Mar 16, 2018

ECHA: New website about chemicals for consumers launched today

New ECHA website has been launched on World Consumers Rights Day. 
It is available in 23 EU languages and gives useful information on the benefits and risks of using chemicals and explains how the EU legislation on chemicals protects us.
The website has a trending section for topical news and is connected to our chemicals database – the largest of its kind. 

You can also explore parts of the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) through articles on nanomaterials and health, the workplace and consumer products. 360-degree interactive apartment shows you where and why nanomaterials are used in our lives.

Mar 15, 2018

Study finds that 90% of bottled water contains tiny plastic particles

BBC News:  Prof Mason and her colleagues filtered their dyed samples and then counted every piece larger than 100 microns – roughly the diameter of a human hair.


Some of these particles – large enough to be handled individually - were then analysed by infrared spectroscopy, confirmed as plastic and further identified as particular types of polymer.

Particles smaller than 100 microns – and down to a size of 6.5 microns – were much more numerous (an average of 314 per litre) and were counted using a technique developed in astronomy for totalling the number of stars in the night sky.

The make-up of these particles was not confirmed but Prof Mason said they can "rationally expected to be plastic".

This is because although Nile Red dye can bind to substances other than plastic - such as fragments of shell or algae containing lipids - these would be unlikely to be present in bottled water.

Graphic: Type

Since the study has not been through the usual process of peer review and publication in a scientific journal, the BBC has asked experts in the field to comment.

Dr Andrew Mayes, of the University of East Anglia and one of the pioneers of the Nile Red technique, told us it was "very high quality analytical chemistry" and that the results were "quite conservative".

Michael Walker, a consultant to the Office of the UK Government Chemist and founder board member of the Food Standards Agency, said the work was "well conducted" and that the use of Nile Red has "a very good pedigree".

Both of them emphasised that the particles below 100 microns had not been identified as plastic but said that since the alternatives would not be expected in bottled water, they could be described as "probably plastic".

One obvious question is where this plastic may be coming from. Given the amount of polypropylene, which is used in bottle caps, one theory is that the act of opening a bottle may shed particles inside.

Graphic showing the rising number of plastic drinks bottles thrown away
Presentational white space

To check that the process of testing was not itself adding plastic to the bottles, Prof Mason ran "blanks" in which the purified water used to clean the glassware and the acetone used to dilute the Nile Red dye were themselves investigated.

Small quantities of plastic were found in them – believed to be from the air - but these were subtracted from the final results.

A surprise to researchers was the wide variety of findings – 17 of the 259 bottles tested showed no evidence of plastic but all of the rest did, with big differences even within brands.

Read on at:

Mar 14, 2018

EPA Proposes Universal Waste Designation for Aerosol Cans

(PAINT.ORG) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to the universal waste program under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. In a pre-publication notice signed March 5 by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency said, "this proposed change, once finalized, would benefit the wide variety of establishments generating and managing hazardous waste aerosol cans, including the retail sector, by providing a clear, protective system for managing discarded aerosol cans."

EPA will accept comments for the 60-day period following the official publication notice in the Federal Register.

The streamlined universal waste regulations are expected to ease regulatory burdens on retail stores and others that discard hazardous waste aerosol cans; promote the collection and recycling of these cans; and encourage the development of municipal and commercial programs to reduce the quantity of these wastes going to municipal solid waste landfills or combustors.

Under the proposed reclassification, aerosol cans, pressurized or spent — including spray paint cans — would be treated and handled as universal waste. In 1995, EPA promulgated the universal waste rule to establish a streamlined hazardous waste management system for widely generated hazardous wastes to encourage environmentally sound collection and proper management of the wastes within the system. Hazardous waste batteries, certain hazardous waste pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and hazardous waste lamps are already included on the federal list of universal wastes. The universal waste regulations in 40 CFR part 273 are a set of alternative hazardous waste management standards that operate in lieu of regulation under 40 CFR parts 260 through 272 for specified hazardous wastes.

