Nov 22, 2021

A Power Struggle Over Cobalt Rattles the Clean Energy Revolution

The quest for Congo's cobalt, which is vital for electric vehicles and the worldwide push against climate change, is caught in an international cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship.
The Times dispatched reporters across three continents drawn into the competition for cobalt, a relatively obscure raw material that along with lithium, nickel and graphite has gained exceptional value in a world trying to set fossil fuels aside.

More than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of documents show that the race for cobalt has set off a power struggle in Congo, a storehouse of these increasingly prized resources, and lured foreigners intent on dominating the next epoch in global energy.

In particular, a rivalry between China and the United States could have far-reaching implications for the shared goal of safeguarding the earth. At least here in Congo, China is so far winning that contest, with both the Obama and Trump administrations having stood idly by as a company backed by the Chinese government bought two of the country's largest cobalt deposits over the past five years.

As the significance of those purchases becomes clearer, China and the United States have entered a new "Great Game" of sorts. This past week, during a visit promoting electric vehicles at a General Motors factory in Detroit, President Biden acknowledged the United States had lost some ground. "We risked losing our edge as a nation, and China and the rest of the world are catching up," he said. "Well, we're about to turn that around in a big, big way."


Please read on at:

Nov 11, 2021

Preparing for the worst: Clinic staff practice hazmat decontamination skills

(DC Military) As medical professionals, the staff at Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River have to be prepared for the worst, including a hazmat incident.

To ensure they're ready, they recently completed First Receiver Operations Training (FROT). The 16-hour class culminated with a live decontamination exercise, during which the Sailors practiced decontaminating a patient exposed to a nerve agent.

First, they had to don personal protective equipment and set up a decontamination tent. Then they had to identify the kind of agent involved, apply triage and conduct agent-specific decontamination.

The result: "They crushed it," said Brett Cass, the clinic's Emergency Management Coordinator.

Despite being short-staffed, the Sailors were fully operational in just 6 minutes, 40 seconds, far below the 15-minute requirement, Cass said. They completed the entire exercise — under the watchful eye of a contractor from the Navy Bureau of Medicine — within 24 minutes.

"They knocked it out of the park," Cass said. "They did more with less. Even short-staffed, it was just a phenomenal team effort, and they had to go above and beyond to get it done."

The training is vital in the event of a neurological, biological, radiological, environmental or nuclear incident, Cass said. That could be anything from an anthrax attack to a gas spill.

Under the leadership of Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ryan King, the clinic's FROT team leader, 10 Sailors completed the class, which is required by the Medical Inspector General. They earned their Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The class was eye-opening, said Aviation Boatswains Mate (Fuel) 2nd Class Matthew Hardy, who works in Occupational Health at the clinic.

"Anything can happen at any time and we have to try to be prepared for that reality," he said. "That's why we train to try to save as many people as we can."

Read full by By Kathy Hieatt NHCPR Public Affairs Officer at:
https://www.dcmilitary.com/tester/tenant_profile/preparing-for-the-worst-clinic-staff-practice-hazmat-decontamination-skills/article_b8674c4b-c65f-5d2f-a326-9cb4beaa0591.html

Nov 5, 2021

Free Virtual Workshop Addressing Racism As a Public Health Issue Through the Lens of Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice

Workshop Addressing Racism As a Public Health Issue Through the Lens of Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice: From Problems to Solutions

The workshop will foster dialogue among NIEHS employees, outside researchers, and members of the community to examine racism as a public health issue. The workshop seeks to:
  1.     Raise awareness of the problem of systemic racism in America and its contributing role to Environmental Health Disparities (EHD).
  2.     Inform the NIEHS community of current EHD research and outreach activities in Environmental Justice (EJ).
  3.     Engage regional and local community leaders involved in EJ advocacy networks to discuss best practices for community engagement.

Background
The social unrest and protests that erupted in 2020, helped spur the need for the American people to have serious discussions about race and the systems that have contributed to growing health disparities and disproportionate environmental exposures. In one of his first acts after being inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. This directive encourages a comprehensive approach for promoting equity for all, especially people of color.

This workshop will focus on the systemic problem of racism in America and its contributing role to EHD. It will include keynote presentations and interactive panel discussions that feature national and local EJ leaders.

