Monday, February 28, 2011

Jeffrey Leonard On The Colbert Report Discusses Small Businesses

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As we have discussed in classes and anyone who is willing to listen to me knows, the issue of payment by clients and the reduction of lending has caused most small businesses to curtail hiring.  Mr. Jeffrey Leonard on the Colbert Report tries to make this point though Mr. Colbert does his usual comedy routine and unfortunately does not get the point that Mr. Leonard is trying to make.  If the government wants to help small businesses hire more, then they have to help us increase our cash flow.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Possible Outbreak Of Legionellosis At The Playboy Mansion?

The Playboy Mansion Front DoorImage via WikipediaThe Los Angeles Times reported on Monday, February 14 that the Los Angeles County health officials said that 170 people have fallen ill with a possible outbreak of legionellosis or Pontiac fever after attending or working at a fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion and potentially other areas, but they do not believe the outbreak has spread beyond those associated with the event.  The event held on Feb. 3 DOMAINfest Global Conference in Santa Monica, affected people "with symptoms mostly consisting of fever, chills, general discomfort (malaise) and some cough," according to a statement by the LA County Department of Public Health.
According to the LA Times, the LA County Department of Public Health was notified last Friday of a "suspected respiratory infection outbreak" among those associated with the conference, and officials were still identifying and contacting possible victims Monday, according to the statement.  In addition, to the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills several other locations (including the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica where the conference was held) associated with this conference are being investigated.  "At this time, Public Health has not determined that the source of exposure is limited to a specific location. The department is working to conclusively identify the source of exposure and the likely cause of illness for this suspected outbreak."  Staff members from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) based at the department were assisting with the investigation.
According to the LA Times, it was not clear how soon investigators could determine whether the illness is legionellosis, a milder form of Legionnaires' disease caused by a bacterium that grows in warm water and can take root in hot tubs or parts of air-conditioning systems, according to the CDC.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Could NYS Be Promulgating Lead and Mold Regulations in 2011.

 
The brains of adults who were exposed to lead ...Image via Wikipedia
Brains of Adults Who Were Exposed to Lead as Children


A recent legislative/regulatory report for New York State by the American Industrial Hygiene Association's (AIHA) Government Affairs Department indicates legislative/regulatory activity on mold, lead based paint, and even asbestos.  The Person Engaged in Commercial Mold Remediation legislation is currently being reviewed in the Assembly's Committee on Environmental Conservation, while the Childhood Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention and Safe Housing Act is being reviewed in the Assembly's Health Committee. Indications are that both legislation will require licensing and/or certification of individuals performing this work in New York State.  2011 NY A 1769 Mold Legislation (introduced 1/11/11) will require applicants for a license to submit proof or certification by the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC) or any other nationally recognized, third-party accredited certifying body that operates independently of training organizations and industry trade associations.  An applicant for an initial license must pass the department licensing examination in that area of licensure with a score of at least seventy percent correct before applying for the license.  All applicants must pass the department licensing examination within six months of earning certification.  While 2011 NY A 728 Childhood Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention and Safe Housing Act will require the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to promulgate rules and regulations that shall provide for, but not be limited to, qualifications of individuals eligible to conduct such inspections, standards of practice, procedures or protocol for conducting such inspections and requirements for written reports documenting the results of such inspections. To satisfy the requirements of this paragraph, the NYSDOH may adopt regulations sufficient to satisfy the requirements of 40 C.F.R. Part 745 Subpart Q or successor regulation. It would also allow the NYSDOH to promulgate rules and regulations sufficient to satisfy the requirements of 40 C.F.R. Part 745 Subpart Q or successor regulation, governing the accreditation of persons engaging in lead based paint activities.  Don't forget it will also establish by regulation a schedule of fees for the accreditation and registration of persons engaging in lead-based paint activities or conducting inspections for conditions conducive to lead poisoning or lead-based paint activities. Such fees shall be required to be paid at the time of initial registration and at the time of subsequent renewal of registration and shall be deposited into the childhood lead poisoning primary prevention and safe housing fund established pursuant to section ninety-nine-t of the state finance law.
Along with many of you, I don't know what the chances are of these regulations actually being promulgated.  It will be interesting to see if the new year sees us with both lead and mold regulations.  In addition, their seems to be movement on the asbestos front on a new regulation taking into account the Deutsche Bank fire issues.  The PACNY Environmental Conference is in three weeks and we will see if Mr. Chris Alonge has anything new to say about the asbestos regulations.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NIOSH Science Blog Discusses Law Enforcement Injury Causes

