46.5 million recipients and the number of households actually receiving benefits increased to a new record of 22.2 million. Lastly, the average monthly benefit per household slide to a multi-year low of $277.27.
May 31, 2012
May 30, 2012
Key findings of the study on OSHA inspections
A landmark new study by business school economists at the University of California and Harvard University confirms that OSHA's inspections not only prevent workers from getting hurt on the job, they also save billions of dollars for employers through reduced workers' compensation costs.
The study, entitled "Randomized Government Safety Inspections Reduce Worker Injuries with No Detectable Job Loss," appeared in the top scientific journal Science and reports that workplace injury claims dropped 9.4% at businesses in the four years following a randomized OSHA inspection, compared with employers who were not inspected. Those same employers also saved an average of 26% on workers' compensation costs, compared to similar companies who were not inspected. This means that the average employer saved $355,000 (in 2011 dollars) as a result of an OSHA inspection. Benefits were observed among both small and large employers. Nationwide, these savings to employers amount to an estimated six billion dollars.
As researchers David Levine, Michael Toffel, and Matthew Johnson explain, "The benefits of a randomized safety inspection appear to be substantial. These results do not support the hypothesis that OSHA regulations and inspections on average have little value in improving health and safety." Furthermore, the researchers found "no evidence that these improvements came at the expense of employment, sales, credit ratings, or firm survival."
Following an interview with study co-author and assistant professor Michael Toffel, Michael Blanding of the Harvard Business School newsletter described the enormity of the findings:
[T]hose who charge that OSHA regulations cost business money have it completely wrong. In fact, the regulations save money. The magnitude of the results surprised even Toffel and Levine, who expected perhaps a small savings if any. But the strength of the findings, they say, should persuade even skeptical antiregulatory critics.
On May 21, Assistant Secretary for OSHA David Michaels responded to the new findings in an entry on the Department of Labor blog, writing:
The fact is OSHA inspections save lives and jobs at the same time. This is not a surprise to me. I regularly hear from employers, both large and small, that they value OSHA inspections and treat the inspector as an additional, expert set of eyes. The findings should finally put an end to the criticisms that OSHA inspections make running a business more expensive without adding value. The results are in: OSHA saves lives and jobs!
Dr. Michaels' full response to the study is available on the Department of Labor blog. A summary of the findings also appears in a ScienceNow breaking report, and subscribers to the journal can access the study at www.sciencemag.org. For more information about what OSHA is doing to protect workers, visit www.osha.gov.
Groundwater depletion has been most severe in the purple areas indicated on these maps of (A) the High Plains and (B) California's Central Valley. These heavily affected areas are concentrated in parts of the Texas Panhandle, western Kansas, and the Tulare Basin in California's Central Valley. Changes in groundwater levels in (A) are adapted from a 2009 report by the US Geological Survey and in (B) from a 1989 report by the USGS. Credit: US Geological Survey
The nation's food supply may be vulnerable to rapid groundwater depletion from irrigated agriculture, according to a new study by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere.
The new LEED draft includes a drastic change – the Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern now references REACH
- Low-Emitting Interiors (which requires emissions testing for 90 percent of interior architectural paint, coatings, adhesives, and sealants)
- Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern (which incorporates the European Union’s REACH framework – 20-30 percent of building materials must conform to REACH)
- Material Ingredient Reporting (which requires disclosure of 99 percent of chemical compounds for 20 percent of all interior materials )
The final version of LEED 2012 was scheduled to be voted on by the U.S. Green Building Council’s membership in June. But given all the controversy over the most recent drafts, the council pushed back the balloting for LEED 2012 to Aug. 15, 2012. The U.S. Green Building Council intends to unveil the final version of LEED at its annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in November 2012. Read more at:
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May 29, 2012
CRS — Chemical Regulation in the European Union: Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals
Chemical Regulation in the European Union: Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Open CRS)
On June 1, 2007, the European Union (EU) began to implement a new law governing chemicals in EU commerce: Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). It is intended to protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals while at the same time protecting the competitiveness of European industry. REACH evolved over eight years and reflects compromises reached among EU stakeholders. The final regulation reduces and coordinates EU regulatory requirements for chemicals new to the EU market and increases collection of such information for chemicals already in the EU market, thus potentially removing disincentives to innovation that existed under the former law. It also shifts responsibility for safety assessments from government to industry and encourages substitution of less toxic for more toxic chemicals in various chemical applications. Some U.S. chemical industry representatives believe that REACH is “impractical,” in part due to the large number of chemicals and difficulties of identifying end uses of chemicals in many products. In contrast, some public-interest groups are urging U.S. legislators to adopt a similar legislative approach.
