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

Dec 6, 2017

EPA"s RCRA Generator Improvement Rule - FREE Workshop Invitation: Feb 7, 2018

The EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery is pleased to offer a full-day workshop on the 2016 Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Final Rule (8:30 am to 3:00 pm). The workshop will be held on Wednesday February 7, 2018, in Arlington, VA, and is free for all participants.

This workshop, given by the staff implementing the rule at the federal level, will cover all the major provisions of the rule, looking at regulatory text and common implementation questions that have come up since the rule was finalized. Specifically, the training examines provisions changed by the rule for hazardous waste determinations, counting hazardous waste, marking and labeling, episodic generation, VSQG waste consolidation at LQGs, satellite accumulation areas, emergency planning and preparedness, closure, recordkeeping, and reporting using the updated Site ID Form.

Doors will open at 8:30 am and the workshop will run from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (with an hour for lunch on your own) at EPA's Conference Center in the Potomac Yard building in Arlington, VA. Hotels are plentiful in the area, if needed.

We expect this training to fill up and will have a waitlist option on the registration site. If you do sign up and then cannot join us for the training, please take a moment to cancel your enrollment so someone else can take your spot.

Dec 5, 2017

Free Webcast on Forklift Training...do you know what's required via @jjkeller

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.

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

Haunting reminder of importance of using proper grounding and bonding.

Video shows fire/explosion at NY cosmetics factory.

Video showing a worker pouring from a drum into a plastic tote (IBC). The fire starts when a worker wipes off tote with cloth near pouring location.

Just tragically preventable. 

JCINF article: The CompTox Chemistry Dashboard: a community data resource for environmental chemistry

The CompTox Chemistry Dashboard: a community data resource for environmental chemistry

Despite an abundance of online databases providing access to chemical data, there is increasing demand for high-quality, structure-curated, open data to meet the various needs of the environmental sciences and computational toxicology communities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) web-based CompTox Chemistry Dashboard is addressing these needs by integrating diverse types of relevant domain data through a cheminformatics layer, built upon a database of curated substances linked to chemical structures. These data include physicochemical, environmental fate and transport, exposure, usage, in vivo toxicity, and in vitro bioassay data, surfaced through an integration hub with link-outs to additional EPA data and public domain online resources. Batch searching allows for direct chemical identifier (ID) mapping and downloading of multiple data streams in several different formats. This facilitates fast access to available structure, property, toxicity, and bioassay data for collections of chemicals (hundreds to thousands at a time). Advanced search capabilities are available to support, for example, non-targeted analysis and identification of chemicals using mass spectrometry. The contents of the chemistry database, presently containing ~ 760,000 substances, are available as public domain data for download. The chemistry content underpinning the Dashboard has been aggregated over the past 15 years by both manual and auto-curation techniques within EPA's DSSTox project. DSSTox chemical content is subject to strict quality controls to enforce consistency among chemical substance-structure identifiers, as well as list curation review to ensure accurate linkages of DSSTox substances to chemical lists and associated data. The Dashboard, publicly launched in April 2016, has expanded considerably in content and user traffic over the past year. It is continuously evolving with the growth of DSSTox into high-interest or data-rich domains of interest to EPA, such as chemicals on the Toxic Substances Control Act listing, while providing the user community with a flexible and dynamic web-based platform for integration, processing, visualization and delivery of data and resources. The Dashboard provides support for a broad array of research and regulatory programs across the worldwide community of toxicologists and environmental scientists.


Dec 1, 2017

Fatal Ammonia Leak at Municipal Arena

CCOHS: Three workers in Fernie, British Columbia lost their lives due to an ammonia leak at the municipal arena and 95 residents living near the arena were evacuated from their homes for five days. The exact cause of the leak has not yet been determined but this incident highlights the need to understand ammonia and the risks that come with its use in the workplace.

What is ammonia?

Ammonia is a toxic chemical commonly found in refrigerants, cleaning products, and fertilizers. It is naturally found as a gas, but it can be pressurized and stored or transported as liquid. . Exposure to a high concentration of ammonia can be fatal. Ammonia has the following characteristics:

  • Colourless with a distinct strong odour. However, repeated exposure reduces your ability to smell the gas. This odour fatigue can occur even if the levels of the gas are high.
  • As a gas, it may explode if heated. High concentrations can be a fire and explosion hazard, especially in confined areas.
  • Very toxic and can be fatal if inhaled.
  • Corrosive to the respiratory tract, and causes severe skin burns and eye damage.
  • May cause frost bite.

How workers are exposed

Ammonia is most commonly found on farms, in refrigeration systems and in fertilizers and cleaners. On farms, ammonia gas is generated by compost piles on mushroom farms. Manure pits and any indoor or confined spaces where farm animals are kept can contain ammonia gas. Ice rinks and ice manufacturing plants use liquid ammonia in their refrigeration systems. If this liquefied ammonia leaks, it becomes a gas.  In its liquid form, ammonia is often diluted and combined with other chemicals and found in fertilizers and cleaning products.

The risks

The highest risk comes from breathing the gas, which can be fatal. The level of risk depends on the concentration of ammonia and the length of exposure time. In low concentrations, exposure can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and respiratory system. It can also cause chemical and freezing burns on the skin. At high concentration, ammonia gas can be fatal within a few breaths.

How to reduce the risks

Controlling the risks and hazards in the workplace can reduce the potential for injury or disease. The most effective way to manage the risk of exposure to ammonia is to eliminate the source of exposure. If that's not possible, there are other control measures to use. When choosing control measures, start by asking yourself these questions, listed in order of effectiveness.

  1. Elimination or substitution
    • Can a less hazardous material be used?
  1. Engineering controls
    • Can a process that generates less ammonia be used?
    • Can ventilation be improved?
    • Can ammonia-producing tasks be enclosed by barriers that prevent gas from leaking into other areas of the workplace?
  1. Administrative controls
    • Can warning signs be posted in the work area?
    • Can signs explaining ammonia exposure symptoms be posted?
    • Can written safe work procedures be posted?
    • Can a 24-hour continuous ammonia monitor be connected to an alarm system?
  1. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Do workers have the required respirators, eye wear, and protective clothing?
    • Has personal protective equipment been tested to make sure it is working properly?

If there's an ammonia leak, notify a supervisor immediately. Clear the area, and begin emergency procedures.