Oct 5, 2018

U.S. military is exploring the possibility of deploying insects to make plants more resilient by altering their genes.

Phys.Org: A research arm of the U.S. military is exploring the possibility of deploying insects to make plants more resilient by altering their genes. Some experts say the work may be seen as a potential biological weapon. In an opinion paper published Thursday in the journal Science, the authors say the U.S. needs to provide greater justification for the peace-time purpose of its Insect Allies project to avoid being perceived as hostile to other countries. Other experts expressed ethical and security concerns with the research, which seeks to transmit protective traits to crops already growing in the field. That would mark a departure from the current widely used procedure of genetically modifying seeds for crops such as corn and soy, before they grow into plants. The military research agency says its goal is to protect the nation's food supply from threats like drought, crop disease and bioterrorism by using insects to infect plants with viruses that protect against such dangers. The State Department said the project is for peaceful purposes and does not violate the Biological Weapons Convention. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its scientists are part of the research, which is being conducted in contained labs. The technology could work in different ways. In the first phase, aphids -- tiny bugs that feed by sucking sap from plants -- infected plants with a virus that temporarily brought about a trait. But researchers are also trying to see if viruses can alter the plant's genes themselves to be resistant to dangers throughout the plant's life.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Oct 1, 2018

Consumer Reports’ testing shows concerning levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead in many popular baby and toddler foods

ConsumerReports:

A recent study in the journal Lancet Public Health suggests that low
levels of lead from food and other sources contribute to about 400,000
deaths each year, more than half of them from cardiovascular disease.
Getting too much methylmercury can cause nerve damage, muscle
weakness, lack of coordination, and impaired vision and hearing. And
over time, cadmium exposure can lead to kidney, bone, and lung
diseases.
(http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(18)30025-2/fulltext)

"And annual sales of baby food now top $53 billion and are projected
to reach more than $76 billion by 2021, according to Zion Market
Research.

Our tests had some troubling findings:
• Every product had measurable levels of at least one of these heavy
metals: cadmium, inorganic arsenic, or lead.

• About two-thirds (68 percent) had worrisome levels of at least one
heavy metal."

...Exposure to even small amounts of these heavy metals at an early
age may increase the risk of several health problems, especially lower
IQ and behavior problems, and have been linked to autism and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"The effects of early exposure to heavy metals can have long-lasting
impacts that may be impossible to reverse," says Victor Villarreal,
Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of educational
psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has
researched the effects of heavy metals on childhood development.

Exposure to inorganic arsenic may also affect IQ, according to a
recent Columbia University study of third- through fifth-graders in
Maine. Students who had been exposed to arsenic in drinking water had
IQ levels 5 to 6 points lower, on average, than students who had not
been exposed.

Long-Term Risks
The risks from heavy metals grow over time, in part because they
accumulate in the kidneys and other internal organs.

"These toxins can remain in your body for years," says Tunde Akinleye,
a chemist in Consumer Reports' Food Safety Division who led our
testing. Regularly consuming even small amounts over a long period of
time may raise the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer; cognitive
and reproductive problems; and type 2 diabetes, among other
conditions.

And research has shown that even in adults, frequent, consistent
exposure to low levels of heavy metals can contribute to other serious
health problems.





Read full at:
https://www.consumerreports.org/food-safety/heavy-metals-in-baby-food/

New Tool Measures Effectiveness of Workplace Safety and Health Programs

NIOSH: As more organizations offer increasingly comprehensive programs for workplace safety and health, researchers and organizations alike look for the best examples and tools to measure their effectiveness. With so many programs available, how do organizations know which one is best?

Through a NIOSH-funded study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, scientists designed a new tool to help, according to research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The Workplace Integrated Safety and Health (WISH) Assessment measures policies, programs, and practices that promote worker safety, health, and well-being.

The WISH Assessment is an expansion of a previous measurement tool, developed by the same researchers in this study. The scientists created this latest assessment tool based on an extensive review of published literature on workplace wellness programs, repeated cognitive testing, and semi-structured interviews. They tested and revised the WISH Assessment to ensure that its elements were clearly understood and effectively measured the intended concepts.

The researchers finalized the tool after identifying six factors for protecting and promoting worker safety, health, and well-being: 1) leadership commitment; 2) participation; 3) policies, programs, and practices that foster supportive working conditions; 4) comprehensive and collaborative strategies; 5) adherence to federal and state regulations and ethical norms; and 6) regular evaluations that guide safety, health, and well-being activities.

Next steps include additional testing on the WISH Assessment to validate the tool across multiple samples, and designing and testing a scoring system that organizations can use. Harvard researchers plan to use the WISH Assessment in a future study focused on the association between Total Worker Health® approaches and quality-of-care outcomes in 500 nursing homes. Ultimately, the WISH Assessment could help direct priorities among organizations, guiding research in workplace policies, programs, and practices to improve worker well-being.

More information is available:

Job Design Linked to Participation in Workplace Wellness Programs

NIOSH: Workplace wellness programs often offer an array of health-improvement activities, including courses to quit smoking, exercise or physical fitness classes, nutrition or stress management education, and ergonomic testing of work conditions and equipment. In 2017, 39% of private industry workers and 63% of state and local government workers had access to such programs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, access does not always mean that employees use these programs.

To understand obstacles to use, NIOSH-funded researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the University of Connecticut explored six different factors. These included job demand, job control, social interactions, leadership, role expectations, and predictability at work. They used surveys, interviews, and focus groups to identify which factors affected participation in workplace wellness programs among 343 employees at a public university in New York.

Of the six factors, job control was the most likely to improve participation in workplace wellness programs, followed by social interactions and then job demand, according to the study published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health. Job control refers to the freedom to choose when and how to complete work. This can include providing flexibility to make time for doctor's appointments, exercising, or meeting with a nutritionist without worrying about work schedules. Social interactions include support from coworkers and management, which reflects employees' satisfaction with their relationship with their supervisors. This supervisor-employee relationship was found to play a critical role in employee participation in workplace wellness programs.

Job demand is defined as the worker's perception of the job's physical and mental demands. Study participants with either low or high levels of job demand reported increased participation in workplace wellness programs. Researchers found that workers with increased job demands participated in these programs to relieve stress.

These findings suggest that successful workplace wellness programs should also address the way jobs are designed to remove any barriers to participation, especially offering flexible work hours and supervisory support.

