Jan 23, 2017

How EPA Assesses Chemical Safety for Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

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EPA is using a multi-pronged strategy to ensure the safety of chemicals in commerce, recognizing that the current chemicals management law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, needs to be strengthened.

EPA's three part strategy for addressing potential risks from existing chemicals includes:

  • Identifying chemicals for assessment and taking actions as appropriate;
  • Increasing opportunities for industry to move toward using safer chemicals; and
  • Increasing public access to data on chemicals that have been developed by EPA and/or provided by industry

In September 2009 EPA issued Essential Principles for Reform of Chemical Management Legislation to help inform efforts underway in Congress to reauthorize and significantly strengthen the effectiveness of TSCA.

The following graphic provides an overview of the process EPA uses to assess and manage TSCA chemicals in commerce.

Flowchart to assessing and managing chemicals under TSCA

Read full: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/how-epa-assesses-chemical-safety

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Jan 19, 2017

FREE - Suicide Prevention Summit on February 1st - Oak Brook,IL

Construction is the one of the highest rated industries affected by suicide. As such, it is an industry imperative to shatter the mental health stigma and create caring cultures within our companies. CFMA has established the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention with the goal of providing and disseminating information and resources for suicide prevention and mental health promotion in construction. Through the information and resources CFMA has compiled, the Alliance looks to help those in the con
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struction industry create awareness of the problem, cultivate a culture of caring, and start the conversation in the workplace.

Members of CFMA Chicago Chapter in partnership with the Builders Association have organized the Suicide Prevention Summit. This half-day collaboration between construction and mental health professionals, will explore suicide prevention for the construction industry. By targeting construction industry CEOs, CFOs, Human Resource professionals, and Safety and Risk managers, this event will provide a wealth of knowledge to professionals in the industry.

According to Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, CEO and Co-Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation, clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, faculty member, and survivor of her brother's suicide, "In this male-dominated industry, the stoic, macho 'tough guy' culture creates barriers to seeking help and acknowledging emotional problems."

Summit attendees will connect with community mental health professionals, find out what their industry peers are doing on this issue, and amass resources to help promote mental health and suicide prevention as part of their companies' overall health initiatives.

Along with Spencer-Thomas, Bob Swanson and David Sauerman will share their experiences and how suicide has affected their lives.

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Date: February 1, 2017
Time: 2 - 5 PM Summit
         5 PM Networking reception with food & drink
Place: Maggiano's Little Italy, 240 Oakbrook Center,
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Oak Brook, 60523


This event is free to participants, thanks to the generous support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and both the construction and behavioral health communities.

Register for this free program.

Jan 18, 2017

EPA Issues Final Rule Amending Risk Management Program

(PAINT.ORG) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published finalized amendments to the Risk Management Program (RMP) Rule in the Jan. 13 Federal Register. According to EPA, 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. The final rule will be effective on March 14, 2017.

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.

During the rulemaking process last year, ACA submitted comments to EPA in response to numerous changes it proposed to make to the RMP program. A number of ACA companies have facilities subject to RMP requirements, particularly Program 3 facilities which have the most stringent requirements. ACA's main concern with the RMP proposal is that the proposed changes would not actually enhance chemical facility safety, but would instead create significant administrative burdens and higher compliance costs without commensurate benefits in safety. EPA acknowledged in the final rule that it did take each comment received into consideration, but several of its proposed amendments withstood the criticism and remain in the final rule.

ACA will be hosting a webinar for members on January 25, 2017 from 1:00-2:30 PM (EST) to discuss the substantial changes to the RMP. Please contact ACA's Rhett Cash for registration and any other information.

Specific amendments to each area include the following.

Accident Prevention Program Requirements

Amendments made to the accident prevention program requirements include changes to the incident investigation and accident history requirements, modifications to third party audit requirements, and alterations to the safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA) requirements.

Incident Investigation and Accident History Requirements
The RMP final rule requires additional reporting elements to investigations that are required after any incident that resulted in or could reasonably have resulted in a catastrophic release (i.e., a "near miss"). The facility must identify the fundamental reason ("root cause analysis") for the incident, and prepare a report within 12 months of the incident that includes consequences of the accident and any emergency response actions taken.

Third-Party Audit Requirements
This provision requires an independent third party to conduct a compliance audit at a facility if there has been a reportable accident, or if an implementing agency determines that a third-party audit is necessary (based on information about the facility or about a prior third-party audit at the facility). The final rule also contains criteria for auditor competence and independence. In addition, the owner or operator must engage a third-party auditor, and complete the audit within 12 months of when either (a) an implementing agency determines that conditions at the facility could lead to an accidental release of a regulated substance; or (b) a previous third-party audit failed to meet the competency or independence criteria specified in the rule. Lastly, the third-party audit may be conducted by a third-party auditor or a team of auditors led by a third-party auditor.

Safer Technology and Alternatives Analysis (STAA) Requirements
The RMP final rule modifies the process hazard analyses (PHAs) provisions to require certain industry sectors with Program 3 processes (including the chemical manufacturing sector) to conduct a safer technology and alternatives analysis and to evaluate the practicability of any inherently safer technologies or designs. The STAA must be included in the PHA report, and refers to risk reduction strategies developed using a hierarchy of controls that are considered inherent, passive, active, and procedural.

Emergency Response and Preparedness Requirements

Amendments made to the emergency response preparedness requirements include changes to the local responders' coordination requirements and modifications to facility exercise requirements.

