Waste Workers’ Exposure to Airborne Fungal and Bacterial Species in the Truck Cab and During Waste Collection

Source: Anne Mette Madsen, Taif Alwan, Anders Ørberg, Katrine Uhrbrand and Marie Birk Jørgensen, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Advance Access, First published online: April 20, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A large number of people work with garbage collection, and exposure to microorganisms is considered an occupational health problem. However, knowledge on microbial exposure at species level is limited. The aim of the study was to achieve knowledge on waste collectors’ exposure to airborne inhalable fungal and bacterial species during waste collection with focus on the transport of airborne microorganisms into the truck cab. Airborne microorganisms were collected with samplers mounted in the truck cab, on the workers’ clothes, and outdoors. Fungal and bacterial species were quantified and identified. The study showed that the workers were exposed to between 112 and 4.8×104 bacteria m−3 air and 326 and 4.6×104 fungi m−3 air. The personal exposures to bacteria and fungi were significantly higher than the concentrations measured in the truck cabs and in the outdoor references. On average, the fungal and bacterial concentrations in truck cabs were 111 and 7.7 times higher than outdoor reference measurements. In total, 23 fungal and 38 bacterial species were found and identified. Most fungal species belonged to the genus Penicillium and in total 11 Penicillium species were found. Identical fungal species were often found both in a personal sample and in the same person’s truck cab, but concentrations were on average 27 times higher in personal samples. Concentrations of fungal and bacterial species found only in the personal samples were lower than concentrations of species also found in truck cabs. Skin-related bacteria constituted a large fraction of bacterial isolates found in personal and truck cab samples. In total, six Staphylococcus species were found. In outdoor samples, no skin-related bacteria were found. On average, concentrations of bacterial species found both in the truck cab and personal samples were 77 times higher in personal samples than in truck cab samples. In conclusion, high concentrations of fungi were found in truck cabs, but the highest concentrations were found in personal samples; fungal and bacterial species found in high concentrations in personal samples were also found in truck cabs, but in lower concentrations indicating that both fungi and bacteria are transported by the workers into the truck cab, and are subsequently aerosolized in the truck cab.

Employer Wellness Incentives, the ACA, and the ADA: Reconciling Policy Objectives

Source: Kristin M. Madison, Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 261-2016, October 2015

From the abstract:
Employer-based wellness programs have become increasingly common. Many large firms offer incentives for completing health-related questionnaires or undergoing biometric testing; some offer incentives for meeting targets related to biometric measures such as blood pressure or body-mass index. Over the last two decades, policy makers have both promoted and restricted incentive-based wellness programs. The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) reflected both impulses: it imposed limits on the use of incentives, but signaled support for incentive-based programs by raising a previously existing ceiling on incentive magnitude. More recently, however, federal actions taken in connection with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) threatened to undermine some ACA compliant, incentive-based wellness programs, eliciting protests from some employers. This essay examines the congruence of policy objectives underlying health plan regulations, the ADA, and their wellness program exceptions. While health plan regulations seek to preserve insurance affordability, regardless of health status, the ADA’s wellness program exception seeks to ensure the voluntariness of employees’ provision of information. The author argues that incentives can be compatible with voluntariness, and should therefore be permitted under the ADA, but that the ADA’s focus on voluntariness should lead to incentive regulations that are structured differently from those under the ACA.

Permanent trust funds: Funding economic change with fracking revenues

Source: Devashree Saha and Mark Muro, Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program, SERIES: Advanced Industries Series, Number 88, April 2016

From the summary:
The recent boom and bust of unconventional oil and gas development, or “fracking,” has reopened serious questions about resource management in many U.S. states. While the oil and gas boom generated revenue, jobs, and economic development, the recent bust has adversely impacted state budgets due to declining industry investments in exploration and production and job cuts.

Businesses opposing N.C.’s HB2 helped elect legislators behind it

Source: Alex Kotch, Institute for Southern Studies, April 5, 2016

Since the hurried passage of North Carolina’s HB2 last month in a special legislative session, numerous businesses have publicly spoken out against the law, which bars transgender individuals from using public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity and blocks local governments from enacting their own nondiscrimination and minimum wage ordinances.

Over 120 companies including Dow Chemical, Red Hat, American Airlines, Apple, PayPal, Cisco, IBM and Google have stated their opposition to the law. CEOs of many of these companies sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory (R) last week opposing the law.

But many of these same businesses funded two outside political groups that helped elect five of the bill’s sponsors, 13 other legislators who voted for it, and McCrory, who immediately signed the measure into law. Outside groups are unaffiliated with campaigns and are not allowed to coordinate with candidates.

At least 36 companies that have come out against HB2 so far have given a combined $10.8 million to those Washington, D.C.-based groups, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and the Republican Governors Association (RGA), in recent election cycles….

Early Coverage, Access, Utilization, and Health Effects Associated With the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansions: A Quasi-experimental Study

Source: Laura R. Wherry and Sarah Miller, Annals of Internal Medicine, Online First, April 19, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: In 2014, only 26 states and the District of Columbia chose to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansions for low-income adults.

Objective: To evaluate whether the state Medicaid expansions were associated with changes in insurance coverage, access to and utilization of health care, and self-reported health. ….

