Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tenant Notification Law Goes Into Effect.


Governor David Patterson on September 4, 2008 signed into law Chapter 521 of 2008 going into effect on December 3, 2008. This act amended the environmental conservation law, in relation to the notification of test results. The law defines test results to include results of tests on indoor air, sublab air, ambient air, subslab groundwater samples, and subslab soil samples.
The law requires if test results exceed New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) indoor air guidelines, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for indoor air quality the owner of the real property or the owner’s agent shall provide a fact sheet to all tenants and occupants. In addition, the owner shall provide timely notice of any public meetings required to be held to discuss such results to all tenants and occupants. If tenants and occupants request, the owner shall provide test results and any closure letter, within 15 daysof receipt of such results. Should the property have an engineering control in place or is subject to ongoing monitoring the law requires the owner or the agent, upon request, to provide fact sheets, test results or closure letters prior to the signing of a binding lease or rental agreeement with any prospective tenant. In addition, notice shall be included in the rental or lease agreement stating "NOTIFICATION OF TEST RESULTS The property has been tested for contamination of indoor air: test results and additional information are available upon request."
This law was put into place to provide rights to tenants and occupants to access test results and information regarding the contamination of the property they lease, rent, or occupy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Angelo Garcia, III joins Voice America's New Green Talk Network

Future Environment Designs is proud to announce that Angelo Garcia, III has joined Voice America's new Green Talk Network hosting the internet radio talk show "Keeping Your Family Safe," click on the title to go to the network's website. The "Keeping Your Family Safe" internet radio program will provide the homeowner with the knowledge they need to help them protect their family from the various environmental and safety hazards encountered doing home improvements or other work around the home. "Keeping Your Family Safe" will discuss, with various guests, typical home improvement hazards such as asbestos, lead, PCBs, mold, formaldehyde, and pesticides. Our radio program will also discuss proper use of safety equipment, recognizing a good environmental contractor/consultant, green cleaning, and water testing. Our first show is scheduled for Monday, January 5, 2008 at 2 PM Eastern Time. In our first show we will interview Dr. Eileen Franko of the New York State Department of Health regarding statistics showing lead poisoning of children from home improvements done by the parents unaware of lead paint in the home. Join us on Mondays starting on January 5, 2008 at 2 PM Eastern Time to learn more.

Monday, December 08, 2008

NYC Building Department Changes Go Into Effect in 2009

New York City Building Department (NYC DOB) is making many changes in the way building sites are run in 2009. The changes are designed to increase safety and affect how business is done with the NYC DOB. Examples of these changes include:


  • A concrete safety manager must be designated on all "major buildings" during the concrete portion of the project to promote safer concrete operations.

  • All high-rise construction sites, will require a licensed site safety manager to peform inspections to ensure construction sites are properly maintained. The site safey manager shall maintain two new site safety logs (maintenance and permit logs) documenting the inspections.

  • The new training requirements under Local Law 41 of 2008 requiring all workers, at "major buildings," to complete a 10 Hour course in construction safety approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was extended to July 1, 2009. (The class must have been taken within the past 5 years).

Click on the title for the link to the NYC DOB website for more information.





NYC Department of Health Revises Mold Guidelines



New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) has updated their "Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments". This document supersedes all prior editions of the guidelines. The document was prepared by the Environmental and Occupational Disease Epidemiology Unit of NYC DOHMH. This update includes discussions on visual inspections, environmental sampling, moisture control & building repair, worker training, cleaning methods, quality assurance indicators, restoring treated spaces and the usual remediation procedures. In addition, the update includes a fact sheet for Building Owners & Managers. Click on the title to link up with the NYC website that has this document.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Senator Obama vs Senator McCain

With the Presidential election only days away, it is interesting to review what the candidates have said in regards to the environmental, occupational safety and health industry. The link above follows comments made by both candidates regarding Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Below are highlights from Indoor Environment Connection's (http://www.ieconnections.com/) article regarding Indoor Air Quality "Obama and McCain - How Do They Differ on IAQ Issues?"

Senator Barack Obama has said he will conduct "a thorough overhaul" of the policies of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to increase resources to the problems of mold and radon abatement.

  • establish a program to educate building owners & homeowners on indoor air treatment and source abatement options.
  • a central part of Obama's proposed environmental policy is his promise to "create millions of new green jobs."
  • ensure 10% of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, & 25% by 2025.
  • setting aggressive energy efficiency goal to reduce electricity demand 15% from projected levels by 2020.
  • a national commitment to weatherize at least one million low-income homes each year for the next decade.
  • implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce grenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
  • national health tracking system that would enable the government to determine links between environmental conditions and health problems.

Senator John McCain has been quoted as saying "air quality standards need to be more stringent."

