Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Excellant Article by Will Spates on Being an Expert Witness


I recently read Mr. Will Spate's article in Indoor Environment Connection's November issue (yes, I know, it takes me a month to catch up on my reading) on "Do You Qualify To Be An Expert Witness".  Mr. Spates is the President of Indoor Environmental Technologies, Clearwater, Florida and the article provided several pieces of information that I did not know.  Such as the difference between an expert witness and a percipient witness and the need for your reports to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26.  I strongly recommend that if you are an environmental consultant that you read this article, because it applies even if you are not an expert witness.  You never know when you may end up in court to defend your reports and advice you gave.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Results of Northeast Regional Industrial Hygiene Conference

United States Mint- Philadelphia, PAImage via Wikipedia
On December 4, 2009, we attended the Northeast Regional Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) sponsored the Philadelphia Section of the AIHA. The title of the conference was "The Business of EHS – A New Team Dynamic" for the list of speakers and their biographies visit http://www.philaaiha.com/Newsletters/2009NEIHCBrochure.pdf. The program was professional and interesting, though the focus of the presenters was on manufacturing and industrial applications. This left very little for someone focused in construction safety or indoor environmental issues. The presentations on the environmental health and safety (EHS) perspectives on the impact of the global supply chain, and business metrics (building EHS value and cost-benefit analysis for EHS) were advanced level presentations. Our favorite presentation was the first one on “Staying Safe While Making Money” by Ms. Maureen Modica, CIH, CSP of the United States Mint.
Mr. Aaron Trippler’s “Washington Buzz” presentation during lunch reinforced what we heard from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) representative at the PDC (see our Wednesday, November 25, 2009 blog). OSHA’s current budget is up 10% leading to hiring of 200 new inspectors for enforcement. Other interesting news was NIOSH’s focus on nanotech, risk management, and aerosol transmissible diseases indicates new research information will be available on these issues in the future.
The vendor exposition hall was very good and we thank 3M for providing us with two pair of safety glasses for our safety classes(one called Lightvision 2-LED Plano Eyewear (debating using this for work around the house) and the other called Nitrous CCS with hearing protection providing a noise reduction rating of 25 decibels, both excellent ideas). We also thank Nilfisk-Advance America Inc. for providing us with a new vacuum cleaner catalog for our asbestos classes.
Though the regional this year was interesting, the lack of a balanced program left individuals with our background in construction safety and indoor air quality with very little to bring back home. Some of you would ask why attend a meeting that had so little to offer, the topics were publicized ahead of time. Well first, Mr. Trippler’s presentation always gives us an idea on the pulse of what is happening in Washington, DC on the environmental safety and health front. Second the vendor exposition hall is always interesting to see what services and products the various companies in the area are offering. Saving the best for last, the most important reason is to network and meet with old friends and acquaintances and meet new people who are in different areas/regions of the industrial hygiene field. It is a lot of fun catching up with people you may only see at this event. It was a pleasure seeing and discussing different issues with Mr. Jack Springsteen, Dr. Jack Caravanos, Ms. Amy Gordon, Mrs. Debra Gul Haffner, and many others. The special treat this year was talking with Mr. Dave Robbins, who was in town from Alaska. Though the regional, this year, did not provide much information for the construction and indoor environment people, the networking opportunities are probably the best reasons to attend the Regional each year.
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Monday, December 07, 2009

Hudson River PCB Dredging – the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Bear Mountain Bridge from the top of Bear Moun...Image via Wikipedia
On May 15, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the start of dredging operations on the upper Hudson River. The goal of this project is to remove approximately 113,000 kilograms of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the river by 2015. General Electric Company’s (GE) Fort Edward and Hudson Falls plants legally released the PCBs into the river from 1944-1997. GE is conducting the dredging and related work under the terms of a November 2006 consent decree, after EPA ordered GE to dredge the tainted sediment from the river and dispose of it. The Hudson River covering a 200 mile stretch is the largest superfund site in the United States.
The Good – the ultimate goal of this dredging operation is to restore the health of the river, to enhance regional tourism and commercial opportunities, and improve commercial and recreational fishing in the Hudson River between Fort Edward and Albany currently prevented by the PCB contamination. The Hudson River dredging plan is based on a previous successful PCB dredging project along Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, NY. The plan includes daily water sampling downstream from the dredging operations, these sampling results must average below 500 parts per trillion of PCBs, which is the same as the drinking water standard, for dredging operations to continue. On August 5, 2009 dredging operations stopped because sampling results exceeded the standard. A review of the operations called for enhanced engineering controls. The enhanced engineering controls allowed dredging operations to resume on August 11, 2009. There have been no reported problems since.
The Bad – transporting the PCB sediment to its eventual resting place in Texas will take a 2,000 mile trip through a number of states. The PCB-sediment will be dewatered in Fort Edward packed onto a 81-car train and tightly wrapped in heavy-duty plastic. EPA deemed rail travel as the safest method of transporting the soil. The national rail traffic will determine the ultimate route of the train and it will take about five days to get to Texas. The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club notes in their release dated February 11, 2009, “that an environmental impact statement has not been prepared for the proposed rail shipment. The shipment poses a potential for serious accident hazards in or near dozens of urban areas and states through which trains would pass. One major rail accident could lead to a catastrophic contamination event if drums were breached and highly concentrated PCBs were released.” According to The Saratogian article “Hudson River PCBs en route to West Texas”; the Federal Railroad Administration’s safety data, 726 accidents involving trains carrying hazardous materials occurred in 2008, more than half of those in the rail yard. Everything from a slight bump in a rail yard to a major derailment qualifies as an “accident” in that report. Examples of the type of derailments covered by the report include, the 2 that occurred within 24-hours of each other on September 26 & 27, 2009 in Montana and Wyoming. These derailments involved minimal spillage and the cars remained erect. While other derailments like the one that occurred on January 22, 2002 that caused a toxic cloud of anhydrous ammonia near the town of Minot in North Dakota, still have an effect on the people who live there, even years later. That derailment required the digging up of 97,000 tons of contaminated soil and 25,000 square feet of river ice and more than 1,000 people affected according to USA Today. An Environmental Impact Statement would at least look at the possible consequences of a derailment and try to anticipate a derailment that would be catastrophic.
The Ugly – the final resting place for the estimated 2.65 million cubic feet of PCB-contaminated sediment is Waste Control Specialists (WCS) in Andrews, Texas. Rural Andrews County, Texas is a desolate desert county just over the New Mexico border and consists of 1500 square miles and a population of about 14,000 people. Andrews, the only incorporated city in the county, has a history more than a decade long of hazardous waste disposal. A study commissioned by the town and performed by the professors at Texas Tech University determined that hazardous waste disposal was a suitable industry for the city and county, because the red-bed clay found there is a natural impermeable liner and the area where WCS located their site does not overlap the Ogallala Aquifer. WCS as an EPA permitted toxic waste facility accepted the first load of PCB sediment on June 28, 2009. Prompting a backlash, from the people in the area, regarding the feasibility of dumping the PCB-contaminated sediment at the WCS facility. The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club wrote a letter to the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging a halt to the shipping of the PCB wastes to Texas. Is it a case of “not in my backyard” (NIMBYism)? Maybe not, there seems to be a disagreement on whether the WCS facility is over or close enough to the Ogallala Aquifer (a sensitive underground water resource). The claims range from 14 feet to 500 feet to the nearest water table. The Ogallala Aquifer stretches from South Dakota to Texas and is the largest aquifer in North America. It seems that the concerns of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club may be justified. It seems that EPA should have checked to make sure how close this waste facility actually was to the Aquifer.
Like all hazardous material/waste situations, cleaning up the problem brings up many questions some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. However, if we ask the questions and we look at the problems carefully and thoroughly, we can eventually solve these problems to the satisfaction of all concerned and involved.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Results of the Metro NY AIHA's EHS Global & Local Update Meeting


