July 05, 2022
An advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) published by OSHA on Tuesday begins the rulemaking process for the agency to revise its standards for occupational exposure to lead. OSHA’s ANPRM stems from recent medical research findings that adverse health effects in adults can occur at lower blood lead levels than those required by the agency’s current standards. Under current OSHA lead standards, the medical removal level is ≥ 60 µg/dL in general industry and ≥ 50 µg/dL in construction, and the blood lead level required for an employee to return to lead-exposed work after being medically removed is < 40 µg/dL. A discussion of the health effects of lead exposure in the Federal Register notice
announcing the ANPRM states that blood lead levels as low as 5 µg/dL “have been associated with impaired kidney and reproductive function, high blood pressure, and cognitive effects attributed to prenatal exposure.” Research has also shown that adults with blood lead levels of 5-19 µg/dL performed more poorly on neurocognitive and neuropsychologic assessments than adults with levels below 5 µg/dL.
OSHA’s ANPRM seeks input from the public and stakeholders on reducing the current blood lead level triggers in the medical removal protection and medical surveillance provisions of its current lead standards for general industry and construction. The agency is also asking for comments related to how current ancillary provisions in the standards could be modified to reduce workers’ blood lead levels. Another area OSHA seeks input on is whether it should consider reducing its current permissible exposure limit of 50 µg/m3 of lead over an eight-hour time-weighted average or its action level of 30 µg/m3. The PEL was established in 1978 with the adoption of OSHA’s lead standard for general industry.
Comments on OSHA’s ANPRM are due by Aug. 29. Further details about the ANPRM can be found in the agency’s press release
, and instructions for submitting comments can be found in the Federal Register
New App Helps Outdoor Workers Avoid Overexposure to UV Radiation
A new mobile app called SunSmart Global UV is intended to help outdoor workers and others avoid excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and know when to use sun protection. The app works by providing daily UV levels for searchable locations worldwide as well as times when sun protection is required. SunSmart Global UV was developed by Cancer Council Victoria
, a nonprofit organization in Australia, and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency
, a government agency. The World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Meteorological Organization, and the United Nations Environment Programme are jointly launching the app.
SunSmart Global UV is based on the UV Index, which indicates the expected risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun at the earth’s surface on a scale of 1 to 11. ILO explains that modifying outdoor activities and using sun protection are recommended when the UV Index is 3 or above.
“The higher the index value the greater the potential for damage to the skin and eyes and the less time it takes for harm to occur,” ILO’s press release states. “UV damage is cumulative, and UV can be harmful when people are exposed for long periods—even at low levels.”
The SunSmart Global UV app is available for free on iOS
devices. Learn more about the app’s development on ILO’s website
OSHA Extends National Emphasis Program to Protect High-Risk Workers from Coronavirus
OSHA is extending its Revised National Emphasis Program for COVID-19
until further notice. The program focuses enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus, and on employers who engage in retaliation against workers who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
OSHA is also temporarily increasing the coronavirus inspection goal from 5 percent of inspections to 10 percent, while it works to finalize a permanent coronavirus health care standard. The program was set to expire July 7, 2022.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported increasing coronavirus hospitalization rates nationwide since mid-April, and data forecasts
that hospitalizations may increase significantly in the coming weeks. This increase in hospitalizations reinforces the need for OSHA to continue prioritizing inspections at workplaces with a higher potential for coronavirus exposures, such as hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and other healthcare and emergency response providers treating patients with coronavirus.
First launched in March 2021, the National Emphasis Program will also continue to cover non-healthcare industries, such as meat and poultry processing.
From March 2021 to March 2022, inspections under the revised program accounted for 7 percent of all federal OSHA inspections, exceeding the national emphasis program’s 5 percent goal. Since the beginning of the pandemic in Feb. 2020, OSHA has issued 1,200 coronavirus-related citations to employers and to date assessed current penalties totaling $7.2 million dollars. OSHA has also obtained relief for more than 400 employees who filed coronavirus retaliation claims against employers, exceeding $5 million in monetary awards to employees.