Notably, four states, California, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, already have universal waste aerosol can programs in place; and two more states, Ohio and Minnesota, have proposed to add aerosol cans to their universal waste regulations. The universal waste programs in all these states include streamlined management standards like 40 CFR part 273 for small and large quantity handlers of universal waste, and a one-year accumulation time limit for the aerosol cans. In addition, the four state universal waste programs, as well as Ohio's proposed regulations, set standards for puncturing and draining of aerosol cans by universal waste handlers.

More information on EPA's Universal Waste Program may be found here.

Contact ACA's Xavier Ferrier or Rhett Cash for more information.

Mar 13, 2018

Milwaukee HazWoper Refresher Seminar March 21, 2018

Annual OSHA HazWoper Refresher

Wednesday, March 21st - NEXT WEEK
Hilton Garden Inn, 11600 W Park Place, Milwaukee
The HazWoper Refresher, hosted by the WI CHMM Chapter, will be held next week on Wednesday, March 21st in Milwaukee.  
The seminar is designed to meet the annual refresher training requirements under OSHA's standards for general industry and the construction industry on hazardous waste operations and emergency response (29 CFR 1910.120 or 29 CFR 1926.65).
The HAZWOPER standard applies to five groups of employers and their employees who may exposed to hazardous substances, including hazardous waste, and are engaged in:
  • Mandatory clean-up operations required by the government involving hazardous substances at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Corrective actions involving clean-up operations at RCRA sites
  • Voluntary clean-up operations at RCRA sites
  • Operations involving hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal (TSDF) facilities
Emergency response operations for release of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances

If you or your employer are or have the potential to fall into one of these groups, you should attend this 8-hour annual refresher training. This program offers Professional Credits.
An agenda and registration information can be found by clicking the program link below or visit the FET website at 

Mar 12, 2018

NEEDED: EHS Regulatory Content Project Manager $1000 finder fee!

Come work with an international team of experts building the world's largest set of regulatory data to keep the world safe and green. Nimonik is growing and needs an EHS Regulatory Content Project Manager who loves technology and data management!

Do you know the perfect candidate?

Receive $1000 if we hire someone you recommend.

Position: EHS Regulatory Content Project Manager

Salary: 30-70k CAD depending on location and experience

Job Description Summary

Create custom legal registers for Nimonik's customers by analyzing legislation to identify requirements that are applicable to their operations.

The job demands careful analysis of applicability and requirements of legislation to determine relevance. Nimonik customers you will work with will be in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia and will be certified ISO 14001, 50001 or 450001.

Larger projects will require you to train and manage junior regulatory analysts.

Read more and Apply now:

Contact: Jonathan Brun


Seven years after Fukushima

Nuclear disaster aftermath affects environment and energy policies today

The Varsity: March 11, 2018 marks the seventh anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the most significant nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl explosion in Ukraine. The disaster has led to extensive scientific research in the affected areas in an effort to learn about its effects.

Triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, a massive tsunami off the coast of Japan destroyed the power and cooling systems of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. With the reactors melting down over the course of a few hours, the disaster caused significant environmental, economic, and psychological damage to the area and its residents.

Environmental research has examined the impact of the release of radioisotopes from the meltdown on terrestrial and marine wildlife. A review from 2015 observed declines in bird, butterfly, and cicada populations in Fukushima forests as well as abnormal morphological growth in aphids and trees.

In addition to environmental harm, researchers estimate that the total human mortality from the event will be around 10,000 with an additional lifetime cancer mortality of 1,500.

The remains of a house in Iwaki, Fukushima. ANDY TAKAGI/THE VARSITY

At the time of the event, over 150,000 people in the area were evacuated en masse, with many ending up in temporary housing. While Japanese authorities claim that the area is safe and are proceeding to move residents back to the area, people remain hesitant.

Skepticism about safety stems from recent reports of robots being destroyed within hours of being sent into the reactor buildings. Likewise, a recent Greenpeace Japan report claims that current radiation levels remain three times higher than government targets despite cleanup work in the area. This suggests that the area may not be habitable just yet.

Globally, there has been growing skepticism toward nuclear energy. While nuclear generation provides cheap electricity and does not emit greenhouse gases, a 2013 study examining 42 countries found that the Fukushima event has shifted views on nuclear energy toward the negative.