The male lion statue at the National Law Enfor...Image via WikipediaLast week on Long Island many mourned the death of Nassau County Police Officer Michael J. Califano.  Officer Califano was killed when a flatbed truck slammed into his car during a routine traffic stop on the Long Island Expressway last Friday night (February 4, 2011).  Though his death was outside his vehicle, it is interesting that the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) science blog posting on February 9, 2011 was a discussion on "Cops and Cars".  The blog points out that, the occupational injury fatality rate for police officers was 4 times higher than the U.S. average [BLS, 2009] in 2009.  The blog also discussses a new report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, line-of-duty deaths have dramatically increased – 40% – from 2009 to 2010 (NLEOMF, 2010).  Possible reasons for this significant increase include budget cuts, the expiration of semi-automatic weapon bans, and a diminishing respect for police officers; but these are, at best, speculations.

The blog then points out that, traffic-related incidents are actually the leading cause of death among our nation's law enforcement officers and have been for the past 13 years (NLEOMF, 2010).  In fact, over the past 5 decades, overall line-of-duty deaths have steadily declined and traffic-related fatalities have increased (2010).  More recently, traffic-related fatalities increased 43% between 2009 and 2010 (2010).  This increase includes officers involved in motor-vehicle crashes and those struck while outside their vehicles.

It is interesting that statistics indicate that law enforcement use of seat belts may be a factor.  Two studies showed that seat bealt use by law enforccement was between 38%-42%.  However, law enforcement have good reasons for not wearing seat belts, including the design of the seat belts can catch their gun holster as they quickly get out of their cars.  Because of this NIOSH is undertaking the first state-wide study of attitudes and beliefs of seatbelt usage among law enforcement officers.  This study will survey a random sample of Iowa law enforcement officers through their agency leadership.  The study will include officers in municipal departments, the state patrol, and sheriff's offices.  As NIOSH begins this research, they are requesting (through the NIOSH Science Blog) to hear from police officers, police administration, law enforcement unions, training academies, and motor-vehicle researchers about their experiences with motor-vehicle crashes and the usage of seatbelts while in patrol cars.  For more information visit the NIOSH Science Blog at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/blog/.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CDC Warning About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning,

Thursday, February 17Carbon Monoxide detector connected to a North ..., Newsday published the following news story; "Cops: Accident kills couple in their beds."  The news story is about a Garden City couple being poisoned by carbon monoxide from their car that they left running in the garage.  This tragedy could have been prevented if the carbon monoxide detector was working in the couple's home.  Image via WikipediaCarbon Monoxide (CO) is a deadly killer that kills more than 400 people in the U. S. every year.  CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, automobiles, or by burning charcoal and wood.  CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces.  People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.

Important CO Poisoning Prevention Tips:
  • Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months.  If you don't have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
  • Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.  Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away.
CO poisoning is entirely preventable. You can protect yourself and your family by acting wisely in case of a power outage and learning the symptoms of CO poisoning.  For more information, please visit www.cdc.gov/co.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Indoor Environment Connections Discusses Fungal Infection

Air Ducts Are the Lungs of the Building
In the October 2010 issue of Indoor Environment Connections (page 14), Mr. Paul Cochrane, President of Cochrane and Assoc., discusses his experience regarding a fungal infection of his lungs that at first made him think he was having a heart attack.  It is an excellently written story I suggest you read it to help you become more aware of the symptoms and problems occupants face when encountering infections.  Being in the indoor air quality industry and reading this story, allows me to better anticipate what an occupant may experiencing.  Hope it helps you, too.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Asthma Control Study Indicates a Home Visit Strategy is Successful.

