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Friday, December 24, 2021

Wishing You a Joyous and Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year! Future Environment Designs Opening a New Center!

Future Environment Designs Training Center (#FEDTC) wishes you and your family a Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year.  As we say goodbye to 2021 and the improvements of our business from 2020, we are especially excited about entering 2022.  We are excited to announce some changes that will expand our capabilities and we are hiring trainers to help with the expansion into our new training facility in Jamaica, New York.  So keep an eye out for the where the classes are being held, we will still be training in Syosset and at your convenience.  We will be increasing the number of initial classes we offer, since the new facility has a full hands-on area.  We will also be expanding our Spanish language offerings over the next few months.  Mr. Ramon De Los Santos who is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Outreach Training Instructor has over 15 years of construction experience in road construction safety.  Mr. De Los Santos is bilingual and speaks English and Spanish fluently.  #FEDTC will be adding Spanish OSHA 10-hour & 30-hour construction safety courses to our schedule, more frequently this year.  To take advantage of hs capabilities.  

Remember we are still providing several discounts including our loyalty discount at 25%, our Safety Suzy Newsletter Discount, and our Blog Discount (FEDTCBlog15).  Please take full advantage of these discounts when you register for the courses.  As we discussed, in December's Safety Suzy NewsletterNew York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) starting January 1, 2022 is increasing the certificate fee from $12 to $30 for refreshers and from $20 to $50 for initials.  So you will see a price increase for all our asbestos classes for 2022.  We are sorry for the increase especially considering the other inflationary pressures out there but even with those pressures we have only increased the prices to cover this fee increase.

Since the pandemic started we have added new on-demand/e-learn courses to our catalog.  Our catalog now includes asbestos awareness, a 4-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) bloodborne pathogen, AHERA designated person, OSHA hazard communication, OSHA hazard communication course including New York State Deaprtment of Labor (NYSDOL) Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) requirements, New York City Departent of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) exam prep for handlers/supervisors and investigators, Silica in construction, Mold in construction, and Lead in construction courses.  To register for this course or any of our on-demand/e-learning courses visit FEDTC's online training website.     

Mold Class

We are looking forward to seeing all of you in 2022.  We so excited about the changes and opportunities coming our way.  Again, we wish you & your family a Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Future Environment Designs Training Center Celebrates Veterans Day

Today we honor our Veterans who served in the military.  Veteran's Day coincides with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I.  Major hostilities of World War I were ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  At that time the Armistice with Germany went into effect.  United States veteran organizations urged that Armistice Day be renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and since then we have celebrated it as Veterans Day.  

Future Environment Designs Training Center would like to thank all those who have served and helped to protect our country in our hours of need!  Thank you for your service!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

New Head of OSHA Confirmed by the U.S. Senate! Doug Parker Will Take the Reins!

 It only took the United States Senate 1747 days to confirm a new head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)OSHA has been without a head since January 2017.  President Joseph Biden nominated Mr. Doug Parker on April 9, 2021, and the Senate confirmed him on October 25, 2021.  We have to remember that former President Donald Trunp nominated Scott Mugno in October 2017, but Mr. Mugno withdrew in May 2019 after waiting for 19 months for the Senate to confirm him.

Mr. Doug Parker, Assistant Secertary to OSHA

Mr. Parker had his Senate confirmation hearing held on May 27.  Obviously, many of the questions posed to Mr. Parker were related to the pandemic and the soon to be released OSHA emergency temporary standard regarding protecting workers from COVID-19 for General Industry.

Mr. Parker has served as the head of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA) since September 2019.  In his confirmation hearing he defended CAL/OSHA's emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 and strongly defended OSHA's plans for a new emergency temporary standard.  Currently, OSHA's emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 only applies to healthcare and healthcare support service workers.

OSHA is 50 Years Old

It is obvious from his experince at CAL/OSHA and other similar safety-related organizations he has the skill set and leadership abilities to be the new head at OSHA.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Should We Be Wearing Better Masks? The Best Face Covering Is The One That Is Worn Properly & Used!

We recently read two articles in The Atlantic called "Why Are Americans Still - Still! - Wearing Cloth Masks?" and "Why Aren't We Wearing Better Masks?" and another in Scientific American called "Why We Need to Upgrade Our Face Masks - and Where to Get Them".  All three articles discuss why Americans are still wearing cloth face-coverings now that N95 respirators (or the KN95 respirators, these respirators are made in China and are not approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)) are more readily available (The NIOSH Science Blog discusses the roles NIOSH, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) play regarding respiratory protection).  The articles mention a new study not peer-reviewed yet from Bangladesh which claims that wearing surgical masks decrease COVID-19 symptoms and antibodies by 11.2 percent, while cloth masks only led to a 5 percent decrease.  It proceeds to give several reasons why we continue to use face-coverings from public-health agencies not prioritizing surgical masks and N95 respirators to price to supporting one's sports team.  Two of the articles describe how face-coverings are far better than nothing and also saying how cloth masks are more eco-friendly (The Covid Crisis Is Now a Garbage Crisis, Too) giving face-coverings a backhanded credit for helping when nothing else was available.  The articles, in my opinion, even support the notion that we should be buying KN95 respirators even though they are not approved by NIOSH.  If anything shouldn't we be buying American-made N95 respirators so we can increase the demand and hence increase the supply of masks that are made here?  This was the subject of a New York Times article "Can't Find an N95 Mask? This Company Has 30 Million That It Can't Sell" and the Washington Post article "In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America."

