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AFL-CIO Solidarity Center report • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 674 • Two-thirds of scientists advising the European Union on the safety assessments of controversial substances have industry links, new research has found.
Corporate Europe Observatory's Pascoe Sabido said “these assessments don't just affect public health, they also help dictate the financial fortunes of companies involved in producing and using the substances,” adding: “This means that the independence of the scientists providing the expert advice needs to be above and beyond any suspicion of industry influence – which is not the case.” CEO news release and full report, Chemical conflicts: inadequate independence policies for EU's expert risk assessors • Risks 674 • The Health and Safety Executive's board must halt plans to close vital health and safety advisory committees and to replace them with “experts”, Unite has said.
According to ETUI, each chemical data ‘card' specifies the chemical's classification and labelling, its main work uses (solvent, cleaner, paint stripper, etc), how it affects health, and the occupational diseases it causes. Toxic chemicals are putting firefighters at risk of cancer and other diseases, a study of their real-life exposures has shown. Elevated Exposures to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Other Organic Mutagens in Ottawa Firefighters Participating in Emergency, On-shift Fire Suppression, Environmental Science & Technology, published online 18 October 2017. Dr Mehmet Kesimer, who led the study, said: “Our results suggest that e-cigarettes might be just as bad as cigarettes.” UNC news release. E-Cigarette Use Causes a Unique Innate Immune Response in the Lung Involving Increased Neutrophilic Activation and Altered Mucin Secretion, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published online 20 October 2017. Effect of reduced use of organic solvents on disability pension in painters, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 74, issue 11, pages 827-829, 2017. A newly released publication from the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlights the ‘special relevance of environmental risks’ for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The Health and Safety Executive’s decision to use only experts from outside the workplace to advise on health hazards on the inside is leaving gaping holes in its intelligence, the TUC has warned. Cleaners who fell ill at a Torquay hospital after being exposed to a hazardous disinfectant have been awarded £70,000 in damages. The report, which is highly critical of the claims made by the pesticide industry, notes: “The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading.” UN news release. Unite member Matt Bass died in 2014 after returning from a flight to Ghana. According to the safety unit on the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), the vote by MEPs was an ‘important victory’ for unions. The results of the study, published in the journal Environmental Health, noted: “Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulphide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels.” Gregg Macey, David Carpenter and others.
Greenpeace Detox Campaign Chemical Investigation database, Global RISCTOX database, ETUI/ISTAS, Europe Transitioning to safer chemicals: a toolkit for employers and workers, OSHA, USA Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolbox (Chem HAT), USA Basel Action Network, Global Blue Green Alliance, USA Labor Climate Project, USA Green Jobs Safe Jobs Campaign, National COSH, USA Chemicals Health Monitor website, Global Alliance for cancer prevention Facebook pages • Blog, UK New “Cleaner Solutions” database, USA Toxics Use Reduction Institute, USA Chem Sec, Global Working Green, IBEW webpages, USA Green Job Creation, CLC webpages, Canada Good Electronics, Global Stop climate change and eliminate toxic chemicals webpages, Greenpeace International, Global ILO sustainable development webpages, ILO, Global Going Green: Safe and Healthy Jobs, NIOSH, USA Climate Solidarity, UK Sustain Labour, Global Sustainable Workplace, TUC, UK Green jobs and climate change webpages, ACTU, Australia Sustainable development webpages, TUAC Green Recovery for All, USA Solar Energy Industry Hazards, USA Green Jobs for Solar, USA The Green Solution: A Win-Win Plan to Address Climate Crisis and Jumpstart an Equitable and Sustainable Economic Recovery, USA Catsub, Denmark European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Dangerous Substances, Europe CIS-ILO, Global Chemicals Health Monitor, Global Chemical Substances Portal , France Choosing our Future, Europe Chemicals Legislation European Enforcement Network, Europe Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Europe e Chem Portal, Global European Chemicals Bureau, Europe European Chemicals Agency, Europe European Environmental Bureau, Europe European Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers' Federation, Europe European chemical Substances Information System, Europe GESTIS-database on hazardous substances, Germany Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), Global Health and Environment Alliance, International Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. Unite has published new guidance to help members negotiate policies around the issue of facial hair and respiratory protective equipment (RPE). “Firefighters had from three to more than five times the amount of metabolites, or by-products of PAHs, in their urine after a fire compared to before the fire,” says Jennifer Keir, senior author of the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Commons Science and Technology inquiry announcement. WHO presents the burden of NCDs caused by environmental risks – a category that includes occupational risk factors - as well as the many areas where action is needed to reduce the burden. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson was commented after HSE’s Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC), created in 2014, published its first four reports, covering stress, silica, musculoskeletal disorders, and health issues affecting bakers. WHEC webpage and reports on stress, silica, musculoskeletal disorders and health issues of bakers. A major new initiative to protect workers from the ‘ticking time bomb’ caused by exposure to diesel exhaust fumes has been launched by Unite. The 22 cleaning staff, all members of the public service union UNISON working for the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, began using Actichlor seven years ago, and experienced runny eyes, nose sores, and wheezing coughs. Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production: a community-based exploratory study, Every day thousands of workers in Asia are exposed to dangerous chemicals without the required protection while making computers and other hitech equipment, a new report has found.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 673 • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the US government's occupational health research agency, has published an updated dangerous drugs listing to accompany its guide to the hazards posed to healthcare workers by the medicines they administer.