OSHA encourages State Plans to continue implementing an emphasis program for coronavirus inspections that are at least as effective as federal OSHA’s Revised National Emphasis Program. Additionally, OSHA continues to work expeditiously toward a permanent standard to protect healthcare workers from coronavirus hazards and an infectious disease standard to ensure that workers are better prepared for any future outbreak.
Approvals for Certain Respirators Now Obsolete, NIOSH Says
The temporary NIOSH approvals granted for 19 respirator models earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic have become obsolete, the agency announced this week. A device with an obsolete approval can no longer be manufactured, but it can still be sold, used, and recognized as NIOSH approved until the agency revokes the approval or the manufacturer rescinds it.
The affected devices include 14 N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and four powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs). These devices have the letters “PH” in their NIOSH approval designations, indicating that they were approved for the public health emergency (PHE) related to the pandemic. A list of the now-obsolete respirators, with their NIOSH approval numbers and their manufacturers’ names, appears on the NIOSH website
. The temporary approvals were granted between May and November 2020 to address shortages in respirator supplies.
NIOSH states that obsoleting the devices at this time allows users “to exhaust any remaining supply of PHE-approved respirators” and “plan to purchase other (non-PHE) NIOSH-approved respirators.” The NIOSH announcement indicates that the agency will revoke approvals for these devices at the end of the public health emergency.
All NIOSH-approved respirators appear on the agency’s certified equipment list
. Users can also check the status of PHE approvals on the list.
New PFAS Advisories Ignore Precursors That Transform into Most Toxic Fluorinated Chemicals
By setting strict health advisories for PFOA and PFOS (two of the thousands of PFAS or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must now rapidly move to set health advisories for all PFAS chemicals that transform into these two PFAS, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In a letter to Radhika Fox, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, PEER asks EPA to also address the many PFAS whose terminal end products are PFOA and PFOS.
Earlier this month, EPA issued interim drinking water Health Advisories for PFOA at 4 parts per quadrillion (ppq) and 20 ppq for PFOS. While saying in essence that there are no safe levels of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water, EPA did not address the many PFAS whose terminal end products are PFOA and PFOS. This chemical transformation can occur during incineration, chlorination, ozonation, and metabolic breakdown.
“By failing to issue Health Advisories on PFAS that break down into PFOA and PFOS as terminal degradation products, EPA is negating what it is trying to achieve,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with EPA. “To effectively protect human health and the environment, PFAS need to be regulated as a class of chemicals.”
The agency appears to concede this concern. In its latest Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, filed this month, EPA disclosed:
“The EPA… will seek public input on further PFAS-related designations under CERCLA [Superfund]. As examples, the Agency may request input regarding the potential hazardous substance designation of precursors to PFOA and PFOS; hazardous substance designation of additional PFAS; and designation, or designations of classes or sub-classes of PFAS as hazardous substances.”
In its letter to Assistant Administrator Fox, PEER urged EPA to immediately begin identifying and publicizing the list of all PFAS currently in commerce that have PFOA and PFOS as terminal end products. Once that determination is made, PEER asks that the agency take commensurate regulatory action.
Oregon DEQ Issued Four Penalties in May for Environmental Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued four penalties totaling $78,040 in May for various environmental violations. A detailed list of violations and resulting penalties is at https://ordeq.org/enforcement
Fines ranged from $2,250 to $62,290. Alleged violations include a metal parts manufacturer in Albany storing drums of unknown solid and hazardous waste
that posed a risk to workers and the environment and a cargo ship discharging prohibited ballast water into Coos Bay.
