December 20, 2021
Manufacturers add synthetic antioxidants to plastics, rubbers and other polymers to make them last longer. However, the health effects of these compounds, and how readily they migrate into the environment, are largely unknown. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology Letters
have detected a broad range of emerging synthetic antioxidants, called hindered phenol and sulfur antioxidants, in dust from electronic waste (e-waste) recycling workshops, possibly posing risks for the workers inside.
Previous studies revealed widespread environmental pollution and human exposure to a class of compounds called low-molecular weight synthetic phenolic antioxidants. In lab experiments, some of these compounds were toxic to rodents or human cells. Recently, manufacturers introduced a class of high-molecular weight synthetic phenolic antioxidants, also known as hindered phenol antioxidants (HPAs), with improved performance and slower migration from products. In addition to HPAs, compounds called sulfur antioxidants (SAs) are often added to rubber and plastic polymers as “helper” antioxidants. The toxicological effects and environmental occurrence of most of these new compounds are unknown. Therefore, Lixi Zeng and colleagues wanted to investigate the occurrence of emerging HPAs and SAs in dust from e-waste recycling centers — workshops where large amounts of discarded electronics, such as laptop computers, cell phones, tablets, wires and cables are dismantled and processed.
In August 2020, the researchers collected 45 dust samples from three categories of e-waste recycling workshops in an industrial park in Yichun City, China: wire and cable dismantling, electronic plastic processing, and general e-waste dismantling. Then, they used liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry to screen for 18 emerging HPAs and 6 emerging SAs. All 24 compounds were detected in the dust: 22 for the first time, and some at relatively high levels compared with other e-waste pollutants. Although dust concentrations of SAs were similar for the different categories of workshops, centers that dismantled wires and cables and processed electronic plastics had significantly higher levels of dust HPAs than those that dismantled general e-wastes. Given the ubiquitous occurrence of emerging HPAs and SAs in e-waste dust, further research is needed on their environmental behaviors, fates, toxicities and risks, the researchers say.
The authors acknowledged funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China
, the Guangdong Special Support Program, the Guangdong (China) Innovative and Entrepreneurial Research Team Program, the Special Fund Project for Science and Technology Innovation Strategy of Guangdong Province and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.
2021 Hazardous Waste Biennial Reports Are Due Soon
The 2021 Hazardous Waste Federal Biennial Reporting Cycle starts January 1, 2022. Your facility is required to submit a report if, during the reporting year of 2021 it was in any of the categories below.
- Any facility that was a fully-regulated Large Quantity Generator (LQG) or Small Quantity Generator (SQG) during any month of the year
- Any facility that treated, stored or disposed of RCRA hazardous wastes on-site in a waste management unit subject to RCRA permitting requirements
- Sites that are on file with your state environmental agency as a LQG or SQG
Illinois To Create First Illinois Groundwater Quality Standards for PFAS Chemicals
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director John J. Kim announced the Agency has submitted amendments to 35 Illinois Administrative Code (Ill. Admin. Code) Part 620 to the Illinois Pollution Control Board (Board). The proposed amendments update toxicity data for various chemicals, update exposure factors, and introduce groundwater quality standards for five Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) chemicals.
The proposed rule includes new groundwater quality standards for five PFAS chemicals: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS). In addition, the proposal includes groundwater quality standards for nine new chemicals, three new atrazine metabolites, and procedures for selecting toxicity values consistent with current federal guidance among other updates.
PFAS are a group of approximately 5,000 human-made chemicals that are manufactured for their oil and water-resistant properties. Since the 1940s, PFAS have been used in a wide range of consumer products, industrial processes, and in some fire-fighting foams (called aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF). This has resulted in PFAS being released into the air, water and soil.
"This regulatory submittal is the culmination of work by Illinois EPA staff over the past two years in an effort to establish Illinois' first groundwater standards for PFAS chemicals," said Director Kim."These regulations are a significant step to regulating these forever chemicals that will allow Illinois to develop standards to more effectively protect the public and environment against adverse impacts associated with PFAS contamination."
