effort to eliminate more than 1 million pounds of plastic from stores. Already, the retailer has stopped offering single-use plastic carryout bags nationwide and is replacing plastic produce bags and Styrofoam meat trays with biodegradable and compostable options.

"As a neighborhood grocery store, we feel it is important for us to be the great neighbor our customers deserve. Part of that means better managing our environmental impact," Kenya Friend-Daniel, public relations director for Trader Joe's, told EcoWatch in an email. "As we recently shared with our customers, we are working to reduce the amount of packaging in our stores and while we have made a number of positive changes in this space, the world is ongoing."

Each year, enough plastic is thrown away to circle the earth a whopping four times. Despite that, just one-quarter of plastics produced in the U.S. is recycled even though recycling plastic takes 88 percent less energy than making it from raw materials. If just three-quarters of plastics were recycled, the Recycling Coalition of Utah says people could save an estimated 1 billion gallons of oil and 44 million cubic yards of landfill space annually.

"Every minute of every single day the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters our oceans. Not only are these plastics hurting or killing marine animals, they are impacting all of us through our seafood, sea salt, tap water, and even the air we breathe," Greenpeace U.S.A. plastics campaigner David Pinsky told EcoWatch. "We know that we can't recycle our way out of this crisis, as only 9 percent of the plastics ever made have actually been recycled."

In recent years, a number of companies have taken the lead in reducing plastic waste, including United Kingdom food retailer A.S.D.A., who plans to remove single-use cups and cutlery this year. McDonald's says that 100 percent of its packaging will come from renewable, recycled or certified sustainable sources within the next seven years while water company Evian plans to go carbon neutral and plastic free by 2020. It's a solid start in battling the so-called "war on plastics," one that Trader Joe's says is just a small part of its "never-ending work."

Indeed, plastic has been found on every continent – including Antarctica – and at the bottom of the world's deepest waters.

"For far too long, corporations have deflected blame and made the issue of plastics about individual responsibility, but it's time for the world's largest corporations and retailers to show some accountability. The only way we are going to tackle this crisis is by pressuring corporations and governments to move away from throwaway plastics for good, and toward systems of reuse," said Pinsky.

Mar 21, 2019

EPA Identifies 40 Chemicals to Prioritize for Risk Evaluation

WASHINGTON  — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a list of 40 chemicals to begin the prioritization process – the initial step in a new process of reviewing chemicals currently in commerce under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

"EPA continues to demonstrate its commitment to the successful and timely implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "We are delivering on the promise of Lautenberg to better assess and manage existing chemicals in commerce and provide greater certainty and transparency to the American public."

"Initiating a chemical for high or low prioritization does not mean EPA has determined it poses unreasonable risk or no risk to human health or the environment; it means we are beginning the prioritization process set forth in Lautenberg," said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

The Agency is releasing this list in order to provide the public an opportunity to submit relevant information such as the uses, hazards, and exposure for these chemicals. A docket has been opened for each of the 40 chemicals. The publication of this list in the Federal Register initiates a 90-day public comment period. Publication also activates a statutory requirement for EPA to complete the prioritization process in the next nine to 12 months, allowing EPA to designate 20 chemicals as high priority and 20 chemicals as low priority by December 2019.

TSCA requires EPA to publish this list of 40 chemicals to begin the prioritization process to designate 20 chemicals as "high-priority" for subsequent risk evaluation and to designate 20 chemicals as "low-priority," meaning that risk evaluation is not warranted at this time.

One of the chemicals identified for high-priority evaluation is formaldehyde, a chemical that has been studied by EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program for many years.

"Moving forward evaluating formaldehyde under the TSCA program does not mean that the formaldehyde work done under IRIS will be lost," added Dunn. "In fact, the work done for IRIS will inform the TSCA process. By using our TSCA authority EPA will be able to take regulatory steps; IRIS does not have this authority," she noted.

When prioritization is complete, chemicals designated as high priority will begin a 3-year risk evaluation process to determine if the chemical, under the conditions of use, presents an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment. The designation of a chemical as a low priority means that further risk evaluation is not warranted at this time.

The 20 high priority candidate chemicals include seven chlorinated solvents, six phthalates, four flame retardants, formaldehyde, a fragrance additive, and a polymer pre-curser. EPA has received a manufacturer request for a risk evaluation of two additional phthalates and is currently determining whether the request contains the minimum needed elements to proceed under EPA's regulations. If complete, EPA has 15 days to provide notice of such a request.

