Nov 15, 2017

EPA: TSCA Risk Evaluation Public Meeting materials available

EPA is making available the agenda and other meeting materials for its planned December 11, 2017 public meeting to discuss ongoing implementation activities under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

View the agenda and meeting materials:

Background:  The December 11th meeting will focus on possible approaches for identifying potential candidate chemicals for EPA's prioritization process under TSCA. As amended, TSCA required that EPA establish processes for prioritizing and evaluating risks from existing chemicals. EPA will describe and take comment on a number of possible approaches that could guide the Agency in the identification of potential candidate chemicals for prioritization. EPA will accept questions from the public in advance of the meeting if such questions are received by November 20, 2017, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows.  Additionally, EPA will be accepting written comments in the docket until January 25, 2018.

To register to attend, submit questions, and learn more:

Arkema documents show planning, mechanical failures led to chemical fires during Harvey

HoustonChronicle - Poor planning and a series of cascading equipment failures led to dangerous chemicals erupting into flame in late August during the height of Hurricane Harvey. The miscalculations indicate the company's lack of preparation for more than 3 feet of flooding, reflected by an emergency management plan that barely addressed how to handle such a storm.

Those judgments led to the burning of nine trailers containing the company's stockpile of organic peroxides. The resulting inferno exposed first responders and local residents to dangerous fumes and pulled emergency staffers away from hurricane recovery at a critical time.

Arkema officials argue that unprecedented floods made it impossible to prevent its chemicals from catching fire. The site had only seen up to 2 feet of flooding in the past, company officials said.

A list of chemicals at the Arkema plant was passed around to people who live near the chemical plant on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Crosby. Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle / © 2017 Houston Chronicle

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle

A list of chemicals at the Arkema plant was passed around to people who live near the chemical plant on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Crosby.

The Chronicle obtained Arkema's internal records from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and conducted interviews with government employees with knowledge of ongoing investigations of the events at the plant. The emerging picture reveals nine days of chaos, culminating with the decision to intentionally burn chemicals that posed a danger to the public.

The records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and interviews show that:​

Arkema's emergency response plan provided employees with little direction for how to handle major flooding events. It contained one paragraph about flooding but a page and a half on handling bomb threats, records show.

Arkema's main power transformers and its powerful backup generators were not high enough off the ground, causing them to become submerged with floodwaters, Arkema records show. Without power, the company could not keep its stash of organic peroxides at a safe temperature inside its refrigerated buildings.

The company's last resort for keeping organic peroxides cool - refrigerated trailers - also was destined to fail. The diesel-powered trailers had fuel tanks that ran along the bottom of the vehicle. More than 3 feet of water compromised the fuel tanks, causing the freezers to die.

Arkema had a tank of an extremely dangerous chemical, isobutylene, located about 40 yards from six trailers that had been relocated during the storm, according to interviews and satellite images. Government officials were concerned about a chain reaction with that chemical that could have led to catastrophic results.

Arkema officials said again Tuesday that no amount of planning could have protected its site from the storm.​​

​"Many of your conclusions fail to recognize that Hurricane Harvey was unlike any rain event Houston ever experienced," company spokeswoman Janet Smith said in an email. "FEMA's 500-year flood map doesn't address the situation that occurred during Hurricane Harvey."

Four days after Harvey made landfall in Texas, the Arkema plant was under 7 feet of water. The last employees to evacuate the site left by boat, floating over a 6-foot chain-link fence topped by barbed wire, the records show.

"Flooding in Houston is a perfectly foreseeable event," said Paul Orum, an independent Washington, D.C., consultant and longtime chemical safety advocate. "Facilities should be prepared when it comes to several different layers of flooding."

Lines laid low

Arkema, a French multinational company, manufactures chemicals used to create plastic products. Many of its proprietary compounds are classified as organic peroxides, which must be kept at temperatures well below freezing to prevent the chemicals from catching fire.

