Jul 31, 2018

CARB investigation leads to nationwide recall of 500,000+ Cummins heavy-duty trucks

Owners of 2010–2015 model-year vehicles must replace faulty emissions components

SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board announced today that 500,000 heavy-duty trucks manufactured by Cummins Inc. will be recalled due to excess emissions caused by defective catalysts. Cummins worked collaboratively with CARB on the voluntary recall which constitutes the largest such effort for heavy-duty trucks to date.

The excess emissions were discovered after CARB launched its new Heavy Duty In-Use Compliance program in 2016. The Cummins action marks the first major recall resulting from the program, in which subject vehicles are equipped with Portable Emissions Measurement Systems (PEMS) to measure truck emissions while operating on streets and highways under typical operating demands and conditions.

As CARB has done with light-duty vehicles (cars and pickups) for decades, it initiated a program in 2016 to bring private fleet-owned or rental trucks that had been operating for several years for testing. Initial readings of some of the Cummins engines revealed higher than expected emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a smog-forming pollutant. This led to more comprehensive testing by CARB.

The testing confirmed that the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems were defective, causing emissions of NOx to exceed state and federal standards. The same problem was found to affect about 60 "engine families" under the Cummins name found in a wide range of vehicles, from big-rigs, to larger pickup trucks and some buses.  An engine family is the basic unit that CARB and U.S. EPA use to identify a group of vehicles or engines for certification and compliance purposes.

"Increased vigilance and testing led directly to a positive result.  Our new heavy-duty in-use compliance program ensures that heavy-duty and other trucks already in operation meet the required emissions standards both in the lab and on the road," said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols.  "Our portable testing equipment tells us exactly how clean a truck is when it's actually operating in the real world: pulling a full load and driving on roads and through neighborhoods where people live."

After CARB shared the initial findings with Cummins, the company conducted its own testing to confirm the failures and agreed to institute a voluntary recall, ultimately affecting more than 800,000 vehicles, to replace the catalysts. This number includes about 232,000 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 vehicles with Cummins engines that had the same SCR defect. Recalls for those vehicles were approved in July 2016 and July 2017, respectively, and are already underway.

The trucks will be recalled in a two-phase operation. Starting in August 2018, owners of the 500,000-plus affected vehicles will receive letters with instructions on how to get their catalysts replaced or receive reimbursement for the cost of the replacement. The second phase begins in March 2019.  Replacing the catalyst is required for vehicle owners to renew their California DMV registration on most engine families.

It is noteworthy that the cause of the excess emissions was purely mechanical – the faster-than-expected degradation of the catalyst – and not the product of a 'defeat device' or cheating on tests as was the case with 2009-2015 Volkswagen 2 and 3–liter diesel-powered passenger cars and SUVs. The degrading catalysts also do not pose a safety issue, and do not affect current model year Cummins engine families.

CARB's in-use testing of the vehicles played a key role in identifying the problem.  Once Cummins was made aware of the issue, they cooperated with CARB and U.S. EPA and agreed to recall the full range of engine families, pay for all required repairs and reimburse owners who may have already paid for an SCR replacement.

"CARB plans to continue testing vehicles produced by other manufacturers to ensure California gets the emission reductions it needs so that all people have healthy air to breathe," said CARB Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. 

Following the recall, CARB and EPA will work together to ensure that the affected vehicles will meet all emissions standards.


Jul 27, 2018

California Wine Is Testing Positive for Radioactive Material from the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

ESQUIRE: French scientists just released a study that found trace amounts of radioactive material in California wines from 2011 that are a direct result of Fukushima—in case you had a taste for some slight radiation along with those tannins.

The scientists vaporized bottles of California cabernet and rosé from 2009 to 2012 and studied the ashes for levels of cesium-137, a man-made radioactive particle that you can't pick up from nature. Wine bottled after the 2011 nuclear incident had more cesium-137 than wines from before, The New York Times reports. Some had almost double the amount, swept across the Pacific Ocean in a radioactive cloud. 

A similar thing happened with European wine after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, as well as wine during the height of Cold War nuclear testing.

Don't worry: The radiation levels in the Napa wine are too low to be considered a health risk. The World Health Organization says that people are regularly exposed to more radioactive material than that which was found in food and drink outside Japan after Fukushima. (Ingesting too much cesium-137 can lead to cancer, though.) And California officials say there's no risk to California residents.