For more information and register here:
https://tools.niehs.nih.gov/conference/ejworkshop2021/

Nov 4, 2021

Join EPA for a Webinar on the GenX Chemicals Human Health Toxicity Assessment

As part of EPA's Strategic Roadmap to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the agency has released the final human health toxicity assessment for Hexafluoropropylene Oxide (HFPO) Dimer Acid and its Ammonium Salt, members of the PFAS group referred to as "GenX chemicals". The agency's final GenX chemicals toxicity assessment represents a key step in advancing the scientific understanding of GenX chemicals and their effects on human health.
 
Please join EPA's webinar on November 12, 2021 from 10:00 – 11:00am EST for an overview of the toxicity assessment.
 
View EPA's October 25th press release announcing the toxicity assessment: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-key-step-advance-science-better-protect-communities-pfas-pollution

Nov 2, 2021

DOE Announced Nearly $200 Million to Reduce Emissions From Cars and Trucks

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vice President Kamala Harris joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in New York yesterday to announce the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $199 million to fund 25 projects aimed at putting cleaner cars and trucks on America's roads, including long-haul trucks powered by batteries and fuel cells, and at improving the nation's electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. In New York, they discussed the enormous benefits of electrification and alternative-fuel technologies, through programs like SuperTruck, to combat the climate crisis and create good-paying jobs across the country.

Transportation emits more carbon pollution than any other sector of the U.S. economy, making up approximately 29% of emissions. The announcements align with DOE's commitment to reaching President Biden's goals of having zero-emission vehicles make up half of all vehicles sold in America by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.

"As America's solutions department, DOE is working with manufacturers and industry partners to reimagine vehicle transportation across the country to achieve our climate goals—from lowering carbon emissions to increasing efficiency and affordability," said Secretary Granholm. "This investment and the innovations that come from it will help shape our clean energy future and strengthen domestic manufacturing that support good-paying careers for hardworking Americans."


https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-announces-nearly-200-million-reduce-emissions-cars-and-trucks

OSHA launches initiative to protect Midwest workers from occupational exposure to hazardous substances, other health hazards

OSHA‒ Occupational exposure to hazardous substances, such as asbestos, formaldehyde and cadmium, can lead to cancer and other long-term serious health diagnoses years after exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

To reduce employee exposure to health hazards and encourage companies to make workplace safety and health a priority, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regional office in Kansas City has established a Regional Emphasis Program targeting OSHA's Top 50 High-Hazard Health Industries.  

"Workers should not have to risk their health for a paycheck," said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City. "OSHA's goal is to increase awareness of the dangers of such exposures and ensure employers are implementing required safety and health procedures to prevent potential lifelong illness."

OSHA will focus its health inspections on employers with documented employee exposure through previous agency inspections and at companies in similar industries. The agency determined that relying solely on injury and illness data is inadequate in identifying exposure to these workplace hazards because the onset of symptoms can occur years after exposure. The emphasis program will assist in developing an inspection targeting system to identify those worksites with health hazards.

The Regional Emphasis Program's initial phase will include informational mailings to employers, professional associations, local safety councils, apprenticeship programs, local hospitals and occupational health clinics, and OSHA presentations to industry organizations and stakeholders. OSHA will also encourage employers to use the agency's free consultation services to help them implement noise safety strategies and ensure compliance with OSHA standards.

OSHA offers several compliance assistance resources on preventative measures, including respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, occupational noise exposure, and hazard exposure and risk management.

OSHA encourages employers to take steps to identify, reduce and eliminate hazards related to exposure to hazardous substances during the REP's initial phase. Following its three-month outreach that began on Oct. 1, the REP empowers OSHA to schedule and inspect select manufacturing industries in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Learn more about OSHA.

Oct 2, 2021

EPA, MPCA Begin $16 Million Project to Remove Contaminated Sediment from Duluth-Superior Harbor

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in partnership with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has begun a $16 million Great Lakes Legacy Act cleanup in the St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC). This project is one of a number of projects that the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and MPCA are working on in an effort to restore this 1,020-square mile AOC spanning Minnesota and Wisconsin--the second largest AOC on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes Basin.

"EPA continues to make substantial progress toward its ultimate goal of cleaning up the St. Louis River Area of Concern," said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Cheryl Newton. "Along with current restoration efforts at Spirit Lake, and other projects in the AOC, this recent project agreement for new work at the Pond Behind Erie Pier demonstrates that our strong federal, state and local partnership is making the restoration of this AOC a reality."
 