More information is available:

Exposure to Flame Retardants in Foam Found among Gymnastics Coaches

NIOSH investigators measured gymnastic coaches' exposure to 22 flame retardants in four gymnastics studios, at the request of the owner who expressed concern about foam blocks. First, investigators showed coaches how to wipe their hands using hand wipes. After the coaches wiped their hands, investigators sent the wipes to a laboratory for testing. Investigators collected the hand wipe samples before and after the gymnastics studios cleaned their facilities and replaced old foam blocks with new ones labeled as free of PBDEs and other flame retardants.

The investigators collected hand wipes from 20 coaches before the foam was replaced and from 18 coaches after the foam was replaced. Hand wipes were collected at the beginning and end of one shift. To look at how flame retardants might be distributed in dust deposits on windows, investigators wiped window surfaces, both inside the gyms and in other areas such as offices. Finally, they measured the levels of flame retardants in both the old and new replacement foam blocks.

When compared with the wipes taken before a work shift, post-work hand wipes showed significantly greater levels of 9 out of 13 flame retardants measured, according to the paper published in the journal Environment International. However, these across-shift increases were smaller after the studios cleaned the gymnastics studios and replaced the foam blocks with blocks certified as PBDE-free.

Measurements of 3 of the 13 flame retardants were significantly higher on windows in the gymnastics areas as compared with those in other areas, suggesting the potential for airborne exposure. The three highest levels of flame retardants found on gymnastics area windows were also found in the old foam blocks. Although the study found no PBDEs in the new blocks, it did find several other common flame retardants, highlighting the challenges of identifying chemicals in new products.

The health effects associated with flame retardant exposures are not yet well understood. While research on the potential health effects is being done, the authors recommended ways that employees and employers can minimize gymnastics coaches' airborne and skin exposure to flame retardant:

  1. Review the foam safety data sheet information or contact the manufacturer about flame retardant content before purchasing new foam equipment, even if the foam is certified as flame-retardant free.
  2. Purchase new foam products that contain little or no flame retardants.
  3. Improve housekeeping practices, including using personal protective equipment during cleaning.

The study took place in 2014 and 2015 as part of the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation program. This free program, available upon request, provides information about possible work-related health hazards to workers, employers, and unions.

More information is available:

NIOSH: Controlled Fire Study Finds High Levels of Airborne Chemicals

NIOSH: What do plastic, polyester, and foam have in common? They are synthetic materials found throughout most modern homes in everything from toys to furniture to appliances. Unlike wood, cotton, and other natural materials, synthetic mat­erials are made in laboratories through chemical processes.

During a fire, these chemicals can burn hotter and faster, and produce more toxic smoke than natural materials. Evidence suggests that work-related exposure to these toxicants among firefighters corresponds to an increased risk of acute cardiovascular events and cancer.

To understand the risk of exposure from residential firefighting, NIOSH investigators and university and industry partners measured hazardous air emissions during different stages of firefighting. The investigators set 12 separate fires in safe and controlled settings to simulate residential firefighting conditions. This included furnishing the structures with modern fixtures. Six of the fires involved firefighters entering through the front door of the building to extinguish the fire. The others involved firefighters first dousing the fire through a bedroom window before entering through the front door.

Investigators then collected air samples for several chemicals, including benzene and other volatile organic compounds, poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and hydrogen cyanide. For comparison, they tested air from three areas: 1) inside the structure during active fire; 2) inside the structure after fire suppression, also known as overhaul, when firefighters search for and extinguish any smoldering items; and 3) outside the structure near exterior crew-members like the incident commander. In addition, they took personal air measurements associated with job types in all three areas: fire attack, victim search, overhaul, outside ventilation (help vent smoke from structure), and command/pump operator tasks.

In general, median personal air measurements collected from interior crew-members were substantially higher than the recommended exposure limits for short-term exposure for the chemicals measured. Significant differences occurred by job type, with search and attack exhibiting the highest levels of chemical exposure. The maximum levels recorded for hydrogen cyanide for firefighters assigned to attack, search, and outside ventilation were higher than levels considered immediately dangerous to life and health. Outside ventilation crews may not always wear respiratory protection and as a result could breathe in the chemicals that were measured. Even though search and attack firefighters wear self-contained breathing apparatus to protect their lungs, exposure could also occur via the skin, either through direct contact or when removing contaminated gear after the fire.

Area air measurements also showed that the median amount of several chemicals tested was higher than recommended short-term exposure limits. Even in the area outside the burning structure, where workers like the incident commander typically do not wear respiratory protection, area air measurements downwind of the fire were higher than naturally occurring levels. These results highlight the importance of wearing self-contained breathing apparatus, even when firefighters are assigned to post-fire suppression jobs or exterior operations. They also show the need for establishing command centers upwind of a fire or, if that is impossible, wearing self-contained breathing apparatus for protection against airborne chemicals, according to the study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

More information is available:

Banned or severely restricted drugs appearing in the U.S. meat supply more often than was previously known.

ConsumerReports: Ketamine, a hallucinogenic party drug and
experimental antidepressant. Phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory
deemed too risky for human use. Chloramphenicol, a powerful antibiotic
linked to potentially deadly anemia.

All these drugs are prohibited in beef, poultry, and pork consumed in
the U.S. Yet government data obtained by Consumer Reports suggest that
trace amounts of these and other banned or severely restricted drugs
may appear in the U.S. meat supply more often than was previously
known.

The data—as well as Consumer Reports' review of other government
documents and interviews with farmers, industry experts, government
officials, and medical professionals—raise serious concerns about the
safeguards put in place to protect the U.S. meat supply.

These concerns start with how poultry, cattle, and pigs are raised in
this country. And they include questions about how the federal
government tests meat from these animals, and how it investigates and
enforces potential violations.

The data come from the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and
Inspection Service, the agency tasked with ensuring the safety of the
U.S. meat supply. Emilio Esteban, Ph.D., chief scientist for the FSIS,
says that the results should be discounted because they came from
unconfirmed screening tests.

Indeed, much remains uncertain about the test results. For one, it's
not always clear how the drugs end up in meat, though experts have
ideas, including contaminated feed and intentional misuse. There are
also questions about whether the amounts of drug residue found in the
samples pose risks to humans, in part because little research has been
done to investigate that possibility.

Still, CR's food safety scientists, and other experts we consulted,
say the results are meaningful and concerning.

