Hazard Recognition in Industrial Hygiene

Industrial Hygiene Recap

This is the third in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene.  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 to harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  The current blog will focus on the recognition of hazards.

What is Hazard Recognition?

hazard recognitionThe application of the term recognition in the industrial hygiene field is the identification of a hazard.  It may be one that is obvious and you are familiar with or it may be hidden and unknown to you.  An example of a known obvious hazard would be a dust cloud surrounding a worker dry sawing concrete.  Most people would recognize the dust as being a potential respiratory hazard and many would take it a step further and recognize that the silica most likely in the dust can cause silicosis.  On the other hand, a hidden hazard may be an oxygen deficient atmosphere in a confined space.  You cannot see the oxygen deficiency and you may not be aware that it is a potential hazard.  However, the atmosphere could result in asphyxiation and death.

How Do You Recognize Hazards?

First, review the task or operation.  Analyze each step from start to finish.  Begin with the materials, equipment, and procedures.  Review available information and data on Safety Data Sheets, Technical Data Sheets, hazardous materials guides and handbooks, and peer reviewed published literature.  Of particular assistance are the guidelines issued 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).  You should also discuss the operation with peers, cohorts, agency personnel, laboratory directors, and others.  Identify regulatory and industry limits for chemicals and dust in the air.  Break the task or operation down into sequential steps (i.e., like a manufacturing method).  Identify the hazards associated with each step and determine which ones are most important in terms of the likelihood of their occurrence and the severity of their hazards.

What Does All That Mean?

Well, a picture (aka an illustration) is worth a thousand words.  So, you need an example.  And that will be the subject of our next industrial hygiene blog.

esc Hazard RecognitionSo that is what hazard recognition in industrial hygiene is.  In our next blog in this series, we will walk you through an example of identifying the potential hazards in an actual industrial operation.  After that, we will delve into evaluating the hazards.  That process often includes 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 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!

Industrial Hygiene Hazards

What is a Hazard in Industrial Hygiene?

In our last blog on industrial hygiene and a CIH (Certified Industrial Hygienist) we explained that industrial hygiene concerns the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  This is best handled by a CIH who has the education, training, experience, and credentials.  Further, the courts recognize a CIH as an expert in the field.  This blog deals with the recognition of hazards.

Definition of Hazard

Merriam-Webster dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com) defines hazard as a source of danger.  Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) says that a hazard is an agent which has the potential to cause harm to a vulnerable target.  In occupational health and safety, it concerns the potential to injure workers or cause health problems.  Therefore, in industrial hygiene the hazard could be due to the operation or task, the materials, and the work environment.  Sources of hazards can be chemical, biological, physical, electromagnetic, or radioactive, among others.  Examples are solvents, viruses, mold, bacteria, particulates, ultraviolet light, microwaves, heat, absence of oxygen, and more.  They can be of natural origin or manmade.  Ultraviolet rays from the sun are natural and present an occupational health hazard for lifeguards.  The use of solvents to clean machine parts represents a manmade hazard source.

Manufacturing Hazards

Since industrial hygiene began with manufacturing, we will start there.  Hazards can occur from operations, raw materials, chemicals used, noisy equipment, heat, and the workplace atmosphere.  Operations creating hazards include cutting, grinding, blasting, fabricating, cleaning, and painting.  Chemicals with hazards can be solvents, epoxies, cleaners, pesticides, and paint.  Particulates can be generated from blasting, sanding, painting, welding, and soldering.  Noise can be generated from machines, compressed air usage, boom boxes, airplanes, trucks, and more.  And there are certainly more which we have not even mentioned.

Construction Hazards

Industrial Hygiene HazardsMany of the industrial hygiene hazards in construction are the same as in manufacturing.  However, certain sources are more unique or prevalent due to the nature of construction.  Examples are concrete installation, finishing, and removal; paver installation; remodeling and demolition involving lead based lead paint, asbestos containing materials, bird feces, mold, and bacteria; digging in soil; and painting.

Maritime Hazards

The focus here is in shipyards and boatyards.  Sources of hazards could include all of the above.  Further, heat and oxygen deficient atmospheres can be even more prevalent than in manufacturing or construction.  Asbestos and lead based paint are often common sources.  And of course noise inside boats and ships can be major due to tight quarters.

Office & Other Workplace Hazards

And finally, there are sources of hazards in offices and other workplaces.  These sources can affect indoor air quality on a short term or long term basis.  Janitorial chemicals and vacuums can have an immediate effect on workers.  The health effect may be acute or immediate, or chronic or long term.  Damp buildings and mold can affect hyper-sensitized individuals.  Office machines can be sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde.  Adjacent industrial operations or remodeling can be sources of the construction and manufacturing hazards listed above.

ESC - Industrial Hygiene HazardsSo there are the details on industrial hygiene sources of hazards in various workplaces.  Stay tuned for our next in depth blog on the process of identifying specific hazards from given operations.  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 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!

