EPA Removing Hazardous Materials Following Fires in Maui

Construction & Demolition Recycling by Bob Gaetjens

Maui, Hawaii – EPA says its personnel are working with federal, state and local agencies to remove hazardous material from areas affected by the wildfires in Maui in recent weeks. The EPA’s hazardous materials work is Phase 1 of the overall federal cleanup response. Phase 2 will be debris removal and completed by an agency to be determined. The agency will remove a variety of what it calls “everyday” hazardous materials, including paint, cleaners, solvents, oils, batteries and pesticides. Fuel from pressurized cylinders and tanks will be removed, and the empty containers will be marked for removal during a future second phase, Maui County says in a news release. Workers will also remove items thought to contain asbestos if they are easy to identify, but the property will not be fully cleared of asbestos until the second phase of the hazardous waste removal process. For full text, click here.

Cape Cod

Cape and Islands NPR by Brian Engles

State and federal regulators are not seeing eye-to-eye with the Air Force on next steps for cleaning up the harmful ‘forever chemicals’ PFAS from Joint Base Cape Cod. A 6,200 acre plume of concentrated PFAS stemming from the base’s old fire training area led to groundwater contamination in Mashpee and Falmouth, including Ashumet and Johns Pond. PFAS are chemicals found in firefighting foam that was previously used at the site. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) began testing the area for PFAS in 2015 after being asked to sample for the emerging contaminants by the EPA. A recent AFCEC draft supplemental feasibility study on cleanup plans for the plume said the group is not evaluating active groundwater remediation for the area downgradient of Ashumet and Johns Pond. For the full text, click here

EPA Issues Next PFAS Chemical Test Order

Paint Square US

EPA issued its third Toxic Substances Control Act test order, requiring testing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances under the National PFAS Testing Strategy. In the National Testing Strategy, the EPA assigned different PFAS into smaller categories based on similarities in structure, physical-chemical properties and existing toxicity data. The EPA then issued test orders for PFAS in specific categories that lack toxicity data to inform the agency’s understanding of the potential human health effects. The first test order was for 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine, a PFAS used in commercial firefighting foam. The second was for HFPO, a PFAS used to manufacture plastics. For full text, click here.

Study Reveals Troubling Information About Nearly Half of All U.S. Tap Water: ‘Millions of People Have Been Drinking [it]’

Yahoo News by Sara Klimek

US – An extensive study released by the United States Geological Survey revealed that many per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of thousands of “forever chemicals,” contaminate nearly half of the nation’s drinking water. The study examined over 700 taps and kitchen faucets from homes, schools, and offices, looking for 32 common PFAS. The geographic range of this study included protected lands, residential areas that had no known reports of PFAS exposure, and known PFAS risk zones. The study supports the concept that PFAS are becoming a persistent threat to human populations. For full text, click here. For a copy of the peer-review study, email info@eia-usa.org.

Using Marine Bacteria to Detoxify Asbestos

Environmental Factor Philadelphia, PA

NIEHS grantees from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) Department of Earth and Environmental Science recently discovered that bacteria from extreme marine environments have the potential to detoxify asbestos. Their study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, suggests that the marine microbes may be better candidates for asbestos bioremediation than previously tested fungi and soil bacteria. Pérez-Rodríguez teamed with Reto Gieré, Ph.D., who has a long history characterizing asbestos minerals. They thought that these extremophilic microbes might be good candidates for asbestos bioremediation because they use inorganic compounds and interact with a variety of minerals in their natural environments. For full text, click here.

Montana Clinic Files for Bankruptcy Following $6 Million Judgment Over False Asbestos Claims

AP by Matthew Brown

Billings, MT – A health clinic in a Montana town plagued by deadly asbestos contamination has filed for bankruptcy protection after a judge ordered it to pay the government almost $6 million in penalties and damages for submitting hundreds of false claims for benefits. A seven-person jury in June found the clinic submitted 337 false claims that made patients eligible for Medicare and other benefits they shouldn’t have received. The federally-funded clinic has been at the forefront of the medical response to deadly pollution from mining near Libby that left the town and the surrounding area contaminated with toxic asbestos dust.  For full text, click here.

EPA Advances Asbestos Part 2 Risk Evaluation, Seeks Peer Review on White Paper

Washington, DC – EPA released a white paper as part of its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 2 – Supplemental Evaluation Including Legacy Uses and Associated Disposals of Asbestos for public comment and peer review. The white paper presents EPA’s quantitative approach for the human health assessment for part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos, which will include all fiber types and legacy uses. The agency will release the draft risk evaluation for asbestos part 2 for public comment early next year. EPA is releasing this white paper ahead of the full draft risk evaluation for public comment and peer review to allow for a focused review of key technical aspects that will benefit from independent expert review and advice. EPA will accept public comments on the white paper for 60 days following publication via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2023-0309 at www.regulations.gov. These comments will be collated and provided to peer reviewers for their consideration. For full text, click here.

EPA Finalizes New Asbestos Reporting Rule

Washington, DC – EPA announced a final rule to require comprehensive reporting on all six fiber types of asbestos as the agency continues its work to address exposure to this known carcinogen and strengthen the evidence that will be used to further protect people from this dangerous chemical. The rule, issued under section 8(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), requires asbestos manufacturers (including importers) and processors to report certain use and exposure information from the past four years, including information on asbestos-containing products (including as an impurity). For full text, click here.

New EJ Toolkit for Lead Paint Enforcement Programs

EHS Daily Advisor by Lisa Whitley Coleman

The EPA recently released a new resource for federal, state, tribal, and local government enforcement practitioners to use during all stages of environmental enforcement and compliance monitoring activities designed to eliminate harmful exposures to lead paint in housing. The Environmental Justice Toolkit for Lead Paint Enforcement Programs is a compilation of best practices and supports commitments made in the EPA’s Lead Strategy, which seeks to reduce lead exposures locally, with a focus on underserved communities, and promote environmental justice through a whole of government approach. For the full text, click here.

EPA Settlements with Renovation Companies Protect Public from Lead-Based Paint Health Hazards

San Francisco, CA -EPA announced settlements with three companies over claims of violations of federal law that protect the public from lead-based paint. The settlements address renovation, repair, and painting work performed by the companies – MCEC Inc., Kreative Paintworks, and ZPainters – at residential and commercial properties in the greater Los Angeles area. EPA claims the firms violated numerous provisions of EPA’s Lead-Based Paint (LBP) Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. Two of the three cases against the companies were initiated by tips and/or complaints submitted by the public to the EPA. As part of the settlements, MCEC Inc. agreed to pay a $16,692 civil penalty, Kreative Paintworks agreed to a $10,000 civil penalty, and ZPainters agreed to pay a civil penalty of $3,053. For the full text, click here.