Friday, April 29, 2011

EPA Region 2 Coordinator Discusses the RRP Rule

Environmental journalism supports the protecti...Image via WikipediaOn Friday, April 1, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 2 Renovation, Repair , and Painting (RRP) Rule Coordinator Ms. Jeanette Dadusc was discussing the requirements and background of the rule. The topics covered included: introduction to the problem of childhood lead poisoning; Federal government’s response to childhood lead poisoning; how the RRP Rule was developed; the regulated universe of RRP facilities and activities; certification requirements for training providers, individuals, and firms; notification and work practice requirements; cleaning verification card; proposed rule changes; RRP frequent questions; and RRP enforcement strategy.

Her presentation was wide ranging, covered the full time of the presentation, and the handouts supplemented her presentation and were useful. Visit our website at http://futureenvironmentdesigns.com/news.html to find a copy of her handouts.  Some of the points regarding the childhood lead problem were:
  • Lead based paint is the number one environmental health threat to children
  • Children absorb 50% of the lead they ingest compared to adults, which absorb only 10%.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is no known safe level of lead in blood.
  • Discussions are ongoing regarding dropping the standard of lead blood level to 5 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dl) versus the current 10 ug/dl.
  • Lead bioaccumulates in the body because it mimics calcium
  • Children, who live in homes where renovation & remodeling activities were performed within the past year, are 30% more likely to have a blood lead level that equals or exceeds 10 ug/dl.
Some of the points regarding regulated universe of RRP facilities and activities were:
  • Target housing is defined as housing constructed prior to 1978.  There are only 2 exceptions housing for the elderly or for person with disabilities (unless one or more children under 6 years old resides or is expected to reside in such housing), and 0-bedroom dwellings. Meaning hotels, motels, timeshares, and student housing is not exempt.
  • Child Occupied Facility (COF) is defined as a building or portion of a building built prior to 1978 that is visited by the same child under age six for at least 3 hours per day, or at least 6 hours per week, or at least 60 hours per year. This includes common areas routinely used by the children under age 6 (i.e, restrooms, cafeterias), and adjacent exterior areas.
Other major points she covered were:
  • Delead test kit added to the list of EPA approved test kits. The test kits must be used according to the manufacturer’s directions including materials that the test kits cannot be used on.
  • Lead Based Paint Abatement Contractors require RRP Renovator Certification. Previous certification as a worker/supervisor allows the person to take the ½ day refresher class to become a renovator.
  • Lead Waste – residential (homeowners & contractors) can dispose of lead waste bags with household waste. COFs must follow the hazardous waste regulations.
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Inexpensively Handling IAQ Problems in Schools

An excellant article "Little Things Can Fix a Big Problem on National Healthy Schools Day" written by Claire Barnett, Founder and Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, Inc., for the Huffpost Heath.  Describes what teachers, parents, and facility directors can do, inexpensively, to help improve indoor air quality and help students stay in school.  I would add that teachers, staff, and students should avoid using perfumes and colognes in school or any strong smelling deodorants.  In addition, teachers and staff should not bring home cleaning supplies to clean their rooms, request from the facility director or the custodians cleaning supplies that are used by the school.  Many times I have inspected facilities where the facility has gone to green supplies, only to inspect a classroom to find cleaning supplies not used by the facility (ie, windex, pledge, etc.).  It doesn't help being green, if teachers/staff are using non-green cleaning products that they brought from home. 
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Controversy Regarding Brodeur's Asbestos Research Information at The New York Public Library.

The Main Branch building of the New York Publi...Image via WikipediaMy first full-time job was working with Hygienetics which at the time was located in Jersey City, New Jersey.  My boss and my mentor was Mr. Eugene Pinzer, CIH.  Mr. Pinzer was a great boss and did an excellant job mentoring me (as far as I am concerned).  At times he would train by hands-on practices, other times he would ask me to read some article or book that would help with my education and help me gain valuable experience and knowledge.  When I read the Felix Salmon's blog post "The case of Paul Brodeur vs the NYPL" and then Paul Brodeur's, a staff writer for The New Yorker for nearly 40 years, article for The Author's Guild titled "Paul Brodeur: A Breach of Trust at The New York Public Library" it brought back the some great memories.  One of the articles Mr. Pinzer requested that I read was Mr. Brodeur's article "Annals of Law - The Asbestos Industry on Trial".  This four part article written for The New Yorker Magazine ran from June 10 - July 1, 1985.  At the time I was, are you kidding me.  The articles were the equivalent of a 300-400 page book and I really didn't see the importance.  However, as Mr. Pinzer was apt to do he cajoled me into reading it.  The articles are well written and documents the asbestos industry's fall from grace.  I strongly suggest that if you are in the asbestos industry you read these articles.  It details the downfall of the industry, including how the information that exposed the industry of hiding the dangers of asbestos.
As the title indicates the New York Public Library has notified Mr. Brodeur that they intend on breaking up his collection of papers that he donated to the library.  Included in this collection of papers is Mr. Paul Brodeur's investigation of the asbestos health hazard and its cover-up by the asbestos industry.  Though I am not a curator or librarian, it seems to be a waste of the research that Mr. Brodeur did to back-up the facts, assertions, and evidence he writes about in his articles.  I hope the New York Public Library reconsiders their decision or at least allow the collection to remain together by returning the full documents to Mr. Brodeur.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quebec Government Decides to Back Loan to Restart Asbestos Mine