"These results are credible enough that you would expect the
government to take the warning signs seriously," says James E. Rogers,
Ph.D., who was a microbiologist at the FSIS for 13 years before
becoming director of food safety research and testing at Consumer
Reports. "You would hope the results would prompt the agency to look
into why these drugs may be present, what risks they could pose, and
what could be done to protect consumers."

Source:
https://www.consumerreports.org/food-safety/are-banned-drugs-in-your-meat/

Sep 28, 2018

EPA Meets Important TSCA Milestone by Finalizing Last of Four Chemical Safety Framework Rules

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final
fees rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), ensuring that
resources are available to the Agency to complete chemical reviews and
actions in a timely, transparent manner while maintaining high
scientific standards.

"With today's action EPA has once again met another important
milestone under TSCA," said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
"This rule will provide resources needed to support the valuable work
EPA does to review chemicals for safety, manage risk as required, and
make chemical information available as appropriate."

"The SBA Office of Advocacy was pleased to be able to work with EPA
and the SBA Office of Size Standards to develop the fees rule for the
administration of the Toxic Substance Control Act and to be able to
assist the agency in revising the small business definition to ensure
that the maximum number of small businesses can benefit from a reduced
fee amount," said Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy
Acting Chief Counsel Major L. Clark III.

These fees collected from chemical manufacturers will go toward
developing risk evaluations for existing chemicals; collecting and
reviewing toxicity and exposure data and other information; reviewing
Confidential Business Information (CBI); and making determinations in
a timely and transparent manner with respect to the safety of new
chemicals before they enter the marketplace. Under the final rule,
affected businesses will begin incurring fees on October 1, 2018.

Small businesses will be eligible to receive a substantial discount of
approximately 80% on their fees.

The fees rule is the last of four framework rules under the Frank R.
Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Act, incorporating input
received through public meetings and comment periods. During fiscal
years 2019-2021 the Agency will work to track costs and will use that
information to adjust future fees, if appropriate. As required by law,
EPA will evaluate and readjust, if necessary, the fees every three
years.

Additionally, EPA will host a series of webinars focusing on making
TSCA submissions and paying fees under the final rule. The webinars
will be held on October 10, October 24, and November 7.

Learn more about the webinars and register to attend.
https://www.epa.gov/tsca-fees/webinars-tsca-administration-fees-rule


Background on The Trump Administration's Lautenberg Act Accomplishments

The Trump Administration through its work at EPA has undertaken many
implementation activities which have enabled the agency to meet its
statutory responsibilities under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical
Safety for the 21st Century Act which amends the Toxic Substances
Control Act, the Nation's primary chemicals management law.

EPA has already met critical initial deadlines from the Lautenberg
Act, including issuing the framework rules on existing chemicals
prioritization, risk evaluation,
existing chemicals inventory by the first-year anniversary of the Act
on June 22, 2017.

On the second-year anniversary of the Lautenberg Act, EPA issued:

- Mercury Use Reporting Rule with deadlines and requirements to assist
in updating the inventory of mercury supply, use, and trade in the
United States.
- Alternative Testing Strategy to promote the development of
alternative test methods to reduce vertebrate animal testing. On March
7, 2018, EPA released the draft strategy for public comment.
- Guidance on Generic Names to allow EPA to share more information
with the public about the structure of chemicals while protecting CBI.
- Policy on Assigning Unique Identifiers to better publicly track
information on chemicals while protecting CBI.
Guidance on Expanding CBI access to states, tribes, and local
governments; health and environmental professionals; and first
responders.

For more information on TSCA implementation, visit:
https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/frank-r-lautenberg-chemical-safety-21st-century-act-5

Delaware to Distribute Potassium Iodide (KI) Tablets in a program initiated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The State of Delaware is distributing free tablets on Thursday,
October 4, 2018....

The State of Delaware received the tablets when it chose to
participate in a program initiated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission.

Potassium iodide does not protect against external radiation, but can
help protect the thyroid gland from ingested or inhaled radioactive
iodine that might be released in a radiation emergency. KI is one of
the measures outlined in Delaware's emergency plans developed for use
in a nuclear incident.

In the event of a radiation emergency, state and local officials will
inform the public through an Emergency Alert System (EAS) message via
local radio stations, which will include instructions on how affected
residents should react, directions to evacuation routes and emergency
reception centers, and if or when to take the KI tablets.

Those who are eligible to receive potassium iodide should bring a
photo ID such as a driver's license, proof of residency such as a
utility bill, or proof of employment within the EPZ, when they go to
the distribution center at Middletown Fire Hall. Individuals in
possession of potassium iodide that has passed the expiration date can
bring those tablets to the distribution center to exchange for new
tablets.

Delaware residents living outside of the 10-mile EPZ who would like to
obtain potassium iodide tablets should contact their pharmacist. KI
is available over-the-counter at some local pharmacies.

Read full from Source:
https://news.delaware.gov/2018/09/27/delaware-distribute-potassium-iodide-ki-tablets-3/

Sep 27, 2018

EPA Publishes SNURS for 28 Chemical Substances

(ACA - Paint.org) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Sept. 17 published in the Federal Register its intent to promulgate significant new use rules (SNURs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for 28 chemical substances that were the subject of premanufacture notices (PMNs).

The SNURs are effective on Nov. 16, 2018.

Under the amended TSCA, persons who intend to manufacture (defined by statute to include import) or process any of these 28 chemical substances for an activity that is designated as a significant new use by this rule, are required to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing that activity. The required notification initiates EPA's evaluation of the intended use within the applicable review period.

Persons may not commence manufacture or processing for the significant new use until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and has taken such actions as are required with that determination.

The SNURs may contain restrictions on use and discharge of chemical substances, Personal Protective Equipment, and record-keeping, among other requirements.

EPA is accepting comments objecting to one or more of these SNURs through Oct. 17, 2018. If EPA receives written adverse comments, on one or more of these SNURs by the deadline, the agency will withdraw the relevant sections of this direct final rule before its effective date. In effect, EPA will withdraw any SNURs subject to adverse comment from the direct final rule. EPA would then enter a separate rulemaking procedure with notice and comment about these SNURs.

Notably, this process for identifying SNURS via PMNs, as EPA is currently implementing is the basis for the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) withdrawing its lawsuit against EPA, late this summer. NRDC claimed procedures outlined in EPA's revised guidance for review of New Chemicals violates regulations under TSCA, to the extent EPA would issue SNURs as an outcome of the PMN review process. EPA states in guidance that it would address reasonably foreseen uses not identified by a PMN applicant by issuing a SNUR while conducting PMN review.