Two suppliers of N95 respirators

Let us first say as a person, who believes in the use of respirators and their importance in protecting individuals from exposure to hazardous substances (see all our posts regarding 9/11), we agree that N95 respirators or surgical masks would protect people better from SARS-CoV-2 than cloth face-coverings if worn correctly.  However, we would need to be able to provide each person N95 respirators (in their size either small, medium, or large) or surgical masks, make sure they had a sufficient supply to meet their needs, make sure the N95 respirator fits each person, make sure they understand how to wear the N95 respirator or surgical masks correctly, and finally, they are provided a means of disposal for the respirators or the surgical masks.  As you can imagine that would be a significant cost to the government (or tax-payers) and would require a significant undertaking to make sure every American would be protected by using N95 respirators or surgical masks.  Meanwhile, the biggest issue is whether we are talking N95 respirators, surgical masks, or face coverings they must be worn correctly to protect you, and remember facial hair reduces the effectiveness of all these face coverings.  See the chart below for various ways of improperly using face coverings.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website "Types of Masks and Respirators" was updated as of September 23, 2021, and provides information on types of masks and when to wear them and now includes a section on considerations for children.

Both these articles treat surgical masks and N95 respirators as simple items to wear and that anyone can wear them.  However, this is not a fact as we mentioned above N95 respirators require medical clearance, fit testing, and training all mandated by OSHA for individuals that are required to wear them.  As for surgical masks, we have to remember the ones that are typically sold to the public aren't actually surgical masks.  Surgical masks are cleared by the FDA, see the chart below for the difference between the N95 respirators and surgical masks.  Note that surgical masks do not provide the wearer with a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles.  This is for FDA-cleared surgical masks, which means the ones the public purchases probably aren't reliable either considering they are not cleared by FDA.

Surgical Masks vs N95 respirators

However, the use of cloth face-coverings has been shown to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets (source control) and help reduce inhalation of these droplets.  The CDC website "Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2" which was last updated on May 7, 2021, provides some significant research on how the use of cloth face-coverings block the transmission of respiratory droplets with some face-coverings performing on par with surgical masks as barriers for source control.  In the section "Human Studies of Masking and SARS-CoV-2 Transmission" data regarding the "real-world" effectiveness of community masking is limited to observational and epidemiological studies with many of these showing significant levels of protection from wearing face coverings.  An example of one of these was "A study of an outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an environment notable for congregate living quarters and close working environments, found that use of face coverings on-board was associated with a 70% reduced risk of transmission.

Note the circled area of the package (which means they are not surgical masks). 

It is our opinion, one of the main reasons face-coverings are better is because they are easier to use, easier to breathe through, light-weight, and because of these things more likely to be used and used correctly.  Wearing the face-covering correctly and using the face covering is what is helping reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2.  So follow the CDC guidelines on when to use face-coverings and let's stop the spread!

Related Articles:

Sunday, September 12, 2021

20 Year Anniversary of 9/11, 10-Year Anniversary of the World Trade Center Health Program. Lesson Learned?

On September 11, 2001, Future Environment Designs (FEDTC) was teaching an asbestos supervisor refresher and an asbestos inspector initial course at the Underhill Blvd. Syosset office.  We were some of the fortunate individuals who were not in New York City when terrorists hijacked airplanes and proceeded to fly them into the World Trade Centers (WTC), the Pentagon, and crashed another in Pennsylvania.  On that day hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to a massive cloud of toxic gases and particulates from the terrorist attack on the WTC.  Significant failings by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led to tens of thousands of people who participated in the ensuing rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts being exposed to the WTC toxic dust.  Nearly a half million people are estimated to be at increased risk of adverse health effects from exposures to physical, psychological, and emotional stressors in the days, weeks, and months following the terrorist attacks.  This year we honor their sacrifice on the 20th Anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center.  On January 2, 2011, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2012 (the Zadroga Act) created the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP).  The WTCHP is administered by the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  So this year is also the 10th Anniversary of the WTCHP.  

We have no intention of changing our logo which depicts the NYC skyline with the WTC.