Local Responders Coordination Requirements
The RMP final rule increases coordination with Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) to enhance local emergency preparedness and response planning by requiring facilities to conduct annual coordination with LEPCs or local emergency response officials to clarify response needs, emergency plans, roles, and responsibilities. Qualifying facilities must develop an emergency response plan, develop procedures for the use, inspection, and testing of emergency response equipment, conduct training for employees in relevant procedures, and update the emergency response plan to reflect changes at the facility. Furthermore, the owner or operator of a facility must coordinate response needs with local emergency planning and response organizations to determine how the facility is addressed in the community-wide emergency response plan and to ensure that local response organizations are fully aware of the regulated substances at the facility, their quantities, the risks presented by covered processes, and the resources and capabilities at the facility to respond to an accidental release of those substances. Lastly, the final rule requires the owner or operator to review and update the emergency response plan when appropriate based on changes at the facility or new information obtained from coordination activities, emergency response exercises, incident investigations, or other available information.

 Facility Exercise Requirements
The final rule requires qualifying facilities to perform notification exercises and to perform tabletop and field exercises. The owner or operator must consult with local officials to establish an appropriate frequency for field and tabletop exercises, with a minimum timeframe of one notification exercise per year, one tabletop exercise every three years, and at least one field exercise every 10 years.

Read full at: (PAINT.ORG)

Ban on powdered gloves coming Jan. 18 FDA cites numerous health dangers

REGULATION SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) has determined that Powdered Surgeon's Gloves, Powdered Patient Examination Gloves, and Absorbable Powder for Lubricating a Surgeon's Glove present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury and that the risk cannot be corrected or eliminated by labeling or a change in labeling. Consequently, FDA is banning these devices.

Full Regulation:

Powdered medical gloves are going the way of powdered wigs.

A once ubiquitous staple of doctors, powdered gloves are being thrown out of exam and operating rooms by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as of Jan. 18. The reason: The powder poses a variety of risks to wearers, patients and even bystanders.

The dangers include severe airway inflammation from inhaling the powder; wound inflammation and post-surgical adhesions from contact with the powder; and respiratory allergic reactions from breathing powder that carries proteins from natural rubber latex gloves. The most common type of powder used in gloves is cornstarch, according to the FDA.

The coming ban is absolute — there's no grace period for using up existing supplies. "[T]he risks of illness or injury to individuals who are currently exposed to these devices is [as] equally unreasonable and substantial as it would be for future individuals that might be exposed to powdered gloves," the FDA stated in a March 22, 2016, Federal Register notice proposing the ban. The ban was made final on Dec. 19.

Although glove use in veterinary medicine is not explicitly mentioned in the FDA rule, the prohibition applies in the veterinary sphere, too, an agency spokeswoman confirmed.

"The ban applies to powdered surgeon's gloves, powdered patient examination gloves, and absorbable powder for lubricating a surgeon's glove that are already in commercial distribution and for these devices that are already sold to the ultimate user, such as small medical practices and hospitals. As such, it applies to ... gloves that are in use at veterinary practices," the spokeswoman, Deborah Kotz, said by email.

Asked how the ban will be enforced, Kotz replied: "The FDA can take various enforcement actions, if necessary, to remove banned devices from the market, including seizure of the product, civil money penalties or criminal prosecution."

She declined to say what criminal charges could be brought, or the potential size of fines.

The FDA recommends unused inventories of gloves be disposed of like any community solid waste, which usually is by burial in a landfill or by incineration.

Read full: http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=43448

Jan 17, 2017

The Struggle is real..Millennials can't even cover their tax burden

Millennials came of age during a tough economic time: Student debt has reached an all-time high, and the job market is more competitive than ever. As a result, young people today aren't earning as much money as their parents did when they were young. The median annual income for employed millennials was taken from Minnesota Population Center's 2014 American Community Survey and Pew Research Center's definition of millennials: Americans born between 1981-1997. The medians ranged from a low of $18,000 per year in Montana to a high of $43,000 in the District of Columbia.

EPA Proposes to Limit the Use of Two Toxic Chemicals in Paint Removers


Under the new toxic chemicals law passed in June, EPA now has a legal mandate to restrict chemicals already in commerce that pose unreasonable risks to public health and the environment. There are many cases of people who have become ill or even died as a result of exposure to methylene chloride-containing paint removers. Today's action, when finalized, will save lives and protect people from other serious health risks, including cancer and developmental effects.

EPA, in a 2014 assessment, concluded that methylene chloride can cause a range of adverse health effects, including harm to the central nervous system, liver toxicity, and cancer. EPA is now proposing to prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of methylene chloride when used as a paint remover, except for commercial furniture refinishing which the Agency will address in a separate proposal. EPA is also proposing to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the prohibitions.

EPA assessed NMP in 2015 and identified risks to people, particularly pregnant women and women of childbearing age, who have high exposure to NMP through paint or coating removal. EPA is inviting comments on two approaches to address the risks from NMP. One approach would prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of NMP when used as a paint remover, as well as require various notification measures on the restrictions to downstream processors and users. The other approach would put in place a combination of requirements to address unreasonable risks, including limiting the amount of NMP in paint remover products, providing warning labels for consumers, and requiring workers to wear specialized gloves and other equipment. EPA is seeking comment on both approaches. In addition, EPA is proposing to exempt certain national security uses of methylene chloride and NMP from the requirements of this rule.