  • McCain has focused on dealing with climate changes.
  • will use a portion of environmental credit auction proceeds to reduce impacts on low-income families.
  • will incorporate measures to mitigate any economic cost of meeting emission targets, including trading emission permits to find the lowest-cost source of emission reductions.
  • McCain envisions permitting America to lead in innovation, capture the market on low-carbon energy production and export to developing countries.
  • McCain's plan "will address the full range of issues: infrastructure, ecosystems, resource planning and emergency preparation."
  • In addition, McCain wnats to continue the "Clear Skies" initiative that was begun under President Bush, which concentrates on reducing mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

Senator Obama has said he supports the "Green" building construction bill while Senator McCain supports the principles behind the bill but is "not convinced that a new federal spending program is the best way to achieve this goal." The "Green" building construction bill would spend more than $20 billion over the next 5 years to help states build and renovate schools to make them more energy-efficient and environment-friendly, including efforts to improve the school's indoor air quality. The measure is intended to save school districts billions in energy costs while reducing asthma and other environmentally linked health problems.

On Tuesday, November 4, 2008 the United States of America goes to the polls to vote in one of the most historic presidential races of our times. It has been said a number of times already but this is easily the most important election we have had in a long time. So I would encourage all of you to go and vote. If you don't you will only have yourself to blame!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How many clearance samples should be taken for mold remediation?


In a recent article written by Dr. Harriet Burge, in The Environmental Reporter for EMLAB P&K, she discussed this question and came up with an interesting answer. As we discuss in our mold remediation classes, clearance sampling is used to document that the mold contamination was successfully removed as part of a well designed written protocol (scope of work).

In preparing the scope of work for the project, the consultant should take pre-abatement air samples to have a picture of the air before the remediation. Air samples should be taken inside the area being remediated, outside the area being remediated, and outside the building. This sampling must be representative of the air in the areas sampled. Using these results and the data created, the consultant (writing the remediation protocols) can pre-determine the percentage change they want to see in the clearance samples and add that information to the protocols.

Based on Dr. Burge's article she suggests that the number of air samples should represent 5% of the air in the room or 2% of the air in the room if the air is thoroughly mixed. (when mixing air the method used should not send so much dust in the air that it will require you to sample for less than 10 minutes). Assuming a 10 minute air-o-cell sample represents slightly more than five (5) cubic feet of air, a 1000 cubic foot room would require four (4) samples to achieve 2% with proper mixing and ten (10) samples without mixing.

It is important to remember no single sample is representative of any environment (as discussed in Dr.Burge's article and supported by various publications by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), and others). As consultants, we must ensure the remediations we recommend are complete and this can only be accomplished if the interpetations are supported by quality data that is representative of the environment we are sampling. Multiple samples are the only way to ensure the environment is accurately evaluated.


Friday, September 05, 2008

OSHA Violations Indicate Enforcement of Asbestos Standard


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited two hospital construction sites for violations related to the asbestos construction standard. The closest site in Rochester, New York involved Gordon-Smith Contracting that was cited for 3 alleged willful and 7 serious violations of the asbestos and respiratory standards and faces a total of $99,925 in proposed fines.
Gordon-Smith employees were required to remove ceiling tiles and other materials that were embedded in or adjacent to asbestos containing fireproofing without proper safeguards. The willful citations, accounting for $87,000, were for not using wet methods or wetting agents to control asbestos exposures, employees not supplied with approved respirators,and the workers had not been trained in asbestos removal. The seven serious citations were issued to Gordon-Smith for not ensuring each employee wore the appropriate respiratory, hand, and head protection; not immediately mending or replacing ripped or torn protective work suits; no written respirator program, and not informing employees of the results of asbestos monitoring.
The second hospital site was in Mescalero, New Mexico involving Maloy Construction, a general construction company, and Deerfield Corp., a plumbing and construction company. OSHA cited Maloy Construction with one alleged willful and 4 alleged serious violations totalling $75,600 in proposed fines. The willful violation was for failing to assure that Deerfield, the subcontractor, was in compliance with OSHA's asbestos standard. The serious violations include failing to inform other employees in the area of the asbestos work, assessing the exposure, and designating and containing the asbestos materials.
OSHA cited Deerfield with 3 alleged willful and nine alleged serious violations accounting for $81,900 in proposed fines. The willful violations were failing to regulate the asbestos area, assess the initial exposure, and provide protective equipment. The serious violations included failing to launder contaminated clothing, train employees on asbestos removal, label containers for waste, and provide a competent person to properly supervise the work area.
These citations show what OSHA focuses on when coming to an asbestos abatement project. Asbestos contractors and consultants should make sure they have a written respiratory protection program with an appropriately trained administrator; an initial exposure assessment; and a means for ensuring employees are informed of the asbestos monitoring results. While general contractors or construction managers must ensure that their subcontractors are in compliance with the OSHA asbestos standard.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Changes To NYCDEP's Asbestos Enforcement


