Environmental Permits Overview

What Environmental Permits are there?

Environmental Permits Bradenton and Sarasota

environmental permits.  Here are just a few:

Developments

  • Wetlands
  • Endangered Species

Industry & Construction

  • Air Permits for Air Discharges from Industry
  • Wastewater Discharge, Sanitary and Industrial
  • Hazardous Wastes, Transportation, Disposal & Storage
  • Stormwater, Retention Ponds, Detention Ponds, Stormwater Runoff – Construction and Industry

Other

  • Septic Tanks
  • Drinking Water, Private Wells and Community Supplies
  • Solid Wastes, Landfills & Incineration

Permit Needs

You have to review your planned operation to see if it will require environmental permits.  Then, you have to decide what part of the environment it may impact.  For example, will it impact air, water, or land?  To further explain, will it be changing the existing site?

Example 1

Example 1 is environmental permits for building and paving a site. As a result, that activity decreases percolation of rain water into the ground.  Because of that, more stormwater will run off the site. So, that could require a stormwater retention or detention pond permit. Further, it could require an NPDES  permit for industrial sites. Additionally, those sites may have to prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).

Example 2

Example 2 is environmental permits for certain industrial facilities.  In addition to the stormwater permits and plan identified in Example 1 above, there are other permits. For instance, sewer discharge permits may be required. Further, air permits may be needed.  Finally, are used oil and hazardous waste requirements.

Responsibility

Responsibility for acquiring the permits can fall on many different parties. For example, it can include developers and builders. Additionally, it may include banks, attorneys, architects, or engineers. Finally, it can include manufacturers, industrial facilities, hospitals, crematories, municipalities, and many more!

Lifelines

If you need lifelines, who should you call?  Firstly, some of the best lifelines are your associates. So, why is that true? Because their knowledge base can be a good starting point.  And so, who are your associates? To begin with, they may be your co-workers, partners, or managers. Next, outside of them, for instance, are your attorney, professional colleagues, and environmental engineering companies.  Finally, those associates may direct you to agencies or may contact the agencies themselves on your behalf.

Agencies

There are several key agencies which typically administer the various types of environmental permits.  Firstly, are local agencies. For example, these may include the Water Management Districts, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), counties, and cities.  Secondly, are federal agencies. For example, these may include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  But, just be careful what you say.  Because, it is all in the presentation!

Let ESC Help

ESC Environmental Permits Overview

In conclusion, there are many permits identified in this Overview of Environmental Permits! But just remember that ESC is a Florida licensed engineering company with the experience and knowledge to help you. That is because our specialty is permits concerning air emissions, industrial discharges, NPDES stormwater, and more. We service Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, and Fort Meyers. That includes Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Lee and other counties from Pensacola (Escambia County) to Key West (Monroe County). So,  Contact ESC and get a reply promptly!

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!

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.

Florida National Pollutant Discharge Elimination SystemIndustrial 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.

stormwater permit requirementsFinally, 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 Assessments priceBuilding 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 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

Mold Myths Background

Environmental Safety Consultants (ESC) hears many mold myths and offers this article to reveal some mold myths. To explain, these myths come from clients, other mold assessors, and mold remediators.  Further, these myths are on the definition of mold, testing procedures, and remediation or cleanup solutions.  And, some of the more notorious myths follow. But first, we define mold.

What is Mold?

Mold 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 (plural).  That kingdom includes mushrooms.  Mildew is a common term for mold.  Mildew can cause sneezing, coughing, and upper respiratory ailments (www.cdc.gov), just like other mold can.  Therefore, from this point forward, we will use the term mold for both mildew and mold.

Mold Myths

Mold is Always Visible

The first myth is that mold is always visible, which is wrong for a couple of reasons. First, individual mold spores on surfaces are not visible to the unaided eye. They are microscopic. However, large numbers of spores form a colony. And, yes, colonies can be visible to the unaided eye.  Second, mold spores in air are not visible, but, also are microscopic. These spores are visible under a microscope or with the unaided eye when they grow into a colony on a Petri dish.

mold myths
This black mold may or may not be part of the mold myths.

