Oct 30, 2017

Webinar recording available: Avoiding the Next Chemical Catastrophe: Strategies for Chemical Threat Reduction

The recording of the ACS webinar from earlier this month on Avoiding the Next Chemical Catastrophe: Strategies for Chemical Threat Reduction is now available at:

The summary of the webinar is:
Every lab has chemicals that are vital to research and experimentation but these same chemicals whether you are in industry or academia, can be stolen and used by non-state actors for malevolent acts.  Join Andrew Nelson of Sandia National Laboratories as he introduces strategies to mitigate the risks that small labs and universities face with theft of chemicals for chemical weapons, explosives, and illicit drug production.

What You Will Learn
• Why chemical security is important to all labs with current examples of incidents
• What considerations must be made in a security risk management system
• How chemical security is a teachable skill and what resources are available to you today

Oct 27, 2017

EPA annoucement: Alternative Test Methods to Reduce Vertebrate Animal Testing: Announcement of Public Meeting

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act amended Section 4(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require EPA to develop a Strategic Plan by June 22, 2018 to promote the development and implementation of alternative test methods and strategies to reduce, refine or replace vertebrate animal testing.

EPA is announcing a public meeting on November 2nd, 2017 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to obtain input from interested parties and the public on the Agency's development of the Strategic Plan. EPA believes this early feedback will be important in developing a strong Strategic Plan. Goals and objectives to inform the Strategic Plan and that can be used for discussion and comment are available here.

Interested parties may provide input about the draft Strategic Plan during the meeting. Additionally, written comments may be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0559 at www.regulations.gov and must be received no later than 60 days following the meeting.

To register to attend the meeting and for more information, visit the EPA's Alternative Test Methods webpage.

The Agency will consider input from the meeting and from written comments to develop a draft Strategic Plan that will be shared with the public for comment.

Oct 26, 2017

Free webinar: Using the EPA WARM Tool to Communicate the Environmental Benefits Associated with Material and Waste Management

Session Description 


As health care organizations develop climate strategies and set greenhouse gas reduction goals, they are increasingly looking to measure the impacts of waste reduction strategies and its role in achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets. The EPA's WARM Tool calculates and totals Greenhouse Gas emissions of baseline and alternative waste management practices—source reduction, recycling, anaerobic digestion, combustion, composting and landfilling. Further, a related EPA tool translates greenhouse gas reduction into readily understandable impacts, like number of cars removed from the road.

Join the EPA as they explain how you can use the WARM tool to measure material and waste diversion efforts on greenhouse gas reduction and communication to key stakeholders.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how waste contributes to greenhouse gas generation and its role in climate mitigation strategies.
  • Understand how to access and use the EPA WARM Tool for greenhouse gas tracking as it relates to material and waste management strategies.

Pricing: FREE! 


Tyler Rubright

US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery

Tyler Rubright is a biologist in the US EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. His primary role focuses on using data measurement and analytics surrounding Municipal Solid Waste to inform program direction and provide stakeholder information. These efforts seek to expand the analysis of material flows in order to increase recovery of valuable resources from the waste stream and prevent various forms of further pollution. Prior to joining the EPA, Tyler was an Albert Schweitzer Fellow researching the health effects of proximate unconventional natural gas drilling in southwestern Pennsylvania. This fellowship complimented data-intensive research examining ambient air quality effects on heart attack risk. Tyler earned his Bachelor of Science in biology from Furman University, Master of Science degree in environmental and occupational health from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Certificate of Public Health.

Nathan Wittstruck

US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery

Nathan Wittstruck is an economist with the US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. Before transitioning to the waste office's measurement branch, he promoted sustainable materials management, worked on e-waste issues and helped develop voluntary consensus standards. Nathan also spent one year in the international branch supporting work on key environmental issues in the US-Mexico border region and with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Currently, Nathan's primary role is the management of the WARM tool, which includes stakeholder engagement and overseeing technical improvements to the tool. Before joining the EPA, Nathan gained international experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama and as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Bogota, Colombia. Nathan has a master's degree in economics from the University of California, Riverside.

Proposed Mercury Reporting Rule

As required by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, EPA is proposing a rule to require reporting from persons who manufacture (including import) mercury or mercury-added products, or otherwise intentionally use mercury in a manufacturing process. This reporting rule must be finalized before June 22, 2018. Comments can be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0421. The 60-day comment period will begin upon publication in the Federal Register.

