FED's Industry Related News


Monday, July 21, 2014

PACNY's Second Annual ProAm Fishing Derby, is Bigger & Better!

On Wednesday, July 16th Future Environment Designs (FED) participated in the ProfessionalAbatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) second annual ProAm Fishing Derby.  The fishing derby was held on Lake Ontario with the boats leaving from Point Breeze, New York at Oak Orchard Creek. This year there were 20 boats participating in the Fishing Derby versus 13 boats, last year.  Very nice increase for a new event.  PACNY's Darren Yehl had his hands full organizing this event which was the equivalent of herding cats. The day started out beautiful with a nice blue sky with some clouds.

Sunrise on Lake Ontario
Future Environment Designs (Angelo and Veronica Garcia) had the pleasure of teaming with Watts Architecture & Engineering (Greg Andrews and Scott Matthews) on Captain Mike's boat the Intimidator. As the day went on, clouds started rolling in and the day got cooler.  Every so often when the sun would break through it would be nice and warm.  However, the lake was rough and we were glad that we took our Dramamine before going out on the boat.
Angelo and Veronica Garcia, Capt Mike, Greg Andrews, & Scott Matthews, from left to right
Last year's Fishing Derby we caught quite a few salmon and hardly anything else.  This year our team caught quite few different fish, including Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Atlantic Salmon.  Last year, we caught a 22.02 lb salmon (placing fifth) and our team's total weight was 64.59 lbs  (placing second).  This year we caught a 22.32 lb salmon (placing first) and our team's total was 69.75 lbs (placing second).

The Fishing Derby's Tally Board
As usual we had a great time with our fellow boaters and the food at the Black North Inn, after the fishing derby, was delicious.  It's funny how we're always asked is it worth being a member of PACNY?  Especially since we are located on Long Island and the organization does not do much in the New York City/downstate area.  Our reply is usually always the same, a resounding Yes!  What other organization focuses on New York issues in asbestos abatement and environmental remediation; provides opportunities to network with suppliers, contractors, consultants, and clients; and the annual Environmental Conference only gets better every year providing access to the regulators and information on upcoming trends.  In our view all of this is well worth the membership fee and like most things it is only as good as what you put into it.

What's for Dinner?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Its Summertime! Asbestos Project Monitor Overtime Heaven?

Here we are again another summertime and another year of complaining about how bad asbestos project monitors are.  It seems this has become a summertime tradition.  Project monitors who don't show up, don't do what they are told, don't know the regulations, sleep on the job, leave the job, don't know how many samples to take, etc., etc.  We find this interesting because the project  monitor should be one of the most knowledgeable people on an asbestos project.  Not only should the asbestos project monitor understand air sampling requirements & theory, they should be able to read and understand building plans, be able to communicate effectively to get the contractor to follow the specifications, regulations, and drawings, write legibly & diligently so the log can be read by others & they can know what happened on the project, be ready to testify in a court of law regarding what they observed on the project, handle scheduling, phasing, & timing on a project and handle a number of other issues related to asbestos abatement including occupational safety and health issues.

When we have these discussions in our classes, our belief is that a project monitor should have a college education.  In our opinion, high school students should never be hired for project monitoring (can we say interns, which is a person who should be in training (directly supervised) for the position they are interning for).  As Albert Einstein said:

"The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think."

English: Albert Einstein Fran├žais : portrait d...
English: Albert Einstein Fran├žais : portrait d'Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We see the problem as that asbestos project monitors are not respected for what they should be doing.  This disrespect is primarily coming from certain building owners who feel there is no need for an asbestos project monitor who coordinates the project and legally documents the project.  The hourly rate for an asbestos project monitor should have been increasing over the years, however, this is not the case.  Then you have building owners and abatement contractors who feel project monitors delay projects, well a good project monitor would actually reduce the amount of time a project takes.  We agree with some that asbestos project monitors should be individually held responsible and liable for the work they do or don't do.  This would definitely increase the quality of work and would make sure project monitors had some gumption! However, are project monitoring firms ready for a project monitor who actually dictates the job like project monitors in the past used to?

We have recently reviewed a number of project monitor logs and in the logs we reviewed project monitors made no entries other than the time they arrived, time for lunch, and the time they left for an 8-hour day.  In our view New York State Industrial Code Rule 56 created a minimum standard for a project monitor log by creating requirements for a supervisor log.  Since the project monitor's log is supposed to document the project legally, the supervisor requirements are the minimum requirements, along with any additional information and events that occurred at the site/project that are legally important for the building owner.  In addition, if the project monitor didn't write it, it didn't happen.  What does that mean?  Well if the project monitor didn't make an entry in their log about aggressive sampling such as the amount of time for leaf blowing or the number of fans installed, etc.  Well guess what, the project monitor didn't do it.  The log is supposed to be a legal journal of what was done on the project.  If the project monitor doesn't make an entry, well it probably wasn't done.  Why would anyone assume otherwise?

In our view this is what has been forgotten regarding the importance of the asbestos project monitoring. We've heard of a number of issues with contractors and workers where they do not properly protect the workers from exposure or workers are not decontaminating properly.  As a building owner this is important information that should be documented by the asbestos project monitor cause if a worker or a family member were to develop mesothelioma then the log would protect the owner from a potential third party litigation.  This is one of the most important reasons for hiring an asbestos project monitor, the documentation of contractor, worker, & visitor violations and the cause of their potential exposure or the reason they were probably not exposed.