The 20 low priority candidate chemicals have been selected from EPA's Safer Chemicals Ingredients List, which includes chemicals that have been evaluated and determined to meet EPA's safer choice criteria.

Mar 18, 2019

Preventing Illness from Silica Dust

Workers in construction and manufacturing jobs are often exposed to respirable crystalline silica, which is released when cutting or drilling into stone and concrete. Breathing silica dust is dangerous and can lead to serious and often fatal illnesses.

There are steps employers must take to protect workers by reducing exposure to dust. These steps include using controls like wet methods and ventilation. Respirators can be used, but only if other methods are not protective enough.

The following resources provide guidance for how employers can protect workers from hazardous exposures to silica dust.


Photo: Wet methods and ventilation can reduce dust exposures.
Image courtesy National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Resources

Silica Safety Resources for Stone Fabricators – CDPH web page

Respirable Crystalline Silica Standards – Cal/OSHA web page

Work Safely with Silica – CPWR website

Silica topic page – NIOSH


Mar 6, 2019

Attorneys Implore Judge to Keep Sailors’ Fukushima Case in U.S.

SAN DIEGO (CN) – Former Senator John Edwards and his co-counsel implored a federal judge Wednesday not to dismiss claims from U.S. service members who say they were exposed to radiation while aboard U.S. ships sent to render aid after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima, Japan.

"We have 500 sailors who are badly hurt and some of them are dead. We have not been able to ask them a single question under oath … at the end of the day these folks just want their day in court," Edwards told U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.

But Sammartino said at the beginning of the nearly three-hour court hearing she was inclined to dimiss the claims against Tokyo Electric Power Co. – or TEPCO – and General Electric for lack of personal jurisdiction.

U.S. sailors filed a class action in the Southern District of California in 2012 claiming radiation they were exposed to following the meltdown of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan while aboard U.S. vessels on a humanitarian mission has caused cancer, brain tumors, birth defects in their children and other rare health problems. Some have even died, according to their attorneys.

If U.S. courts dismiss the two related cases – Cooper et al. v. TEPCO et al. and Bartel et al. v. Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc. et al. – the sailors could bring their claims in Japan under its Compensation for Nuclear Damage Act.

Sammartino did clarify throughout the hearing that she would not waste her or the attorneys' time by holding a court hearing if she wasn't going to consider their arguments.

Class attorney Charles Bonner of Sausalito, California implored the judge not to dismiss the litigation, noting that attorneys have not been able to conduct discovery in the case, and that the defendants' motions to dismiss were "based on legal arguments," not facts.

Bonner suggested class counsel needed to obtain contracts between GE, which designed and helped to maintain the nuclear reactors for 40 years in Fukushima, and TEPCO, which operated the plant. Bonner said the contracts likely contain a choice-of-law provision that would indicate whether the parties would agree to litigate in the U.S. or Japan.

"Our sailors have already been here five years. They need some resolution in this court," Bonner said.

TEPCO attorney Gregory Stone of Munger Tolles  & Olson in Los Angeles said the case has seen new developments in the few years since Sammartino found it should not be dismissed – a decision affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.

Those new developments include three times as many cases filed in Japan over the nuclear meltdown, which Stone said "demonstrates the Japanese interest in resolving these claims."

TEPCO has paid 8.163 trillion yen, or $76 billion – one percent of Japan's total GDP – to resolve claims stemming from the disaster, "a huge amount of money for a government to designate to one incident," Stone said.

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NEW Anthropologist-led FEMA Report on national preparedness

The publication of a new 38-page FEMA Report, Building Cultures of Preparedness, an initiative funded by FEMA Higher Education to present research related to FEMA's new Strategic Plan for 2018-2022, "Building a Culture of Preparedness."

The report is the first FEMA work to be authored by environmental and cultural anthropologists, joined by practitioners and academic colleagues. The majority of authors are members of the Culture and Disaster Action Network (CADAN) organized to bring local and cultural knowledge into disaster policy and practice.


Preparedness strategies to date have increased first responder and government capabilities, but individual and community progress towards enhanced levels of preparedness has been limited. Authors of the new report suggest that achieving the 2018–2022 Strategic Plan's vision of enhanced preparedness requires a bottom-up approach to close these gaps.

Highlighting the vast diversity of American communities and households, the report demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all strategy is not well-suited to the demands of variable and distinctive environments – a national Culture of Preparedness will have to be built one community at a time. Preparedness is a local matter, requiring solutions tailored to different cultural contexts and embraced by communities. Achieving the reality of a resilient nation as envisioned in the Strategic Plan requires us to think in the plural, building "Culture(s) of Preparedness."

