Apr 29, 2020

Dr Michael Osterholm, head of CIDRAP, weekly podcasts on covid-19

In case you haven't heard these, Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of CIDRAP (Univ of MN Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy), has spent his life working with epidemics and he's been giving weekly podcasts on covid-19 for 5 weeks. They are listed here:
  •         Episode 1: How We Got Here (March 24, 2020)
  •         Episode 2: The Global Coronavirus Response (March 31, 2020)
  •         Episode 3: Preparing For What's To Come (April 8, 2020)
  •         Episode 4: The Reality of Testing (April 14, 2020)
  •         Episode 5: Living with the Virus (April 22, 2020)

And you can find them here https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/podcasts-webinars They are very interesting and informative.

Apr 24, 2020

WEBINAR | COVID-19 and Your Workplace: Getting Back to Work Safely

COVID-19 and Your Workplace: Getting Back to Work Safely

Here are three simple questions:
  1. Does your organization have an updated infectious disease control program?
  2. Does your organization have training modules for supervisors and employees to understand COVID-19 exposures and best practices?
  3. Do you know the recordkeeping requirements for COVID-19?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, join us next Wednesday April 29th at 1pm CST for a live webinar. Attendees will leave with:

  • Knowledge from a front-line occupational medicine doctor
  • Insights on supply chain constraints for PPE
  • Action steps for implementing an exposure control plan
  • Opportunity to purchase COVID-19 program documents and training modules

Register for the Webinar Today

Apr 22, 2020

EPA Publishes Scope Documents for 20 Risk Evaluation Chemicals

(PAINT.ORG) This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published 20 draft scope documents for high-priority chemicals undergoing Risk Evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). These are the 20 high priority chemicals that EPA designated for TSCA Risk Evaluation in December 2019.

EPA is accepting comments on the first 13 scoping documents, made available on April 6, through May 26. By statute, EPA must finalize scoping documents by June 20, 2020. Stakeholders must submit comment on the second batch of seven chemicals within 45 days of publication in the Federal Register. At this writing, EPA had not published in the Federal Register.

The scope documents include the proposed conditions of use, hazards, exposures, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations that EPA expects to consider in the TSCA risk evaluations. The documents also include: a description of the reasonably available information and the science approaches that EPA plans to use, a conceptual model that outlines the potential hazards and exposures throughout the life cycle of the chemical, an analysis plan to identify the approaches and methods EPA plans to use to assess health and environmental factors, and a potential plan for peer review.

Notably, EPA has not proposed exclusions for de minimis amounts. EPA may consider exclusions for de minimis amounts on a case-by-case basis, with supporting data. Information related to amounts in products or used in processes, exposures or controls/personal protective equipment (PPE) may be useful in seeking such an exemption.

EPA also generally includes disposal as a condition of use where it did not in the first 10 chemicals it evaluated. This is likely due to the 9th Circuit's opinion in Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, et. al. v. EPA (No. 17-72260), where the 9th Circuit evaluated scope of EPA risk evaluations as required by EPA's risk evaluation framework rule.

The 20 Scoping Documents are as follows:

Apr 17, 2020

New class action launched over Pfas toxic firefighting chemicals used by defense

Lawyers have launched a new class action on behalf of tens of thousands of residents over the defense department's use of toxic firefighting chemicals.

The case will allege defence's use of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (Pfas) had "cataclysmic consequences" for residents in Wodonga, Darwin, Townsville, Wagga Wagga, Edinburgh and Bullsbrook.

The highly persistent and probable carcinogens were used for decades in firefighting foam on defence bases, leaching into nearby land and water supplies, contaminating food and accumulating in humans.

Residents near two other military bases – in Oakey, Queensland and Katherine, Northern Territory – reached a $212.5m settlement with the federal government over Pfas contamination in February.

Apr 14, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor Announces OSHA Interim Enforcement Response Plan to Protect Workers during the Coronavirus Pandemic

OSHA – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic. The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports.