NRDC was concerned that conflating the SNUR and PMN process into one procedure could lead to insufficient data to evaluate reasonably foreseen uses. NRDC argued that TSCA requires EPA issue a consent letter to a PMN applicant evaluating uses in the PMN application. EPA can then evaluate any reasonably foreseen uses not identified by the applicant with a SNUR, through a separate rulemaking process as necessary.

The bill, co-written by Congresswoman Susan Brooks, would streamline the process how hospitals gets money to treat those who have contracted diseases such as Ebola.

WASHINGTON, DC – Streamlining how hospitals and the Centers for Disease Control handle terror attacks, natural disasters and disease outbreaks would be made possible through a bill that has passed the U.S. House and co-written by Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks.

The Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018 (PAHPA) would provide more federal money for vaccines, equipment such as hazmat suits and allow more money for researching diseases such as Ebola and Zika. 

The bill also renews several health-readiness programs, but changes how some money is spent.  Health agencies would be able to respond immediately to emergencies instead of having to run to Congress for funding. And the bill borrows Indiana's model to focus on regional planning instead of individual hospitals.

"It has been 17 years since anthrax attacks infected more than 17 people and ended five people's lives," said Brooks. "Since then, the threat of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incident has not dissipated, but instead continues to grow.

"I am proud this comprehensive bill ensures our health care professionals are trained to respond to possible pandemic outbreaks, prioritizes the further development of our national stockpile of vaccines, medical equipment and diagnostics, and establishes new advisory groups focused on protecting vulnerable populations such as senior citizens and people with disabilities during public health threats and emergencies," said Brooks.

The bill was also co-written by Anna Eshoo (D-CA) along with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).

The bill is now being considered by the U.S. Senate.

Sep 19, 2018

EPA Extends Comment Period for Proposal to Reconsider RMP Rule Amendments

(ACA) On July 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a notice of data availability and extension of the comment period for its May 30 proposed rule to reconsider the final Risk Management Program (RMP) amendments. The extension follows an inquiry from nonprofit EarthJustice, which questions 2017 RMP data that EPA collected from industrial facilities and used to roll back the RMP amendments.

EPA officially finalized the RMP amendments on Jan. 13, 2017; however, the effective date of the final RMP amendments was delayed several times, with the last one delaying the amendments until Feb.19, 2019. Since the final RMP amendments have not become effective yet, EPA is now proposing to rollback several provisions of that 2017 RMP rule. Among others, EPA is proposing to rescind amendments relating to third-party compliance audits, safer technology and alternatives analyses, incident investigations, and information availability to the public. In addition, EPA is also proposing to retain, modify, or incorporate some amendments relating to local emergency response coordination, emergency response exercises, and CBI protections. More information can also be found on EPA's website.

The agency is now accepting comments on its proposal through Aug. 23, 2018ACA is seeking member input on any concerns with EPA's latest proposal.

In general, EPA's RMP program applies to all stationary sources with processes that contain more than a threshold of a regulated substance. The program's elements are intended to prevent accidental releases and reduce the severity of releases that occur. All sources must prepare and submit an RMP to EPA at least every five years. In addition, RMP Program 3 facilities involve processes subject to OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard or are in one of the specified NAICS codes, such as chemical manufacturing. Together, PSM and RMP form the regulatory framework for prevention of catastrophic chemical accidents at fixed facilities. Several ACA companies have facilities subject to RMP requirements, particularly Program 3 facilities, which have the most stringent requirements. ACA's main concern with the 2017 RMP amendments was that the changes would not actually enhance chemical facility safety, but would instead create significant administrative burdens and higher compliance costs without commensurate benefits in safety.

In May 2017, ACA submitted comments to EPA in support of the agency's proposed rule to further delay the effective date of the RMP regulation. ACA underscored that during this proposed delay, the existing RMP regulations will remain in place, and noted that the already robust RMP requirements have resulted in a steady decline in reportable accidental releases over the past 20 years. From 2004 to 2013, EPA data shows that there were roughly 12,500 facilities subject to RMP. During that 10-year span, 92 percent of these facilities had no RMP reportable accidents. This decline in reportable accidental chemical releases is expected to continue under the existing RMP regulations.

The 2017 RMP rule amendments encountered extreme resistance since EPA first issued them in mid-January 2017. EPA stated that the amendments made to the final rule were aimed at modernizing RMP by (1) making changes to the accident prevention program requirements, (2) enhancing the emergency response and preparedness requirements, and (3) modifying the information availability requirements. However, numerous industry members and trade associations pushed back against implementation of these amendments.

OSHA Proposes Rule to Better Protect Personally Identifiable Information

(ACA) On July 30, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published in the Federal Register, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular individual by removing provisions of the "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" rule. OSHA believes that this proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers while also reducing the burden to employers of complying with the current rule. 

The proposed rule eliminates the requirement to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) for establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to maintain injury and illness records. These establishments would be required to electronically submit information only from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). In addition, OSHA is proposing to require covered employers to submit their Employer Identification Number (EIN) electronically along with their injury and illness data submission.

In the May 2016 "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" final rule (81 FR 29624), the recordkeeping regulation was revised to require establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from the OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301 to OSHA annually. Establishments in certain industries with 20-249 employees are required only to electronically submit information from only the OSHA Form 300A — the summary form. This proposed rule would amend OSHA's recordkeeping regulation by rescinding the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from the OSHA Forms 300 and 301 — the individual forms.

OSHA is seeking comment on this proposal, particularly on its impact on worker privacy, including the risks posed by exposing workers' sensitive information to possible FOIA disclosure. OSHA will be accepting comments on the proposed rulemaking through Sept. 28, 2018.

OSHA's regulation at 29 CFR part 1904 requires employers to collect a variety of information on occupational injuries and illnesses. Much of this information may be sensitive for workers, including descriptions of their injuries and the body parts affected. Under OSHA's regulation, employers with more than 10 employees in most industries must keep those records at their establishments. Employers covered by these rules must record each recordable employee injury and illness on an OSHA Form 300, the "Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses," or equivalent. Covered employers must also prepare a supplementary OSHA Form 301, the "Injury and Illness Incident Report" or equivalent, to provide additional details about each case recorded on the OSHA Form 300. OSHA requires employers to provide these records to others under certain circumstances but imposes limits on the disclosure of personally identifying information. Finally, at the end of each year, these employers are required to prepare a summary report of all injuries and illnesses on the OSHA Form 300A, the "Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses," and post the form in a visible location in the workplace.