The report lays out four Guiding Principles for building Cultures of Preparedness followed by practical strategies and examples as well as successful outcomes in real-world settings.

The report's authors include:
Katherine E. Browne, (lead author) Colorado State University / CADAN
Laura Olson, (lead author) Georgetown University, Emergency & Disaster Management Program / CADAN
Jenny Hegland, Jenny Hegland Consulting
Ana-Marie Jones, Interpro Inc. 
Julie Maldonado, Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) / CADAN
Elizabeth Marino, Oregon State University / CADAN Keely Maxwell, Environmental Protection Agency / CADAN
Eric Stern, University of Albany-SUNY, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cyber-Security
Wendy Walsh, FEMA Emergency Management Higher Education Program
 

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Feb 27, 2019

New HHS-sponsored research provides new tool and updated guidance on mass chemical decontamination

More than a million first responders and emergency managers in the United States now have ascience-based chemical decontamination decision tool and updated guidance on how best to decontaminate a massive number of people after chemical exposure.

The decision-support tool and guidance, as well as the scientific studies on which they are based, were completed under a contract between the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This second edition of the guidance, called Primary Response Incident Scene Management or PRISM, incorporates new scientific evidence on emergency self-decontamination, hair decontamination, the interactions of chemicals with hair, and the effects of a combined decontamination strategy referred to as the "triple protocol".

PRISM introduces the 'triple protocol' comprised of disrobing and conducting dry decontamination, wet decontamination using the ladder pipe system with high volume/low pressure water deluges from fire trucks, and technical (or specialist) decontamination. The clinical research showed that, taken together, the three steps of the triple protocol remove 99.9 percent of chemical contamination.

The latest clinical evidence indicates that the triple protocol approach to decontamination is faster and more effective than traditional methods for treating chemically contaminated patients. The research also demonstrated that immediate "dry" decontamination using any available absorbent material can be highly effective as a stand-alone procedure when performed under the instruction of first responders, removing up to 99 percent of contamination.

The guidance suggests that emergency plans should address how the community will take specific preparedness actions. One important action would be to make enough absorbent materials available on emergency response vehicles so that emergency dry decontamination can begin as quickly as possible. Plans also should include how the community will provide washcloths and towels for use in wet decontamination, and blankets or temporary clothes to protect patients from hypothermia afterwards. Hypothermia would be of particular concern in the winter in colder areas.

To further aid first responders and emergency managers, experts from BARDA, ASPR and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health collaborated with the University of Hertfordshire researchers to devise a decision-support tool called ASPIRE or the Algorithm Suggesting Proportionate Incident Response Engagement. The tool helps responders determine which decontamination approaches will work best in a given situation.

ASPIRE and the guidance are integrated into the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) web-based resource created by ASPR and NLM as part of a suite of preparedness and emergency response tools that includes the CHEMM Intelligent Syndromes Tool (CHEMM-IST), Dermal Exposure Risk Management and Logic for Emergency Preparedness and Response (DERMaL eToolkit), and now ASPIRE. The guidance and ASPIRE also are incorporated into the latest edition of the WISER CHEMM mobile app, which is expected to be available in the coming days.

The PRISM guidance splits its information into three online volumes. The first volume explains the technical and scientific evidence, identifies capability gaps, and describes the corresponding rationale which underpins the revised incident response process. The second volume focuses on the practical aspects of the incident response with an accompanying rationale but no supporting technical information. This volume is intended for use in developing training and exercises. The third volume summarizes only practical and critical elements of the response process.  This volume is intended to be a quick resource for use during an incident response.

The guidance can be found at www.medicalcountermeasures.gov.

EPA Releases First Major Update to Chemicals List in 40 Years

PAINT.ORG On Feb. 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an update of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory listing the chemicals that are actively being manufactured, processed and imported in the United States. A key result of the update is that less than half of the total number of chemicals on the current TSCA Inventory – 47 percent or 40,655 of the 86,228 chemicals – are currently active in commerce. It will be illegal for companies to manufacture, import or mix chemicals not designated as "active in commerce." EPA's TSCA Inventory Reset rule established the process by which substances on the TSCA Inventory are designated as "active" or "inactive." Now that the TSCA Inventory has been "reset," no one is permitted to manufacture or process an inactive chemical substance without first submitting a notification to EPA.

The final inventory will be in effect on May 20, 2019. As of the effective date, companies must submit a Form B notification prior to manufacturing or processing a chemical with an inactive designation.  In the interim period, EPA will accept any corrections to the inventory also on a Form B submission.  EPA has not provided information about enforcement after the 90-day phase in period.