Groundwater in Illinois is important as drinking water for people and livestock, irrigation, industrial inputs, to sustain wetlands and other habitats, and to maintain flow and water quality in lakes, rivers and streams. Groundwater quality standards help the Illinois EPA to protect current and future uses of groundwater by providing a measure of groundwater's suitability for use and to set limits when remediation is necessary. Monitoring groundwater quality to detect changes in composition can provide an early warning when contaminants threaten water supplies and provide a measure for cleanup effectiveness when required.
Newly Listed Carcinogens: Tetrahydrofuran; 2-ethylhexyl Acrylate; Methyl Acrylate; and Trimethylolpropane Triacrylate, Technical Grade
Effective December 17, 2021, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added tetrahydrofuran (CAS No. 109-99-9), 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (CAS No. 103-11-7), methyl acrylate (CAS No. 96-33-3), and trimethylolpropane triacrylate, technical grade to the list of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 65.
The basis for the listings was described in a public notice
published in the June 11, 2021, issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register (Register 2021, No. 24-Z). The title of the notice was “Notice of Intent to List Chemicals by the Labor Code Mechanism: Tetrahydrofuran; 2-Ethylhexyl Acrylate; Methyl Acrylate; and Trimethylolpropane Triacrylate, Technical Grade.” The publication of the notice initiated a 45-day public comment period. OEHHA received five sets of comments during the comment period. The comments and OEHHA’s responses are posted with the Notice of Intent to List
‘Forever Chemicals’ Latch onto Sea Spray To Become Airborne
When ocean waves break, microscopic particles break free into the air. For beachgoers, aerosolized sea salts contribute to the tousled “beach hair” look. But other compounds found in seawater, including perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), could become airborne as bubbles pop at the water’s surface. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology
have observed in a thorough field study that sea spray pollutes the air in coastal areas with these potentially harmful chemicals.
PFASs, which include perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), don’t break down easily, so they’ve garnered the label “forever chemicals.” These persistent, potentially harmful compounds were widely used in industrial processes, food packaging, personal care products and water-repellant coatings before being phased out from these products in some countries. They’re now found worldwide, including in the oceans, where they’ve been expected to diffuse enough to not be a major concern. However, with previous laboratory experiments, Bo Sha, Jana Johansson, Ian Cousins, Matthew Salter and colleagues showed that when bubbles containing PFAAs burst at the surface of saltwater, these compounds are ejected as aerosols — extremely small airborne particles. Their findings indicated that sea spray aerosols could be an important way that these contaminants are transported long distances. So, as the next step, the team wanted to conduct field observations to find out whether this was the case in the real world.
At two coastal locations in Norway, the researchers collected over 100 air samples between 2018 and 2020. They analyzed the microscopic particles in the samples for 11 PFAAs, including the possible carcinogens perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, as well as sodium ions, which are an indicator of sea spray aerosols. The researchers detected the contaminants in all of the air samples collected. When the team compared the levels of individual PFAAs to sodium ions, many of them were strongly related, especially perfluorooctanoic acid, which they say indicates that these compounds leave the ocean with sea spray and could be blown inland. Finally, using the field measurements, the researchers estimated that for eight of the PFAAs, there could be 284 to 756 U.S. tons released globally from the oceans to the air each year, a higher amount than in previous estimates. Based on their field measurements, the researchers conclude that sea spray is an important source of this class of PFASs to coastal communities. They add that because sea spray can travel far distances inland, this is also likely to be a route for PFASs to be transported, and potentially return, to terrestrial regions from the ocean.
The authors acknowledged funding from FORMAS
, a Swedish government research council for sustainable development.
New Smart-Roof Coating Enables Year-Round Energy Savings
Scientists have developed an all-season smart-roof coating
that keeps homes warm during the winter and cool during the summer without consuming natural gas or electricity. Research findings reported in the journal Science
point to a groundbreaking technology that outperforms commercial cool-roof systems in energy savings.
“Our all-season roof coating automatically switches from keeping you cool to warm, depending on outdoor air temperature. This is energy-free, emission-free air conditioning and heating, all in one device,” said Junqiao Wu
, a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division
and a UC Berkeley professor of materials science and engineering who led the study.
Today’s cool roof systems, such as reflective coatings, membranes, shingles, or tiles, have light-colored or darker “cool-colored” surfaces that cool homes by reflecting sunlight. These systems also emit some of the absorbed solar heat as thermal-infrared radiation; in this natural process known as radiative cooling, thermal-infrared light is radiated away from the surface.