On November 19, 2009, the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) sponsored the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) – Global and Local Updates: Asbestos, Fire/Life Safety and EHS program at the Pfizer Conference Center.  For the list of speakers and their biographies click on the title above. The program was excellent and each of the speakers provided a lot of valuable information.  Because of the recent activity by regulatory agencies regarding asbestos, the three speakers speaking on asbestos drew a large crowd.  The speakers were:
  • Mr. Carlstein Lutchmedial speaking on the revisions to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) asbestos regulations;
  • Mr. Chris Alonge speaking on the proposed revisions to the New York State Department of Labor Industrial Code Rule 56 (NYS DOL ICR56);
  • Mr. Kevin Malone speaking on the New York State Department of Health’s asbestos training program and their program on performing audits/inspections of schools regarding their compliance with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA).
Mr. Lutchmedial, the Director of Enforcement for NYC DEP, discussed the new asbestos regulations, filing requirements, and the new regulation’s relationship with what occurred at the Deutsche Bank Fire. The key points of his presentation were:
  • New filing requirement and process for ACP7s (see our Autumn 2009 Newsletter for further information on this process http://futureenvironmentdesigns.com/newsletter.htm );
  • The new regulations are aligned with the fire code and specific fire safety requirements;
  • There is no grandfathering of the regulation. If you had a project that started before the regulations took effect (November 13, 2009), you must bring your project into compliance with the new regulation;
  • Preparation of the work area must be in the order the regulations are written (i.e., occupant notification, posting of floor plan with location of all fire exists, vacate area, shutdown electric, worker decontamination enclosure, erection of barriers);
  • Added a section defining unprofessional conduct;
  • No longer need a variance for floor tile removals;
  • All variances must be designed by a NYS certified Asbestos Project Designer.
Mr. Alonge’s, the DOSH Associate Safety and Health Engineer NYS DOL and author of the current ICR56, presentation was similar to the PACNY presentation (visit http://www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/safetyhealth/DOSH_CODE_RULE_56_TRANSITION.shtm if you want to see the presentation and see my blog post on that presentation at http://futureenv.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html ). In our refresher classes we’ve been discussing Mr. Alonge’s presentation since he was kind enough to provide us with a copy of the presentation. The big difference with this presentation is he provided a rough timeline for when the new regulations may come out and eventually go into effect. The key points of Mr. Alonge’s presentation were:
  • The new regulation will have several references to the current NYS fire and building code. Mr. Alonge views many of changes to ICR56 as already being required by the fire and building code, with a few exceptions (i.e., negative air unit disconnect switch);
  • An audience question brought on a discussion regarding the use of dust samples in determining the extent of incidental disturbance. Mr. Alonge’s view was that Asbestos Inspectors should rarely use dust sampling. When dust sampling is necessary then it should follow the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard method D5755 for sampling and the analysis must follow NYS DOH Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) methodology (this methodology provides you with qualititative results of positive or negative for asbestos).
  • Expected dates: Draft is currently at Counsel. Once Counsel is completed, anticipate submittal to the Governor’s Office of Rules and Regulation (GORR) around Jan/Feb 2010. Publish for comments April 2010. Final version by July 2010.
Mr. Malone’s, Section Chief of the Asbestos Safety Training Program of NYS DOH, discussion was on the asbestos training program and the audit/inspection program of NYS schools determining compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) AHERA regulation. Key points of his discussion were:
  • NYS DOH issued 26,000 asbestos certificates in New York State through 72 training providers.
  • Mr. Malone’s discussion of NYS DOH’s audit/inspection program for EPA highlighted several areas where schools are not complying with the AHERA regulations. These are:
    • Recordkeeping
    • No warning labels
    • Short term worker notification
    • Custodial/Maintenance Staff Training
    • Not identifying all ACBM
    • Project Designer
    • Clearance Sampling
  • The last two are significant in that once Mr. Malone discussed what was required, most people in the audience realized in regards of the last two not a single school in NYS is probably doing them. Visit our discussion group at http://groups.google.com/group/fed-forum?hl=en for a copy of the spreadsheets that Mr. Malone provided the attendees on this topic.
  • AHERA requires project designs developed by a Certified Asbestos Project Designer for all projects greater than a small scale short duration or minor fiber release (less than or equal to 3 linear feet (LF) or 3 square feet (SF)). Meaning in a school, even a NYS minor asbestos project (less than or equal to 10 SF or 25 LF) would require an asbestos project design written by a certified asbestos project designer.
  • Clearance testing for projects greater than 3 LF to less than 260 LF or greater than 3 SF to less than 160 SF require 5 inside air , 5 outside air and 3 blank samples analyzed by phase contrast microscopy. As you can see from the spreadsheet, this is a NYS State Education Department requirement. AHERA on the other hand would require only 5 inside and 2 blanks samples analyzed by PCM.
In addition to the above speakers, Ms. Gee Kay, acting Director of the Manhattan area office, representing OSHA informed us that the Obama Administration increased OSHA’s budget by 10% increasing inspections to 6,000 and allowing OSHA to hire more Compliance Safety and Health Officers. There are currently 20 CSHO in Manhattan and 5 in Queens. She also informed us of OSHA’s increased activity in rule making including the hazard communication, combustible dust, and acetylene standards. Mr. Julian Bazel, Counsel and Mr. James Hansen, Director of Code Revision, of the NYC Fire Department discussed the new fire code in NYC. Ms. Nancy Orr, Director - Global Environment, Health and Safety for Becton Dickinson, spoke about developing a global health and safety process/netrics in a de-centralized multinational corporation.  While our host Mr. Michael West from Pfizer spoke on climate change and occupational hygiene; the whole day was very informative and entertaining. The Metro Chapter did a great job putting this program together. The program was well worth the trip into Manhattan and meeting some old friends made it even better.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Paragon's Asbestos Superisor Pleads Guilty

