Feb 16, 2018

FDA authorizes marketing of first blood test to aid in the evaluation of concussion in adults

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today permitted marketing of the first blood test to evaluate mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), commonly referred to as concussion, in adults. The FDA reviewed and authorized for marketing the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator in fewer than 6 months as part of its Breakthrough Devices Program.

Most patients with a suspected head injury are examined using a neurological scale, called the 15-point Glasgow Coma Scale, followed by a computed tomography or CT scan of the head to detect brain tissue damage, or intracranial lesions, that may require treatment; however, a majority of patients evaluated for mTBI/concussion do not have detectable intracranial lesions after having a CT scan. Availability of a blood test for concussion will help health care professionals determine the need for a CT scan in patients suspected of having mTBI and help prevent unnecessary neuroimaging and associated radiation exposure to patients.
"Helping to deliver innovative testing technologies that minimize health impacts to patients while still providing accurate and reliable results to inform appropriate evaluation and treatment is an FDA priority. Today's action supports the FDA's Initiative to Reduce Unnecessary Radiation Exposure from Medical Imaging—an effort to ensure that each patient is getting the right imaging exam, at the right time, with the right radiation dose," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. "A blood-testing option for the evaluation of mTBI/concussion not only provides health care professionals with a new tool, but also sets the stage for a more modernized standard of care for testing of suspected cases. In addition, availability of a blood test for mTBI/concussion will likely reduce the CT scans performed on patients with concussion each year, potentially saving our health care system the cost of often unnecessary neuroimaging tests."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 there were approximately 2.8 million TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. Of these cases, TBI contributed to the deaths of nearly 50,000 people. TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the brain's normal functioning. Its severity may range from mild to severe, with 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year being assessed as mTBIs or concussions. A majority of patients with concussion symptoms have a negative CT scan. Potential effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation or emotional functioning.
"A blood test to aid in concussion evaluation is an important tool for the American public and for our Service Members abroad who need access to quick and accurate tests," said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "The FDA's review team worked closely with the test developer and the U.S. Department of Defense to expedite a blood test for the evaluation of mTBI that can be used both in the continental U.S. as well as foreign U.S. laboratories that service the American military."
The Brain Trauma Indicator works by measuring levels of proteins, known as UCH-L1 and GFAP, that are released from the brain into blood and measured within 12 hours of head injury.

Full at:

Feb 5, 2018

Free EPA-TRI Webinar This Wednesday, February 7

Last week, EPA published the 2016 TRI National Analysis report, an in-depth look at the most recent data on chemical releases and pollution prevention activities at more than 21,000 U.S. industrial facilities. 

Join us for a webinar this Wednesday, February 7, 2018, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST to see highlights from the 2016 TRI data and learn how to find out what facilities are doing in your local area. To register, please go to:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with more details.

Feb 2, 2018

Federal Court Extends Stay of Livestock Air Emissions Reporting Obligation

On February 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit extended a stay of air emissions reporting from livestock wastes through at least May 1, 2018.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had asked for an additional stay of 90 days to provide the agency additional time to prepare for any reporting obligations. In its motion for stay, EPA cited a need for more time to refine guidance to industry on meeting the reporting obligations and to finalize agriculture-specific forms that would be used to report emissions from animal wastes to EPA. Livestock industry groups supported EPA's request, while environmentalist and animal rights groups, who have previously pushed the court to apply these reporting obligations to farms, took no position on this latest request for stay.

Read More from Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

Jan 31, 2018

Update: U.S. EPA Exempt Volatile Organic Compounds

 PAINT -The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that certain volatile organic compounds (VOC) have been determined to have negligible photochemical reactivity (40 CFR 51.100(s)). As such, these compounds do not have to be counted toward the VOC content of coatings products. Several widely used exempt VOCs include, but are not limited to, acetone, methyl acetate, t-butyl acetate (TBAC), dimethyl carbonate, 2-amino-2-methyl-1-propanol (AMP), and parachlorobenzotrifluoride (PCBTF).

While EPA has exempted these compounds, various states and California Air Districts have to go through a rulemaking to adopt these exemptions (many have a direct reference to the EPA exemption, so the compounds are automatically exempted in many State when EPA exempts). California's South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), Bay Area AQMD, San Diego AQMD, and Sacramento AQMD have not exempted several of these compounds, and recent regulatory activities in these air districts will likely lead to the removal of several exemptions and further restrictions.