With Hurricane Harvey bearing down on Southeast Texas and the National Hurricane Center warning of potentially "catastrophic" or "life-threatening" flooding, the company's plans for protecting its product were simple: keep the chemicals cold on-site.

The company had multiple freezer buildings, six backup generators, and, as a last resort, refrigerated trucks. Documents provided to the Chronicle did not indicate any plans to drive the organic peroxides away from Harvey's impact.

But Arkema's plan for Harvey was based on one flawed assumption: that the site would never experience floods higher than 3 feet. By the end of the weekend, the rain had exceeded that total.​

Nov 14, 2017

FREE: Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Web Academy Webinar: Preventing Food Waste Upstream

EPA will host this webinar on Thursday, November 16 from 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Eastern Time.

Please register for this free webinar here

Photo of food recovery hierarchy with Source Reduction circledThe top tier of EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy is source reduction, which is reducing the volume of surplus food generated.  Source Reduction can be challenging to understand, quantify and implement. Businesses and organizations can learn to effectively prevent wasted food by taking source reduction steps such as inventorying supplies, changing processes and buying less.  Looking through a Sustainable Materials Management lens, preventing wasted food provides the greatest potential for cost savings and resource conservation relative to the other Food Recovery Hierarchy activities, as demonstrated by the US EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM). This webinar will introduce progressive examples from a state agency and the business community that prevent wasted food at the source.

Top of Page


photo of David AllawayDavid Allaway, Senior Policy Analyst, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) Materials Management Program

Mr. Allaway currently addresses sustainable consumption and production, materials (including waste) management, and greenhouse gases (GHGs). He has led efforts to develop and update Oregon's consumption-based GHG inventory, contributed to the ICLEI US GHG accounting protocols for communities and recycling, and served as an invited science advisor to Wal-Mart. Before joining DEQ in 2000, David worked for 11 years in the solid waste consulting industry. A native of Oregon, David has a B.A. in physics from Carleton College, Minnesota.

Photo of Stephanie BargerStephanie Barger, Director of Market Transformation & Development, TRUE Zero Waste Programs – U.S. Green Building Council

Ms. Barger formed the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) in January of 2012 to meet the growing need for educational resources, peer-to-peer networking and third-party certification for businesses across the nation. In November of 2016, USZWBC merged with Green Business Certification, Inc. and the U.S. Green Building Council. She brings over 25 years of experience in environmental stewardship, employee training, management consulting and business relationship development. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from San Diego State University. In her spare time, Ms. Barger raises guide dog puppies for the blind, and advocates for humane treatment of all creatures great and small.

Photo of Brian BalukonisBrian Balukonis, Solid Waste Process Owner, Raytheon Company

Mr. Balukonis has worked for over 32 years in the Environmental Health, Safety and Sustainability Group.  He has developed many unique and innovative resource management programs for Raytheon. These programs were recently recognized by the US Zero Waste Business Council, which certified six Raytheon sites as Zero Waste in Massachusetts.  Mr. Balukonis is a recognized subject matter expert in Zero Waste and has presented for many years at national and local conferences and colleges. 


Photo of Marc WincottMarc Wincott, District Manager, Eurest Thompson Hospitality

Mr. Wincott has worked for Compass Group for 21 years, joining the Eurest in 2004 as General Manager of Georgia-Pacific where he was quickly promoted to Area Manager and named "Manager of the Year."  From there, Marc became the GM of Sikorsky in Stratford, CT before being promoted to District Manager for the Raytheon enterprise for National Accounts.

Photo of Andre VillasenorAndré Villaseñor, Sustainable Management of Food Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Mr. Villasenor began his career fulfilling EPA's mission to protect human health & the environment in 2005, following his service in the U.S. Peace Corps in Ecuador. He holds an M.S. from State University of New York and an M.A. from Syracuse University. He resides in Los Angeles.