{{en|Placing a sign warning of asbestos in the...Image via Wikipedia
As those of you who take our refresher classes know on May 29, 2009, Certified Environmental Services, Inc., an asbestos air monitoring company and laboratory, were indicted on charges of providing false and fraudulant air monitoring results while the asbestos contractor performed illegal asbestos removal.  The dominos are starting to fall, as the supervisor for Paragon pleaded guilty and is cooperating with investigators in regards this investigation.  This is the first time we are seeing not only the owners of the company being charged but the individual air monitors are also being charged.  This case may show the extent of the liability an individual air monitor has in performing air monitoring/sampling.  Air monitors (Asbestos Project Sampling Technicians) should follow this case because it will show the level of individual liability in performing air sampling/monitoring.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

NYC DEP Posts New Forms for Asbestos Projects

Midtown Manhattan, New York City, from Rockefe...Image via Wikipedia
New York City Department of Environmental Protection has posted new forms on their website that are required as part of the new asbestos regulations that started going into effect in October 13, 2009.  Today, all the new asbestos rules (work procedures and practices) went into effect.  Additional operational changes go into effect November 16, 2009, including the use of the Project Monitor’s Report (required to be submitted to NYC DEP by an NYS Asbestos Project Monitor within three weeks of successful clearance air monitoring) and the new ACP 9 form -variance application (NYS Asbestos Project Designers are required to file this report).  These new forms are designed to be used with the new electronic filing system "Asbestos Reporting and Tracking System (ARTS) that has been in effect for projects more than or equal to 1,000 feet since October 13, 2009.



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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Guest Blogger on Hillary Topper's Blog Talks About "Are Followers Really Friends?"

Has just touched the 5,000th friends on FacebookImage by enda_001 via Flickr
Those of you who use facebook and other social media sites should read this blog about the dangers of too much familiarity with friends you've made on facebook.
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National Safety Council: OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations | EHS Today



At the National Safety Council's annual meeting in Orlando, OSHA unveiled its list of OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations EHS Today reported.  They are:
  1. Scaffolding, General – 9,093 violations
  2. Fall Protection – 6,771 violations
  3. Hazard Communication – 6,378 violations
  4. Respiratory Protection – 3,803 violations
  5. Lockout/Tagout – 3,321 violations
  6. Electrical, Wiring – 3,079 violations
  7. Ladders – 3,072 violations
  8. Powered Industrial Trucks – 2,993 violations
  9. Electrical, General – 2,556 violations
  10. Machine Guarding – 2,364 violations
Items 3, 4, & 5 on the list are easy to resolve, though most companies are ignoring these safety hazards.  Contact us and we can help you avoid these violations.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

CDC Reports on Insufficient Rest or Sleep Among Adults

they sleep like each otherImage by driki via Flickr
The information below was recently published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

"An estimated 50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep and wakefulness disorders. Sleep disorders and sleep loss have been associated with mental distress, depression, anxiety, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and certain risk behaviors including cigarette smoking, physical inactivity and heavy drinking. A new report from the CDC found that data collected from adults in all 50 United States, DC, and 3 U.S. territories found that 1 in 3 adults (30.7 percent) in 2008, reported no days of not getting enough rest or sleep in the past 30-days. However, 1 in 10 adults (11.1 percent) reported not getting enough rest or sleep everyday during the past month. Females (12.4 percent) were more likely than males (9.9 percent) and non-Hispanic blacks (13.3 percent) were more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to report not getting enough rest or sleep. State estimates of 30 days of insufficient rest or sleep ranged from 7.4 percent in North Dakota to 19.3 percent in West Virginia."


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Environmental Protection Online Salary Survey

Visit Environmental Protection Online and take the 2009 Salary Survey.  Obviously the more participation Environmental Protection gets with this type of survey, the better information they will produce and we can get a better picture of the industry we are in. 
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Construction worker at 270 Park Avenue site dies on eve of court hearing | The Real Deal | New York Real Estate News

Construction worker at 270 Park Avenue site dies on eve of court hearing The Real Deal New York Real Estate News

Posted using ShareThis

Safety work has more than enough pressure and stress, to make it harder without adding sexual harassment to the mix. Now we may never know what really happened.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

NYC DEP Revisions to Title 15 - Asbestos Regulations, Part 1


The Autumn issue of Future Focus is now posted on our website. In Part 1 we cover the revisions in the permitting process for the NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, and NYC Fire Department. Most of these changes and revisions attributable to the Deutsche Bank Fire. Click on the title of this post and it will take you to Future Environment Designs newsletter page.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NYC DEP New Asbestos Regulations Go Into Effect

New York City Department of Environmental Protection's Asbestos regulations have been promulgated. The new asbestos regulations go into effect October 13, 2009 and the full regulations go into effect November 13, 2009. Visit the NYC DEP website to get a copy of the new asbestos regulations. Once we have read through it we will write a post for this blog and an article in our next newsletter on the new regulation.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg Signs Legislation Impacting Asbestos Projects in NYC


On June 29, 2009, Mayor Bloomberg signed several pieces of legislation (introductory numbers 1001-A, 1002, 1003-A, 1005 & 1007) that will impact asbestos abatement projects in New York City (NYC). The legislation and what they regulate include:
  • 1001-A - prohibits smoking on any floor where asbestos abatement activity is taking place. The regulation also prohibits tobacco, lighters, and matches at asbestos abatement work sites.

  • 1002 - prohibits smoking at construction sites.

  • 1003-A - establishes a permitting requirement for asbestos abatement jobs that pose the greatest risk to the safety of workers, first responders and the general public.

  • 1003-A - a. creates a NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) office (Asbestos Technical Review Unit (A-TRU)) to review and permit significant abatement projects.