"Completion of the Pond Behind Erie Pier cleanup project will, in effect, put us over the halfway mark for remediation on the Minnesota side of the St. Louis River Area of Concern," said MPCA Commissioner Peter Tester "The MPCA and its partners have completed similar projects at Minnesota Slip, Slip 3, Slip C and Azcon slip, all of which restore and revitalize habitat and aquatic life. The collective impact of these projects offer exciting opportunities that support healthy families, recreation, and Minnesota's economy."

"The Great Lakes are a national treasure and vital to the economy and environment in Minnesota and our entire country," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar "The restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem is estimated to provide $50 billion in long-term economic benefits for the region and this project will ensure that the restoration of the important Saint Louis River area habitat continues. As one of the vice-chairs of the Great Lakes Task Force, I look forward to continuing this important work to protect the Great Lakes for generations to come."

Former industries contaminated the area with mercury, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxin/furans and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. A dredge will remove approximately 45,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from two backwater ponds and the adjacent Shopper's Creek. Covering the ponds with a 6-inch layer of clean sediment will create a barrier against any residual contamination and provide a healthy habitat for native organisms. Dredged sediment will be stored over the winter in geotextile tubes which act like large strainers to drain water. In the spring, dried sediment will be removed from the geotextile tubes and taken off-site for disposal.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is supervising the cleanup which is focused near Interstate 35 and Highway 2 directly west of the Erie Pier confined disposal facility. A 1-mile stretch of the Cross City Trail will be rerouted until September 2022.

In addition to this project, EPA recently announced a $6M sediment cleanup in Scanlon, Minnesota.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 as a non-regulatory program to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.

 Find out more at:

Sep 24, 2021

Keeping Trash Out of the Great Lakes: EPA Awards over $725,000 to Address Trash in Lakes Erie and Michigan

City of Erie, Pennsylvania, and University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh to implement trash collection projects to reduce trash in Lake Erie and Lake Michigan

CHICAGO (September 23, 2021) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh $417,830 and the city of Erie, Pennsylvania $309,300 to keep litter and trash out of Lakes Michigan and Erie. EPA provided the Trash-Free Waters Grants under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, or GLRI.

"EPA is committed to protecting the Great Lakes and these projects will make a visible difference," said acting EPA Regional Administrator Cheryl Newton. "Removing trash from the Great Lakes is just one of many ways we are working to restore this incredible natural resource."

City of Erie, Pennsylvania
The city will use two types of collection devices to remove floating and submerged trash in Garrison Run, a heavily polluted tributary to Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie. A "crate litter trap" uses two boom arms to capture floating litter from the water's edge. A partially submerged "litter boom" will trap and route trash to a concrete container on the stream bank. The city estimates that the devices will stop up to 4,000 pounds of litter and trash from entering the bay and the lake each year.

"Lake Erie is our region's greatest asset," said Erie's Mayor Joseph V. Schember. "Keeping trash and other debris from entering the lake helps present and future generations as well as local wildlife have cleaner water to thrive and grow."

University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

The university will purchase a trash skimmer boat to target several key waterways that drain into Green Bay and Lake Michigan. This two-hulled catamaran will collect litter and debris from Sturgeon Bay and the Fox, Ahnapee, Kewaunee and Manitowoc Rivers. The university will also purchase two stationary bins to passively capture trash in smaller areas.

"The U.S. EPA Trash Free Waters funding of trash collection at accumulation points in northeast Wisconsin will be a critical step in the clean-up and prevention of trash accumulation at major water access points in northeast Wisconsin," said University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh Chair of Sustainable Technology Gregory Kleinheiz. "In this region Great Lakes water resources are vital to the economy and society of each community.  The ability to address trash deposition and accumulation long-term is critical to protecting these water resources for all that use these resources."

Both recipients will be funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as part of a larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Specifically, the funded work supports the GLRI goal of protecting and restoring the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes basin. The GLRI was launched in 2010 as a non-regulatory program to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.