On July 16, 2008 Mayor Bloomberg announced changes that will impact how New York City Department of Environmental Potection (DEP), Department of Buildings (DOB), and Fire Department (FDNY) handle and coordinate construction, demolition, & abatement operations. Due to the death of two firefighters at the fire at 130 Liberty Street, New York City did a review of agency operations. That review resulted in a report called "Strengthening the Safety, Oversight, and Coordination of Construction, Demolition, and Abatement Operations." This report made 33 specific recommendations designed to strengthen each agencies' inspection practices, increase notifications and data sharing between agencies and improve the safety of abatement and demolition operations. Of the 33 recommendations, 4 addressed inspection processes, 12 adressed abatement operations, and 1 addressed demolition inspections at the DEP. The recommendations for the NYCDEP are:
Inspection Processes at DEP, DOB & FDNY:
  • DOB, FDNY, and DEP should review their inspection criteria and make changes to ensure that, to the extent possible, inspections are prioritized on the basis of risk.
  • DOB, FDNY, and DEP should create common safety protocols incorporating high-priority safety issues within the inspection capacity of all three agencies, and should cross-train inspectors to address these common safety issues.
  • DOB, FDNY, and DEP should implement a system to share relevant results of inspections of buildings that meet agreed-upon criteria. As part of this effort, FDNY should develop a computer-based process to share inspection data internally and with DOB and DEP.
  • DOB, FDNY, and DEP should review their inspection programs to ensure that they have sufficiently robust quality assurance controls in place.

Abatement Operations:

  • DEP should regularly notify FDNY and DOB about large and/or complex abatement jobs that meet thresholds to be determined by DEP, FDNY, and DOB.
  • DEP should establish a permit requirement for certain large and/or complex abatement jobs based on thresholds to be determined by DEP, DOB, and FDNY.
  • DEP should require building owners and/or air monitors on abatement jobs to notify DEP when abatement work at a particular site is complete.
  • DEP should promulgate clear guidance to contractors about how to maintain proper egress at abatement sites and enforce this requirement in the field.
  • DEP should require that egress conditions be recorded daily in the abatement contractor's logbook and kept on site.
  • DEP should require that all materials used in construction of temporary enclosures for abatement work be non-combustible or flame-resistant.
  • DEP should require the installation of a central negative air "cut-off switch" or similar mechanism at abatement jobs that meet thresholds to be established by DEP, FDNY, DOB.
  • DEP should develop written protocols, such as checklist or other guidance, to ensure that its inspections are comprehensive and consistent at all abatement jobs.
  • DEP inspectors should be trained to inspect and address egress and other safety requirements at abatement sites.
  • DEP should have the authority to enforce provisions of the Fire and Building Codes at abatement sites, including issuing Notices of Violation and other penalties.
  • DOB should make permanent its capacity to have inspectors and other personnel respond to abatement sites-based on criteria to be established by DOB, DEP, and FDNY-to augment DEP and FDNY inspections at a particular site. DOB inspectors and other responders must have proper training and personal protective equipment to do this job.
  • DEP should formally establish a policy that strictly limits simultaneous abatement and demolition work, and requires a variance-including review by DOB and FDNY-to undertake it.

Demolition Inspections:

  • DOB, DEP, and FDNY should update their websites and publications to provide comprehensive and coordinated guidance about the construction, demolition and abatement processes, including how to file for and conduct these operations safely, and the regulatory schemes that are triggered by these operations.

Friday, August 22, 2008

AHERA Bulk Sampling Rules

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded to a question by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) regarding the minimum number of bulk samples required for suspect asbestos containing miscellaneous materials (see our blog post dated 6/24/08). This clarification determined that the minimum number of samples is two (2) samples of each suspect homogeneous miscellaneous materials. This clarification was determined based on a review of the EPA's Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) section 763.86 -Sampling. This section of the AHERA regulation is used by asbestos inspectors to determine the number of samples to take of each homogeneous area.
The core of all asbestos inspections is the determination of the type of material (surfacing material, thermal system insulation, or miscellaneous material) and whether the materials are homogeneous. Homogeneous area is defined as a type of material that is uniform in color and texture (as per 763.83). Once the type of material is determined and the material is classified as a homogeneous area, then the number of samples for each area is determined.
If the suspect asbestos material is a surfacing material, the square feet of the homogeneous area is determined which provides the inspector with the minimum number of samples that shall be taken. If the homogeneous area is less than 1,000 square feet, the inspector shall take 3 samples. If the area is between 1,000 and 5,000 square feet, the inspector shall take 5 samples. When the are is over 5,000 square feet, the inspector shall take 7 samples. This is sometimes known in the industry as the 3-5-7 rule.
Should the suspect asbestos material be classified as thermal system insulation then the inspector must determine if the material is a homogeneous area, a patch material, or a cement or plaster used on fittings (tees, elbows, or valves). Homogeneous areas of thermal system insulations shall require 3 samples, while each homogeneous area of patch material less than 6 linear feet or 6 square feet shall require only 1 sample. Cement or plaster used on fittings shall be sampled based on each insulated mechanical system (hot water, cold water, steam, chilled water, etc.) and shall require a minimum of 2 samples be taken.
Some general rules to remember when taking bulk samples, is sampling should be taken in a randomly distributed manner. Bulk samples cannot be composited and shall be submitted to laboratories accredited by the National Bureau of Standards. Asbestos Inspectors determine a homogeneous area contains asbestos when one of the required number of samples contains asbestos in the amount greater than 1%. Should all the required samples taken in an homogeneous area result in asbestos amounts less than or equal to 1%, then the area does not contain asbestos. Asbestos Inspectors should remember these rules when they sample.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