The WTCHP provides medical monitoring and treatment of covered health conditions for emergency responders, survivors, recovery and cleanup workers, and volunteers who helped at the WTC, the Pentagon, and the crash site near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and maintains a research program aimed to improve the care and well-being of the affected population.  The WTCHP serves four groups of people affected by the 9/11 attacks:

  • Fire Department of New York Responders,
  • World Trade Center General Responders,
  • World Trade Center Survivors (lived, worked, or went to school in NYC Disaster Area), and
  • Pentagon/Shanksville Responders

From Express - 9/11 firefighters still Dying 20 years on - Devastating graph exposes the harrowing impact

As of December 31, 2020, 108,666 individuals have enrolled in WTCHP.  The ten most common certified conditions are:

  • Chronic Rhinosinusitis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Cancers
  • Asthma
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic Respiratory Disorder - Fumes/Vapors
  • WTC-Exacerbated Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Anxiety Disorder (Not otherwise specified)
  • Major Depressive Disorder

As the years go by, it will be interesting to see if this list changes.  In FEDTC's asbestos training courses, we discuss the latency period for asbestos-related diseases (asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma) are 10-50 years from the date of the first exposure.  In the next 5-10 years we will hit the beginning of the latency period for lung cancer and mesothelioma.  Currently, cancers only account for about 13% of WTCHP certified conditions with non-melanoma skin cancer (27%) and prostate cancer (21%) being the top two cancers.  Comparison studies indicate that prostate and thyroid cancer are elevated compared to other groups (without WTC toxic dust exposure). Other excess cancers at this time include bladder cancer, malignant melanoma, multiple myeloma, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

It was published after the completion of the rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts that there were no fatalities.  However, that isn't quite correct since we are seeing rescue, recovery, and clean-up workers dying from their exposure to the WTC toxic dust.  It is good to see that what occurred during the rescue, recovery, and clean-up at the WTC was not repeated at the recent rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts at the Miami condo collapse.  As the picture below, from The Guardian, shows, rescue crews are wearing respirators to protect them from the potentially toxic dust from the collapse of that building.  If this is the lesson learned from the WTC tragedy, it was a hard lesson but one that will protect workers in other rescues, recoveries, and clean-ups in the future.  

The Guardian
Miami condo collapse: death toll rises to nine as crews search pile for survivors | Miami condo collapse | The Guardian

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Future Environment Designs Wishes You a Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Future Environment Designs (FEDTC) wishes everyone a Happy Labor Day weekend!  In a year that seems to continue to challenge all of us, it is worthwhile to remember that this weekend and Monday in particular we are celebrating the contributions of the labor movement to the development and achievements of the United States of America (USA).  

Labor Movement in the 21st Century

The labor movement is a major part of American history that describes the history of organized labor, USA labor law, and the more general history of working people.  According to Wikipedia, "the nature and power of organized labor are the outcomes of historical tensions among counter-acting forces involving workplace rights, wages, working hours, political expression, labor laws, and other working conditions."  As commentator E. J. Dionne has noted, the union movement has traditionally espoused a set of values - solidarity being the most important, the sense that each should look out for the interests of all.

The Fire that Sparked the Labor Movement

Future Environment Designs hopes as we enjoy this weekend, we remember the importance of the labor movement and even more importantly we remember solidarity, the sense that each of us should look out for the interests of all!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Current Asbestos & Mold Hard Cards Required for Asbestos & Mold Projects! Fast Track Variances on Pause and New Asbestos Attachments for New York City DEP!

New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) as of July 31, 2021, is requiring current asbestos and mold hard cards for asbestos and mold projects.  Their latest automatic response email claims to be turning around asbestos hard cards in five (5) weeks and licenses in three (3) weeks.  That same NYSDOL email says they are turning around mold licenses in three (3) weeks.  So it seems the NYSDOL's license and certification unit is back to normal.  On the other hand, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) is allowing workers whose hard card expired on March 15, 2020, or later to continue to work using their existing card until August 31, 2021.  See NYCDEP's Extension of Asbestos Certification Deadline website for more information.  In addition, NYCDEP has reinstated the examinations for asbestos as of April 21, 2021. 

Asbestos Company License and Worker (hard card) Certificate

In our blogpost in February 2021, we discussed that NYSDOL's Engineering Services Unit (ESU) came out with 10 Fast Track Variances and that this was a pilot program.  On Thursday, July 22, 2021, the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) were notified by NYSDOL's ESU that they were shutting down the Fast Track Variance Program.  The following is quoted from the NYSDOL email to PACNY:

"As the results of an increasing number of questions concerning relief granted by some Fast Track Variances (FTVs), ESU has decided to temporarily stop the FTV program.  ESU will go back and review each FTV to ensure that the relief granted, and conditions listed in the FTV are consistent with ICR 56 and appliable Federal requirements.  ESU will also try to better define when and how each FTV can be utilized. There seems to be some confusion about how some FTV’s are to be used.  When ESU completes its review of an FTV, we will reissue that FTV for use moving forward.  It is ESU’s hope that this review will not take long. In the meantime, site-specific variances should be applied for as usual via email to me and cc:"

So it seems if you want an FTV, you will have to apply and wait the time it takes to approve site-specific variances (anywhere from 3-6 weeks).