The house dust mite, its feces and chitin are ...Image via WikipediaIn a study published in Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology (Volume 23, Number 2, 2010) called “Home Is Where the Triggers Are: Increasing Asthma Control by Improving the Home Environment” by James Krieger, MD, MPH discusses effectiveness of a home visit strategy. A home visit strategy should include an environmental component that addresses multiple triggers. Visitors assess home environmental conditions, tailor education on how to eliminate triggers to the client’s sensitization status and exposures found in the home, provide trigger reduction resources (eg, vacuums, cleaning supplies, bedding encasements and referral to smoking cessation), help with cockroach and rodent integrated pest management, make minor repairs and provide social support. An important part of the strategy is that visitors build trusting relationships with clients, thus enhancing their effectiveness in motivating behavior changes. These home visits reduce exposure to triggers, decrease symptoms and urgent health-care use, and increase quality of life. Home visit program cost per client ranges from $200 to $1500 based on the type of home visitor and the intensity of the intervention. However, a cost-effectiveness analysis concluded that these home visits have a return on investment of 5.3 – 14.0 and a cost of $12 - $57 per symptom-free day gained. It is important to note that the annual cost of inhaled fluticasone (220ug) is approximately $1567. The study discusses the Seattle-King County Healthy Homes program as an example of a successful program.


The study also talks about the strong evidence that links exposure to allergens commonly found in homes such as those derived from dust mites, cockroaches, rodents, molds, and pet dander, to sensitization and subsequent asthma incidence and morbidity. Exposure to indoor allergens is widespread, with >92% of homes containing sufficient concentrations of at least one allergen in dust to cause symptoms in sensitized individuals and 46% with exposure to three or more. In addition to allergens, other indoor asthma triggers include tobacco smoke, nitrogen oxides from combustion devices, irritants from volatile organic compounds, and fungi.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NYC Schools In The News Again for PCBs.

An intact ballast from a typical pre-1979 fluorescent light fixture.
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found three more schools in New York City with leaking polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) lighting ballasts.  The agency took 14 samples from light fixtures at an East Harlem School complex consisting of P.S. 206, P.S. 37 and P.S. 112 and found that 12 were above the regulatory limit. The three schools are located at 508 E. 120th St, Manhattan.  This is the fifth school site testing positive for PCBs, other sites included Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Bronx.  According to Metro, New York City Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said they’ve replaced all the toxic lights found by the EPA thus far, but the estimated cost for checking and/or replacing all the lights in public schools throughout the five boroughs is $1 billion, which NYC does not have.  EPA has been studying this problem for years and has produced a website covering the "Proper Maintenance, Removal, and Disposal of PCB-Containing Fluorescent Light Ballasts".  The purpose of this website is to provide information to school administrators and maintenance personnel on the risks posed by PCBs in light ballasts, how to properly handle and dispose of these items, and how to properly retrofit the lighting fixtures in your school to remove the potential PCB hazards.  The website covers the following areas:
  • Why Should I Be Concerned about PCBs in My School?
  • What Are the Health Effects of PCBs?
  • Do My Fluorescent Light Ballasts Contain PCBs?
  • Should the Light Ballasts in My School Be Removed?
  • What Should I Do if My Fluorescent Light Ballasts Contain PCBs?
  • Is It Really Necessary to Retrofit the PCB-Containing Fluorescent Light Ballasts in My School?
  • What Are the Risks and Potential Costs of Not Replacing the PCB-Containing Fluorescent Light Ballasts in My School?
  • Are Students and Teachers in Danger if There are Leaking PCB-Containing Light Ballasts in Their School?
  • What Are the Special Procedures for Cleanup and Decontamination after a Ballast Leak or Fire?
  • How Do I Retrofit the PCB-Containing Fluorescent Light Ballasts in My School?
  • What Type of Waste Will Be Associated with a Retrofit and How Do I Handle It?
  • What Are the Cost Savings Associated with a Retrofit?
  • What if a Retrofit Is Not Feasible in My Current Budget?
As EPA continues its investigation of NYC schools,  we are sure we will continue to see headlines like these well into the future. 
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Asbestos Worries Close Saint Louis Park Schools