Source:

2015 TRI National Analysis Available, Shows Major Decline in Air Releases Over 10 Years


The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program is pleased to announce the publication of the 2015 TRI National Analysis, EPA's summary and interpretation of the most recent data on toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities at more than 20,000 U.S. industrial facilities.

In the National Analysis, you'll find local- and national-level data on toxic chemical releases to air, water and land, and information about what companies are doing to prevent these releases. With the report's integrated mapping features, you can take a closer look at this information for specific geographic locations, including your community.

Between 2005 and 2015, air releases of toxic chemicals from TRI facilities decreased by 56% (850 million pounds). An 8% decrease from 2014 to 2015 contributed to this 10-year decline.

In 2015, of the nearly 26 billion pounds of total chemical waste managed at TRI facilities (excluding metal mines), approximately 92% was not released into the environment due to the use of preferred waste management practices such as recycling, energy recovery, and treatment.

The TRI National Analysis website includes a new "flipbook" showing how the TRI Program has evolved over the past 30 years, plus a new dashboard that allows users to build customized visualizations of TRI data by a chemical or a sector.

See full at:

Detailed Plans Begin in Fukushima on World's Largest (Carbon-Free) Hydrogen Energy Infrastructure Project

The Government of Japan is promoting the "Fukushima Concept for a New Energy Society," which aims to develop a showcase for a renewable energy and hydrogen-based society in Fukushima Prefecture. The following is a report about the moves toward developing of the world's largest hydrogen energy system, one of the featured projects in the government's concept.

Note: This article is adapted and translated into English with permission from Smart Japan, an online media services provider specializing in energy conservation, storage, and generation.

Toshiba, Tohoku Electric Power, and Iwatani Corporation jointly announced plans to start a commercial feasibility study in Fukushima Prefecture to create what would be the world's largest hydrogen energy system. Their joint proposal to a program named "Technology Development for the Realization of the Hydrogen Society / Technology Development of Systems Using Renewable Energy-derived Hydrogen" was selected on September 29, 2016, by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), which had invited industry proposals.

The main part of the Fukushima Concept, determined at the beginning of September, consists of three pillars: expansion of the introduction of renewable energy, creation of a model of a hydrogen-based society, and establishment of a "smart" community. The hydrogen energy system the three companies are examining with the commercial feasibility study is proposed for the second pillar.

The government aims to increase the introduction of renewable energy in Fukushima Prefecture. However energy output fluctuates depending on weather conditions. The use of rechargeable batteries is now being expanded to absorb fluctuations in output, and the Concept's plan includes the use of hydrogen for this regulating function.

The hydrogen energy systems the three companies are studying will use electricity generated by renewable sources such as solar and wind, to then produce and store hydrogen in hydrogen production equipment, so the new system can contribute to more stable operation of the electric power system. The output of the hydrogen production equipment is planned to be the world largest, with a capacity of 10,000 kilowatts.

The purposes of the Fukushima Concept include not only the production and storage of liquid hydrogen but also its effective distribution inside and outside the Tohoku region. The companies will develop a new control system to coordinate multiple systems related to the operation of hydrogen energy, power system control, and liquid hydrogen demand forecasting, with the aim of optimal operation of hydrogen production, power generation, and gas supply. The goal is to start operating in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The three companies will report their study results by September 2017 after examination of the components and specifications of the hydrogen energy system, as well as the commercial feasibility study.

Source: Smart Japan (in Japanese)

Jan 16, 2017

FREE Webinar OSHA Under Trump: What to Expect in 2017 and Beyond

The Bureau of National Affairs is offering a one-hour webinar this Wednesday (1/18) at noon, focusing on what the incoming Trump administration might mean for OSHA and worker health/safety.  Ed Foulke is the only person to have served both as the Assistant Secretary for OSHA and the head of the OSHA Review Commission, so he will surely have an insider's perspective on what is in store.  

Webniar is free registration is at this URL:



Summary
Edwin G. Foulke of Fisher & Phillips and Adam Finkel of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and University of Michigan School of Public Health discuss what a Trump administration might mean for occupational safety and health. Specifically, they'll discuss how OSHA's priorities and budget may change, as well as how current standards may be changed or revised under a new administration.

Educational Objectives:
• How OSHA's regulatory agenda may change in a Trump administration. What will be the likely priorities of any new rulemaking? Can Trump pursue a policy of vigorous deregulation and still be the voice of blue-collar workers nationwide?
• How current OSHA standards, directives, memoranda and interpretative letters could be changed or revised during the Trump administration.
• How the anticipated Trump administration change in focus to compliance assistance could impact employers, employees and unions. How could this shift be similar to, or different from, the course change OSHA underwent when George W. Bush replaced Bill Clinton?
• How OSHA's whistleblower enforcement may change and the impact on employers, employees and unions.
• How OSHA's budget might be affected in a Trump administration.
• Which policy innovations, rejected by previous administrations of both parties, might get a new hearing under Trump.

Who would benefit most from attending this program?
EHS professionals, occupational safety & health attorneys, worker advocates

Jan 12, 2017

Federal Government Exceeds $4 Billion Goal for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Investments

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, recognized 21 federal agencies during a White House event led by Christina Goldfuss, Managing Director of CEQ, and Shaun Donovan, Director of OMB. Over the last five years the agencies have awarded 340 projects, exceeding the President's Performance Contracting Challenge goal, which will reduce energy spending in the federal government by $8 billion over the next 18 years and create more than 30,000 jobs.