Asbestos Inspector Initial Class

Meanwhile, NYCDEP Asbestos Program has issued two new attachments (NYCDEP's version of FTVs).  They include Attachment CS which is the "Requirements for the Abatement of In-Place ACM with or without ACM Debris in Crawl Spaces/Cellars with Concrete (Non-Soil) Floors Under Modified Containment (without plastic on the walls)" and Attachment CRS which is the "Requirements for the Abatement of Contaminated Soil with or without ACM Debris and/or Inplace Removal of ACM in Crawl Spaces/Cellars with Soil Floors Under Modified Containment (without plastic on the walls)".  Both of these attachments can be found on our website under our resources page under FED Training CD-Dropbox Folder.  In addition, we recently heard the NYCDEP was issuing violations for improper labeling of cassettes and sampling pumps not properly labeled.  It certainly seems NYCDEP has not changed its tactics of issuing fines for nonsense items versus making sure the actual work is being done correctly.  If you are a reader of this blog make sure you get credit for being a reader and enter the discount code FEDTCBLOG15 to get a 15% discount on our published course prices.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Future Environment Designs wins the 8th Annual Pro/Am PACNY Fishing Tournament

On the morning of July 7, 2021, Future Environment Designs participated in the 8th Annual Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) Fishing Pro-Am Tournament.  The tournament was based out of the Lake Breeze Marina, Kent, New York, and on Lake Ontario.  It was an iffy day with a thunderstorm passing through just before the tournament started and the lake was a bit rough with 2-4 foot waves.  There were 17 boats in this year's tournament (a nice turnout considering the recent easing of Covid restrictions).  They were:

The lake was a little rough which made for some interesting fishing.

  1. AAC Contracting - Free Spirit 
  2. Cornerstone Training Institute (CTI) - Sunrise II 
  3. CTI - Legacy
  4. CTI - Trolling Tails
  5. Lozier - Screaming Reels 
  6. US Ecology - Reflection
  7. US Ecology - Shotgun
  8. Metro - Rusty Lure
  9. Dival - Reel Excitement
  10. Abscope - Troutman
  11. Sienna - Get Hooked
  12. ECG - Richmond 4
  13. Future Environment Designs - Catchin Hell
  14. Sessler - Intimidator
  15. Aramsco - Mister
  16. First On-Site Restoration - 3 Dogs
  17. HSE - Bite Me 
Future Environment Design's fishing team consisted of Ms. Sheryl Esposito, Mr. Matthew Desch, Ms. Veronica Hansen Garcia, and Mr. Angelo Garcia, III.  This was the first year that Future Environment Design's team was more than two people.  We were thrilled to have Sheryl and Matt with us this year.  Most of you have met Sheryl and Matt at the annual PACNY Conference at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY.  Sheryl is usually womaning our booth at the Conference.  Unlike other Tournament years, because of the rough lake, we went straight out and did not do a shotgun start.  Because of the rough water, Captain Tom Murray of the Catch 'N' Hell boat decided to go far out and work our way back.  Which was a good decision considering how it turned out.  It definitely was our day considering our first catch was the one that won big fish for the day!

The winner weighing in at 25.66 lbs.

We had the good fortune to catch enough Salmon & Trout to last us the entire year and fill our freezer (including sharing with Sheryl and Matt)!  By the time we had to decide whether to go in or keep fishing, we had caught sufficient fish to decide to call it an early day at 11 AM (based on the weather that was a good decision).  Our second and third salmon catches brought us the Trophy and the prize money for the Tournament:

Future Environment Designs and the Catch 'N' Hell Team

We are so proud to finally have our name added to the Trophy and that it only took 8 years to win the trophy.  This was the second time, we've caught the big fish the first time was the Second Annual Tournament.  The buffet (back again now that Covid restrictions have eased) at the Black North Inn was delicious roast beef with weck bread and horseradish.  A great big THANK YOU to Darren Yehl of CTI for organizing this Tournament!  Between our daughter's wedding, training beginning to return to normal, and this fishing tournament the summer has been a blessing but is going too quickly.  This year is the 6-year anniversary of Article 32 NYS's Mold Law and most everyone's license will be expiring between September and January 2022.  Look forward to seeing all of you soon and regaling you with my fishing adventures!

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Happy 4th of July!

Future Environment Designs, Inc. would like to wish all our clients and friends a very Happy 4th of July!  We hope your celebration is a joyful one, a safe one, and one that remembers the importance of leaving this country better off for our children and our children's children!  We would like to remember the words Theodore Roosevelt said regarding the USA:

Blessed Be America!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Future Environment Designs Celebrates the New Normal with New Pricing!

We are now fully open that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has decided that fully vaccinated people can resume normal activities and New York State has announced that 70% of New Yorkers have received the first dose.  We have updated our pandemic policy to meet the new requirements.  When you attend training with us please provide proof that you have been vaccinated so we can allow everyone to not wear face coverings.  We strongly recommend the use of the New York State Excelsior Pass System.  The system creates a wallet on your smartphone to allow you to present proof that you've been vaccinated.  If you are not vaccinated, you can either attend a virtual training course or attend an in-person course as long as you wear a face-covering (as per CDC recommendations).