EPA is required by the amended TSCA to carry out and publish in the Federal Register not later than April 1, 2017, and every three years thereafter, an inventory of mercury supply, use, and trade in the United States. Mercury is defined as "elemental mercury" and "a mercury compound." The Agency published its initial inventory report in March 2017.

The proposed rule, when finalized, would support future, triennial publications of the inventory. Based on the information collected, the Agency is directed to identify any manufacturing processes or products that intentionally add mercury; and recommend actions to achieve further reductions in mercury use.

EPA Raises Radiation Limits For Emergency Responders

FORBES - Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set new radiation guidelines that raise the acceptable limits on the radiation dose that can be tolerated by first responders and emergency personnel in the case of a nuclear incident, radspill, terrorist attack like a dirty bomb, or any other radiological emergency.

'According to radiation safety experts, radiation exposures of 5-10 rem (5,000-10,000 mrem or 50-100 mSv) usually result in no harmful health effects, because radiation below these levels is a minor contributor to our overall cancer risk,' EPA said in the document. Present limits are 0.5 rem or less depending on the situation.

....These EPA changes raise the radiation limits that emergency personnel can take, making them less fearful of responding to an event, which will make this weapon less effective, and will make any radiological incident less deadly. The change was included as part of EPA guidance on messaging and communications in the event of a nuclear power plant meltdown or a dirty bomb attack. The September 2017 FAQ document, is part of a broader planning document for nuclear emergencies, but is not a federal standard or a law.

Unless you, the reader, are in a boat out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you're getting a radiation dose between 0.2 and 1 rem/year (0.002 and 0.01 Sv) in the United States, just from background sources such as rock, dirt, potatoes and cosmic rays (EPA Rad Limits). Some places in the world have background doses ten times higher than we do, without any differences in cancer rates.

There have never been any observable health effects from doses less than 10 rem (0.1 Sv). Ever. Anywhere.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, exposure limits are set at 4 millirem (or mrem) a year, and federal standards for hazardous air pollutants limits radiation exposure to 10 mrem a year. Federal regulations limit exposure for living near a nuclear power plant to 25 mrem a year. These limits are between 10 and 100 times below background radiation levels in the United States, 1000 times below background radiation levels in than many areas of the world.

...Our ultralow limits have cost the United States close to a trillion dollars, and will cost us a lot more in the years to come (Low-Level rad SummitAtomic InsightsReason.com). This latest step by the EPA is also driven by none other than the Government Accounting Office. More and more reports indicate that the forced evacuation in Fukushima was not necessary (Fukushima 2.25). The panicked Japanese authorities were following our American policy (As Low As Reasonably Achievable, or ALARA) that has always been misinterpreted to mean any and all radiation is dangerous no matter what level.

Read full at: 

Oct 19, 2017

Evaporation could power 69% of the nation’s annual electrical generation

Natural evaporation could provide most of the electricity used by the US and also save about one fifth of the water it uses, scientists believe.

​ -
The flow of water vapour into the atmosphere
it happens wherever there is liquid water – could generate up to 325 gigawatts. This is 69% of the nation's annual electrical generation. The same process could save about 25 trillion gallons of water every year. This is about one fifth of US water consumption.

And the same technology could be exploited as a natural battery to conserve renewable energy for those moments when the wind fails to turn the turbines or at night when the solar power plants lie idle.

There is a catch. The project has been demonstrated so far only in the laboratory. But the small-scale experiments with what its inventors call the evaporation engine show that the new source could in theory complement other, more fully developed renewable technologies.

And it would work even more efficiently in those hot landscapes most prone to drought: California, Arizona and Nevada, the researchers say.

A team from Columbia University report in the journal Nature Communications that they based their calculations on data from 934 weather stations across the United States to calculate the potential power – sometimes called latent heat –  packed by the upward flow of water molecules from all the lakes and reservoirs larger than 0.l square kilometres in the contiguous US. They excluded rivers, farmland, coasts and the Great Lakes.

The experimental technology exploits natural biology and physics. The evaporation engine controls humidity with the action of a shutter and the expansion and contraction of bacterial spores in response to this process is transferred to a generator that delivers current.