The following provides a brief update on several exempt VOC compounds of interest.

T-Butyl Acetate (TBAC)
TBAC is exempt in all states, except for the four California air districts mentioned above. SCAQMD is expected to delete the exemptions for TBAC for Industrial Maintenance and certain Auto Refinish Coatings later in 2018.

 Dimethyl carbonate and AMP
These two compounds are exempt — or will be soon regarding AMP — in all states except the four California air districts mentioned above.

PCBTF is exempt in all states and all California air districts. However, based on a recent National Toxicity Program study, SCAQMD will likely petition the State of California to review the health effects of PCBTF (which may lead to further restrictions including Proposition 65), which will likely lead to changes to South Coast's PCBTF exemption soon. Given the extensive use of PCTBF in the coatings industry, these changes could be very problematic.

ACA tracks VOC exemptions across the United States. ACA will host a member webinar later in 2018, providing an update on exempt VOC compounds under regulations across the country.

Source: PAINT.org

EPA Withdraws the “Once In, Always In” Clean Air Act Policy

In a memorandum dated January 25, 2018, EPA announced it is withdrawing, its 20-year-old "Once In, Always In" (OIAI) Clean Air Act policy. This new EPA guidance allows stationary sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that are classified as "major sources" to limit their HAP emissions to below major source thresholds and thereby be reclassified as "area" sources at any time. This is potentially significant since area sources are subject to less onerous emission requirements than are major sources. The withdrawal of the OIAI Policy is effective immediately and reflects a substantial change to a controversial policy which could have significant impacts on many industrial facilities. All companies which own or operate a major source of HAP emissions should closely review this new EPA guidance document.

General Background of Major Sources of HAPs

The Clean Air Act requires major sources of HAPs to control those emissions to a level meeting maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards. MACT is a type of technology-based emissions standard. MACT requires that a source undertake the maximum degree of reduction in HAP emissions (including a prohibition on such emissions, where achievable) that the EPA determines is achievable for a category of major sources. This determination is based on existing technology, taking into consideration cost and other specific factors.

MACT applies to major sources of HAPs. The term "major source" is defined as a stationary source that emits, or has the potential to emit, 10 tons per year of any HAP, or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of HAPs. Stationary sources with emissions below these thresholds are classified as "area sources" and generally do not need to meet MACT emission limitations.

The 1995 OIAI Policy

The OIAI Policy was issued by EPA in 1995. See "Potential to Emit for MACT Standards-Guidance on Timing Issues," John Seitz, Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. EPA (May 16, 1995). Under the OIAI Policy, major sources of HAPs were allowed to limit their emissions, so as to become an area source, only before the "first compliance date" of [a MACT] standard. The "first compliance date" is defined as the "first date a source must comply with an emission limitation or other substantive regulatory requirement" in a MACT standard. Thereafter, the OIAI Policy prohibited major sources of HAPs from restricting their emissions to attain area source status and thereby avoid being subject to the MACT. In other words, once a source became subject to a MACT standard, that source was always subject to MACT – i.e., once in, always in. The source could not thereafter choose to voluntarily lower its emissions so as to become an area source (and thereby shed MACT requirements).

The OIAI Policy proved to be quite controversial. In 2003, EPA proposed rules that would have altered the legal interpretation of the Clean Air Act which underlies the OIAI Policy. See 68 Fed. Reg. 26,249 (May 15, 2003). That proposal was never finalized. In 2007, EPA more directly proposed a rule to replace the 1995 OIAI Policy. However, EPA again failed to take final action on the proposal, though it was never withdrawn.

As part of its deregulatory agenda, the Trump Administration solicited input from industry as to regulations which were impeding economic development in the United States. Various industry groups and the U.S. Department of Commerce had identified the 1995 OIAI Policy as being such a regulation. EPA's January 25, 2018 memorandum was issued in partial response to those concerns and appears to bring a final conclusion to the similar, earlier proposals under the Bush Administration.

The New Policy

EPA's recent memorandum concludes that the 1995 OIAI Policy is not supported by the language of the Clean Air Act. EPA found that Congress did not place any temporal limitations on when an industrial facility can restrict its emissions so as to avoid triggering major source MACT obligations. As such, EPA had no authority to impose a time limitation on when sources could accept HAP emission restrictions to become area sources.

