Skip The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

I Just Want to Do a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment

We have that telephone call quite often. The caller usually says, “Look, just give me an estimate for a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. I don’t want to do a Phase I.” To which we respond, “Okay, so you have already had a Phase I done?” “No, but I know it was a gas station.” At which point we explain how skipping the Phase I risks omitting information and data which could affect the type of testing you do in the Phase II.

Due Diligence

We further explain that in so doing, the caller may not be exercising due diligence in determining if the site is or could be contaminated from usage of the itself or properties in the vicinity. Why the concern about due diligence? Well, if due diligence is exercised via a Phase I and, if required, a Phase II, and contamination is found later on, Superfund (CERCLA, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, & Liability Act, www.epa.gov) is supposed to cover the cleanup. Considering cleanups can start at less than $50,000 and run into the millions, that is nothing to take lightly.

What Could be Omitted on the Site Itself?

Environmental Site AssessmentLet’s use the gas station example. A gas station today is not necessarily a gas station yesterday. In the 1950’s to mid-1970’s, a gas station was normally a full service station, not the convenience store that sells gasoline and diesel fuel today.  Not only did they sell fuel from underground storage tanks, but they quite often dumped used oil, chlorinated carburetor cleaner, and other petroleum based wastes into a used underground storage tank.  And, yes, those tanks leaked just like the fuel tanks.  At the end of the day, they often hosed down the floor of the repair shop and squeegeed it out the door onto the pavement, grass, dirt, road, and storm drains. Oh, by the way, they also had hydraulic oil tanks underground for the lifts, which also leaked.

A lot of the details on the site usage would be missed by jumping to a Phase II. The operations above raise the need to include used oil, solvents, hydraulic oil, and heavy metals from the used oil in the Phase II. But guess what? Prior to it becoming a service station in 1960, it was part of a former celery field for 30 years where every pesticide available was used. And that is an even bigger omission. One would not necessarily have discovered that by skipping the Phase II.

How about the Vicinity?

Well, it turns out, there was a perchloroethylene (perc) contaminated dry cleaner right across the street. But it is clear across the street, who cares? You should because that contamination could have migrated to your site and you could end up bearing the cleanup cost. And by the way, the ASTM E 1527 -13 Standard E-27 for Phase I’s (www.astm.org) considers that an adjacent property – the road offers no separation. Oh, and right down the street was a paint and body shop which was less than meticulous in handling and disposing solvents and paints. Matter of fact, the groundwater plume from that operation is now at the edge of your site.

Conclusion

So that should be enough information for you to decide that skipping a Phase I is not a good idea. If you do, the consequences may be more than you can stand – emotionally and financially!

Further Assistance

Environmental Safety ConsultantsIf you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Industrial Hygiene Testing Results

Industrial Hygiene Blogs So Far

This is the ninth in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH). Our last blog covered the selection of an industrial hygiene testing firm. The current blog will address what to do with the industrial hygiene testing results.

The Report

Most likely, if you selected a reputable firm with experience and a Certified Industrial Hygienist on staff, you will end up with a thorough report. The objective and scope of work will be stated and the methods will be identified. Details of the testing event will be provided. Then, the results will be presented and evaluated. They will be compared to regulatory limits of the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and recommended limits of organizations such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH, www.acgih.org) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov).

Oftentimes, we are asked why limits beyond OSHA’s are included. The reason is that in many cases, OSHA’s limits are 40 years old. They have not been able to keep up with new information and data, because most of their moves are challenged in court. We are talking worker protection here and minimizing your company’s liabilities. The other limits such as ACGIH’s Threshold Limit Values® (TLVs®) and NIOSH’s Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs) are more current and can be considered industry standards. Our legal friends tell us that you can be held accountable to industry standards in a court of law. Therefore, you want to take these recommended limits seriously.

Control Options

So, let’s say your report shows that the airborne concentrations of certain chemicals in your plant exceed the regulatory or recommended limits. What are your options to control the situation? OSHA would prefer that you use administrative controls or engineering controls INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE TESTING RESULTSfirst and as a last resort personal protective equipment (PPE).  Why is PPE considered a last resort? Because it is the last line of defense.  If it fails, your workers may be ex-posed to hazardous airborne concentrations. Therefore, OSHA prefers that the hazard be eliminated or reduced to a level that is either nonhazardous or is as low as reasonably achievable.