Form 301 requires the collection of much sensitive information about each individual worker's job-linked illness or injury, information an employer must collect with or without the worker's consent. While some of the information is likelier to be regarded as particularly sensitive.

Form 300 requires employers to log much of this individual information — notably, descriptions of injuries and the body parts affected — for each individual worker and incident. Form 300A, by contrast, merely summarizes incident data without any traceable connection to individual workers.

Under the current recordkeeping rule, the deadline for electronic submission of Calendar Year (CY) 2017 information from OSHA Forms 300 and 301 was July 1, 2018. In subsequent years, the deadline is
March 2. OSHA is not currently accepting the Form 300 or 301 data and will not enforce the deadlines for these two forms without further notice while this rulemaking is underway. The electronic portal collecting Form 300A data is accepting CY 2017 data, although submissions after July 1, 2018, will be marked late.

California DTSC Proposes Priority Product for Paint and Varnish Strippers and Graffiti Removers Containing NMP

(ACA) On Aug.28, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) proposed listing paint and varnish strippers and graffiti removers containing 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) as Priority Products under its Safer Consumer Products Regulations. DTSC issued a Draft Product-Chemical Profile, which describes the information upon which it relied in making the determination that this product-chemical combination meets the identification and prioritization factors outlined for the Regulations: (1) there is potential for human and other organism exposure to NMP in paint and varnish strippers and graffiti removers; and (2) the exposure has the potential to contribute to or cause significant or widespread adverse impacts. Comments on the draft profile are due to DTSC by Oct. 1 via a portal at CalSAFER.

If listed as a priority product, companies must comply with requirements for reporting and identifying alternatives pursuant to the SCP regulations.

The California Safer Consumer Products Regulations were finalized in October 2013. The first category of products listed in July 2017 is children's foam-padded sleeping products containing certain flame retardants. The second category, spray polyurethane foam with unreacted MDI, was just listed in July 2018. Since no one manufactures the sleeping products and the spray polyurethane foam listing is brand new, no business has implement the voluminous analysis required by the regulations. The other two product categories, carpets and rugs with PFAS and laundry detergents with NPE, are still in the proposal phase.

Paint and varnish stripper products containing 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) are proposed as the fifth category of products to be regulated as a "Priority Product" under the California Safer Consumer Product Regulations.

DTSC will be hosting a public workshop to summarize the draft profile on Sept. 18, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM (PT) in Room 550 in the Cal EPA building. The hearing will be broadcast via webinar, as well, but participants must pre-register by clicking here.

Notably, exact data about amount of paint strippers with NMP sold in California is not available.  A survey shows methylene chloride paint strippers are more commonly sold, but a number of paint strippers also use NMP as a methylene chloride substitute.  NMP is a HPV (High Production Volume) chemical according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with 194.7 million pounds manufactured or imported in the United States in 2012.

Read full at: https://www.paint.org/dtsc-nmp/

Senate Introduces Bill to Reauthorize CFATS program for Five Years

(ACA) On Sept. 4, a bill to reauthorize for five years the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was introduced in the U.S. Senate. S. 3405, The Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act, would extend CFATS beyond the current January 2019 sunset date. A companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives has yet to be introduced.

CFATS is an important program aimed at preventing chemicals from being stolen, diverted, sabotaged, or deliberately released by terrorist 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.

In addition to reauthorizing CFATS for five years, the proposed legislation also reforms the current CFATS program in the following ways:

  • Grants a request by the explosives industry to be exempted from the requirements in favor of existing regulations by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives;
  • Prevents DHS from inspecting a facility more often than once every two years, or every three years if it's in a new voluntary recognition program;
  • Allows Tier 3 and Tier 4 facilities to opt out from a requirement that they submit employee information to be screened for terrorist ties; and
  • Requires DHS to conduct a formal rulemaking if it adds new chemicals to the program and would give facility operators more information explaining how they were evaluated for security risk.

These changes comport with some of the effective solutions ACA suggested to implement and improve chemical security. ACA submitted recommendations to Congress for CFATS enhancements compiled from ACA's member companies, who own and operate paint, coatings, resin, or chemical manufacturing facilities. Some of these facilities are subject to CFATS, with a clear majority being classified as Tier 4 facilities, while just a few are Tier 3.

EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seek to Repeal 2015 WOTUS Definition

(PAINT) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working to repeal a 2015 regulation that expanded the definition of "Waters of the United States," or WOTUS. The 2015-promulgated rule gave the federal government jurisdiction over some of the smallest waterways in the country — including authority over smaller bodies of water EPA doesn't already regulate. On June 29, 2018, EPA and the Army Corps signed a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking — an earlier proposal sought to rescind the 2015 rule — clarifying that the agencies are proposing to permanently repeal the 2015 rule in its entirety and recodify the pre-2015 regulations, which have a longstanding regulatory framework.

By way of background, on July 27, 2017 EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposed rule to rescind the 2015 definition, which set the process in motion, in accordance with the Presidential directive in Executive Order 13778, "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the "Waters of the United States" Rule." In addition to this proposal to rescind the 2015 definition, EPA also issued a final rule on Jan. 31 delaying of the effective date of the 2015 WOTUS rule until 2020.

ACA supports reverting back the pre-2015 WOTUS definition and submitted comments on Aug. 13 to EPA noting that this step toward the "old" definition will provide continuity and certainty for regulated entities, the States, agency staff, and the public.

Notably, on June 8, Judge Lisa Wood in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted an injunction to 11 states that had sought relief from the 2015 WOTUS rule. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin were granted the injunction in Georgia v. Pruitt. The decision followed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Jan. 22 that lawsuits over the 2015 Clean Water Rule will be heard in federal district courts. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision effectively nullified a nationwide stay issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Oct. 9, 2015. Thirteen states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming — had sued for a stay, arguing that EPA went outside its authority because the final rule violates state sovereignty, asserting jurisdiction over waters that are subject to state rather than federal control.


Sep 18, 2018

Hurricane Florence—Clinical Guidance for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Summary
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding clinicians seeing patients from the areas affected by Hurricane Florence to maintain a high index of suspicion for CO poisoning. Other people who may be exposed to the same CO source may need to be identified and assessed.

