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Friday, July 25, 2014

NYSDOH Announces The Imminent Availability of Vermiculite Analysis

On July 22, 2014, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) sent out a follow up communication to the July 9, 2013 interim guidance letter.  This communication is regarding the imminent availability of two new NYSDOH Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP)-approved methods for the detection and quantitation of asbestos content in spray-on fireproofing that contains vermiculite.  The communication indicates that these new methods will be available by October 31, 2014.  Click here for the July 9 2013 letter and click here for the new communication.  Otherwise you can find both communications at our website  click on the FED Training CD in the Helpful Links and Info folder.

Vermiculite-containing Sprayed-on Fireproofing is the focus of the communication
After October 31, 2014, one of the two methods must be used to test sprayed-on fireproofing regardless of the percent of vermiculite.  This document does not indicate any information about the methods other than the asbestos inspector must collect a minimum of 10 grams of the sprayed-on fireproofing (versus the 100-500 milligrams for 198.1 and 198.6).  Nor does it indicate what labs will be doing this analysis.  In addition, the two methods are only for vermiculite-containing sprayed-on fireproofing.  Other materials still must use the 2013 interim communication with the disclaimer and bulk vermiculite is still asbestos containing material (ACM).
日本語: バーミキュライト
日本語: バーミキュライト (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The new communication is interesting for its lack of information.  First it does not indicate anything about the new methods other than the need for a larger quantity of material.  It gives no indication of what it will take to analyze the material, what the turnaround will be, who the laboratories will be, costs, etc.  It is specifically only for vermiculite containing sprayed-on fireproofing.  In addition, it means an asbestos inspector will need to add a new tool to the sampling kit, a scale.  Taking a sufficient sample that ensures the laboratory gets a minimum of 10 grams.  Maybe not that difficult, but could be annoying if you make a mistake.  Don't forget you are still required to take either 3-5-7 or 9 samples of the sprayed-on fireproofing and it only takes one sample for the homogeneous material to be positive for asbestos.  Even more interesting was industry implications on the last page of the communication.  That stated after October 31, 2014 you are required to use one of the two methods to analyze vermiculite containing sprayed-on fireproofing, not surprising.  Though it is based on what stage your project is in.  Needless to say we look forward to hearing more about the new methods and the real implications they will have on the asbestos industry.      

Monday, July 21, 2014

PACNY's Second Annual ProAm Fishing Derby, is Bigger & Better!

On Wednesday, July 16th Future Environment Designs (FED) participated in the ProfessionalAbatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) second annual ProAm Fishing Derby.  The fishing derby was held on Lake Ontario with the boats leaving from Point Breeze, New York at Oak Orchard Creek. This year there were 20 boats participating in the Fishing Derby versus 13 boats, last year.  Very nice increase for a new event.  PACNY's Darren Yehl had his hands full organizing this event which was the equivalent of herding cats. The day started out beautiful with a nice blue sky with some clouds.

Sunrise on Lake Ontario
Future Environment Designs (Angelo and Veronica Garcia) had the pleasure of teaming with Watts Architecture & Engineering (Greg Andrews and Scott Matthews) on Captain Mike's boat the Intimidator. As the day went on, clouds started rolling in and the day got cooler.  Every so often when the sun would break through it would be nice and warm.  However, the lake was rough and we were glad that we took our Dramamine before going out on the boat.
Angelo and Veronica Garcia, Capt Mike, Greg Andrews, & Scott Matthews, from left to right
Last year's Fishing Derby we caught quite a few salmon and hardly anything else.  This year our team caught quite few different fish, including Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Atlantic Salmon.  Last year, we caught a 22.02 lb salmon (placing fifth) and our team's total weight was 64.59 lbs  (placing second).  This year we caught a 22.32 lb salmon (placing first) and our team's total was 69.75 lbs (placing second).

The Fishing Derby's Tally Board
As usual we had a great time with our fellow boaters and the food at the Black North Inn, after the fishing derby, was delicious.  It's funny how we're always asked is it worth being a member of PACNY?  Especially since we are located on Long Island and the organization does not do much in the New York City/downstate area.  Our reply is usually always the same, a resounding Yes!  What other organization focuses on New York issues in asbestos abatement and environmental remediation; provides opportunities to network with suppliers, contractors, consultants, and clients; and the annual Environmental Conference only gets better every year providing access to the regulators and information on upcoming trends.  In our view all of this is well worth the membership fee and like most things it is only as good as what you put into it.

