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NIOSH Zadroga Act Will Cover 50 Types of Cancer for 9-11 Responders

  
  
  
niosh_zadroga_act_9-11Thousands of 9/11 responders, police officers, firefighters, students, and residents of downtown New York City will now be covered under the $4.3 billion Zadroga Act, which formerly denied any cancer coverage.  The medical fund is named for New York City Police officer James Zadroga, who was the first NYPD officer whose death was attributed to exposure to his contact with toxic chemicals at the site of the attacks. Those in contact with the toxic dust have sought for years to have their cancers acknowledged and treatments covered by the fund.  The government denied any connection between exposure to 9/11 toxins and an increased risk of cancer.



On June 8th, NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) stated that those workers, residents, and student who contracted cancer due to the toxic dust on 9/11 are now considered eligible for free medical treatment for cancers including those affecting respiratory and digestive systems, and other cancers including breast, ovarian, eye, oral, urinary tract cancers, and mesothelioma, melanomas, and lymphomas.

The list of ailments now includes 14 broad categories of cancer and 50 specific types, all of which were formally denied because federal officials stated that scientific evidence showed no link between exposure to 9/11 toxins and disease. First responders have consistently argued that the real reason for denial of coverage is because of cost to the federal government.

NIOSH based its revised decision on recommendations by an expert medical advisory panel who offered their opinions in March 2011. The panel further advised, however, against coverage for brain, pancreatic, and prostate cancer, stating there is not enough evidence to connect them to fall-out from 9/11.

Included in this ruling is the right of cancer sufferers to file claims with the Federal Victim Compensation Fund, which offers compensation to first responders and residents of downtown New York City, as well as students and workers for their out-of-pocket medical treatments, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Public Health Hazard: Lead and Soil

  
  
  
Recently, an international study published in Atmospheric Environment revealed an urban public health hazard in the form of contaminated roadside soil dust.  View the original article



Studies performed in large inner-city areas (specifically Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Birmingham) show that the turbulence created by traffic causes airborne



contaminants to be dislodged into the air we breathe. Lead was previously used in the manufacture of gasoline and other petroleum products between 1923 and 1995 in the United States, and previous testing showed that the roadside soil, especially in urban areas, contains very high levels of lead.

The recent study, conducted and published by PhD candidates in several leading universities indicates that lead and soil become aerosolized when continually disturbed and airborne contaminants are more easily ingested by people who live in or near these heavily-traveled, large urban centers.

Older inner-city areas are at particularly high risk for accumulations of lead and soil along roadsides, and this study is particularly alarming because it was previously assumed that urban public health risks were lessened by these contaminants “stabilizing” with age. This January 2012 study shows that these airborne contaminants are in fact re-suspended, making them more readily breathed in and absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially leading to lead poisoning. The studies further showed the most re-suspension of particulates is during busy travel periods, such as holidays and weekends.



This study has implications for the United States as well as other industrialized nations that prior use of lead-containing petroleum products will have a long-term effect on at-risk populations, particularly in urban areas, and monitoring in conjunction with remediation will most likely be an international endeavor.

Changes to ASHRAE's Legionella Standard

  
  
  


by: H. Dale Wilson, CIH, LEED AP

Stronger standards aimed at reducing the number of Legionellosis (Legionnaires' disease) cases are being brought about through the proposed American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 188, “Prevention of Legionellosis Associated with Building Water Systems.” Hospitals and other medical facilities are advised to prepare for these changes to get a better grasp of potential problems before the standard is finalized.

According to the CDC, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized every year with Legionnaire's disease, which is fatal in 5-30% of cases. It's a serious infection that can affect those with chronic lung conditions, smokers, or individuals with chronic immune system disorders or weaknesses.  It is hoped that these changes to ASHRAE's Legionella standard will prevent thousands of cases every year.

The changes are comprehensive, and include several steps. From the proposed Standard:

  • The facility is surveyed to determine its risk characterization, which determines what preventive measures are required under the standard.

