COVID Underscores Lack of Workplace Safety Whistleblower Protections

Denver Gazette by Kristian Hernandez

Fort Worth, TX – Federal and state agencies tasked with enforcing workplace safety rely on whistleblower complaints, but the agencies are so understaffed it can take years for complaints to be investigated, experts say. Advocates say the delays and the stigma associated with whistleblowing dissuade most workers who witness unsafe conditions from speaking up. Despite this, OSHA, the enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, received more than 4,600 whistleblower complaints in fiscal 2021, more than double the average number of complaints made over the previous five years. More than half were related to COVID-19. 

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EPA Extends Comment Period for Draft Scope of Asbestos Part 2 Risk Evaluation to Be Conducted Under TSCA

EPA Washington, DC

Following EPA’s June 2016 designation of asbestos as one of the first ten chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under TSCA, as amended by Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, EPA initially focused the risk evaluation for asbestos on chrysotile asbestos as this is the only asbestos fiber type that is currently imported, processed, or distributed in the U.S. However, as a result of the November 2019 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Safer Chemicals Healthy Families v. EPA, EPA plans to evaluate legacy uses and associated disposals, other types of asbestos fibers in addition to chrysotile, and conditions of use of asbestos in talc and talc-containing products in a supplemental effort that is the focus of part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos. 

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To access the Draft Risk Evaluation, click here.

CA’S DCC Orders Recall of Packaged Cannabis Flower Due to Mold Contamination

State of California by Carrie B. Reyes

Sacrament, CA – California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) has ordered a mandatory recall after identifying a batch of packaged cannabis flower contaminated with Aspergillus niger. Consumers who purchased Claybourne Co. flower are urged to check their packaging the UID and batch numbers and dispose of the flower if affected. To date, no illnesses have been reported. DCC is currently investigating the cause of the contamination. 

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Gas Leaks, Mold, and Lead Top Concerns at DOEE Meeting

Washington City Paper by Ambar Castillo

Washington, DC – Gas leaks, mold, and lead poisoning were among the most pressing concerns during yesterday’s oversight hearing in the Committee on Transportation and the Environment. The committee, chaired by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, brought several questions to the Department of Energy and Environment, one of three agencies under the microscope. 

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EPA Affirms Its Intention to Hold Property Management Companies Responsible for Lead-Based Paint Safety Requirements for Renovations

National Law Review by Sarah L. Lode, Joshua R. More, & J. Michael Showalter

Washington, DC – Property management companies (PMC) need to pay attention to a recent change in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement discretion concerning liability from renovations that could encounter lead-based paint. EPA has announced a change to its enforcement priorities for the Lead Renovation Repair and Paintings (RRP) Rule, which applies to renovations, repairs, or painting that could disturb lead-based paint in certain buildings constructed before 1978. Following the change, PMCs themselves, in addition to contractors hired, will be required to be trained by EPA-approved training providers and certify that they follow lead-safe work practices when conducting regulated renovations. 

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Center for Asbestos Related Disease Article Illuminates High Levels of Asbestos Related Mortality

ABC Montana Right Now

Libby, MT –  In December 2021, an article was accepted for publication in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine which looked at mortality rates of Libby asbestos workers and local residents between 2000 and 2010. Co-authored by nationwide collaborators and Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) staff, the article, after presenting the history of the asbestos public health emergency in Libby, looked at death certificate and record review data for the 203 patients exposed to Libby Amphibole and diagnosed with either asbestos related cancers or non-malignant asbestos related lung disease who died during this time frame. 

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