The problem with many cool-roof systems currently on the market is that they continue to radiate heat in the winter, which drives up heating costs, Wu explained.
“Our new material – called a temperature-adaptive radiative coating or TARC – can enable energy savings by automatically turning off the radiative cooling in the winter, overcoming the problem of overcooling,” he said.
Metals are typically good conductors of electricity and heat. In 2017, Wu and his research team discovered that electrons in vanadium dioxide behave like a metal to electricity but an insulator to heat – in other words, they conduct electricity well without conducting much heat. “This behavior contrasts with most other metals where electrons conduct heat and electricity proportionally,” Wu explained.
Vanadium dioxide below about 67 degrees Celsius (153 degrees Fahrenheit) is also transparent to (and hence not absorptive of) thermal-infrared light. But once vanadium dioxide reaches 67 degrees Celsius, it switches to a metal state, becoming absorptive of thermal-infrared light. This ability to switch from one phase to another – in this case, from an insulator to a metal – is characteristic of what’s known as a phase-change material.
To see how vanadium dioxide would perform in a roof system, Wu and his team engineered a 2-centimeter-by-2-centimeter TARC thin-film device.
TARC “looks like Scotch tape and can be affixed to a solid surface like a rooftop,” Wu said.
In a key experiment, co-lead author Kechao Tang set up a rooftop experiment at Wu’s East Bay home last summer to demonstrate the technology’s viability in a real-world environment.
Finnegan Reichertz, a 12th grade student at the East Bay Innovation Academy in Oakland who worked remotely as a summer intern for Wu last year, helped to simulate how TARC and the other roof materials would perform at specific times and on specific days throughout the year for each of the 15 cities or climate zones the researchers studied for the paper.
The researchers found that TARC outperforms existing roof coatings for energy saving in 12 of the 15 climate zones, particularly in regions with wide temperature variations between day and night, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, or between winter and summer, such as New York City.
“With TARC installed, the average household in the U.S. could save up to 10% electricity,” said Tang, who was a postdoctoral researcher in the Wu lab at the time of the study. He is now an assistant professor at Peking University in Beijing, China.
Standard cool roofs have high solar reflectance and high thermal emittance (the ability to release heat by emitting thermal-infrared radiation) even in cool weather.
According to the researchers’ measurements, TARC reflects around 75% of sunlight year-round, but its thermal emittance is high (about 90%) when the ambient temperature is warm (above 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit), promoting heat loss to the sky. In cooler weather, TARC’s thermal emittance automatically switches to low, helping to retain heat from solar absorption and indoor heating, Levinson said.
Findings from infrared spectroscopy experiments using advanced tools at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry
validated the simulations. “Simple physics predicted TARC would work, but we were surprised it would work so well,” said Wu. “We originally thought the switch from warming to cooling wouldn’t be so dramatic. Our simulations, outdoor experiments, and lab experiments proved otherwise – it’s really exciting.”
The researchers plan to develop TARC prototypes on a larger scale to further test its performance as a practical roof coating. Wu said that TARC may also have potential as a thermally protective coating to prolong battery life in smartphones and laptops, and shield satellites and cars from extremely high or low temperatures. It could also be used to make temperature-regulating fabric for tents, greenhouse coverings, and even hats and jackets.
Co-lead authors on the study were Kaichen Dong and Jiachen Li. The Molecular Foundry is a nanoscience user facility at Berkeley Lab. The work was primarily supported by the DOE Office of Science and a Bakar Fellowship. The technology is available for licensing and collaboration. If interested, please contact Berkeley Lab’s Intellectual Property Office, email@example.com
U.S. Chemical Products Recalled in Canada Due to Lack of Bilingual Labelling and Hazard Information
Health Canada has recalled products made in the US that do not meet the labelling requirements for consumer chemical products required by the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations, 2001
under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Some of the products lack the required precautionary labelling required for products that could spontaneously combust under reasonably foreseeable conditions of use. Products identified as spontaneously combustible may cause rags and cloths used with the product to burn on their own. This lack of labelling information could result in unintentional exposure to the product and lead to serious illness, injury or death.
The recalled products were distributed by Davis International Group, LLC of Eads, Tennessee. As of December 7, 2021, the company has received no reports of incidents or injuries in Canada.
