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:

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.

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:

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:

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."

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.