  • 1003-A - b. NYC Fire Department will receive automatic notification for all jobs requiring a permit and will dispatch the local fire company to inspect the site.

  • 1003-A - c. authorizes the NYC Fire Department to delegate to the NYC DEP authority to enforce the fire codes at abatement sites, so that NYC DEP inspector can issue violations for dangerous conditions.

  • 1005 - requires NYC DEP to promulgate rules giving guidance to contractors on how to maintain safe abatement project sites. NYC DEP, NYC Department of Building (NYC DOB), and Fire Department of NY (FDNY), in collaboration with the Office of Operations, have developed new rules that will soon be promulgated to strengthen safety at abatement jobs.

  • 1007 - requires NYC DEP, FDNY, and NYC DOB to establish a procedure to share information regarding violations issued as a result of building inspections that meet agreed-upon criteria.

Friday, July 24, 2009

OSHA Issues Clarifications on PPE

Sorry for the long lead time on this issue. However, this issue seems like it should be common sense. On December 12, 2008, OSHA published a final rule clarifying emloyers' duty to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and train each employee. This rule revises the OSHA standards to clarify that, for employers to be in compliance, they must provide PPE and hazards training for each employee covered by the standards. Each employee not protected may be considered a separate violation and penalties assessed accordingly. The revison is consistent with language in other standards for which per-employee citatiuons have been upheld.

In addition, realize by May 15, 2008, OSHA also required all employers to provide PPE at no cost to their employees (the employer must pay for the PPE). These requirements addressed many kinds of PPE, such as: hard hats, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, safety glasses, welding helmets and goggles, faceshields, chemical protective equipment, fall protection equipment, and other types of safety equipment. Certain safety equipment were excluded from the provision of employer payment of PPE, these excluded items are certain safety-toe shoes and boots, prescription safety eyewear, and logging boots. OSHA considers these three items personal in nature, are used from jobsite to jobsite (employer to employer), and are typically used off the jobsite.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Proposed Settlement Regarding Asbestos in CSI Toy

A nationwide class action against CBS Broadcasting, Inc. and major toy retailers, if approved, would give cash refunds to consumers and effectively implement a nationwide recall of toy science kits, based on the popular "CSI" television drama series. Click on the title to see the press release. To request a claim form visit www.csitoyssettlement.com. The class action covered two toy kits "The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Fingerprint Examination Kit (CSI Exam Kit)" and "The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Forensic Lab Kit (CSI Lab Kit)." Both toys were made by now-bankrupt Planet Toys, Inc. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization conducted tests in 2007 on the white fingerprint powder in the toy kits and found tremolite asbestos. Consumers seeking refunds must submit claim form to a claims administrator by January 14, 2010.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Prevent Mold From Growing During Rainfalls


In the last few months we have seen significant rainfall in the northeast. This rainfall is causing some minor problems with our plants and grass (how many times are we going to have to cut the grass this year?). These problems are a nuisance; however they are easily resolved with very little expense. When this rainfall enters our homes or business establishments, these problems can lead to some significant costs for repairs and if we ignore the problems then mold can grow. We have seen previously several articles, when the rainfall was previously significant and it intruded into buildings, regarding tenants or occupants having to move or close their businesses because of the water damage to property or equipment. To prevent this from happening in this current period of significant rainfall, remember the following tips from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
  • Fix all leaks in the building envelope (i.e., roof leaks, foundation cracks)
  • Look for condensation and wet spots, fix the cause and dry these areas quickly
  • Prevent condensation by either reducing surface temperature (by insulating or increasing air circulation) or reducing moisture level in air. Reduce moisture levels by either increasing ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry) or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
  • Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
  • Clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours
  • Do not let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage and slope the ground away from the foundation.
  • Any water damaged materials that remain wet for more than 48 hours should be disposed of or hire a water restoration expert to handle the situation.
  • If you have significant water damage, contact your insurance company immediately.
  • Many insurance companies exclude mold growth in their policies. The sooner you notify the insurance company of your claim, excluding your claim becomes less of likely.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Handling Vermiculite Insulation for Building Inspections and Air Monitoring



The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent decision to declare a public health emergency at the Libby asbestos site in Montana has brought vermiculite insulation back in front of people’s minds. EPA’s announcement did not mention what to do if you have this type of insulation. Remember there are some major issues with this type of insulation. First it seems the vermiculite can actually hide the tremolite asbestos from detection, leading to false results. When individuals disturb the vermiculite insulation it can release tremolite asbestos at significant levels into the air.

Because of these technical issues EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) both recommend that if you find vermiculite insulation that you not test it for asbestos. Instead they recommend you assume the vermiculite insulation is from Libby and assume it contains asbestos. The Libby mine was the source for over 70% of the vermiculite sold in the United States from 1919 to 1990. EPA and ATSDR feel that the technical issues involving vermiculite sampling can complicate testing for the presence of asbestos fibers and interpreting the risk from exposure. This is a significant statement and interesting that it has not been published more.

Based on this, as an asbestos inspector, environmental inspector, home inspector, and/or air quality consultant, you must evaluate vermiculite insulation as containing asbestos (without sampling). In addition, you must inform the owner that sampling the material will not provide a definitive answer. EPA and ATSDR both recommend that professional asbestos abatement contractors handle any disturbance of the vermiculite insulation. The best practice for air monitoring and analysis of these projects, for the protection of the public, is Transmission Electron Microscopy. As these issues are not well known, even in the asbestos industry, it is important for owners to be aware of this potential problem and take the precautions necessary.

Public Health Emergency Declared in Libby, Montana



As with everyone else who is aware of this tragedy we applaud the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision on June 17, 2009 to declare that a public health emergency exits at the Libby asbestos site (vermiculite mine contaminated with tremolite asbestos) in northwest Montana. The New York Times, Newsday and other newspapers covered this press release and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization issued their own release covering this issue. The documentary film “Dust to Dust” directed by Michael Brown told the Libby story (we have watched this film in some of our classes). As the press release indicates, this announcement, which is long overdue, will provide funds for the continued clean-up of the contaminated areas in the towns of Libby and Troy. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services will provide grant money to provide medical care for the area residents impacted by the contamination.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Different Regulations for Different States on Asbestos-Cement Pipe