Environmental Permits Overview

Environmental Permits Overview: What do You Mean Environmental Permits?

Environmental Permits OverviewThere are a lot of different kinds of environmental permits.  Here are just a few:

  • Wetlands
  • Endangered Species
  • Air Permits for Air Discharges from Industry
  • Wastewater Discharge, Sanitary and Industrial
  • Stormwater, Retention Ponds, Detention Ponds, Stormwater Runoff – Construction and Industry
  • Septic Tanks
  • Drinking Water, Private Wells and Community Supplies
  • Solid Wastes, Landfills & Incineration
  • Hazardous Wastes, Transportation, Disposal & Storage

Who Gets the Permit?

The list is as long as the types of permits.  It can include developers, builders, banks, attorneys, manufacturers, industrial facilities, hospitals, crematories, municipalities, and many more!

Do You Need a Permit?

You have to review your planned operation to see if it will require an environmental permit.  Second, you have to decide what part of the environment it may impact.  Will it impact air, water, or land?  Will it be changing the existing site?

For example, if you are going to construct a building and pave the site, it will decrease percolation of rain water into the ground.  More water will run off the site.  You will increase stormwater runoff.  You will have to address how this will be handled before you build.  You will need a stormwater pond permit and an NPDES  permit for industrial sites, along with a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).

Another example is if you are building an industrial facility.  You may have to look into stormwater runoff, NPDES (industrial wastewater discharges and stormwater), air permit requirements.  You may also face requirements for used oil and hazardous waste.

The Players

Who do you call?  Your associates and their knowledge base can be a good starting point.  That includes your attorney, professional colleagues, and environmental engineering companies.  They may direct you to agencies or contact the agencies themselves on your behalf.

There are several key agencies which typically administer the various types of environmental permits.  Locally, these include the Water Management Districts, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP , www.fdep.gov), counties, and cities.  And, at the federal level, they include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  All of them have web sites and are generally helpful.  Just be careful what you say.  It is all in the presentation!

ESC Environmental Permits Overview So there is an overview of Environmental Permits!  If you need any assistance, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company.  We have the credentials and experience to help you get your permit.  We have a proven track record with a Florida licensed environmental engineer and environmental scientists on staff.  We specialize in air permits, industrial discharge permits, NPDES stormwater, and more.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Certified Industrial Hygienist & Industrial Hygiene

What is Industrial Hygiene?

Certified Industrial HygienistThe term raises a lot of questions from the general public.  They often include whether it is similar to dental hygiene or if it is a prescribed procedure for manufacturers to wash their hands?  It has been suggested over the years that perhaps industrial hygiene be replaced with occupational hygiene.  Maybe so, but that is not self-evident either.  Industrial hygiene concerns the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the work environment.  It has evolved over the last couple thousand years and like a lot of things, exploded with the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800’s.  It involves identifying hazards on the job that can affect the health of workers.  It has grown out of the manufacturing sector, was applied directly to the construction and maritime industries, and now includes virtually any work environment with the recognition of hazards from asbestos, radon, mold, silica, indoor air quality, and, yes, most recently the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is a CIH?

A CIH is a Certified Industrial Hygienist, or a credentialed industrial hygienist.  Although anyone can label themselves an industrial hygienist, not everyone can say they are truly a CIH.  It takes a bachelors or masters degree in industrial hygiene, or in biology, chemistry, or engineering, with the core science and industrial hygiene courses to become a CIH.  Then, one must work under another CIH for five years.  After that, an application is completed and submitted to the Board for EHS Credentialing, www.EHSCredentialing.org (formerly American Board of Industrial Hygiene, www.abih.org).  The final step is to take the examination which covers core competency and actual practice.  But wait, there is more!  Continuing education is required and quite rigorous.  Upon satisfactory completion of that requirement, re-certification is required every five years.

Why use a CIH?

The reason is because a Certified Industrial Hygienist has the education, training, experience, and credentials to properly complete your industrial hygiene work.  The work should be court defensible.  What?  Not planning on going to court?  Unfortunately, in today’s litigious society, it doesn’t matter.  Especially in the world of employee exposure to hazards.  Since the CIH credential came about in 1956 from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), courts have come to recognize the expertise and credibility associated with that credentialed professional.  I have personally been allowed to testify in a case in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida while the non-CIH was denied.

ESC Certified Industrial HygienistSo there is an overview of industrial hygiene and what a CIH is!  Stay tuned for our next in depth blog on industrial hygiene testing.  If you need any assistance, 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 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!

COVID-19 Business Reopening Plans

COVID-19Now that you and your business have survived COVID-19, how do you reopen?  What are the considerations for your office, manufacturing plant, industrial shop, retail store, or any other type of business?  You have to include the bricks and mortar, personnel, customers, vendors, clientele, patients, and umpteen other things.  There is a lot to consider.  Take a deep breath, and Environmental Safety Consultants, Inc. (ESC) will get you through the process.