The study is yet another instance of the scale and range of ingenuity repeatedly demonstrated by the world's laboratories in search of alternatives to the fossil fuels that so far have driven human economies, but now threaten to drive global warming and potentially catastrophic climate change.

US researchers have exploited computer studies and scaled up existing technologies to show, again and again, that the US could be fuelled by wind, sunlight and water power and that what works for the US could drive development in many parts of the world. The argument is that the knowhow exists: what is lacking is the political will.

But the Columbia scientists make no such claims: they have devised their own way of exploiting the water cycle in a manner that would actually reduce evaporation in the warmest, driest states and at the same time siphon electrical energy from the process.

They can also demonstrate the system's potential as a renewable battery that exploits already existing infrastructure such as a reservoir or lake.

But they have yet to test the technology on a larger scale, and beyond the laboratory: at a reservoir, or in a greenhouse. The latest study calculates the potential energy drifting upwards from standing water, on cold days as well as hot.

"We have the technology to harness energy from wind, water and the sun, but evaporation is just as powerful," said Ozgur Sahin, a biophysicist at Columbia University, and the senior author. "We can now put a number on its potential." 

Oct 18, 2017

Obesity Responsible for 40 Percent of ALL Diagnosed Cancers

Obesity Responsible for Cancers
  • More than 630,000 Americans were diagnosed with obesity-related cancer
  • Obesity-related cancers accounted for 40 percent of all diagnosed cancers
  • Obesity-related cancers accounted for 55 percent of all cancers in women and 24 percent of cancers in men
  • Considering more than 20 percent of American adolescents are already in the obese category; awareness of the obesity-cancer link needs to grow if we're to successfully combat cancer rates in coming decades
  • Visceral fat is particularly hazardous. Recent research links excess belly fat alone (regardless of bodyweight) to an increased risk for lung and gastrointestinal cancers in postmenopausal women
  • Obesity is associated with significant medical costs and lost productivity. An obese 20-year-old who sheds enough weight to drop down into the overweight category will save nearly two-thirds of his or her lifetime costs

Nearly 30 percent of the global population is overweight or obese and this has a significant impact on cancer rates, experts say. In a 2014 report, obesity was linked to an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year.1,2 More recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the reality is far grimmer than that — at least in the U.S.

Obesity-Related Cancers on the Rise in the US

While cancers unrelated to obesity declined by 13 percent between 2005 and 2014, obesity-related cancer incidence rose by 7 percent, and in 2014 more than 630,000 people were diagnosed with obesity-related cancer in the U.S. alone.3,4,5 Overall, obesity-related cancers accounted for a whopping 40 percent of all diagnosed cancers in 2014. As reported by Reuters: 6

"According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, 13 cancers are associated with overweight and obesity. They include meningioma, multiple myeloma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, and cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus and colon and rectum (colorectal)." 

Previous data from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) suggests excess body weight is responsible for about 25 percent of the relative contribution to cancer incidence, ranking second only to smoking.7 When combined with other high-risk behaviors, such as a poor diet and lack of exercise, the relative contribution rises to 33 percent, making optional lifestyle-related factors a significant contributor to many cancers.

Obesity-Related Cancers Disproportionally Affect Women

Women are at greatest risk. Compared to men, women are more than twice as likely to develop obesity-related cancer,and the longer a woman is overweight, the greater her risk.9 The latest CDC data shows that 55 percent of all cancers in women were related to obesity whereas obesity accounted for "just" 24 percent of male cancer cases.10 Overall, endometrial, ovarian and postmenopausal breast cancer accounted for 42 percent of all obesity-related cancers.

According to the authors, "Observational studies have provided evidence that even a 5-kg (11-pound) increase in weight since early adulthood is associated with increased risk of overweight- and obesity-related cancers." Despite such evidence, few people are fully aware of this association.

As noted by CDC deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat,11 "That obesity and overweight are affecting cancers may be surprising to many Americans. The awareness of some cancers being associated with obesity and overweight is not yet widespread." Considering the fact that nearly 71 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese, and over 20 percent of adolescents are already in the obese category,12 awareness of this link needs to grow if we're to successfully combat rising cancer rates in coming decades.