To celebrate the new normal or the return to normal we have decided to adjust our pricing to be more in line with the New York State market, in addition, readers of this blog can now claim a discount on our new prices.  When registering for your class just enter the code FEDTCBLOG15 to get a 15% discount on our published course price.  Remember we still provide our best discounts to our loyal customers (25%).  As part of the online (virtual) requirements, we were required to create class interactions and a way to administer the exam.  Since these have been successful in the virtual classes, we will continue to allow students to take the exam at our Learning Management System (Administrate LMS portal) and will continue using Poll Everywhere to spark conversations in our classes.  To be able to do that you should bring an electronic device (laptop, iPad, smartphone, etc.) to our classes.  We will still have paper exams for those who want to take the exam the old-fashioned way or we don't have internet access.

We've been very busy creating eLearning courses.  We've just finished creating a Lead in Construction Awareness Course and will be completing a Mold in Construction Awareness Course, soon.  We can bundle these courses together with our Asbestos Awareness Course to create an entry-level certificate course (ALM) Asbestos, Lead, and Mold in Construction Awareness or add our Silica in Construction course to create another entry-level certificate course (SLAM) Silica, Lead, Asbestos, and Mold in Construction Awareness.  The ALM certificate course costs $65 and the SLAM certificate course costs $75.  These are significant savings from taking the courses separately.  Please contact us at 1-800-969-3888 to set these courses up for your staff.

Finally, those of you who have attended our classes for years have met Alyssa, my daughter, and remember her cute way of saying wetter-water.  Well, we're happy to announce that Alyssa got married in May to a wonderful woman Sarah Jednak.  We are so happy to have Sarah officially join the family.  We look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Is There an Appropriate End Date for Asbestos Use?

When we first became an asbestos consultant over 39 years ago, we remember people telling us that buildings will remove all their asbestos materials in 5 years, 10 years, or 15 years depending on who we talked to.  Well, asbestos is still in buildings and this article is about why there are many years still left in this industry.  In the construction industry, there are some who think that a certain year was the end of asbestos use in building materials.  Over the years we have reviewed many asbestos inspection reports or property transfer reports (phase I environmental audits) reporting that since a building or a part of a building was built after 1980 there are no asbestos-containing materials.  The companies making this statement assume that the federal government banned all asbestos-containing materials in 1980.  In New York State, the Department of Labor (NYSDOL), which regulates asbestos abatement, uses the year 1974 in the regulations for determining which buildings require the assumption of building materials that contain asbestos.  While the federal government, under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 1926.1101 (k) (1), requires building owners to presume surfacing materials, and thermal system insulations, installed prior to 1980, to contain asbestos.  To refute this presumption these materials must be sampled.  Regarding asphalt and vinyl flooring materials installed no later than 1980 must also be considered asbestos-containing or sampled to refute the designation.  In addition, the regulation also requires if the employers/building owners have actual knowledge, or should have known through the exercise of due diligence, that other materials are asbestos-containing they too must be treated as such.  Owners are required to handle these building materials as asbestos-containing materials (ACM) until a certified asbestos inspector takes samples of the materials, in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), and the samples verify the materials do not contain asbestos (which usually means multiple samples of the building material have to been taken and all samples must have results that no asbestos is in the building material).  However, are 1974 or 1980 appropriate dates to use in making a determination whether building materials can contain asbestos?  We think not!

The Ban and Attempts to Ban Asbestos

The federal agency with the responsibility for banning asbestos is the EPA.  This agency, under the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS), banned the use of asbestos for sprayed-on application of fireproofing and insulating in 1973 and for decorating purposes in 1978.  In 1975 EPA’s NESHAPS regulation also banned the installation of pre-formed (molded) asbestos block insulation on boilers and hot water tanks and the wet-applied and pre-formed (molded) asbestos pipe insulation.  Since two of these bans did not go into effect until after 1974, the New York State end of use date is not appropriate and the construction industry should not use it to determine buildings that contain asbestos.  In 1985 EPA published "Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-Containing Materials in Buildings" which has become known as the "Purple Book".  The Purple Book in Appendix A has a list titled "Asbestos-Containing Materials in Buildings".  This list shows a large number of asbestos-containing materials that were still being used in 1981.  Based on this information, it seems 1980 is not an appropriate end date for asbestos use, including asphalt and vinyl flooring materials.  Under a separate regulation, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA tried to ban and phase out the use of asbestos in 1989.  In 1991 the “Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule,” as the rule became known as, was vacated and remanded by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  In 1993 EPA stated that corrugated paper, roll board, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt, and new uses of asbestos were still subject to the ban.  Vacating the “Asbestos Ban and Phaseout Rule” meant that a number of building materials could contain asbestos such as asbestos-cement corrugated sheet, asbestos-cement flat sheet, asbestos clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl-asbestos floor tile, asbestos-cement shingle, millboard, asbestos-cement pipe, automatic transmission components, clutch facings, friction materials, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, brake blocks, gaskets, ceiling tiles, non-roofing coatings, and roof coatings are not banned and could still be used in buildings.  The recent attempt to ban asbestos was made under the amended TSCA regulation.  In 2016, President Barak Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act that amended TSCA and made needed improvements to the law including requiring risk-based chemical assessments.  In 2019 EPA published a final rule called the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR).  The SNUR requires manufacturers and importers to receive EPA approval before starting or resuming manufacturing and importing or processing of asbestos.  Materials subject to this law include adhesives; sealants; roof coatings; arc chutes; beater-add gaskets; extruded sealant tape; and other tapes; filler for acetylene cylinders; high-grade electrical paper; billboard; missile liner; packings; pipeline wrap; reinforced plastics; roofing felt; separators in fuel cells and batteries; vinyl-asbestos floor tile; cement products; woven products; and any other building material.  It is obvious that this law does not ban asbestos nor does it really answer the question of how much asbestos is in commerce currently.  