As you are more than well aware of, COVID-19 has been, is currently, and will continue to be a moving target.  We learn new things about it every day.  The message is obvious, stay tuned in and keep learning!  Monitor new information and developments from federal, state, and local governmental agencies.  Listen to reliable media sources (the emphasis is on reliable!).  Finally, prepare a Business Reopening Plan.  This should take a lot of thought and preparation.  It should be gut wrenching.  It should be more painful than your Business Plan.  However, like your Business Plan, it should be a living document.  As new information and data become available, revise your Plan – add, delete, or modify as required.

COVID-19 SickWhat are the concerns or considerations to address in your Business Reopening Plan?  First things first – what is the goal or objective of the Plan?  That is quite simple – to make sure no one entering your business facility comes in with the COVID-19 infection, or leaves with it.  You do not want your business to become a source of the virus.  You want to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

To meet the objective, you have to understand how it is spread.  Surely, you recall how that has changed over the last few months.  We went from “it comes from touching contaminated surfaces, then your eyes or nose” (even though they said from the start it is in respiratory droplets) and “there is no need for masks” (which I never believed as a Certified Industrial Hygienist, CIH, typically focused on exposure via inhalation) to “masks should be worn”, because?  Because it comes from respiratory droplets!  And of course the type of mask is important.  Are you trying to protect yourself or others?  What about the eyes?  The eyes have still not been fully addressed.  And now the CDC says not to worry about surfaces!  That is enough to make your head spin.  That is why you have to monitor the developments and recommendations.

So what should be included in your Plan?  Following are a few items to include:

  • Deep Cleaning & Disinfection before Reopening
  • Daily Cleaning & Disinfection after Opening
  • Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning System On? Clean? Add Air Purification Device?
  • Requirements before Allowing Entry by Employees, Customers, Vendors, Visitors, etc.
  • Sign on Front Door & All Entries
  • Sign in Foyer or at Front Counter
  • Sign-in Log requiring Detailed Information
  • Supplies at All Points of Entry – Hand Sanitizer, Disinfectant, Masks, Gloves, Infrared Thermo Gun, etc.
  • Social Distancing Details & Aids such as Lines on Floor, Plastic Partitions, Proximity Devices, etc.
  • Shifts – Staggered? Four Day Week?

So there is an overview of COVID-19 Business Reopening Plans.  If you need any assistance, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We have the credentials and experience to prepare your Plan, review your Plan, or provide consultation on your Plan.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, Board for EHS Credentialing, www.EHSCredentialing.org formerly American Board of Industrial Hygiene, www.abih.org) which is critical for your Plan.  We also have degreed, experienced technical professionals on staff.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

What is Lead?

Environmental Safety Consultants (ESC) has been in the lead field for twenty years which is nothing compared to the 8,000 plus years of lead use by mankind.  So what is lead?  It is a natural element mined from the earth and is malleable, blue, and a heavy metal.  Malleable means that it is pliable or able to be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking.  Any fisherman who has pressed small lead weights on a fishing line, knows how easy the weights are to open and close on the line.  Lead was historically discovered as a byproduct when silver was being smelted.

Lead has been mined, smelted, and used to make products for thousands of years.  Some of the first products were artifacts and money.  The reported oldest artifact discovered was an Egyptian statue which was made 8,000 to 9,000 years ago.  It was also used to make rods and money used in the Middle East.  The Roman Empire used lead for its aqueducts and pipes which distributed potable water to the citizens.  Other uses have been in solder used on potable water pipes, X-ray shields in walls and aprons, collectible figurines, printing presses, shotgun pellets, glazing on pottery, and on an on.

what is leadThe use of lead greatly increased over time, especially after the industrial age began in the 1800’s.  It was a versatile element with unique physical and chemical properties.  Its uses appeared endless.  It is soft and easily worked.  It was rolled into sheets and pipes and was combined with other metals.  It was used in the construction industry for roofing, paints, flashing, electrical conduit, and pipes conveying drinking water and sewer.  And do not forget it was used in gasoline supposedly for anti-knock in automotive engines, although with its introduction, cars no longer lasted a lifetime!  From all of these uses, tons of lead were released to the environment.  Fortunately, it was banned from gasoline in the 1970’s, which eliminated a big portion of the environmental load.

Along with the many uses of lead, production greatly increased over time.  As this occurred, certain exposures were found to affect human health.  This occurred both in workers producing the lead and related products and in consumers who were using or were around lead products.  As this became known, agencies began addressing the hazards.  That included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).  But that is a subject of another blog.  Stay tuned!

So there is an overview of lead.  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 and are licensed by the U.S. EPA in Lead Based Paint Inspections and Risk Assessments.  ESC also has a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, Board for EHS Credentialing, www.EHSCredentialing.org formerly American Board of Industrial Hygiene, www.abih.org) which is critical for lead work.

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!