Jun 10, 2021

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $14.5 Million to Accelerate Deployment of Geothermal Electricity

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $14.5 million to support active field testing of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technologies and techniques within existing wells.  EGS, like all geothermal resources, supplies secure, resilient renewable electricity and heating and cooling that is always-available regardless of weather, and with a small environmental footprint.

The Wells of Opportunity 2021 FOA, solicits the partnership of well owners or operators to help cost-effectively bring more geothermal power online using their existing wells.

There is vast potential for geothermal energy in the United States, but only 3.7 gigawatts electric (GWe) of energy are currently installed. The DOE Geothermal Technologies Office's (GTO) 2019 GeoVision study concludes that with technology improvements, especially in areas relevant to enhanced geothermal systems, geothermal power generation could increase 26-fold from today, representing 60 GWe by 2050.

"This new funding will help us tap into its enormous potential to power millions of homes and businesses and put thousands to work in good-paying clean energy jobs," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. "Making use of the stranded heat beneath our feet and putting idle or underproductive wells to use for power generation will help us transition this important renewable resource closer to widespread deployment."

Read more at:

Jun 7, 2021

Asthma-Safer Cleaning and Disinfecting Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their guidance for when to clean and when to disinfect in non-healthcare facilities. The new guidance emphasizes that when no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in an indoor setting within the last 24 hours, cleaning once a day is enough to keep a facility healthy.

When following this or any cleaning and disinfecting guidance it is important to know that disinfectants and cleaners often contain chemicals that can cause or trigger asthma. 
Worker cleaning a door handle

During May's Asthma Awareness Month, we're highlighting the importance of choosing safer products and cleaning and disinfecting safely. Here are some tips:
  • As indicated in the guidance, disinfect only when necessary. Routine cleaning performed effectively with soap or detergent can substantially reduce virus and bacteria levels on indoor surfaces.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a list of disinfectants that work to kill coronavirus. Choose hydrogen peroxide (without peracetic acid), lactic acid, citric acid, silver, or alcohol-based products whenever possible. These are not known to cause asthma.
  • Use as much ventilation as possible. Open windows if needed.
  • Dilute products properly. Do not make them more concentrated than the labels say.
  • Follow recommendations on the label or the safety data sheet. This may include wearing gloves or goggles.
  • Choose fragrance-free cleaning products.


Work-Related Asthma, Cleaning Products, and Disinfectants – OHB web page

Reminders for Using Disinfectants at Schools and Child Cares (PDF) | Spanish – California Department of Pesticide regulation InfoSheet

Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma – OHB web page

Cleaning for Asthma-Safe Schools (CLASS) – OHB web page

Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP) – OHB website

May 25, 2021

DOE Announces $14.5 Million to Combat Plastics Waste and Pollution

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced an investment of up to $14.5 million for research and development to cut waste and reduce the energy used to recycle single-use plastics like plastic bags, wraps, and films. This funding directed toward plastics recycling technologies advances the DOE's work to address the challenges of plastic waste recycling and support the Biden Administration's efforts to build a clean energy economy and ensure the U.S. reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"For years, single-use plastics have had a detrimental impact on the environment—clogging landfills and polluting our neighborhoods, parks, and beaches," said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "Innovation in plastics recycling technology is a triple win by cutting plastic waste we see in our everyday lives, reducing industrial energy use and resulting emissions, and creating clean manufacturing jobs for American workers."

Read full at:

Apr 27, 2021

FET - Hazardous Waste Webinar May 4, 2021

Hazardous Waste Webinar
May 4, 2021
10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Next Week!

Learn more about recent changes to Wisconsin's hazardous waste management rules, with a focus on the Generator Improvement Rule and what it means to those that generate or handle hazardous waste in Wisconsin.  This webinar will also provide tips for a successful hazardous waste management program, and what to expect when your facility is inspected by the WI DNR.  