Asbestos (chrysotile)Image via WikipediaQuebec government announced that it was providing conditional support of the reopening of the Jeffrey Mine Inc in the town of Asbestos through a $58 million loan guaranteeEconomic development minister Clément Gignac also suggested that chrysotile asbestos from that mine could help save lives in India.  Gignac said, the relaunched mine would create 425 full-time jobs in the region plus provide millions of dollars in taxes and royalties to Quebec which in turn will create a $7.5 million economic diversification fund for the region.
To justify the decision, Gignac told reporters that millions of people in India die of cholera every year because they lack access to potable water and proper sanitary infrastructure.  "Excuse me, but the fact is that chrysotile asbestos cement can be used to make many more kilometres of infrastructure because it is less expensive and is a durable material and we can improve the quality of life of citizens in India," he said.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

NIOSH Study Designates Bisphenol A as a Skin Sensitizer


Chemical structure of bisphenol A.
Image via Wikipedia

On April 12, 2011, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a skin notation profile for Bisphenol A (BPA).  This profile found enough evidence to classify BPA as causing skin sensitization.  Sensitization is a specific immune-mediated response (responses mediated by the immune system, including allergic responses) that develops following exposure to a chemical, which, upon re-exposure, can lead to allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) or other immune-mediated diseases such as asthma, depending on the site and route of re-exposure.  BPA is a high-production-volume (HPV) chemical used in the manufacturing of epoxy resins, plastics, and flame retardants.  NIOSH evaluated several case reports and predictive animal studies that indicated BPA as being a skin sensitizer and can cause photoallergy.  Hence, NIOSH has assigned a SK:SEN notation (skin:sensitizer) for BPA.  With BPA used as a flame retardant avoiding coming into skin contact with it could be very difficult. 
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Inspectors Discover Asbestos at East Hampton Middle School

Mold behind sheet rock (asbestos joint compound?).
Interesting article "Inspectors Discover Asbestos at East Hampton Middle School" regarding asbestos and mold in the East Hampton Patch.  Kind of interesting how this ties into my last post regarding avoiding tunnel vision.  The original focus of the inspection was mold and Ms. Barbara Eisenberg, the inspector for the New York State Department of Labor, instead found asbestos containing debris.  This is another perfect example of making sure all issues are addressed not just the mold concern but realizing the mold may be growing on the asbestos containing material and the asbestos needs to be addressed, too.  Since asbestos is regulated in New York State and mold is not (yet?), the asbestos will take priority in the way the work will be handled. 
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Asbestos Article in Indoor Environment Discusses Cross Issues with Radon

In the March 2011 issue of Indoor Environment Connections, Douglas Kladder the Director of the Center for Environmental Research & Training in Colorado Springs, Colorado wrote an excellant article regarding asbestos.  Being on the asbestos side of the fence, it is interesting how sometimes we get tunnel vision in dealing with indoor air quality/environmental issues.  Mr. Kladder article "Asbestos? What Asbestos? I'm a Radon Guy!" discusses the dangers of tunnel vision.  Mr. Kladder discusses that their are few activities involved in radon mitigation that would not impact asbestos containing materials.  He then provides several war stories of issues related to this topic.  In many ways the same statement can be made to those of us in the asbestos field.  We tend to get tunnel vision regarding asbestos and forget that lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or, even for that matter, radon may also be a concern.  For example, lead paint could be on asbestos siding or asbestos spackles/joint compounds, and window caulk, in addition to containing asbestos, may also contain lead and/or PCBs.  It is important for indoor air quality/environmental professional to keep abreast of the field and to consider the potential possibilities of various environmental hazards being present.  
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Monday, April 11, 2011