Nov 13, 2017

Shutdown of world’s biggest uranium mine will boost to sustainable prices

A move by one of the world's biggest uranium producers to suspend production will cut global supply by 10 per cent and boost the spot price, according to uranium play Boss Resources.

Cameco last week announced it would temporarily suspend production at its McArthur River uranium mine and Key Lake processing facility in northern Saskatchewan by end of January.

McArthur River accounted for more than 10 per cent of uranium production in 2016. Cameco provides about 17 per cent of the world's uranium from mines in Canada, the US and Kazakhstan.

The move was due to oversupply in the uranium market — which isn't likely to change in the foreseeable future — resulting in continued weakness in the uranium price.

Since the halcyon days a decade ago when its price hit $US130 a pound, uranium has slid to a 12-year low of $US18 a pound in November 2016, recently trading slightly higher at $US20.25 a pound.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident in 2011, there has been concern over future demand and over oversupply of uranium with three European Union member states – Belgium, Germany and Switzerland – seeking to phase out nuclear reactors.

In the US and Europe, premature retirements of reactors continue to outstrip the rate of capacity addition.

However, managing director Duncan Craib of ASX-listed uranium explorer Boss Resources (ASX:BOE) believes Cameco's cutbacks – along with other cuts by uranium producers including Paladin and Areva – will "bring discipline to the supply side and reduce excess inventories".

"This is further evidence that uranium production is not sustainable at current uranium term and spot prices," he said.

"The cumulative impact of global supply reductions in 2018 should strongly influence the spot market in 2018 and further out, if the suspension period is extended.

"We expect to see the strengthening in spot price reflected in the term price."

Read on from source:

Nov 10, 2017

Nuclear incident suspected after radioactive cloud over Europe

A cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe in recent weeks indicates an unidentified nuclear incident happened at some facility in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September, French nuclear safety institute IRSN said on Thursday.

The IRSN ruled out an incident in a nuclear reactor, saying it was likely to be in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine. There has been no impact on human health or the environment in Europe, the IRSN said.

IRSN, the technical arm of French nuclear regulator ASN, said in a statement it could not pinpoint the location of the release of radioactive material but that based on weather patterns, the most plausible zone lay south of the Ural mountains, between the Urals and the Volga river.

This could indicate Russia or possibly Kazakhstan, an IRSN official said.

"Russian authorities have said they are not aware of an accident on their territory," IRSN director Jean-Marc Peres told Reuters. He added that the institute had not yet been in contact with Kazakh authorities.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Emergencies Ministry said she could not immediately comment. It was not immediately possible to reach authorities in Kazakhstan or the Kazakh embassy in Moscow.

Ruthenium 106

Mr Peres said that in recent weeks IRSN and several other nuclear safety institutes in Europe had measured high levels of levels of ruthenium 106, a radioactive nuclide that is the product of splitting atoms in a nuclear reactor and which does not occur naturally.

IRSN estimates that the quantity of ruthenium 106 released was major, between 100 and 300 teraBecquerels, and that if an incident of this magnitude had happened in France it would have required the evacuation or sheltering of people in a radius of a few kilometres around the accident site.

The ruthenium 106 was probably released in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine, Mr Peres said. Because of its short half-life of about a year, ruthenium 106 is used in nuclear medicine.

Read on from source​:

Nov 8, 2017

Free Respiratory Training Protection for Healthcare Workers is Available

A short, self-paced online program preparing healthcare workers to use respiratory protection is available from AAOHN and satisfies the annual Federal OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard's (1910.134 CFR) training requirements. Designed by experts from AAOHN, AOHP and ANA with a NIOSH grant, this online training program prepares you and your staff for respiratory protection in the workplace. This program provides Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) credits and is available for FREE to all healthcare workers at

Oct 30, 2017

Webinar recording available: Avoiding the Next Chemical Catastrophe: Strategies for Chemical Threat Reduction

The recording of the ACS webinar from earlier this month on Avoiding the Next Chemical Catastrophe: Strategies for Chemical Threat Reduction is now available at:

The summary of the webinar is:
Every lab has chemicals that are vital to research and experimentation but these same chemicals whether you are in industry or academia, can be stolen and used by non-state actors for malevolent acts.  Join Andrew Nelson of Sandia National Laboratories as he introduces strategies to mitigate the risks that small labs and universities face with theft of chemicals for chemical weapons, explosives, and illicit drug production.