Asbestos Handler Initial Class at IUOEImage by angelogarciaiii via FlickrThose of us in the asbestos industry will find the above news story very interesting (find the original news story at StarTribune.com).  The officials of St. Louis Park schools in Minnesota were worried that asbestos floor tiles (approximately 10% asbestos) were being worn down, by tracked-in salt and sand, and could be releasing dangerous asbestos.  The officials decided to close the city's junior and senior high schools on Monday, February 14, 2011.  The schools will remain closed Tuesday as state and school officials work to assess the hazard and determine if other schools face similar problems.  Asbestos floor tile was commonly installed in hundreds of 1960s-era schools across the metro area, but it remains unclear how many could still have the asbestos tile or how much risk St. Louis Park students faced, said one expert at the Minnesota Department of Health.
Quoted in the article was Diedra Hudgens, senior project manager at Brooklyn Park-based Institute for Environmental Assessment, or IEA.  Her company tested the two St. Louis Park schools for asbestos Monday and Tuesday and will be "taking a closer eye" on the 60 other Minnesota schools it works with.  "We're definitely going to be informing our clients -- other school districts -- about what we found, and we'll definitely be taking steps to monitor it," said Diedra Hudgens.  "Every district has an elementary school or something this vintage."
So what started this concern of salt and sand releasing asbestos?  St. Louis Park school staffers complained late last week about dust outside a school nurse's office, prompting IEA tests on Saturday.  A protective wax layer had been worn down by salt and sand tracked in from roads and sidewalks, dulling the floor.  As a precautionary measure on Monday, school was dismissed for additional testing at both the high school and the nearby junior high -- which has similar flooring.  These tiles were removed from the high school and Monday the school was tested by IEA crews in full protective gear.
What makes this interesting is that the article does not discuss the results of any of the testing done nor does it discuss what type of testing was done?  We can only assume that the results must of indicated a need to do something because the schools were closed and the tiles were removed.  Since Long Island had alot of snowfall this year, and I'm sure we used more salt and sand this year then in the past, this news story implies that there is an increase potential for the release of asbestos from floor tiles that are subjected to tracked-in salt and sand.  It will be interesting to see if and how this story plays out or if it just dies on the vine.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Difference Between Respirators and Surgical Masks



This Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Respirator Safety Video discussing the difference between respirators and surgical masks is a very good video to better understand the difference between these two pieces of equipment that can protect you from particular hazards.  The video is available in spanish, too.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

AIHA Registry Programs Launches New Program For XRF Field Measurement Registry

Peeling lead-based paint is an indicator that lead dust may be on the floor and surfaces
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Registry Programs LLC officially launched on January 18, 2011 a new registry program for X-ray fluorescence (XRF) Field Measurement.  The XRF Field Measurement Registry (FMR) program allows participants to use their registration status for in-situ XRF measurements.  This registry program does not address accreditation required for recognition by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (NLLAP) as required at 40 CFR Part 745 for environmental lead analyses.
The FMR program is designed to recognize organizations and their affiliated operators that perform in-situ XRF measurements of lead paint surface coatings in the field.  The program maintains minimum standards of conduct for all FMR participants through adherence to the programs policies and registration process.
The FMR program will provide:
  • Connections – clients, customers, and employers can find or hire the right kind of professional
  • Consistency -- standardization of processes and methods across state lines and country borders
  • Continuous improvement – a venue for collaboration and sharing of best practices
The FMR program will raise the competency bar through recognition of high quality organizations and their affiliated operators.  Registries help assure a level of quality among professionals and confidence among regulators and consumers who are looking to identify and then properly control or remove potential health hazards to workers and occupants of buildings.
Registered organizations and enrolled operators perform in-situ field measurements of lead surface coatings utilizing an XRF.  Registered organizations have met the qualifications for inclusion on the registry: personnel training, adherence to an established and documented quality system that is based on the most current version of the FMR Policy.  All enrolled operators must be affiliated with an FMR Registered organization that oversees the Quality Assurance and Quality Control program that monitors the operator and be properly trained and licensed for the work to be performed.
For general information and information detailing the registry program and processes, please visit the web site: http://www.aiharegistries.org/.  For specific inquiries, contact the AIHA Registry Program at info.RegistryLLC@aiha.org.
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Monday, February 07, 2011

Steven Mancuso Is Barred From Practicing Law By Federal Authorities.