'Fat and Fit' Myth Promotes Unhealthy Ideals

Many still hold fast to the idea that you can be overweight and metabolically healthy, or "fat and fit," but the cases in which this might be true are few and far in between. While this notion helps combat weight-related depression and poor self-esteem, it ignores the very real health risks associated with excess body weight.

As noted in a 2013 review and meta-analysis13 that included data from more than 61,000 people, obese individuals were more likely to die sooner or have heart-related problems than people of normal weight — even if they were otherwise healthy — causing the researchers to conclude that:

"Compared with metabolically healthy normal-weight individuals, obese persons are at increased risk for adverse long-term outcomes even in the absence of metabolic abnormalities, suggesting that there is no healthy pattern of increased weight."

More recent research confirms that visceral fat — the fat buildup around your internal organs, which typically shows as an increased waist size — is directly associated with insulin resistance, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and cancer. In the U.S., Greece, Iceland and New Zealand, over 90 percent of adult men and half of all children were found to have this risk factor.14

Belly Fat Especially Risky for Postmenopausal Women

As noted by Medical News Today,15 "So-called metabolically obese normal weight individuals may still have impaired health, and up to 50 percent of these individuals may be ignored by current BMI [body mass index] measurements." Other recent research has linked excess belly fat alone (regardless of bodyweight) to an increased risk for lung and gastrointestinal cancers in postmenopausal women. According to study author Line Maersk Staunstrup, a doctoral student at Nordic Bioscience ProScion in Denmark:16

"The average elderly women can very much use this information, as it is known that the menopause transition initiates a shift in body fat towards the central trunk area. Therefore, elderly women should be especially aware of their lifestyle when they approach the pre-menopause age."

How to Measure Your Body Composition

Indeed, BMI has been repeatedly shown to be an unreliable way to measure a person's body composition as it fails to take into account muscle mass and intra-abdominal (visceral) fat mass.

A far more accurate measurement is to measure your waistline (the distance around the smallest area below the rib cage, above your belly button) in relation to your height. Waist circumference is the easiest anthropometric measure of total body fat. A general guide for healthy waist circumference is as follows:

Waist Measure for Men
Waist Measurement for Women

Alternatively, you can measure your waist-to-hip ratio. This is done by measuring the circumference of your hips at the widest part, across your buttocks. Then measure your waist at the smallest circumference of your natural waist, just above your belly button. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement to get the ratio, or use the University of Maryland's online waist-to-hip ratio calculator.17

Normal Waist to Hip Ratio

The High Cost of Obesity

Other research also deconstructs the "fat and fit" notion, showing obesity eventually takes a toll on health — and finances — even if the person is currently healthy. Using computer modeling, the researchers estimated the financial cost of obesity for different age groups. As an example, a 50-year-old obese individual with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels has a price tag in excess of $36,000 in direct medical care and lost productivity.

Not surprisingly, weight loss was associated with significant savings. Not only could health insurance premiums be lowered across the board if society as a whole did not struggle with an excess of obesity-related health problems, but individuals would also save on co-pays, and they'd be able to maintain their productivity in the workforce. As reported by Medicine Net:18

"The researchers estimated that if an obese 20-year-old shed enough pounds to drop to the overweight category, almost two-thirds of his lifetime costs to society could be avoided … If a healthy but obese 70-year-old crossed to the overweight category, her lifetime costs could be cut by about 40 percent …"

How Excess Weight Contributes to Cancer.... read on at:

Oct 5, 2017

Wal-Mart Steps Up Push to Shed Potentially Harmful Chemicals

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding its program to clean up the products it sells, setting a 2022 target for reducing potentially harmful substances and widening the list of chemicals it wants to avoid.

The world's largest retailer aims to reduce the chemicals in products such as household cleaners, cosmetics, skin care and infant items by 10 percent by then, according to a company statement Wednesday. It's also added some fragrance allergens to its so-called priority list of substances it wants to remove from goods.

The new goal is the latest in the retailer's efforts to respond to consumers seeking greener products and more information about what's in them. Last year, Wal-Mart named eight high-priority chemicals it wants eliminated from the goods it sells, and it's on schedule to have the chemicals listed on its broader priority list labeled online and on packaging next year.