  • A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) team is formed by the building owner, the owner's building management team or both. The team must include at least one person who understands the principles of HACCP and at least one person who understands the building water systems. Members of the HACCP team can be employees, suppliers, consultants or any combination thereof.

  • The team identifies the end point uses of potable and utility water systems within the facility.

  • The team creates at least two process flow diagrams—one for potable water and another for utility water—to describe how the water is processed and used in their facilities.

  • An on-site inspection confirms that the flow diagrams are accurate.

  • Using the flow diagrams, the team identifies control points in the process. Control points are any steps at which biological, chemical or physical factors can be controlled.

  • The team then determines which control points should be designated as critical control points, which are steps in the process where it is essential to prevent or eliminate a hazard or prevent harm to a person.

  • The team establishes critical control limits for each critical control point. These are the specified values for hazard control, such as the amount of chlorine needed or the temperature range needed to control the hazard of Legionella.

  • The team creates monitoring procedures for each critical limit as well as a monitoring frequency.

  • The team establishes corrective actions to take when deviations from critical limits are found.

  • The team validates its selection of critical control points, critical limits and corrective actions.

  • The team establishes verification procedures and record-keeping procedures as required by the standard.


The changes incorporate concepts found in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, well-established to be effective in the food industry to prevent food-borne illnesses. The HACCP model was also chosen because of the inexpensive (and sometimes free) availability of the plans and the ease of implementation. While some have stated that the changes seem complex, the HACCP model is being incorporated to streamline the processes and standards.

Air Monitoring Standards: Today’s Air Monitoring Equipment and Methods Offer More

  
  
  
2nd Ave Subway ConstructionBy Bruce D. Groves, CIH

Compared with the air quality monitoring methods of even a few years ago, today’s air monitor system offers its users a quicker, more effective, and comprehensive way to assess potential environmental hazards.

[caption id="attachment_2255" align="alignright" width="300" caption="2nd Ave Subway Construction Muck House – What emissions from here are impacting the Local Air Quality?"][/caption]

The recently published article, “MTA: 2nd Avenue Subway Construction Not a Danger to Your Health,” responds to a rise in complaints about possible environmental health hazards from the construction. In the article, MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu suggested the public faced no danger from the construction based on results from a fall 2011 Parsons Brinkerhoff (PB) air monitoring study.

The PB study highlights important facts and issues about the project and makes useful points about air quality monitoring in general; however, PB used the same traditional dust and vapor monitors and methods that were used at the World Trade Center recovery site in 2001.

In the last decade and especially over the last few years, superior air monitoring technologies have been developed and used to help ensure that emission rates from major hazardous waste remediation operations in the New York metropolitan area are kept as low as possible. The use of innovative, more effective, and more cost-saving air monitoring equipment and methods would have provided data for the PB study that would better support MTA’s assertions.

[caption id="attachment_2261" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Greenlight Map View of Integrated Air Monitoring Data"][/caption]


For example, state-of-the-art air quality monitors today use integrated, real-time environmental air sampling that measures multiple dust particle sizes while simultaneously tagging each sample to wind speed and direction—a particularly valuable approach for evaluating the impact of blasting, material (rock) loading, vehicle exhaust emissions, and other construction-related activities in densely populated urban sites where wind direction varies significantly. In addition, vapor and gas measurements, including VOCs, SO2, CO, H2S, and NH3, can now be integrated into a single database to create a visual map of the air quality and wind direction across a project area. The data are then transmitted in real time to computers, including iPads and other handheld technology, for quick response to problems.




An integrated approach also helps:

• Differentiate the sources of air contaminants so that those associated with the construction can be distinguished from those of other background sources

• Determine when emission levels from the construction/remediation activity begin rising

• Deliver immediate information to construction management so that they can make timely decisions to protect workers and the public

• Measure the efficacy of engineering controls and work practices in reducing emission rates, even when concentrations are below project or regulatory safe levels

Given the options, PB and the MTA would have found these and other meaningful enhancements in air monitoring equipment and techniques valuable to the 2nd Avenue Subway construction project.