Here are a few examples of controls. Administrative controls may involve substitution of chemicals with less hazardous chemicals, or shift rotation to minimize the time of exposure, or changing the task so the worker is less exposed, or training employees properly. Engineering controls could include exhaust ventilation, automated dispensing of chemicals, general ventilation, and more. Of course PPE includes respirators, safety glasses, welding curtains, protective clothing, gloves, and on and on.

What Next?

Assemble the appropriate players and evaluate the different control options. The cost, effectiveness, and likelihood to be used are real factors for serious consideration. Once a selection is made and the controls are implemented, decide when to retest. After all, you probably won’t know whether the controls are effective without data.

So that concludes our blog on what to do with the results from completing industrial hygiene testing. And we have now covered a lot of ground in the field of industrial hygiene.

If you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Industrial Hygiene Testing Firm Selection

Industrial Hygiene Blogs So Far

This is the eighth in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH). Our last blog covered the design of industrial hygiene testing. The current blog will address how to select an industrial hygiene firm to do the testing.

Selection Players

Most likely, you will need other players besides yourself to select the firm to do the industrial hygiene testing. It often takes representatives from Safety, Facilities, Maintenance, Operations, and Purchasing. Each of these players has a different interest and plays a different role in the project. They have interests in worker protection, compliance, production efficiency, and expenditure of money and man hours. They must communicate on the project.  A meeting may be necessary.

Testing Objective

INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE TESTING FIRM SELECTIONAssuming that you are in charge of Safety, you need to control the selection and must make sure that the players understand the objective. You want to be clear and concise. For example, you may advise the players that our objective is to determine if our painters applying the primer and finish coats are being overexposed to methylene chloride. They spray the paints off and on for a total of six hours during their eight hour shift five days a week. We have exhaust ventilation in the paint spray booths and they wear full facepiece air purifying respirators equipped with organic vapor filters piggybacked with particulate filters. Assuming the respirators have the proper protection factor, what are they exposed to if the respirator fails or they do not don it properly? We want to know what the airborne methylene chloride concentration is on an eight hour time weighted average (TWA) basis and on a fifteen to thirty minute short-term basis. Does it exceed the limits of OSHA (www.osha.gov) or ACGIH (www.acgih.org)? If so, we need to reduce their exposure.

Selection Criteria

Again, you will need to take the lead in suggesting the criteria to select the industrial hygiene testing firm. You may specify that the firm has on staff a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), ten years of experience, a quick response time, and a reasonable turnaround time. Other players will have their criteria.

Purchasing may want to check the firm out on Dun & Bradstreet to make sure they are financially sound.

Request Estimate

Once the criteria have been established, request an estimate from one or two firms. Define the objective, operation, paints, and shift. The industrial hygiene firm may or may not want to visit your plant before submitting the estimate.

Specify all of your company’s criteria and conditions in completing the work. Let the firm(s) know up front what the expectations and schedule are.

Review Estimate

You need to review the estimate first and request revisions if necessary. Once it meets all the requirements, the other players need to review either it or your recommendation. Reach a decision and award the job, then get it done.

So that concludes our recommended procedure to select an industrial hygiene firm to complete your testing. In our next blog in this series, we will discuss what to do with the results.

In the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Industrial Hygiene Testing Details

Industrial Hygiene Blogs So Far

This is the seventh in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH).  The first one explained that industrial hygiene was the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  The second blog defined a hazard as a source of danger or an agent which has the potential to cause harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  Different types of resources were identified such as guidelines provided by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov/niosh).

The third blog focused on the recognition or identification of hazards.  The fourth one walked you through an example of hazard recognition for a specific operation.  The fifth blog provided an overview of the evaluation of industrial hygiene hazards.  Then the sixth blog presented an overview of industrial hygiene testing as one method to complete the evaluation of potential industrial hygiene hazards.  Finally, this current blog will cover the design of industrial hygiene testing.