OSHA has announced that the final rule for GHS, or Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, will become law effective May 25, 2012.
The effective date of the final rule is 60 days after March 26, the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register.
The new GHS rule will be added to OSHA’s existing hazard communication standard, or worker right-to-know law.
OSHA says the GHS rule will help prevent 43 worker fatalities and 585 occupational injuries and illnesses from chemical exposures every year.
According to OSHA, the GHS rule will affect over 5 million workplaces and 40 million workers.
There are two primary groups of employers that will be affected by the GHS rule:
- 90,000 employers that are chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors
- 5 million other employers where their employees use, handle, or store chemicals
4-Year Transition Period
OSHA will allow employers the following phase-in or transition period to comply with the new GHS requirements:
- December 1, 2013 - All employers that use, handle, store chemicals. Train employees about the new chemical labels and safety data sheets or SDSs (formally material safety data sheets or MSDSs).
- June 1, 2015 - Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors Comply with all the requirements of the GHS rule, except compliance with GHS label requirements for distributors by December 1, 2015.
- December 1, 2015 - Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors All shipments of chemical containers must include the GHS-compliant label (signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement).
- June 1, 2016 - All employers that use, handle, store chemicals Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.
Options During Transition
During the phase-in period, employers would be required to be in compliance with either the existing hazard communication standard or the revised standard with GHS, or both.
OSHA recognizes that hazard communication programs will go through a period of time where labels and SDSs under both standards will be present in the workplace. This will be considered acceptable, and employers are not required to maintain two sets of labels and SDSs for compliance purposes.Read more by by John Gran (@FishSouthBay) at:
When we think of rising sea levels, we think of global climate change and melting ice caps. Yet there's a disparity in the raw data. During the second half of the last century, global sea levels rose 1.8 millimeters per year, according to tide gauges. But it's been determined that melting ice caps and glaciers have only contributed to 1.1 millimeters per year of that. So where did the other 0.7 millimeters come from? A new study has a remarkably simple answer: from you.
The extra rise in sea level not accounted for by melting ice caps can be explained by taking into account all the water we are pumping out of the ground and dumping into the ocean, says a team of researchers reporting in Nature Geoscience. Which actually makes a lot of sense.
When humans pump water out of the ground for irrigation, industrial processes, or even simple residential use, some of it is returned to aquifers straight through the ground. Some of it goes into tributaries and rivers and ends up trapped in reservoirs both natural and man-made. But a lot of it wends its way back to the ocean via rivers and streams or is evaporated into the water cycle, eventually reaching the oceans that way. Regardless, the study shows we've been largely underestimating the impact on sea levels caused by pumping water out of the ground and dumping it into the oceans.
That impact, according to the study, is roughly 0.77 millimeters per year between 1961 and 2003--a remarkably tidy number keeping in mind the gap between ice-melt-derived sea level rise and real sea level rise is roughly 0.7 millimeters, and one that far surpasses previous estimates of groundwater's impact on sea levels. The researchers themselves admit that their simulations, while scientific and backed with plenty of data, could always benefit from more and better measurement of groundwater extraction. But the explanation--that pulling water from the ground and putting it into the oceans might contribute to rising sea levels--is just simple enough seem credible, no?
Huge Subsidies ($6.5B) for Electric Vehicles Are Giving Taxpayers High-Voltage Shocks, Simply put, subsidizing electric vehicles doesn't make economic sense.
May 27, 2012
To date, science has not directly linked any environmental exposures with any of the disabling behavioral and cognitive conditions that fall along the autism spectrum. But rising rates of autism along with the increasing breadth and reach of synthetic chemicals raises questions for which scientists are beginning to offer a few answers.