The awarded projects surpassed the Challenge goal by $200 million in awarded value by the end of 2016. To meet the goal, federal agencies relied on the DOE's contracting and technical expertise. In particular, DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provided assistance, guidance, and training to help agencies implement performance contracts and track their progress.

These successful contracts will help offset the costs of new equipment, maintenance, renewable energy, and other much-needed infrastructure upgrades—from new HVAC systems and LED bulbs to building automation systems and renewable energy installations.

"Innovative financing tools, such as performance contracting, allow the federal government to make much-needed upgrades to federal buildings that cut energy use and utility bills. And by partnering with the private sector to pay for up-front costs, these improvements come at no new cost to taxpayers" said David Friedman, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "The department's support of performance contracting enables immediate cost savings and creates jobs in both large and small American companies. By surpassing the Challenge goal, the federal government will continue to lead by example and demonstrate the enormous potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency."

Building on the momentum of the president's original challenge, in October 2016, the White House also announced the Next Generation Performance Contracting Challenge, which seeks $2 billion in additional energy performance contracts over the next three years, along with two billion gallons of water savings. The new challenge underscores the federal government's commitment to leading the nation toward achieving more sustainable energy, water, and vehicle fleet use, while saving taxpayers money and reducing pollution.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Visit the FEMP website to learn more how the Energy Department enables federal agencies to meet energy-related goals.



Read full here

Expanded emission testing developed during VW case... Fiat-Chrysler notified of violations of federal and California air quality regulations

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has issued a Notice of Violation to FCA US LLC, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., and Chrysler Group LLC (collectively FCA) after detecting the presence of a number of auxiliary emissions control devices (AECDs) in 3.0 liter diesel Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram pickup trucks from model years 2014-2016. FCA failed to disclose these devices, which in some cases significantly increase emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) when activated.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has issued a similar NOV to FCA covering about 104,000 cars and pickups nationally. There are about 14,000 of these vehicles on the road in California.

On September 25, 2015 CARB notified major automakers that diesel vehicles would face expanded emissions testing as part of ARB's In-Use Compliance Program, which includes modified test procedures in the lab, and testing of emissions while the car is being driven on the road in addition to certification test cycles. This enhanced testing program was developed during the Volkswagen investigation and is now being used routinely by CARB for vehicle certification and in-use compliance testing. The current violations were discovered as a result of the enhanced testing procedures.

"Once again, a major automaker has failed to meet their legal obligations for vehicle certification and gotten caught," said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. "CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration."

FCA's actions have created substantial excess, illegal, and on-going emissions and harm that have impacted, and continue to impact, public health and the environment in California. 

Read full here: https://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/newsrelease.php?id=888

Free class Discovering TOXNET and other NLM environmental health databases

Discovering TOXNET® and other NLM environmental health databases through videos, guided hands-on tutorials, and discovery exercises. TOXNET is a web-based system of databases covering hazardous chemicals, environmental health, toxic releases, chemical nomenclature, poisoning, risk assessment, regulations plus occupational safety and health.

The class is taught online in thirteen independent modules.The modules cover TOXLINE, ChemIDplus, TRI, TOXMAP, Hazardous Substances Data Bank, IRIS, Haz-Map, LactMed, WISER, CHEMM, REMM, and a short introductory module.

Who should take the class?

Health sciences librarians, health or environmental science professionals and members of the public interested in unlocking the information in TOXNET and other environmental health and toxicology resources.

How much time?

You will work on your own time over a period of 4 weeks to complete the modules that are of interest to you. There is one required module; the remaining modules are optional.

This class is offered for variable MLA Continuing Education credit. Each module offers from 0.5 to 2.0 credit hours, for a total of up to 12 hours. Credit will not be awarded for partial completion of a module.

What happens during the class?

This course is offered asynchronously through Moodle; you will work at your own pace. Each module consists of guided interactive online tutorials AND/OR tutorial videos, and discovery exercises. Instructors will be available to answer questions via email and provide assistance throughout the course.

The modules are:

  • Introduction to TOXNET: 0.5 hour (Required)
  • TOXLINE: 1.0 hour
  • ChemIDplus: 2.0 hours
  • Integrated Risk Information System & Risk Assessment: 1.0 hour
  • Hazardous Substances Databank: 1.5 hours
  • Toxic Release Inventory: 1.0 hour
  • TOXMAP: 1.5 hours
  • Household Products Database: 0.5 hour
  • LactMed: 0.5 hour
  • Haz-Map: 0.5 hour
  • WISER & CHEMM: 1.0 hour
  • REMM: 0.5 hour
  • Drug Information Portal: 0.5 hour

EPA Moves to Ban the Use of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in Vapor Degreasing as the Second Major Regulatory Action Under Chemical Reform Law

​The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to ban the use of the toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) due to health risks when used in vapor degreasing. The proposed rule was issued under section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Specifically, EPA is proposing to prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of TCE for use in vapor degreasing. EPA is also proposing to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the prohibitions.

Comments on the proposed rule must be received 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

Once finalized, this proposal along with EPA's recent proposal to ban TCE in aerosol degreasers and spot removers in dry cleaning will help protect workers and consumers from cancer and other serious health risks that can result from exposure to TCE. EPA identified risks associated with these TCE uses in a 2014 assessment.  

In late November, EPA announced the inclusion of TCE on the list of the first ten chemicals to be evaluated for risk under TSCA. That action will allow EPA to evaluate the other remaining uses of the chemical.