Conclusion: The ACA Medicaid expansions were associated with higher rates of insurance coverage, improved quality of coverage, increased utilization of some types of health care, and higher rates of diagnosis of chronic health conditions for low-income adults. ….

2015 NPS Visitor Spending Effects Report: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation

Source: Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Lynne Koontz, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/EQD/NRR—2016/1200, April 2016

The National Park Service (NPS) manages the Nation’s most iconic destinations that attract millions of visitors from across the Nation and around the world. Trip-related spending by NPS visitors generates and supports a considerable amount of economic activity within park gateway communities. This economic effects analysis measures how NPS visitor spending cycles through local economies, generating business sales and supporting jobs and income.

In 2015, the National Park System received over 307.2 million recreation visits. NPS visitors spent $16.9 billion in local gateway regions (defined as communities within 60 miles of a park). The contribution of this spending to the national economy was 295 thousand jobs, $11.1 billion in labor income, $18.4 billion in value added, and $32.0 billion in economic output. The lodging sector saw the highest direct contributions with $5.2 billion in economic output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally. The sector with the next greatest direct contributions was the restaurants and bars sector, with $3.4 billion in economic output directly contributed to local gateway economies nationally…..

Visitor Spending Effects
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, 2016

This interactive tool is a collaboration between the NPS and the U.S. Geological Survey and displays results from the Visitor Spending Effects report series. Economic contributions of NPS visitor spending are displayed at the national, state, and local levels.

The Inequality Multiplier

Source: Mauro Gallegati, Simone Landini, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 16-29, April 18, 2016

From the abstract:
That of the multiplier is a largely debated issue. Several studies propose estimates for it. This paper answers the question of how inequality affects the value of the multiplier. The proposed formulation is analytically derived from the Lorenz curve of income by means of Zanardi asymmetry index. Since the relationship between inequality and multiplier is found to be negative, it can be argued that greater inequality has depressive effects on GDP.

2016 Job Outlook

Source: Tom Musick, Safety + Health, April 24, 2016

….How is worker safety affected by more frequent career movement among safety professionals? For Safety+Health’s 2016 Job Outlook survey, almost 800 people helped us find out, responding to questions about the status of their jobs and their organizations and whether they hoped to work somewhere else in the next five years. Most importantly, respondents provided honest, thoughtful answers to open-ended questions about whether the trend of switching jobs is here to stay – and whether that is good for safety…..

401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2014

Source: Jack VanDerhei, Sarah Holden, Luis Alonso, Steven Bass, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), EBRI Issue Brief, Number 423, April 2016

From the abstract:
This paper is an update of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute’s (ICI) ongoing research into 401(k) plan participants’ activity through year-end 2014. The bulk of 401(k) assets were invested in stocks. On average, at year-end 2014, 66 percent of 401(k) participants’ assets were invested in equity securities through equity funds, the equity portion of balanced funds, and company stock. More 401(k) plan participants held equities at year-end 2014 than before the financial market crisis (year-end 2007), and most had the majority of their accounts invested in equities. More than 70 percent of 401(k) plans included target-date funds in their investment lineup at year-end 2014. At year-end 2014, 18 percent of the assets in the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database were invested in target-date funds and 48 percent of 401(k) participants in the database held target-date funds. A majority of new or recent hires invested their 401(k) assets in balanced funds, including target-date funds. For example, at year-end 2014, two-thirds of recently hired participants held balanced funds in their 401(k) plan accounts. 401(k) participants’ investments in company stock continued at historically low levels. Only 7 percent of 401(k) assets were invested in company stock at year-end 2014, the same share as in 2012 and 2013. This share has fallen by 63 percent since 1999 when company stock accounted for 19 percent of assets. 401(k) participants were less slightly likely to have loans outstanding at year-end 2014 than at year-end 2013. At year-end 2014, 20 percent of all 401(k) participants who were eligible for loans had loans outstanding against their 401(k) plan accounts, down from 21 percent at year-end 2013, although up from 18 percent at year-end 2008. The year-end 2014 average 401(k) plan account balance in the database was 5.4 percent higher than the year before, but may not accurately reflect the experience of typical 401(k) participants in 2014. To understand changes in 401(k) plan participants’ average account balances, it is important to analyze a sample of consistent participants. As with previous EBRI/ICI updates, analysis of a sample of consistent 401(k) plan participants is expected to be published later this year. The average 401(k) plan account balance tends to increase with participant age and tenure. For example, at year-end 2014, participants in their 30s with more than two to five years of tenure had an average 401(k) plan account balance of close to $25,000, compared with an average 401(k) plan account balance of nearly $275,000 among participants in their 60s with more than 30 years of tenure.

How to Study Volatility: Strategies for understanding revenue uncertainty

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts, Fact Sheet, March 2016

From the overview:
Across the country, state revenue has become increasingly volatile, confounding the best efforts of officials and policymakers to make forecasts and keep budgets in balance. To help states better manage this uncertainty, The Pew Charitable Trusts recommends that policymakers periodically study their states’ economic and revenue volatility. Such analyses can help states develop policies for rainy day funds that smooth budgets throughout the business cycle and align with each state’s objectives and characteristics….