Only Black Mold is a Concern

This is a very common myth, thanks to our media. They have hyped up “black toxic mold”. This genus is Stachybotrus and the most likely species name is chartarum. As a result of the hype, people believe it is the only mold to worry about. Ah, if life were so simple!  Unfortunately, the scientific literature shows that a lot of different types of mold (genuses or genera) can be toxic.  One example is Aspergillus, which can grow into a fungal ball in your lungs resulting in a debilitating disease known as aspergillosis. And there are many more examples.

No Worry Because Mold is All over Florida

Another myth is that mold is everywhere in Florida and you don’t have to worry about it inside your building.  First, mold is everywhere in Florida (and other states!). However, it can become very concentrated in your building. Further, its population can be unbalanced in your building (unlike outside) and made up of just one or a few genera that can prove toxic.

Why does it change inside your building? Firstly, there may be unique conditions, such as excessive moisture. Secondly, there are unique materials such as drywall, carpet, wallpaper, ceiling tile, and insulation which are perfect for mold to feed on and live on. Thirdly, relative humidity or moisture in the air inside may not be low enough to prevent mold growth. This may be due to a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system which is not operated or designed properly.

Remediation Sterilizes a Building

There are a few reasons why remediation should not be expected to sterilize a building.  First, sterilization is not a realistic goal. Buildings are designed to live or work in and cannot be expected to be sterile. As soon as the building is occupied after remediation, mold enters it through doors, windows, cracks, visitors, food, and more. Second, the building was never sterile to begin with. There was a balanced, normal amount of mold in the building. As a result, the occupants did not have health problems from the mold. In conclusion, the remediation goal is to return the building to normal mold conditions, not sterile conditions.

Conclusion to Mold Myths

Now you know some of the mold myths. Further, you know why they are myths and why they just do not hold water!  If you need any more information, Environmental Safety Consultants 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). Contact us today via telephone or email!

Introduction to Contamination Assessments

Contamination AssessmentsThat is what Contamination Assessments used to be called in Florida.  But then they were renamed Site Assessments, which can be confused with Environmental Site Assessments (Phase I and II – see our other blog articles specific to those types of projects).  To avoid confusion, we will stick with the name Contamination Assessment (CA).  They became regulatory requirements in Florida in the 1980’s to primarily address contamination from underground and above ground fuel and oil storage tanks.  These CAs are required when contaminant levels in the soil or groundwater exceed the State Cleanup Target Levels.  They are designed to determine the extent of contamination in the soil and groundwater both horizontally and vertically.  Often, the contamination is originally discovered during tank closure, after a leak, from a spill, etcetera.

Which regulatory agencies require the CAs?  The lead agency is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP, www.floridadep.gov).  However, several counties (primarily the larger urban centers) have a contract to administer the cleanup program for the FDEP.  To determine if that is the case for your site, contact the district office of the FDEP which governs your county.

Which regulation requires CAs?  Chapter 62-780 of the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) does.  All the detailed requirements are provided in that rule.  For questions, contact the FDEP or county administering the cleanup program.  The actual scope of work depends on the situation.  Certain things affect the scope such as level of contamination, type of petroleum product, history, action taken to clean it up, and whether the soil, groundwater, or both are affected.  Action taken could involve initial response, pumping out product, limited soil removal, and more.

Details of CAs will be discussed in another blog article.  Just be warned that CAs usually take time.  There are certain periods of time required to complete each step.  You are given deadlines to complete things and the regulatory agencies have deadlines to review and respond to each document or response you submit.  The whole process can easily drag into a year or more.

But for the moment, let’s say you have finished your CA and submitted it to the FDEP or county.  What are the potential outcomes?  First, additional work (i.e., more testing, information, or clarifications) may be required.  Next, let’s say you hit the lottery and you receive approval for No Further Action – you are done!  Alternatively, you do not hit the lottery and a Remedial Action Plan is required, followed by Remedial Action, and of course, another report.  Finally, there is a low level of contamination which results in potential natural attenuation (the site cleans up on its own).  In that case, you are required to complete Natural Attenuation Monitoring, which is done at regular intervals during each year for a two year or longer period of time.

