Posted in 'Environment'

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

United Steelworkers (USW) District 9 SERTs Calvin Bozeman of Local Union 675 and Billy Edington of Local 288 continued their deployment this week in North Carolina. Heading into Sunday, they continued to reach out to contacts previously shared with them and discussed possible training opportunities.

The SERTs traveled to Wilmington on Monday, where they drove through communities affected by the hurricane.

“We were able to do one-on-one training with some of the people who were out in their yards working on the consequences of the hurricane,” Edington said.

They handed out 42 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, within the communities.

Bozeman and Edington continued on to Riegelwood and met with Alexis Clemmons of USW Local Union 9-738, representing members at International Paper (IP). Clemmons is also a USWTMC worker-trainer. They provided Clemmons with 140 NIEHS booklets to handout at her monthly local union meeting that evening.

Their last stop of the day was at Natmore Baptist Church in Kelly, where they distributed 160 more NIEHS booklets.

The SERTs continued making contacts on Tuesday with nearby USW Local Unions 1025 and 438, Ville910age representatives and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Union 1208. They delivered 560 NIEHS booklets UFCW Local 1208, representing workers at Smithfield Food Processing in Tar Heel.

At a Lowe’s in Whiteville, they provided one-on-one training sessions for 18 individuals using the NIEHS booklets.

On Wednesday, Bozeman and Edington traveled back to Ville910age, a nonprofit and community organization in Fayetteville, to pick up more NIEHS booklets from their contact, Alexis Andre. There they met with Isaac Gobern of the North Carolina AFL-CIO and Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 24 members from Columbus, Ohio, who brought a truck full of supplies for those affected by the disaster. Together the SERTs and USW Local 9-959 members helped them unload their truck.

The SERTs went on to the American Red Cross shelter in Leland, which was housing 146 displaced residents. They distributed 100 NIEHS booklets.

They later discussed upcoming training scheduled for Friday and Saturday with Gobern, and concluded their day providing one-on-one training to individuals at a nearby Lowe’s.

The SERTs provided a two-hour mold awareness course on Thursday for 22 participants, and another on Friday for seven more participants. Participants included pastors, community leaders, local residents and members of the International Association of Machinists, District 110.

Bozeman and Edington facilitated another two-hour mold awareness training on Saturday for seven more participants which include members of USW Local 959, North Carolina AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local Unions 3680 and 32035, and Teamsters Joint Council 13. They were also able to reach displaced residents in the lobby of their hotel that morning, distributing 12 NIEHS booklets. The SERTs deployment ended on Sunday, as they traveled back home.

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:



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.


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.


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.


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

From KGNU News:

“All the indications are that it’s going to be more serious than we thought originally.”

In 1975, CU biologist Harvey Nichols began studying airborne matter at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons site outside of Boulder. He concluded that billions of plutonium particles were dusted on the ten square-mile Rocky Flats site. ... read more and listen to an interview

Posted In: Environment, Health and Safety

Sam Hendren news reporter, WOSUradio

The village of Piketon, in southern Ohio, played a major role during the cold war as the site of a U.S. nuclear weapons plant. Now Ohio lawmakers want more money to clean up the plant’s nuclear residue. But Congressional funding disputes are getting tiresome for Piketon workers and residents.

For decades there’s been a certain mystery surrounding the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion plant near Piketon, even among residents. Blaine Beekman is a local historian and a Pike County commissioner. … more

Posted In: Environment, Health and Safety, USW
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