What You Will Learn
• Why chemical security is important to all labs with current examples of incidents
• What considerations must be made in a security risk management system
• How chemical security is a teachable skill and what resources are available to you today

Oct 27, 2017

EPA annoucement: Alternative Test Methods to Reduce Vertebrate Animal Testing: Announcement of Public Meeting

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act amended Section 4(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require EPA to develop a Strategic Plan by June 22, 2018 to promote the development and implementation of alternative test methods and strategies to reduce, refine or replace vertebrate animal testing.

EPA is announcing a public meeting on November 2nd, 2017 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to obtain input from interested parties and the public on the Agency's development of the Strategic Plan. EPA believes this early feedback will be important in developing a strong Strategic Plan. Goals and objectives to inform the Strategic Plan and that can be used for discussion and comment are available here.

Interested parties may provide input about the draft Strategic Plan during the meeting. Additionally, written comments may be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0559 at and must be received no later than 60 days following the meeting.

To register to attend the meeting and for more information, visit the EPA's Alternative Test Methods webpage.

The Agency will consider input from the meeting and from written comments to develop a draft Strategic Plan that will be shared with the public for comment.

Oct 26, 2017

Free webinar: Using the EPA WARM Tool to Communicate the Environmental Benefits Associated with Material and Waste Management

Session Description 


As health care organizations develop climate strategies and set greenhouse gas reduction goals, they are increasingly looking to measure the impacts of waste reduction strategies and its role in achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets. The EPA's WARM Tool calculates and totals Greenhouse Gas emissions of baseline and alternative waste management practices—source reduction, recycling, anaerobic digestion, combustion, composting and landfilling. Further, a related EPA tool translates greenhouse gas reduction into readily understandable impacts, like number of cars removed from the road.

Join the EPA as they explain how you can use the WARM tool to measure material and waste diversion efforts on greenhouse gas reduction and communication to key stakeholders.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how waste contributes to greenhouse gas generation and its role in climate mitigation strategies.
  • Understand how to access and use the EPA WARM Tool for greenhouse gas tracking as it relates to material and waste management strategies.

Pricing: FREE! 


Tyler Rubright

US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery

Tyler Rubright is a biologist in the US EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. His primary role focuses on using data measurement and analytics surrounding Municipal Solid Waste to inform program direction and provide stakeholder information. These efforts seek to expand the analysis of material flows in order to increase recovery of valuable resources from the waste stream and prevent various forms of further pollution. Prior to joining the EPA, Tyler was an Albert Schweitzer Fellow researching the health effects of proximate unconventional natural gas drilling in southwestern Pennsylvania. This fellowship complimented data-intensive research examining ambient air quality effects on heart attack risk. Tyler earned his Bachelor of Science in biology from Furman University, Master of Science degree in environmental and occupational health from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Certificate of Public Health.

Nathan Wittstruck

US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery

Nathan Wittstruck is an economist with the US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. Before transitioning to the waste office's measurement branch, he promoted sustainable materials management, worked on e-waste issues and helped develop voluntary consensus standards. Nathan also spent one year in the international branch supporting work on key environmental issues in the US-Mexico border region and with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Currently, Nathan's primary role is the management of the WARM tool, which includes stakeholder engagement and overseeing technical improvements to the tool. Before joining the EPA, Nathan gained international experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama and as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Bogota, Colombia. Nathan has a master's degree in economics from the University of California, Riverside.