DEQ issued civil penalties to the following organizations:
- Chinese-Polish Joint Stock Shipping Company, $10,200, Coos Bay, ballast water
- City of Union, $3,300, Union, wastewater
- Hood Septic, LLC, $2,250, Sandy, onsite septic
- Selmet, Inc., $62,290, Albany, hazardous waste
In addition to the penalties listed above, DEQ issued an amended notice of civil penalty and order
to J.H. Baxter & Co. in Eugene on May 4, 2022, adding new violations that include storing hazardous waste longer than allowed, failing to properly label containers of hazardous waste
, and allowing untreated stormwater
overflows in December 2021 and January 2022. The amended order supersedes the original notice that DEQ issued on March 3, 2021. The total penalty increased by $82,000, from $223,440 to $305,440. The wood treatment company appealed the original notice and may amend its appeal.
Organizations or individuals must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days of receiving notice of the penalty. They may be able to offset a portion of a penalty by funding a supplemental environmental project
that improves Oregon’s environment.
Penalties may also include orders requiring specific tasks to prevent ongoing violations or additional environmental harm.
Oregon DEQ Launches Tool to Improve Public Access to Water Quality Data
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has released a new online tool that will give the public greater access to water quality monitoring data. The Pesticide Stewardship Partnerships Data Viewer
is an interactive tool that displays monitoring data collected by Oregon’s Pesticide Stewardship Partnerships, a voluntary program co-managed by DEQ and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Oregonians who want to know what pesticides are in their local streams can now easily access monitoring results through data viewer. “The development and release of this new tool directly supports DEQ’s efforts to improve transparency and provide easy access to environmental data,” says Jennifer Wigal, DEQ’s Water Quality Administrator
The tool provides access to current and historic pesticide water quality data that DEQ and the Department of Agriculture use to inform the management of the program, which monitors for more than 130 chemicals in Oregon surface waters.
Users can view the data in different formats to meet their needs, such as data for a particular pesticide they are interested in, data from a specific location and/or specific time-period, or a summary of all pesticide detections and measured concentrations across PSP basins. The tool also includes an interactive map, which displays where the water samples are collected, the areas that may be contributing pesticides to each sample location, and generalized land uses (e.g., agriculture, urban or forest) to help users better understand the monitoring data.
“Orchardists in the Hood River Basin have done amazing work in the last two decades to use pesticides responsibly and reduce concentrations in local streams,” said Brian Nakamura, President of Nakamura Orchards and Board Chair of the Hood River Soil and Water Conservation District. “We want members of the public to be able to view the pesticide data and to increase awareness of the work that’s been done to protect water quality.”
Fuyao Glass Illinois, Inc. Violates Clean Air Act
EPA recently announced a Consent Agreement and Final Order, or CAFO, settling Fuyao Glass Illinois, Inc.’s alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its glass manufacturing facility in Decatur, Illinois.
In 2014, Fuyao submitted a permit application to Illinois EPA to rebuild each of the two glass melting furnaces at its facility. Fuyao’s application identified the proposed project involved physical changes but Fuyao projected that emissions would not significantly increase.
The United States alleged that after construction, Fuyao’s Furnace #1 triggered the federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration, or PSD, regulations when two types of particulate emissions (PM10 and PM2.5) emitted by the furnace increased by significant amounts. The company also failed to report the increased emissions to Illinois EPA.
With this settlement, Fuyao is required to:
- Control PM2.5 and PM10 emissions from its Furnace #1 within 180 days of the effective date of the CAFO by installing and operating a catalytic filter system
- Comply with a total PM emission limit of 0.30 pounds of PM10/PM2.5 per ton of glass produced on a 3-hour average basis
- Adhere to additional emission testing and reporting requirements
The company will pay more than $8.5 million to purchase and install the catalytic filter system. EPA estimates that the catalytic filter system will reduce the emissions of PM10/PM2.5 from Furnace #1 by over 100 tons per year. Fuyao will also pay a civil penalty of $450,000.
Ohio Vehicle Parts Manufacturer Faces $315K in Fines After Fatal Injury
An Ohio aluminum vehicle parts manufacturer cited for safety and health violations after a worker in Ravenna suffered fatal injuries in March 2021, continues to put workers at risk.