Industrial Hygiene Testing Objective

Industrial Hygiene Testing DetailsThe specific industrial hygiene testing depends on the source of the hazard and the operation.  In general, the first step is to define the objective of the testing.  For example, the objective may be to determine if there is an oxygen deficient atmosphere in a chemical vat during a cleanout operation.  Details are needed on the operation to establish the testing approach.  For the vat example, the operation may involve two maintenance employees who clean out the vat during a four hour period once a week.  The vat is emptied  and dried out on Friday.  On Monday, the two employees are lowered down into the vat after donning personal protective equipment.  They use absorbent cleaning towels and an innocuous cleaner.  The next step is to determine how the objective will be met.

Industrial Hygiene Testing Details

The objective will be met by selecting the right procedure and executing it.  To flesh out the details, start by answering  the what, who, when, how, and where questions.  What testing method will best meet the objective?  Who should complete the testing?  How long will the testing last?  What is the time table for getting the results?  When will a verbal report be provided?  What will be the specific content of the written report?  When will the written report be provided?  If the testing confirms there is a hazard, will corrective action be recommended?

Finally, identify any special requirements of your company in having the testing performed.  For example, are photographs of the testing required?  What about written descriptions of the tasks which the employees perform during testing?  Make no assumptions as to what will be included in the testing or report.  It is better to review it up front, rather than to be disappointed in the end.

So that concludes our overview of industrial hygiene testing.  In our next blog in this series, we will discuss how to select an industrial hygiene firm to do the testing.  That process often includes multiple players and departments at your company.

In the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Industrial Hygiene Testing Overview

Industrial Hygiene Articles So Far

This is the sixth in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH).  The first one explained that industrial hygiene was the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  The second blog defined a hazard as a source of danger or an agent which has the potential to cause harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  Different types of resources were identified such as guidelines provided by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov/niosh).

The third blog focused on the recognition or identification of hazards.  The fourth one walked you through an example of hazard recognition for a specific operation.  The fifth blog provided an overview of the evaluation of industrial hygiene hazards.  And finally, this blog will round out the series with an industrial hygiene testing overview as one method to complete the evaluation of potential industrial hygiene hazards.

Testing Methods

The testing method selection depends on the type of hazard.  So you may have an inhalation hazard due to the presence of one or more of the following:

industrial hygiene testing overview

  • Chemicals
  • Particulates
  • Oxygen Deficiency
  • Toxic Gases
  • Biological Organisms

Or, you may have a noise hazard.  Alternatively, you may have a heat stress hazard.  Finally, you may have a radiation, biological, or any of several other hazards.  It should be obvious that different testing methods are used for different types of hazards.

So testing methods are varied.  For airborne hazards, there are sampling pumps and collection media analyzed in a lab.  There are also badges that can be worn for certain time periods which are then analyzed in a lab for volatile organic compounds, radiation, or other constituents.  Electronic meters are available to instantaneously measure certain chemicals, particulates, toxic or explosive gases, noise, radiation, or other parameters.  These devices may also measure the oxygen concentration in the air to determine if it is deficient.  Air samples can also be collected and analyzed in a lab for bacteria or mold.

Those are just some of the testing methods.  And again, they are selected based on the potential hazard and the operation.  The actual selection is part of testing design which is covered in our next blog.

So that concludes our overview of industrial hygiene testing.  In the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

 

Evaluation – Industrial Hygiene Hazards

Industrial Hygiene Blogs So Far

This is the fifth in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH).  The first one explained that industrial hygiene was the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  The second blog defined a hazard as a source of danger or an agent which has the potential to cause harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  Different types of resources were identified such as guidelines provided by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov/niosh).  The third blog focused on the recognition or identification of hazards.  The fourth one walked you through an example of hazard recognition for a specific operation.  And this blog will provide an overview of the evaluation of industrial hygiene hazards.

Types of Evaluation

So you have identified the potential hazards through the recognition process and now you are ready to evaluate the hazards.  There are a few ways that this can be done.

One is to estimate what the air concentrations of the chemical or dust of concern are from analyzing the operation or manufacturing method.  For example, certain assumptions are made as to how much of a paint or substance ends up on the part and then estimate how much ends up in the air.  You would have to use the Safety Data Sheet and Technical Data Sheet to determine the concentration of the hazardous chemical in the product being used or applied.  You have to determine how much goes off as a vapor for things like paint to estimate volatile organic compounds (VOCs, such as solvents) and how much overspray there is to account for particulates.