I encourage you to learn more about state-of-the-art air monitoring equipment, including integrated systems that allow users to make evidence-based decisions to protect workers and the public.

Second Avenue Subway (SAS) Project – Air Quality Monitoring Study of Construction Activities between 69th and 87th Street on Second Avenue

Indoor Air Quality in Healthcare Facilities During Construction and Renovation

  
  
  
Indoor Air Quality in HealthcareDaniel Senatus

A construction and renovation project within any facility creates a range of situations which can release debris, pollutants and contaminants that can impact the indoor air quality. These contaminants may be transported to other areas via HVAC systems, personnel coming and going through encapsulation barriers, and other factors that can subsequently affect people beyond the project area. Consideration of the effect upon indoor air quality is particularly important in healthcare settings when performing construction or renovation projects. Under these conditions, patients and other people with existing health problems that are in the hospital for treatment are at increased risk of contracting nosocomial infections.

Planning and Administrative Controls


All hospital construction projects must go through an Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) to determine the impact of the project on patient care. The ICRA process is usually lead by the Infection Control staff with additional input from the construction company, engineering, and safety managers. See ICRA Sample here.

Advance planning by all project managers, combined with proactive communication efforts, can successfully allay concerns during and after construction activities. Healthcare facilities must consider other factors that may be a potential hazard as a result of the project and then determine the controls that must be put in place to mitigate them. Other critical factors include knowing what areas will be unusable for the extent of the project, and the time of day that will minimize disruption of services (which is variable depending upon whether it is an ambulatory or inpatient facility). It makes sense that most construction in hospitals should be done in a part of the hospital that is not operational or is vacant.

Hazards to Consider


PM (Particulate Matter)

Construction and demolition activities may introduce particulate matter such as dusts and fibers into an environment. Most concerning is respirable dust; these are dust particles that are small enough to bypass the body’s natural defense and clearance systems (mucous, cilia) and not trigger the coughing reflex which is the body’s way of removing mucous and foreign material from the lungs and upper airway passages. Once these particles get deep in the lungs, they are more likely to be retained and can lead to a whole host of health issues including altered lung function, lung cancer, and even heart problems later on.
Biological Hazards

Construction and demolition of materials may contribute to the release of and exposure to a variety of microorganisms: fungi (Aspergillus, Candida, etc.), bacteria, and medical waste. There is also a good chance that animal droppings, insect parts and standing water may be encountered when breaking into areas not normally accessed. Building materials that are constantly damp or wet may serve as breeding grounds for microorganisms. Workers can come into contact with bodily fluids and bloodborne pathogens originating from leaking medical equipment (suction lines, etc).

According to OSHA “bloodborne pathogens are infectious organisms present in blood that can cause diseases in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus that causes AIDS.”  Hepatitis B and C are of the most concern in the healthcare construction and renovation setting because they can survive outside of the body for up to a week in the right conditions. Construction activities can make these microorganisms airborne, affecting the indoor air quality and posing a threat to workers and immunocompromised patients.

Engineering Controls


Typically these are implemented as part of the Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA).
Containment

Create a containment barrier with fire-rated 6 MIL polyethylene sheeting around the source and isolate it from other areas of the building so that there is no recirculation of air from the work area into other spaces. HVAC intakes within the containment should be sealed to isolate the containment from general ventilation. Create a second barrier directly outside of the containment barrier (this is considered the “dirty” area) with a sticky mat on the floor, this is where used PPE (personal protective equipment) can be discarded. Create a third barrier (clean area) where clean PPE can be stored; this will actually be the space between the dirty area and the occupied spaces. High traffic zippers should be used on all openings and sticky mats should extend six feet from the clean containment entrance to the occupied areas. These mats should be replaced daily or whenever they look dirty, whichever comes first.
Air Cleaning and Negative Pressure