Read the proposal.
https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/federal-register-notice-trichloroethylene-tce-0

Learn more about EPA efforts to address risks from TCE.
https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/trichloroethylene-tce
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to ban the use of the toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) due to health risks when used in vapor degreasing. The proposed rule was issued under section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Specifically, EPA is proposing to prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of TCE for use in vapor degreasing. EPA is also proposing to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the prohibitions.

Comments on the proposed rule must be received 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

Once finalized, this proposal along with EPA's recent proposal to ban TCE in aerosol degreasers and spot removers in dry cleaning will help protect workers and consumers from cancer and other serious health risks that can result from exposure to TCE. EPA identified risks associated with these TCE uses in a 2014 assessment. 

In late November, EPA announced the inclusion of TCE on the list of the first ten chemicals to be evaluated for risk under TSCA. That action will allow EPA to evaluate the other remaining uses of the chemical.

Read the proposal.
https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/federal-register-notice-trichloroethylene-tce-0 <https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/federal-register-notice-trichloroethylene-tce-0>

Learn more about EPA efforts to address risks from TCE.
https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/trichloroethylene-tce <https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/trichloroethylene-tce>

Webinars on TSCA Title VI Final Rule Requirements

To support the Toxic Substances Control Act Title VI formaldehyde rule implementation, EPA is hosting several upcoming webinars that will cover the requirements of the TSCA Title VI final rule. There will be separate webinars specific to the different categories of regulated entities under the final rule and they will include a Q&A session with EPA staff. EPA will also host webinars for Accreditation Bodies and Third-Party Certifiers involved in the Third-Party Certification program on how to use Central Data Exchange platform to submit applications and reports to EPA.

 

Please visit the EPA's formaldehyde website here for additional webinar dates, links, and call-in telephone numbers. Note that all webinars will be provided in English.

 

Jan 10, 2017

Free Webinar How to reduce solar financing costs U.S. Department of Energy Speaker


Reserve your spot at a free webinar to learn how the U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with the solar industry to build data standards to streamline data collection, reducing processing costs and increasing timeliness for solar installations. We need your expertise to help build the best possible standards - find out how you can get involved and have a say in the data standards that will drive renewable energy expansion.
 
When: January 18 at 3 PM ET
 
What: 60 minute webinar
 
Who: Daniel Boff, Analyst – Sunshot Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy
Tom Tansy, Chairman, Sunspec Alliance
Campbell Pryde, President and CEO, XBRL US
Michelle Savage, VP, Communication, XBRL US
 

Low levels of manganese in welding fumes linked to neurological problems

Welders exposed to airborne manganese at estimated levels below federal occupational safety standards exhibit neurological problems similar to Parkinson's disease, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Further, the more they are exposed to manganese-containing welding fumes, the faster the workers' signs and symptoms worsen.

The findings, published Dec. 28 in Neurology, suggest that current safety standards may not adequately protect welders from the dangers of the job.

"We found that chronic exposure to manganese-containing welding fumes is associated with progressive neurological symptoms such as slow movement and difficulty speaking," said Brad A. Racette, MD, a professor of neurology and the study's senior author. "The more exposure you have to welding fumes, the more quickly those symptoms progress over time."

At high levels, manganese – a key component of important industrial processes such as welding and steelmaking – can cause manganism, a severe neurologic disorder with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease, including slowness, clumsiness, tremors, mood changes, and difficulty walking and speaking. The risk of manganism drove the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) decades ago to set standards limiting the amount of manganese in the air at workplaces. While these safety standards are widely believed to have eliminated manganism as an occupational hazard, researchers who study the effects of manganese exposure have long suspected that there may still be some health effects at levels much lower than what is allowable per OSHA standards.

"Many researchers view what's allowable as too high a level of manganese, but until now there really weren't data to prove it," said Racette, who also is executive vice chairman in the Department of Neurology. "This is the first study that shows clinically relevant health effects that are occurring at estimated exposures that are an order of magnitude lower than the OSHA limit."

Racette and colleagues studied 886 welders at three worksites in the Midwest – two shipyards and one heavy-machinery fabrication shop. Each welder filled out a detailed job history questionnaire, which the researchers used to calculate each participant's exposure by combining the estimated manganese exposure for specific job titles with the amount of time spent in each job.

Each participant also underwent at least two standardized clinical evaluations of motor function spaced a year or more apart and using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. The evaluations were performed by trained neurologists looking for signs of neurological damage such as muscle stiffness, gait instability, reduced facial expressions and slow movement.

A score of 6 or lower was considered normal on the evaluation scale, and those with scores of 15 or higher were placed in the parkinsonism category. Parkinsonism is a set of neurological signs and symptoms similar to what is seen in Parkinson's disease. At their first evaluation, the welders had an average score of 8.8, and 15 percent of the welders fell into the parkinsonism category.

Moreover, participants' scores increased over time, and the welders exposed to the highest levels of manganese showed the biggest changes in their scores, an indication that their neurological problems were worsening faster than those of workers exposed to less manganese.

The scores for workers at the same sites who were not exposed to welding fumes did not change over time, suggesting that welding fumes, not aging, were responsible for the increasing scores.

Racette's team did not directly measure the participants' quality of life, but previous studies by his team have shown that higher parkinsonism scores in welders are associated with more difficulty with activities of daily life such as eating, mobility and writing.

"This is not something we can ignore," Racette said. "I think a qualified neurologist would look at these clinical signs and say, 'There's something wrong here.' This would be having an effect on people's lives."