Hygiene HazardsAnother option for an operation that is established and being used is to monitor the complaints or adverse health conditions.  Then those are compared to potential health impairments identified on the Safety Data Sheet.  This may actually tell you what the constituent of most concern is.  Take note that we are not recommending this approach since it can put workers at unacceptable risk.  However, we have had enough years in the field that tell us processes are often established and used regularly without the proper evaluation.

Another approach is control banding.  This groups chemicals according to similar characteristics, which may be physical or chemical.  Then, based on these characteristics, you decide how the chemical will be used and what the anticipated exposure hazards will be.  Appropriate work methods and controls are selected to eliminate or at least minimize the workers’ exposures.

Finally, there is industrial hygiene testing.  When properly completed, this is the best method to conclusively decide if there is truly a potential exposure to the workers.

So that concludes our overview of hazard evaluation in industrial hygiene.  In our next blog in this series, we will discuss specific evaluation of potential industrial hygiene hazards.  That process often includes industrial hygiene testing.

ESC - Hygiene HazardsIn the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.  We have a proven track record with a Florida licensed environmental engineer and mold assessors, plus degreed environmental scientists on staff.  We specialize in industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead paint, silica, noise, and more.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Stormwater Monitoring NPDES Details

stormwater monitoringIn our original blog article entitled “Florida NPDES Stormwater Requirements”, we provided an overview of these regulatory requirements.  In this current article, we will provide more details on the monitoring itself.  These monitoring requirements apply to stormwater runoff leaving your site.  This may be a single outfall or more than one outfall.  If there is no outfall, you may have to construct one to collect runoff to monitor.

What is stormwater monitoring?  It is the evaluation of the water leaving your site as stormwater runoff.  To perform this evaluation, a sample must be collected.  The evaluation may either be done visually or analytically in a laboratory.  Your permit may just require visual monitoring for all five years of your permit, or it may require that in years one, three, and five, plus analytical monitoring in years two and four.  Note that Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP, www.myflorida.com) uses calendar years, so that if your permit is issued anytime between January 1st and December 31st in a given year, that is counted as year one.  Thus, year two of your permit will start January 1st of the next year, even though a full year (i.e., 365 days) has not passed.

Regardless of the type of monitoring, you must measure and keep a log of rainfall on site.  This has to be done prior to the beginning of the quarter so you can identify the last qualifying rainfall event and it continues until you monitor a qualifying event in the current quarter.  A qualifying rainfall event is greater than one-tenth of an inch (0.1 in).  For monitoring, the event has to be preceded by no qualifying events within 72 hours.    Measuring rainfall can either be done manually or automatically with a tipping rain gauge recording unit.

Visual monitoring is done by collecting a sample in a clean glass container (clear and at least sixteen ounces is best).  The sample is then examined for clarity, sediment, oily sheens, other pollutants, and foam.  All information should be recorded on a form in your Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).  Included with the sample evaluation data are the Sampler’s name and signature, date, time, start and stop times of the runoff event, and location of the outfall sampled.  This form must be kept in the SWPPP.

Analytical monitoring will be dictated by your permit.  The pollutants or parameters to be analyzed in the laboratory will be identified.  Additionally, the regulatory limits for each parameter will be shown.  It is important that the analyses be done in a laboratory accredited by National Laboratory Environmental Accreditation Program, NELAP (www.nelac-institute.org) and be certified by the Florida Department of Health (www.floridahealth.gov).  The same information concerning the visual sampling above is recorded and a Chain-of-Custody form is completed to accompany the samples to the laboratory.  This information and the lab results are kept in the SWPP.

Samples for laboratory analysis must be handled properly to insure accurate results.  The samples may need to be preserved or iced or both.  If they are not delivered immediately to the laboratory, they must be held in a refrigerator at no more than forty degrees Fahrenheit where the temperature is recorded on a written log daily.  Samples must be analyzed before their hold time expires.

The visual and analytical results must be evaluated.  If there is a problem, you must determine the likely cause and take corrective action.  This should be documented in your SWPPP and, for analytical results, on your Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) filed with the FDEP by March 1st following the monitoring year.

stormwater monitoringSo now you know details on Florida NPDES Stormwater Monitoring for industrial facilities.  If you need any more information, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can assist.  We have the credentials and experience to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with over thirty-five years of stormwater experience.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away here.  Contact us today!