Agenda and Registration form visit the FET website at: https://fetinc.org/website/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/5-4-21-Haz-Waste.pdf

Questions can be directed to FET at 262-437-1700 or visit our website at www.fetinc.org.




Analysis finds difficult-to-detect chemicals in mothers and newborns

ACS.ORG - Scientists are able to monitor the health effects of only a few hundred of the roughly 40,000 commercially used chemicals listed in the US Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory. The monitored substances are ones that scientists know how to measure well and can find in the human body.

Now, a study uses a new screening technology to identify potentially toxic chemicals that were previously hard to find in human specimens. The study detected 109 industrial chemicals in the blood of pregnant women and newborns, including 55 chemicals never-before reported in people (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2021, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c05984).

The study authors focused on pregnant women and newborns because prenatal exposure to industrial chemicals can lead to health problems such as reduced IQ and childhood cancers, says Tracey J. Woodruff, director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) at the University of California San Francisco. She and her team collected blood samples from 30 pregnant women and their babies' umbilical cords during delivery. The scientists analyzed the samples using high-resolution mass spectrometry and detected roughly 35,000 chemical features—patterns of chromatographic peaks and retention times—that could correspond to molecules of interest for biomonitoring.

"We wanted to prioritize the chemicals that people are most likely to be exposed to," Woodruff says, so the researchers developed a screening process that winnows down the list of chemical features to a number of suspected toxic chemicals. The process relies on a suite of software tools that allow researchers to compare the mass spectra of the chemicals found in blood to databases of high-production-volume chemicals and libraries of chemical formulas.

The scientists focused on the suspect chemicals that were detected in all the samples and had not been routinely monitored in people. They tentatively identified 109 chemicals found in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, flame retardants, stain repellents, plasticizers, cosmetics, and other consumer products. The team observed that women with higher socioeconomic status had relatively higher exposures to some of the compounds. "That association could be explained by the fact that with higher buying power, you can bring more products containing flame retardants, plasticizers, or stain repellents into your home," says study coauthor Dimitri Panagopoulos Abrahamsson, a chemist at PRHE.

In addition to the 55 chemicals never reported before in people, the researchers detected 42 "mystery chemicals" for which the team derived molecular structures but could find no information on what they were used for or what products they were from, Woodruff says. "This points to gaps in [US Environmental Protection Agency] requirements for industry to identify and report the use of chemicals in consumer products, which limits our ability to understand exposures and health effects," she says.

Please read on from source:


Apr 13, 2021

New study finds toxic chemicals in water systems across the US

(The Hill) More than a third of water samples taken from across the United States had potentially toxic "forever chemicals" at levels above the maximum recommended by experts, according to a new study by Consumer Reports (CR) and the Guardian released Wednesday. 

Potential toxic forever chemicals (PFAS) are human-made chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS (hence the name), that don't break down easily — if at all — and accumulate over time in both the environment and the body. Currently, the government doesn't have an enforceable legal limit to the amount of PFAS in drinking water, but the report used recommendations established by CR scientists and other health experts.

"Americans shouldn't have to navigate bureaucracy and be forced to make significant investments in order to access clean tap water," said Brian Ronholm, CR's director of food policy, in the report.

Read full at (The Hill)

Mar 17, 2021

OSHA Issues New COVID-19 National Emphasis Plan And Interim Enforcement Response Plan

(OSHA) The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued two new documents on March 12, 2021 concerning COVID-19 and workplace enforcement.

The first is a COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing OSHA enforcement efforts on companies with the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.  OSHA also released a news release on the NEP.

In a related action, OSHA has also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize the use of on-site workplace inspections where practical, or a combination of on-site and remote methods. OSHA will only use remote-only inspections if the agency determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely.  Prior enforcement guidance will be rescinded, and the new guidance will remain in effect until further notice.