May 26, 2012
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May 25, 2012
Read the rest of Solar Energy Generation Costs to Compete with Fossil Fuels by 2017
The FDA announced on May 11 that they’ll be delaying implementation of pending sunscreen regulations that were supposed to mandate how sunscreens are labeled and marketed. These changes that would have make it easier for consumers to choose safe and effective sunscreens have been put off, apparently due to pressure from cosmetic industry groups. This means that unfortunately, we’ll have to spend another summer with inadequately labeled sunscreen. Click ahead to learn more about the regulations and why they’ve been delayed.
U.S. military scientists have started to test microgrids that would provide clean energy to soldiers in the field, in a bid to mitigate the risks associated with fuel transportation to dangerous areas and to make soldiers’ work less technically complex. Since 2009, scientists from the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) have been developing two systems – RENEWS and REDUCE – which are being tested at the Fort Irwin National Training Center in California, and by U.S. Africa Command. .. Continue Reading U.S. Army tests renewable energy systems for soldiers in the field
With both gasoline and diesel engines having their own particular advantages and disadvantages, automotive component manufacturer Delphi is looking for a best-of-both-worlds solution with a gasoline-powered engine that uses diesel engine-like technology for increased fuel efficiency. According to MIT’s Technology Review, such an engine has the potential to increase the fuel economy of gasoline-powered cars by 50 percent and give hybrid vehicles a run for their money in the fuel economy stakes... Continue Reading Gasoline-powered diesel-like engine could boost fuel economy by 50 percent
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Africa is Experiencing Some of the Biggest Drops in Child Mortality Ever Seen, Anywhere in the World
It is, says Gabriel Demombynes, of the World Bank’s Nairobi office, “a tremendous success story that has only barely been recognized." Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development calls it simply “the biggest, best story in development.” It is the huge decline in child mortality now gathering pace across Africa. The decline in African child mortality is speeding up. In most countries it now falling about twice as fast as during the early 2000s and 1990s. More striking, the average fall is faster than it was in China in the early 1980s, when child mortality was declining around 3% a year, admittedly from a lower base.The decline in African child mortality is speeding up. In most countries it now falling about twice as fast as during the early 2000s and 1990s. More striking, the average fall is faster than it was in China in the early 1980s, when child mortality was declining around 3% a year, admittedly from a lower base.What are the factors responsible for some of the "biggest falls in child mortality ever seen, anywhere?"
What makes a big difference, Mr. Demombynes argues, is some combination of broad economic growth and specific public-health policies, notably the increase in the use of insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) which discourage mosquitoes, which cause malaria.Bednets are often taken as classic examples of the benefits of aid, since in the past they were pioneered by foreign charities. Consistent with the view that aid is vital, Jeffrey Sachs, an American economist, recently claimed that a big drop in child mortality in his Millennium Villages project (a group of African villages that his Earth Institute of Columbia University, New York, is helping) is the result of large increases in aid to villagers. In fact, argues Mr. Demombynes, the mortality decline in these villages was no better than in the countries as a whole.The broad moral of the story is different: aid does not seem to have been the decisive factor in cutting child mortality. No single thing was. But better policies, better government, new technology and other benefits are starting to bear fruit. “This will be startling news for anyone who still thinks Africa is mired in unending poverty and death,” says Mr. Clemens. But “that Africa is slipping quickly away.”
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University of Wisconsin Bioenergy Researchers Win DOE Early Career Awards | Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
Two University of Wisconsin-Madison professors, both researchers in the field of bioenergy, have been selected to receive U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Awards. The DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research selected Jennifer Reed and Garret Suen based on their outstanding research proposals, which were two of the 68 winning entries in a pool of 850.
Though from different scientific backgrounds, both Reed and Suen conduct research to support the development of technologies for producing ethanol and advanced biofuels from renewable resources. Their research subjects include bacteria, and cellulosic biomass—the leaves, stems, and other non-edible parts of plants like grasses and corn.
An assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and a researcher in the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), Reed was selected for her proposal on “Systems Approach to Engineering Cyanobacteria for Biofuel Production.”
Reed uses a systems biology approach to study microorganisms that can produce biofuel as part of their metabolic processes. She also uses computational modeling to engineer strains of bacteria with improved metabolic and regulatory systems, which could help increase the efficiency of biofuel production.