"We're trying to center around a broader approach that emphasizes three elements: building trust, delivering impact and really staying ahead of regulation," said Zach Freeze, Wal-Mart's senior director for strategic initiatives for sustainability.

Wal-Mart said it will promote two additional product-verification programs to help guide consumers. Freeze said the company still supports the Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Choice program and wants to expand the number of products certified under it. Wal-Mart's own dish soap -- which was launched earlier this year and attained Safer Choice certification -- is doing well, he said.

FREE WEBINAR SERIES: Funding Decentralized Wastewater Treatment with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) is a low interest source of funding for the installation, repair, and upgrading of decentralized wastewater treatment systems. In fiscal year 2016, the CWSRF provided $29.3 million to decentralized projects.

Join the EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund and representatives from the Washington State Departments of Health and Ecology, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and Minnesota Department of Agriculture as we discuss innovative partnerships and financing mechanisms for funding decentralized wastewater treatment systems, including a public-private partnership between Washington Department of Health, Department of Ecology, and a Washington nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution.
We hope you will join us on October 12, 2017 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT
for this exciting online presentation and discussion!


If you have trouble joining the meeting, call Adobe Connect at 1-800-422-3623.


Audio will be broadcast from your computer. Make sure to test your computer capabilities prior to the forum by running the Adobe Connect Test prior to the webinar:

Rebecca Brown
Washington Department of Ecology

Jeremy Simmons
Washington Department of Health

Desiree Sideroff

Kathy Emery
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

Dwight Wilcox
Minnesota Department of Agriculture

All webinars will be recorded and made available online.

Yucca Mountain H.R. 3053, Nuclear Waste Policy, limit DOE’s authority to collect certain fees charged to utilities with nuclear plants to cover the costs of disposing

Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), the federal government, through the Department of Energy (DOE), is responsible for permanently disposing of the nation's nuclear waste in a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. H.R. 3053 would not change that fundamental requirement, but would temporarily limit DOE's authority to collect certain fees charged to utilities with nuclear plants to cover the costs of disposing of the waste they generate and would authorize DOE to enter into agreements to provide benefits to state, local, and tribal governments that might host or be affected by facilities related to the waste management program.

View full here:

Free webcast Walking-Working Surfaces questions @jjkeller has answers

Thursday, October 5th   1 PM Central Time
(2 ET, 12 MT, 11PT) – Register Now!

Last November, OSHA finalized the walking-working surfaces rule that revised Subpart D in its entirety. Since that time, many employers have struggled to understand the depth and breadth of the changes, as well as the impact on their workplace. 

During this webcast, we will answer the most frequently asked questions by hundreds of general industry employers about the new requirements to help ensure compliance and prevent slips, trips, and fall in your workplace.

We'll also take your questions during our Q&A portion of the event!

 Register Now
Featured Speakers:
  Jennifer StroscheinJennifer Stroschein
Workplace Safety
J. J. Keller & Associates

 MIchelle GraveenMichelle Graveen
 Workplace Safety
 J. J. Keller & Associates 

NIOSH Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular and Other Chronic Disease Prevention Program, Program Performance One Pager (PPOP)

NIOSH: The Cancer, Reproductive, Cardio-vascular and Other Chronic Disease Prevention Program provides lead-ership in preventing work-related diseases related to many types of cancer, reproductive health, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as occupational neurologic and renal disease. This snapshot shows recent accomplishments and upcoming work.

What are our priorities?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular and O

ther Chronic Disease Prevention (CRC) Program works with partners in industry, labor, trade associations, professional organizations, and academia. The program focuses on:

  • Preventing and reducing incidence of occupational cancer
  • Preventing and reducing incidence of adverse reproductive outcomes related to work
  • Preventing and reducing incidence of occupational cardiovascular disease (CVD)

NIOSH Recognizes National Nanotechnology Day

NIOSH: On October 9, the U.S. nanotechnology community will come together to celebrate the second National Nanotechnology Day. Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on a near-atomic scale with the goal of developing new and improved advancements in medicine, consumer products, energy, materials, manufacturing, and other fields. The annual event is an opportunity to inform the public about nanotechnology, share scientific accomplishments that benefit industry and society, and promote its future possibilities and benefits.