OSHA Announces Proactive Measures to Reduce NYC Construction Fatalities


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on June 23, 2008 proactive measures to combat the recent high fatality rate in New York City. OSHA is temporarily assigning a dozen additional compliance officers to conduct proactive inspections of high-rise construction sites, cranes, and other places where fatalities and serious accidents have been occurring. Ongoing inspections will also continue based on existing local emphasis programs or as a result of complaints, referrals or accidents.

Since May, 2008, OSHA has also been sending copies of violation citations issued to employers on city construction sites to the employer's insurance or worker's compensation carriers, and to construction project owners and developers in order to raise awareness of occupational hazards found on city jobsites. Citations involving training violations at union sites will be sent to the unions representing the workers and to their training funds.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

FUTURE ENVIRONMENT DESIGNS SPONSORS SINGING IN THE SANCTUARY FOR THE THEODORE ROOSEVELT SANCTUARY & AUDUBON CENTER

Future Environment Designs announced today that they are a key sponsor of “Singing in the Sanctuary” being held Saturday, July 26, 2008 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center at 134 Cove Road, Oyster Bay, New York.
“Singing in the Sanctuary” will connect people to nature through the songs and puppetry of locally-grown and internationally known singer/songwriter Janice Buckner. Ms. Buckner will perform from 2:00-3:00pm and will showcase kid-friendly environmentally themed songs and puppetry. Combining music and puppetry, Ms. Bruckner educates and entertains with children’s lyrics that carry a tune and environmental message. Throughout the day from 1:00-4:00pm, Sanctuary staff and volunteers will display live-animals where you can get up close and personal with some of the resident non-releasable wildlife. Sanctuary staff and volunteers will also have many crafts, displays, kid’s activities, raffles through the day.
Future Environment Designs, visit there website at www.futureenv.com, is a 20-year-old indoor air quality, industrial hygiene, and construction safety training and consulting firm based in Syosset, NY. Future Environment Designs works with clients to solve indoor air quality issues (mold, asbestos, lead, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning problems) and train workers on construction safety issues (asbestos, lead, respiratory protection, OSHA 10 hour construction safety, etc.). Angelo Garcia, III Principal – Industrial Hygienist for Future Environment Designs, read his blog at http://futureenv.blogspot.com, says it is part of our mission to support events like “Singing in the Sanctuary” and organizations such as the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center to help families become more familiar with the natural world around them.
The Sanctuary was established in 1923 in memory of the Conservation President, Theodore Roosevelt. Considered the oldest songbird sanctuary in the nation, the Sanctuary has 15-acres of upland forest and open meadow habitat maintained for songbird conservation and environmental education.
The goal of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center is to provide high-quality effective environmental education programs to all audiences. Using hands-on, experiential, and inquiry-based methods, program participants will develop a deeper understanding and consideration for our natural world, gain a sense of stewardship for their local environment, and become informed decision-makers for the future. Highly qualified educators conduct nature programs at the Sanctuary or at a site of your choice. The Sanctuary uses live non-releasable wildlife; natural areas, artifacts and an exciting assortment of activities to help people discover the natural world.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

EPA Clarifies Miscellaneous Materials Sampling


Over the past several months in the asbestos refresher classes we have been talking about the clarification letter that the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) sent to all asbestos contractors and consultants back on November, 2007. This letter detailed a clarification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) regulation to a question from Mr. Christopher Alonge of the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) regarding the minimum number of samples that should be taken for miscellaneous materials. According to this clarification (follow link above for the PACNY letter and clarification), the minimum number of samples that should be taken of miscellaneous materials (i.e., floor tiles, roofing, caulk, ceiling tiles) is two. The original AHERA section covering sampling of miscellaneous materials indicates that the word used in this part of the regulation is "samples" indicating more than one.

Realize this is only an issue if you took one sample of let's say floor tiles, and based on the result (remember floor tiles are analyzed utilizing the nonfriable organically bound material method of analysis, requiring final negative results to be analyzed by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)) you said the floor tiles did not contain asbestos. The EPA clarification says that you needed another negative sample result to say the floor tiles did not contain asbestos. This issue obviously does not impact those of you who have been following our recommended procedure of taking at least three samples per homogeneous miscellaneous material. If you followed our recommendation you would have three negative results before declaring a miscellaneous material not absestos containing and would be in compliance with the clarification and the original regulation.