Suen is also interested in bacteria, but his research focuses instead on how they can break down the cellulose in plant tissues in order to release sugars for fermentation to ethanol. A former GLBRC postdoc in Cameron Currie’s bacteriology lab, Suen is now a professor of bacteriology and a researcher with the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative (WBI).
Suen uses biomass breakdown systems found in nature as models for biofuels production. In particular, he studies bacteria that reside in the digestive systems of ruminants like cows in order to understand how microbe communities work in concert to deconstruct plant material. His winning proposal was entitled, “Deciphering the Genetic and Molecular Underpinnings of Carbohydrate‐Degrading Systems in Ruminal Bacteria."
The DOE Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program supports outstanding individual research programs at universities and DOE national laboratories by funding researchers early in their careers. Now in its third year, the program rewards researchers in the areas of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Biological and Environmental Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, and Nuclear Physics.
...the National Toxicology Program's Report on Carcinogens (RoC). The House Republicans' scrutiny of the RoC coincides with industry objections to the Report's listing of styrene as a possible carcinogen. It also follows a strategy common to previous debates over chemical regulation - that of sowing doubt about scientific findings in hopes of averting action on a hazardous substance.
May 24, 2012
The article is really a review of the history and current state of LENR, much of its content is what people following recent developments in LENR research already know. Ritter contacted a number of people involved in the field, including Dennis Bushnell of NASA, Robert Duncan of the University of Missouri, Steven B. Krivit of New Energy Times, and Andrea Rossi. Quite a bit of the article is devoted to describing Rossi’s E-Cat, and emphasizes that as yet it is unproven.
Bushnell maintains that, “From more than two decades of experiments producing heat and transmutations, ‘something’ is real and happening.”
Krivit says of the E-Cat, ““Rossi has no credible evidence for his extraordinary claims, I have stopped paying attention to him.”
Duncan states, ” “I don’t need to have an opinion about the E-Cat. Nobody does. Rossi is claiming to be going commercial with it. If he does deliver to the marketplace, then the marketplace will decide the efficacy of the technology.
PESN has an update on the LENR to Market for May 17.
ECAT Licensees to be revealed October, 2012
Leonardo Corp have a number of Licensees for its products for various regions around the world including its northern Europe Licensee Hydro Fusion Ltd, which also attended the E-Cat 1MW October test. All E-Cat Licensees have attended demos of operating E-Cat units.
A convention will be held for all E-Cat Licensees and is set for October. An official list of all licensees will then be published online at ECAT.com.
ECAT 1 MW Updates
One ECAT 1 MW plant has been delivered and is working in a military facility. Andrea Rossi recently made the following statement:
“The 1 MW plant has been delivered and is working in a military concern. It has been made in the USA, after the October test of the prototype made in Italy; such prototype will be delivered, with the modifications which we will complete based on what we learnt from the model at work, to a European Customer in July. ”
The ECAT 1 MW plant in USA is now stable at very high temperatures.
The industrial plants will get the necessary certification within weeks.
The price for an E-Cat 1 MW plant is still $1.5M; orders can be made from the inquiry form on the right side at this website.
Home ECAT-units will not be available until 2012-2013 due to rigid testing, certification and regulation procedures.
May 23, 2012
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From: The Chicago Tribune
By the early 2000s, the flame retardant known as penta had become a villain. Packed by the pound into couches and other furniture, the chemical was turning up in the blood of babies and in breast milk around the world. The European Union voted to ban penta after researchers linked it to developmental and neurological problems in children, and manufacturers pulled it from the market.
But the only U.S. company that made penta soon introduced a replacement, hailing it as the beginning of an eco-friendly era for flame retardants.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, whose mission is to safeguard America’s health and environment, praised the withdrawal of penta as a “responsible action” and promised that the new flame retardant had none of the problems of the old one. Unlike penta, Firemaster 550 would neither stick around in the environment nor build up in people and wildlife, a top EPA official declared in a 2003 news release.
Today, in sharp contrast to the promises of industry and government, chemicals in the flame retardant are being found everywhere from house dust in Boston to the air in Chicago. There also are signs the chemicals are building up in wildlife, prompting concern that Firemaster 550 or its byproducts could be accumulating in people.