Read full at:
https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-funding/great-lakes-restoration-initiative-glri
 

Jul 27, 2021

Recycling Infrastructure Plan Released and Webinar

Washington, D.C.  – The Recycling Is Infrastructure Too Campaign released its first Recycling Infrastructure Plan today.  There are a total of 50 initiatives and requests for funding of $3.3 billion in physical infrastructure, and $3.3 billion for Infrastructure Support Policies and Programs for the first year. Over a three year period, the Plan recommends a total investment of $16.3 billion. The National Recycling Coalition (NRC), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and Zero Waste USA issued a request for the inclusion of "waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting that will stem climate disruption, address racial justice, and create thousands of jobs throughout the country" in a March 31st press release. This Recycling Infrastructure Plan is the follow-up, with detailed policies and programs that should be included in the infrastructure discussions on Capitol Hill.
 
Recycling Infrastructure Needs"The Plan  presents the following Recycling Infrastructure initiatives, brought forward by a coalition of national reuse, recycling and composting experts, local government organizations and environmental leaders that desire to strengthen our national recycling infrastructure," stated Richard Anthony, Vice President for Advocacy of Zero Waste USA. These initiatives are presented as investments in physical infrastructure, and then needed investments in supporting infrastructure needed to maximize the efficiency and use of these physical investments.  "Adding billions of dollars in economic activity to the American economy each year, the recycling circular economy is in its infancy, while recycling infrastructure is fractured and in need of repair much like U.S. bridges and road systems," stated Bob Gedert, NRC President. With a combination of investments in physical infrastructure (like collection vehicles, carts and processing facilities) and supporting infrastructure (e.g. policies, programs, education and training), the American recycling infrastructure will grow significantly beyond the economic strength it currently is, creating the circular economy described by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation and already accomplished in large part in China. Gedert further noted: "The dollar estimates for each initiative are for the first year of a proposed 3-year investment strategy. The focus for these investments is on one-time expenses that would modernize the industry, and then be sustainable thereafter based on fees for services. The recommended funding source for this infrastructure investment could continue to help fund supporting infrastructure thereafter, and also be used to help fund other climate change initiatives."

Proposed Funding for Recycling InfrastructureRuth Abbe, President of Zero Waste USA highlighted that "this Plan also provides for innovative funding mechanisms for this infrastructure investment, to avoid the need  to be supported solely by the General Fund of the U.S. Government. Many European nations have adopted significant fees on landfills of $20-40/ton to fund recycling programs and reduce greenhouse gases. This proposal recommends that the Federal government adopt a national $20/ton Producer Responsibility  Fee on landfills and incinerators to help fund the above programs and contribute a new revenue source that would actually help meet the nation's Climate Change goals at the same time." Gedert noted that "Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs that hold producers fiscally responsible, but not physically responsible, for the proper management of products and packaging they produce according to the Zero Waste Hierarchy of Highest and Best Use are suggested to be used for hard to recycle items." National or State level EPR programs should require a local government reimbursement from industry fees because local governments bear the first line of expense of products' end-of-life management costs.  These EPR programs provide their own funding for the development of needed infrastructure, so should be considered as self-contained, fully funded infrastructure programs. These programs don't require a Federal investment of financial capital. Instead, these just require a Federal investment of political capital to establish these programs.  Neil Seldman from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance noted "There are also 5 Initiatives that reduce or eliminate Federal subsidies and will stimulate the development of infrastructure, once the marketplace adjusts. As a result, these should be considered as contributing to offsetting the cost of some of the proposed infrastructure investments. These programs reduce Federal investments of financial capital." Seldman continued "Other funding sources could include a fee on non-recyclable packaging and products that are toxic to the environment or create needless waste." Examples include but are not limited to disposable floor cleaning pads, paper towels, and mercury switches in sneakers to create light.

Recycling Infrastructure Plan Webinar
Join on July 27th at 2 - 3:30 pm EDT  to hear more details about this Recycling Infrastructure Plan. Register for this FREE Webinar and to get a link to the Plan at:  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UAq6sNmkS8qyEKBpGNGViw

Jul 6, 2021

DOE Announces $27 Million To Accelerate Ocean Wave Energy Technology To Market

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $27 million in federal funding for research and development projects to convert energy more efficiently from ocean waves into carbon-free electricity. This funding opportunity aims to advance wave energy technologies toward commercial viability, and supports the Biden-Harris Administration's efforts to build a clean energy economy that will create good-paying jobs and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"Oregon is helping lead the nation in our efforts to harness the unlimited energy potential in America's oceans and lakes," said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "With wave energy, we have the opportunity to add more renewable power to the grid and deploy more sustainable energy to hard to reach communities. DOE's investments in America's businesses and universities developing these new technologies will propel our clean energy future."

