Posted in 'Environment'

Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

The number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States has more than doubled in recent years, as devastating hurricanes and ferocious wildfires that experts suspect are fueled in part by climate change have ravaged swaths of the country, according to data released by the federal government Wednesday.

Since 1980, the United States has experienced 241 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage reached or exceeded $1 billion, when adjusted for inflation, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Between 1980 and 2013, according to NOAA, the nation averaged roughly half a dozen such disasters a year. Over the most recent five years, that number has jumped to more than 12. … read more

Posted In: Environment, global

John Murawski, The News & Observer

WILMINGTON – More than four months after Hurricane Florence battered the state, rivers of waste are still flowing to landfills in eastern North Carolina in volumes that their managers say they have never before seen.

Uprooted trees, broken furniture, sodden carpets, soggy sheet rock, smashed fencing, crushed carports and moldy clothing make up the mix of items destroyed by the September storm and subsequent flooding. … read more

Posted In: Environment, Health and Safety

USWTMC Specialized Emergency Response Trainers (SERTs) initiated deployment to North Carolina in response to Hurricane Florence. The SERTs are on the ground to provide guidance and training to union members, workers, communities and volunteers, who are recovering from the destruction. Those who are recovering, cleaning up and rebuilding face a myriad of hazards associated with hurricanes and flooding such as mold, infectious disease transmission and more.

Week one: Sept. 23-29, 2018

Week two: Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, 2018

Week three: Oct. 10-17, 2018

Week four: Oct. 18-24, 2018

Arturo Archila of United Steelworkers (USW) Local Union 4-406 and Luzdary Giraldo of Local 4-406 continued their deployment in North Carolina, beginning with facilitating two mold awareness training sessions on Thursday, Oct. 18. They distributed about 40 National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) booklets with health and safety information on protecting oneself while facing hazards associated with floods, hurricanes and mold exposure.

On Friday, the SERTs completed more outreach and distributed 15 more NIEHS booklets while also meeting with Chip Hughes of NIEHS. Saturday was a rest day. On Sunday the SERTs continued outreach and distributed about 90 more NIEHS booklets. They worked with previous contacts to translate training flyers from English to Spanish in order to reach a larger audience.

Archila and Giraldo met with Rev. Mac Legerton of the Center for Community Action (CCA), representatives of the Mexican consulate and representatives from the Farm Workers to serve as translators and invite members to upcoming training sessions on Monday.

The following day, the SERTs connected with members of USW Local Union 9-738 at their local union hall. They discussed training opportunities and left 30 NIEHS booklets at the hall. In the afternoon, Archila and Giraldo facilitated a two-hour mold awareness training session. The SERTs will end their deployment on Wednesday.

Posted In: AFLCIO, CWA, Environment, Health and Safety, Labor Institute, Mazzocchi, MRNY, NDLON, USW

From the New England Journal of Medicine by Nishant Kishore, M.P.H., Domingo Marqués, Ph.D., Ayesha Mahmud, Ph.D., Mathew V. Kiang, M.P.H., Irmary Rodriguez, B.A., Arlan Fuller, J.D., M.A., Peggy Ebner, B.A., Cecilia Sorensen, M.D., Fabio Racy, M.D., Jay Lemery, M.D., Leslie Maas, M.H.S., Jennifer Leaning, M.D., S.M.H., Rafael A. Irizarry, Ph.D., Satchit Balsari, M.D., M.P.H., and Caroline O. Buckee, D.Phil:

Abstract


Background

Quantifying the effect of natural disasters on society is critical for recovery of public health services and infrastructure. The death toll can be difficult to assess in the aftermath of a major disaster. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria caused massive infrastructural damage to Puerto Rico, but its effect on mortality remains contentious. The official death count is 64.

Methods

Using a representative, stratified sample, we surveyed 3299 randomly chosen households across Puerto Rico to produce an independent estimate of all-cause mortality after the hurricane. Respondents were asked about displacement, infrastructure loss, and causes of death. We calculated excess deaths by comparing our estimated post-hurricane mortality rate with official rates for the same period in 2016.