Based upon this legal predicate, EPA's new policy directs that a major source of HAP emissions previously classified as a major source can accept enforceable restrictions and be reclassified as an area source at any time. This means that an industrial facility which has previously been classified as a "major source" complying with an MACT requirement can now limit its HAP emissions and become an area source. This could have significant impacts on many industrial facilities that are currently subject to MACT requirements. Indeed, sources that are meeting a MACT requirement could very well have HAP emissions low enough to be classified as an area source.

Read More from Michael Best & Friedrich LLP


Jan 22, 2018

250 pediatric care products contain chemicals of concern

(Source hcwh.org ) Many products used in pediatric care still contain chemicals of concern, according to a new analysis of chemicals in over 250 products commonly found in pediatric patient rooms.

Clean Production Action's analysis found 45 percent of the products evaluated contained one or more chemicals of high concern to human health and the environment, even though some suppliers sold comparable products without hazardous chemicals, demonstrating the availability of safer alternatives.

While the analysis shows clear progress, it also highlights the need for more innovation in manufacturing to bring sustainable products to market and enhanced awareness of greener options when available.

The hazardous chemicals highlighted in the report include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, plasticizers, and other carcinogens and reproductive toxicants listed by California Proposition 65. The analysis found that if hospitals eliminated PVC in pediatric rooms, that would eliminate 75 percent of the chemicals of concern in the products evaluated because PVC tends to contain numerous chemicals of concern. Intravenous, enteral feeding, and respiratory therapy products had the greatest number of products containing chemicals of concern.

Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth have prioritized these chemicals for years and have been working with leading health systems to drive demand and urge manufacturers to bring safer alternatives to market. For example, we have targeted intravenous and enteral feeding products for substitution and have worked with manufacturers to provide lists of medical products that do not contain PVC and hazardous plasticizers. More than 175 Practice Greenhealth hospitals report programs in place to eliminate these chemicals. While progress has been made, there is still room for improvement.

We have targeted chemicals of concern in medical products as well as in the other categories highlighted in the report, including furnishings, cleaning chemicals, and personal care products. According to the latest data, 100 hospitals are purchasing at least 30 percent of their furnishings without PVC and other targeted chemicals, and many of the nation's largest and most influential health systems, like Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, Advocate, Partners, and University Hospitals, have gone well beyond that goal.

To learn more about progress at Dignity Health and Hackensack Meridian Health, join us at CleanMed May 7-9 in San Diego.

Read the report.

xtreme Hurricanes and Wildfires Made 2017 the Most Costly U.S. Disaster Year on Record

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria combined with devastating Western wildfires and other natural catastrophes to make 2017 the most expensive year on record for disasters in the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. The disasters caused $306 billion in total damage in 2017, with 16 events that caused more than $1 billion in damage each. The bulk of the damage, at $265 billion, came from hurricanes.

The Washington Post [Author: Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis]

What’s New in WISER 5.1

WISER, or Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders, is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice. WISER is available as a standalone application on Microsoft Windows PCs, Apple's iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), Google Android devices, and BlackBerry devices (internet connectivity required). As of January 2, 2018, version 5.1 of WISER is available. Take a quick look at the what's included in this release.

WISER 5.1https://wiser.nlm.nih.gov/whats_new_5_1.html

National Academies Report “Dire Need” for Robust Occupational Health Surveillance System

A report released on January 9 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine calls on federal and state agencies to establish and strengthen the systems for assembling data on work-related injuries, illnesses, and exposure to hazards and then using the information for prevention. The 12-person committee included public health researchers, state officials, as well as FedEx executive Scott Mugno who has been nominated to serve as the assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Pump Handle [Author: Celeste Monforton]

Jan 19, 2018

OSHA fines to go up January 3rd. Now $12,934 for just a posting violation

(Via JJKeller) OSHA, along with other Department of Labor agencies, will see an increase in penalties beginning in January 2018. The Department of Labor published its final rule revising civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced in the regulations for 2018. The Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvement Act of 2015 requires the Department to adjust its assessed penalty levels no later than January 15 of each year.

OSHA's adjusted penalties after January 2, 2018, are shown in the following table.