As with any new technology, it is important to identify and mitigate potential hazards or risks. NIOSH is the leading federal agency conducting research and providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of nanotechnology. NIOSH is committed to disseminating knowledge on the responsible advancement of this technology and has developed focused practices for small businesses, medical surveillance of nanotechnology workers, and effective engineering controls. NIOSH has also produced risk assessments including recommended occupational exposure limits for ultrafine titanium dioxide and carbon nanotubes. More information is available on NIOSH  website.

In recognition of National Nanotechnology Day, NIOSH is bringing together Wikipedians and scientists to lead an effort to update Wikipedia articles on health and safety information pertaining to nanomaterials. Wikipedia editors from the Midwest will join NIOSH scientists in Cincinnati to learn the latest advances in nanotechnology health and safety and communicate that information as content on Wikipedia. This effort will provide the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office with additional resources to share with the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative.

Updated Website for Hazardous Drug Exposures in Healthcare

Update your bookmarks! NIOSH recently updated the Hazardous Drugs and Antineoplastic Agents webpages to enhance user navigation experience. All information related to our hazardous drugs listing, including antineoplastic agents, can now be found at one location. Stay tuned to this website for future updates to the NIOSH Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs List.

Find Publicly Available Data You Can Easily Analyze! Use the NIOSH Data Visualization Tool to Examine OSH Issues

NIOSH recently added new data sets to its Worker Health Charts (WHC) tool. Built for researchers, educators, health professionals, and policy makers, WHC can be used to visualize occupational data for research and public health purposes. WHC produces different chart types depending on the query options you select. Email any questions or comments to WHC.niosh@cdc.gov.

NIOSH - New Respiratory Protection Program Training Available

NIOSH and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) recently released a new Respiratory Protection Program Training. The program includes a respiratory protection course and accompanying resources for occupational health professionals who want to learn more about OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard and the role of the respiratory protection program administrator. You do NOT need to be an AAOHN member to participate in this free training or access the training resources.

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

Occupational hearing loss can happen as a result of workers' exposure to loud noise. Noise levels over 85 decibels can be hazardous to hearing. If you have to raise your voice to speak to someone an arm's length away, the noise levels may be loud enough to damage your hearing. This October, remind your colleagues that noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable. To learn more, visit NIOSH's website for noise and hearing loss prevention and read our feature article on hearing protection.

Tox-App: An App to Search for Potential Environmental Health Hazards in your Community

Use Tox-App, a free mobile app for iOS users from the National Library of Medicine, to search for industrial facilities that reported releasing certain chemicals into the environment (based on data from the US EPA TRI program). Tox-App includes a subset of about 100 TRI chemicals for the most current TRI year. You can download Tox-App from the Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tox-app/id1227471020?mt=8

Tox-App is based on the National Library of Medicine online tool TOXMAP and provides some of the basic TOXMAP functions, including:

- Search for reporting facilities by name or state
- Browse for facilities by chemical, state, or county
- View locations of reporting facilities on an interactive map

Learn more about Tox-App here:

Oct 4, 2017

OSHA’s Mobile-Friendly Publication on Training Requirements is Easy to Use on the Job

Our comprehensive guide to Training Requirements in OSHA Standards is a valuable reference to help employers, safety and health professionals, and training directors comply with the law and keep workers safe. However, at more than 250 pages, the printed version can be cumbersome to carry on some jobsites. That's why the guide available in digital (MOBI and EPUB) formats; it can be read on a smartphone or tablet and easily searched for the standards that apply to specific industries or activities. Visit OSHA's website to download a copy.

New Fact Sheets Available on Protecting Workers in Laboratories and Shipyards

Two new OSHA fact sheets provide information on assessing and preventing hazards in specific worksites.

  • Preventing and Managing Laboratory Worker Exposure to Zika Virus provides guidance on protecting workers in biomedical laboratories from infection by the virus. It includes information on performing risk assessments and standard biosafety practices for laboratory work involving pathogens.
  • Evaluating Shipyard Competent Person Programs is aimed at protecting shipyard workers from exposure to dangerous atmospheres, particularly in or around confined and/or enclosed spaces aboard vessels. The fact sheet offers guidance on determining the necessary qualifications of experts who must be employed to determine whether a confined space is safe for workers and prescribe protective measures.