Use NAM (Negative Air Machines) with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters inside the enclosure. Filters should be changed as needed. Create a negative pressure environment so that lower pressure inside the containment pulls outside air in and prevents the contaminated air from escaping. The NAM should be on prior to construction being started and stay on for the duration of the project whether construction is going on or not. A micro-manometer can be used to verify that negative pressure is established and maintained.
Dust Monitoring and Microbial Sampling

Continuous dust monitoring outside of the area can help determine the success of the control measures put in place. This can be accomplished using direct reading instrumentation that is equipped with alarms which notify personnel when dust is escaping from the enclosure so that corrective action can be implemented before patients and staff are impacted.

Collecting surface and air samples to evaluate microbiological impacts can also aid in establishing additional preventive measures to protect health and safety of patients and staff.

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)


Prophylaxes and PPE

Construction in certain places in a hospital can increase a construction worker’s chance of being exposed to contaminated waste and bodily fluids. It is good practice to inoculate personnel with the Hepatitis B vaccine in addition to PPE if there is enough time before the project (4 to 5 months) or if the construction company does a lot of work in functioning hospitals. The vaccine is given in a three dose series to reach immunity:

  • Dose #1 – Initial dose

  • Dose #2 – 30 days after dose #1

  • Dose #3 – 4 months after dose #2


All PPE selected for construction use at any healthcare facility must be “appropriate” for the task at hand. OSHA 1910.1030(d)(3)(i) states that personal protective equipment will be considered "appropriate" only if it does not permit blood or other potentially infectious materials to pass through to or reach the employee's work clothes, street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time which the protective equipment will be used.

In damp areas or places with medical waste or other contaminated fluids, liquid-resistant Tyvek suits, gloves, shoe covers, respirators/N95 masks, and goggles should be worn. All PPE must be discarded before exiting the containment area.

Housekeeping


Post-construction cleanup in healthcare facilities is the final stage but is just as important as any other phase. A combination of damp wiping and HEPA vacuums should be used to clean all dusty surfaces. After all trash, dirt, and debris have been removed, wet rags should be used to wipe down all areas within the containment and other areas immediately surrounding it.

Removal of trash may require that the trash be wiped down and clean and/or placed in a covered cart for transport away from the construction site to the waste dumpster so as not to spread contamination in sensitive areas. The renovated or constructed area should be in a sanitary condition before it is turned over to hospital staff. A careful inspection and testing program can aid in documenting the level of cleanliness.

Planning and Partnership


Construction in any healthcare facility is a necessity – whether it is a long-awaited and carefully planned renovation or a response to an urgent problem within the building envelope. In either case, protecting the health and safety of patients and caregivers in the facility and the construction workers can be achieved through planning, communication, and a thorough knowledge of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and industrial hygiene (IH) procedures and best practices. The success of the project is also dependent upon the partnership of the medical staff, management personnel and all the outside resources that will address the problem and ensure that the construction is completed without creating any additional health issues.

If you have any questions about construction or renovation at a healthcare facility or clinic, please comment below or contact us and an Emilcott IEQ specialist will respond.

References and Further Reading


http://www.ehow.com/list_7716877_statistics-exposure-hospital-construction-activity.html

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol4no3/weinstein.htm

http://www.mycology.adelaide.edu.au/downloads/Preventing-IFI-Buildings.pdf


Hurricane Irene Leaves a Legacy of Water Intrusion and the Promise of Mold

  
  
  
Mold Investigation at a Commercial BuildingDale Wilson, CIH, LEED AP

With the departure of Hurricane Irene, many buildings throughout NJ and NY have sustained a wide range of water damage and require action to remediate or otherwise mitigate the impacts of water intrusion:  mold, fungus and structural damage. 