RegulationType of violationPenalty amounts prior to Jan. 2, 2018Penalty amounts after Jan. 2, 2018
1903.15(d)(1)Willful violation, minimum$9,054$9,239
1903.15(d)(1)Willful violation, maximum$126,749$129,336
1903.15(d)(2)Repeated violation$126,749$129,336
1903.15(d)(3)Serious violation$12,675$12,934
1903.15(d)(4)Other-than-serious violation$12,675$12,934
1903.15(d)(5)Failure to correct violation$12,675$12,934
1903.15(d)(6)Posting requirement violation$12,675$12,934

via https://www.jjkeller.com/learn/news/012018/OSHA-fines-to-go-up-January-3rd

Free EPA Watershed Academy Webcast: Using the Surface Water Toolbox

Join EPA for a February 8, 2018 (1:00-3:00 PM EST) Webcast on the new Surface Water Toolbox developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Surface Water Toolbox is a user friendly, downloadable tool for water managers to estimate a wide variety of streamflow statistics. This tool can be downloaded from https://water.usgs.gov/osw/swtoolbox/ and enables users to:
  • Estimate critical flow statistics such as 7Q10 for gaged and un-gaged streams;
  • Use a variety of statistic tests to evaluate emerging trends and identify anomalies.

Webcast participants are eligible to receive a certificate for their attendance. The Webcast presentations are posted in advance at http://www.epa.gov/watershedacademy/watershed-academy-webcast-seminars and participants are encouraged to download them prior to the Webcast.


Julie Kiang, Supervisory Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey
Julie Kiang is Chief of the Analysis and Prediction Branch of the Water Mission Area at the U.S. Geological Survey. Her group is involved in development and testing of methods for estimating flow statistics and hydrologic time series, understanding and predicting changing hydrology, and quantifying uncertainty in hydrologic observations and model results.

Brian Nickel, Environmental Engineer, Water Protection Division, Region 10, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Brian Nickel is an NPDES permit writer with EPA Region 10, in Seattle, WA. He has 14 years of experience writing water quality-based permits for the Region's direct implementation of the NPDES program in Idaho and on Tribal land in the other Region 10 states.

Jenny Molloy, Lead Environmental Protection Specialist, Water Permits Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Jenny Molloy has 25 years of experience in state and federal Clean Water Act programs, including NPDES permitting for stormwater, CAFOs, aquaculture, and other discharges. 

Please click here to register for the event

Jan 17, 2018

Mine Safety Management Roundtable

The Department of Safety and Professional Services Mine Safety Program has scheduled a Mine Safety Management Roundtable for February 22, 2018 at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

Representatives from MSHA, DSPS and the industry will be providing presentations on Mine Safety topics. The cost is $35 per attendee.

Please use the following link to register http://MineSafety.wi.gov , scroll to the bottom of the page, click on Continue to Register for a Mine Safety Class and from the drop-down menu on Type of Training Requesting: select MANAGEMENT ROUNDTABLE

Jan 8, 2018

EPA Denies Petition Seeking Regulation of CAFOs under the Clean Air Act via @michaelbestlaw

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP - In the closing days of 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition from environmental and animal rights groups calling for EPA to list large farms as "stationary sources" under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and implement stricter controls on air emissions.

In a December letter, EPA Administrator E. Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would deny a petition lodged in 2009 by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other environmental and citizen groups. Among other requests, the petitioners asked EPA to include concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) as a category of stationary sources listed under section 111 of the CAA. Listing CAFOs as a category of source would have set in motion a regulatory process in which EPA would have been required to develop new source performance standards (NSPS) applicable to new or modified CAFOs and state-implemented "emissions guidelines" for existing CAFOs.

Federal law provides interested persons the right to petition agencies to engage in rulemaking. In their petition, the groups specifically asked EPA to:

  • Find that hydrogen sulfide and ammonia constitute air pollution that endangers U.S. public health or welfare;
  • Announce the EPA Administrator's judgment that emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter contribute significantly to air pollution that is reasonably anticipated to endanger public health and welfare;
  • List CAFOs as a category of stationary sources pursuant to CAA section 111; and
  • Promulgate standards of performance for air emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter from new and existing CAFOs under CAA sections 111(b) and 111(d).