If you’d like to have your product labels reviewed to ensure that they meet US, Canadian, or international regulations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Product Name and Description
Mylands Melamine Lacquer 500 mL
Mylands Liming Wax 473 mL (16oz)
Mylands Lacacote Sanding Sealer 500 mL
Mylands High Build Friction Polish 500 mL
Mylands Food Safe Oil 500 mL
Mylands Danish Oil 500 mL
Mylands Clear Wax 473 mL (16oz)
Mylands Cellulose Sanding Sealer 500 mL
Specific Components of Air Pollution Identified as More Harmful than Others
Ammonium is one of the specific components of fine particulate matter (PM2.5
), that has been linked to a higher risk of death compared to other chemicals found in it, according to a new study in the journal Epidemiology
Particulate matter is one of the most dangerous air pollutants - a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets which can be directly emitted from natural sources, such as forest fires, or when gases emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles react in the air.
PM2.5 is airborne particulate matter smaller than 2.5 µm in diameter. It is usually believed the black carbon part of PM2.5 (mainly stemming from motorised vehicles) was the most harmful one. However, the team’s analysis of data in 210 cities across 16 countries from 1999-2017 found human health risks from air pollution vary depending on the proportion of different components in PM2.5.
One of the most dangerous components is ammonium (NH4+), originating mostly from fertiliser use and livestock. The risk of excess mortality from PM2.5 roughly increased from 0.6% to 1% when the proportion of ammonium increased from 1% to 20% in the mix.
Cities with a larger concentration of ammonium in the mix, including Japanese cities Aikita, Aomori, Sendai, and Canadian cities London Ontario and Sarnia were associated with higher health risks. Specific action aimed at the agricultural and farming sectors may speed up the reduction of the negative health impacts of air pollution.
Dr Pierre Masselot
, Research Fellow at LSHTM and study lead, said: “We know black carbon found in fine particulate matter is a major public health issue. However, less is known about ammonium, which is created by chemical reaction of ammonia in the atmosphere and originates mainly from agricultural and farming practices. By using applied advanced statistical techniques to disentangle the relative effect of each component, we have revealed, surprisingly, that ammonium maybe more dangerous than other known PM2.5
Particulate matter is a major environmental risk factor to which the Global Burden of Diseases attributed between 4.1 and 5 million deaths worldwide in 2017.Evidence on short-term associations between exposure to fine particulate matter and total and cause-specific mortality are well established,although the risk varies across locations. To help reveal why this variation occurs, the study explores the role of the main chemical components of PM2.5 in this heterogeneity.
The team analysed the main components of PM2.5 including sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, black carbon, organic carbon, mineral dust and sea salt, and combined this with information on people’s age, GDP, poverty rate, temperature and green space, including trees in streets and gardens. Highly advanced statistical methods were used to model specific health effects across multiple locations.
The health risks associated to PM2.5 were found not to depend on the black carbon and organic carbon proportion and there was uncertainty about the role of sulfate. Health risks associated with PM2.5 were estimated to be lower in countries where nitrates were high in the concentration mix, such as UK, Germany and Scandinavia.
Dr Antonio Gasparrini
, Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at LSHTM and senior author of the study, said: “The results from this study are important for future policies on air pollution. Identifying the most hazardous emission through state-of-the art modelling can help reveal which regions of the world to focus efforts on and how.
“Some PM is naturally present in the atmosphere, whereas others come from anthropogenic activities. Our work highlights the importance of ammonium as a harmful pollutant and specific strategies, such as increasing support for the agricultural sector to reduce emissions, could be vital for public health. However, we must remember that all these chemicals are hazardous. Reducing levels of air pollution across all sectors will improve health.”
The authors acknowledged limitations of the study including data availability, the focus on high income countries, and heterogeneity in effects across locations.
New York City Council Passes Bill To Ban Gas in New Construction
The New York City Council passed legislation that will prohibit gas and other fossil fuels from being used in new buildings starting in 2024. Buildings make up 70% of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions. New York City joins over fifty municipalities in the country to adopt a prohibition of this nature and is one of the first in the Northeast to do so.