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Jul 26, 2018

Agricultural nutrients targeted in Clean Lake 2020 bill and Kasich Executive Order

Recent actions by the Ohio legislature and Governor Kasich will affect the management of agricultural nutrients in Ohio. The Ohio General Assembly has passed "Clean Lake 2020" legislation that will provide funding for reducing phosphorous in Lake Erie. Governor Kasich signed the Clean Lake 2020 bill on July 10, in tandem with issuing Executive Order 2018--09K, "Taking Steps to Protect Lake Erie." The two actions aim to address the impact of agricultural nutrients on water quality in Lake Erie.

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U.S. EPA Region 5 fact sheets on ethylene oxide use and dry cleaner regulations

U.S. EPA Region 5 recently issued an update to their ethylene oxide fact sheet, which now includes a case study.  They have also developed a regulatory update for dry cleaners that includes recommendations for alternatives to percloroethylene (perc). 

Download the ethylene oxide fact sheet at 

Download the dry cleaning regulatory update at 

The next PFAS or BPA? Why businesses must get ahead of hormone-disrupting chemicals

GREENBIZ: American consumers are growing increasingly concerned about food safety and chemical hazards. Over the past 10 years, the market has shifted away from products containing bisphenol A (BPA) — previously found in baby bottles, sippy cups and food packaging — following widespread consumer demand for safer products. But BPA is not the only chemical of concern in the food supply that should be on the radar of sustainability professionals.

Meet the new BPA: phthalates and PFAS. 

Over the past year, a tidal wave of media and public attention has been paid to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, and how they have contaminated the drinking water of millions of Americans coast to coast. But most major grocery, big box and restaurant chains may not realize that PFAS and another class of toxic chemicals called phthalates are hiding in the food and food packaging they serve to their customers every day, posing a hidden business liability to retailers and brands. Phthalates and PFAS are used in food processing, packaging and preparation. In fact, they're found in America's favorite brands of food products, despite that they pose notable hidden financial, legal, regulatory and reputational liabilities to businesses.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lacks the mandate, budget and political will to modernize our broken chemical safety system to address these chemicals. That's why the business community must lead once again, just like it did on BPA.

The opportunity to lead

Grocery stores have the market power and responsibility to meet rising consumer demand for safer food, especially in the absence of leadership by our federal government. We encourage these companies to develop proactive strategies to address the hidden hazards posed by phthalates and PFAS.

Over the last five years, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families has led the Mind the Store campaign to assist and encourage major retailers in improving the chemical safety of the products and packaging they buy and sell. Last year, our second annual "Retailer Report Card" graded 30 companies on their safer chemical policies and practices, including major grocery chains such as Kroger, Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. This fall, we plan to release an expanded report card, which will evaluate an even greater number of companies, including additional grocery stores.

Along with our partners at the Environmental Health Strategy Center and Toxic-Free Future,  last month, we sent letters to over 75 of the nation's top grocery and restaurant chains, urging them to take action on phthalates and PFAS. Let's briefly examine the case for action.

Phthalates in the food supply — a major source of exposure

Eating food is the major way that most people are exposed to these hormone-disrupting chemicals, which many studies link to harm to reproductive health and brain development.

Daily exposure to phthalates poses an unacceptable cumulative health risk to women of childbearing age and young children, according to federal and academic scientists. Phthalates are industrial chemicals widely used to soften plastic (especially vinyl or PVC) and rubber, and in adhesives, inks, sealants, coatings and fragrance. Research shows that phthalates migrate into foods from every point along the supply chain: at the farm level, in processing plants, from food packaging and during food preparation.

Last year, The New York Times broke the story that processed macaroni and cheese was laden with phthalates, which led to a wave of media coverage, posing reputational liabilities to Kraft and other manufacturers. A recent study found that dining out was associated with the highest phthalate exposure among Americans, suggesting that materials used in food preparation in restaurants are an additional source of these chemicals.

Here's the good news: Safer alternatives to phthalates are widely available, effective and affordable. Surely if companies can get them out of vinyl flooring and toys, they can get them out of food contact materials.

PFAS, the highly fluorinated chemicals in food contact materials

PFAS includes some of the most long-lived chemicals known to science. They don't readily break down in the environment, may build up in our bodies and are highly mobile, enabling them to contaminate drinking water.

These highly fluorinated chemicals were commercialized without adequate data or safety assurance. Yet research links PFAS exposure to reproductive and developmental toxicity, harm to the liver and kidney and hormone disruption. The use of PFAS poses a long-term hazard and will continue to release problematic persistent chemicals into the air and drinking water for decades and centuries to come.

PFAS are widely used to impart resistance to grease, stains and water in food serviceware and packaging, textiles and other materials. A 2017 study found that 33 percent of fast food packaging tested still contained PFAS, where they can make their way into our food. Like phthalates, safer alternatives are available.