Japan shut down its nuclear power enterprise in the wake of the event and currently provides monthly updates to the International Atomic Energy Agency on the status of the Fukushima Daiichi. Germany has shut down several of its reactors and recently reaffirmed its commitment to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

Collected trash and radioactive dirt from government clean-up effort.

Other countries appear open to the idea as well. South Korean President Moon Jae-in promised to eliminate both coal and nuclear power, though there are clear challenges to keeping this promise: nine reactors have opened in South Korea since 2000, and five are currently under construction. Japan has brought five reactors online as of September 2017, with more to come in the future.

Despite changing attitudes, not a lot has changed in relation to the production and generation of nuclear energy since the event, according to Steve Hoffman, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology.

"Among the large nuclear producers, only two nations shifted their nuclear energy policies in a significant way in the wake of the Fukushima disaster – Japan and Germany… [However], the reductions of major producers like Japan and Germany has been offset by the increased production in China, which has been growing their nuclear fleet at an extremely rapid rate," wrote Hoffman.

Read on at:

Nonfatal Injuries among Law Enforcement Officers

Study provides estimates and trends of emergency department visits for both intentional and unintentional on-duty injuries

An estimated 669,100 law enforcement officers were treated in emergency departments across the nation for nonfatal injuries between 2003 and 2014, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The study, which is the first to examine nonfatal injuries among officers on a national scale, was published online this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) have historically high rates of fatal and nonfatal injuries. The new research shows that officers are three times more likely to sustain a nonfatal injury than all other U.S. workers, and is the first to capture nonfatal injuries sustained from assaults and unintentional injuries such as accidental falls or motor vehicle crashes.

"Studies based on evidence are an important feature of public health and this principle extends to studying the law enforcement community and their work," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "The safety and health of both police and citizens depend on understanding how policing tactics impact officer and citizen injuries."

The study researchers, whose aim was to provide national estimates and trends of nonfatal injuries to law enforcement officers from 2003 – 2014, found the following:

  • The LEO nonfatal injury trend increased across the 12-year period studied; this is in contrast with the trend for all other U.S. workers which significantly decreased.
  • Assault-related injury rates significantly increased almost 10% annually from 2003 to 2011.
  • The three leading reasons for on-duty injuries were assaults & violent acts (36%), bodily reactions & exertion from running or other repetitive motions (15%), and transportation incidents (14%).

The study used nonfatal injury data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – Occupational Supplement (NEISS-Work). Data were obtained for injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2003-2014.

To access the paper, please visit Nonfatal injuries to law enforcement officers treated in U.S. emergency departments:  A rise in assaults

NIOSH Releases Updated Strategic Plan

In February, NIOSH released its updated Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2019–2023. This new plan covers the breadth of the research and service work at NIOSH and is organized into the following seven strategic goals, representing the health and safety issues facing the U.S. workforce:

  1. Reduce occupational cancer, cardiovascular disease, adverse reproductive outcomes, and other chronic diseases.
  2. Reduce occupational hearing loss.
  3. Reduce occupational immune, infectious, and dermal disease.
  4. Reduce occupational musculoskeletal disorders.
  5. Reduce occupational respiratory disease.
  6. Improve workplace safety to reduce traumatic injuries.
  7. Promote safe and healthy work design and well-being.

To support the seven strategic goals, NIOSH created two sets of intermediate and activity goals. The first set is comprised of research goals that are shared by multiple NIOSH programs, fostering collaboration across the Institute. Sector, cross-sector, and core and specialty programs first reviewed the draft National Occupational Research Agendas (NORA) for the third decade of NORA written by NORA councils, thinking about which objectives or parts of objectives NIOSH is well suited to undertake. NIOSH programs also weighed additional factors, such as mandates from Congress and the Executive Branch, stakeholder input, innovative ideas, and emerging issues. The programs developed research priorities from these inputs using the Burden, Need, and Impact Method (BNI Method). This method helps NIOSH to decide how to allocate its research dollars since NIOSH is always faced with more research needs than we have resources to address. While the BNI method has been used at the individual project level for the past several years, this is the first time it has been used on a broader programmatic level.