The most worrisome aspect of the study, Racette said, is that the neurological signs showed up in people with an estimated exposure of only 0.14 milligrams of manganese per cubic meter of air, far below the safety standard set by OSHA at 5 milligrams per cubic meter.

In 2013, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists recommended a limit of 0.02 milligrams of manganese per cubic meter. Some companies already are attempting to keep their workers' exposures below that level by improving ventilation, mandating personal protective equipment and using low-manganese welding wire. However, only OSHA's standards are enforceable by law.

"We can make the workplace safer for welders," Racette said. "Reducing OSHA's allowable levels of manganese would probably make a big difference in terms of safety and help workers avoid such risks."

Newly Discovered Aqueous Electrolyte Expected to Lead to Safe, Low-Cost Li-ion Battery

A research team at the University of Tokyo has discovered a promising lithium-ion conducting liquid using water, which is expected to contribute to the improved safety and lower cost of Li-ion batteries. We here report on the highly safe new electrolyte for Li-ion batteries by introducing an article released on August 30, 2016, by Smart Japan, an online media services provider specializing in energy conservation, storage, and generation. This article is reproduced in an edited form with permission from Smart Japan.

The research team, led by Assistant Professor Yuki Yamada and Professor Atsuo Yamada at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tokyo, announced on Aug. 26, 2016 in Nature Energy, an American science journal, that they have discovered a new aqueous Li-ion electrolyte, a room-temperature hydrate melt, which will significantly contribute to realizing advanced, low-cost and safe storage batteries. It was a joint work with Keitaro Sodeyama, a Strategic Basic Research Programs researcher of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, and Yoshitaka Tateyama and his research group at the National Institute for Materials Science.

Development of new and advanced storage batteries is required in order to realize a society where power sources are dispersed. At present, the main line of storage batteries are Li-ion batteries, which use organic solvents as electrolyte. Because of the use of organic solvent, Li-ion batteries have a risk of high combustibility, and safety measures are necessary to prevent fire or explosion. Aqueous Li-ion batteries, using water instead of organic solvent, are attracting attention as a future target, but are associated with another issue. Water has lower voltage-resistance properties than organic solvent, and is easily decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen, even by low-voltage electric current.

Here, the team succeeded in finding a novel aqueous Li-ion conducting liquid, a hydrate melt, with sufficient stability for practical use. They verified this when two specific lithium salts of different kinds were mixed with water in a certain ratio, lithium salt dihydrate forms a stable liquid at room temperature, at which point lithium salt dihydrate is generally a solid.

While general aqueous solution is decomposed into oxygen and hydrogen with an electric current of about 1.2 volts, the newly discovered hydrate melt was not decomposed by an electric current of 3 volts or more. The analysis using the K computer of RIKEN, a comprehensive chemical research institute in Japan, showed that the high voltage-resistance properties of this hydrate melt are due to its unique liquid construction. According to this analysis, the hydrate melt also shows superior lithium ion transport properties; therefore, it can be used as an aqueous electrolyte for Li-ion batteries.

The team experimentally produced Li-ion batteries of 3.1 volts and 2.4 volts levels with the hydrate melt electrolyte, and these batteries succeeded in performing a reversible reaction, the first such example of an aqueous electrolyte performing at those levels. The capacity of aqueous Li-ion batteries has been limited to 2 volts or less; however, the success of the newly developed aqueous Li-ion batteries shows significant progress toward performance comparable to that of commercial non-aqueous batteries.

The hydrate melt batteries also showed good energy density, comparable to commercial 2.4-volt Li-ion batteries, and they require less than 6 minutes for charging, thus ensuring high-speed charge-discharge.

The group notes that use of an aqueous conducting liquid instead of an organic solvent, which is flammable, harmful and expensive, helps reduce the risk of combustion and fire accidents due to overcharging or accidental breakage. In the event of electrolyte leakage, damage to people or the environment is minimal because water is an atoxic solvent. The hydrate melt is therefore a highly safe battery storage system with high energy density.

The team also notes that the newly discovered hydrate melt will contribute to a cost reduction of batteries. The hydrate melt is produced from water, which is abundantly present in the nature. Moreover, while existing Li-ion batteries need rigorous dry rooms during the production process, the new hydrate melt batteries does not require such rooms; therefore, production equipment can be simplified.

The group now intends to investigate the roots of anomalous properties shown by the hydrate melt, and to explore other novel functions, aiming to establish of a new academic field. The group also plans to develop commercial storage battery devices that can use the hydrate melt electrolyte, identifying and solving problems while progressing toward their goals.

Source: Smart Japan (in Japanese)


EPA: Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria

EPA's recommended aquatic life ambient water quality criteria for toxics are levels of a pollutant or other measurable parameter that allows for protection of aquatic life in our nation's waters. Water quality criteria can be numeric (e.g., the maximum pollutant concentration levels permitted in a water body) or narrative (e.g., a criteria that describes the desired conditions of a water body being "free from" certain negative conditions). States, territories and authorized tribes typically adopt both numeric and narrative criteria. These aquatic life criteria are developed under Section 304(a) of the Clean Water Act.