Timing is a key element in this response; immediate action is necessary to minimize the potential for mold growth within the building envelope. As in medicine, early detection leads to an early (and usually less expensive) cure. Time and water combined can grow to be an expensive and time-consuming enemy.  Failure to respond promptly will very likely result in mold growth requiring significantly more demolition than if the condition is handled in a timely manner.  What is the definition of “timely”? As soon as mold is discovered!

Experts Can Determine Proper Mold Remediation


Along with timing, selection of the proper remediation technique for the building’s water intrusion and moisture problem (removal, drying in place using fans and/or dehumidification equipment, cleaning, treatment with biocide, etc.) is essential for maintaining a safe building. Improperly implemented remediation procedures can result in cross-contamination and hidden mold growth areas which could adversely impact occupants as time passes while increasing overall remediation time and costs.

Water and flood remediation procedures vary and are dependent upon the convoluted mix of building materials, building design, furnishings, extent of exposure, and the source of the water. Water intrusion investigations and cleanup can be especially challenging in buildings such as multi-unit residences, hospitals or rehab centers, schools and older buildings. There are a wide range of environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues associated with commercial, industrial and institutional facilities; it is important to manage the project as well as the complex interaction between employees, contractors, and the public within a facility; the buildings themselves; and the physical surroundings where they are located.

Mold Remediation Services


An EHS mold expert will identify and eliminate sources of mold and other Indoor Environmental Quality problems. They will also provide a detailed project roadmap for cleanup and removal as well as project oversight for safe and effective remediation. Emilcott’s mold remediation strategy for safe and effective mold removal (with minimal damage to the building and reduced impacts to building occupants) includes the following steps:

Step 1: Initial Assessment

Locate the source of the moisture without deconstruction or disruption to the building and occupants.  Determine the urgency of the mold problem and its impact upon workers or residents.














What Has Changed in Environmental Monitoring Since Sept 11, 2001?

  
  
  
Dave Tomsey

On the second day of 2011, the James Zadroga Act was authorized to broaden and renew funding and extend benefits to Ground Zero workers whose death was a result of exposure.  These exposures were directly and indirectly caused by toxins present in the billowing clouds of dusts and smoke following the worst tragedy to happen on American soil in my lifetime.  The tragic sickness of countless rescue workers continues to add heartbreak where there is little room for more.

What Do We Know?


In the 9/11 crisis, workers were really battling two threats:   terrorism and vaporized building materials. The high levels of toxins at the World Trade Center site were identified and measured.  This process was carried out using sampling pumps, associated media and lab results in order to classify possible carcinogens and determine their percentage in a given volume of air.  The process is the same today. Although concentrations may differ from one area to another, the goal is to establish the worst-possible contaminant scenario to protect site workers and the public.  Once the type and levels of hazards are known, engineering controls, PPE and other methods of worker health protection are put in place.

Protecting Emergency Response Workers: What Has Changed?


In the time that has passed since the WTC tragedy, technology has progressed to offer improved worker protection. Just as smart phones have become prevalent in our lives, the same technology has been integrated into measurement devices producing smaller instrumentation with better, faster communication capabilities.  Put together, these smart systems, unthinkable ten years ago, enable real time environmental hazard monitoring.  In a nutshell, as hazards are detected at the site, real time systems send up an immediate flare.  What used to take a day (at best) to reveal is now known instantly at your fingertips.

How Would Real-time Monitoring be Used for Emergency Response Today?


As lab samples are being collected and rescue workers or cleanup crews are in service with respirators, monitoring field stations can be set up and started.  Once samples identify the risk, , the field stations can continuously measure dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in real time as a surrogate for contaminants found in laboratory samples.  Field stations located around and within the work area form multiple monitoring zones to (1) protect workers in close proximity to contaminants, (2) determine an exclusion zone for support personnel, and (3) protect residents and other businesses at an even greater distance from the site. End result? The constant stream of field data, with corresponding weather information such as wind, precipitation and temperature, would either confirm or indicate modified worker protection needs as the project continues.