During the coronavirus outbreak, OSHA Area Offices will utilize their inspection resources to fulfill mission essential functions and protect workers exposed to the disease. The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA's impact in securing safe workplaces in this evolving environment.

"OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America's workers during this challenging time in our nation's history," Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said. "Today's guidance outlines commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus, while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers, and inspectors."

The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus. Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections. Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure, or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.

This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Check OSHA's webpage at http://www.osha.gov/coronavirus frequently for updates.

Apr 9, 2020

Free CDC webinar on Elastomeric Respirators for U.S. Healthcare Delivery

Here is a link to details about reusable elastomeric respirator use in healthcare. This includes findings and recommendations from a compilation of ongoing studies.


This webinar provides an overview of respiratory protection and guidance surrounding supply shortages. This webinar also provides information on infection prevention measures, strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 respirators, and a broad overview of the use of elastomeric respirators in healthcare. Guidance on Elastomeric Respirators is currently in development.

This video can also be viewed at

Apr 8, 2020

Risk based chart on when to use masks or respirators for Covid-19

When to use masks or respirators for Covid-19 is confusing.
Chart below suggests general concepts for selecting based on risk and protection effectiveness for worker using it. 

From University of Arizona Occupational Medicine.

OSHA Issues Guidance for Respirators Certified under Other Countries' Standards During COVID-19 Pandemic

On Friday 4/3/2020, OSHA issued guidance that allows for use of some alternative respirators – see news release here:

and Enforcement Guidance here: 

Several Free ASSP podcasts on Covid19

Listen to the latest podcast to learn how to assess your workers'
COVID19 risk level and discover steps you can take to protect them.


Apr 7, 2020

Department of Energy Announces New Funding to Train Emergency Response and Building Professionals

The U.S. Department of Energy announced $4.5 million in funding for training programs for professionals who interact with distributed energy resources, including solar energy systems, storage systems, "smart" building technologies, and electric vehicles. These professionals include those that lead the nation's emergency response and resilience planning, including firefighters, first responders, and safety officials.

Read more


Chernobyl in Ukraine: Firefighters battling radioactive forest

Emergency units are trying to contain fires in radiation-contaminated forest near the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant. The fires have caused a spike in radioactivity in the area.

The fires have raised fears that radiation from the area could be dispersed farther afield, but authorities said while radiation in the fire zone was far above normal levels, levels in the capital, Kyiv, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south, were within norms.

CPAPs can be repurposed into ventilators.

To my friends here in the health and medical fields
please share that CPAPs can be repurposed into ventilators.

A life line to many.

Thank you,
Christopher Haase

Apr 2, 2020

Toxnet Occupational Health relational database information moved to Haz-Map.

With the National Library of Medicine's decision to shutdown Toxnet much of its content moved to other NLM website, independent of NLM at

The content of the Haz-Map data tables is the same but the user interface has been improved. Improvements include adding chemical structures, adding popup tips to some agent fields, adding new agent and disease fields, alphabetizing chemical lists on base names of chemicals (without prefixes), and improvements in the user interface for both the computer and mobile devices.

On November 2019, Dr. Jay Brown completed the review of the first 1250 chemicals entered into the database. Review of the second 1250 chemicals added was started on March 5. He is busy checking spelling, hyperlinks, IARC classifications, TLVs, IDLHs, vapor pressures, and disease links.

If you have been a previous user of Haz-Map, I encourage you to view the new website and bookmark this new location in your Internet browser application.

Cancer risk among career firefighters are at increased risk for five cancers with typically stronger associations in those diagnosed younger than the age of 50

Male career firefighters in Florida are at increased risk for five cancers with typically stronger associations in those diagnosed younger than the age of 50, while there was evidence for increased thyroid and brain cancer, and possibly melanoma risk in female firefighters. Larger cohorts with adequate female representation, along with the collection of well‐characterized exposure histories, are needed to more precisely examine cancer risk in this occupational group.

Full study at:

Good webinar from Duke about their massive program to decontaminate N95 filtering facepieces

Good webinar from Duke about their massive program to decontaminate N95 filtering facepieces viewed here;


Apr 1, 2020