While EPA denied the groups' petition, it did not decide whether CAFOs should or should not be listed as a category of source under section 111. Instead, EPA elected to stay the course on its current approach to regulating CAFO emissions, leaving a listing decision for another day. In his letter, Administrator Pruitt wrote that the EPA's current strategy for addressing CAFO air emissions includes additional studies of air emissions from CAFOs, developing improved emissions estimation methodologies, and gathering more information on the magnitude of CAFO air emissions and control technologies before honing in on a regulatory response.

Read full at: Michael Best & Friedrich LLP 

Jan 5, 2018

CDC plans session on ‘preparing for the unthinkable’: Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation

CDC's Public Health Grand Rounds Presents: "Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation"

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET)

The titles of several of the talks that will make up the session are enough to give one pause, including "Preparing for the Unthinkable," and "Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness." Equally unsettling is the image of a nuclear mushroom cloud on the webpage advertising the event.

"While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be a limited time to take critical protection steps," the agency said. "Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness."

"For instance, most people don't realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding."

The event will be webcast live from the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, and the will be posted on the grand rounds archive page a few days later that week.

Read full here:


Dec 21, 2017

EPA [cameo] MARPLOT 5.1.1 Now Available

MARPLOT 5.1.1 is now available for download at https://www.epa.gov/cameo/marplot-software.

What's changed in MARPLOT 5.1..1?
  • Made improvements to the auto-upgrade process to resolve rare issues some users experienced when upgrading to 5.1
  • Modified new layer creation process so that layers default to Individual Graphics Mode
  • Updated U.S. Boundaries layers to 2017 data
  • Enhanced threat zone information display in ALOHA popup notes
  • Made improvements to the installers and the data upgrade process for existing users
  • Added enhancements for program stability and improvements for program speed
  • Made additional improvements to the program interface and fixed bugs
Note: If you're upgrading to MARPLOT 5.1.1 from a previous version, follow the instructions on the download page to ensure that your data is transferred successfully to the new version.

Top Stories OSHA Accepting Electronically Submitted Injury, Illness Reports Through December 31 OSHA Accepting Electronically Submitted Injury, Illness Reports Through December 31 OSHA will continue accepting 2016 OSHA Form 300A data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) until midnight on December 31, 2017. OSHA will not take enforcement action against those employers who submit their reports after the December 15, 2017, deadline but before December 31, 2017, final entry date. Starting January 1, 2018, the ITA will no longer accept the 2016 data. Employers Are Reminded to Comply With Federal Labor Laws During Holiday Rush Employers Are Reminded to Comply With Federal Labor Laws During Holiday Rush As retailers and other businesses temporarily increase staffing levels to accommodate heightened seasonal consumer demand, the U.S. Department of Labor reminds employers of the necessity of complying with federal labor laws related to safety, pay, and benefits. Visit OSHA’s websit

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a warning that certain lead tests manufactured by Magellan Diagnostics may provide inaccurate results, which could affect compliance with OSHA's workplace health standards for lead. Employers and healthcare providers conducting medical surveillance for lead-exposed workers should refer to the FDA's warning and recommendations for retesting.

OSHA's Lead Standards for General Industry and Construction require employers to provide blood lead testing for workers exposed to airborne lead above a specific level. Employees with very high blood lead levels must be removed from exposure. Employers are required to have blood lead samples analyzed by a laboratory that meets OSHA accuracy requirements in blood lead proficiency testing.

OSHA Accepting Electronically Submitted Injury, Illness Reports Through December 31

OSHA will continue accepting 2016 OSHA Form 300A data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA)until midnight on December 31, 2017. OSHA will not take enforcement action against those employers who submit their reports after the December 15, 2017, deadline but before December 31, 2017, final entry date. Starting January 1, 2018, the ITA will no longer accept the 2016 data.

Dec 20, 2017

Free Environmental Updates & Compliance Event: explanation of current EPA trends via @jjkeller in Chicago, IL

"Environmental Updates & Compliance Guidance"
Sustaining Momentum for SuccessYou're Invited To Join Us - Chicago, IL 1/24/18

Please join us for this complimentary environmental compliance seminar.

Why You Should Attend - Often referred to as an "Environmental Boot Camp," our experts will highlight regulatory changes, enforcement strategies and industry best practices. The content offers something for everyone, whether you are new to the field or are an experienced environmental professional.