The signs and symptoms of CO exposure are variable and nonspecific. A tension-type headache is the most common symptom of mild CO poisoning. Other symptoms may include dizziness, flu-like symptoms without a fever, drowsiness, chest pain, and altered mental status.

Clinical manifestations of severe CO poisoning include tachycardia, tachypnea, hypotension, metabolic acidosis, dysrhythmias, myocardial ischemia or infarction, noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, neurologic findings including irritability, impaired memory, cognitive and sensory disturbances, ataxia, altered or loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, and death, although any organ system might be involved.

Although CO poisoning can be fatal to anyone, children, pregnant women, the unborn, persons with sickle cell disease, older adults, and persons with chronic illness (e.g., heart or lung disease) are particularly vulnerable.

Background
High winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Florence began affecting the southeastern U.S. around September 12, 2018. Impact on the southeast coast and inland led to thousands of people without power.  Those without power may turn to alternate power sources such as gasoline generators and may use propane or charcoal grills for cooking. If used or placed improperly, these sources can lead to CO build up inside buildings, garages, or campers and poison the people and animals inside.

With a focused history of patient activities and health symptoms, exposure to a CO source may become apparent. Appropriate and prompt diagnostic testing and treatment are crucial to reduce morbidity and prevent mortality from CO poisoning. Identifying and mitigating the CO source is critical in preventing other poisoning cases.

Recommendations for Clinicians

  1. Consider CO poisoning in patients affected by Hurricane Florence, particularly those in areas currently without power. Assess symptoms and recent patient activities that point to likely CO exposure. Evaluation should also include examination for other conditions, including smoke inhalation, trauma, medical illness, or intoxication.
  2. Administer 100% oxygen until the patient is symptom-free or until a diagnosis of CO poisoning has been ruled out.
  3. Perform COHgb testing when CO poisoning is suspected. Venous or arterial blood may be used for testing. A fingertip pulse multiple wavelength spectrophotometer, or CO-oximeter, can be used to measure heart rate, oxygen saturation, and COHgb levels in the field, but any suspicion of CO poisoning should be confirmed with a COHgb level by multiple wavelength spectrophotometer (CO-oximeter). A conventional two-wavelength pulse oximeter is not accurate when COHgb is present. For more information, see https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co_guidance.html.
  4. An elevated carboxyhemoglobin (COHgb) level of 2% or higher for non-smokers and 9% or higher COHgb level for smokers strongly supports a diagnosis of CO poisoning. The COHgb level must be interpreted in light of the patient's exposure history and length of time away from CO exposure, as levels gradually fall once the patient is removed from the exposure. In addition, carbon monoxide can be produced endogenously as a by-product of heme metabolism. Patients with sickle cell disease can have an elevated COHgb level as a result of hemolytic anemia or hemolysis. For additional information about interpretation of COHgb levels, visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co_guidance.html or call Poison Control at (800) 222-1222.
  5. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) should be considered in consultation with a toxicologist, hyperbaric oxygen facility, or Poison Control Center (800) 222-1222. For additional management considerations, consult a toxicologist, Poison Control at (800) 222-1222, or a hyperbaric oxygen facility.
  6. Be aware that CO exposure may be ongoing for others spending time in or near the same environment as the patient. These individuals should be evaluated and tested as described in this advisory.
  7. Clinicians treating people for CO poisoning should notify emergency medical services (EMS), the fire department, or law enforcement to investigate and mitigate the source and advise people when it is safe to return.
  8. Advise patients about safe practices related to generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices. Stress that that these devices should never be used inside an enclosed space, home, basement, garage, or camper — or even outside near an open window or window air conditioner. Please see https://www.cdc.gov/co/pdfs/generators.pdf.

For More Information 
Clinical Guidance for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning After a Disaster 
https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co_guidance.html

NIOSH Hurricane Recovery Resources Guidance for emergency response and recovery workers and volunteers Emergency Responder Key Messages

Guidance for emergency response and recovery workers and volunteers
Emergency Responder Key Messages

Emergency response and recovery workers and volunteers face many kinds of dangers in the aftermath of a Hurricane. Knowing what kinds of hazards you'll face and steps you can take to work safely helps you be a more effective responder. Read this guidance from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) about how to work safely and avoid hazards such as carbon monoxide, mold, and heat stress.

Here


Scheduled to be published in Federal Register 9/19 - Elimination of Insulin Exemption

FMCSA plans to publish in tomorrow's Federal Register the announcement that " individuals with a stable insulin regimen and properly controlled insulin-treated diabetes mellitus (ITDM) to be qualified to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce"  This will put the responsibility on the examiners, essentially relying on the information provided by the treating clinician on the  Insulin-Treated Diabetes Mellitus Assessment Form (ITDM Assessment Form), MCSA-5870.   

The Treating Clinician is defined as the  health care provider who manages and prescribes insulin for the individual. The TC is to review 3 months of glucose logs and attests that the individual maintains a stable insulin regimen and proper control of his or her diabetes on the form which the examiner reviews and then performs an exam. 

The driver would be disqualified if they experience a severe hypoglycemic episode - defined as severe hypoglycemic episode as one requiring the assistance of others, or resulting in loss of consciousness, seizure, or coma. Drivers with severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy or proliferative diabetic retinopathy should also be disqualified.

Significant differences with current process - no exemption, no annual eye exam, no annual visit and quarterly evaluation by endocrinologist 

Pre-publication announcement at 
 
 

Cornell looking for an assistant professor level an environmental anthropologist

The Department of Anthropology at Cornell University invites applications for a tenure-track position in environmental anthropology at the rank of Assistant Professor. We seek a colleague who takes an ethnographic approach to the study of climate change and/or climate change science. Successful candidates will have expertise in environmental justice, political ecology, the politics of environmental knowledge production, and/or other approaches to the study of human-environment relations. We particularly welcome applications from anthropologists with intellectual commitments to the Himalayas, Latin America, the greater Middle East, Europe, and/or East Asia, although candidates with intellectual commitments in other regions are also encouraged to apply.
Candidates should be prepared to teach a range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level that contribute to the overall mission of the department and develop their own area of specialty. They should also be committed to mentoring graduate students. Candidates must hold a Ph.D. at the time of appointment.

Apply:

“Workers’ rights are human rights" workers poisoned by toxic substances, says UN expert

GENEVA (12 September 2018) – Exposure of workers to toxic substances can and should be considered a form of exploitation and is a global health crisis, says a UN expert.