Top Stories OSHA to delay enforcement of crystalline silica standard in the construction industry OSHA Memorandum Outlines 30-Day Enforcement Plan for Silica Construction Standard Enforcement of OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standard for construction went into effect on Sept. 23. The agency announced in a September 20 memorandum a 30-day enforcement phase-in to help employers comply with the new standard. Citations may be considered for employers not making any efforts to comply. For more information on silica hazards and OSHA’s standard, visit the Silica Final Rule webpage. Top 10 OSHA Violations Announced at National Safety Congress Top from left: Fall Protection, Hazard Communication, Scaffolding, Respiratory Protection, Lockout/Tagout Bottom from left: Ladders, Powered Industria Top from left: Fall Protection, Hazard Communication, Scaffolding, Respiratory Protection, Lockout/Tagout Bottom from left: Ladders, Powered Industrial Trucks, Machine Guarding, Fall Protection

OSHA has awarded $10.5 million in one-year grants to 80 organizations through the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. The program funds grants to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups, employer associations, unions, joint labor-management associations, and colleges and universities. See the list of Fiscal Year 2017 Susan Harwood Training Grant recipients for details on the education and training offered by each awardee.

Top 10 OSHA Violations Announced at National Safety Congress

Top from left: Fall Protection, Hazard Communication, Scaffolding, Respiratory Protection, Lockout/Tagout Bottom from left: Ladders, Powered Industria
Top from left: Fall Protection, Hazard Communication, Scaffolding, Respiratory Protection, Lockout/Tagout
Bottom from left: Ladders, Powered Industrial Trucks, Machine Guarding, Fall Protection – Training Requirements, Electrical – Wiring Methods

On Sept. 26, at the National Safety Council's annual Congress & Expo, OSHA Deputy Director of Enforcement Programs Patrick Kapust announced the preliminary list of 10 standards most frequently cited by the agency's inspectors during Fiscal Year 2017. Fall protection was the most-cited standard for the seventh year in a row, followed by Hazard Communication, and Scaffolding. The only new addition to last year's list was Fall Protection – Training Requirements, which came in at ninth place. OSHA publicizes the Top 10 list to increase awareness of these standards so employers can take steps to find and fix the hazards to prevent injury or illness.

Oct 3, 2017

Micro Hydro as Farmland Protection against Wild Animals

Simple and easy-to-install micro hydro generators are being introduced on a broad scale in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan on July 26, 2017. One newly installed generator recently began operating in an irrigation canal in the Shiota district of Hikari City, located in the southeast area of the prefecture.

The installation was done by Hikari City Chikurin-kai, a group engaged in conservation of nearby "satoyama," rural areas comprising flat farmland set against forested hills. The group purchased and installed a simplified-type micro hydro generator made by local manufacturer Taiko Kikai Industries. The total installation cost of 300,000 yen (about US$2,700) was subsidized by the Seven-Eleven Foundation.

The generator generates 4.8 watts of electricity from a head of 0.8 meters and flow of four liters per second. The electricity is supplied to some 3,000 meters of electric fencing and to LED lighting used as street lamps. These systems are for protecting local produce from wild animals such as boars.

It was the eighth small-scale hydro generator introduced in Yamaguchi. Other communities are using the electricity procured from micro hydro generators set in irrigation canals to protect farmland from boars and monkeys and to illuminate school routes. They offer good examples of the utility of small-scale hydropower as an independent power source, one that can bring electricity to areas beyond the reach of conventional sources.

Source: Smart Japan (in Japanese)

Oct 2, 2017

Better Plants Program Partners Save $4.2 Billion in Energy Costs

DOE- Department of Energy (DOE) announced that partners in its Better Buildings, Better Plants Program have saved about $4.2 billion in cumulative energy costs across nearly 3,000 facilities that represent about 12 percent of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint. In addition, DOE is recognizing the achievements of nine partners who have met their energy or water savings goals this year and welcoming 12 new partners who have joined the program.  

Today, close to 200 Better Plants partners are reducing energy costs to strengthen their productivity, create jobs, and increase their resiliency. As part of the broader Better Buildings Initiative, Better Plants partners voluntarily set a long-term goal, typically to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent over a 10-year period across all their U.S. operations. DOE supports these efforts with technical expertise and national recognition

Read the full report to learn more about this year's successes and how the Better Plants program plans to boost competitiveness through improvements in energy efficiency.