National water quality criteria for the protection of aquatic organisms and their uses:

Final EPA/USGS Technical Report: Protecting Aquatic Life from Effects of Hydrologic Alteration

Final EPA/USGS Technical Report: Protecting Aquatic Life from Effects of Hydrologic Alteration

Final EPA/USGS Technical Report: Protecting Aquatic Life from Effects of Hydrologic Alteration EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have released a report providing scientific and technical information related to protection of aquatic life from effects of hydrologic alteration. This report presents a literature review of natural flow and a description of the potential effects of flow alteration on aquatic life, as well as examples of water quality criteria that some states have developed to support natural flow and maintain healthy aquatic life. The report also describes a flexible technical and scientific framework that state water managers can consider if they are interested in developing narrative or numeric targets for flow that are protective of aquatic life.

This scientific and technical report is non-regulatory and does not affect or constrain state or tribal discretion.

Hydrologic alteration can include an increase or decrease in water volume, seasonal flow disruption, and dramatic variation in water temperature. Hydrologic alteration can affect aquatic species' ability to spawn, gather nutrients from the stream system, access high-quality habitat, and more. Hydrologic alteration may be further exacerbated through climate change. Recent climate trends have included the change in frequency and duration of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, which can have an impact on flow and affect aquatic life. Maintaining flow targets may help increase a stream's resilience to climate change by reducing or avoiding intensification of existing stressors.

Previously, the report underwent a public comment period, the draft version of this document can be found in the docket EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0335.

Aquatic Life Ocean Acidification and Marine pH

EPA responded in 2016 declining at this time to take the actions requested in a letter from the Center for Biological Diversity that the Agency develop new water quality criteria or additional guidance under CWA section 304(a) to address ocean acidification.

EPA published in 2009 a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) to provide interested parties with information that was submitted to EPA regarding ocean acidification and to solicit additional pertinent data or scientific information that may be useful in addressing ocean acidification. Ocean acidification refers to the decrease in the pH of the oceans caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

Jan 9, 2017

EPA Proposes Adding Natural Gas Processing Facilities to List of Industrial Sectors Covered by the Toxics Release Inventory >

EPA is proposing to add natural gas processing facilities

Rule Summary

EPA is proposing to add natural gas processing facilities to the scope of the industrial sectors covered by the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). This rule proposes to expand coverage to all natural gas processing facilities, which receive and refine natural gas. Natural gas processing facilities that primarily recover sulfur from natural gas are already covered by TRI. Facilities primarily engaged in natural gas extraction (e.g., exploration, fracking, etc.) are not included in this proposal.

Adding these facilities to the TRI would increase the publically available information on chemical releases and other waste management activities of TRI listed chemicals from the natural gas processing sector, while furthering the goals of section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

Rule History

Background on Natural Gas Processing Facilities

Natural gas processing facilities are stationary, surface facilities that receive gas from a gathering system that collects raw natural gas from off-site wells. These facilities prepare the gas to meet industrial or pipeline specifications and extract heavier liquid hydrocarbons from the raw or field natural gas. This processed pipeline-quality natural gas is then transferred to consumers via intra- and inter-state pipeline networks. Natural gas liquids and contaminants separated from the natural gas during the processing are sent downstream to petrochemical manufacturers and refineries, released, or otherwise handled or treated.

In preparing natural gas and associated products, these facilities deal with over 21 TRI-covered chemicals. Accordingly, TRI reporting by these facilities would provide significant release and waste management data that would meaningfully increase the amount of information available to the public and further the purposes of TRI.

Petition Related to the Proposed Rule

On October 24, 2012, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), together with 18 other organizations submitted a Petition to EPA, pursuant to section 553(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act, requesting EPA exercise its discretionary TRI sector addition authority to add the Oil and Gas Extraction industrial sector to the scope of industrial sectors covered by the reporting requirements of the TRI. On October 22, 2015, EPA granted, in part, the Petition insofar as it requested that EPA commence the rulemaking process to propose adding natural gas processing (NGP) facilities to the scope of TRI.

Additional Information on Petition to Add the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry to the List of Facilities Required to Report Under TRI

US Department of Labor issues final rule to lower beryllium levels, increase workplace protections to reduce health risks

WASHINGTON – A new rule issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration dramatically lowers workplace exposure to beryllium, a strategically important material that can cause devastating lung diseases. The new beryllium standards for general industry, construction and shipyards will require employers to take additional, practical measures to protect an estimated 62,000 workers from these serious risks.

Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical and defense industries. However, it is highly toxic when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, or mist into the workplace air that can be then inhaled by workers, potentially damaging their lungs.

Recent scientific evidence shows that low-level exposures to beryllium can cause serious lung disease. The new rule revises previous beryllium permissible exposure limits, which were based on decades-old studies.

"Outdated exposure limits do not adequately protect workers from beryllium exposure," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "OSHA's new standard is based on a strong foundation of science and consensus on the need for action, including peer-reviewed scientific evidence, a model standard developed by industry and labor, current consensus standards and extensive public outreach. The new limits will reduce exposures and protect the lives and lungs of thousands of beryllium-exposed workers."

The final rule will reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit from the previous level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. The rule requires additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training, as well. It also establishes a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter over a 15-minute sampling period.

OSHA estimates that – once in full effect – the rule will annually save the lives of 94 workers from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of beryllium-related disease. Workers in foundry and smelting operations, fabricating, machining, grinding beryllium metal and alloys, beryllium oxide ceramics manufacturing and dental lab work represent the majority of those at risk.

Beryllium exposure is also a concern in other industries. Employees handling fly ash residue from the coal-burning process in coal-fired power plants risk beryllium exposure. In the construction and shipyard industries, abrasive blasters and their helpers may be exposed to beryllium from the use of slag blasting abrasives. Work done in these operations may cause high dust levels and significant beryllium exposures despite the low beryllium content.