One of our regular clients, during a class, provided us with a copy of the article linked to the title above. The title of the article is “End of the Line” by Kent Von Aspern, P.E. Public Works magazine published this article in March 2009. One of the first things we need to note about the article is that the author works in Northern California and we should not take this article as the requirements for every state. Each state may and can handle asbestos in their state differently. For example, the New York State Department of Labor under Industrial Code Rule 56 regulates asbestos cement or transite pipe. Under this regulation, only licensed companies (even a sewage or water district or Department of Public Works are required to be licensed to handle asbestos) can handle any quantity of asbestos containing material (ACM). In addition, only workers/employees certified by NYSDOL as operations and maintenance, handlers, or supervisors can handle ACM. The size projects handled by the workers would dictate which certificate the workers are required to have. NYSDOL does not stop at just licensing and certification requirements it also dictates the work procedures. Under the Guidance Document version 2.0, question 237 indicates the work procedures for cement/transite pipe. It indicates that abandoned asbestos containing cement/transite pipe cannot remain in the trench. According to ICR56 buried asbestos cement or transite pipe must be removed and disposed of in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) regulation as Category II nonfriable asbestos containing material and under New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYS DEC) asbestos waste regulations. Remember when you read information on the internet or in national magazines or industry publications it is difficult for one author to know all the requirements in each state. Many times the author is writing specifically of experiences they have in their state. That experience many times may not apply in a different state or states.

Friday, June 12, 2009

W. R. Grace acquitted in Libby, MT Asbestos Case


New York Times reported on May 9, 2009 the acquittal of W. R. Grace and three of its former executives on all charges that they had knowingly contaminated Libby, Montana a small mining town, with asbestos, and then conspired to cover up the deed.
In some of our classes we have watched the documentary film “Dust to Dust” directed by Michael Brown. The film told the story of the town’s experience with exposure to tremolite asbestos that contaminated the vermiculite mine which many of the town’s people worked at. The film documented the effects on the town, hundreds of miners, their family members, and townsfolk have died, and at least 1,200 have been sickened from exposure to the asbestos-containing ore. These health effects also threaten workers, their families, and residents everywhere the ore was shipped and people living in millions of homes nationwide where it was used as insulation. The W. R. Grace trial mentioned above was the result of the government’s investigation into the Libby, Montana situation.
Based on the New York Times article, it appears the government’s case was very difficult to prove and that several errors by federal prosecutors, during the trial, made it even more difficult. It really is a shame that the people of Libby, Montana will suffer from the effects of asbestos exposure and many of them will die from this exposure for many years to come, while it seems prosecutors are unable or incapable of providing justice for them.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

OSHA Publishes Guidance Documents for Pandemic Influenza

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have published five documents dealing with pandemic influenza. The documents are:
  • Healthcare Workplaces Classified as Very High or High Exposure Risk for Pandemic Influenza” – OSHA designed this fact sheet to assist healthcare workplaces and to protect these workers from exposure to pandemic influenza. Using the Occupational Risk Pyramid (at left) it defines who are very high or high risk and recommends engineering controls, administrative controls, work practices, and PPE to protect these workers.
  • What Employers Can Do to Protect Workers from Pandemic Influenza” – this fact sheet recommends engineering controls, administrative controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Protect Yourself Pandemic Flu Respiratory Protection” – this quick card defines who needs a respirator based exposure risk, defines minimum level of protection as N95 respirator, states that surgical masks are not respirators, and OSHA requirements for a respiratory protection program.
  • How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace during a Pandemic” – this quick card lists suggested precautions and actions workers should take to reduce risk of becoming ill with pandemic influenza.
  • Respiratory Infection Control: Respirators Versus Surgical Masks” – this fact sheet defines the difference between respirators, such as filtering facepiece (used to be known as dust masks) and half mask respirators, and surgical masks, which are a physical barrier to protect users from hazards, such as splashes of large droplets of blood or body fluids. NIOSH certifies all respirators, including filtering facepieces, visit their website for recent warnings for respirator users (www.niosh.gov). NIOSH does not certify surgical masks to prevent inhalation of small airborne contaminants. Only surgical masks cleared by the Food and Drug Administration have been tested for their ability to resist blood and bodily fluids.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NYC Deadline Approaching Regarding OSHA Training Requirement


Starting July 1, 2009, all workers at major building projects in New York City are required to complete a 10-hour course in construction industry safety and health approved by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Local Law 41 of 2008 requires the site safety plans of major buildings must include a statement that all workers have completed this course.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

H1N1 Flu

H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. Click on the title and visit the CDC website to answer your questions regarding the H1N1 Flu.

Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Could multiple chemical exposures be the problem with Chinese Wallboard (Sheetrock)?

CNN, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and Indoor Environment Connections have all reported on the concern regarding imported Chinese Wallboard. It seems once the Chinese wallboard gets wet or damp it off-gases a rotten-egg stench made of sulfur-based gases. Homeowners claim these gases can corrode metals, and may cause headaches and aggravation of respiratory systems, such as asthma. Many of these reports quote health departments as saying that levels are not elevated enough to suggest an imminent or chronic health hazard. However, there should be a concern regarding the potential for multiple chemical exposures, their cumulative effect, and the potential for long exposures to low levels of the compounds on the occupants.

The Chinese wallboard problem may affect over 35,000 homes and so far, is in states with high humidity and temperature levels where homes were constructed or renovated between 2004 and 2008. These homes and buildings, because of the shortage of domestic wallboard (also called sheetrock, drywall, and gypsum board), were installing Chinese-imported wallboard (not all Chinese wallboard is a problem). Up until this point, the reports regarding the tests on the drywall, quoting one health department “has not identified data suggesting an imminent or chronic health hazard at this time.” Some reports actually say levels found in the affected homes are not elevated enough to be of concern. One report gave hydrogen sulfide levels of .05 to .07 parts per million (ppm). Another report detected “carbon disulfide levels of approximately 5 parts per billion – all samples were less than 15 parts per billion.” The same report also reported carbonyl sulfide in the same levels. Chamber testing of the Chinese wallboard emitted carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide, while other tests of the wallboard found in addition sulfuric acid and sulfur dioxide. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies all these compounds as toxic compounds. However, the levels found are below many of the standards used for worker exposure. This is the crux of the problem, the limitations of using worker exposure standards to evaluate indoor air quality have been known for a long time and a professional would use them with limitations, typically dividing them by a factor of 10 to 100. For example, the OSHA permissible exposure limit for carbon monoxide is 50 ppm, while the indoor air quality industry uses 5 ppm to 10 ppm as a guide for evaluating air quality in office buildings.

