chemicals

Tag archives for chemicals

Crystalline silica, hydrofluoric acid and formaldehyde. Those are just three of the dozens of air toxic chemicals that oil companies have used thousands of times in southern California in just the past year.

The U.S. Supreme Court deals a blow to union fair-share fees; Massachusetts raises minimum wage to $11 an hour; and Texas lawmakers scoff at the idea of better safeguards in the wake of the West fertilizer blast.

When a widely used chemical is identified as an environmental health hazard and targeted for phase-out and elimination, among the most challenging questions for those involved with making such a chemical are: What to use instead? and Will the replacement be safe? The US Environmental Protection Agency’s report identifying alternatives to the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) illustrates how difficult those questions can be to answer.

Following the deadly April 17, 2013 explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant – and a series of other catastrophic incidents involving hazardous materials – President Obama directed federal agencies to improve chemical facility security and safety. Their report makes recommendations but does not mandate any immediate action. Meanwhile, dangerous chemical releases occur at workplaces around the US almost daily.

Where you live may be hazardous to your health. This is the conclusion of several new reports including one by the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Reform that shows who lives in US communities most vulnerable to hazardous chemical exposures and the CDC’s latest examination of health disparities.

The heath effects of occupational solvent exposure don’t always fade with time. A new study has found that years — sometimes even decades — down the road from their last workplace exposure, some workers are still experiencing very real cognitive impairments.

A investigative Houston Chronicle piece exposes the dangers of the tank cleaning industry; North Carolina lawmakers back fracking secrecy with jail time; and Wal-Mart contractor settles in wage theft case.

Thanks to a unanimous vote of California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board last Thursday, workers get to hold on to a robust chemical right-to-know rule that puts their health and safety first. The vote also means that California workers will reap the benefits of more meaningful right-to-know rules than those at the federal level.

While the Senate is pressing the EPA to prevent future chemical disasters, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would, if enacted, make it harder for the public to obtain information about chemical hazards, either in industrial storage tanks or consumer products. While state and local governments – and many manufacturers – are responding to growing public is demand for safer chemicals and more information about chemicals used in products – industry trade associations are promoting legislation that appears to counter that progress.

“For us it’s personal,” said Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator. “It’s a daily issue for us. Every day with a weaker protection standard is another day a worker is exposed to pesticides,” she said. On February 20th the EPA proposed revisions to its Worker Protection Standard for agricultural pesticides. Farm worker advocates are welcoming the proposal – the first update since 1992 – but see both improvements and what some are calling “steps backward.”