In the introduction to the updated drugs list, NIOSH notes: “Hazardous drugs include those used for cancer chemotherapy, antiviral drugs, hormones, some bioengineered drugs, and other miscellaneous drugs.” NIOSH news alert, 2004 guide and updated drug list, NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2014 • Risks 672 • Many cases of a common lung disease that were assumed to be of no known cause are in fact the result of exposure to asbestos, UK scientists believe.
But US evidence of chemical related deaths, soaring fatalities and over-exposure to deadly dust has raised seriously unhealthy questions. Professor Ken Donaldson, the scientific chair of Inhaled Particles XI, has been identified in a potential asbestos cancer 'crime-fraud' controversy and accused of having undeclared links to the industry. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis found the more they are exposed to manganese-containing welding fumes, the faster the workers’ signs and symptoms worsen. The 72-page guide is intended for union representatives and aims “to raise the awareness of union officials and political decision-makers to this largely unrecognised public and workplace health risk.” Endocrine disruptors: an occupational risk in need of recognition, ETUI, 2016. Solo responder Diane Kennedy developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) aster an undetected fault on her vehicle's exhaust system caused harmful fumes to leak into the driver’s compartment. More on the UK’s inadequate exposure standard for silica. The European Commission has been accused of ‘manufacturing a lie’ to avoid tighter regulation of a group of chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive and other health effects. The lawsuit, which also targets a long-time doctor at the Baltimore hospital, centres around a unit of radiologists who for decades provided coal companies x-ray readings that almost always said the miner didn't have black lung, helping the companies avoid paying benefits under a programme administered by the federal government. The union says information in this Lead Exposure Register will be used to assist in pursuing personal injury claims for affected workers, to identify members who were employed by the same company or at the same site and may have been exposed and to trace witnesses who can assist with claims. The ANSES agency has sent a letter to manufacturers informing them that it intends to withdraw the authorisation for such products, said Francoise Weber, the watchdog’s deputy director-general. Sign the IUF/PAN letter to Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. A campaign by environmental group Greenpeace “for a toxic-free future where hazardous chemicals are no longer produced, used and dumped into our environment” was behind its decision to create a large and growing ‘chemical detox’ database. CFMEU news release and Dust to dust: Make black lung history campaign. Chemical safety rules are not a burden on businesses, but deliver a substantial net benefit, a new report has concluded. ‘Rented white coats’ – scientists in the pay of vested interests – are defending toxic chemicals with horrific consequences for the workers these substances make ill. The Obama administration in the US is moving forward with long-delayed rules intended to protect workers from potentially deadly exposures to silica dust. Silica, part 2: A line in the sand, Hazards, number 127, 2014. The union body was speaking out in the wake of a March 2015 report in the journal Lancet Oncology, which revealed the International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) new classification of glyphosate - the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and the world's most widely-used herbicide - as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” IUF report. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report concluded least 500 farmers across the UK were left with debilitating health problems after using organophosphate-based (OP) chemicals to protect their sheep against parasites, under a compulsory dipping programme that ran until 1992. ITF news release and statement on the Antwerp tragedy. Unite general secretary Len Mc Cluskey said that more needed to be done to understand illnesses caused by exposure to contaminated cabin air on jet aircraft, adding that airlines should be required to monitor air quality during all flights. ITF news release, cabin air qualitywebpages, GCAQE forum and aviation blog. The figures come in a January report of notifications to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Publishing the findings of the analysis of 13 studies of individuals with ‘Lou Gehrig's disease' in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the authors found people with a history of work-related lead exposure were 1.81 times more likely to develop ALS. A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies of the Association Between Chronic Occupational Exposure to Lead and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 56, number 12, pages 1235-1242, December 2014. Russell Leggett and Robert Peach required hospital treatment after inhaling dust and fumes when steel coated in lead paint was cut into and removed from the structure in July 2013. More on the hazards of occupational exposure to lead. The petroleum industry has known for decades that benzene, one of its most important products, is a potent cause of cancer in humans but has spent millions on a cover-up, a new evidence database reveals.