Read full from OSHA

Mar 11, 2021

The DDT dumping ground off coast of Los Angeles, as many as half a million barrels

"It has been sitting here this whole time, right off our shore."
As many as half a million of these barrels could still be underwater right now, according to interviews and a Times review of historical records, manifests and undigitized research. From 1947 to 1982, the nation's largest manufacturer of DDT — a pesticide so powerful that it poisoned birds and fish — was based in Los Angeles.

An epic Superfund battle later exposed the company's disposal of toxic waste through sewage pipes that poured into the ocean — but all the DDT that was barged out to sea drew comparatively little attention.

Shipping logs show that every month in the years after World War II, thousands of barrels of acid sludge laced with this synthetic chemical were boated out to a site near Catalina and dumped into the deep ocean — so vast that, according to common wisdom at the time, it would dilute even the most dangerous poisons.

Regulators reported in the 1980s that the men in charge of getting rid of the DDT waste sometimes took shortcuts and just dumped it closer to shore. And when the barrels were too buoyant to sink on their own, one report said, the crews simply punctured them.

The ocean buried the evidence for generations, but modern technology can take scientists to new depths. In 2011 and 2013, Valentine and his research team were able to identify about 60 barrels and collect a few samples during brief forays at the end of other research missions.

One sediment sample showed DDT concentrations 40 times greater than the highest contamination recorded at the Superfund site — a federally designated area of hazardous waste that officials had contained to shallower waters near Palos Verdes.

FET is hosting a virtual OSHA HazWoper Refresher on Wednesdays, March 24th & 31st.

The seminar is designed to meet the annual refresher training requirements under OSHA's standards for general industry and the construction industry on hazardous waste operations and emergency response (29 CFR 1910.120 or 29 CFR 1926.65). OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) was promulgated in 1990 to protect workers working at hazardous waste sites, treatment, storage or disposal facilities. Workers responding to an emergency involving the release of a hazardous substance also require current HAZWOPER training.

The eight hour class will help you meet this annual requirement. Kevin O'Brien and John Spahr will be co-chairing the seminar and are looking forward bringing the refresher course to you virtually!

Agenda and Registration form is attached or visit the FET website at: https://fetinc.org/website/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/March-2021-HAZWOPER.pdf
Attachments area

Mar 1, 2021

OSHA Proposes Revisions To Hazard Communications Standard

On February 16, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking to modify its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to conform to the latest revisions to the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).  Among the proposed changes, the rule would add classification categories for aerosols, desensitized explosives, and flammable gases, update select hazard and precautionary statements for clearer and more precise hazard information, and update labeling requirements for small containers and packaged containers that have been released for shipment.  The proposed changes are intended to provide better alignment with other U.S. agencies and international trading partners without lowering overall protections.  OSHA has preliminarily determined that the proposed revisions to the HCS will reduce costs and burdens while improving the quality and consistency of information regarding chemical hazards and associated protective measures.

Comments are due to OSHA by April 19, 2021.

Read the Federal Register notice or file comments here:

Feb 25, 2021

Dynamics of radiocesium in forests after the Fukushima disaster: Concerns and some hope

....Considering the massive threat posed by 137Cs to the health of both humans and ecosystems, it is essential to understand how it has distributed and how much of it still lingers. This is why the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently published a technical document on this specific issue. The fifth chapter of this "Technical Document (TECDOC)," titled "Forest ecosystems," contains an extensive review and analysis of existing data on 137Cs levels in Fukushima prefecture's forests following the FDNPP disaster.

The chapter is based on an led by Assoc. Prof. Shoji Hashimoto from the Forestry and Forestry Products Research Institute, Japan, alongside Dr. Hiroaki Kato from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, Kazuya Nishina from the National Institute of Environmental Studies, Japan, Keiko Tagami from the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Japan, George Shaw from the University of Nottingham, UK, and Yves Thiry from the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (ANDRA), France, and several other experts in Japan and Europe.