Proposed Mercury Reporting Rule

As required by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, EPA is proposing a rule to require reporting from persons who manufacture (including import) mercury or mercury-added products, or otherwise intentionally use mercury in a manufacturing process. This reporting rule must be finalized before June 22, 2018. Comments can be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0421. The 60-day comment period will begin upon publication in the Federal Register.

EPA is required by the amended TSCA to carry out and publish in the Federal Register not later than April 1, 2017, and every three years thereafter, an inventory of mercury supply, use, and trade in the United States. Mercury is defined as "elemental mercury" and "a mercury compound." The Agency published its initial inventory report in March 2017.

The proposed rule, when finalized, would support future, triennial publications of the inventory. Based on the information collected, the Agency is directed to identify any manufacturing processes or products that intentionally add mercury; and recommend actions to achieve further reductions in mercury use.

EPA Raises Radiation Limits For Emergency Responders

FORBES - Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set new radiation guidelines that raise the acceptable limits on the radiation dose that can be tolerated by first responders and emergency personnel in the case of a nuclear incident, radspill, terrorist attack like a dirty bomb, or any other radiological emergency.

'According to radiation safety experts, radiation exposures of 5-10 rem (5,000-10,000 mrem or 50-100 mSv) usually result in no harmful health effects, because radiation below these levels is a minor contributor to our overall cancer risk,' EPA said in the document. Present limits are 0.5 rem or less depending on the situation.

....These EPA changes raise the radiation limits that emergency personnel can take, making them less fearful of responding to an event, which will make this weapon less effective, and will make any radiological incident less deadly. The change was included as part of EPA guidance on messaging and communications in the event of a nuclear power plant meltdown or a dirty bomb attack. The September 2017 FAQ document, is part of a broader planning document for nuclear emergencies, but is not a federal standard or a law.

Unless you, the reader, are in a boat out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you're getting a radiation dose between 0.2 and 1 rem/year (0.002 and 0.01 Sv) in the United States, just from background sources such as rock, dirt, potatoes and cosmic rays (EPA Rad Limits). Some places in the world have background doses ten times higher than we do, without any differences in cancer rates.

There have never been any observable health effects from doses less than 10 rem (0.1 Sv). Ever. Anywhere.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, exposure limits are set at 4 millirem (or mrem) a year, and federal standards for hazardous air pollutants limits radiation exposure to 10 mrem a year. Federal regulations limit exposure for living near a nuclear power plant to 25 mrem a year. These limits are between 10 and 100 times below background radiation levels in the United States, 1000 times below background radiation levels in than many areas of the world.

...Our ultralow limits have cost the United States close to a trillion dollars, and will cost us a lot more in the years to come (Low-Level rad SummitAtomic This latest step by the EPA is also driven by none other than the Government Accounting Office. More and more reports indicate that the forced evacuation in Fukushima was not necessary (Fukushima 2.25). The panicked Japanese authorities were following our American policy (As Low As Reasonably Achievable, or ALARA) that has always been misinterpreted to mean any and all radiation is dangerous no matter what level.

Read full at: 

Oct 19, 2017

Evaporation could power 69% of the nation’s annual electrical generation

Natural evaporation could provide most of the electricity used by the US and also save about one fifth of the water it uses, scientists believe.

​ -
The flow of water vapour into the atmosphere
it happens wherever there is liquid water – could generate up to 325 gigawatts. This is 69% of the nation's annual electrical generation. The same process could save about 25 trillion gallons of water every year. This is about one fifth of US water consumption.

And the same technology could be exploited as a natural battery to conserve renewable energy for those moments when the wind fails to turn the turbines or at night when the solar power plants lie idle.

There is a catch. The project has been demonstrated so far only in the laboratory. But the small-scale experiments with what its inventors call the evaporation engine show that the new source could in theory complement other, more fully developed renewable technologies.

And it would work even more efficiently in those hot landscapes most prone to drought: California, Arizona and Nevada, the researchers say.