Monday, June 09, 2008

220-H Requirements Posted


New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) has issued the requirements for statue 220-H compliance (see the link above). Statue 220-H requires that every worker working on public work of $250,000 or more shall have taken the ten hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) construction safety training course. NYSDOL will enforce this statue by requiring all contractors and subcontractors to submit copies of the OSHA ten hour card or training roster with the first certified payroll submitted to the contracting agency and on each succeeding payroll where any new or additional employee is first listed. This should clarify who needs to take the OSHA ten hour course. All workers who will be listed on the certified payroll have to take the OSHA ten hour course.

We have several courses on the schedule. We also can set-up a class At Your Convenience with 4 or more workers, so give us a call.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Abatement Lessons Learned From Deutsche Bank Tragedy



On August 18, 2007, a fire at the former Deutsche Bank Headquarters located in Manhattan, New York claimed the lives of two New York City firefighters. After the fire, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected the site and issued citations to Bovis Lend Lease, John Galt Corp., and Paradise Energy Electrical Contractors. These contractors were responsible or involved with the demolition and asbestos abatement work on the buildings. Bovis Lend Lease was being fined $193,000, John Galt Corp. was being fined $271,500, and Paradise Energy Electrical was being fined $6,250. OSHA found the following hazards at the worksite:
  • Failing to inspect and maintain firefighting equipment to ensure that the standpipe system was operational and that sufficient water supply and presuure were available for firefighting
  • Obstructed emergency exit access (including sealed emergency stairwells, emergency stairwells blocked by construction, and unlighted stairwells)
  • Inadequate emergency escape procedures
  • Unmarked exits
  • Lack of fire extinguishers, emergency alarm procedures, and fire cutoffs
  • Failing to develop and follow a fire protection program
  • Smoking permitted in work areas
  • Temporary structures inside the building made of combustible materials
  • Scaffolds erected too close to power lines
  • Unprotected sides and edges of work areas, unprotected floor openings, missing or broken guardrails, and missing stair rails
  • Exposed live electrical parts, electrical panel boards in wet locations, and other electrical hazards.

Several of these items are reminders for abatement contractors and consultants, building owners, facility managers, general contractors, and project management firms. There are several OSHA regulations that apply to asbestos abatement, other than 1926.1101, and they require:

  • That temporary structures, such as the decontamination facility, must be constructed of non-combustible materials such as fire retardant wood.
  • Exists must be marked and alternate exits established. For example, using fluorscent paint to mark exits and designate alternate pathways.
  • Construct blocked fire exits so workers could still use them. For example installing knives near the exists so workers can cut the poly, and construct kick-out panels to access the fire exits.
  • Install a fire extinguisher (rated at least 2A) per 3000 square feet of protected building area. Install sufficient fire extinguishers so that the distance traveled shall not exceed 100 feet. At least one fire extinguisher shall be located adjacent to the stairway.
  • Develop and follow a fire protection program that includes: the preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies; evacuation policy and procedures; emergency escape procedures and route assignments, such as floor plans, workplace maps, and safe or refuge areas; names, titles, departments, and telephone number of individuals both within and outside your company to contact for additional information or explanation of duties or responsibilities under the emergency plan; procedures for employees who remain to perform or shut down critical operations, operate fire extinguishers, or perform other essential services that cannot be shutdown for every emergency alarm before evacuating; and rescue and medical duties for any workers designated to perform them.

New York State Department of Labor mentioned at the PACNY conference that there might be some changes in the future based on the information gathered from this tragedy. From OSHA's press release we can learn some of these lessons now and apply them to our current projects. Should you need any assistance with developing these programs or plans, you can contact us, and we can assist you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

PCBs In Caulk Making Headlines

Prompted by the Daily News, NYS Education Department tested several city schools for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in caulk and found six of the nine schools tested positive. However, only one of the schools tested positive for PCBs in the air. As we learned at the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) meeting a few months ago, the NYS Education Department was already requiring new projects impacting window caulk in buildings built between 1950 and 1977 to evaluate the caulk and submit a remediation plan for addressing the caulk (http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/facplan/HealthSafety/PCBinCaulkProtocol-070615.html).

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), PCBs may reasonably be expected, and probably can cause cancer of the liver or biliary tract. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies PCBs as a Group B2 Probable Human Carcinogen and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies PCBs as a Group 2A, probably carcinogenic to humans. Some animal studies showed that animals that ate small amounts of PCBs in food over several weeks or months developed health effects such as: anemia; acne-like skin conditions; and liver, stomach, and thyroid gland injuries. Human studies, in particular women who were exposed to relatively high levels of PCBs in the workplace or ate large amounts of fish contaminated with PCBs, showed these women had babies that weighed slightly less than babies from women who did not have these exposures. The studies also showed babies born to women who ate PCB-contaminated fish had abnormal responses in tests of infant behavior. According to ATSDR, some of these behaviors, such as problems with motor skills and a decrease in short-term memory, lasted for several years. Other studies suggest that the immune system was affected in children born to and nursed by mothers exposed to increased levels of PCBs. There are no reports of structural birth defects caused by exposure to PCBs or of health effects of PCBs in older children. If you wanted to know if you were exposed to PCBs there are blood tests that can be done. However, everyone has some level of PCBs in their body due to environmental exposure.