On Wednesday, UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, told the UN Human Rights Council that governments and companies must strengthen protection for workers, their families and their communities from any exposure to toxic chemicals.

One worker dies approximately every 30 seconds from exposure to toxic chemicals, pesticides, radiation and other hazardous substances, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Global supply chains are often implicated for failing to protect workers from toxic exposures and refusing to provide an effective remedy for individuals harmed.

"Workers' rights are human rights. No one should be denied their basic human rights, including the rights to life and health because of the work they perform," said Tuncak.

"Inaction is not an option. Governments have a duty and businesses a responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of workers," added Tuncak.

The UN expert said that poverty, gender, age, ethnicity and migration are among the themes that frequently recur in cases of workers and toxic harms.

"Those most at risk of exposure are those who are most vulnerable to exploitation: people living in poverty, children, women, migrant workers, people with disabilities, and older people. The economic insecurity of workers who are typically exposed to toxic substances is often exploited," said Tuncak.

"Irregular or undocumented migrant workers are at extreme risk of exploitation by employers who seek to reap the benefits of unfair competition. Clandestine movements, people trafficking and modern slavery frequently coincide with the exposure of migrant workers to toxic substances."

In his report, Tuncak examines the situation of workers exposed to toxic and otherwise hazardous substances worldwide. He proposes 15 principles intended to help governments, businesses and others respect and protect workers from toxic exposures in and around the workplace and to provide remedies for violations of their rights. A detailed annex catalogues cases addressed by the mandate in the past decade.



(*) The UN experts: Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes  

The UN experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Read the full report.



For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights –Media Unit ( jlaurence at ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration –translated into a world record 500 languages–is rooted in the principle that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org

Sep 17, 2018

The EPA is announcing $2.4 million in a grant for the National Brownfields Training Conferences Co-Sponsorship FY 2019-2024

The EPA anticipates award of one cooperative agreement to an eligible recipient who will be the primary non-federal co-sponsor for the next three National Brownfields Training Conferences. The National Brownfields Training Conferences provide training, research and technical assistance to communities to facilitate the inventory of brownfield sites, site assessments and remediation of brownfield sites, community involvement, and site preparation. The primary non-federal co-sponsor will use this funding to assist non-federal personnel (states, tribes, local governments, non-profits, industry and community groups) in participating in three National Brownfields Training Conferences, to be planned and held over a five-year period, beginning in 2019. EPA will be the primary federal co-sponsor.The proposal deadline is October 19, 2018.

 

To Apply:

Sep 6, 2018

APHA-Occupational Health and Safety Section Fall Webinar Series

The first webinar will be 
"Updating APHA Policy Statements: Occupational Lead Poisoning Case Study",
and will be presented by members of our Section Nancy Simcox and Marianne Sullivan.


The webinar is scheduled on Wednesday, September 12th at 1PM (EST).
You can register here: 

 
The second webinar will be 
"Improving Working Conditions for Bangladesh Garment Workers – What Works and What Doesn't Work",
 and will be presented by Garrett Brown.

The webinar is scheduled on Thursday, September 27th at 1PM (EST).
You can register here:

 
And third webinar will be 
"Preventing and Reducing Opioids Use and Exposure the in Workplace", 
and will be organized by Chip Hughes and sponsored by NIEHS and the Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health at Mount Sinai.

The webinar is scheduled on Wednesday, October 17th at 1PM (EST).
Registration information will be available soon!

Aug 15, 2018

Updates to Wisconsin Porposed SPS 330-Fire Department Safety and Health Standards

Update on proposed SPS 330
SPS 330-Fire Department Safety and Health Standards

The Department of Safety and Professional Services is pleased to announce legislative approval of CR-17-067 regarding SPS 330 Fire Department Safety and Health Standards.  The rule will be published at the end of September 2018 and become effective October 1, 2018.  Here is a link to the updated code package:  CR 17-067/SPS 330.

Aug 1, 2018

EIA & FERC DATA SHOW RENEWABLES PROVIDING MORE ELECTRICITY THAN NUCLEAR IN 27 U.S. STATES AND MORE THAN COAL IN A THIRD

(NIRS) Washington DC – Citing concerns about "national security" and "grid reliability," the Trump Administration is weighing options for subsidizing and preventing the closure of environmentally polluting nuclear and coal plants made uneconomic by growing competition from renewable energy and natural gas. However, an analysis by the SUN DAY Campaign of recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) suggests that such concerns are not only unfounded but the trend is also potentially too late to reverse.

A review of 2017 state-by-state data presented in EIA's "Electric Power Monthly" report reveals that renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) are now providing more electricity than nuclear power in over half the states and more electricity than coal in a third [see Note A]. And the numbers continue to shift in favor of renewable sources, particularly as falling renewable energy prices and declining electricity demand make nuclear and coal ever-more uneconomic.

Nationwide, according to FERC's latest "Energy Infrastructure Update," renewable sources now account for 20.66% of the total available installed generating capacity. That is more than double the generating capacity of the nation's nuclear power plants (9.12%) and is rapidly approaching the capacity of the nation's coal plants (23.04%), which has dropped precipitously from 28.90% just five years ago. [1]

Moreover, FERC reports that proposed generation additions and retirements over the next three years could result in a net loss of an additional 15,898-MW of coal capacity and an increase of just 756-MW of nuclear capacity [see Note B] while utility-scale renewable sources are projected to mushroom with 156,981-MW of new capacity -- primarily from wind (90,981-MW) and solar (52,216-MW). [2]  And the potential growth in solar does not include distributed, small-scale PV systems (e.g., rooftop solar) which could account for an additional 30% or more in solar capacity.

Renewable energy critics are quick to note that generating "capacity" is not the same as actual electrical "generation" because nuclear and coal typically have higher capacity factors than most renewable sources. True enough, but ...

In terms of actual "generation," renewables are now neck-and-neck with nuclear power ... and may hold a small lead. The most recent EIA data show renewables (including distributed solar) providing 20.17% of the nation's electrical generation during the first five months of 2018 compared to 20.14% from nuclear power. In fact, during the two most recent months reflected in EIA's data (i.e., April & May 2018), renewables provided 10.6% more electricity than did nuclear power. [3]  (Renewables also similarly outpaced nuclear power twice last year -- in March and April 2017.)

While coal still provides a greater share of U.S. electrical generation (26.6% for the first five months of 2018) than renewables, it is in a tailspin -- dropping from 39.0% five years ago -- while renewables have grown from a 14.3% share over the same period. [4]

These trends are likewise playing themselves out on the state level.

