Day: October 17, 2014

OSHA launches national dialogue on hazardous chemical exposures and permissible exposure limits in the workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced it is launching a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits.

OSHA’s PELs, which are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Ninety-five percent of OSHA’s current PELs, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals, have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. The agency’s current PELs cover only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful. Substantial resources are required to issue new exposure limits or update existing workplace exposure limits, as courts have required complex analyses for each proposed PEL.

“Many of our chemical exposure standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “While we will continue to work on updating our workplace exposure limits, we are asking public health experts, chemical manufacturers, employers, unions and others committed to preventing workplace illnesses to help us identify new approaches to address chemical hazards.”

OSHA is seeking public comment regarding current practices and future methods for updating PELs, as well as new strategies for better protecting workers from hazardous chemical exposures. Specifically, the agency requests suggestions on:

  • possible streamlined approaches for risk assessment and feasibility analyses and
  • alternative approaches for managing chemical exposures, including control banding, task-based approaches and informed substitution.

The goal of this public dialogue is to give stakeholders a forum to develop innovative, effective approaches to improve the health of workers in the United States. In the coming months, OSHA will announce additional ways for members of the public to participate in the conversation.

The comment period for the RFI will continue for 180 days. Instructions for submitting comments are available in the Federal Register, Docket No. OSHA-2012-0023, at https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-24009. For more information, please visit the OSHA Chemical Management Request for Information Web page at http://www.osha.gov/chemicalmanagement/index.html.

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 http://www.osha.gov.

Yale Journal: How, When, and Why Industrial Ecology is Good for Business

Read the full post from Yale University.

Industrial ecology, a rapidly growing field focused on sustainable production and consumption, has contributed numerous important tools to modern environmental management — life cycle assessment; “industrial symbiosis,” or the by-product exchange between neighboring facilities; “design for environment”; and the use of material flow analysis to track resource use in supply chains, companies, and economies.

A new special feature of Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology, titled “Industrial Ecology as a Source of Competitive Advantage,” presents new research on how, when, and why the use of industrial ecology by business can lead to cost savings, higher profits, and other, more intangible, business benefits…

Articles in the special feature will be freely available online for a limited time.

The Journal of Industrial Ecology is a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, owned by Yale University, published by Wiley-Blackwell and headquartered at the Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

University of Illinois Homecoming goes green with gameday recycling challenge

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

This year’s U. of I. Homecoming game against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers is about more than Orange and Blue – it’s also about green. Various campus and community partners are working together to raise awareness and have a positive lasting impact at the inaugural zero-waste football game. Hundreds of volunteers from the Champaign-Urbana community will assist the thousands of spectators in reducing waste…

Leading this cooperative initiative are ISTC; the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics; Facilities and Services; and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment. To volunteer for the event, sign up at: http://bit.ly/1vN44SK. Organizers hope to have many students involved in making this event a success.

Nationwide, the Game Day Recycling Challenge is a partnership of the College and University Recycling Coalition, RecycleMania and Keep America Beautiful, and is supported by EPA’s WasteWise program.

Supporters of the cause are encouraged to like the Fighting Illini Gameday Recycling Challenge Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/518311078270593/.

For more information, contact Bart Bartels at bbartel@illinois.edu.

A Framework to Guide Selection of Chemical Alternatives

Download the document.

Historically, regulations governing chemical use have often focused on widely used chemicals and acute human health effects of exposure to them, as well as their potential to cause cancer and other adverse health effects. As scientific knowledge has expanded there has been an increased awareness of the mechanisms through which chemicals may exert harmful effects on human health, as well as their effects on other species and ecosystems. Identification of high-priority chemicals and other chemicals of concern has prompted a growing number of state and local governments, as well as major companies, to take steps beyond existing hazardous chemical federal legislation. Interest in approaches and policies that ensure that any new substances substituted for chemicals of concern are assessed as carefully and thoroughly as possible has also burgeoned. The overarching goal of these approaches is to avoid regrettable substitutions, which occur when a toxic chemical is replaced by another chemical that later proved unsuitable because of persistence, bioaccumulation, toxicity, or other concerns.

Chemical alternative assessments are tools designed to facilitate consideration of these factors to assist stakeholders in identifying chemicals that may have the greatest likelihood of harm to human and ecological health, and to provide guidance on how the industry may develop and adopt safer alternatives. A Framework to Guide Selection of Chemical Alternatives develops and demonstrates a decision framework for evaluating potentially safer substitute chemicals as primarily determined by human health and ecological risks. This new framework is informed by previous efforts by regulatory agencies, academic institutions, and others to develop alternative assessment frameworks that could be operationalized. In addition to hazard assessments, the framework incorporates steps for life-cycle thinking – which considers possible impacts of a chemical at all stages including production, use, and disposal – as well as steps for performance and economic assessments. The report also highlights how modern information sources such as computational modeling can supplement traditional toxicology data in the assessment process.