How Do You Know When Workers Need Some Type of Additional Safety Precautions Beyond Respirators?


A real time environmental monitoring system is designed for continuous monitoring of all aspects of emergency response recovery and cleanup efforts so that risk can be evaluated as the scenarios change. Today’s technology has impacted and improved virtually every aspect of environmental monitoring:

  • Authorized personnel can receive constant updates and alarms via multiple means:  text, email or 2-way radios.

  • Incoming and historical data can be viewed by multiple stakeholders at varying locations and allow managers in the field to instantly assess trends with laptops, tablets and smart phones.

  • Measurements collected in real time are averaged and processed to show trends in and around the work zone.  These trends are displayed as either a table, graphic plots or shown with contours to establish if a work practice or area is safe for personnel

  • Plotting data points with corresponding wind speed and direction allows for managers to determine if offsite sources are impacting the job site or if the vapors and dusts shown on-screen are generated onsite.  Meteorological data showing site conditions (such as high winds) indicates when additional safety precautions should be considered.

  • New monitoring equipment now measures multiple levels of dust and vapors into the parts per billion range.  Vapors measured in the parts per billion ranges allow for managers to see if potential toxic vapors are steadily climbing from the lowest detectable levels.  Multiple particle sizing differentiates inhalable dusts from heavier ones that can contain heavy metals.  This allows managers to classify dust readings, watching diesel emissions across site for workers and heavier particulates for neighboring residents and the public.


With such new and remarkable technologies there is no reason to not employ them.

The connected lifestyle and technology of today’s standards help us accomplish many tasks and stay informed.  We are all used to checking our phone or bringing up a website to learn more.  This same connection through real time monitoring to hazardous work sites would be second nature to most and allow for the protection of many.  My hope is that there will never be a need for real time monitoring in response to an incident like 9/11 but, as an American and a CIH working at hazardous sites; it is reassuring to know that there are developed technologies in place to better protect workers if the worst does indeed occur.

For Schools, Summer Time is Asbestos Time!

  
  
  
summer time is asbestos time for schools Dale Wilson, CIH, LEED AP, Sr. Project Manager

Summer vacation is what every student dreams of...no school!  While this may be true for the educational calendar, summer is the time of year when schools generally address their big asbestos issues.  So instead of students and teachers filling the classrooms, they are replaced by a range of very specific professionals that are required to get the job done:  the Local Education Agency (LEA), Designated Person, Inspectors, Management Planners, Remediation Contractors, and Asbestos Safety Technicians/Project Monitors.

Regulations for Asbestos in Schools


Asbestos in schools is regulated by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), promulgated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1986. AHERA applies to all public and private elementary and secondary schools in the United States and requires LEA’s to identify, evaluate and control Asbestos Containing Building Materials (ACBM).  At each school a “Designated Person” is given the responsibility to be in charge of the school's asbestos control program.  The regulation is meant to protect children, as health issues from asbestos are not immediate, but can take decades to appear. The EPA explains on their website:
Although asbestos is hazardous when inhaled, the risk of exposure to airborne fibers is very low. Therefore, removal of asbestos from schools is often not the best course of action. It may even create a dangerous situation when none previously existed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only requires removal of asbestos to prevent significant public exposure during demolition or renovation. EPA does, however, require an in-place, pro-active asbestos management program for all LEAs in order to ensure ACBM remains in good condition and is undisturbed by students, faculty, and staff.”

Identifying the Problem


The first task of managing asbestos correctly is identifying the location, quantity, and condition of ACBM.  This responsibility is assigned to an AHERA-accredited Building Inspector.  In addition to conducting the initial inspection, Building Inspectors must also re-inspect ACBM every three years. Six- month periodic surveillances are also conducted by a Building Inspector or other individual familiar with the inspection results, such as a member of the custodial staff.  Collectively, the inspections and surveillances help maintain the accuracy of the inventory and identify any damage that requires a response action.

