Friday, April 27, 2007

Space Deodorants May Cause Reduced Lung Function

A study done by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has determined that the volatile organic compound 1, 4 dichlorobenzene (1,4 DCB) may cause a modest reduction in lung function. 1,4 DCB is a white solid compound with a distinctive aroma and is typically found in space deodorants such as many air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, mothballs, and other deodorizing products.
According to Stephanie London, M.D., the lead investigator for the NIEHS study, "even a small reduction in lung function may indicate some harm to the lungs" and "the best way to protect yourself, especially children who may have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, is to reduce the use of products and materials that contain these compounds."
Isn't it interesting how people looking for better smelling air (better air quality?) end up making their air worse (harmful?) by choosing products that try to simulate nature but don't quite smell right. There are plenty of books and information out there on creating natural deodorants for the home, but probably the best will be to open a window and let the fresh air in (assuming you don't live in a city with air quality problems).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pandemic Flu

April 18, I attended a joint American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)/American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) local chapter meeting at On the Border: Mexican Grill & Cantina in Hicksville, NY regarding the Pandemic Flu presented by Susan V. Donelan, M.D., Director of Healthcare Epidemiology Department from Stony Brook University Medical Center. Ms. Donelan's presentation was very interesting. One important point I took from the meeting was the need for businesses to make plans where 40-60% of their work staff may be sick, tending to someone who is sick, or may not come in because of concerns of getting sick. With statistics like that it is no wonder that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a "OSHA Guidance Update on Protecting Employees from Avian Flu Viruses." Avian Flu is a highly pathogenic avian H5N1 virus that is spreading across eastern Asia and other countries. This virus has not been able to spread from human to human, yet. However, health officials just figure it is only a matter of time before that occurs. The document contains recommendations for poultry employees and those who handle other animals, and for laboratory employees, healthcare personnel, food handlers, travelers, and workers stationed abroad. The document's focus is on good hygiene as well as respiratory protection. On my current contract it is interesting that some of the schools I monitor have already included Pandemic Planning into their Emergency Plans. Has your business developed a plan for handling 60% of your staff being out of work? If a Pandemic is going to occur, and the only question is when, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Could this happen to you?

Aapex Environmental Services of Liverpool, New York was hit with a $57,000 fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Aapex was hit with this fine based on an inspection begun on November 13, 2006 which found that Aapex was exposing employees to asbestos during an asbestos removal project at the Agway Building in Dewitt, New York. The OSHA inspection found the following:
  • required monitoring of employees' exposure to asbestos was not conducted on several occasions even though monitoring records alleged that it had been done (OSHA issued a willful citation with a proposed fine of $42,000).
  • short term (excursion limit) sampling was not done.
  • the contractor did not keep accurate exposure monitoring records.
  • employees were not notified of sampling results.
  • employees were not trained to properly establish an asbestos containment system.
  • contractor did not prevent asbestos contaminated water from leaking from an enclosed work area.

For the last five violations, OSHA issued serious citations totaling $15,000. The willful citation is issued when OSHA determines that the employer commits a violation with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. A serious violation is issued when OSHA determines death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Preventing these types of violations requires the development and adherence to a personal air sampling plan. The air sampling plan should properly document all segments of personal air sampling. The plan should include the number of people you will sample, calibration of equipment, documentation of who is sampled and the work tasks performed, documentation of the laboraotry accreditations, procedures for collecting samples and ensuring the samples are individually numbered, ensuring the chain of custody is completed correctly, and maintaining these records for 30 years from date of creation. The information from this plan then assists with documenting the proper respiratory protection used by the workers and assists with the respiratory protection plan and the exposure assessment for the project and future projects.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Is Saturn Dying?

As many of you know, I drive a 1995 Saturn SL1. In 1995, Saturn was a relatively new car company that was designed with the idea of changing the way cars were sold. It had alot of great ideas, the "no dicker sticker", well built cars moderate size cars, making the sale of the car an event, and many other such things. For example, the Saturn SL1 had one of the best insurance rates, gas mileage rating is 22 to 28 mpg,and when I bought my car my photo was taken with the car and I was sent the photo attached to a calendar. I was invited to the Tennessee plant for festivities, and invited to help build parks for children. Being a Saturn owner, you were part of a community. However, Saturn now appears to be on its last legs. On Long Island there is only one dealer and we all know the problems General Motors is having. Saturn has lost its way and it is a shame. I will be in the market for a new car soon and I would have loved to get another Saturn, but Saturn is not the customer friendly company it used to be. In a world where the cars are roughly the same, the winner for me is the company that brings customer service to the party.

Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

Monday, April 16, 2007

VAT Article from our 2007 Spring Newsletter.