This new framework allows the evaluation of the full range of benefits and shortcomings of substitutes, and examination of tradeoffs between these risks and factors such as product functionality, product efficacy, process safety, and resource use. Through case studies, this report demonstrates how different users in contrasting decision contexts with diverse priorities can apply the framework. This report will be an essential resource to the chemical industry, environmentalists, ecologists, and state and local governments.

Assessment of Safer Polysulfide and Polythioether Sealant Removers for Aerospace/Defense Industry Applications

Read the full story in Products Finishing.

This assessment identifies and evaluates potentially safer alternatives for sealant removal applications. The sealant removal performance of the alternatives was evaluated using a designed experiment.

Warehouse Empire

Read the full story from Buzzfeed.

Behind the largest undercover bribe the FBI ever paid to a public official is the story of how our whole consumer economy has been transformed, bringing lung-stunting pollution and, in some cases, political corruption.

Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2014.

The Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions (CSAS) team at Columbia University has a specific, targeted goal: a near universal carbon fee on fossil fuels. The group’s mission statement, under About Us, is a great place to start. Then explore Dr. James Hansen’s TED talk, an eighteen minute argument for the political responsibilities of climate scientists as well as regular citizens. The section titled Our Work will take readers to five headings – Climate Research, Climate Data, Public Awareness and Policy Solutions, 350.org, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and Our Children’s Trust –  each of which links to timely and educational projects. Finally, the In the News section features videos and articles showcasing the work of Dr. Hansen and his fellow climate activists. [CNH]

Who Are This Year’s Innovators Tackling Climate Change and Promoting Energy Efficiency?

Read the full post at EPA Connect.

The 2014 winners of the Presidential Green Chemistry Awards have done it again.  These scientists are helping to crack the code and solve some of the most challenging problems facing our modern society. They are turning climate risk and other problems into a business opportunity, spurring innovation and investment. They are reducing waste – energy, chemicals and water waste – while cutting manufacturing costs, and sparking investments.

Stream Discovery workshop for Illinois educators Nov. 14th

Have you ever wanted to involve your class or student group in a citizen science project collecting and analyzing real scientific data!?

Have you ever wanted to help protect Illinois streams and rivers but don’t know where to start?!

The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center invites you to attend a Stream Discovery training workshop November 14th from noon-5pm at Lewis and Clark Community College, Godfrey, IL.  Stream Discovery is a statewide program that offers educators the resources and materials to involve their class in citizen science stream monitoring and water quality analysis. Monitoring includes a habitat, chemical, and a biological survey (includes catching macroinvertebrates like dragonfly and mayfly nymphs) on a wadeable stream near your school or organization. Workshop attendees will also receive access to our online database designed by National Geographic to upload and share pictures and data.

This workshop is part of the Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium being conducted Nov. 14-15th, featuring keynote speakers Chad Pregracke of Living Lands and Waters and Sean O’Connnor of National Geographic. Please visit http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e9o47rcu02c45931&llr=wx7o69dab to register. Cost is $55 for the conference, plus $25 dollars for the Stream Discovery workshop. If you would like to attend the Stream Discovery workshop, but not the conference, then please e-mail riverwatch@lc.edu to be put on the workshop list.

Registration deadline is 1 week before the workshop. Registration is limited, first come first-served! Sign up today!

Contact Matt Young, Illinois RiverWatch Coordinator for more information.

Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant Program

Via the Prairie Research Institute Library blog.

The 2015 call for proposals is out for the Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant Program.

“Wells Fargo and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) seek to promote sustainable communities through Environmental Solutions for Communities by supporting highly-visible projects that link economic development and community well-being to the stewardship and health of the environment. Approximately $2,500,000 is available nationwide for 2015 projects.”

Individual awards range from $25,000 to $100,000, and will go to “eligible entities working to help communities create a more sustainable future through responsible environmental stewardship”.  Eligible organizations are non-profit 501(c) organizations, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes, educational institutions.  U.S. Federal government agencies, businesses, unincorporated individuals and international organizations are ineligible.  Full proposals are due December 10, 2014.

The 2015 RFP gives preference to specific geographic areas. Illinois is unfortunately not on the list, but some neighboring states/communities are, including St. Louis, MO.

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