A team from Columbia University report in the journal Nature Communications that they based their calculations on data from 934 weather stations across the United States to calculate the potential power – sometimes called latent heat –  packed by the upward flow of water molecules from all the lakes and reservoirs larger than 0.l square kilometres in the contiguous US. They excluded rivers, farmland, coasts and the Great Lakes.

The experimental technology exploits natural biology and physics. The evaporation engine controls humidity with the action of a shutter and the expansion and contraction of bacterial spores in response to this process is transferred to a generator that delivers current.

The study is yet another instance of the scale and range of ingenuity repeatedly demonstrated by the world's laboratories in search of alternatives to the fossil fuels that so far have driven human economies, but now threaten to drive global warming and potentially catastrophic climate change.

US researchers have exploited computer studies and scaled up existing technologies to show, again and again, that the US could be fuelled by wind, sunlight and water power and that what works for the US could drive development in many parts of the world. The argument is that the knowhow exists: what is lacking is the political will.

But the Columbia scientists make no such claims: they have devised their own way of exploiting the water cycle in a manner that would actually reduce evaporation in the warmest, driest states and at the same time siphon electrical energy from the process.

They can also demonstrate the system's potential as a renewable battery that exploits already existing infrastructure such as a reservoir or lake.

But they have yet to test the technology on a larger scale, and beyond the laboratory: at a reservoir, or in a greenhouse. The latest study calculates the potential energy drifting upwards from standing water, on cold days as well as hot.

"We have the technology to harness energy from wind, water and the sun, but evaporation is just as powerful," said Ozgur Sahin, a biophysicist at Columbia University, and the senior author. "We can now put a number on its potential." 

Oct 18, 2017

Obesity Responsible for 40 Percent of ALL Diagnosed Cancers

Obesity Responsible for Cancers
  • More than 630,000 Americans were diagnosed with obesity-related cancer
  • Obesity-related cancers accounted for 40 percent of all diagnosed cancers
  • Obesity-related cancers accounted for 55 percent of all cancers in women and 24 percent of cancers in men
  • Considering more than 20 percent of American adolescents are already in the obese category; awareness of the obesity-cancer link needs to grow if we're to successfully combat cancer rates in coming decades
  • Visceral fat is particularly hazardous. Recent research links excess belly fat alone (regardless of bodyweight) to an increased risk for lung and gastrointestinal cancers in postmenopausal women
  • Obesity is associated with significant medical costs and lost productivity. An obese 20-year-old who sheds enough weight to drop down into the overweight category will save nearly two-thirds of his or her lifetime costs

Nearly 30 percent of the global population is overweight or obese and this has a significant impact on cancer rates, experts say. In a 2014 report, obesity was linked to an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year.1,2 More recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the reality is far grimmer than that — at least in the U.S.

Obesity-Related Cancers on the Rise in the US

While cancers unrelated to obesity declined by 13 percent between 2005 and 2014, obesity-related cancer incidence rose by 7 percent, and in 2014 more than 630,000 people were diagnosed with obesity-related cancer in the U.S. alone.3,4,5 Overall, obesity-related cancers accounted for a whopping 40 percent of all diagnosed cancers in 2014. As reported by Reuters: 6

"According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, 13 cancers are associated with overweight and obesity. They include meningioma, multiple myeloma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, and cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus and colon and rectum (colorectal)." 

Previous data from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) suggests excess body weight is responsible for about 25 percent of the relative contribution to cancer incidence, ranking second only to smoking.7 When combined with other high-risk behaviors, such as a poor diet and lack of exercise, the relative contribution rises to 33 percent, making optional lifestyle-related factors a significant contributor to many cancers.

Obesity-Related Cancers Disproportionally Affect Women

Women are at greatest risk. Compared to men, women are more than twice as likely to develop obesity-related cancer,and the longer a woman is overweight, the greater her risk.9 The latest CDC data shows that 55 percent of all cancers in women were related to obesity whereas obesity accounted for "just" 24 percent of male cancer cases.10 Overall, endometrial, ovarian and postmenopausal breast cancer accounted for 42 percent of all obesity-related cancers.