Recent investigations of project monitoring companies like CES (though a recent court decision may vindicate CES) and JMD, both of NY, indicate that the Federal government is recognizing a problem with asbestos project monitoring.  Even New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) has focused some of its inspections/violations on the project monitoring firms.   Covering everything from logbooks, chain of custodies, air sampling stands, visual inspections, etc.  We think its time for some individual responsibility and the regulatory agencies should start issuing violations to the individual asbestos project monitor (as NYCDEP has done with asbestos supervisors).  This would definitely increase the professionalism of the asbestos project monitors and hence increase the quality of the work performed on asbestos projects.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

EPA Proposes Expansion of Lead RRP Rule Into Public & Commercial Buildings

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking concerning renovation, repair and painting activities on and in public and commercial buildings (P&CB).  The current regulation covers residences and child-occupied facilities (COF).  EPA is currently taking public comments regarding the document "Framework for Identifying and Evaluating Lead-Based Paint Hazards From Renovation, Repair, and Painting Activities in Public and Commercial Buildings".  This 23 page document provides a framework of how EPA intends on identifying health hazards and evaluating health risks regarding specific renovation activities.  Based on that evaluation, EPA will determine if regulatory intervention is necessary.
Peeling Lead Based Paint
Specifically EPA is requesting comments on:
  • The utility of the approach discussed in the Framework to assessing risk to human health inside P&CBs as a result of P&CB renovations.
  • Making a hazard finding inside nearby homes and COFs as a result of P&CB renovations.
  • The overview of an analysis approach outlined in the Framework.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day & the Graduation Weekend

Future Environment Designs wishes all of you a Happy Memorial Day as we honor those who served and died for our country.  This Memorial Day weekend we also celebrate our daughter's, Alyssa Rosemary Garcia, graduation from Cornell University with a Baccalaureate of Science degree in Landscape Architecture with a minor in Natural Resources.   Many of you met my daughter during the various stages of her life.  At the beginning stages, she used to attend some of our classes where she heard my presentation so frequently she could actually pass the exams of the various courses we offered.  Later on she created the character "Safety Suzy" that has been a major part of our newsletters and is now the monthly newsletter we send out to our clients.  Just before going away to school she worked in the office transferring my overhead presentations into PowerPoint slides. 

Cropped screenshot of Charlie Chaplin and Paul...
Cropped screenshot of Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard from the film The Great Dictator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  •  Charlie Chaplin is credited with saying "The best thing in life is to go ahead with all your plans and your dreams, to embrace life and to live everyday with passion, to lose and still keep the faith and to win while being grateful.  All of this because the world belongs to those who dare to go after what they want.  And because life is really too short to be insignificant."

This quote is so appropriate for those graduating today.  Do not let anyone tell you can't do your passion.  As the title of one of my favorite books, by Marsha Sinetar, says "To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love."  If you think about this you will realize once you create the job that matches your passion you won't have to work a day in your life.  We no longer live in an age where you need to work for someone.  Alyssa graduated from Cornell University where many students were opening businesses right after graduation.  Previously that was unheard of, but in this new age anything is truly possible.  It is up to you!  As Cornell University's Convocation speaker, Ed Helms, said "Be a fool!"   

Now as Alyssa starts her life in the real world, her first employer, Disney World in Orlando, has gotten a lady that works hard and has a passion and a dream to help animals.  We look forward to seeing her achievements in the field of landscape architecture and the development of her dreams.
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Monday, May 19, 2014

New Documents Regarding Chinese-Manufactured Drywall

In Future Environment Design's May Safety Suzy newsletter we sent out links to new documents produced by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) regarding Chinese-manufactured drywall.  One document was the 39 page "Health Consultation - Possible Health Implications From Exposure To Sulfur Gases Emitted From Chinese-Manufactured Drywall."  The second document was a 3 page fact sheet "Public Health Implications of Chinese-manufactured Drywall," which is a summation of the Health Consultation document.  The health consultation was established to estimate the exposures to sulfur compounds emitted from Chinese-manufactured drywall and the health risks associated with that exposure.

Chinese-manufactured drywall was imported into the United States (US) from 2006 to 2008, because of the increase demand caused by hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, and the already high national demand for new home construction.  In 2008, people living in homes built between 2001 and 2008 began reporting health issues. In addition, people reported the corrosion of certain metal components in their homes.  This became known as problem drywall, this issue wasn't only reported with Chinese-manufactured drywall or just in the south (see the map below for other areas with problem drywall).  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)defines problem drywall as:
  • Visual inspection observes blackening of copper electrical wiring and/or air conditioning evaporator coils and
  • Drywall installed between 2001 and 2009

If both of the above are present look for corroborating evidence which may require outside lab testing.

Findings from the Health Consultation found that the drywall samples they tested emitted several sulfur compounds, including hydrogen sulfide, methy and ethyl mercaptans, carbonyl sulfide, dimethyl sulfide, and sulfur dioxide.  The levels found were a public health concern in 2009 when the testing was done.  Emission rates of these compounds increased with both temperature & humidity.

Exposures to sulfur compounds at the levels estimated from problem drywall in 2005 and 2006 may be associated with such effects as:

  • Headaches
  • Irritation of eyes, nose, & throat
  • Feeling tired
  • Problems controlling respiratory conditions (like asthma)

The odors associated with sulfur compounds could disrupt daily activities and cause stress.

If you have problem drywall the CPSC recommends remediation that would include the replacement of all:

  • Possible problem drywall;
  • Fire safety alarm devices (including smoke & carbon monoxide alarms);
  • Electrical distribution components (including receptacles, switches, and circuit breakers, but not necessarily wiring); and
  • Gas service piping and fire suppression sprinkler systems.

All testing and remediation work should be conducted in compliance with applicable building codes, occupational safety and health standards, and environmental regulations.
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