End-of-the-year data issued by EIA for calendar year 2017 reveal that nuclear power is now providing no electrical generation in 20 states plus Washington DC. Of these, four states have gone nuclear-free in recent years (CO, ME, OR, VT). Consequently, renewables are now providing more electricity than nuclear power in 27 states plus Washington DC; solar (utility-scale + distributed) alone is outpacing nuclear in 21 states while wind alone already exceeds nuclear in 22 states and is rapidly closing the gap in others. Even in six states still using nuclear power (CA, IA, KS, MN, TX, WA), renewable sources are providing more electricity. [5]

In addition, utility-scale renewable energy sources are out-producing electrical generation by coal in 17 states (plus Washington DC). Further, EIA reports no  electrical generation from coal in 2017 in two states (Rhode Island and Vermont) as well as Washington DC. [6]

"EIA and FERC data underscore that the renewable energy train has left the station," noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "Trying to reverse that situation with costly subsidies for environmentally-polluting nuclear power and coal defies common sense."

"Nuclear and coal simply can't compete with renewable energy," said Tim Judson, Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. "Renewables will be generating more power than nuclear by 2020, and nuclear is poised for the same precipitous decline as coal in the coming years."

KEY  FINDINGS:

Nuclear Power vs. Renewables: *
Utility-Scale + Distributed Solar-Generated Electricity Exceeds Nuclear Power in 21 states + DC:
AK, CA, CO, DE, HI, ID, IN, KY, ME, MT, ND, NM, NV, OK, OR, RI, SD, UT, VT, WV, WY, + DC

 
Utility-Scale Wind-Generated Electricity Exceeds Nuclear Power in 22 states:
AK, CO, DE, HI,  IA, ID, IN, KS, ME, MT, ND, NM, NV, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WV, WY (in addition, wind-generated electricity is close to that from nuclear power in Washington state; the gap is also small in Nebraska)

Utility-Scale Wind + Utility-Scale & Distributed Solar Combined Exceed Nuclear Power in 24 states + DC:
AK, CA, CO, DE, HI, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, ME, MT, ND, NM, NV, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WV, WY, + DC

 
Utility-Scale Non-Hydro Renewables Combined Exceed Nuclear Power in 25 states + DC:
AK, CA, CO, DE, HI, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, ME, MT, ND, NM, NV, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WY, + DC (in addition, the numbers are very close in Minnesota; non-hydro renewables should outpace nuclear power in 2018 if they did not already do so in 2017)

All Utility-Scale Renewables Combined Exceed Nuclear Power in 27 states + DC:
AK, CA, CO, DE, HI, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, ME, MN, MT,  ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WY, + DC

*EIA reports no electrical generation by nuclear power in 20 states (AK, CO, DE, HI, ID, IN, KY, ME, MT, ND, NM, NV, OK, OR, RI, SD, UT, VT, WV, WY) + DC.
 

Coal vs. Renewables: **
Utility-Scale + Distributed Solar-Generated Electricity Exceeds Coal in 9 states + DC:
CA, CT, ID, MA, NJ, NV, NY, RI, VT, + DC

Utility-Scale Wind-Generated Electricity Exceeds Coal in 11 states:
CA, ID, ME, NH, NY, OK, OR, RI, SD, VT, WA

Utility-Scale Non-Hydro Renewables Combined Exceed Coal-Generated Electricity in 15 states + DC:
CA, CT, ID, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, OR, RI, SD, VT, WA, + DC

Utility-Scale Wind + Utility-Scale & Distributed Solar Combined Exceed Coal-Generated Electricity in 16 states + DC:
CA, CT, HI, ID, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, OR, RI, SD, VT, WA, + DC

All Utility-Scale Renewables Combined Exceed Coal-Generated Electricity in 17 states + DC:
AK, CA, CT, HI, ID, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, OR, RI, SD, VT, WA, + DC (in addition, utility-scale renewables almost equaled the electrical output of coal in Kansas in 2017 and could exceed it in 2018; Iowa is also very close in coal vs. utility-scale renewable energy)

** EIA reports no electrical generation by coal in Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington DC.

 

# # # # # # # # #
Sources:
 
[2] https://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2018/may-energy-infrastructure.pdf  pdf  [see table entitled "Proposed Generation Additions and Retirements by June 2021"]

[3] https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly (issues released June 25, 2018 and July 24, 2018) [see tables ES1.A. and ES1.B.]


[5] https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/archive/february2018.pdf [see tables 1.4.B. (coal); 1.9.B. (nuclear energy); 1.10.B. (hydropower); 1.11.B. (non-hydro renewables); 1.14.B. (wind); 1.17.B. (solar PV - utility + small-scale); 1.18.B. (solar thermal)]

[6] Ibid.
 

Notes:
A.) EIA's data for solar include utility-scale solar PV and solar thermal as well as small-scale, distributed solar (e.g., rooftop solar systems). However, EIA's data for non-hydro renewables only reflect utility-scale facilities; they do not include state-by-state data for distributed photovoltaics. In its most recent "Electric Power Monthly" report (with data for the first five months of 2018), small-scale solar photovoltaic is estimated to account for ~31% of total electrical generation from solar sources.
 
Thus, the state-by-state comparisons of nuclear and coal to all renewables combined does not include distributed solar and therefore understates the actual amount of electricity being generated by renewable sources.

B.) FERC's data for capacity additions and retirements is subject to numerous variables such as the Trump Administration's possible proposals to bailout uneconomic nuclear and coal plants. In the case of net nuclear additions, for example, FERC's numbers may prove unduly optimistic. Currently, four reactors with 3175 MW of capacity are scheduled to retire in 2018-2020. The only new nuclear reactors under construction in the U.S., Vogtle 3 and 4 (2234-MW), are officially past the 2020 timeframe now (2021-22), but even if FERC is counting them, it should be a 941-MW net loss of nuclear capacity over the three-year timeframe (2018-2020), not a 756-MW increase. If one extends that out to three years from present, the net loss is greater: 7 reactors closed with 6038-MW, and 3804-MW net reduction.

By the time Vogtle 3 and 4 are scheduled to come online, there are a total of 9 scheduled retirements with 8080-MW of capacity, for a net reduction of 5846-MW of nuclear generation. During that timeframe, two more states will go nuclear-free (MA and OH), one state will reduce nuclear generation by nearly 40% (NY), and another by nearly 30% (PA).