Exposure research is very limited when looking at exposures to multiple chemicals or to long term exposures to low levels of compounds. Since this research is so limited to the point of nonexistent it is hard to say what the impacts of multiple chemical exposures or long term low level exposures would be. The limited knowledge we have points to potential moderate or minimal effects on individuals based on the compounds they are exposed to. Exposure to the multiple sulfur gases for long periods or low levels could be causing the headaches; sore throats; repeated nose bleeds; breathing problems; respiratory infection; wheezing; sinus problems; and various other respiratory ailments that occupants have complained about. Our health departments should be erring on the side of health but too many times they side on convenience.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe - Healthy Homes


Monday, March 30, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Pam Meyer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Peter Ashley of the U. S. Department of Housing Urban Development (HUD) for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ on the Green Talk Network). Our discussion was about the Healthy Homes Program. CDC is the nation’s primary public health agency and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC provides information to help the public make informed decisions and take actions to promote health and wellbeing. HUD makes affordable housing available to low income households, and supports community development and home ownership. Dr. Meyer and Dr. Ashley discussed how CDC and HUD were working together to promote Healthy Homes. Healthy Homes is a century-old concept that promotes safe, decent, and sanitary housing as a means for preventing disease and injury. In our program, we covered the following points:
  • CDC and HUD support Healthy Homes by providing grants to fund research on Healthy Homes
  • Increasing amount of scientific evidence linking health outcomes, such as asthma and unintentional injuries, to substandard housing
  • CDC has a few cooperative agreements with state or local health departments to take a healthy homes approach
  • HUD’s focus is not health research so they rely heavily on reviews, such as the National Academy of Sciences
  • HUD recently has funded some research, for example Cuyahoga County Grant – home interventions to address mold/moisture problems resulted in significant improvements in the health of asthmatic children & Seattle Grant – studied new green built public housing units on the health of asthmatic children after they moved into the units (breathe easy homes)
  • Discussion on research on allergies & asthma in regards to triggers, unintentional injuries, and poisonings

This was our final show for this period, we hope those of you who listened enjoyed the programs. Remember you can continue to access the podcast of the programs at our host page at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ or on our website http://www.keepingyourfamilysafe.net/ under each topic ticker or http://www.futureenv.com/ under the Training tab in the online training section.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe - Underground Storage Tanks

Monday, March 23, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Lee Wasserman, founder and President of LEW Corporation and Mr. Larry Graf, Grounds Division General Manager of LEW Corporation, headquartered in Mountainside, New Jersey for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at www.voiceamerica.com on the Green Talk Network). Our discussion was about Underground Storage Tanks (UST). LEW Corp. is a full service environmental consulting company who has managed tank installations, closures, and subsurface investigations from Maine to Maryland, from 275 gallon oil tanks to 12,000,000 gallon storage tanks. LEW Corp. has handled hundreds of soil remediations regarding leaking oil tanks. LEW Corp. is licensed in New Jersey for tank installation, closure, and subsurface investigation. Mr. Wasserman and Mr Graf discussed handling and managing Underground Storage Tanks. In our program, we covered the following points:
  • The Federal government does not regulate residential USTs
  • State government may regulate them in specific instances, but generally do not
  • Residential USTs are primarily regulated by local Counties, Towns, or Villages
  • Home Insurance plays an important role regarding USTs
  • Homeowners want to ensure they hire specifically licensed UST installers, and removers
  • Individuals that test the tanks for leaks, to avoid conflict of interests, are required to be independent of the installers and removers.

This Monday, March 31, 2009, at 2 PM Eastern Time we will be discussing HUD’s Healthy Homes Program with Dr. Peter Ashley, a senior environmental health scientist with Housing Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and Dr. Pamela Meyer, of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe - Audubon at Home


Monday, March 16, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Aaron Virgin, Executive Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center (www.ny.audubon.org/CentersEdu_TRoosevelt.html) for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ on the Green Talk Network). The Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center was established in 1923 as the first Audubon Songbird Sanctuary in the nation and is one of the largest providers of environmental education in the New York metropolitan area. Mr. Virgin discussed the Audubon At Home Program (www.audubon.org/bird/at_home/index.html). In our program, we covered the following points:
  • Together Green (http://www.togethergreen.org/) and what it is all about
  • Healthy Yard Pledge
  • How the Audubon at home program works.
  • Eliminating or reducing the use of pesticides
  • Conserving water
  • Protecting water quality
  • Removing exotic plant pests
  • Planting native species

This Monday, March 23, 2009, at 2 PM Eastern Time we will be discussing “Underground Storage Tanks” with Lew Wasserman, President, and Larry Graf, Grounds Division General Manager of the Lew Corporation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009 PACNY Environmental Conference


On February 26-27, 2009, the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) held their 13th annual Environmental Conference at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona, New York. If you have attended this conference before you already know that PACNY does a great job of inviting individuals to speak on current contractor/consultant issues and/or current regulatory issues. In what has become a tradition for the conference, the focus of the second day was the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) and what was affectionately referred to as the Chris Alonge Road Show.
Over 200 people attended the conference this year, not a bad number considering the condition of the economy. However, this year the absence of downstate contractors/consultants was particularly noticeable. It was too bad, because this year’s conference was one of the best. The Mohawk Room had nearly 30 vendors including Grayling Industries, DiVal Safety, Aramsco, and Fiberlock Technologies. Aramsco‘s booth was showcasing a new piece of equipment, a floor buffer with an attachment for a HEPA vacuum, that could be used under the NYS DOL Applicable Variance A-3. This floor buffer with the attachment for a HEPA vacuum would allow a contractor using it to perform mastic removal work with a remote decontamination facility.
All the presentations were held in the Oneida Room. One of my favorite presentations was a two part presentation between Mr. Dale Lesinski, Vice President of DiVal Safety and Mr. Eric Giguere. Mr. Eric Giguere was buried alive in a construction accident and told us his story of survival and his life since his near-death experience. Before Mr. Giguere’s presentation, Mr. Lesinki set the audience up with a Behavior Based safety presentation that worked well with Mr. Giguere’s presentation. The presentation created a powerful 1-2 punch for worker safety. This presentation was so powerful we saw several audience members, including myself, wiping tears away.
The other presentations included:

  • Dr. Bruce Lippy’s, of The Lippy Group, presentation on lessons learned from Ground Zero and Boca Raton Anthrax Cleanup. Interesting points: (1) Hazwoper procedures should be an integral part of disasters; (2) Better management of critical incident stress among workers; (3) Better management of the transitions from Rescue to Recovery to Cleanup; (4) Most fatalities involved with work zone safety; (5) Better understanding of the linear relationship between extended work schedule and worker risk of injury: (a) 18 hours of sustained wakefulness produces a performance impairment = 0.05% of blood alcohol content; (b) 24 hours of sustained wakefulness produces a performance impairment = 0.10% of blood alcohol content.