According to Hillary Aidun, associate attorney for Earthjustice, “New York City is setting the stage on climate action for the rest of the country by passing this critical legislation to prevent the use of fossil fuels in new buildings. Fossil fuel use in buildings not only contributes to the climate crisis, but is also a major source of air pollution, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color. Earthjustice applauds City Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel and the tireless community advocates that did not rest until this legislation was passed. The move is a marker that fossil fuels are a thing of the past.” Hillary Aidun testified before the New York City Council on November 17, 2021.
California Proposal To Modify Safe Harbor Safe Harbor Warning
The proposed rulemaking would amend the safe harbor warning regulations to improve the short-form warnings to provide consumers more specific information, and to limit the use of the safe harbor short form warning to small products. After reviewing comments, OEHHA has modified the proposed regulation to, among other things: increase the maximum label size for short-form warnings from 5 square inches to 12 square inches; allow use of the short-form warning on the internet or in catalogs where the short form warning is used on the product label; provide additional signal word options; provide additional warning language options; and provide minor clarifications on the wording of the warning. These proposed changes are summarized below. The specific language modifications to the proposed regulation are shown in the regulatory text.
- In Section 25602(a)(4)(A), OEHHA increased the maximum label size for short form warnings from 5 square inches to 12 square inches. OEHHA received several comments raising concerns about the originally proposed maximum label size of 5 square inches. After considering these comments, OEHHA determined a 12 square inch limit would accommodate these concerns, while still limiting use of the short-form warnings to packages with limited available label space for consumer product information that would not easily accommodate the full warning.
- In the original proposal, in Sections 25602(b) and (c), the option to use the short form warning content in online warnings or in a catalog, respectively, had been eliminated. This change has been removed and the original regulatory language that allows use of the short form warning on websites and in catalogs remains. Several commenters stated that the proposed elimination of the short form warning option for internet websites and in catalogs could result in varying warning language for the same products. OEHHA also concluded that the proposed limitation could increase product retailer responsibility, rather than allowing them to rely on the warnings on the product label or those provided to them by product manufacturers or others in the chain of commerce. or chemical manufacturers. OEHHA therefore returned to the original language. This provides consistency along the supply/distribution chain and conforms to the existing regulations in Section 25600.2.
- Additional signal word options “CA WARNING” or “CALIFORNIA WARNING” were added in several sections to allow businesses to make clear that the warning is being given pursuant to California law. This is consistent with other regulations proposed by OEHHA in the last several months. Businesses would still have the option to use the signal word “Warning”.
- OEHHA is also providing an additional warning option that more directly addresses exposure to carcinogens or reproductive toxicants to provide an additional safe harbor warning that can be used on the product label.
- In several sections the word “product” was removed from the proposed term “product label”. The existing term “label” remains. Some commenters stated that the phrase “product label” was undefined and confusing. Since OEHHA had no intention of changing the meaning, the original term was retained.
Oregon To Establish Climate Protection Program
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted 3-1 to establish the Climate Protection Program
which sets enforceable and declining limits on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used throughout Oregon. The limits apply to diesel, gasoline, natural gas and propane, used in transportation, residential, commercial and industrial settings.
Along with other actions by the Oregon Legislature, this makes Oregon one of the few states in the nation with a comprehensive and clear pathway to reducing the emissions that cause global warming. As approved, the new rules put Oregon on track to reduce emissions from fossil fuels by 50% by 2035 and 90% by 2050, reductions that scientists agree are required to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
“Every year since I became Governor, Oregon’s extreme weather has been worse than the last. From extreme heat and chronic drought to rising sea levels to wildfires more intense than any in recent memory, we are seeing the devastating impacts of climate change right in front of us,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “We know those impacts are felt disproportionately by our rural, low-income and communities of color. I’m proud that today, Oregon is taking the historic step to put tools in place to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Combined with our targets for transitioning to 100% clean energy sources, as well as the steps we have taken to expand access to electric vehicles, Oregon is centering the needs of vulnerable communities and leading the way in the fight against climate change.”
The Oregon legislature approved funding for DEQ to develop this program in 2020. DEQ convened public listening sessions and technical workshops to hear from Oregonians across the state to understand areas of public interest and concern and identify key options for designing a fair and effective program. A 34-member advisory committee appointed by the EQC met with DEQ seven times to help the agency craft draft regulations. DEQ held multiple public hearings on the proposed rules and received more than 7,000 written public comments.