The main objective of the researchers was to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of 137Cs flow in forests. The process is far from straightforward, as there are multiple elements and variables to consider. First, a portion of 137Cs-containing rainfall is intercepted by trees, some of which is absorbed, and the rest eventually washes down onto the forest floor. There, a fraction of the radiocesium absorbs into forest litter and the remainder flows into the various soil and mineral layers below. Finally, trees, other plants, and mushrooms incorporate 137Cs through their roots and mycelia, respectively, ultimately making it both into edible products harvested from Fukushima and wild animals.

Considering the complexity of 137Cs flux dynamics, a huge number of field surveys and gatherings of varied data had to be conducted, as well as subsequent theoretical and statistical analyses. Fortunately, the response from the government and academia was considerably faster and more thorough after the FDNPP disaster than in the Chernobyl disaster, as Hashimoto explains: "After the Chernobyl accidents, studies were very limited due to the scarce information provided by the Soviet Union. In contrast, the timely studies in Fukushima have allowed us to capture the early phases of 137Cs flow dynamics; this allowed us to provide the first wholistic understanding of this process in forests in Fukushima."

Read on from source:

Feb 10, 2021

New TSCA Restrictions for 5 PBT Chemicals

LION - TSCA, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA), requires EPA to evaluate the risks of chemicals on the TSCA inventory.

The law also directs EPA to take expedited action to address the risks of some specific substances that had been identified in a previous TSCA Work Plan. These include persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals that EPA believes pose a high or moderate risk to human health of the environment.

EPA recently completed risk evaluations and established new regulatory management programs for five PBT chemical substances. For many of these chemicals, EPA will prohibit all manufacture, import, processing, and distribution in commerce.

All five Final Rules take effect on February 5, 2021.

The five PBT chemicals for which EPA issued new rules are:
  • Pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP)
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD)
  • Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE)
  • Phenol, Isopropylated Phosphate 3:1 (PIP 3:1)
  • 2, 4, 6-tris(tert-butyl)phenol (2, 4, 6-TTBP)
The five new rulemakings illustrate EPA's broad authority under TSCA to restrict how chemicals are made and used in order to protect human health and the environment. Read on for details about new restrictions EPA has put in place for these chemicals.

Please read on at:

EPA Clarifies New PFAS Restrictions

LION - To inform businesses using materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), EPA released the Final Guidance document, clarifying the application of its July 2020 PFAS rule.

The new guide, Compliance Guide for Imported Articles Containing Surface Coatings Subject to the Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylate and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate Chemical Substances Significant New Use Rule, was published on January 19, 2021 to address compliance issues that may arise among US businesses.

Specifically, the guide defines "surface coating," identifies which articles and businesses are subject to the regulation, describes the actions that are required and those that are prohibited, and summarizes the notification requirements of the Significant New Use Rule.

Read the complete PFAS guide now.

By publishing the guide, EPA seeks full compliance with the Significant New Use Rule among chemical and electronics manufacturers, carpet and rug mills, home furnishing wholesalers, and other retailers that may be affected.

Please read full at:

Firefighters Battle an Unseen Hazard: Their Gear Could Be Toxic

NY Times - Every day at work for 15 years, Sean Mitchell, a captain in the Nantucket Fire Department, has put on the bulky suit that protects him from the heat and flames he faces on the job. But last year, he and his team came across unsettling research: Toxic chemicals on the very equipment meant to protect their lives could instead be making them gravely ill.

This week, Captain Mitchell and other members of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the nation's largest firefighters' union, are demanding that union officials take action. They want independent tests of PFAS, the chemicals in their gear, and for the union to rid itself of sponsorships from equipment makers and the chemical industry. In the next few days, delegates representing the union's more than 300,000 members are expected to vote on the measure — a first.

"We're exposed to these chemicals every day," Captain Mitchell said. "And the more I looked into it, the more it felt like the only people who were saying these chemicals were safe were the people who make it."

