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Making green jobs safe.
Schulte PA; Heidel D; Okun A; Branche C
Ind Health 2010 Jul; 48(4):377-379
Can a job be "Green" if it is not safe? Unfortunately, the current answer is yes. The United Nations Environment Program defines a green job as work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development, administrative, and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics proposes to define green jobs as jobs involved in producing green products and services that increase the use of energy from renewable sources, increase energy efficiency, or protect, restore, or mitigate damage to the environment. From these definitions it is apparent that, although a green job must preserve environmental quality and/or produce green products and services, green jobs have no requirement that they be safe for those individuals performing the jobs (or for that matter, the consumers using green products and services). When you think of the word "green" today in relationship to green products or services, one usually thinks of environmentally friendly, increased energy efficiency, reduced waste; but the word also conveys feelings that the products and services are safe or safer than the products or services they replace. However, the following examples illustrate that this is not always the case. Efforts to reduce the use of the ozone-depleting, chlorofluorocarbons, like perchloroethylene, have led to the promotion of substitute degreasing and dry cleaning solvents. Once such substitute, 1-bromopropane (1-BP), is an effective degreaser and reduces ozone depletion, but it is not without risks. The National Toxicology Program has concluded that exposure to 1-BP is toxic to the developmental and reproductive health of animals. Animal toxicity studies with 1-BP and human case reports of occupational exposures to 1-BP have raised concerns that exposure to 1-BP might cause reproductive and neurologic effects. A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article highlighted two cases of workers diagnosed with clinical manifestations of neurotoxicity after use of 1-bromopropane in degreasing and dry cleaning operations.
Work-environment; Worker-health; Occupational-hazards; Environmental-factors; Environmental-protection; Safety-education; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Safety-research; Construction-industry; Construction-workers
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Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division