Hazards 123, July-September 2013 Tens of thousands of people in the UK die every year as a result of dust exposures at work. And they are sick of our official workplace health guardians saying it's just a bit of a 'nuisance'. High pesticide exposure events and DNA methylation among pesticide applicators in the agricultural health study, Environmental and Molecular Mutagensis, volume 58, number 1, pages 19-29, January 2017. A European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is calling for a Europe-wide ban on the toxic pesticide glyphosate. An inspection programme by health and safety regulators across the European Union is to determine how legally required safety information on hazardous chemicals is communicated in company supply chains and followed in workplaces. A new rule issued by the US safety regulator OSHA dramatically lowers workplace exposure limit for beryllium. Some workers who make or work with the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) have levels in their bodies 1,000 times higher than the general public, a study by a US government agency has found. “This should be a science-based procedure – so evidence-based policy-making,” said Axel Singhofen, an adviser to the Greens-European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. An Uxbridge manufacturer of ejector seats has been fined £800,000 after three workers developed debilitating lung conditions. Diesel exhaust exposures are causing high rates of fatal lung cancers in underground miners, according to a new study. A new guide to occupational hygiene for union health and safety representatives has been published jointly by the TUC and the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS). Occupational hygiene explained: A guide for union health and safety representatives, TUC/BOHS, November 2016. How far the production standards developed by the electronics industry fall short of expectations set by experts in occupational health and safety have been exposed by two key international campaign groups. The two year project has resulted in a database already including entries on over 17,000 substances. Greenpeace Detox Campaign Chemical Investigation database and executive summary. An electropolishing company based in Hampshire has been fined after a worker suffered chemical burns. Campaigners have said the European Commission must be stopped from proceeding with the renewed authorisation in the European Union of the toxic herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and the world's most widely-used herbicide. The US government has gone where the UK had refused to go, introducing new rules to sharply reduce workplace exposures to silica. ‘The bigger picture’, published by the chemical safety think tank Chem Sec, concludes chemical regulation creates opportunities for many progressive companies and shows these companies are not only opting for safer chemicals, but are finding the alternatives are frequently better too. Union warnings about the dangers of toxic chemicals inside aircraft have been borne out by a new scientific study. A ‘Science for sale’ investigation by the Washington DC based Center for Public Integrity (CPI) found industry-backed research has exploded “as government-funded science dwindles. Health and Safety Executive online document on ‘Selecting substances to propose for authorisation, restriction, evaluation or harmonised classification and labelling’. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed on 21 December 2015 that it had sent the rules to the White House for final approval, a step that comes after years of delays. Silica, part 1: Dust to dust: Deadly silica standard is killing UK workers, Hazards, number 126, 2014. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the European Commission has not been quick enough in identifying and banning potentially harmful ‘endocrine disrupting’ chemicals, linked to cancer, reproductive and other adverse health effects. ECHA compared the data supplied by manufacturers and importers when notifying the classification and labelling of hazardous substances under the classification, labelling and packaging regulations (CLP) with the registration dossiers submitted by firms handling larger quantities of chemicals under the REACH rules. Internal memorandums, emails, letters and meeting minutes obtained by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in a year-long investigation suggest that America's oil and chemical titans, coordinated by their trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, spent at least million on research “designed to protect member company interests,” as one 2000 API summary put it.