Results

From the survey data, we estimated a mortality rate of 14.3 deaths (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.8 to 18.9) per 1000 persons from September 20 through December 31, 2017. This rate yielded a total of 4645 excess deaths during this period (95% CI, 793 to 8498), equivalent to a 62% increase in the mortality rate as compared with the same period in 2016. However, this number is likely to be an underestimate because of survivor bias. The mortality rate remained high through the end of December 2017, and one third of the deaths were attributed to delayed or interrupted health care. Hurricane-related migration was substantial.

Conclusions

This household-based survey suggests that the number of excess deaths related to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is more than 70 times the official estimate. (Funded by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and others.)

Read the full journal article here.

Posted In: Health and Safety, Environment

Rebecca Moss, The New Mexican


For more than a decade, a vast, mile-wide, below-ground plume of cancer-causing chemicals has encroached on the regional aquifer that rests below Los Alamos National Laboratory. The lab has said it is working to contain the contamination and prevent it from entering tribal land or further polluting a water supply relied on by residents from Los Alamos to Albuquerque.



But according to new data, the plume — resulting from decades of lab workers dumping contaminated water into a canyon — may be continuing to spread. … read more

Posted In: Environment, EPA, Health and Safety, USW

Annette Parde Maas, NIH > NLM > NNLM (National Network of Libraries of Medicine)

Use Tox-App, a free mobile app for iOS users from the National Library of Medicine, to search for industrial facilities that reported releasing certain chemicals into the environment (based on data from the US EPA TRI program). Tox-App includes a subset of about 100 TRI chemicals for the most current TRI year. You can download Tox-App from the Apple App Store.

Tox-App is based on the National Library of Medicine online tool TOXMAP and provides some of the basic TOXMAP functions, including:

    •    Search for reporting facilities by name or state
    •    Browse for facilities by chemical, state, or county
    •    View locations of reporting facilities on an interactive map

Learn more about Tox-App in TOXMAP News.

View the original post here.

Posted In: Environment, Health and Safety
Posted In: AFLCIO, CWA, Environment, Health and Safety, Labor Institute, Mazzocchi, NDLON, USW

From the Chillicothe Gazette:

PIKETON - An arrangement between four entities will provide for free job training for those interested in filling open positions with ongoing cleanup work at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon.

The arrangement involving the United Steel Workers Local 1-689, the Village of Piketon, the Pike County Career Technology Center and the Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Education was announced this week as also benefiting existing workers on the project in terms of cross training as the scope of work changes and needs for different skills emerge. … more

Posted In: Environment, Health and Safety, Mazzocchi, USW

The New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) is seeking a campaign organizer to organize and expand a dynamic grassroots advocacy campaign, Stop Runaway Inequality. The campaign focuses on addressing economic inequality, and the outsized influence of corporations, particularly Wall Street firms, which often thwarts progress on a range of policy demands on issues of public health, environmental protection, workers’ rights, civil rights, etc. The campaign organizer will work to build a broad-based alliance and coordinate a large education initiative to train thousands of people, feeding new activists into the movement.

For more information about the opening, including how to apply, please click here.

Posted In: Environment, Health and Safety

From the U.S. Department of Justice:

WASHINGTON – In an effort to prevent and deter crimes that put the lives and the health of workers at risk, the Departments of Justice and Labor announced today a plan to more effectively prosecute such crimes.  Under the new plan, the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will work with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to investigate and prosecute worker endangerment violations.

“On an average day in America, 13 workers die on the job, thousands are injured and 150 succumb to diseases they obtained from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while they worked,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates.  “Given the troubling statistics on workplace deaths and injuries, the Department of Justice is redoubling its efforts to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers’ health and safety.” ... read more

Posted In: Environment, Health and Safety
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