The demands come as the safety of firefighters has become an urgent concern amid the worsening effects of climate change, which bring rising temperatures that prime the nation for increasingly devastating fires. In October, two dozen firefighters in California — where a record 4.2 million acres burned across the state last year — filed suit against 3M, Chemours, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and other manufacturers, claiming that the companies for decades knowingly made and sold firefighting equipment loaded with toxic chemicals without warning of the chemicals' risks.

"Firefighting is a dangerous occupation, and we don't want our firefighters to burn up. They need that protection," said Linda Birnbaum, the former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. "But we now know that PFAS is in their gear, and it doesn't stay in their gear."

Please read full at:


Feb 1, 2021

Job opening Safety Specialist (Milwaukee, WI)

Job Summary:
Responsible for designing policies and procedures that help prevent harm to workers and property. Inspects machines and air quality, designs safe work spaces, and creates policies for workers to follow that minimize job-related hazards. Must have union experience in a manufacturing setting.

Primary Responsibilities:
- Create ways to keep workers and the general public safe from harm.
- Design safe workspaces.
- Inspect machines and test for faults.
- Remove defective equipment.
- Test air quality.
- Investigate complaints.
- Reduce absenteeism and equipment downtime.
- Lower insurance premiums and workers' compensation payments.
- Prevent government fines.
- Conduct safety inspections.
- Impose fines.
- Design programs to control, eliminate, and prevent disease or injury.
- Search for and identify biological, chemical, and radiological hazards.
- Advise workers on proper lifting techniques.
- Inform an organization's management of areas not in compliance with State and Federal laws or employer policies.
- Advise management on the cost and effectiveness of safety and health programs.
- Devise and implement health programs.
- Provide training on new regulations.
- Demonstrate how to recognize hazards.
- Develop methods to predict hazards.
- Evaluate current equipment, products, facilities, or processes and those planned for future use.
- Uncover patterns in injury data.
- Evaluate the probability and severity of accidents.
- Write accident reports.
To apply or inquire about job please contact
Donovan Harris
414-214-6036 Phone 

US Department of Labor issues stronger workplace guidance on coronavirus

OSHA – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus prevention program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

"Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace" provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

"More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions of people are out of work as a result of this crisis. Employers and workers can help our nation fight and overcome this deadly pandemic by committing themselves to making their workplaces as safe as possible," said Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor M. Patricia Smith. "The recommendations in OSHA's updated guidance will help us defeat the virus, strengthen our economy and bring an end to the staggering human and economic toll that the coronavirus has taken on our nation."

Implementing a coronavirus prevention program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The guidance announced today recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don't punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

"OSHA is updating its guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus and improve worker protections so businesses can operate safely and employees can stay safe and working," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick.

Jan 21, 2021

DNR Releases Latest Sampling Results Revealing Broader PFAS Presence In Madison Area Lakes And Yahara River Chain

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the presence of elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in surface water samples taken from Madison-area lakes and along the Yahara River.

The DNR found elevated levels of PFAS in Lake Monona and Starkweather Creek in 2019, which resulted in a new PFAS fish consumption advisory for those two water bodies. The DNR collected surface water and fish samples in 2019 due to PFAS-containing stormwater leaving the Dane County airport into Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona.

Due to public safety concerns, the DNR collected additional surface water samples in 2020 on lakes Mendota, Monona, Upper Mud, Waubesa and Kegonsa, as well as along sections of the Yahara River between the lakes.

The DNR also collected samples from Lake Wingra and Nine Springs Creek. PFAS compounds were discovered throughout the areas sampled, many of those samples were at levels above what the DNR may consider acceptable.

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers and stain-resistant sprays. These legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment in a variety of ways, including spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams.

PFAS do not break down in the environment and have been discovered at concentrations of concern in groundwater, surface water and drinking water. PFAS are known to bioaccumulate in the tissues of fish and wildlife. They also accumulate in the human body and pose several risks to human health.