Read on:

New NIOSH Studies Examine Hearing Loss Prevalence in Workers

  • This study found that the prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers in the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (AFFH) sector is 15%. However, when researchers examined industries within the sector, they found as many as 36%—or 1 in 3 noise-exposed workers—have hearing loss. This is the first study to estimate prevalence and risk for hearing loss for subsectors within the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting industry sector. The study was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Learn more.
  • This study breaks down the prevalence of hearing loss experienced by workers in the Health Care and Social Assistance (HSA) sector. The overall prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers was found to be 19%, while some subsectors within the HSA had up to 31% prevalence of hearing loss. The study was published recently in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental MedicineLearn more.

SBA Office of Advocacy - Regional Regulatory Roundtable - Milwaukee, WI

Regional Regulatory Roundtables
Advocacy is hosting small business roundtables in order to hear firsthand from small businesses facing regulatory burdens. Come tell us which federal agency regulations should be considered for reform or elimination. Let us know which regulations are problematic for your business.

Please join the Office of Advocacy for a roundtable discussion of federal regulatory issues impacting your small business. SBA Administrator Linda McMahon is expected to join us for this event. Advocacy is also inviting Wisconsin Congressional offices and key federal agencies to hear your concerns about federal regulations and other issues you may be facing with your small business. The Milwaukee roundtable will take place at Schlitz Park on Rivercenter Drive in Conference Room #3 beginning at 8:30am on March 16.

President Trump has made regulatory reform a center piece of his agenda and signed two executive orders addressing the regulatory burden faced by the private sector. As the independent voice for small business within the federal government, The Office of Advocacy has a unique and important role to aid agency implementation of the new executive orders. To assist in accomplishing the goals of the executive orders, we have developed a Regulatory Reform Action Plan.

As part of this plan, we are hosting Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables across the country in an effort to hear from small businesses first-hand about what federal regulations most concern and/or impact them. In order for this Regulatory Reform effort to be successful, we need small business participation. This will be an opportunity for small business leaders to educate Advocacy and federal agencies through first-hand accounts of how federal regulations impact their small business. The information gathered at these roundtables will be utilized to inform agencies, Congress and the public on what specific regulations can be modified or removed to help small businesses.

Registration for this event is free, however please fill out the registration form below so that we will be prepared to discuss various regulatory issues. If you are unable to attend but would still like to provide us with federal regulatory small business concerns, please fill out the form.

The Office of Advocacy is an independent office housed in the SBA that serves as an independent voice for small business within the federal government, the watchdog for the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the source of small business statistics. Advocacy advances the views and concerns of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policy makers.

The agenda will be created based upon registrations. All small businesses are welcome to attend for as little or as long as their schedule will permit. Small Businesses do not need to attend all day, Advocacy staff and Federal Agency staff will be in attendance to hear your comments and concerns.

Don't see your industry on the agenda? No problem.
ALL small businesses are welcome to comment on federal regulations at any time during the roundtable or you can come during the final segment of general small business concerns.

*Registration will begin at 8:00 and the event will begin at 8:30*
8:00-8:30am: Registration and networking
8:30-8:50am Opening Remarks and Welcome
8:50-9:00am: Who is Advocacy and Why are we here?
9:00-9:30am: Input from the Transportation, Hospitality, and Retail Industries
9:30-10:00am: Input from the Financial Services and Real Estate Industries
10:00-10:30am: Input from the Construction and Manufacturing Industries
10:30-10:45am: Break
10:45-11:30am: Input from the Agriculture, Energy, and Land Use Industries
11:30-11:45am: General Small Business Regulatory Concerns
11:45-12:00pm: Closing Remarks
12:00-12:30pm: Networking

The purpose of each roundtable is to hear directly from local small businesses in various industries. Depending upon the feedback from the registration comment form, the roundtable agenda may be modified to fit the interests of the small businesses in attendance. Please let us know your regulatory concerns and issue areas by filling out the comment form when registering.