Read more
https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-announces-27-million-accelerate-ocean-wave-energy-technology-market

DOE Announces Technical Assistance for Local Governments on Waste-to-Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are pleased to announce the Phase 1 selections for the Waste-to-Energy Technical Assistance for Local Governments Program.

This technical assistance program was created to mobilize national laboratory analyses and technical expertise around energy and resource recovery from organic waste streams (e.g. food waste, sewage sludge, animal manure, as well as fats, oils, and greases). The insights and analyses will provide an avenue for municipalities and tribal governments to make informed decisions about closing waste loops and generating additional value streams from waste.

Read more
https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/doe-announces-technical-assistance-local-governments-waste-energy

Jul 3, 2021

FDA No Longer Authorizes Use of Non-NIOSH-Approved or Decontaminated Disposable Respirators - Letter to Health Care Personnel and Facilities

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is revoking the Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for non-NIOSH-approved disposable respirators (revocation effective July 6, 2021) and the EUAs for decontamination and bioburden reduction systems (revocation effective June 30, 2021). As of the effective date of the revocations, these devices will no longer be authorized for use by health care personnel in health care settings. These actions are in follow-up to the May 27, 2021, letter in which the FDA recommended a transition away from non-NIOSH-approved disposable respirators as well as from reusing decontaminated or bioburden-reduced disposable respirators.

Based on the increased domestic supply of respirators approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and consistent with CDC's updated recommendations and in alignment with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) recently published Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect health care workers, the FDA believes health care facilities should not use crisis capacity strategies any longer. Crisis capacity conservation strategies were previously recommended to address respirator shortages earlier during the COVID-19 outbreak.

A combination of HEPA air cleaners and universal masking reduced air borne exposure by up to 90%.

Summary

What is already known about this topic?

Ventilation systems can be supplemented with portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners to reduce the number of airborne infectious particles.

What is added by this report?

A simulated infected meeting participant who was exhaling aerosols was placed in a room with two simulated uninfected participants and a simulated uninfected speaker. Using two HEPA air cleaners close to the aerosol source reduced the aerosol exposure of the uninfected participants and speaker by up to 65%. A combination of HEPA air cleaners and universal masking reduced exposure by up to 90%.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Portable HEPA air cleaners can reduce exposure to simulated SARS-CoV-2 aerosols in indoor environments, especially when combined with universal masking.


View suggested citation

Jul 1, 2021

COVID-19 pandemic reflects an abrupt drop of between 86% and 94% in preventive cancer screenings

Conducting population health management is challenging for most health care entities. Doing it during the COVID-19 pandemic makes it exponentially more difficult.

Provider support of chronic care patients has been achieved via telehealth more over the past year than ever before. This is an exciting improvement, but it comes at a price – screenings for both adults and children have declined steeply due to the pandemic. According to the Epic Health Research Network, EHR data showed an abrupt drop of between 86 and 94 percent in preventive cancer screenings performed across the United States in spring 2020 compared to 2017-2019 historical averages.

"Telehealt" may provide some solutions....

Read more from  "Population Health Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic"
https://www.providertech.com/population-health-management-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Jun 23, 2021

Free Course on COVID-19 Risk Assessments and Safety Plans

The health and safety of all workers should be a priority for employers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether they are working onsite, at home, or plan on returning to work.

To support managers, supervisors, and health and safety committees in keeping their workers protected, CCOHS has developed a free online course on COVID-19 risk assessment and safety plans. These plans outline the steps to reduce exposure; procedures to monitor exposure and health; and what to do if someone reports or shows signs or symptoms of infection.  

Learn about both work and personal factors to consider when assessing and preventing the risk of exposure, reviewing a safety plan to ensure it is effective, and keeping up to date with current COVID-19 guidelines.

Take the course for free: COVID-19 Workplace Risk Assessment and Safety Plan
https://www.ccohs.ca/products/courses/covid-risk-plan/

OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard and General Industry Guidance on COVID-19

On June 21, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published in the Federal Register an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19. The standard focuses on protecting workers in health care settings with 10 or more employees where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated. This includes employees in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, as well as emergency responders, home health care workers, and employees in ambulatory care settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated.  OSHA also announced new general industry guidance for the coronavirus that is aligned with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.  The new ETS requires non-exempt facilities to conduct a hazard assessment and have a written plan to mitigate virus spread, and requires healthcare employers to provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment.  OSHA has requested comment on the ETS, which by statute remains in effect for 180 days.