According to the authors, "Observational studies have provided evidence that even a 5-kg (11-pound) increase in weight since early adulthood is associated with increased risk of overweight- and obesity-related cancers." Despite such evidence, few people are fully aware of this association.

As noted by CDC deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat,11 "That obesity and overweight are affecting cancers may be surprising to many Americans. The awareness of some cancers being associated with obesity and overweight is not yet widespread." Considering the fact that nearly 71 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese, and over 20 percent of adolescents are already in the obese category,12 awareness of this link needs to grow if we're to successfully combat rising cancer rates in coming decades.

'Fat and Fit' Myth Promotes Unhealthy Ideals

Many still hold fast to the idea that you can be overweight and metabolically healthy, or "fat and fit," but the cases in which this might be true are few and far in between. While this notion helps combat weight-related depression and poor self-esteem, it ignores the very real health risks associated with excess body weight.

As noted in a 2013 review and meta-analysis13 that included data from more than 61,000 people, obese individuals were more likely to die sooner or have heart-related problems than people of normal weight — even if they were otherwise healthy — causing the researchers to conclude that:

"Compared with metabolically healthy normal-weight individuals, obese persons are at increased risk for adverse long-term outcomes even in the absence of metabolic abnormalities, suggesting that there is no healthy pattern of increased weight."

More recent research confirms that visceral fat — the fat buildup around your internal organs, which typically shows as an increased waist size — is directly associated with insulin resistance, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and cancer. In the U.S., Greece, Iceland and New Zealand, over 90 percent of adult men and half of all children were found to have this risk factor.14

Belly Fat Especially Risky for Postmenopausal Women

As noted by Medical News Today,15 "So-called metabolically obese normal weight individuals may still have impaired health, and up to 50 percent of these individuals may be ignored by current BMI [body mass index] measurements." Other recent research has linked excess belly fat alone (regardless of bodyweight) to an increased risk for lung and gastrointestinal cancers in postmenopausal women. According to study author Line Maersk Staunstrup, a doctoral student at Nordic Bioscience ProScion in Denmark:16

"The average elderly women can very much use this information, as it is known that the menopause transition initiates a shift in body fat towards the central trunk area. Therefore, elderly women should be especially aware of their lifestyle when they approach the pre-menopause age."

How to Measure Your Body Composition

Indeed, BMI has been repeatedly shown to be an unreliable way to measure a person's body composition as it fails to take into account muscle mass and intra-abdominal (visceral) fat mass.

A far more accurate measurement is to measure your waistline (the distance around the smallest area below the rib cage, above your belly button) in relation to your height. Waist circumference is the easiest anthropometric measure of total body fat. A general guide for healthy waist circumference is as follows:

Waist Measure for Men
Waist Measurement for Women

Alternatively, you can measure your waist-to-hip ratio. This is done by measuring the circumference of your hips at the widest part, across your buttocks. Then measure your waist at the smallest circumference of your natural waist, just above your belly button. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement to get the ratio, or use the University of Maryland's online waist-to-hip ratio calculator.17

Normal Waist to Hip Ratio

The High Cost of Obesity

Other research also deconstructs the "fat and fit" notion, showing obesity eventually takes a toll on health — and finances — even if the person is currently healthy. Using computer modeling, the researchers estimated the financial cost of obesity for different age groups. As an example, a 50-year-old obese individual with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels has a price tag in excess of $36,000 in direct medical care and lost productivity.