Fri, March 16, 2018
8:30 AM – 12:30 PM CDT

Schlitz Park
1555 N Rivercenter Drive
Conference Room #3
Milwaukee, WI 53212

Register free here:

Mar 7, 2018

Final Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” Addition of Applicability Date to 2015 Clean Water Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of the Army (the agencies) finalized a rule adding an applicability
date to the 2015 Rule defining "waters of the United States." The final rule published in the Federal Register on February 6,
2018. The 2015 Rule will not be applicable unƟl February 6, 2020. This amendment gives the agencies the Ɵme needed to
reconsider the definition of "waters of the United States."

For additional information, visit or



Wisconsin Company Achieves Injury-Free Workplace with Help From On-Site Consultation Program

Rotating Equipment Repair (RER), a company in Sussex, Wis., that provides parts and services for high-energy pumps, reached out to OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program for help improving its safety and health program. After abating the hazards identified during the consultant's visits, the company continued to make improvements. As a result, RER was accepted into OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). The company most recently renewed its SHARP status last year by maintaining an injury and illness rate below the national average for its industry. In fact, RER has had no recordable incidents of worker injuries in the last six years, leading to lower workers' compensation insurance premiums. For more information, see the company's success story.

OSHA Announces Agency Goal to Reduce Trenching and Excavation Hazards

OSHA's Agency Priority Goal for 2018 aims to reduce trenching and excavation hazards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, excavation and trench-related fatalities in 2016 were nearly double the average of the previous five years. OSHA's goal is to increase awareness of trenching hazards in construction, educate employers and workers on safe cave-in prevention solutions, and decrease the number of trench collapses.

OSHA plans to issue public service announcements, support the National Utility Contractors Association's 2018 Trench Safety Stand Down, update online resources on trench safety, and work with other industry associations and public utility companies to create an effective public-private effort to save lives. OSHA's trenching and excavation national emphasis program is also currently under revision. For more information on trench safety, visit OSHA's safety and health topics page.

Secretary of Labor Discusses Efforts to Protect Children from Lead Exposure

On Feb. 15, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta joined Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and fellow Cabinet members to outline a federal strategy to reduce childhood lead exposure and associated health risks.

"Far too many Americans are exposed to lead in their workplace," said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. "Finding solutions to better protect these workers and minimize the amount of lead that is taken home, and potentially exposed to their children, is a priority."

OSHA's resource, If You Work Around Lead, Don't Take It Home!, highlights the dangers to children of lead being transported home from work, and offers precautions that can be taken.

For more information, read the EPA news release.

Mar 5, 2018

Promoting Hearing Health Across the Lifespan

Globally, one in three adults has some level of measurable hearing loss, and 1.1 billion young persons are at risk for hearing loss attributable to noise exposure. Although noisy occupations such as construction, mining, and manufacturing are primary causes of hearing loss in adults, nonoccupational noise also can damage hearing. Loud noises can cause permanent hearing loss through metabolic exhaustion or mechanical destruction of the sensory cells within the cochlea. Some of the sounds of daily life, including those made by lawn mowers, recreational vehicles, power tools, and music, might play a role in the decline in hearing health. Hearing loss as a disability largely depends on a person's communication needs and how hearing loss affects the ability to function in a job. The loss of critical middle and high frequencies can significantly impair communication in hearing-critical jobs (e.g., law enforcement and air traffic control).

Occupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
A recent analysis of 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data estimates that approximately 14% of U.S. adults aged 20–69 years (27.7 million persons) have hearing loss. After adjustments for age and sex, hearing impairment was nearly twice as prevalent in men as in women; age, sex, ethnicity, and firearm use were all important risk factors for hearing loss (1).

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise in their workplaces (2). The estimated prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers is 12%–25%, depending on type of industry. Reductions in workplace noise and increased use of hearing protection might have contributed to a decreased prevalence of hearing loss over time in some sectors, including agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (3). The risk for incident hearing loss (i.e., the likelihood of observing a new case of hearing loss in a worker's longitudinal audiometric data) decreased by 46% from the periods 1986–1990 to 2006–2010 (3).

For high exposure levels such as firearm or aircraft noise above 140 decibels sound pressure level (dB SPL), engineering and administrative controls might not reduce noise exposures adequately. Such situations require hearing protection devices (HPDs) providing upwards of 30–40 dB of noise reduction when worn properly. Despite the existence of occupational regulations for hearing protection, many workers fail to achieve adequate protection because their earplugs or earmuffs do not fit properly. Hearing protector fit testing provides an opportunity to train workers to properly fit hearing protectors and to encourage effective use. The NIOSH HPD Well-Fit hearing protector fit-test system is a simple, portable solution for testing in quiet office spaces. Other fit-testing systems are commercially available (4).

Nonoccupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Primary sources of nonoccupational hearing loss in the United States include noise exposure from recreational hunting or shooting, use of personal music players, overexposure at concerts and clubs, and certain hobbies (e.g., motorsports and woodworking with power tools). In 2016, CDC began initiatives to raise awareness about the risk for permanent hearing damage attributable to nonoccupational noise exposures, including the development of new communication tools about noise-induced hearing loss. An analysis of 2011–2012 NHANES audiometric data from 3,583 adults aged 20–69 years identified persons with high-frequency audiometric notches suggestive of noise-induced hearing loss (5). Persons with normal hearing can detect sounds equally soft at all frequencies. When hearing is damaged by noise, the hearing test will show a loss of acuity in a narrow range of middle to high frequencies (3–6 kHz) with better hearing at both lower and higher frequencies. Often, the earliest sign is a notched configuration in the audiogram

Read on at:
​​CDC Grand Rounds: Promoting Hearing Health Across the Lifespan
Weekly / March 2, 2018 / 67(8);243–246

William J. Murphy, PhD1; John Eichwald, MA2; Deanna K. Meinke, PhD3; Shelly Chadha, PhD4; John Iskander, MD5

Mar 1, 2018

EPA Proposes New Chemical User Fees under TSCA

On Feb. 26, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule for new chemical user fees under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The agency is proposing to set user fees applicable to anybody required to submit information to EPA under the TSCA. TSCA requires companies that manufacture (including import), distribute in commerce, or process a chemical substance (or any combination of such activities) to submit information to EPA under TSCA sections 4 or 5, and under TSCA section 6(b) if they manufacture a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation under TSCA.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposal until April 27, 2018. ACA will be submitting comment.

EPA's proposed rulemaking provides a description of proposed TSCA fees and fee categories for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021, and explains the methodology by which the proposed TSCA user fees were determined and would be determined for subsequent fiscal years. EPA's proposed fees range from $4,700 to $2.6 million, depending on the specific task and the amount of time and effort involved. Notably, there are reportedly more than 28,000 chemicals active in commerce.

EPA has also proposed amending longstanding user fee regulations governing the review of premanufacture notices (PMN's), exemption applications and notices, and significant new use notices (SNUN's). After implementation of final TSCA user fees regulations, certain manufacturers and processors would be required to pay a prescribed fee for each notice, exemption application and data set submitted or chemical substance subject to a risk evaluation for EPA to recover certain costs associated with carrying out certain work under TSCA. With this action, EPA is also proposing standards for determining which bodies qualify as small business concerns and thus would be subject to lower fee payments. Companies can also agree to pay fees collectively instead of individually, when appropriate, for example, to cover the cost of a risk evaluation or a joint PMN filing.

Details of EPA's proposed fee structure, listed by activity, are highlighted in the following table at:

Feb 26, 2018

Black Lung Disease Comes Storming Back in Coal Country

NY-Times:By NADJA POPOVICH  Federal investigators this month identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung cases ever officially recorded.

More than 400 coal miners frequenting three clinics in southwestern Virginia between 2013 and 2017 were found to have complicated black lung disease, an extreme form characterized by dense masses of scar tissue in the lungs.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The cluster, identified following an investigation by National Public Radio, adds to a growing body of evidence that a new black lung epidemic is emerging in central Appalachia, even as the Trump administration begins to review Obama-era coal dust limits.

The severity of the disease among miners at the Virginia clinics "knocked us back on our heels," said David J. Blackley, an epidemiologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, who led the research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was equally troubling, he said, that nearly a quarter of the miners with complicated black lung disease had been on the job fewer than 20 years.

Across the coal belt in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia, "there's an unacceptably large number of younger miners who have end-stage disease and the only choice is to get a lung transplant or wait it out and die," Dr. Blackley said.
Scientists have linked the new wave of lung disease to miners breathing in more silica dust, the likely result of a decades-long shift toward mining thinner coal seams that require cutting into the surrounding rock. Silica dust from pulverized rock can damage lungs faster than coal dust alone.