  • Mr. Aaron Hilger’s, of the Rochester Builders Exchange, presentation on the recent changes to Wick’s Law (Nassau/Suffolk –increase to threshold from $50,000 to $1.5 million) and the economic climate for the construction industry. His discussion also included current view of the stimulus bill and impact of health care reform.

  • LeChase Construction/Eastman Kodak’s presentation involved four speakers (Raymond LeChase, Jr., Darren Yehl, Jim Gerek, & Edward Slovak) point of view of the Eastman Kodak’s Footprint Reduction Program. The program consisted of the remediation – demolition of 80 structures totaling over six million square feet.

On the second day the Oneida room presentations included:

  • IAQ Technologies’ Mr. Bob Krell did a presentation on Indoor Environments and Green Buildings that was primarily a mold presentation.

  • Lawyers from NYS DOL & Mr. Chris Alonge then discussed: (1) The “Asbestos Successor Legislation” that went into effect in July 2008; (2) The Guidance Document version 2.0; (3) Proposed changes for the Emergency Rule Making of Industrial Code Rule 56.

  • The final presentation was a panel discussion including Mr. Chris Alonge. This panel discussion was a Q&A session for the panelist to discuss directly with Mr. Alonge. Audience participation was restricted until after the panelist finished their questions.

All in all the conference was very informative and well worth the trip. It was a pleasure to get together with old friends, make some new ones, and reacquaint with some friends we had not seen in years (Special hello to Patty Kirkland of EMSL). Bravo to the PACNY organization and the committee that put this year’s conference together, they did a great job. We look forward to next year’s conference and hope to see you there next year.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe - Dangers in the Basement

Monday, March 9, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Bob Krell, President and Certified Indoor Environment Consultant for IAQ Technologies for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at www.voiceamerica.com on the Green Talk Network). IAQ Technologies is an indoor environmental and building performance firm offering consulting, mitigation, and training services to a variety of clients throughout the country. Mr. Krell discussed various dangers we can find in basements that homeowners should be aware of and some ways to protect themselves. In our program, we covered the following points:
  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Mold and Bacteria (Differences between black, grey, and clear water)
  • Better Building Materials and Dehumidification to help prevent mold growth

This Monday, March 16, 2009, we will be discussing “Audubon at Home” with Aaron Virgin Executive Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe Program - Talks about Drinking Water


Monday, March 2, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Richard Humann, P.E., Vice President and Chief Water Resources Engineer for H2M, for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ on the Green Talk Network). H2M, headquartered in Melville, NY, is a multi-disciplined engineering and architectural consulting firm that has worked in the field of public water supply for the past 75 years. Mr. Humann discussed drinking water safety and the processes municipal water suppliers go through to provide us with safe drinking water. In our program, we also covered the following points:

  • Municipal water suppliers must test the drinking water to meet Federal, State, and local requirements (State and Local requirements must be as strict or stricter than Federal requirements).
  • All municipal water suppliers must test drinking water for a minimum of 150 parameters.
  • Treating water contaminated with MTBE is challenging to municipal water suppliers.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has guidance documents for testing drinking water once it gets to our faucets.
  • Water suppliers are required to continuously monitor the pH (corrosiveness) of water to ensure that the water does not cause the leaching of metals from the plumbing.
  • Most municipal water does not need filtering or treatment at home. Chlorine taste or smell can be eliminated by putting the water in the refrigerator.

This Monday, March 9, 2009, we will be discussing “Dangers in the Basement” with Mr. Bob Krell, President of IAQ Technologies.

Monday, March 02, 2009

NYC DEP Releases Draft Revision to Asbestos Regulations

New York City Department of Environmental Protection has released a draft revision to Title 15 - Asbestos Regulations. Visit out Future Environment Designs Discussion Group (click on the title to go to the website) files for a copy of the draft regulation. A big Thank You to Gloria Schmitt from Hazard Elimination Corp. for giving us a copy of the draft.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe - Home Safety

Monday, February 23, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Fritzi Gros-Daillon, Certified Senior Advisor, Founder, and President of Transitions USA for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at www.voiceamerica.com on the Green Talk Network). Transitions USA (visit there website at www.transitionsusa.com) is a leading senior move management firm headquartered in Huntington, New York. Ms. Gros-Daillon discussed home modifications and safety that homeowners could make to help seniors remain in their homes. In our program, we also covered the following points:
  • How do the concepts of universal design come into play with home modifications?
  • The role technology is playing in adapting the home environment
  • The need for home modification assessments as senior’s abilities change.
  • Suggested modifications for different parts of the home

This Monday, March 2, 2009, we will be discussing “Water Safety” with Mr. Rich Humann, P.E. Vice President, and Chief Water Resources Engineer with H2M.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

PACNY Conference Opens on Thursday, February 26, 2009


The Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's 13th Annual Environmental Conference starts on Thursday, February 26 and runs until the 27 at the Turning Stone Casino, in Verona, New York. As usual Mr. Christopher Alonge from the NYS Department of Labor, writer of Industrial Code Rule 56, will be there to discuss the new Guidance Document and the recently announced Emergency Rule making regarding changes to Industrial Code Rule 56. In addition, Alyssa Talanker, Esq, Legislative Counsel - NYS Dept. of Labor will be discussing “Asbestos Successor Legislation – Implications for New York
Abatement/Remediation Contractors”. We look forward to going and hope to see some of you there.

Keeping Your Family Safe - Knowing Your Safety Equipment


Monday, February 16, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Karen Meyer, Certified Industrial Hygienist and Executive Vice President of Eco Advisors for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ on the Green Talk Network). The Eco Advisors is a professional environmental consulting firm headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Ms. Meyer discussed safety equipment that homeowners could use to protect themselves from various environmental hazards. In our program, we also covered the following points:

  • Protective clothing and its proper use.
  • Gloves – different types and which type to select
  • Respirators – selection issues and proper fit
  • HEPA vacuums – proper selection

This Monday, February 23, 2009, we will be discussing “Home Safety – Not Just Ramps and Grab Bars” with Fritzi Gros-Daillon founder of Transitions USA.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe Program - Sustainable Homes

Monday, February 9, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Marilyn Black, founder of the Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI) for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ on the Green Talk Network). The Greenguard Environmental Institute (visit there website at http://www.greenguard.org/) is an industry-independent, non-profit organization that oversees the Greenguard Certification Program. Dr. Black discussed Greenguard Certification Program and its impact on building materials and furnishings. In our program, we also covered the following points:
  • The Greenguard Certification Program allows manufacturers to voluntarily certify their products, with a third party organization, as emitting low levels of various contaminants. Some contaminants cannot be present at all, while others have to meet recognized federal, state, local, or in some cases industry standards.
  • There are no regulations requiring products to be tested, or for that matter what contaminants to test for or for the levels to test at.
  • In developing an environmental footprint, you can find the best calculators on the internet.
  • We discussed the impact that energy efficiency can have on indoor air quality.
  • We discussed indoor air quality concerns with phthalates, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, mercury, and multi-chemical exposures.
  • Concerns in sustainable homes with bamboo products and compact fluorescents.

