Sunday, August 27, 2017

PACNY's 4th Annual Pro-Am Fishing Tournament, Quantity over Quality!

The theme for this year's annual fishing derby was definitely quantity.  On July 12, 2017 we attended the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 4th Annual Pro-Am Fishing Tournament (Derby).  This year, Future Environment Designs had its own boat called "Catchin Hell" piloted by Captain Tom and First Mate Mike.  There were 10 boats that went out of Point Breeze at Oak Orchard Creek to fish Lake Ontario.  A big THANK YOU to PACNY and Darrin Yehl for again sponsoring this Tournament (Derby), giving us more opportunities to get together and network.  Here was this year's lineup of PACNY members and the boats they were on:

Sunrise at Point Breeze

Dival Safety on the Reel Excitement
Dival Safety #2 on the (Just 11) Get Hooked
Aramsco on the Runnin Rebel
Abscope on the Reflection
Future Environment Designs on the Catch'N'Hell
Rochester Environmental on the Irish Thunder
Cornerstone Training Institute on the Sunrise II
Paradigm Environmental on the Free Spirit
NRC on the Intimidator
Sessler on the Rusty Lure

Catch'N'Hell T-shirt on First Mate Mike
As usual, the day started out beautifully with a nice sunrise over Lake Ontario.  We started loading the boats around 5:50 in the morning.  PACNY's Darren Yehl organized the event and did a fantastic job.  Everybody was ready for the shotgun start at or about 6:30.  We stay out on the lake till around noon.  Then come to shore for the weigh-in, a catered buffet lunch at the Black North Inn (which is always fantastic), and awarding of the trophies/prizes. As many of you know, we are a beer enthusiast and the Scotch Ale, by Rohrbach Brewing Company, available at the Black North Inn is fantastic.  Definitely one of the pleasures of the catered buffet lunch (see our reviews of this beer on Untappd).  This year's winners were:

Dival for the Box & Big Fish
We had a great time and was entertained by social media's busting on us for the size of our catch compared with our wife's catch.  But all in all, we caught 8 King Salmon and 2 Rainbow Trout which was the most fish we've caught over the 4 years.  Though we were in last place for the box (3 largest fish) and the biggest fish, we came home with a lot of fish for curing and eating, so it was a successful and fun trip, again!  It was great having our own boat and we plan on hosting our own boat next year.  If you think you would be interested send us an email so we can start making plans.  The Tournament (derby) is always on a Wednesday and usually the second or third one in July.  We're already looking forward to next year's fishing!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Asbestos Floor Tile Debate Results

This debate regarding asbestos floor tiles started at the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 2017 Environmental Conference.  At the conference, after our presentation, a member of the audience challenged our statement that asbestos floor tile removal should be cleared by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) method (see the video of our presentation here, the challenge is at the end of the video).  In the video Mr. Chris Alonge, of Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) defends our call for TEM clearance for asbestos floor tiles and we had some additional people approach us after the presentation supporting our side of the debate.  As some of you know, we decided it would be neat to see if their are others who feel the same way.  We decided to use Survey Monkey to ask three simple questions regarding this issue.  These questions were:
  • When doing asbestos flooring removal, which method was used the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) 7400 Phase Contrast Microscope (PCM) method or AHERA TEM method for clearance? The answers we got was 47.1% used the NIOSH 7400 method; while 29.4% used both methods; and 23.5% only used the TEM method.
  • When using the AHERA method for clearance, what was the typical size of the fibers found?  The answers we got were 58.8% less than 5 micron; 29.4% both sizes were equal amounts; and 11.8% greater than 5 micron.
  • Have you ever encountered during asbestos flooring removal when utilizing both the NIOSH 7400 (PCM) & the AHERA (TEM) methods of analyses, that the NIOSH 7400 passed while the AHERA method failed?  The answers we got were 52.6% yes, 36.8% no, and 10.5 never used both.
Improperly Removed Floor Tiles
We would like to thank all of you who participated in our survey.  The results are interesting, the first question is not surprising since the NIOSH 7400 method is the cheapest method and both New York State (NYS) and New York City (NYC) require this method as the minimum method.  The second question is also not surprising since this is the reason for our call for clearance for floor tile jobs to be by the AHERA TEM method.  The final question proves the point we've been making.  If even one project can actually fail by AHERA TEM but pass using the NIOSH 7400, this should be a concern for any person who is concerned for the safety and health of the occupants who would occupy the space after clearance.
Another Improper Floor Tile Removal
As we mentioned in our presentation, we didn't come up with this idea out of the blue.  In 2003, Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene published a study called "Asbestos Release During Removal of Resilient Floor Covering Materials by Recommended Work Practices of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute" by Marion Glenn Williams, Jr. and Robert N. Crossman, Jr. from the University of Texas Health Center at Tyler, Tyler Texas.  You can find the study in our Future Environment Designs website under our Resource Page in the dropbox folder.