“We must act decisively and urgently to keep what makes Oregon so special – the fisheries, the farms, the snowy mountains, the forests and vineyards,” said EQC Chair Kathleen George. “So, guided by the best science, DEQ’s Climate Protection Program is a critical step forward to achieve deep, long-term reductions in Oregon greenhouse gas emissions, and to help strengthen climate resilience across the state. This is a historic opportunity to be leaders in creating a resilient economy that is decreasingly reliant on fossil fuels.”
Today’s action makes Oregon the second state in the nation to set enforceable limits on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel and natural gas; California was the first state to take such action. DEQ Director Richard Whitman noted that the new Climate Protection Program will work in tandem with other state efforts, including DEQ’s Clean Fuels Program, Clean Cars Standards and the new Advanced Clean Truck Rules and Landfill Methane Rules adopted in November. DEQ also provides incentives for clean vehicles. Other key parts of Oregon’s climate work are being led by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission and the Oregon Department of Energy (100% Clean Energy), the Oregon Department of Transportation (EV charging infrastructure) and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (programs to reduce reliance on automobiles).
“The Climate Protection Program adds to a growing list of innovative programs Oregon has established to ratchet down our burning of fossil fuels for energy,” Whitman said. “We now have a comprehensive pathway to a cleaner energy future in Oregon, one that will bring new jobs, cleaner air and, most importantly, a strategy that shows yet another way for states to lead on climate.”
Starting in 2022, the CPP will issue permits – known as “compliance instruments” – to companies that supply fossil fuels for use in Oregon. The permits, each equal to 1 metric ton of emissions, will be issued each year in amounts equal to that year’s annual emission limit. Each year, the allowable emission limit will be reduced by lowering the number of compliance instruments issued to those companies. Failure to reduce emissions from fuels will result in enforcement action by the state.
Suppliers of fossil fuels can comply with the declining emissions limits in a variety of ways. Many of these companies are already incorporating renewable fuels, such as ethanol and renewable diesel, into their fuels mix, displacing fossil fuels and lowering carbon emissions. Companies also can trade with one another if some reduce faster than others.
Fuel suppliers also can elect to meet part of the program requirements by paying into a new Community Climate Investment fund. This fund will invest in projects that help communities transition from fossil fuels more rapidly – reducing emissions, improving health and creating new jobs. The CCI fund will invest in communities historically disadvantaged by air pollution and particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including communities of color and tribes, as well as rural communities.
The rules also include more specific requirements to curtail emissions at about a dozen large manufacturing facilities. These regulations require facility-specific evaluations to identify technologies and practices that will reduce those emissions.
To learn more about the Climate Protection Program, visit the rulemaking webpage
. The public may sign up to receive updates here
Dollar General Faces $321K in Penalties after Recent Alabama Inspection
Since 2016, OSHA has proposed more than $3.3 million in penalties in 54 inspections at Dollar General locations nationwide. Typical violations include blocked electrical panels, obstructed exits, forklift, housekeeping and sanitation violations. Each of these violations represent hazardous and unsafe conditions, placing workers at risk of injury.
In Alabama, where the company opened its first location there in 1965, a June 2021 federal inspection at Dollar General Store 7196 in Mobile found the store’s operator, Dolgencorp LLC again failed to keep the main storeroom orderly to allow safe exit during an emergency, exposed workers to slip and trip hazards and being struck by falling boxes and prevented access to electrical panels. OSHA identified three repeat violations in the Mobile inspection
and proposed $321,827 in penalties.
“Dollar General has a long history of disregarding safety measures to prevent serious injury or death in the event of a fire or other emergency,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “This company’s troubled history of workplace safety violations must come to an end, and OSHA will make every effort to hold them accountable for their failures.”
Based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dolgencorp LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dollar General Corp. and operates about 17,000 stores and 17 distribution centers around the nation, and employs more than 150,000 workers. In September 2021, the company announced plans to open its first Idaho store and expand its presence to 47 states.
iSpice Cited $146K after Worker Suffers Partial Finger
On Aug. 8, a 61-year-old maintenance employee of iSpice LLC in Jackson had part of his finger amputated while adding wrapping material to a machine that started and trapped his hand. His employer failed to ensure proper guarding was installed. The incident occurred less than six months after OSHA cited the global spice importer in a separate investigation for exposing workers to amputation and struck-by hazards.