‘Blowing Smoke', a report and interactive map released by the Center for Effective Government (CEG), warns that a “significant number of chemical manufacturing facilities are endangering workers and the environment, despite what the chemical industry tells policymakers, regulators, and the American public.” Center for Effective Government news release and full report, Blowing Smoke: Chemical companies say “Trust us,” but environmental and workplace safety violations belie their rhetoric. Companies are continuing to expose workers to excessive levels of silica dust, which can cause deadly cancers and lung diseases, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has admitted. A United Nations (UN) convened network has agreed on a plan that could prevent the annual deaths of more than one million people exposed to toxic chemicals. Occupational exposures to chemical hazards – and how to identify them and avoid them – is the topic of new resources launched this week at a major international conference. The newly compiled list shows whether these pesticides are regarded as highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation, with the ban list including 316 pesticide active ingredients. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector who investigated the suspected chemical asphyxiation death of truck driver David Simpson at an XTO Energy Inc. Greater attention should be paid to the potential health risks posed by fracking chemicals, researchers have warned. The disposal and recycling of electronic devices has increased exposure to lead and other toxics and created “an emerging health concern,” according to a top paediatrician. Chemical exposure standards “should be revisited” because low level exposures to a mix of substances which individually might be harmless can together present a cancer risk, a major study has concluded. The TUC has reiterated its concerns over a new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) workplace health expert committee (WHEC), set up “to provide independent expert knowledge and advice on workplace health”. Three pesticides that have been heavily used in both agricultural and non-agricultural applications have been linked to cancer. Carcinogenicity of lindane, DDT, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, The Lancet Oncology, published online 22 June 2015. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has appointed a new committee “to provide independent expert knowledge and advice on workplace health”, a move that unions had earlier warned would be “problematic”.The criminal safety breaches were identified at Plasterboard Recycling Solutions Ltd during a routine Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection of their premises in Bedfordshire. , International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, volume 14, number 9, 2017. Legal claims over exposure to diesel exhaust fumes at work are rising as unions raise concerns about toxic air in the workplace. Airline cabin crew union Unite has repeated its call for a public inquiry into toxic cabin air, as an international two-day conference on the issue got underway at Imperial College London. A South Korean man who lost his vision in his twenties making Samsung smartphones has testified before a United Nations (UN) committee. The Blind - A report on methanol poisoning cases in supply chains for Samsung and LG Electronics in Korea, 2017. Authorities in a province in eastern Canada has said they will implement 11 recommendations of a study that uncovered widespread dust problems affecting mine workers. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said one 48-year-old man from Darwen, who has asked not to be named, was admitted to hospital after blood tests revealed he had seven times the ‘normal' amount of lead in his body, putting him at risk of health problems including nerve, brain and kidney damage, and infertility.Royal Mail and at least one local authority are among major employers who are being sued over their alleged failure to protect staff from the damaging health effects of diesel pollution from vehicles. The Unite sponsored conference, which is supported by the industry, comes as it emerged that easy Jet is to fit cabin air filters to its aircraft. Seventeen workers dying in the US between 20 isn’t enough to convince the methylene chloride industry that more is needed than just labels on a can to prevent the needless deaths of worker stripping bathtubs. Kim Yeong-shin said he lost his sight as a result of exposure to the solvent methanol while working for a Samsung Electronics subcontractor. The report studied the medical information for 636 people, most of them retired, who worked at Labrador’s Wabush Mines or the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) mine. HSE news release and lead webpages • Risks 678 • A Bedfordshire veterinary firm has been fined after workers were potentially exposed over a four year period to animal chemotherapy drugs that can cause cancer and birth defects. Chemical industry claims that its ‘Responsible Care' self-regulation programme is protecting the public are untrue, new research has indicated. Pesticide Action Network (PAN), comprising over 600 non-governmental organisations, institutions and individuals in over 90 countries, has released ‘The Consolidated List of Banned Pesticides'.
Dozens of workers required hospitalisation last month after the plant began using the dangerous solvent butyl acetate to remove stains from clothes.
Unite news release and related release on the easy Jet move. British mining multinational Anglo American has set aside 1 million (£77.5m) to cover potential damages claims from former South African employees who contracted the fatal occupational lung disease silicosis. A new report on the history of the collusion between chemical companies and the regulators in the USA over the past hundred years has been published online. Twenty-five years ago, faced with studies highlighting miscarriage and other risks in US computer chip plants and highly critical media coverage, US tech companies pledged to stop using chemicals that caused miscarriages and birth defects. Contaminated air on planes is a health risk to pilots and crew and could ‘degrade’ flight safety, a new study has found. Instead legal representatives of a solvents industry lobby group say the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ban on methylene chloride – also known as dichloromethane - as a paint stripper is a “blatant and raw power grab” of the authority that Congress gave the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Employees of Davies Veterinary Specialists Limited, including vets, nurses and support staff, could have been exposed to the drugs as they prepared medicines to treat animals with cancer at the firm's premises in Higham Gobion, Bedfordshire.