Some of the major points from this study were:
  • Asbestos used in flooring materials is Grade 7 - Shorts and Floats.  The dimensions of this material are very small and may not be resolvable by the Polarized Light Microscope (PLM).  Which is why in NYS we require floor tiles to be analyzed as a nonfriable organically bound (NOB) material (analysis by PLM and if negative result for asbestos then analysis by TEM).
  • Since the dimensions of these fibers used in the manufacture of floor tiles are so small, it would explain why we typically see very low personal exposure levels by phase contrast microscope (PCM) during floor tile removals.  Many ultrafine fibers are not counted due to resolution (0.2-0.25 um) and the count protocol, which provides that only fibers longer than 5 micron with a 3:1 or greater length-to-width ratio are counted.
  • Many research studies have found the preponderance of fibers at autopsy left in lung tissue, pleural plaques, and lymph nodes of persons who have occupational exposure to asbestos are shorter them 5 micron in length.
  • The NIOSH 7402 TEM method is flawed because it underreports the amount of asbestos in the samples because it ignores all fibers less than or equal to 5 micron and all those fibers longer than 5 micron but less than 0.25 micron in diameter.
  • AHERA TEM method counts for total asbestos structures per cubic centimeter averaged 22 times greater than the PCM fiber counts on the same filters.
  • AHERA TEM asbestos concentrations obtained during mastic removal with a commercial mastic remover averaged 11 times higher than those measured when removal used amended water.
  • The study also found that there was considerable amounts of asbestos dust settled on exposed surfaces during tile removal.  Indicating a need to thoroughly HEPA vacuum and wet clean surfaces or dust may remain that could be re-entrained by occupant activity.
  • The study also indicates that workers in these areas, would not have to wear respirators, so anyone in these areas would have inhaled asbestos fibers or structures of respirable dimensions.
  • The study suggests that for Resilient Flooring Removal clearance sampling should use aggressive methods, require a clearance level of less than 0.005 structures per cubic centimeter for each sample, and all samples analyzed by AHERA TEM protocol.  It also suggests a minimum number of samples for clearance should be one sample per 500 square feet, a volume of air of at least 1250 liters, and the use of 0.45 micron mixed cellulose ester filters in a 25 millimeter diameter conducting cassette with a 50 millimeter extension cowl.
As we said, we did not arrive at our decision lightly.  After reading this study it became apparent to us that asbestos containing flooring or mastic removal should be cleared using the AHERA TEM method to ensure the work area is actually free of asbestos fibers (we already do this in schools under AHERA for large asbestos projects, some schools require all asbestos projects ave to be cleared by AHERA TEM).  In addition, any negative exposure assessment for floor tile removal that does not include AHERA TEM analysis of some of the samples should not be accepted as definitive to allow workers to not use respirators during asbestos flooring removal.  As the study showed their could be significant exposure to workers from these respirable fibers/structures that the NIOSH 7400 method is not picking up.

We hope this information explains our position, and we look forward to a continuation of this debate. We intend to press the case for a requirement for AHERA TEM clearance for flooring removal, especially if New York State truly intends to move forward with an update of Industrial Code Rule 56.
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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Future Environment Designs Approved to Offer NYSDOL Mold Refresher Courses

Future Environment Designs is happy to announce that New York State Department of Labor has approved our Mold Refresher training course.  This course which will allow Mold Abatement Workers, Mold Abatement Supervisors, Mold Remediation Contractors, and Mold Assessment Contractors & Individuals to renew their license with New York State and continue offering mold services.  The course is an four hour course with a 15 minute break.  Individuals enrolled in the course will be expected to enhance the learning experience by sharing information regarding their experience in the past two years.

Mold Post-Assessment Clearance 
 We will be adding dates to our schedule at Future Environment Design's website now that we are approved to offer these courses.  As usual you can contact us to set up the Mold Refresher classes under our training "At Your Convenience" service.  Look forward to seeing you in class.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

PACNY's Environmental Conference - The NYSDOL Round Table - Day Three and So It Ends!