Modern machinery, insufficient training for workers, and longer work hours may also contribute to increased dust exposure, experts say.

A Sharp Rise in Complicated
Black lung, a chronic disease caused by breathing in coal mine dust, declined precipitously between the early 1970s and late 1990s, following new health and safety rules put in place by the 1969 Coal Act. The legislation for the first time established airborne dust limits in coal mines and set up a health monitoring program for working miners, offering free chest x-rays every five years.
But by 2000, black lung was on the rise again. An advanced form of the disease, rarely seen in the mid-1990s, made an especially dramatic comeback.

Please read on at: By NADJA POPOVICH

Workplace Emergency Plans

Recent floods, wildfires, mudslides, and outbreaks demonstrate the powerful impact emergencies have in California. Is your workplace ready for the unexpected?

The Cal/OSHA Emergency Action Plan standard sets minimum standards for workplace preparations. There are a number of resources that can help you plan.

A good start is the preparing for emergencies (PDF) overview from the California Department of Industrial Relations-funded Worker Safety & Health Training & Education Program (WOSHTEP). It is part of a set of materialsdesigned to help employers meet their Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) responsibilities.

The emergency preparedness resources from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) can also help with developing a workplace emergency plan.

Email Occupational Health Watch with feedback about this update or change of address.

A firefighter works to control a blaze.


Cal/OSHA Emergency Action Plan standard

Preparing for Emergencies (PDF) – California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)

WOSHTEP Injury & Illness Prevention Program Resources – DIR

Emergency Preparedness for Business - NIOSH

Feb 19, 2018

Significant Winter Storm to Hit Wisconsin via @readywisconsin

READY WISCONSIN RELEASE: Significant Winter Storm to Hit Wisconsin

(MADISON---February 18, 2018)    A major winter storm will be moving across Wisconsin the next few days bringing snow, sleet, ice and heavy rain that could cause flooding, dangerous travel conditions and possible power outages due to ice.

Numerous warnings and watches are in effect across the state including an ice storm warning for Marquette, Green Lake, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Sauk, Columbia and Dodge Counties as forecasters say up to ½ inch of ice could occur thru Tuesday.  

The first wave of the storm system began this morning moving across northern Wisconsin bringing heavy snow.   Southern Wisconsin will see rain beginning tomorrow morning. Freezing rain is likely across much of central Wisconsin, including Eau Claire to Rhinelander and Green Bay down through Lone Rock to Sheboygan.   

Extreme southeastern Wisconsin will have heavy rain of up to 1.5 to 2" that could cause flooding in streets, creeks and low areas, and some rivers.  National Weather Service forecasters warn that a change in 1 or 2 degrees could be the difference between rain or freezing rain in some areas.  Stay tuned to the latest forecast for your area as conditions may change with this developing storm.

If you do need to travel, leave early and make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicles.  A kit could help keep your family safe until help arrives.  Consider carrying non-perishable foods, flashlight, extra hats, and gloves and blankets in your cars.  Other suggestions are available at

Before you travel, check with the 511 Wisconsin for the latest traffic and road conditions.  This information, along with live traffic cameras and traffic alerts, can be accessed on the 511 Wisconsin system, which includes a free mobile app, @511WI on Twitter, or the mobile-friendly site

When there is freezing rain, tree branches and power lines can begin to fall.  Downed power lines are dangerous.  Do not touch them or drive over them. Assume that they are live.  If you see a downed power line, call your local utility company or emergency officials to alert them of downed lines.

Be careful of the icy conditions.  Encourage elderly and the very young to stay indoors during the freezing rain.  Check on your neighbors and friends to make sure they are alright.

For southeastern Wisconsin, residents need to be ready for potential flooding and flash flooding.  Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road. STOP! Turn around and go another way.  Pay attention to local reports as area creeks and rivers will continue to rise due to the expected heavy rain and rapid snowmelt.  

For tips on emergency preparedness: You can also follow ReadyWisconsin on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Current News Releases available at

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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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