There are several websites to get information on this issue which is starting to be recognized by schools, government, and the public. EPA's website has a section on PCBs in caulk: http://www.epa.gov/pcb/pubs/caulk.htm#content. Dr. Daniel Lefkowitz was one of the presenters at the PACNY conference and his website would like to see mandatory testing of caulk in schools is: http://www.pcbinschools.org/. Dr. Daniel Lefkowitz found PCB in the caulk at the school his children went to.

EPA's Region 2 is recommending that samples taken of caulk or soil that will be analyzed for PCBs should use a Soxhlet extraction method (an example of this would be EPA method 3540C) using toluene as a solvent. The extraction should then be purified with concentrated sulfuric acid (similar to EPA method 3665A) and purified with florosil (similar to EPA method 3620B). The purified extraction would then be analyzed by gas chromatography with an electron capture detector (similar to EPA method 8082). The results are to be reported in total PCBs in parts per million (ppm). If the results exceed 50 ppm then those materials are regulated.

If you determine you have PCBs in the caulk or soil you should contact EPA's Region 2 coordinator Mr. Jim Hattler (732-906-6817). Mr. Hattler is willing to assist facility owners in developing a plan on the handling of any materials determined to contain PCBs. He has emphasized that these materials may not need to be removed, but would like to ensure that any clean-ups address all materials containing PCBs (caulk, soil, or its migration into other building materials). EPA is currently in an assistance mode on this matter and is currently developing a guidance document to assist facility owners. EPA's website includes a specific section on PCBs (http://www.epa.gov/pcb/).

Remember when taking samples of PCBs you have to protect yourself from both inhalation and dermal exposures. The OSHA Permisible Exposure Limit (PEL) for PCBs is based on chlorodiphenyl 42% or 52 % chlorine (Table Z-1 http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9992). The PEL for chlorodiphenyl (42% chlorine) is 1 milligram per cubic meter or chlorodiphenyl (54% chlorine) is 0.5 milligram per cubic meter. Analysis methods for personal air samples are NIOSH 5503 or OSHA PV2088. OSHA recommends that you wear rubber gloves that will not absorb PCBs and consider using goggles or a face shield (if using a full mask air purifying respirator (APR) the goggles or face shield are not needed) and a rubber apron. Avoid personal contamination by not touching your face while wearing gloves. If you get PCBs in your eyes, irrigate your eyes immediately. If you get PCBs on your skin, wash the skin wth soap and water immediately. The recommended respiratory protection would be a full mask APR utilizing a duo cartridge with protection for organic vapors and having P100 filters. For more information on chlorodiphenyl (54% chlorine) you can visit the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0126.html).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Operating Engineers Need Asbestos Handler Certificates


Future Environment Designs was recently working with a construction company that needed training to operate machinery (such as backhoes and excavators) inside an asbestos work area. These machines would be used to demolish a building that has asbestos containing roofing materials in place during the demolition.

Discussions with the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) determined that the operating engineers operating the machinery would require asbestos handler training (32 hours of training with a full day refresher annually thereafter) and certificates ($50 fee to NYSDOL; http://www.labor.state.ny.us/formsdocs/wp/sh440.pdf). Our discussion with NYSDOL determined that it is there (NYSDOL) view that though operating engineers are not disturbing asbestos with their hands, they are disturbing asbestos with the machinery. Anyone that disturbs asbestos (by hand or machinery) are required to have an asbestos handler certificate. Operating engineers operating machinery inside an asbestos work area are required to have asbestos handler certificates. NYSDOL will enforce this position even though a separate asbestos contractor was hired to handle the asbestos at the site.

Realize this position means that the construction company employing these operating engineers needs to have an Asbestos Company License ($500 for an initial, $300 for a renewal; http://www.labor.state.ny.us/formsdocs/wp/SH430.pdf). In addition, to getting the company license, the company needs an individual with an asbestos supervisor certificate to be the designated supervisor on the company license. This means someone from the construction company has to be trained at the 40 hour level.