A study published in the 2003 issue of “Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene” magazine titled “Asbestos Release During Removal of Resilient Floor Covering Materials” by Marion Glenn Williams, Jr. and Robert N. Crossman, Jr. of the University of Texas Health Center indicated that worker's exposure to asbestos during vinyl asbestos floor tile (VAT) removal may be under reported. Because we work in New York (NYS), we are very familiar with the limitations of polarized light microscopy (PLM) analysis on VATs or for that matter on any nonfriable organically bound (NOB) material. Under NYS Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) requirements materials that are considered NOBs must go through a multiple step process for analysis. This process ends with analysis by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) for samples that are negative for asbestos. This method is required for VATs because the type of asbestos typically used was Grade 7 asbestos known as Shorts & Floats. Grade 7 asbestos is no longer sold and was the cheapest asbestos material sold. The dimensions of this grade of asbestos was ultra-fine. With fiber dimensions approaching the less than 5 micron range. This study was done to determine if there was fiber release at the less than 5 micron level that was not being analyzed by the Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM). PCM is used for air sample analysis and only analyzes greater than 5 micron fibers with a 3:1 or greater length to width ratio. The study found the following issues:

  • When removing a non-asbestos sheet vinyl flooring with an asbestos felt backing the PCM method only reported 5-7% of the fibers counted by the TEM method.

  • When removing an asbestos containing 12x12 VAT with asbestos containing mastic the PCM method only reported 2-2.5% of the fibers counted by TEM.

  • When removing an asbestos 9x9 VAT with an asbestos mastic the PCM method reported 0-2.5% of the fibers counted by TEM.

  • When removing mastic using a mastic remover (TEM levels were between 1.319-1.749 structures/cubic centimeter (s/cc)) versus amended water (TEM levels were between 0.094-0.184 s/cc).

This study shows that air sample results are significantly underreported using the PCM method of analysis. When performing VAT removals asbestos air monitors and project monitors should be using TEM analysis for clearance (at the very least) and they should be running a few TEM samples during the actual removal of the VATs. These would give us a better understanding of what is happening during VAT removals and ensure that the asbestos abatement was thoroughly completed.

Friday, April 13, 2007

9/11 Workers Compensation Deadline Approaching

To preserve the right to file a 9/11-related worker's compensation claim, you must register by August 14, 2007. Registering will allow you to make a claim no matter when a 9/11-related condition occurs. Considering that many of the contaminants that people were exposed to (such as asbestos) have long latency periods (the period of time from exposure to the occurrence of the disease) it is important to register to protect your rights (asbestos diseases can take anywhere from 10-40 years to develop). By registering before August 14, 2007 you can protect your right to free healthcare if you develop a 9/11 related illness. There is no residency or citizenship requirement to register with the New York Worker's Compensation Board. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health has established a hotline (24-hour toll-free hotline is 1-866-WTC-2556) and a website (http://www.nycosh.org/911info) to promote registration

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Words From The Field


Here in New York State, Industrial Code Rule 56 went into effect on September 5, 2006. New York State has had the opportunity to enforce this regulation for 7 months now. From what we are hearing from the field, NYS DOL inspectors have not been enforcing most of the new parts of the regulation. The inspectors have not looked for the survey report to be at the project site, they have not looked at the footage requirement of the decons, HEPA exhaust units, and/or licensing requirements for the allied trades title. They are looking for the manometer, and the supervisor's logbook. We are also hearing that NYC DEP is using a new enforcement tactic for dry removals. If a contractor is given a dry removal violation by NYC DEP, NYC DEP is referring the information to EPA and EPA is investigating the project for violations and possible criminal charges (see previous posts regarding press releases regarding EPA and Dept. of Justice indictments). So be careful out there, if the local agencies don't get you, the Federal enforcement people might. If the Feds catch you, that can involve not only fines but jail time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Indictments Handed-Out in Plattsburgh Area


On March 29, 2007, the US Department of Justice handed out indictments to John Wood, Mark Desnoyers, and Curtis Collins for numerous illegal activities related to the removal of asbestos in commercial and public buildings and private homes. Wood operated an asbestos abatement company called J&W Construction. Collins worked for Wood, and later started his own company called Adirondack Asbestos. Desnoyers operated Adirondack Environmental Associates an air monitoring company.

The indictments allege that Wood and Collins performed illegal asbestos removals throughout central and upstate New York, while Desnoyers falsified many laboratory samples in order to convince clients that all asbestos was properly removed from their businesses and homes when gross contamination remained.

If convicted Wood faces a maximum possible term of incarceration of 63 years and a fine of $2,500,000; Collins faces a maximum possible term of incarceration of 10 years and a fine of $500,000; and Desnoyers faces a maximum possible term of incarceration of 25 years and a fine of $1,250,000.