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Jul 24, 2018

Climate Pollutants Fall Below 1990 Levels for First Time - Emissions down 13% since their 2004 peak while economy grew 26%

Emissions down 13% since their 2004 peak while economy grew 26%

Sacramento — The California Air Resources Board today announced that greenhouse gas pollution in California fell below 1990 levels for the first time since emissions peaked in 2004—an achievement roughly equal to taking 12 million cars off the road or saving 6 billion gallons of gasoline a year.

"California set the toughest emissions targets in the nation, tracked progress and delivered results," said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. "The next step is for California to cut emissions below 1990 levels by 2030 – a heroic and very ambitious goal."

Under Assembly Bill 32 passed in 2006, California must reduce its emissions to 1990 levels (431 million metric tons) by 2020. The 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory published today shows that California emitted 429 million metric tons of climate pollutants in 2016--a drop of 12 million metric tons, or three percent, from 2015.

"In California we see the impacts of climate change all around us, but our efforts to curb its worst impacts are on track.  We are well positioned to meet the challenge of the 2030 target," said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. "This is great news for the health of Californians, the state's environment and its economy, even as we face the failure of our national leadership to address climate change."


Senate Bill 32, signed in 2016, requires the state to go even further than AB 32 and cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious carbon goal in North America.

The state's annual emissions inventory helps keep the state accountable for meeting its emissions reduction targets. Highlights from the inventory published today include:

  • Carbon pollution dropped 13 percent statewide since a 2004 peak; meanwhile the economy grew 26 percent.

  • Per capita emissions continue to be among the lowest in the country. They fell 23 percent from a peak of 14 metric tons per person (roughly equal to driving 34,000 miles) in 2001 to 10.8 metric tons per person in 2016 (roughly equal to driving 26,000 miles). That is approximately half as much as the national average.

  • Carbon pollution dropped 3 percent between 2015 and 2016—roughly equal to taking 2.4 million cars off the road or saving 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel.

  • The "carbon intensity" of California's economy – the amount of carbon pollution emitted per $1 million of gross state product – dropped 38 percent since the 2001 peak and is now one-half the national average.

  • California now produces twice as many goods and services for the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the rest of the nation.

Electricity generation had the largest decline among the sectors. Emissions from this sector declined 18 percent in 2016, reflecting continued growth in renewable energy – such as solar, wind and geothermal – as a result of the state's Renewables Portfolio Standard, and a corresponding drop in natural gas generation. Solar electricity in all forms, including rooftop generation, grew 33 percent, while natural gas fell more than 15 percent.

Thanks to the carbon price signal created by the Cap-and-Trade Program that makes fossil fuel generation more expensive, cleaner out-of-state electricity is increasingly taking the place of fuels such as coal. This included more imports of hydroelectric power from outside the state, which grew by nearly 39 percent in 2016 thanks to abundant rainfall throughout the West Coast.

"Emissions may vary from year-to-year depending on the weather and other factors," said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. "However, this inventory demonstrates that our policies are working to incentivize GHG-free energy sources and ensure the state remains on track to meet its climate targets in 2020 and beyond."

The transportation sector, the state's largest source of greenhouse gases, saw a 2 percent increase in emissions in 2016 because of increased fuel consumption. But the state also saw cars and trucks use a record amount of biofuels – 1.5 billion gallons in all – as a result of the state's Low Carbon Fuel Standard. These low-carbon alternative fuels, consisting mostly of biodiesel, renewable diesel, and ethanol, avoided 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, compared to what would have happened if conventional fossil fuels had been used.

Emissions from the industrial sector – including refineries, oil and gas extraction, cement plants, and other stationary sources – fell 2 percent from 2015 levels, though emissions from refineries increased slightly.

California's primary programs for reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 are the Renewables Portfolio Standard, the Advanced Clean Cars Program, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the Cap-and-Trade Program. Additional programs address a variety of greenhouse gas sources. These include the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Strategy, the Sustainable Communities Strategy and the Sustainable Freight Action Plan.

The 2030 Scoping Plan, adopted by CARB last year, lays out how these initiatives work together to reduce greenhouse gases to achieve California's 2030 target of 260 million metric tons and also to reduce smog-causing pollutants. This ambitious target will require California to more than double the rate at which it has been cutting climate-changing gases. Future reductions will occur against a backdrop of natural sources of GHGs which are increasingly variable because of the climate change California is already witnessing. Those variables include drought, reduced snowmelt runoff and larger and hotter wildfires, any one of which can affect the state's energy balance and emissions levels.

How the Inventory is Compiled

The annual statewide GHG emissions inventory is compiled using many data sources. The primary source is data directly reported to CARB by the largest facilities and companies under the Cap-and-Trade Program. These reports are verified by a CARB-accredited third-party verification body.