Comments are due on or before July 21, 2021 and can be filed at (https://www.regulations.gov/document/OSHA-2020-0004-1033).
   
Please visit OSHA's COVID-19 webpage to read the new healthcare ETS and related guidance at COVID-19 Healthcare ETS | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets)

It’s raining ‘forever chemicals’ in the Great Lakes - Scientists found high levels of PFAS in raindrops.

A team of U.S. and Canadian scientists analyzed rainfall at six sites across the Great Lakes region and found high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, at all the sites, including, surprisingly, rural Michigan. The rainwater samples contained PFAS levels between 100 to 400 parts per trillion (ppt). For comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "safe" limit for drinking water — not rainwater — is 70 ppt.

The findings highlight the ubiquitous nature of PFAS chemicals, man-made substances used in common household products because of their water-, oil-, and grease-resistant qualities. Firefighting foam is also a main source of PFAS. Commonly referred to as "forever chemicals," their legacy can be found everywhere — in soil, groundwater, lakes, oceans, and now, even the rain.

"All of these products that we use in our everyday life are treated with PFAS," Marta Venier, an environmental chemist at Indiana University and the principal investigator for the research, told Grist. "So every time we use them, there is either dust or air where these chemicals are released."

PFAS chemicals are transported through the air and then deposited via precipitation into the environment, where it accumulates, can be ingested by wildlife, and can wind up in the human body. Studies indicate that exposure to PFAS chemicals can cause reproductive, liver, kidney, and immunological damage in laboratory animals. It's also a possible carcinogen — two PFAS chemicals have been shown to cause tumors in animal studies.

The new research was conducted by the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network, a monitoring program funded by the U.S. EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office, and managed by Indiana University.  

Beginning last August, scientists collected ambient air and rainwater samples for 38 different PFAS compounds from six sites across the Great Lakes region: Cleveland, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois, Sturgeon Point, New York, Point Petre in Ontario, Canada, and Sleeping Bear Dunes and Eagle Harbor, both in Michigan. Both the rural and urban sites' rainwater showed high levels of PFAS contamination.

Please read full at:

Jun 16, 2021

Opportunity for Director, Environmental, Health & Safety / Site Lead.

Opportunity for a leading pharmaceutical services organization looking for an Associate Director, Environmental, Health & Safety / Site Lead. This individual will be a culture change agent, responsible for at least two sites in the Detroit area. Rapidly growing company, preparing for a multi-million dollar, multi-site expansion. Scaling to 24/7 operations, high potency APIs.

For more information contact: Jamie Weisbrot Kipnes - jweisbrot(at)kleinhersh.com

Jun 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at:
https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/us-department-energy-announces-145-million-accelerate-deployment-geothermal

Jun 7, 2021

Asthma-Safer Cleaning and Disinfecting Update

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

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


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

Resources

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

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

Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma – OHB web page

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

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

May 25, 2021

DOE Announces $14.5 Million to Combat Plastics Waste and Pollution

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

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

Read full at:

Apr 27, 2021

FET - Hazardous Waste Webinar May 4, 2021

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

Next Week!

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

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



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

 

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Please read on from source:

https://cen.acs.org/analytical-chemistry/chemical-sensing/Analysis-finds-difficult-to-detect-chemicals-in-mothers-and-newborns/99/web/2021/04?PageSpeed=noscript

Apr 13, 2021

New study finds toxic chemicals in water systems across the US

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

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

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


Read full at (The Hill)

Mar 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

Read full from OSHA
https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/03122021

Mar 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 1, 2021

OSHA Proposes Revisions To Hazard Communications Standard

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

Comments are due to OSHA by April 19, 2021.

Read the Federal Register notice or file comments here:

Feb 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Read on from source:

Feb 10, 2021

New TSCA Restrictions for 5 PBT Chemicals

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

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

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

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

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

Please read on at:

EPA Clarifies New PFAS Restrictions

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

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

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

Read the complete PFAS guide now.

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

Please read full at:

Firefighters Battle an Unseen Hazard: Their Gear Could Be Toxic

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

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

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

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

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


Please read full at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/26/climate/pfas-firefighter-safety.html