«Worker and Environmentalist Green Chemistry Awareness Training Curriculum The New England Consortium University of Massachusetts Lowell Grant funded ...»
The New England Consortium
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Grant funded by The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Grant No. 3U45ES006172-18S2, titled:
Administrative Supplements to Promote Partnerships For Environmental Public Health.”
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Craig Slatin, Sc.D., MPH Professor Department of Community Health and Sustainability Director, Center for Health Promotion and Research School of Health and Environment University of Massachusetts Lowell
Paul Morse, MA, BS Project Manager of The New England Consortium Center for Health Promotion and Research School of Health and Environment University of Massachusetts Lowell
This curriculum was a collaboration by the following individuals and institutions:
Tolle Graham, Labor and Environment Coordinator, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH)
Curriculum Development Team:
Melissa Coffin, Research Associate, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production Amy Cannon, Executive Director, Beyond Benign Foundation Claudie Grout, ENVISION Exceptional Instruction Tom Estabrook, Project Manager - Special Projects, The New England Consortium, UMass Lowell Craig Slatin, Professor, Principal Investigator, The New England Consortium, UMass Lowell Joel Tickner, Associate Professor, Project Director – Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, UMass Lowell The curriculum development team wants to thank: Steve Schrag, Eastern Region Hazmat Program Coordinator, Service Employees International Union for assistance with curriculum development and formatting; the Tony Mazzocchi Center for Safety, Health and Environmental Education (TMC), a project of the United Steel Workers (USW) and the Labor Institute for allowing us to use and modify portions of the Green Chemistry; Green Jobs; Green Health;
Green Environment and Green Communities training manual; Susan Winning, Director of the UMass Lowell Labor Extension Program for sharing labor and social movements timeline materials; all the course participants and trainers who gave us curriculum feedback; and Brenda Wilson, Anne Basanese, and Stacie Caldwell, UMass Lowell, for their incredible administrative support.
THE NEW ENGLAND CONSORTIUMUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell This manual was developed by the New England Consortium. Grant funded by The National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Grant No. 3U45ES006172-18S2, titled:
“Administrative Supplements to Promote Partnerships for Environmental Public Health.”
The New England Consortium University of Massachusetts Lowell One University Avenue Lowell, MA 01854 Contact: Diane Doherty - 978-934-3197 www.uml.edu/TNEC MassCOSH 1532 B Dorchester Avenue Dorchester, MA 02122 617-825-7233 www.masscosh.org Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow www.healthytomorrow.org Beyond Benign Green Chemistry Education www.beyondbenign.org Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut www.safehealthyct.org
This manual was developed by The New England Consortium. Grant funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Grant No.
3U45ES006172-18S2, titled: Administrative Supplements to Promote Partnerships for Environmental Public Health.” The New England Consortium University of Massachusetts Lowell
The goal of the Worker and Environmentalist Green Chemistry Awareness training is to provide workers and environmental activists with the tools to advocate for green chemistry and implementation of safer alternatives to reduce
toxic contamination. In particular, the training seeks to help bring us together to:
• Understand some basic principles and concepts of green chemistry and how its application on a larger scale can help reduce and prevent the generation of hazardous wastes, as well as provide safer and healthier remediation of hazardous waste sites; and
• Engage in activities that will strengthen efforts to advance policy changes that promote greater support for making a transition to green chemistry.
• Understand the limitations of current approaches to toxic substances management and regulation.
• Understand how the current way we design chemical products leads to toxic hazards and waste and how a different set of design principles can help avoid these problems in the first place.
• Understand how the green chemistry principles can be applied in practice to a particular environmental, health and safety problem: plywood in building construction.
• Understand how green chemistry principles can be integrated into existing campaigns and efforts to reduce toxic contamination.
What is Green Chemistry?
Green Chemistry is the design of chemical processes and products that are inherently safer and more sustainable. Chemists Paul Anastas and John Warner define green chemistry as “the utilization of a set of principles that reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and application of chemical products.” The goal of green chemistry is to reduce hazards throughout a chemical’s life cycle by focusing on designing
Time: 50 minutes total Purpose To review the state of protections currently in place and how secure we feel about toxic exposures on our jobs, in our homes and in the environment.
This activity has three tasks.
Task 1: 15 minutes
• Assign a “scribe” at your table who describe the tasks for the scope of the problem.
• Hand out the 10 “Scope of the Problem” fact sheets at your table until everyone has 1 or more fact sheets to read. Read the fact sheets.
• Each person at the table introduces themselves to the group (name, union/organization) and tells the group what they learned from the fact sheet (in order of how they were assigned).
Task 2: 15 minutes
• In pairs, read and discuss the fact sheet Summary – Scope of the Problem
• Share one example of how these gaps affect you at work, in your community, or in your family.
Task 3: 20 minutes
• Introduce yourself to the large group and share your example in one sentence.
Federal Regulations Fail to Protect Us The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as chemicals policy, has failed to sufficiently protect human health and the environment. The health, safety, and environmental effects of the great majority of some 80,000 industrial chemicals in commercial use in the U.S. are largely unknown.
• The TSCA does not require producers to provide information about the hazards of their chemicals or products.