Florida National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Stormwater Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) established the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program back in the 1970’s to meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.  The initial focus was on point source discharges from industrial facilities.  In the early 1990’s, EPA was forced to address nonpoint sources which was stormwater runoff from certain municipalities, industrial plants, and construction sites.  After several years the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP, www.myflorida.com) took over the program from EPA.  The focus of the rest of this article will be on the requirements for stormwater runoff for industrial facilities.

Industrial facilities included are manufacturers and those with Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC) 20 through 45, 50, and 51, plus power plants, mining operations, recycling facilities, and transportation facilities.  Others include landfills, mines, hazardous waste facilities, and junkyard facilities.  Industrial areas or operations which could impact stormwater include material storage, access roads, and rail lines, manufactured and intermediate product storage, material handling equipment storage, and maintenance areas.  Drums or tanks of solvents, oils, and chemicals are included as are open dumpsters, air compressors, and material handling areas outside.  Facilities are covered if their stormwater runoff discharges directly or ultimately to navigable waters of the U.S.  In Florida, this applies to most sites.

So if you have any sources of pollutants which could be entrained in the stormwater runoff, what do you do?  First, file a Notice of Intent to be covered under the General Permit.  A fee of $500.00 must accompany the form, which is for the five years of permit coverage.  Next, you must prepare a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and implement it.

Finally, quarterly visual monitoring of the stormwater runoff will have to be completed for the life of the permit.  Additionally, for certain SIC Codes, in years 2 and 4 of the permit, samples will have to be analyzed in an analytical laboratory.  Analytical results must be reported to FDEP by March 1st of the year following monitoring.  In certain cases when the analytical results for year 2 of the monitoring are in compliance, the FDEP may waive entirely or partially the year 4 analytical monitoring requirements.

A side note is that monitoring is required twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  The regulations do not stipulate that it is only required during normal business hours.  It is imperative that you make every reasonable effort to complete monitoring during each calendar quarter.  The FDEP has access to rainfall records for your area.

Like a lot of environmental regulatory programs, documentation is key.  That includes your Notice of Intent, payment of the fee, Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan, Training, monitoring, and reporting.  Included in the monitoring is logging rainfall measurements daily which is key to monitoring stormwater runoff.

So now you know what the requirements are for Florida’s NPDES Stormwater program for industrial facilities.  If you need any more information, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can assist.  We have the credentials and experience to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with over thirty-five years of stormwater experience.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

An Introduction to Mold Assessments

 

In our first blog article on mold, we explored Mold Myths.  In the next one, we provided a general description of Mold Assessments.  Now, we will take those Assessments to the next level.  That is, we will go into more detail on how ESC interprets information and data.  Keep in mind that while these Assessments are based on published scientific literature and guidelines, they remain the professional opinion of Environmental Safety Consultants, Inc. (ESC).

We will address several areas of the Assessment in this article.  These include moisture content, inspection findings, on site (in situ) readings, laboratory results on various types of mold samples, and interview information.  Keep in mind that the Assessment needs to be conducted by a Florida-licensed Mold-Related Services Assessor (MRSA) not also serving as the Florida-licensed Mold-Related Services Remediator.  For a lot of reasons, and certainly if there is a potential for litigation, you may want to make sure the MRSA is also a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, see www.abih.org).  You can also find CIHs in the Consultants Directory (www.aiha.org).

Mold AssessmentsBuilding Materials

Further details on the moisture content of building materials are provided here.  Remember that the thermal imaging camera identifies materials that are cooler, perhaps due to the evaporation of water.   A moisture meter then confirms or refutes the presence of water.  Either the survey or penetrating mode works for this purpose on these meters.

In the survey mode, readings are taken from the surface of the building material, whereas in the penetrating mode, pin holes or larger holes are made and the readings are taken at a certain depth. The common unit, wood moisture equivalent (WME), provides a standardized way to measure readings. Readings of 16 to 20% WME are considered borderline moist while those exceed-ing 20% WME are usually considered excessively moist.  This level of moisture is capable of supporting the growth of mold.  Mold could be present in the building material, wall cavity air, etcetera at this level.