Electrical wire insulation
Asbestos Used Still Today

Is there an appropriate end date for asbestos use in buildings?  Some headlines indicate the answer to this question is no.  These headlines indicate that some current building materials are contaminated with asbestos or still contain asbestos sufficiently enough for the materials to be considered asbestos-containing materials.  For example, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) reported in November 2007 that they sampled a number of current building materials and determined that DAP’s “33” window glazing and “crack shot” spackling paste and Gardner’s leak stopper roof patch all contained asbestos.  DAP’s “33” window glazing was purchased at Home Depot and Lowes for the purpose of the study and contained 2.6% tremolite, and 0.13% chrysotile asbestos (2.73% total asbestos).  DAP’s “crack shot” spackling paste was also purchased at Home Depot and Lowes and contained 0.98% tremolite, and 0.066% chrysotile asbestos (1.05% total asbestos).  Gardner’s “leak stopper roof patch,” along with other products by Gardner, is listed with the National Institute of Health as known asbestos-containing material on the open market and contained 11% chrysotile asbestos.  It is important to remember that the definition of asbestos-containing materials is any material that contains greater than 1% of asbestos in the material.  Though this does not apply to the OSHA asbestos regulation which is more concerned about how much asbestos gets in the air from a material that contains any asbestos.  In addition, the New York Times reported on July 20, 2001, that W. R. Grace & Company’s Monokote (probably #5) fireproofing spray product (used in the late 1980s) was contaminated with tremolite asbestos.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on February 8, 2005, that seven of W. R. Grace & Company’s current or former executives were indicted on federal charges that they knowingly put their workers and the public in danger through exposure to vermiculite ore contaminated with tremolite asbestos from its mine in Libby, Montana.  In 1990 W. R. Grace & Company closed the mine but the ore was used as attic and wall insulation, wallboard, and fireproofing into the early 1990s.  The asbestos content in these materials can be as high as 2%.  In research conducted by EPA on vermiculite attic insulation in 2001 and 2002, found homeowners that use their attics could be exposed to airborne asbestos fibers above the OSHA permissible exposure limit (0.1 fibers/cubic centimeters).

asbestos woven products

The Liability of Ignorance

Since there is no total ban on the use of asbestos in building materials, it means that 1974 or 1980 are not appropriate cut off dates on the use of asbestos in building materials.  This means all buildings or facilities no matter when they were constructed should be inspected for asbestos-containing materials.  EPA's NESHAP regulation 40 CFR 61.145 Standard for demolition and renovation requires buildings/facilities to be thoroughly inspected before the renovation or demolition, no matter what date the building was built.  It also means that the construction industry should be very careful when working on buildings after these dates because it is possible that if an asbestos inspection or survey was done it may have not been done properly.  From our experience, we've seen inspectors not sample roofing materials, joint compound, sheetrock, textured paint, siding shingles, and window caulking just to name a few building materials that should be sampled.  Building owners, banks, facility managers, architects, engineers, general contractors, and subcontractors should not think that because the EPA regulation requires an inspection, and if the inspection is not done correctly that there is no chance for a violation or liability.  OSHA requires that employers inform their workers of all the potential hazards at a project (job) site.  Should materials that were not inspected turn out to be asbestos-containing or even if the sample result is 1% or trace asbestos and the exposure exceeds the permissible exposure limit (0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter based on an eight hour time-weighted average) or the excursion limit (1.0 fibers per cubic centimeter over thirty minutes) the employer would be in violation of the OSHA asbestos regulation.  No matter the construction date of the building.  The building owner could then face third-party litigation from the workers if they develop a disease (mesothelioma being the most significant because of its direct tie to asbestos exposure) from such an exposure.  In addition, the AHERA regulation which applies to public and private schools (kindergarten to 12th grade)  requires that architects that design new schools or renovations of existing schools certify that the building materials used do not contain asbestos.  Utilizing safety data sheets (SDS), which are required for most building products, to certify the products would not be sufficient considering that DAP’s SDS (discussed above) did not mention the asbestos contamination in the product and the NESHAPS regulation requires building materials to be sampled for the content of asbestos.  Meaning the only way to certify the products to limit liability would be to have suspected materials sampled and analyzed for asbestos.  It is very important for building owners, banks, facility managers, architects, engineers, general contractors, sub-contractors, asbestos inspectors, and phase I environmental auditors to realize that although the asbestos regulations refer to dates before 1980, inspections are advisable and required under the EPA's NESHAPS & OSHA's asbestos regulations since the installation of asbestos-containing materials into buildings can continue to this day.