Your Hosts - Seth Jacobson, Senior Environmental Manager from U. S. Compliance Corporation, and J. J. Keller Sr. Field Sales Manager, Adam Brouch.

Agenda & Critical Areas of Compliance Covered:

  • Regulatory overview trends
  • Storm water and wastewater permitting
  • Air permitting review and upcoming important deadlines
  • Ozone depleting substances
  • Waste management
  • Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC)
  • Hazardous Materials Business Planning (HMBP)
  • Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting
  • Regulatory inspection readiness & compliance monitoring systems
  • You'll also learn about the J. J. Keller Resources to help you stay in compliance

Bonus Session: Join us for our bonus session, "How to Conduct a More Effective Facility Assessment"



 *Attendees: This seminar is a great fit for both experienced and entry-level professionals who want to take their EPA compliance programs to the next level - beyond compliance!

Event Focus: The training will focus on general compliance requirements and pitfalls, although the training has elements of an environmental boot camp, we will also highlight regulatory changes and enforcement strategies. Whether new to the field or experienced in environmental, there will be elements suitable for everyone.

Don't miss this opportunity to network with local industry peers and gain valuable regulatory insights on regulatory compliance! Register today, hope to see you there!

Register here

EPA Extends Comment Period for the Mercury Inventory Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency is extending the comment deadline for its mercury inventory rule from December 26, 2017 to January 11, 2018. EPA published the proposal on October 26, 2017. The proposed rule requires reporting from persons who manufacture (including import) mercury or mercury-added products, or otherwise intentionally use mercury in a manufacturing process.  The reporting rule is required by the amended Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) to help assist EPA in publishing an inventory of mercury  supply, use, and trade in the United States before April 1, 2017 and every three years thereafter. EPA published the first inventory in March 2017.  Based on the information collected, TSCA further directs EPA to identify any manufacturing processes or products that intentionally add mercury and recommend actions to achieve further reductions in mercury use.

Read the notice here:

EPA Issues November/December Fish and Shellfish Program Newsletter

The November/December 2017 issue of the Fish and Shellfish Program Newsletter focuses on shellfish and features information on the following topics:
  • Actions taken pertaining to shellfish by the Louisiana Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the California Department of Public Health.
  • EPA Region 10 Awards Environmental Justice Small Grants to Local Communities and Tribes in Alaska and Oregon.
  • News from the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference
  • Two NOAA Studies: Risk of Toxic Shellfish on West Coast Increases with Water Temperature and Ribbed Mussels Could Help Improve Urban Water Quality;  and
  • National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) Helps Shellfish Growers Stay Informed on HAB Mitigation Tools

The Fish and Shellfish Program Newsletter series is published monthly.

Read it here:

OSHA "occupational fatality data show a tragic trend with the third consecutive increase in worker fatalities in 2016. America’s workers deserve better.

Statement from OSHA Regarding Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of 2016 Fatal Occupational Injuries reports there were 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2016, a 7-percent increase from 2015. The fatal injury rate also increased from 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2015 to 3.6 in 2016.

More workers lost their lives in transportation incidents than any other event in 2016, accounting for about one out of every four fatal injuries. Workplace violence injuries increased by 23 percent, making it the second most common cause of workplace fatality. Today's report also shows the number of overdoses on the job increased by 32 percent in 2016, and the number of fatalities has increased by at least 25 percent annually since 2012. 

Loren Sweatt, Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSHA, issued the following statement regarding the report:

"Today's occupational fatality data show a tragic trend with the third consecutive increase in worker fatalities in 2016 – the highest since 2008. America's workers deserve better.

"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to finding new and innovative ways of working with employers and employees to improve workplace safety and health. OSHA will work to address these trends through enforcement, compliance assistance, education and training, and outreach. 

"As President Trump recognized by declaring opioid abuse a Nationwide Public Health Emergency, the nation's opioid crisis is impacting Americans every day at home and, as this data demonstrates, increasingly on the job. 

"The Department of Labor will work with public and private stakeholders to help eradicate the opioid crisis as a deadly and growing workplace issue." 

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.