CARB also relies on statistical data from various state and federal government agencies in developing the statewide inventory. These agencies include the California Board of Equalization, Energy Commission, Department of Food and Agriculture and CalRecycle, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Geological Survey.   

The latest data for this inventory is from 2016. This is because the process for verifying and validating required reporting of emissions from all facilities under the Cap-and-Trade Program takes more than a year, and additional data undergoes rigorous vetting by other government agencies.

The greenhouse gas emission numbers above are stated in million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).  Scientists use carbon dioxide as the benchmark in comparing the potency of heat-trapping effects among all greenhouse gases. Consistent with international and national greenhouse gas inventory practices, global warming potential in a 100-year timeframe is used in the inventory.

Jul 23, 2018

New Forever Stamp Salutes First Responders

Dedication Ceremony at Montana Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center

First Responders Forever stamp


The firefighters, emergency medical professionals and law enforcement officers who serve our communities across the nation.


Honored on a Forever stamp at U.S. Postal Service first-day-of-issue ceremony


Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
11 a.m. (MDT)


Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center 
5765 W. Broadway St.
Missoula, MT 59808


Emergencies of various types occur in our communities every day, from crimes and medical incidents to accidents and fires. These critical situations require men and women who possess the training and knowledge to rescue the endangered, treat the injured, and restore safety and order. With this stamp, the Postal Service recognizes all first responders for their skill, dedication and uncommon bravery.

Note: The dedicating official will be Guy Cottrell, Chief Postal Inspector, U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Artist Brian Stauffer worked with art director and designer Antonio Alcalá and designer Ricky Altizer to create this stamp. Additional details will be provided before the ceremony date.

Jul 20, 2018

Black Lung rates Continue to Rise in U.S.

In the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health and via the reporting of Howard Berkes from NPR, we know the continued high rates of coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP) is rising among American coal miners.

Jul 19, 2018

Energy Department Announces $3.6 Million in Machine Learning for Geothermal Energy

DOE - The Energy Department today announced up to $3.6 million for 4-6 projects that will focus on early-stage R&D applications in machine learning to develop technology improvements in exploration and operational improvements for geothermal resources. The rapidly advancing field of machine learning offers substantial opportunities for technology advancement and cost reduction throughout the geothermal project lifecycle, from resource exploration to power plant operations.

NIOSH Webinar Integrating Functional Outcomes with Clinical Measures

Integrating Functional Outcomes with Clinical Measures
Tuesday, July 24, 2018 10:00:00 AM PDT - 11:30:00 AM PDT
Join us for a special NIOSH Total Worker Health (TWH) and Center for Workers' Compensation Studies (CWCS) webinar on Tuesday, July 24, 1- 2:30 pm Eastern, in which Dr. Kathryn Mueller and Dr. T. Warner Hudson will explore the benefits of integrating functional outcomes with clinical process measures as a basic approach to patient care in the US.     The speakers will also:  •	Discuss the broad challenges to our health care system that make a transition to this new approach imperative  •	Examine the connection between medical care and disability,   •	Review research supporting a functionally based approach to health care, and   •	Describe a basic path that will make possible a shift of the US health care system toward the integration of functional and clinical process measures for patients.       Each year, millions of American workers develop health problems that may temporarily or permanently remove them from the workforce. Although most are able to work again after a brief recovery period, in approximately 10% of cases, workers incur injuries or illnesses severe enough to lead to prolonged or permanent withdrawal from the workforce. For individuals, life disruptions caused by serious illness or injury are compounded by the economic impact of being out of work. Although workers' compensation and other programs assist injured and ill workers, these programs do not fully cover economic loss and the health care costs brought on by functional impairment, nor can they begin to ameliorate the personal costs and burdens of significant life-disruptions.    By considering functional outcomes with Total Worker Health approaches in workplaces, organizations and occupational safety and health providers and practitioners may begin to better address the challenges faced by workers experiencing these injuries and illnesses. A preventive approach based in TWH concepts may help mitigate risk factors potentially affecting workers both on the job and at home.    Free Continuing Education credits for this event are pending.

Jul 18, 2018

OSHA Fixes Error Dating to 2016 Implementation of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Tracking Regulation

Following a review of the requirements put in place in 2016 regarding the "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" regulation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken action to correct an error that was made with regard to implementing the final rule.

OSHA determined that Section 18(c)(7) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and relevant OSHA regulations pertaining to State Plans, require all affected employers to submit injury and illness data in the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) online portal, even if the employer is covered by a State Plan that has not completed adoption of their own state rule.

The regulation, which took effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms.