Through the Better Buildings Initiative, the Energy Department is partnering with public and private sector organizations to make commercial, public, industrial, and residential buildings more energy efficient over the next decade while creating thousands of jobs. These partners have contributed to over 1,000 solutions on the Better Buildings Solution Center


Energy Department Launches Up to $15 Million to Tackle Solar Desalination

DOE - The U.S. Department of Energy today announced new funding to develop revolutionary solar desalination technologies that will help create freshwater from otherwise unusable waters. Desalination treats seawater, brackish water, and contaminated water for use in municipal and industrial water supplies, or to reclaim contaminated water. The Solar Energy Technologies Office expects to make $15 million available for 7 to 10 projects that explore early-stage technologies with the prospect of significantly reducing the cost of desalination through solar thermal energy.

"By integrating solar technology with desalination, we can dramatically lower the cost of creating clean water," said Charlie Gay, Solar Energy Technologies Office director. "Solar desalination can not only be used in creating freshwater from saltwater, but also to clean wastewater from industrial processes."

Electricity costs account for up to half of the operating expenses for desalination operations and require plants to be grid-connected. Solar power, either in the form of electricity or thermal power, has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of desalination, while enabling smaller, more portable systems.

Selected projects will help improve established solar desalination technologies and create low-cost designs for solar thermal collection and storage. Successful sub-components will be tested in an integrated system and will demonstrate a credible pathway to commercial development. The projects will be awarded as cooperative agreements, and will require between 20 to 50% cost share, which ensures that federal research dollars are responsibly spent. This represents a total public-private funding of nearly $20 million.

Each project will also need to demonstrate significant improvements over best-in-class, near-commercial systems, produce repeatable results, and include clear, market-driven objectives. For example, projects that seek to address challenges facing municipal markets that utilize seawater for desalination will need to demonstrate success in creating low-cost freshwater at high volumes. Water that is produced at oil and gas well sites, by contrast, will have a particularly high salt content that is generated away from electric grid infrastructure. This makes reverse osmosis desalination technologies unpractical, but presents a significant market opportunity for solar thermal desalination.

Learn more about the department's solar energy research and concentrating solar power research

Earth's sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn:

Perhaps of interest, although depressing is this article in the Guardian:

The scientists found that a third of the thousands of species losing populations are not currently considered endangered and that up to 50% of all individual animals have been lost in recent decades. Detailed data is available for land mammals, and almost half of these have lost 80% of their range in the last century. The scientists found billions of populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians have been lost all over the planet, leading them to say a sixth mass extinction has already progressed further than was thought.

Billions of animals have been lost as their habitats have become smaller with each passing year.

The scientists conclude: "The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe."

They say, while action to halt the decline remains possible, the prospects do not look good: "All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life."

Wildlife is dying out due to habitat destruction, overhunting, toxic pollution, invasion by alien species and climate change. But the ultimate cause of all of these factors is "human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich", say the scientists, who include Prof Paul Ehrlich, at Stanford University in the US, whose 1968 book The Population Bomb is a seminal, if controversial, work.

"The serious warning in our paper needs to be heeded because civilisation depends utterly on the plants, animals, and microorganisms of Earth that supply it with essential ecosystem services ranging from crop pollination and protection to supplying food from the sea and maintaining a livable climate," Ehrlich told the Guardian. Other ecosystem services include clean air and water.

"The time to act is very short," he said. "It will, sadly, take a long time to humanely begin the population shrinkage required if civilisation is to long survive, but much could be done on the consumption front and with 'band aids' – wildlife reserves, diversity protection laws – in the meantime." Ceballos said an international institution was needed to fund global wildlife conservation.

The research analysed data on 27,500 species of land vertebrates from the IUCN and found the ranges of a third have shrunk in recent decades. Many of these are common species and Ceballos gave an example from close to home: "We used to have swallows nesting every year in my home near Mexico city – but for the last 10 years there are none."

The researchers also point to the "emblematic" case of the lion: "The lion was historically distributed over most of Africa, southern Europe, and the Middle East, all the way to northwestern India. [Now] the vast majority of lion populations are gone."

Read on at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/10/earths-sixth-mass-extinction-event-already-underway-scientists-warn