Surface Samples

Surface samples are of two basic types – cello-tape or sticky tape samples and swab samples.  Both types collect living, dead, and dormant mold.  A third party laboratory accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) can analyze both types under a microscope.  The examination evaluates the sample for the genuses or genera of mold, percent coverage, and growth structures present.  ESC usually has the swabs streaked on nutrient agar plates (i.e., Petri dishes) in the laboratory.  They are then held under controlled conditions. An evaluation is made for the genuses or genera of mold, percent coverage, and extent of growth (Colony Forming Units or CFUs).  Whatever the analysis is, ESC uses internal criteria to determine if significant mold contamination is present.

Spore traps collect living, dead, and dormant mold in the air.  Reports include the genera of mold, concentration (counts or spores per cubic meter), and growth structures. ESC typically compares these results to those for two outside air samples collected on different sides of the building.  Comparisons of the total concentrations of all mold, concentrations for each genus, and genera indicating wet or damp conditions begin.  If several wet or damp indicators are found inside, the concentrations inside are much greater than outside, and if the diversity of the population is different inside, this may indicate unique conditions, and, thus, significant mold contamination.

Nutrient agar plate samples collect living mold spores with a sampling device such as an Anderson 1-stage microbial impaction device.  For five to seven days the plate grows under controlled conditions in a laboratory before an evaluation. Comparison to outside plate samples and interpretation is the same as for spore trap samples.

ESC’s Role

ESC then evaluates all results – inspection, interview, in situ readings, and laboratory results to prepare the report. We then interpret laboratory data using six to seven criteria. The laboratory results are only part of the story, though.  Equally important are the inspection results, in situ readings, and interview information from the building occupants and owner.  The report provides details on the testing, results, conclusions and recommendations.  The report may include a Remediation Protocol (a cleanup plan).  ESC submits the report to the client and is available for discussion as required.

esc floridaSo now you have details on Mold Assessments.  If you need any more information, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can assist.  Our engineers have the credentials and experience to answer your Mold Assessments questions and steer you in the right direction.

We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with three Florida licensed Mold-Related Services Assessors on staff, as well as a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, American Board of Industrial Hygiene, www.abih.org).  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

 

Mold Myths Revealed

Environmental Safety Consultants (ESC) has been in the Indoor Air Quality field for thirty years and heard many myths concerning mold from clients, other assessors, and remediators.  These mold myths have included the definition of mold, testing techniques, and remediation procedures.  We will review some of the more notorious myths in this article.

Before delving into mold myths let’s begin with what mold is.  It is not a plant or an animal.  It is a microscopic organism that is in the fungi kingdom.  Its official name is fungus (singular) or fungi (pleural).  Included in that kingdom are mushrooms.  Another myth is that you don’t have to worry about mildew.  That is wrong because it can cause sneezing, coughing, and upper respiratory ailments (www.cdc.gov), just like mold can.  From this point forward, we will use the term mold for mildew and mold.

mold mythsAnother myth is concluding no mold is present in the air or on surfaces because you can’t see it.  Mold is microscopic until it forms layer upon layer of organisms (a colony) and becomes visible to the unaided eye.  The spores in the air and the organisms on surfaces of building materials and contents are invisible until they are put under the microscope or grown out in the lab on nutrient agar plates – otherwise known as Petri dishes.

A very common myth is that as long as the “black toxic mold” is not present, I don’t have to worry.  Ah, if life were so simple!  Unfortunately, when you dig into the scientific literature, a lot of different types of mold (genuses or genera) can cause health problems for people.  One example is Aspergillus, which can grow into a fungal ball in your lungs resulting in a debilitating disease known as aspergillosis.

Another myth is that mold is everywhere in Florida and you don’t have to worry about it if it grows in your residential or commercial building.  True, mold is everywhere but when it becomes way more concentrated in your home, starts destroying your building materials, and you start having health problems which clear up when you leave the building, it is time to act.  Oh, and by the way, it also does well in other climes whenever enough water is present.

The final myth is that remediation is supposed to eliminate all mold in the building.  Not true.  The objective is to return a mold infested building to normal mold conditions.  Sterile, that is the total absence of mold is not realistic and is, certainly, not sustainable.  As soon as the door is opened, the air conditioning or heating system kicks on, or mold spores are carried into the building on your shoes, the building is no longer sterile.

So there are a few of the mold myths that are out there.  If you need any more information, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can assist.  We have the credentials and experience to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with three Florida licensed Mold-Related Services Assessors, and a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, American Board of Industrial Hygiene, www.abih.org).  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!