Surface Water Sampling
More information on how the DNR is addressing PFAS contamination in Wisconsin is available here.

Jan 20, 2021

Amazon Bans Toxic Chemicals From Its Food Packaging

Lana Bandoim (Forbes) - Amazon has banned the use of certain chemicals in its Amazon Kitchen brand products and food packaging. The company's decision to exclude chemicals of concern only affects its private brands for now. The chemicals have been linked to various health problems and other effects, such as environmental issues.

What Are the Chemicals of Concern?

Amazon's definition of chemicals of concern includes substances that are a "carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive or other systemic toxicant," and products that are "persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic." Although Amazon has mentioned it is encouraging manufacturers to avoid these potentially toxic chemicals, the company is focusing on its own private brands because it has complete control over them.

The restricted substances on Amazon's list include antiseptics (antimicrobial substances), nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates (detergent-like substances), formaldehyde donor preservatives (substances that slowly release formaldehyde over time), parabens (preservatives) and phthalates (chemicals to make plastics more flexible). The list has more than 50 items ranging from triclosan (antimicrobial chemical) to propylparaben (preservative).

Free WebCast on Respiratory Protection

Protection around workplace breathing hazards
This webcast is designed to familiarize you with respiratory hazards, including oxygen-deficient atmospheres. You'll learn how to protect yourself around workplace breathing hazards. After completing this webcast, you will be able to:
  • Identity workplace and engineering controls,
  • Define personal protective equipment (PPE),
  • Recognize respiratory safety hazards,
  • Explain why a medical evaluation is necessary,
  • Select appropriate PPE for respiratory protection,
  • Evaluate a respirator seal for fit, and
  • Follow proper maintenance procedures.
This session includes a live Q&A session with our experts.
Ray Chishti
EHS Editor
J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Mark Stromme
EHS Editor
J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Thursday, January 28th
1:00 PM Central Time
(2 ET, 12 MT, 11 PT)

Jan 8, 2021

EPA requests applications for $5 million in funding for Great Lakes trash-free water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking a second round of applications under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant program focused on keeping trash out of the Great Lakes. Approximately $5 million is available through the Trash-Free Waters Great Lakes program to fund approximately 10 large-scale projects to remove trash from Great Lakes harbors, rivermouths, and waterfronts. The deadline for applications is March 5, 2021.

In October 2019, EPA Administrator Wheeler announced the GLRI Action Plan III, an aggressive plan to guide Great Lakes restoration and protection activities by EPA and its many partners over the next four years.  The trash-free water projects EPA selects will support the larger GLRI effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

"This grant program will continue to harness the power of collaboration and strong partnerships we've established to fuel progress and so many successes under the GLRI," said EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. "This funding will help communities across the Great Lakes basin ensure that their harbors, rivermouths and waterfronts are trash-free— something Administrator Wheeler and this Administration has placed as a high priority for this agency."

Mismanaged or misplaced trash, including litter or garbage, can degrade aquatic habitats, threaten aquatic wildlife, and interfere with human uses of lake, coastal, and riparian environments. These grants will support large-scale projects that use mechanical devices, vessels and other technology to remove trash from Great Lakes harbors, rivermouths and waterfronts. With these grants, EPA intends to increase the number of Great Lakes communities with operational large-scale aquatic trash collection devices that will continue to be used after project funding has ended. The minimum award is $300,000 and the maximum award is $1,000,000.

State agencies, federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia, any agency or instrumentality of local governments, nonprofit organizations, interstate agencies, and colleges and universities are eligible to apply for the grants.

EPA will host a webinar on January 26, 2021, at 2 p.m. CST to provide additional information and answer questions. To register for the webinar or learn more about the request for applications, visit https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-funding/glri-trash-free-waters-fy2021-request-applications-rfa

In July 2020, Administrator Wheeler announced seven Great Lakes Trash-Free Waters grants totaling approximately $2 million to support efforts to clean up beaches and water bodies.