This Monday, February 23, 2009, we will be discussing “Home Safety – Not Just Ramps and Grab Bars” with Fritzi Gros-Daillon founder of Transitions USA.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe Program - Talks about NYC Guidelines

Monday, February 2, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Chris D’Andrea, an Environmental Scientist, and Certified Industrial Hygienist who oversees the Office of Environmental Investigations with the New York City Department Health and Mental Hygiene for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ on the Green Talk Network). Mr. D’Andrea is the editor of New York City’s “Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments. In our program, we discussed the guidelines and covered the following points:

  • The differences between the current update and the previous guidelines.
  • The importance of the visual inspection.
  • The different cleaning methods of soap or detergent, disinfectants, fogging, and anti-microbials.
  • Importance of removing the mold.
  • Health effects appendix of the standard.
  • Importance of removing moisture intrusion and its potential health effects.
  • Changing remediation to three sizes versus four.
  • Addition of the EPA table as a reference.

This Monday, February 9, 2009, we will be discussing Making a Sustainable Home Healthy with Dr. Marilyn Black founder of Greenguard Environmental Institute that oversees the Greenguard Certification Program.

Monday, February 02, 2009

NYS DOL Announces Guidance Document

New York State Department of Labor has released Guidance Document version 2.0. It has approximately 340 questions that NYSDOL is providing guidance on. Click on the title for the link.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe Program - Talks about IAQ And Mold Certifications

Monday, January 26, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Charles Wiles, the executive director of the American Indoor Air Quality Council for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ on the Green Talk Network). In our program, we discussed the certification in the indoor air quality and mold industry. We covered the following points:

  • Someone who is looking for a professional in the indoor air quality and mold industry should ensure the individual is licensed by federal, state, or local regulations. Since there are only a few states requiring licensing or certification (ie, MD, FL, TX), the individual you hire should have a voluntary certification.
  • If the individual voluntarily certifies, the individual’s certification should be an industry certification versus a curriculum-based certification.
  • An industry certification that meets the highest standards and qualifications must be issued by an industry organization that is accredited by the Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards, follow the International Standards Organization standard 17024, and is independent from the training providers.
  • The American Indoor Air Quality Council has a number of certifications that meet these requirements visit there website at http://www.iaqcouncil.org/

This Monday, February 2, 2009, we will be interviewing Mr. Chris D’Andrea, a Certified Industrial Hygienist who oversees the Office of Environmental Investigations with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, regarding revisions to the City’s current guidelines on mold assessment and remediation.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe Program - Talks about Mold Sampling


Monday, January 19, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Harriet Burge, formerly from Harvard’s School of Public Health and the current Director of Aerobiology at Environmental Microbiology Laboratories for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe” (find it at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ on the Green Talk Network). In our program, we discussed the mold (microbial) sampling. We covered the following points:

  • General discussion on fungi and molds.
  • The most common health effect of molds is an allergic reaction.
  • Other health effects include infections and fungal sinusitis. Health effects of mycotoxins are controversial.
  • Fungi need water and food to grow. When fungi grow in places we do not want them we call them molds. Fungi and molds spread by spores.
  • Three types of sampling (bulk, surface, and air).
  • There are no standards.
  • Each method has advantages, but air is the only way to document exposure.
  • Viable (culturable) versus nonviable (particulate).
  • Culturable sampling are strongly biased.
  • Particulate sampling can be a very powerful tool.
  • There are new methods but not commonly used yet.
  • A number of samples are needed to get representative results and document exposure

This Monday, January 26, 2009, we will be interviewing Mr. Charles Wiles the executive director of the American Indoor Air Quality Council regarding certification in the indoor air quality and mold industry.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Keeping Your Family Safe Program - Talks about Asbestos


Monday, Jan. 12, 2009, we had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Reinstein, the Executive Director and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization for our internet radio program “Keeping Your Family Safe" (see below for the website information). In our program, we discussed the dangers of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials. We covered the following points:

  • More than 10,000 Americans die of asbestos caused diseases every year.
  • India has the highest exposure to asbestos and is the second largest importer of asbestos.
  • Worker exposure also affects family members at home.
  • Asbestos – there is no ban, and has been listed as a human carcinogen for over 30 years.
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the World Health Organization, and the International Labor Organization, all believe that there is no safe exposure level to asbestos and that asbestos kills.
  • Asbestos has a long legacy because it is virtually indestructible.
  • Friable is a measure of asbestos’ ability to become airborne. Though an asbestos-containing building material may not be friable, that material can still release asbestos if homeowners work on it.
  • Over 3,000 products contain asbestos.
  • Once asbestos enters the body, especially the lungs, it is difficult to get the asbestos out of the body.
  • Health effects – non-malignant and malignant diseases. Asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung, gastro-intestinal, and kidney cancers, pleural thickening, and pleural plaques all are life threatening. All reduce the ability to breathe.
  • Construction and building trades are typically exposed to asbestos.

For more information download the podcast at http://www.voiceamerica.com/ click on the Green Talk Network and find the Keeping Your Family Safe host page. There you can download the podcast of the show and listen to it at your leisure.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) (visit there website at http://www.adao.us/) is an all volunteer organization dedicated to offering education, resources, and support to asbestos awareness. The ADAO is working hard on establishing a ban on asbestos (visit the following website to join the ban or for more information http://www.banasbestos.us/). In addition, the ADAO is sponsoring the 5th Annual Asbestos Awareness Day Conference on March 27-29, 2009 at the Manhattan Beach Marriott, California (visit the following website for more information http://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/). This Monday, January 19, 2009, we will be interviewing Dr. Harriet Burge of the Harvard School of Public Health regarding microbial sampling.