At a time when consumers clamor for more information about their exposure to toxic substances, the chemical safety law allows manufacturers to sell products without proving they are safe and to treat the formulas as trade secrets. Once health effects are documented, the law makes it almost impossible for the EPA to ban chemicals. EPA officials acknowledge they know little, if anything, about the safety of not only Firemaster 550 but most of the other 84,000 industrial compounds in commercial use in the U.S.
Unlike Europe, where companies generally are required to prove the safety of their chemicals before use, U.S. law requires manufacturers to submit safety data only if they have it. Most don’t, records show, which forces the EPA to predict whether chemicals will pose health problems by using computer models that the agency admits can fail to identify adverse effects.
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A group of plant scientists at the University of Missouri have discovered a new, inexpensive approach to extracting an powerful anticancer chemical from soybeans. The incidence of a number of common cancers (breast, colorectal, prostate, bladder, lymphoma, and oral cancers) is lower in Japan by a factor of two to ten times than in North America or Western Europe. The medical profession is edging toward a conclusion that a significant portion of the reduction in alimentary system cancers and breast cancer is associated with the importance of the humble soybean to Japanese diets. .. Continue Reading Natural cancer drug available from soaking soybeans
May 22, 2012
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Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have created a new piezoelectric nanogenerator that promises to overcome the restrictions found in previous attempts to build a simple, low-cost, large scale self-powered energy system... Continue Reading KAIST develops low-cost, large-area piezoelectric nanogenerator
May 20, 2012
"Autoparts manufacturer Delphi has developed a diesel-like ignition engine running on gasoline, providing a potential 50 percent efficiency improvement over existing gas-powered engines. Engineers have long sought to run diesel-like engines on gasoline for its higher efficiency and low emissions. Delphi's engine, using a technique called gasoline-direct-injection compression ignition, could rival the performance of hybrid automobiles at a cheaper cost."
“EPA is committed to a strong and robust IRIS program,” said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This program plays a significant role in protecting the health of our country’s citizens and the environment in which they live. We welcome the NAS’ review of the IRIS assessment development process and look forward to working with them to continue to strengthen the program.”
NAS will conduct a review of the IRIS assessment development process and the changes that are currently being made or planned by EPA in response to NAS’ April 2011 recommendations. NAS will also review current methods for weight of evidence analyses and recommend approaches for weighing scientific evidence for chemical hazard identification. More information about IRIS: http://www.epa.gov/iris
May 19, 2012
Another "Billion dollar Disaster in California" as Big, green energy firms take billions of tax payers dollars for carbon trading ponzi scheme.... If you thought selling bottled water was a genius scam, these guys are selling "hot air"sfgate The auction of emission permits, known as allowances, could generate $1.8 billion next year by one estimate, growing to $5.8 billion in 2015. The amount Californians pay for electricity and gasoline could rise as a result, unless some of the money is returned to them as rebates or dividends.
"That's part of the intent of cap and trade - it's to embed a carbon price signal throughout the economy, and that includes electricity rates," said Jordan Parrillo, a regulatory analyst with the utilities commission's consumer affairs branch - the Division of Ratepayer Advocates.
"These decisions are now upon the state," said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10. "They're upon the Legislature and the governor and the people of California. I'm not really sure if people realize it, but yeah, it's here."
For example, the California Air Resources Board, which is in charge of developing the system, estimated two years ago that gas prices could climb 6 percent by 2020 because of cap and trade. At today's prices, that would equal an increase of 26 cents per gallon. Under one of the commission's less rosy scenarios, the increase could be as much as $1.61.
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100-Foot Subsea Turbine Successfully Installed at World’s First Tidal Farm Off the Coast of Scotland
Tidal farms, which use underwater turbines to harness the power of the planet’s oceans and convert it into electricity, are something that we frequently mention here at Inhabitat. While there are plans to build them all over the world, Scotland achieved a major milestone this week by successfully installing a 10MW tidal power array in the Sound of Islay, off the coast of Orkney.
Mega-lawsuit alleging death, cancer and other illnesses from radioactive emissions from two defunct fuels plants
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