Day Three of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 21st Annual Environmental Conference started with Mr. Angelo Garcia, III's, of Future Environment Designs, Inc, presentation "Changes Are A Coming."  Our presentation can be found in our dropbox folder under conference presentations.  We discussed the many changes that will affect the abatement/restoration industry including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (the new Director and Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA)); Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (the new Director, Silica, Beryllium, Safety & Health Programs, Recordkeeping & Reporting Requirements; & the increase in penalties); New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) proposed asbestos regulation changes to Industrial Code Rule 56; and changes coming from NYSDOL on the mold regulation (Article 32).  Our presentation, was videotaped and is attached below. 

The DiVal Safety Equipment Hospitality Suite caused a few late comers on Day Three
The next presenter was Mr. Jack Springston, of TRC Environmental, discussing "Mold Clearance Testing - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."  Mr. Springston's presentation discussed all the different sampling methods for mold from spore traps (has a capture zone that collects air about the size of a golf ball), particle counters (not specific), Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) (still under research) and culture plates (tried and true method).  In addition, he discussed the variability of data from certified laboratories and the interpretation of the that data.

Mr. Jack Springston, of TRC Environmental
After Mr. Springston's presentation, we took one last break in the Exhibit Hall to network with exhibitors Admar Construction Equipment & Supplies and Paradigm Environmental Services.  Our staff, Ms. Kimberly Granmoe, Ms. Sheryl Esposito, and I would like to thank all of you who visited our booth this year.
Our Booth, Sheryl Esposito, Kimberly Granmoe, Veronica & Angelo Garcia III
  The NYSDOL Round Table as usual is the highlight of the PACNY Environmental Conference.  Having NYSDOL regulators at the conference allows for questions and answers that can be timely and very useful.  The panel consisted of Dr. Eileen Franko, Director-Division of Safety and Health, Mr. Ed Smith, P.E., Engineering Services Unit, Mr. Kirk Fisher, Licensing & Certification Unit, and Mr. James Meachum, P.E., Asbestos Control Bureau.

Dr. Franko, Mr. Smith, Mr. Fisher, & Mr. Meachum on the Dais, Left to Right
This year's presentation they came armed with alot of information that was very useful.  They presented an update on the mold regulation from 2016 including the number of complaints (40), the number that was related to issues NYSDOL could address (16), while the remainder was outside of their jurisdiction (24).  The number of mold training courses held in 2016 were 31 assessor (1348 attendees), 26 remediation (1,668 attendees), & 32 worker courses (2,284 attendees).  There are 553 mold assessor companies (451 individuals); 526 mold remediation companies (526 individuals); 910 mold supervisors; and 1,941 mold workers.  Compare that with the 21,237 asbestos handling certificates, and 1,539 asbestos handler licenses (companies).  In 2016, NYSDOL conducted 2,457 asbestos inspections, and resolved 494 cases with 1,094 violations.  The top violations include:

Discussing Top Ten Violations
  • Asbestos Survey Required; 
  • Certification & Training Required; and 
  • Licensing Requirements and Procedures      
As many of you know, our biggest complaint about NYSDOL is that they don't do enough to go after companies that do asbestos without an asbestos survey, an asbestos license, and asbestos certified workers.  These three were the top three violations issued by NYSDOL, which means we say BRAVO!  NYSDOL keep up the good work!  It was interesting to us that one of the top ten violations was not having a manometer or working one (this piece of equipment literally can be purchased for about $30-50, the fine can be $5,000).  One of the biggest issues discussed was the need for a mold rule and at this point NYSDOL does not see the need for a rule.  After some questions and answers the conference ended with lunch.  This year's conference definitely seemed more technical than previous years.  As a trainer, this year's conference has provided significant information to bring back to our classes and provide to our attendees.  We look forward to seeing your next year, which Future Environment Designs will be celebrating 30 years in business.   

In the past week, NYSDOL announced the training requirements for mold refresher training.  All mold licensees will have to take a 4-hour refresher course to renew the licenses.  We are currently working on the submittal to become approved for these courses.  Below is the video from our presentation from the conference.

Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28th - Workers' Memorial Day!

Future Environment Designs (#FEDTC) joins with other safety organizations in marking today as Worker's Memorial Day!  Worker's Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died on the job.  This is also the day that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1971.

Construction work on the ferry terminal on Lake Champlain

Before OSHA was created, an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job per year.  Though OSHA has been mostly successful in reducing the number job related deaths (job related deaths are down to 4,500 per year, however, there are over 50,000 who die from occupational diseases like asbestosis & silicosis) it is important to remember, there is still more we can do.  These deaths are preventable!  Now that Mr. R. Alexander Acosta has been confirmed as the new Labor Secretary, we will get a new OSHA director and find out the direction OSHA will take going forward.

Public events happen all over the country celebrating Worker's Memorial Day visit OSHA's website for more information.