The GLRI was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Federal agencies have funded more than 5,400 projects totaling over $2.7 billion to address the most important Great Lakes priorities such as addressing agricultural nutrients and stormwater runoff, cleaning up highly contaminated "Areas of Concern," combating invasive species and restoring habitat. Making GLRI funding available through a competitive application process is just one way that the GLRI achieves results.

For more information on the GLRI, visit https://www.glri.us/

Nov 19, 2020

Free Seminar - Introduction to Forensic Geology - Petrography

Forensic Geology/Petrography is not a new tool in the construction industry; however, it is generally not a well-known discipline. Observations detailed in this presentation are not typically covered during University geological studies. Most of these skills are learned on the job and do require a minimum of 5 years of experience directly under a Petrographer to earn a Petrographer title. This presentation will provide the standards followed, typical observations, and a few fun projects. Petrography has proven a beneficial tool in the assessment of concrete and construction stone to aide in engineering and construction applications.

About the instructor
Chris Braaten, PG, CPG, is a Senior Petrographer/Geologist at American Engineering Testing, Inc. He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with degrees in Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies. He has spent 15 years with American Engineering, holding positions in the Construction Materials Department as a Field Technician, Bridge Inspector, and Aggregate Laboratory Coordinator. For the last 9 years he has held a Petrographer position in the Petrography/Chemistry Department. He has performed petrography on construction aggregate from 46 US States and 17 different

Attendees will receive CEUs at no cost
For more information, see the CEU Credits section below.


Nov 5, 2020

Recent list of OSHA Alerts for Covid

Recent list of OSHA Alerts on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning professionals can help employers optimize building ventilation to reduce the risk of workers being exposed to the coronavirus. 

Prevent Worker Exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19): OSHA Alert here:

See OSHA's entire Alert  Coronavirus lists here

Oct 30, 2020

A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air

The risk of contagion is highest in indoor spaces but can be reduced by applying all available measures to combat infection via aerosols. Here is an overview of the likelihood of infection in three everyday scenarios, based on the safety measures used and the length of exposure

In the spring, health authorities failed to focus on aerosol transmission, but recent scientific publications have forced the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC to acknowledge it. An article in the prestigious Science magazine found that there is "overwhelming evidence" that airborne transmission is a "major transmission route" for the coronavirus, and the CDC now notes that, "under certain conditions, they seem to have infected others who were more than six feet [two meters] away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example, while singing or exercising."

Oct 28, 2020

COVID's cognitive costs? Some patients' brains may age 10 years

(REUTERS) A non-peer-reviewed study of more than 84,000 people, led by Adam Hampshire, a doctor at Imperial College London, found that in some severe cases, coronavirus infection is linked to substantial cognitive deficits for months.

"Our analyses ... align with the view that there are chronic cognitive consequences of having COVID-19," the researchers wrote in a report of their findings. "People who had recovered, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits."

Cognitive tests measure how well the brain performs tasks - such as remembering words or joining dots on a puzzle. Such tests are widely used to assess brain performance in diseases like Alzheimer's, and can also help doctors assess temporary brain impairments.

Hampshire's team analysed results from 84,285 people who completed a study called the Great British Intelligence Test. The findings, which have yet to be reviewed by other experts, were published online on the MedRxiv website.

The cognitive deficits were "of substantial effect size", particularly among people who had been hospitalised with COVID-19, the researchers said, with the worst cases showing impacts "equivalent to the average 10-year decline in global performance between the ages of 20 to 70".

Scientists not directly involved with the study, however, said its results should be viewed with some caution.

Please read full from source:

Oct 26, 2020

The forklift truck drivers who never leave their desks

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

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

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

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

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

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Oct 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oct 19, 2020

Energy Department Announces Round One Winners of Geothermal Manufacturing Prize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 16, 2020

Water Subcabinet Members Highlight Enhanced Aquatic Resource Mapping with Western States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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