In summary, all of this means any equipment being used in an asbestos work area must be operated by an operating engineer who has an asbestos handler certificate and works for a construction company that is licensed to abate asbestos containing materials. In addition, that asbestos construction company needs a designated supervisor who will be the competent person for the asbestos construction company and be responsible for any infractions at the worksite. If that sounds complicated to you now, imagine if there are violations at the worksite. Which asbestos contractor will be responsible? The asbestos abatement contractor (handling the asbestos) or the asbestos construction contractor (operating engineers)? This will be interesting to see!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mold Evicts Occupants from their Westbury Apartments


On March 28, 2008, the Archstone Westbury Apartments deadline arrived for occupants to vacate their apartments. Archstone-Smith, a Colorado company, that manages the Archstone Westbury Apartments terminated the leases of these tenants on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 because mold and mildew had infested the apartments. In order to determine the cause of the infestation, the owner needed to open walls and ceilings to determine the underlying cause of the water intrusion.
It was good to see an owner being proactive in trying to prevent tenants from being exposed to mold or mildew. There are other ways to perform this investigation, including the use of infrared cameras and moisture meters, though it is probably better to ensure the safety of the occupants while determining the underlying cause.
As in many mold problems, according to newspaper articles written at the time this site also had a long list of water intrusion problems that were not addressed by the building maintenance staff. We could only speculate that had the maintenance staff responded faster or performed a more thorough investigation or water clean-up that the current evictions could have been avoided. Building owners should look at there building maintenance programs and ensure that all complaints of water intrusions are handled within 24 hours. Any evidence of moisture intrusion should be thoroughly investigated to determine the cause (again the moisture meters and infrared cameras would be helpful) and the water intrusion should be dried completely utilizing water collection devices (mops & wet vacuums) and drying devices (fans & dehumidifiers). Once mold grows on the property it indicates a lack of attention by the apartment owners, building owners, occupants/tenants, and building maintenance staff. When dealing with mold the best offense is to determine the cause of the intrusion and the best defense is to dry everything within 24 hours. It is also important to remember the use of bleach is unnecessary. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) both recommend the use of detergents instead of bleach. Bleach is a very strong chemical (it is a biocide) and is not needed to clean areas properly.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Asbestos Discovered In Current Building Materials


Based on testing done by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organizations (ADAO) and announced at a press conference on November 28, 2007 it appears there may be a concern that new building materials may contain asbestos. The ADAO conducted asbestos testing on over 250 different household products utilizing Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analysis in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency's test method 600/R-93/116. The link above gives you the detail of the methodology and results of the testing that included positive results for 5 products including Planet Toys "CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit", DAP "33" window glazing and "Crack Shot" spackling paste, Gardner Leak Stopper roof patch (which listed asbestos as an ingredient on the label), and Scotch High Performance Duct Tape.

Of the 5 products found to contain asbestos, 3 products are materials that are considered building materials. The window glazing, the spackling paste, and the roof patch are all materials that an asbestos inspector would sample to determine if these materials contained asbestos in a building built before 1980, but would ignore in a building built after 1980. The results from the ADAO testing found the window glazing contained 2.73% chrysotile and tremolite asbestos, the spackling paste contained 1.05% tremolite, anthophyllite, and chrysotile asbestos and the roof patch contained 15% chrysotile asbestos. All of these materials would be considered asbestos containing materials for an asbestos inspector, if they were sampled. Again, based on the typical opinion of the industry we wouldn't sample these materials after 1980. In fact, New York State uses a cut-off date of 1974.

This new information from the ADAO, obviously calls into question New York State's cut off date of 1974. If the above products still contain asbestos today, it probably means these products had asbestos in them between today and 1974 or 1980. As an Asbestos Inspector this information calls into question our assumption regarding the asbestos content of building materials in buildings after 1974. Since asbestos has not been banned, and it can still be found in building materials we are presently installing, this means we can no longer use the 1974 or 1980 date to determine whether building materials do or do not contain asbestos. This is one of the many reasons why ADAO has been lobbying for a complete ban on the manufacturer and the use of asbestos.

It is important to remember that though the New York State Industrial Code Rule 56 asbestos regulation does not regulate the assumption of asbestos in building materials after 1974, it does regulate the remediation of asbestos no matter the date of the building.