Fire Door

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Future Environment Designs Training Center's Pandemic Policy, Updated Policy 06/19/21!

Future Environment Designs Training Center (FEDTC) recognizes that the safety and health of our clients and their family are our shared concerns.  We also recognize that our clients need to renew licenses that are necessary to perform work in the field and that in-person classes are required by law.  FEDTC always reserves the right to refuse to train anyone we feel may be too ill to attend a course.  We will and can hold a private class at a mutually beneficial time after they have gotten better for these individuals.  Until this pandemic has ended we will follow the following procedures to reduce the potential interactions that could increase the risk of spreading disease (on June 19, 2021, we have modified our procedures based on the revised Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Policies and that we were immunized on April 18, 2021 (Pfizer 2 shots).  This policy will remain in effect until the pandemic is over (revisions are underlined):

Social Distancing Policy:
During training classes, the instructor and the students will be requested to:

  • All students & instructors before they leave home should take their temperature (it should be less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and document absence of shortness of breath, new or change in cough, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, and muscle aches.  They should also check the CDC website for other symptoms at  If possible, take the CDC self-check found at the site.  If you are ill or your temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit they should call to reschedule the course.
  • All students upon arrival will be asked what their temperature was before they left home, and do they have any of the symptoms of shortness of breath, new or change in cough, sore throat, and muscle aches.  We will also use a contactless thermometer to measure forehead temperature.  If students answer yes to any questions or the thermometer measurement is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit the student will not be allowed to attend training and must reschedule.
  • All students will also, be asked if they are vaccinated and to show proof of vaccination (we recommend students use the NYS Excelsior Pass App).
  • All students will be encouraged to bring and wear a face-covering during the training (FEDTC will provide face coverings, when available).  Students who prove they are vaccinated do not need to wear masks or social distance as per the CDC.
  • FEDTC will be using our larger training rooms and advising students to sit at least 6 feet from each other and avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
  • Instructors will perform all training at least 6 feet from students, will wear face coverings during training, and we are immunized.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes using tissues or into the elbow of your sleeve.  To prevent droplets containing germs from entering the air or contaminating your hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing "Happy Birthday" twice).
  • Use waterless hand sanitizer where soap and water (which are preferred) are not available.
  • Instructors will avoid any unnecessary travel and cancel or postpone any courses they are feeling unwell or shall use a face covering while training.
  • Instructors will be provided with a kit to help with the recommended procedures.
Pandemic Kit:

The pandemic kit each instructor will be provided with will include:

  • Tape measure
  • Surgical masks, when available
  • N95 Disposable Respirators, when available
  • Hand Sanitizers, when available
  • Tissues
  • Cleaning Disinfectant Wipes for cleaning tables
  • Forehead Thermometer
Training Courses:
At the beginning of the course we will go over the basic steps for personal protection & prevention.  This will include a slide set and video regarding basic information on protection and prevention before the course begins.

FEDTC feels these steps will help reduce the risk of spreading disease and still enable students to refresh training in accordance with current regulations.  Should you have any questions feel free to give us a call.  Be safe! 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

When Do Asbestos Certificates (Hard Cards) Expire Under COVID-19? New Update: No more extensions!

… …
This question is the overwhelming number one question we at Future Environment Designs (FEDTC) are being asked at this time.  So, to answer this question we must remember that there are two agencies that regulate asbestos licensing and training.  The license (companies are licensed; individuals get certificates) or more appropriately the asbestos certificate (hard card) is issued by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL).  This certificate expires annually on the last day of your birth month.  Currently, NYSDOL is enforcing expiration dates on certificates.  You may continue to work with your existing cards as long as it is not expired.  In addition, NYSDOL is no longer extending the number of days you can work with a DOH 2832 form when you took an initial course.  NYSDOL is allowing you to work with the DOH 2832 form for 45 days.

License & Hard Card (picture)
Hard card with picture (certificate) & Company license

The second agency that plays a part in this is the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).  The NYSDOH enforces 10 NYCRR Part 73 Asbestos Safety Program Requirements which regulates the asbestos training providers and also says that the training certificate (the DOH 2832 Form, the piece of paper you get once the class is completed) expires after one year on the date you took the training.  In addition, it has a grace period after that date that lasts a year.  Once the grace period is over you must take an initial course to get another certificate (DOH 2832) for that title.  Realize there has not been any waiver on this issue and so you will need to keep an eye on your training certificate expiration date and make sure you don't go over the grace period.  NYSDOH is now allowing virtual instructor-led courses, see FEDTC's Wednesday, May 27, 2020, blog post on the requirements for that training.  Because of this, there is no need to let your hard card or your training certificate expire.