Developing a Plan


The inspection and surveillance results are used by AHERA-accredited Management Planners to develop an Asbestos Management Plan specific to each school.  The Asbestos Management Plan uses the inventory to assess the likelihood of disturbance and recommend appropriate response actions. 

Plan Implementation


Because children are not occupying the school in summer, it is the perfect time to implement response actions that would otherwise disrupt the educational process and present risk. Response Actions include the following activities:

    • Removal

    • Repair

    • Encapsulation

    • Enclosure

    • Operations & Maintenance (O&M)


Response actions are undertaken by licensed firms who employ AHERA-accredited supervisors and abatement workers.  Many states also require the companies to have a state-issued license for asbestos abatement work and supervisors and workers must carry performance identification permits. In many states, oversight of the work is done by a trained professional such as NJ’s Asbestos Safety Technician (AST)/Project Monitor who works for an independent firm (not the abatement company) to ensure that proper procedures are followed, and performs on-going air sampling and final clearance sampling to document that the response action does not release asbestos particles into the school.  After all, the goal of the response action is to make conditions inside of the school safe!

The AHERA Regulations turned 25 this year. I f you want to find out more about asbestos and the regulations that control its presence in your local schools, visit the EPA website or review this list of FAQ.  Asbestos Management Plans are required to be available to the public, and you can receive a copy from your school district just by asking.

Parents, have you heard about an asbestos removal or management plan in your school district?  To learn more about Asbestos management in schools, the EPA publishes an informative “The ABCs about Asbestos in Schools” If you are part of an asbestos management team, do you have some reassuring information to share with concerned parents?






















TMI: Is there such a thing as Too Much Information for environmental monitoring?

  
  
  
describe the imageby Barbara Alves

It’s funny, let’s face it. Someone shares some tawdry detail about their personal life and we wince. TMI…please just keep it to yourself! We chuckle or shake our heads. In reality, information equals power. The more we know, the better decisions we can make. If we have only half the important details, we will make weak decisions.

Let’s use some history to drive this home. Although the Allied Forces ultimately won WWII, overconfidence from the D-Day invasion and the quickness with which the Allies pushed the Germans eastward across France, caused Eisenhower to underestimate the tactical abilities and determination of Hitler’s army. This resulted in the disastrous Operation Market-Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. Because of lack of current data in the Market-Garden strategy, the Allies were not in Berlin by the end of 1944 as they expected. Instead, by December of 1944 the Germans had broken through into the Allies' line of advance in the Ardennes and caught us ill-prepared. Poor intelligence cost tens of thousands of lives.

This is perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of “not enough information”, but it makes the point. Amazingly, with the communication capabilities of today’s wireless, cellular, Internet and other “instantaneous” technologies, many choose NOT to use this power to gather all the project information that they can get. Like an ostrich with it head in the sand, if they don’t know something, they feel that they don’t have to react or worse, be held accountable. This “ignorance is bliss” type of decision-making is often the primary reason people make the choice to NOT implement real-time environmental monitoring on construction and remediation sites. “If we don’t know that it’s dangerous, than it must be ok, right?” Sounds crazy, but it’s true!

Using a modern and proactive approach, technology is available (right now) to continuously retrieve important and fluctuating intelligence about environmental field conditions. The information is gathered and immediately transmitted wirelessly to smart phones, PDAs, PC and laptops – all accessible by the Internet for all authorized viewers. And the data keeps rolling in throughout the project’s life cycle. What power!  To be able to make an immediate decision (or better yet, a correction) from a remote location and save time, expense, and ultimately, human health.

And what about the ability to review, store and retrieve project environmental data, which was collected over a period of time, for comparison or trending?  Super powerful! This can only result in better planning. Adding better decision-making abilities to better planning capabilities should ultimately result in doing a better job, a cleaner site and healthier workers. Who wouldn’t want that?  So the real question is, if an environmental monitoring system is NOT collecting reliable, real-time data, aren’t you really just making anecdotal decisions based on guesstimates instead of a foundation of actual data?