Monday, March 03, 2008

News from PACNY's Environmental Conference


As we previously discussed, I was attending the 12th Annual PACNY Environmental Conference. It was an excellant conference that brought out some new developments in the Abatement Industry. Mr. Christopher Alonge, PE of the New York State Department of Labor, was one of the presenters that most people were anxious to hear from and as usual he did not disappoint the attendees. What has become standard practice at this event Mr. Alonge gave those present some food for thought. First, Mr. Alonge announced a new Petition for an Asbestos Variance Form (SH 752) and the possible release sometime in 2008 of two new variances; "Mechanical fastening of items/components or systems - penetrating through non-friable ACM - Not considered an Asbestos Project" and "Small & Minor Size Asbestos Disturbance Cleanup Projects - to be used for cleanup of all types asbestos disturbances". This new Variance form should be on the DOL website this month (the form is currently on our discussion board website at (http://groups.google.com/group/fed-forum/web/new-petition-for-an-asbestos-variance-form-sh-752). Mr. Alonge also announced a new guidance document (v2.0) that should be on the website in the next few months that will have 120 new questions/answers added. Mr. Alonge is also in the process of working on a new ICR56 that will incorporate some Fire & Life Safety Issues (because of lessons learned at the Deutsche Bank Building tragedy) some examples include the use of fire retardant sheathing, negative air disconnect switch, and maintaining existing fire protection systems.
Another interesting presenter was Thomas V. Roberts, RA from NYS Education Department. Mr. Roberts informed us that NYSED developed "Protocols for Addressing Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Caulking Materials in School Buildings" in June 2007 (http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/facplan/HealthSafety/PCBinCaulkProtocol-070615.html). This protocol is recommending that any school buildings constructed or renovated between 1950 and 1977 and undergoing current renovation or demolition, be evaluated prior to the renovation work to determine whether they contain caulk that is contaminated with PCBs. NYSED would require a PCB abatement plan be submitted with the renovation or demolition drawings addressing the potential environmental and public health concerns in abateing the caulk. If plans are submitted without the PCB evaluation, the plans will be rejected.
Maureen Cox, NYS DOL Director of Safety & Health, presented that DOL has seen a 12% increase in penalties collection this past year and would like to see Senate Bill 372 known as Successor Legislation, pass. The point of this legislation would be to prevent the owners of an asbestos abatement company from closing their business to avoid fines and then open under a new company to continue to do abatement work. The legislation would also increase the penalties and fines issued under the Industrial Code Rule 56.
PACNY introduced the PACNY Asbestos Proficiency Initiative, the purpose of this initiative is to create a certification that will be administered by PACNY that will establish another level of certification specifically for Project Monitors, Supervisors, and Project Designers. To be able to take the computer based certification exam, which will be offered through Slyvan Learning Centers, the individual must show three years of DOH 2832s. The exam will be given in two parts, part 1 will be a 50 question closed book exam and part 2 will be an open book scenario-based questions. PACNY Proficiency Certification (PPC) will require the accumulation of 20 hours of certification maintenance each year and the taking of a refresher exam also at the Slyvan center.
The conference as always was very interesting and exhibit had the usual suppliers Grayling Industry showing off the New Larger Pop-up Decon meeting NYS DOL requirements, and Cole Stanton from Fiberlock Technologies who discussed the revision to the use of chemical tools to the S520 standard from IICRC. IICRC stands for the The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification which publishes the S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation. The new standard which should be out before the end of 2008, basically says that unique circumstances may arise allowing the consideration of antimicrobial coatings, or biocides.
The event is usually held at Turning Stone Casino and it appears that next year's event will be around the same time, we hope to see you there next year.

Monday, February 18, 2008

PACNY - 12th Annual Environmental Conference


One of the more interesting conferences I have attended is the annual Environmental Conference held by the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY - http://www.pacny.org/). This year is PACNY's 12th Annual Environmental Conference and as usual the line-up of speakers is impressive. The conference is held at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York on February 28 & 29, 2008. Featured presenters include Chris Alonge, PE of NYS Department of Labor (writer of the current Industrial Code Rule 56 (the asbestos regulations), Maureen Cox also of NYS Department of Labor (her division enforces the asbestos regulations), David Heckman from OSHA, discussing OSHA Cooperative programs, and Carl Thurnau, PE of NYS Education Department, discussing PCBs and the NYSED. In addition, to presenters the conference also features an exhibitor's area where you can meet the suppliers and manufacturers of abatement and safety equipment. Turning Stone Resort and Casino (http://www.turningstone.com/) is an interesting place to have the conference. A little out of the way for us downstaters but worth the drive (almost 5 hours from Syosset, New York) or you can fly into Syracuse and then drive to Verona (approximately 40 minutes). Turning Stone Resort (the Oneida Indian Nation runs this resort and casino) has several excellant dining areas, has several golf courses, has your typical gaming areas, and entertainment (Country singer Toby Keith is playing there on March 1). But the real reason to go is the Environmental Conference, which is probably the best conference that addresses New York State environmental and safety issues. The presenters are industry professionals or regulators that are deeply involved in the New York State abatement industry. I hope to see you there.

Monday, January 21, 2008

NYS Labor Law 220-H

New York State passed Labor Law 220-H this past summer. This law will go into effect on July 18, 2008 and require all laborers, workers, and mechanics on a public work site show certification that they took a minimum of a 10-hour OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Construction Safety Course. OSHA issues the certification cards after successfully completing the course. Future Environment Designs offers the OSHA 10-hour Construction Safety Course in Syosset or at your convenience and then applies to OSHA for the certification cards. The 10-hour course is actually a two-day course, because 10 hours is the total contact time for the course. That means breaks are not included in the 10 hours. Once you add appropriate breaks (lunch, coffee, etc.) into the time that brings the class to approximately 12 hours which is two days of training 6 hours each day.
The regulation applies to all contracts for state or municipality work totaling $250,000 or more for construction, reconstruction, repair or maintenance. It covers all workers on the job, employed either by the contractor, sub-contractor or other person(s) doing or contracting to do the whole or a part of the work contemplated by the contract. The training must be completed before the workers arrive at the job site. The regulation will be enforced by the New York State Department of Labor.
Future Environment Designs will add this class to our schedule to meet the anticipated demand for the class.