OSHA found General Aluminum Mfg. Co.'s facility in Conneaut, Ohio, exposing workers to similar machine hazards when the agency served warrants on Jan. 3, 2022, and opened an inspection under its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Inspectors found tilt mold devices, sand core machines, and indexing tables at the plant lacked adequate machine guarding and workers performed service and maintenance tasks on industrial machinery without using energy control procedures – commonly known as lockout/tagout
– exposing workers to amputation and caught-in hazards. OSHA cited the company for the same violations at the Ravenna facility.
"General Aluminum's continued failure to protect its workers is unacceptable, and its refusal to follow industry safety standards and the company's policies and procedures to prevent injuries or fatalities is incomprehensible," said OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan in Chicago. "While the company pledges to improve its safety procedures and training, federal safety inspectors continue to find a lack of accountability by this employer."
In September 2021, OSHA cited the company for 38 violations with $1,671,738 in proposed penalties after an investigation into the March fatality. The company has contested those citations.
"OSHA will continue to take necessary steps to hold General Aluminum accountable for failing to comply with safety and health requirements until the company takes action and demonstrates it is serious about preventing debilitating injuries and saving lives," Donovan added.
In addition to the absence of guarding on the mold machinery, OSHA identified problems with machine guarding and a lack of protective procedures throughout the Conneaut facility. Inspectors also found General Aluminum provided workers with insufficient personal protective equipment, including face shields and aprons, and exposed workers to electrical hazards.
Company management signed formal settlement agreements to resolve OSHA citations for machine guarding and lockout/tagout violations found during inspections conducted between 2015 and 2017 and hired a third-party consultant to conduct comprehensive machine guarding and lockout/tagout audits between 2017 and 2019. The audits identified specific machine guarding and lockout/tagout program deficiencies and provided recommendations the company failed to fully implement.
Founded in 1943, General Aluminum Mfg. Co. produces engineered automotive castings. The company employs about 1,200 workers nationwide and 180 employees at the Conneaut location. Owned by Park Ohio Holdings Corp. in Cleveland, the company also has locations in Ravenna and Wapakoneta, and in Freemont and Huntington, Indiana.
EPA Announces 2022 President’s Student and Teacher Environmental Awards Winners
“The tradition of excellence in environmental education continues with this year’s winners and I am so proud of their efforts to tackle the most pressing environmental challenges we face,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “I’m happy to celebrate the climate action and environmental stewardship work of the dedicated youth and educators who are leaders in their classrooms and communities. Environmental education is one of the most important tools in our work to protect the environment and combat the climate crisis.”
"We all have a role to play in finding solutions to the climate crisis and environmental injustice - including in our classrooms through environmental education and stewardship," said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. "Congratulations to these outstanding students and educators for their ideas, creativity and leadership in finding equitable solutions to address the impacts of climate change in their communities."
The PIAEE award was established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act and seeks to recognize, support, and bring public attention to the outstanding environmental projects performed by teachers who go beyond textbook instruction to incorporate methods and materials that utilize creative experiences and enrich student learning in K-12 education. CEQ, in partnership with EPA, administers this award.
The PEYA was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1970 and recognizes outstanding community-level environmental projects by K-12 youth that promote awareness of natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Each year, PEYA honors a variety of local projects developed by students, school classes, summer camp attendees and youth organizations to promote engagement in environmental stewardship and protection.
From across the country, 13 educators and 49 students are recognized for their leadership and commitment to environmental education and environmental stewardship. This year, 11 educators received the 2022 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, and 2 educators were recognized with an honorable mention distinction. Winning educators demonstrated leadership by integrating environmental education into multiple subjects and using topics such as climate change, waste management, water quality, wildlife conservation, STEM education, and school gardens.
Additionally, 47 students who worked as a team or individually on 10 projects received the President’s Environmental Youth Award; 2 students received honorable mentions. Their stewardship projects, conducted in 2021, display a commitment to advancing community garden efforts, protecting pollinators, reducing pollution, conserving water and energy, reducing food waste, and combating climate change.
for a list of winners.
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