 As recently as 2018, the TSCA Inventory showed over 86,000 chemicals available for commercial production and use in the United States. Until this update, it was not known which of these chemicals on the TSCA Inventory were in commerce. Under amended TSCA – The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21 Century Act – EPA was required to update the list and designate which chemicals are active or inactive in U.S. commerce.

More than 80 percent (32,898) of the chemicals in commerce have identities that are not Confidential Business Information (CBI), increasing public access to additional information about them. For the less than 20 percent of the chemicals in commerce that have confidential identities, EPA is developing a rule outlining how the Agency will review and substantiate all CBI claims seeking to protect the specific chemical identities of substances on the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory.

From August 11, 2017 through October 5, 2018, chemical manufacturers and processors provided information on which chemicals were manufactured, imported or processed in the United States over the past 10 years, the period ending June 21, 2016. The agency received more than 90,000 responses, which represents a significant reporting effort by manufacturers, importers and processors.

Next Batch of High Priority Chemicals

EPA is expected to publish its next list of 20 high priority candidate chemicals by March 22, 2019. EPA must decide at least 10 of these from the remaining TSCA workplan chemicals, although it will probably select more than 10, if not all 20, from the TSCA workplan. EPA will select chemicals like the first 10, such as solvents or pigments. Several workplan chemicals are relevant to paints, coatings, sealants and adhesives, as noted in the following table.

TSCA-list

ACA will remain engaged with EPA as it considers chemicals from its TSCA workplan.

Source: PAINT.ORG

Feb 12, 2019

OSHA Signs Charter for Working Group to Improve Chemical Facility Security and Safety

The Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency recently created and signed the Chemical Facility Security and Safety Working Group Charter. The working group, which includes other federal agency representatives, was established by an Executive Order in response to several chemical facility catastrophes. The charter reaffirms the group's commitment to work with stakeholders to address safety and security at chemical facilities, and reduce risks associated with hazardous chemicals to workers and communities. For more information, visit OSHA's Chemical Facility and Security webpage.  

New FAQs Available on Controlling Silica in General Industry

OSHA posted new frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the standard for respirable crystalline silica in general industry. OSHA developed the FAQs in consultation with industry and union stakeholders to provide guidance to employers and workers on the standard's requirements, including exposure assessments, regulated areas, methods of compliance, and communicating silica hazards to workers. Visit OSHA's silica standard for general industry webpage for more information and additional compliance assistance resources.  

OSHA Issues Final Rule to Protect Privacy of Workers

OSHA has issued a final rule that eliminates the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to submit information electronically from OSHA forms 300 and 301 to OSHA each year. These establishments are still required to submit information electronically from OSHA Form 300A. The final rule helps avoid the risk of publicly disclosing sensitive employee information. The rule does not alter an employer's duty to maintain the OSHA forms and employee records. The deadline for electronic submissions of 2018 data from the OSHA Form 300A is March 2, 2019. For more information, read the news release.  

Jan 16, 2019

House Passes 2-year Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Reauthorization Bill, Senate to take up Bill

(paint.org) On Jan. 8, a bill to reauthorize for two years the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 414-3 vote. H.R. 251.  Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Extension Act, will now be taken up by the Senate, where the legislation is on the chamber's legislative calendar as the CFATS authorization sunset date of Jan. 19, 2019 speedily approaches.

ACA supports reauthorization, recently urging Congress to act swiftly to provide for a multi-year extension. CFATS is an important program aimed at preventing chemicals from being stolen, diverted, sabotaged, or deliberately released by terrorists or other bad actors. DHS CFATS regulations were issued as a final rule in November 2007; however, DHS implements the CFATS program under a variety of short-term authorizations by Congress.

Under CFATS, chemical facilities possessing more than a threshold amount of specific explosive, toxic, or other "chemicals of interest" determined by DHS, are required to complete a "top-screen," notifying DHS that they possess such chemicals on site. Once a facility submits its top-screen, DHS can direct the facility to submit a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA). The SVA provides the basis for DHS to assign the facility to one of four tiers: Tiers 1 and 2 being the highest risk, and Tiers 3 and 4 being the lowest. Tier assignment triggers a requirement to submit a Site Security Plan (SSP) or an Alternative Security Plan (ASP) to DHS for authorization and approval.

CFATS currently covers approximately 3,400 chemical facilities, which have been assessed to present a risk of terrorist attack or exploitation.