Not surprisingly, weight loss was associated with significant savings. Not only could health insurance premiums be lowered across the board if society as a whole did not struggle with an excess of obesity-related health problems, but individuals would also save on co-pays, and they'd be able to maintain their productivity in the workforce. As reported by Medicine Net:18

"The researchers estimated that if an obese 20-year-old shed enough pounds to drop to the overweight category, almost two-thirds of his lifetime costs to society could be avoided … If a healthy but obese 70-year-old crossed to the overweight category, her lifetime costs could be cut by about 40 percent …"

How Excess Weight Contributes to Cancer.... read on at:

Oct 5, 2017

Wal-Mart Steps Up Push to Shed Potentially Harmful Chemicals

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding its program to clean up the products it sells, setting a 2022 target for reducing potentially harmful substances and widening the list of chemicals it wants to avoid.

The world's largest retailer aims to reduce the chemicals in products such as household cleaners, cosmetics, skin care and infant items by 10 percent by then, according to a company statement Wednesday. It's also added some fragrance allergens to its so-called priority list of substances it wants to remove from goods.

The new goal is the latest in the retailer's efforts to respond to consumers seeking greener products and more information about what's in them. Last year, Wal-Mart named eight high-priority chemicals it wants eliminated from the goods it sells, and it's on schedule to have the chemicals listed on its broader priority list labeled online and on packaging next year.

"We're trying to center around a broader approach that emphasizes three elements: building trust, delivering impact and really staying ahead of regulation," said Zach Freeze, Wal-Mart's senior director for strategic initiatives for sustainability.

Wal-Mart said it will promote two additional product-verification programs to help guide consumers. Freeze said the company still supports the Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Choice program and wants to expand the number of products certified under it. Wal-Mart's own dish soap -- which was launched earlier this year and attained Safer Choice certification -- is doing well, he said.

FREE WEBINAR SERIES: Funding Decentralized Wastewater Treatment with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) is a low interest source of funding for the installation, repair, and upgrading of decentralized wastewater treatment systems. In fiscal year 2016, the CWSRF provided $29.3 million to decentralized projects.

Join the EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund and representatives from the Washington State Departments of Health and Ecology, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and Minnesota Department of Agriculture as we discuss innovative partnerships and financing mechanisms for funding decentralized wastewater treatment systems, including a public-private partnership between Washington Department of Health, Department of Ecology, and a Washington nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution.
We hope you will join us on October 12, 2017 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT
for this exciting online presentation and discussion!


If you have trouble joining the meeting, call Adobe Connect at 1-800-422-3623.


Audio will be broadcast from your computer. Make sure to test your computer capabilities prior to the forum by running the Adobe Connect Test prior to the webinar:

Rebecca Brown
Washington Department of Ecology

Jeremy Simmons
Washington Department of Health

Desiree Sideroff

Kathy Emery
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

Dwight Wilcox
Minnesota Department of Agriculture

All webinars will be recorded and made available online.

Yucca Mountain H.R. 3053, Nuclear Waste Policy, limit DOE’s authority to collect certain fees charged to utilities with nuclear plants to cover the costs of disposing

Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), the federal government, through the Department of Energy (DOE), is responsible for permanently disposing of the nation's nuclear waste in a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. H.R. 3053 would not change that fundamental requirement, but would temporarily limit DOE's authority to collect certain fees charged to utilities with nuclear plants to cover the costs of disposing of the waste they generate and would authorize DOE to enter into agreements to provide benefits to state, local, and tribal governments that might host or be affected by facilities related to the waste management program.

View full here:

Free webcast Walking-Working Surfaces questions @jjkeller has answers

Thursday, October 5th   1 PM Central Time
(2 ET, 12 MT, 11PT) – Register Now!

Last November, OSHA finalized the walking-working surfaces rule that revised Subpart D in its entirety. Since that time, many employers have struggled to understand the depth and breadth of the changes, as well as the impact on their workplace. 

During this webcast, we will answer the most frequently asked questions by hundreds of general industry employers about the new requirements to help ensure compliance and prevent slips, trips, and fall in your workplace.

We'll also take your questions during our Q&A portion of the event!

 Register Now
Featured Speakers:
  Jennifer StroscheinJennifer Stroschein
Workplace Safety
J. J. Keller & Associates

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