OSHA immediately notified State Plans and informed them that for Calendar Year 2017 all employers covered by State Plans will be expected to comply. An employer covered by a State Plan that has not completed adoption of a state rule must provide Form 300A data for Calendar Year 2017.  Employers are required to submit their data by July 1, 2018. There will be no retroactive requirement for employers covered by State Plans that have not adopted a state rule to submit data for Calendar Year 2016.

A notice has been posted on the ITA website and related OSHA webpages informing stakeholders of the corrective action.

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

Jul 5, 2018

OSHA Occupational Chemical Database - FULLY Searchable!!!!

This chemical inventory is OSHA's premier one-stop shop for occupational chemical information. It compiles information from several government agencies and organizations. Information available on the pages includes:
  • Chemical identification and physical properties
  • Exposure limits
  • Sampling information, and
  • Additional resources.

OSHA Standards and Exposure Limits

Employers must comply with a number of standards where employees are potentially exposed to chemical hazards. These include OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limits PELs for about 400 substances, which can be found as follows:

  • General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000, Toxic and Hazardous Substances
    • Air contaminants and Z1, Z2, Z3 tables
    • 29 CFR 1910.1001 - 29 CFR 1910.1018
    • 29 CFR 1910.1025- 29 CFR 1910.1053
  • Construction: 29 CFR 1926.1101, Toxic and Hazardous Substances
    • 29 CFR 1926.1101 – 29 CFR 1926.1153
  • Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000, Toxic and Hazardous Substances
    • Substance-specific standards

OSHA's PELs are included in the "Exposure Limits" table for individual chemicals in the database. In addition, OSHA has separate substance-specific standards, which can be found in the "Notes" section of the "Exposure Limits" table.

Other OSHA standards that generally apply to hazardous substances include the Hazard Communication standard (1910.1200) and the Respiratory Protection standard (1910.134). Employers may also need to provide personal protective clothing (1910.132) where there is a potential hazard from skin contact with chemicals, or eye and face protection to guard against chemical splashes (1910.133).


New sustainable beverage tech could eliminate plastic bottles. Point of use product!!!

North Carolina-based Clear Water Manufacturing has launched a machine that can filter, fill and cap more than 300 bottles of water per one-hour cycle on-site at any location, including campuses, hotels, stadiums or in retail spaces.

Read on at


Target, Tesco, CVS to Require Environmental Impact Data from Suppliers through CDP

Source: Environmental Leader:

Target, Tesco and CVS Health have joined Walmart in an agreement to collect data from suppliers, through non-profit CDP, regarding their overall environmental footprint. By asking suppliers to report on their environmental footprint, the retailers aim to reduce environmental risk and cut carbon emissions in their supply chains. The retailers are three of the new companies that have joined in the supply chain initiative through CDP: the total number of companies now reporting through CDP marks more than a 15% increase from last year, when 99 organizations were requesting data.

....Joining the Ranks

Tesco, CVS Health, and Target join many of the world's leading companies in requesting supplier information through CDP. Others include Bank of America, Barclays, Dell, Imperial Brands, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, LEGO, L'Oréal, Novartis, NRG Energy, Phillips Lighting, Philip Morris International, Royal Phillips, the US General Services Administration, and Virgin Money Holdings.

In total, 115 organizations,representing a combined annual spend of more than $3.3 trillion – are now requesting data from over 11,500 suppliers. This is more than a 15% increase from last year, when 99 organizations requested data.

Web resources could assist chemical risk management

NIEHS News: Two new papers describe publicly accessible web-based tools for exploring environmental chemicals and predicting their risk. These resources will help health policymakers to make faster and more accurate decisions about chemical safety and the need for remediation efforts.

The Conditional Toxicity Value (CTV) Predictor, was described in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. The tool's web portal allows users to rapidly obtain chemical toxicity values, which are predicted using a collection of statistical models.

The second tool was reported May 22 in the journal Bioinformatics. The ChemMaps.comwebserver allows users to easily browse, navigate, and mine chemical space. ChemMaps.com includes DrugMap, which lists more than 8,000 drugs, and EnvMap, which lists more than 47,000 chemicals of relevance to NIEHS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

"For environmental chemicals, we can now visualize the areas of chemical space where we have safety data and where there are clusters of toxic or nontoxic chemicals," said Nicole Kleinstreuer, Ph.D., co-author of the ChemMaps study. Kleinstreuer is the deputy director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM).

"[This will] facilitate green chemistry applications, help prioritize allocation of testing resources, and allow predictions on new chemicals," she explained.

Source: https://factor.niehs.nih.gov/2018/7/science-highlights/chemical_risk/index.htm