To give employers sufficient time to meet the requirements and put proper protections in place, the rule provides staggered compliance dates. Once the rule is effective, employers have one year to implement most of the standard's provisions. Employers must provide the required change rooms and showers beginning two years after the effective date. Employers are also required to implement the engineering controls beginning three years after the effective date of the standards.

The final rule is available today at the Federal Register here.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Jan 6, 2017

Botulism Outbreak from Drinking Prison-Made Illicit Alcohol in a Federal Correctional Facility — Mississippi

On June 9, 2016, the Mississippi Poison Control Center and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) notified CDC of five suspected cases of botulism, a potentially fatal neuroparalytic illness (1), in inmates at a medium-security federal correctional institution (prison A). By June 10, a total of 13 inmates were hospitalized, including 12 in Mississippi and one in Oklahoma (the inmate in Oklahoma had been transferred there after his exposure for reasons unrelated to his illness). MSDH, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Bureau of Prisons, and CDC conducted an investigation to identify the source and scope of the outbreak, and to develop recommendations.

The figure above is a bar chart showing botulism cases (n = 31) in a federal correctional facility, by reported date of hooch exposure and symptom onset in Mississippi during June 1รข€
Prison A staff members suspected that an alcoholic beverage, illicitly made by inmates and known as "hooch" or "pruno," was the source of the outbreak. Among 33 inmates who reported consuming hooch during June 1–19, 2016, a total of 31 (94%) had signs or symptoms suggesting botulism. The median interval from first exposure to symptom onset was 3 days (range = 0–11 days) (Figure). Cases were categorized using modified Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists definitions. A confirmed case was defined as an illness in an inmate consistent with botulism that began on or after June 1, with botulinum toxin type A detected in a serum or stool specimen or Clostridium botulinum cultured from a stool specimen; a probable case was defined as an illness in an inmate with signs or symptoms of any cranial nerve palsy and extremity weakness that began on or after June 1; and a suspected case was an illness in an inmate with signs or symptoms of any cranial nerve palsy without extremity weakness that began on or after June 1.

Thirty-one cases were identified, all in men, including 19 confirmed cases (18 in Mississippi and one in Oklahoma), 10 probable cases (nine in Mississippi and one in Texas), and two suspected cases in Mississippi. Patients from Texas and Oklahoma were transferred from prison A to other prisons before their illness began as part of routine inmate transfers.

Twenty-four (77%) patients were non-Hispanic black, six (19%) were Hispanic white, and one identified as other non-Hispanic (3%). The median age was 36 years (range = 23–47 years). By the end of the outbreak, 24 inmates were hospitalized, including 15 (63%) who were admitted to an intensive care unit and nine (38%) who required intubation and mechanical ventilation; none died. Twenty (83%) patients received botulinum antitoxin; 11 patients with mild illness did not receive antitoxin.

Medical chart abstractions (30) and interviews (30) were conducted for patients in Mississippi (29), Oklahoma (1) and Texas (1) to obtain information on hooch exposure, clinical signs and symptoms, medical management, and patients' understanding of botulism. One patient in Oklahoma was not able to be interviewed, and one patient in Texas did not have a medical chart for abstraction. Among 30 patients interviewed, 27 (90%) had never heard of botulism, and 23 (77%) did not know that drinking hooch could make them sick. Eleven (42%) of 26 patients who responded to questions regarding the frequency of hooch consumption reported drinking hooch at least once a month. Some hooch exposure dates associated with this outbreak coincided with a farewell party for one inmate and the National Basketball Association finals. Although prison A staff members confiscated >20 gallons of hooch during the investigation, the number of circulating batches of hooch immediately before the outbreak, and the ingredients and preparation method of the batch responsible for the outbreak, are unknown. One patient reported that honey, potatoes, apples, and tomato paste from a bulging can were combined, hidden, and fermented in a sealed plastic bag at room temperature for 3–5 days. Possible sources of Clostridium botulinum or toxin include tomato paste, potatoes, other ingredients, or contamination from the environment. Potatoes have been hypothesized as the source of other pruno-associated outbreaks (2).

This botulism outbreak, the largest in the United States since 1978 (3), highlights the clinical spectrum of illness, ranging from total paralysis requiring intensive care and mechanical ventilation to cranial nerve complaints not requiring hospitalization (4). Facility staff members should consider the potential for increased hooch consumption during celebratory events. Educating correctional facility staff members and inmates about the risks of consuming hooch and good communication channels between facility staff members and inmates can help to identify and treat persons with botulism quickly and prevent deaths.

Source:
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6552a8.htm
or  http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6552a8

Lindsey McCrickard, DVM1,2; Mariel Marlow, PhD1,2; Julie L. Self, PhD1,2; Louise Francois Watkins, MD2; Kevin Chatham-Stephens, MD2; Jannifer Anderson3; Sheryl Hand3; Kathryn Taylor, MD3; Jennifer Hanson3; Keiundria Patrick3; Carolina Luquez, PhD2; Janet Dykes, MS2; Suzanne R. Kalb, PhD4; Kaitlin Hoyt4; John R. Barr, PhD4; Todd Crawford, MSN5; Anthony Chambers, MD5; Brian Douthit5; Robert Cox, MD6; Matt Craig, MD6; John Spurzem, MD6; Joseph Doherty, MD6; Michael Allswede, DO7; Paul Byers, MD3; Thomas Dobbs, MD3