OSHA cited iSpice for not ensuring that machine guards were in place or adequate while employees worked in close proximity to rotating components on machines. The company also exposed workers to fall hazards by allowing them to work on an open-sided mezzanine 12 feet above the next level without a complete guardrail system, and allowed employees to work near uncovered electrical boxes and light switches, and a machine with exposed live parts. The company faces $146,751 in penalties.
“Once again, this employer disregarded safety measures and their neglect resulted in a serious injury that should never have happened,” said OSHA Area Director Jose Gonzalez in Mobile, Alabama. “Employers have a responsibility to comply with OSHA standards that are in place to keep workers safe on the job.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Maxwell Hardwood Flooring Company Cited for 6 OSHA Violations, Including Willful Violations
A knot saw operator suffered a partial amputation of an index finger in June 2021 when his hand came in contact with a rotating blade that lacked adequate machine guarding
. A few weeks earlier, a similar saw at the Maxwell Hardwood Flooring plant in Monticello lacerated a co-worker’s palm severely, leaving them with nerve damage.
OSHA cited the company for one willful violation, and three serious and two other-than-serious violations for five unguarded circular saws in use, lack of safe access and egress to and from walking-working surfaces, obstructed exit routes and a lack of a stair-rail system and handrails. OSHA proposed $204,797 in penalties.
OSHA issued citations for recordkeeping violations
on Nov. 19, and for willful and serious violations
on Dec. 2. “Maxwell Hardwood Flooring’s disregard for the safety of its workers has left two people with serious injuries,” said OSHA Area Director Kia E. McCullough in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. Employers must comply with safety requirements to ensure workers return home each day safely. When an employer fails to fulfill its obligation, OSHA will hold them accountable.”
Exposure to amputation hazards is one of the top 10 most frequently cited violations. OSHA’s Machine Guarding webpage
provides compliance assistance resources to help employers identify amputation hazards, and follow required procedures to properly guard stationary and portable machines.
Cleanup and Investigation Orders Issued Regarding Environmental Impacts in Dominguez Channel
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has ordered the owners and operators of a warehouse in Gardena to immediately clean up and abate debris from a fire on the property believed to have led to environmental impacts and strong odors around the Dominguez Channel Estuary.
The warehouse, located at 16325 South Avalon Boulevard, improperly stored a million pounds of alcohol-based products, such as hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes, that caught fire on September 30, 2021.
In the days following the blaze, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) began responding to the first of more than 4,600 odor complaints from residents in several nearby cities, including Carson, Gardena, Long Beach and Redondo Beach. SCAQMD determined hydrogen sulfide (also referred to as “H2S”) was the cause of the odor and reported that the hydrogen sulfide levels reached 7,000 parts per billion in air, which is 230 times above the state nuisance standard.
High levels of contaminants, including alcohols, were found in an outfall to the Dominguez Channel. In that same area, there were low levels of dissolved oxygen and other conditions that may have contributed to the hydrogen sulfide odors. A subsequent inspection of the burned warehouse revealed huge piles of burnt debris containing alcohol-based products, much of which was exposed during recent rainfall. The storm drains from the vicinity of the warehouse drain to the “hot spot” found in the Dominguez Channel Estuary.
“The cleanup and abatement order will require that all fire-related debris is contained, and that all stormwater is captured to protect the community and Dominguez Channel from polluted runoff, especially with rain in the forecast,” said Renee Purdy, the board’s executive officer. “The Los Angeles Water Board continues to take this threat to the channel’s water quality and the impacts to the surrounding community very seriously.”
Over the past six weeks, the Los Angeles Water Board issued several investigative orders requiring sampling and reports from Los Angeles County, the City of Carson and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District to help identify the source of the discharge, as well as additional information from Equilon Enterprises, LLC (dba Shell Oil Products US) to investigate any connection between the Shell Carson Terminal and the hydrogen sulfide odor in the Dominguez Channel.
On December 9, the board issued an investigative order to warehouse owner Liberty Property Limited Partnership and operator Day to Day Imports Inc. to fully understand the extent and impact of discharges of pollutants from the warehouse fire. The cleanup and abatement order issued December 9 requires the cleanup and abatement of all waste on-site and extending off-site no later than December 31, 2021.
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