New York State Releases FAQ on Asbestos Analysis

Asbestos (tremolite) silky fibres on muscovite...Image via WikipediaLate last week we received a FAQ from New York State Department of Health.  The FAQ is focused on analyzing asbestos samples and the environmental laboratory accreditation program.  The FAQ has several interesting piece of information.  Those of you who attend my classes, have heard me discuss the problems with analyzing vermiculite and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statement that asbestos inspectors should not sample the material but should assume the material is asbestos.  Well Question 10 in this document states "Since there is currently no approved analytical methodology to reliably confirm vermiculite as non-asbestos containing it is best to assume vermiculite is contaminated with asbestos and proceed accordingly."  We will add this document to all our course manuals, and/or you can access the document at: http://futureenvironmentdesigns.com/Media/NYS%20Asbestos%20FAQ%20%20April%208-2011%20(2).pdf.
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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Asbestos Expert Demands Canada Retract "Safe Use" Statement

SEM photo of Chrysotile.Image via WikipediaLeslie Stayner, an asbestos expert at the University of Illinois's school of public health and a key member of the Canadian Government's expert panel on asbestos is demanding Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis retract recent comments that cited the group's report to promote the "safe use" of asbestos. The expert report, provided to the government in March 2008, was released 13 months later after a long delay under access to information legislation. Paradis, who represents the Quebec town where asbestos is mined, earlier this month told media in Quebec that the government has "adopted a clear position and there have been no new facts since then. Our position remains the same, that of promoting the safe use of asbestos," said Paradis.
However, Leslie Stayner, sent a letter sent to Paradis last week and obtained by Postmedia News, says the comments to the media are a "total misrepresentation" of the expert panel's report, commissioned by Health Canada.  The letter to Paradis, Stayner said the expert panel was never asked to address the question of whether chrysotile asbestos could be used safely.  "Had we been asked this question, I would certainly not have supported the argument that the continued production and use of asbestos in any form, including chrysotile, is safe. It is impossible to believe that developing countries such as India will be able to use chrysotile asbestos in a manner that protects public health when more technically advanced countries like Canada and the United States have failed to do so," Stayner wrote to Paradis.

Visit Canada.com for the full article at: http://www.canada.com/health/Expert+demands+feds+retract+statement+safe+asbestos/4517500/story.html.  It seems Canada (Quebec) is determined to show that chrysotile asbestos should not be regulated and their is a potential safe use for chrysotile asbestos.  We will see if Quebec reopens the Asbestos mine.
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Monday, April 04, 2011

Board Member of Queens Cooperative Has An Asbestos Question

Habitat Magazine does twice a month podcast where they invite a New York co-op or condo board director to ask a legal question, and they host a panel of attorneys who address it.  In this podcast, Karen Ward, a board director of a 67-unit co-op in Queens, is facing an asbestos problem.  The board president of her co-op had hired a contractor to remove asbestos in their meeting room and a tenant' apartment.  The contractor was not licensed to do this type of work, and the proper disposal protocols were not followed.  According to Ms. Ward, the building is now facing fines and penalties.  Find the podcast at: http://www.habitatmag.com/rss/feed/podcast
 
The podcast was interesting to listen to on how the panel of attorneys address this issue.  First, the panel did not include a specialist (environmental attorney) in this type of problem.  These attorneys said they would bring on an environmental attorney, which should have been done as part of the podcast.  However, the individuals on the panel acknowledge their limited knowledge of the regulations impacting this issue and made excellant recommendations on how this individual should handle this problem.  Including potentially removing the President, calling the insurance company, and possibly even calling the regulatory agencies.  Highly recommend this podcast for Co-op and Condo Board members considering asbestos removal. 
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Friday, April 01, 2011

Hazardous Waste In Landscape Mulch

Picture of a Caterpillar 826C landfill compact...

Image via WikipediaLong Island Business News reported yesterday that Victor Liotta, owner of an Oceanside company,  Liotta Bros. Recycling Corporation, was arrested and is being charged of scheming to defraud, prohibited disposal of solid waste, operation of a solid waste management facility without a permit and misbranded or adulterated fertilizer. 
The arrest occurred after a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) engineer uncovered that a sample of wood chips from Liotta’s landscaping company contained altered wood and demolition debris, including plastic chips, floor tiles, rags, sheet metal and rubber.

Liotta Bros. Recycling Corporation, operates a solid waste management facility in Oceanside and a retail store called “Island Hopper Landscape Supplies” in Island Park.
Floor tiles being part of the waste in the mulch brings up the question is it asbestos containing or not.  If it is asbestos the mulching process obviously makes it friable and would make it regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a category I nonfriable that has become friable.  Hopefully, not many people used this company's products.  It will be interesting to see how this is handled.
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