Jan 2, 2019

OSHA Proposes Revised Beryllium Standard for General Industry

OSHA issued a proposed rule on Dec. 10 to revise the beryllium standard for general industry. The proposed changes are designed to clarify the safety standard and improve compliance. The proposed rule would amend selected paragraphs of the standard, and also replace Appendix A, Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by Feb. 9, 2019. For more information, read the news release.  

751 viewsDec 20, 2018, 01:54pm 'Groundhog Day' Work Fatalities: How They Died In 2017 Tells Us How To Survive In 2019

(Forbes)The "employee experience," as we're currently branding it, covers a lot of ground. Individualization, compensation, work/life balance, company mission, leadership transparency, recognition, teamwork, accomplishment - all these are essential components of the unwritten social contract employers have with their workers.

But there's one aspect that outranks them all: safety. When life or limb are lost, nothing else in the employee experience matters. A company has no responsibility more important than the protection of people's lives.

Once each year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a report on worker safety as essential as it is troubling. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries aggregates all the on-the-job deaths in the country. The report with data from 2017 was released on Tuesday.

The latest census is remarkably consistent with the previous reports. People continue to die in numbers, proportions and circumstances much as they did the year before, and the year before that and the year before that. There are a lot of Groundhog Days in how we're getting killed on the job.

The one potential silver lining in the fatality census is that, because of the consistency year to year, the most recent report is both 2017 post-mortem and 2019 pre-mortem. If you want to know how you or your employees will die next year, and prevent those tragedies, spend some time understanding how employees died last year.


Vehicles and heights remain among the most common hazards for fatal workplace accidents.DATA SOURCE: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

The same hazards keep killing workers. What's most likely to kill someone is not a trick question. It's an open-book exam. Vehicles (on and off the road), heights (falling from them or being stuck by something falling from above), electricity and getting caught in machinery killed a high percentage of workers in 2017 just as they killed high percentages in previous years. Known hazards killing workers in predictable ways is a textbook definition of complacency. 

Deaths and the fatality rate both declined, but not encouragingly so. The number of people who died on the job dropped from 5,190 to 5,147, less than a 1% decrease, but easing a general upward trend since 2009. The rate dropped from 3.6 per 100,000 "full-time equivalent workers" to 3.5. (One person working full-time or two people working a half schedule equal one FTE.) The decline is equally slight when homicides, suicides and overdoses are subtracted, from 4,182 in 2016 to 4,142 in 2017. The decline was too modest and the repeating pattern of fatalities is too persistent. We're failing to crack the code on preventing these preventable deaths. 

Fishing, logging, piloting and roofing remain among the most dangerous occupations, according to the 2017 BLS fatality census.DATA SOURCE: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

Each profession presents a different risk profile, but those, too, are largely predictable from one year to another.  Commercial fishing eclipsed logging in 2017 as the most dangerous profession. The 2014, 2015 and 2016 reports showed logging as the civilian occupation with the highest rate of fatal accidents. But logging deaths dropped from 135.9 per 100,000 in 2016 to 84.3 per 1000,000 in 2017. Fishing saw the fatality rate jump from 86 to 99.8 per 100,000 during the same period. It's too early to say whether either was a fluke.

Read on at: (Forbes)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/roddwagner/2018/12/20/groundhog-day-work-fatalities-how-they-died-in-2017-tells-us-how-to-survive-in-2019/

Dec 19, 2018

Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure

The Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure (Action Plan) is a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms through collaboration among federal agencies and with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents. The Action Plan will help federal agencies work strategically and collaboratively to reduce exposure to lead with the aim of ultimately improving children's health.

The Action Plan is the product of the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children (Task Force). The Task Force is the focal point for federal collaboration to promote and protect children's environmental health. Established in 1997 by Executive Order 13045, the Task Force comprises 17 federal departments and offices. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) co-chair the Task Force. The Senior Staff Steering Committee (Steering Committee) is its operational arm.

The Action Plan has four goals with key priorities and objectives that seek to reduce harm to children from exposure to lead. By identifying specific goals and actions, federal agencies can prioritize their efforts and monitor progress. The four goals are:
  • Goal 1: Reduce children's exposure to lead sources
  • Goal 2: Identify lead-exposed children and improve their health outcomes
  • Goal 3: Communicate more effectively with stakeholders
  • Goal 4: Support and conduct critical research to inform efforts to reduce lead exposures and related health risks
More information, including a link to the Action Plan, can be found at https://www.epa.gov/lead/federal-action-plan-reduce-childhood-lead-exposure