 
Asbestos fibres - a single fibre is believed t...Image via Wikipedia
Asbestos fibres - a single fibre is believed to cause mesothelioma



As we have discussed in our asbestos refresher classes, and previously in our blog, the Mancuso family is in the news again.  This time it is Lawyer Steven Mancuso of Utica, New York being disbarred from practicing law upon his conviction for conspiring with his brother, Paul Mancuso, to cover-up illegal asbestos removal operations.  Steven, Paul and their father, Lester Mancuso, were sentenced to three years in federal prison last June. 
An attorney since 2002, Steven Mancuso was found guilty in a federal trial for wrongfully aiding his brother in the creation of fraudulent partnerships and submission of false legal documents in an effort to conceal the illegality of Paul Mancuso’s asbestos business.  Steven Mancuso denied the charges, yet U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin ruled that he had used his legal skills in the furtherance of his brother’s criminal conspiracy.  “When an attorney used his law license to commit crimes and to aid another in the commission of crimes, the appropriate sanction is disbarment,” stated the December 30th ruling.  Reports said that Mancuso is currently in the process of appealing to the court, saying that the prosecutors failed to properly handle a variety of legal issues. 
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Thursday, February 03, 2011

OSHA Respirator Safety Video



This Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Respirator Safety Video is a very good introductory video on respirator donning and doffing.  Probably will add this to our training classes since it is a very good entry level and refresher video.  The video is available in spanish, too.

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Condo Covered In Asbestos Dust in Virginia Beach, VA


Asbestos Pipe Insulation in a Crawl Space
 This news report and video from WAVY-TV10 In Virginia Beach, VA illustrates the importance of knowing what materials contain asbestos before performing any work in an area where the materials are suspected of containing asbestos.  A Virginia Beach family moves out of their condo after building maintenance activities may have caused the release of asbestos.  After the owners of the condo discovered that building maintenance activites had left a fine dust behind, they had the dust tested and the laboratory tests indicated the dust was asbestos dust.  It would be interesting to determine the procedures used since sampling dust is still a controversial issue in the asbestos industry.  The collection of the dust should follow the American Society of Testing Material (ASTM) Standard D5755-09 or D5756-02(2008).  However, what do you compare the results to?  The neither ASTM standard set a level for safety.  There is currently no standard under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a safe level of asbestos dust.  Some laboratories will give you guidelines, again these are not standards or regulations.  In addition, there are few published studies on what would be a safe level.  Is there a safe level or is the presence of any asbestos dust mean that the area is contaminated and hence it is a danger.  Most asbestos inspectors probably would say that any asbestos dust makes the area unsafe and hence the area is contaminated.  Meaning some type of removal/cleanup is necessary.  Which brings up the next question how clean is clean and can you clean porous items?  According to New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) Industrial Code Rule 56 (ICR56), the asbestos regulation governing NYS, porous items would need to be cleaned and disposed of as asbestos containing materials.  Asbestos dust sampling is one of the most difficult issues to deal with in the asbestos industry, I don't envy the Virginia Beach condo association trying to deal with this issue.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

NIOSH Seeking Comments On The Draft Recommendations For Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance

Csa-slsImage via WikipediaThe National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today invited public comment on a draft document titled, "Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance."  This document was developed by a consortium of federal agencies, state health departments, and volunteer organizations, headed by the NIOSH with the goal of proposing a more comprehensive and systematic approach to worker safety and health for all emergency responders.

The set of guidelines and recommendations described in the document is the result of the collaborative efforts of the workgroup.  When final, it is expected that this document will serve as an interagency resource that is intended for review and possible publication by the National Response Team. 
"The gaps in our ability to ensure the safety and health of all workers involved in large scale and complex emergency responses have been documented through our responses to the World Trade Center disaster, Hurricane Katrina, and most recently, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.  "This document is the result of our shared learning from these events and our combined commitment to protect those workers who respond in times of need."
This draft document proposes a new framework for ensuring responder safety and health by monitoring and conducting surveillance of their health and safety during the entire cycle of emergency response, including the pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment phases of a response.  The proposed system is referred to as the "Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS)" system, and includes a guidance section describing the principles involved in ensuring optimal responder safety and health, as well as tools which can be utilized to help facilitate the execution of these principles during an actual response.
The draft document is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docket/review/docket223/ for written public comment until April 4, 2011.
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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Save The Date For PACNY's 15th Annual Environmental Conference

Table-level view of live poker at Turning StoneImage via Wikipedia
Table-level view of Live Poker at Turning Stone.
The Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) has announced a save the date of March 10th & 11th, 2011 at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY for their 15th Annual Environmental Conference.  Visit their website at: http://www.pacny.org/conferences.asp for conference and sponsorship information.  This annual event is always a pleasure to start the year off.  See our previous posts regarding our attendance at past events.  We look forward to seeing you there.
2010 Environmental Conference
2009 Environmental Conference
2008 Environmental Conference
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