What's for Dinner?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Its Summertime! Asbestos Project Monitor Overtime Heaven?

Here we are again another summertime and another year of complaining about how bad asbestos project monitors are.  It seems this has become a summertime tradition.  Project monitors who don't show up, don't do what they are told, don't know the regulations, sleep on the job, leave the job, don't know how many samples to take, etc., etc.  We find this interesting because the project  monitor should be one of the most knowledgeable people on an asbestos project.  Not only should the asbestos project monitor understand air sampling requirements & theory, they should be able to read and understand building plans, be able to communicate effectively to get the contractor to follow the specifications, regulations, and drawings, write legibly & diligently so the log can be read by others & they can know what happened on the project, be ready to testify in a court of law regarding what they observed on the project, handle scheduling, phasing, & timing on a project and handle a number of other issues related to asbestos abatement including occupational safety and health issues.

When we have these discussions in our classes, our belief is that a project monitor should have a college education.  In our opinion, high school students should never be hired for project monitoring (can we say interns, which is a person who should be in training (directly supervised) for the position they are interning for).  As Albert Einstein said:

"The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think."

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...
English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d'Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We see the problem as that asbestos project monitors are not respected for what they should be doing.  This disrespect is primarily coming from certain building owners who feel there is no need for an asbestos project monitor who coordinates the project and legally documents the project.  The hourly rate for an asbestos project monitor should have been increasing over the years, however, this is not the case.  Then you have building owners and abatement contractors who feel project monitors delay projects, well a good project monitor would actually reduce the amount of time a project takes.  We agree with some that asbestos project monitors should be individually held responsible and liable for the work they do or don't do.  This would definitely increase the quality of work and would make sure project monitors had some gumption! However, are project monitoring firms ready for a project monitor who actually dictates the job like project monitors in the past used to?

We have recently reviewed a number of project monitor logs and in the logs we reviewed project monitors made no entries other than the time they arrived, time for lunch, and the time they left for an 8-hour day.  In our view New York State Industrial Code Rule 56 created a minimum standard for a project monitor log by creating requirements for a supervisor log.  Since the project monitor's log is supposed to document the project legally, the supervisor requirements are the minimum requirements, along with any additional information and events that occurred at the site/project that are legally important for the building owner.  In addition, if the project monitor didn't write it, it didn't happen.  What does that mean?  Well if the project monitor didn't make an entry in their log about aggressive sampling such as the amount of time for leaf blowing or the number of fans installed, etc.  Well guess what, the project monitor didn't do it.  The log is supposed to be a legal journal of what was done on the project.  If the project monitor doesn't make an entry, well it probably wasn't done.  Why would anyone assume otherwise?

In our view this is what has been forgotten regarding the importance of the asbestos project monitoring. We've heard of a number of issues with contractors and workers where they do not properly protect the workers from exposure or workers are not decontaminating properly.  As a building owner this is important information that should be documented by the asbestos project monitor cause if a worker or a family member were to develop mesothelioma then the log would protect the owner from a potential third party litigation.  This is one of the most important reasons for hiring an asbestos project monitor, the documentation of contractor, worker, & visitor violations and the cause of their potential exposure or the reason they were probably not exposed.

Recent investigations of project monitoring companies like CES (though a recent court decision may vindicate CES) and JMD, both of NY, indicate that the Federal government is recognizing a problem with asbestos project monitoring.  Even New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) has focused some of its inspections/violations on the project monitoring firms.   Covering everything from logbooks, chain of custodies, air sampling stands, visual inspections, etc.  We think its time for some individual responsibility and the regulatory agencies should start issuing violations to the individual asbestos project monitor (as NYCDEP has done with asbestos supervisors).  This would definitely increase the professionalism of the asbestos project monitors and hence increase the quality of the work performed on asbestos projects.

Chrysotile Asbestos Banned? More Like Certain Conditions of Use Will Be Eventually Banned!

Many of you, as did I, read about the " Ban of Chrysotile Asbestos " and rejoiced over something long overdue.  However, after rea...