DOH 2832 Form

Those of you who work in New York City, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) regulate Asbestos Rules and Regulations, Title 15, Chapter 1 of the Rules of the City of New York.  This regulation also has certificates (NYCDEP hard cards) for individuals who are handlers, handler supervisors, investigators, and restricted handlers.  These hard cards expire every two years based on your birthday (but you must still meet the NYSDOL & NYSDOH requirements of training every year).  NYCDEP is allowing workers whose hard card expired on March 15, 2020, or later to continue to work using their existing card until August 31, 2021.  See NYCDEP's Extension of Asbestos Certification Deadline website for more information.

Hopefully, that answers everyone's questions and we hope to see you in a virtual or in-person class soon.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Top Ten OSHA Violations for 2020 and a hint to the Top Ten for 2021.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) annually publishes the top ten most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in the previous fiscal year.  Unfortunately, the list has not been published yet on the OSHA website.  OSHA unveiled a preliminary list of its top 10 violations during a webinar with the National Safety Council's (NSC) Safety+Health magazine.  In the webinar, OSHA discussed the stats for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 (which runs from October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020).  Here is the list of most frequently cited OSHA standards:

  1. Fall Protection, construction (1926.501)
  2. Hazard Communication Standard, general industry (1910.1200)
  3. Respiratory Protection (1910.134)
  4. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (1926.451)
  5. Ladders, construction (1926.1053)
  6. Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (1910.147)
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks, general industry (1910.178)
  8. Fall Protection - training requirements, construction (1926.503)
  9. Eye and Face Protection (1926.102)
  10. Machinery & Machine Guarding, general requirements, general industry (1910.212)
Proper Fall Protection and Scaffolding

It is interesting to see that Respiratory Protection moved into third place and Ladders moved into the top 5.  Considering OSHA published a list of the frequently cited standards related to COVID-19 inspections in November 2020, and that list also includes respiratory protection violations.  We may continue to see Respiratory Protection in the top three of most frequently cited violations again next year.  The COVID-19 list includes:
  1. Provide a medical evaluation before a worker is fit-tested or uses a respirator.
  2. Perform an appropriate fit test for workers using tight-fitting respirators.
  3. Assess the workplace to determine if COVID-19 hazards are present, or likely to be present, which will require the use of a respirator and/or other personal protective equipment (PPE). 
  4. Establish, implement, and update a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures. 
  5. Provide an appropriate respirator and/or other PPE to each employee when necessary to protect the health of the employees (ensuring the respirator and/or PPE used is the correct type and size).
  6. Train workers to safely use respirators and/or other PPE in the workplace, and retrain workers about changes in the workplace that might make previous training obsolete.
  7. Store respirators and other PPE properly in a way to protect them from damage, contamination, and, where applicable, deformation of the facepiece and exhalation valve.
  8. For any fatality that occurs within 30 days of a work-related incident, report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours of finding out about it. 
  9. Keep required records of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illness.
Quantifit Respirator Fit Testing System (QNFT)

In FY 2020, OSHA conducted 21,674 inspections, including 12,948 (about 60%) unprogrammed inspections, which include employee complaints, injuries/fatalities, and referrals, all of which were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In FY 2019 OSHA conducted 33,393 inspections which mean OSHA conducted 35% fewer inspections in 2020.  This reduction in inspections has been noted and criticized by the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General (OIG)  in its audit of OSHA.  That audit concluded OSHA received 15% more complaints in 2020 compared with the same period in 2019 but performed 50% fewer inspections.  Leading the audit to the conclusion that reduced OSHA inspections leave US workers' safety at increased risk.
Scaffolding Violations are number 4 for all industries & number 3 for the remediation industry

The top 10 violations in the Remediation Services Industry (which includes asbestos abatement, lead abatement, crime scene cleanups, oil spill cleanup, mold remediation, and hazardous materials remediation companies) were:
  1. Duty to have fall protection (1926.0501)
  2. Respiratory Protection (1910.0134)
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements (1926.0451)
  4. Reporting Fatality, Injury and Illness Information to the Government (1904.0039)
  5. Hazard Communication (1910.1200)
  6. Ladders (1926.1053)
  7. Duty to have fall protection and falling object protection (1910.0028)
  8. Fall protection systems criteria and practices (1926.0502)
  9. Asbestos (1926.1101)
  10. Respirable crystalline silica (1926.1153)
It certainly seems like fall protection has now become part of the focus in the remediation industry with 5 of the top ten involving falls.  Interesting how the respirator violations remain number two in the remediation industry.  When this should be the industry's specialty.

Mold Remediation Industry 

As you can see OSHA is still performing inspections and still issuing citations.  Though under President Biden's Administration, OSHA inspections are likely to increase, along with citations.  Which shouldn't be hard considering the few inspections conducted in FY 2020.  Though fall protection is still number one on OSHA's focus, respiratory protection is starting to creep up the ranks. 

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...