• Sixty-two thousand chemicals were grandfathered without further review of their hazards by the TSCA.
• Ninety-two percent of the highest production volume chemicals in use today consist of these substances.
All federal statutes combined regulate only about one thousand chemicals and pollutants.
U.S. Chemicals Circle the World Eighty-Six Times Each day, a total of 42 billion pounds of chemical substances are produced or imported in the U.S. for commercial and industrial uses.
An additional 1,000 new chemicals are introduced into commerce each year.
If converted to gallons they would fill 623,000 tanker trucks, which if placed back to back would circle the earth 86 times at the equator.
Worker Health Suffers Severally Due to Chemical Exposure Because many industrial processes involve exposure to hazardous substances, workers are disproportionately affected by chemically-caused diseases. Sixty percent of workplace chemicals suspected of causing cancer or reproductive harm are high production volume chemicals (produced or imported at more than one million pounds per year in the U.S.).
Estimates of the proportion of cancer that may be attributed to workplace exposures range from 5% to 20% and vary widely by cancer site. Each year from 2001 through 2005, an average of 35,280 work-related cancer cases were newly diagnosed in Massachusetts.
Nearly 500,000 adults in Massachusetts have asthma, and nationally, 15-30% of adults are estimated to have work-related asthma. More than 300 chemicals used in the workplace today can cause asthma. Much of this evidence comes from workers exposed on the job.
Workplace Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) Are Inadequate and Outdated The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) - the amount of exposure to a chemical allowed for a worker typically averaged over eight hours. There are PELs for just seven percent of the nearly three thousand high production volume chemicals in the U.S.
Updating PELs is a slow process, so PELs frequently do not reflect recent toxicology data.
To further complicate matters, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has exposure standards, Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs), that are usually below OSHA PEL standards. And the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has created standards named Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) that are also generally below OSHA PEL levels.
More protective PELs set by OSHA in 1989 for 212 substances were “vacated” by a Court decision* moving them back to PELs established in 1971.
*July 1992, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in its decision in AFL-CIO v. OSHA, 965 F.2d 962 (11th Cir., 1992) Two Hundred and Seventeen Thousand New Hazardous Waste Sites in the Next Twenty-Five Years The number of hazardous waste sites in the United States continues to rise.
The U.S. EPA estimates that the country will require 217,000 new hazardous waste sites by 2033, a 180% increase over today’s 77,000 existing sites.
Each year, more than $1 billion is spent on efforts to clean up hazardous waste Superfund sites.
Cleanup costs for future sites are estimated at about $250 billion.
Our Children May Suffer the Most The vast majority of industrial chemicals are new to human biology and ecosystems since WWII. They are now widely dispersed in the environment and in people: 287 chemicals and pollutants have been detected in umbilical cord blood.
Although chemical exposures are relevant to the general population, children are particularly susceptible to harm. Even low levels of synthetic chemicals can disrupt the rapidly developing physiology of infants and children. Rising incidents of some cancers, asthma and developmental disorders may be due in part to chemical exposures, particularly in young children.
A variety of male reproductive abnormalities may also be linked to exposures to certain pesticides or endocrine-disrupting chemicals during pregnancy.
Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Damage Children’s Development Certain synthetic chemicals commonly found in consumer products can disrupt the endocrine system, a complex network of hormones that affect the development of all organs in the human body.
Even small alterations in hormone levels by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can affect development of the body’s neurological, reproductive and metabolic systems. These can produce permanent changes, affecting the body’s responses to food, chemicals and hormones even later in life.
This reprogramming may contribute to:
• Pre-diabetic insulin resistance
• Breast and prostate cancers It is estimated that up to four future generations in a family may be affected by these changes.
The Data Gap Manufacturers and businesses can sell a chemical or product without generating or disclosing adequate information about its potential health or environmental hazards.
Federal regulations resulting in failed public policies create a disincentive to produce health and safety data.
The Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) grandfathered the vast majority of chemicals in use today. Therefore companies have no incentive to research the health effects of these chemicals.
As a result of this lack of information:
• It is hard to choose products on the basis of their potential health and environmental impacts.
• Public agencies cannot identify chemical hazards of highest priority for human health and the environment.
• The deterrent functions of the product liability and workers’ compensation systems are undermined because it is very difficult to prove the nexus between exposure and harm.
The Safety Gap Producers are not currently required to assume full responsibility for the health effects and environmental consequences that can occur over the life cycle of their products. As a result, there is little impetus to minimize the potential hazards associated with the manufacture, use or disposal of chemicals and products.
Without sufficient data to inform the demand for safer products, or a system for product stewardship, public agencies are limited to regulating the use and disposal of existing chemicals and products, rather than taking preventive measures. And workers and consumers have few tools to reduce their chemical exposure.
The Technology Gap The transition from a concept to a commercial application of sustainable chemistry requires that a company conduct extensive research and development, make potentially large capital investments, and assume the risks of being a leader in an emerging field.
This is often not done because of:
• Market and regulatory weaknesses caused by the data and safety gaps
• Lack of organizational and institutional motivation within industry
• Lack of public and private investment in sustainable chemistry research and education
• Corporate reluctance to take on these risks and responsibilities The results are a technology gap that will have long-term implications for U.S.