Mealy bugs breakdown Styrofoam: A Solution to Our Mounting Global Plastic Problem

"Within a 16 day test period, 47.7% of the ingested Styrofoam carbon was
converted into CO2 and the residue (ca. 49.2%) was egested as fecula with a
limited fraction incorporated into biomass (ca. 0.5%). Tests with α 13C- or
β 13C-labeled PS confirmed that the 13C-labeled PS was mineralized to 13CO2 and
incorporated into lipids."
Search for "fecula from decomposition of Styrofoam" article:
 "According to Dr. Wu, the mealworms converted approximately half of the
Styrofoam into carbon dioxide – which is no different from any food source.
And within a day (24 hours), they excreted the rest of the plastic "as
biodegraded fragments" which resembled small rabbit droppings.
This Styrofoam waste from the mealworms "appeared to be safe" to use for
crops to grow food. It could even be used as soil, presumably."

A Solution to Our Mounting Global Plastic Problem: Plastic-Eating Mealwor

Dec 11, 2017

Free Webcast on Forklift Training Tomorrow via @jjkeller

Tuesday, December 12th
1 PM Central Time
(2 ET, 12 MT, 11 PT) 

Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks are some of the most common – and most powerful – pieces of equipment in industrial workplaces. With this power, comes the potential for serious hazards. Effective training and operator evaluations help reduce and eliminate hazards. However, the regulations are vague in some cases.

This webcast will provide an overview of OSHA's forklift training and evaluation requirements, answer frequently asked questions, and share some real life experiences.

What you'll learn:

• Trainer qualifications
• Training program content
• Refresher training and evaluation
• The importance of training
• When training is not the answer
• And much more.

We'll also leave time for a question and answer session.


Title: Forklift Training: It's more than just the OSHA regulation

Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Time: 01:00 PM Central Standard Time

Duration: 1 hour

Register NOW: 

Featured Speakers:
  Mark StrommeMark Stromme
Workplace Safety
J. J. Keller & Associates

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

Recycling Chaos In U.S. As China Bans 'Foreign Waste'

The U.S. exports about one-third of its recycling, and nearly half goes to China. For decades, China has used recyclables from around the world to supply its manufacturing boom. But this summer it declared that this "foreign waste" includes too many other nonrecyclable materials that are "dirty," even "hazardous." In a filing with the World Trade Organization the country listed 24 kinds of solid wastes it would ban "to protect China's environmental interests and people's health."

The complete ban takes effect Jan. 1, but already some Chinese importers have not had their licenses renewed. That is leaving U.S. recycling companies scrambling to adapt.

"It has no value ... It's garbage."

Rogue Waste Systems in southern Oregon collects recycling from curbside bins, and manager Scott Fowler says there are always nonrecyclables mixed in. As mounds of goods are compressed into 1-ton bales, he points out some: a roll of linoleum, gas cans, a briefcase, a surprising number of knitted sweaters. Plus, there are the frozen food cartons and plastic bags that many people think are recyclable but are not.

For decades, China has sorted through all this and used the recycled goods to propel its manufacturing boom. Now it no longer wants to, so the materials sits here with no place to go.

"It just keeps coming and coming and coming," says Rogue employee Laura Leebrick. In the warehouse, she is dwarfed by stacks of orphaned recycling bales. Outside, employee parking spaces have been taken over by compressed cubes of sour cream containers, broken wine bottles and junk mail.

And what are recyclables with nowhere to go?

"Right now, by definition, that material out there is garbage," she says. "It has no value. There is no demand for it in the marketplace. It's garbage."

For now, Rogue Waste says it has no choice but to take all of this recycling to the local landfill. More than a dozen Oregon companies have asked regulators whether they can send recyclable materials to landfills, and that number may grow if they can't find someplace else that wants them.

At Pioneer Recycling in Portland, owner Steve Frank is shopping for new buyers outside of China.

"I've personally moved material to different countries in an effort to keep material flowing," he says.

Without Chinese buyers, Frank says U.S. recycling companies are playing a game of musical chairs, and the music stops when China's ban on waste imports fully kicks in.

"The rest of the world cannot make up that gap," he said. "That's where we have what I call a bit of chaos going on."

Adina Adler, a senior director with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, says China's new standards are nearly impossible to meet. The group is trying to persuade China to walk back its demanding target for how clean our recycling exports need to be. But Adler doesn't think China's decision is all bad.

"What China's move is doing is probably ushering in a new era of recycling," she says.

Read on at:  https://www.npr.org/2017/12/09/568797388/recycling-chaos-in-u-s-as-china-bans-foreign-waste