Many historians feel that Eisenhower’s planning of Operation Market-Garden was anecdotal because it was based on what the Allied Forces experienced coming out of Normandy. It was certainly wrong. Historians also believe that what turned the war around was the unbelievable ability our forces had to assess the real-time intelligence they gathered as they were “living in the field of battle” to make tactical decisions and outsmart the enemy.

If real-time, reliable data is available to help you make good, solid decisions, get it and use it. You will do a better job and make fewer mistakes. Information is power and you can NEVER have too much of it.  How have you used TMI to develop a better project or framework?













Clean Air in New Jersey – the NJCAC Focuses on Urban Areas

  
  
  
by Bruce Groves

Through my membership with the New Jersey American Industrial Hygiene Association (NJ-AIHA), I had the opportunity to make a presentation at the New Jersey Clean Air Council’s (NJCAC) annual meeting on April 13th.   This particular meeting sounded intriguing as it would be focusing on a topic of great interest to me – a technical dialogue on how to measure and identify the effect of air pollution (and other environmental stressors) on the cumulative health issues of the public. The meeting aimed to bring professionals from varying disciplines to discuss technical approaches, academic research and general opinions on how to reduce this pollution and therefore improve the health of the affected populations.  

The meeting lasted a full day with contributing presentations from a dozen or so professionals. There were 15 NJCAC Board members at the meeting and 50+ attendees comprised of 11 presenters, NJDEP staff, and members of the public.  As a presenter, we were each given about 20 minutes to make our points regarding specific urban populations that have inordinately higher exposure to air contaminants as compared to people living and working in “cleaner” urban, suburban and rural areas of the state.  The majority of the presentations concluded that there are neighborhoods where pollution levels are chronically and significantly high.  Presented evidence also linked higher incidences of illnesses and disease with these cumulative exposures to contaminants and other environmental (and social) stressors.  

Bob Martin, the NJDEP Commissioner, gave an introductory presentation outlining current and future regulatory initiatives for reducing air pollution in New Jersey. One plan is to ban older diesel equipment in areas that do not have effective emission controls.  Joe Suchecki, a representative of the Engine Manufacturers Association, correspondingly, presented convincing evidence that new diesel technology does not create air pollution problems.  The trick now is to get all the older diesel equipment off all the roads and construction sites replaced by either new equipment or equipment retrofitted to control air emissions.

Ana Baptista, PhD, gave an excellent presentation on the high levels of pollution in the Newark Ironbound district and the resulting links to disease in the residential population resulting from cumulative exposure to these contaminants.  Dr. Robert Laumbach gave a similar presentation about future research that he is leading to test people who live in the Ironbound in an attempt to prove this link of air pollution exposure to increased illness and disease.

My own presentation discussed Emilcott’s experience measuring local air pollution (particulates and vapors) and other environmental parameters (noise, wind speed and direction) using the Greenlight Environmental Monitoring System which collects, in real-time, data for particulates (at multiple particle size ranges) and vapors, coupled with data of wind speed and direction, to identify emission sources and measure their impact on local air pollution.  We have found that “what is measured, improves”, and by using this sophisticated and integrated air monitoring approach, identified emission sources can be controlled to make immediate and sustainable improvements to the local air quality. 

Overall, excellent information was presented, reinforcing the fact that the air quality in much of New Jersey is not very good and, in certain areas (usually in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods), it is extremely poor.    And, residents living in zones with the worst air pollution also show some link to increased disease and illness.     

I left the NJCAC annual meeting knowing that solid academic work was underway to prove that high levels of air pollution causes disease.  What was missing was evidence that effective, short-term actions are being taken, to reduce the levels of pollution and contaminant exposure in these areas to improve overall health for the resident population.
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