So there you have it – a very brief introduction to Contamination Assessments in Florida.  If you need any help, 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 a Professional Engineer (P.E.), environmental scientists, and 30 years of experience completing CAs.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Why All The Fuss With Asbestos?

asbestos suitWell, the fuss with asbestos all comes down to health risks.  Some of the potential outcomes are very serious – lung cancer, mesothelioma (i.e., cancer of the lining of the chest cavity), and asbestosis (a pulmonary obstructive disease that eventually puts such a strain on the lungs and heart, that the patient dies from cardiac arrest).  The primary route of entry for these extremely small asbestos fibers is inhalation.  Theoretically, these diseases can be caused by one exposure episode.  However, the greater the dose, the greater the disease.  And, finally, the diseases do not show up for ten to thirty years after the exposure.  That is a very long latency period.

There are many misconceptions about asbestos.  First of all, it is not just the ship workers who were exposed to it during World War II.  Second, one does not have to be in a dusty asbestos cloud to experience an exposure resulting in disease.  And, finally, it has not been asbestos testingbanned from all materials in the United States.  It has been banned in five to seven materials and it is still found in building materials being imported today.  It is not always listed on the material, sometimes a label states that a product is non-asbestos when it is not, and sometimes it is labeled as asbestos free, but chrysotile (the most common type) is listed on the ingredients).

The mining of asbestos and manufacture of asbestos containing building materials represents potential exposure to the personnel involved.  And sometimes, the workers bring the fibers home on clothing and shoes to their families.  This reportedly occurred in Libby, Montana where asbestos was mined (www.pbs.org/pov/libbymontana).

So, which materials can contain asbestos?  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) has a list of building materials suspected of containing asbestos.  It virtually includes everything except glass, metal, and wood.  Asbestos was added to thousands of materials due to its fire resistance, added strength, and chemical resistance.  It is a relatively inexpensive naturally occurring mineral which was added to nearly all building materials, plus brake linings, concrete, cement drinking water pipes, and gaskets.  It was used for fireproofing in schools, hospitals, airports, nursing homes, and other public and private installations and facilities.

asbestos workersFinally, workers who install, remove, or demolish it in buildings are at risk.  That is why EPA requires testing for asbestos before all renovations and demolitions of most buildings before the work is started.  If asbestos is present, certain abatement procedures will be required before the construction or demolition work begins.

But there is no reason to fuss.  Environmental Safety Consultants, Inc. (www.escflorida.com) can help.  We have the credentials and experience to properly complete your Asbestos Survey.  We have accredited Asbestos Surveyors and a Florida Licensed Asbestos Consultant (LAC) on staff.  We are a Florida-licensed Asbestos Business Organization with over thirty years of experience in the asbestos field.  We prepare abatement specifications, monitor abatement projects, and complete air clearance monitoring.  Whatever your asbestos needs are, just call us (800-226-1735 or one of our area office local numbers listed on our home page) or e-mail us (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today and get rid of the fuss!

Phase II Environmental Site Assessments

phase ii esa reportSo you had your Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I) done and Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) were found.  You have decided to proceed with the transaction but you now need a Phase II ESA (Phase II) to fulfill your due diligence in determining if the site is or could be contaminated from usage of the site or properties in the vicinity.  On the financial end, you and the seller have decided who will pay for the Phase II.  This could mean that the seller will pay for it all, you will pay for it all, or the two of you will share the expense.  Many times if you are paying any part of it, there is a proviso that the seller will reimburse you in full if contamination is found and you cancel the trans-action.  The specifics are provided by your attorney.

The next step is to retain an environmental consulting firm to complete the Phase II.  It may be the same firm that did the Phase I or a different firm.  Not all Phase I firms complete Phase II’s.  Qualifications, licenses, availability, and a myriad of other considerations may result in switching firms.  However, if all things are equal, it is best to stick with the firm that did the Phase I.  The reason is that they are most intimately involved in both the assessment of the site and the basis for the RECs they reported.

Whichever firm you select, there are a number of items to check out.  You need to know how experienced they are in completing Phase II’s in general and, more specifically, in completing them on similar properties and similar contaminants.  Ask for a Statement of Qualifications & Experience which will list Phase II projects completed, resumes of the staff, and engineering or geological licenses with the State of Florida.  You can check these licenses out at www.myfloridalicense.com.

Phase IIOnce you have selected a firm, discuss the Scope of Work, turnaround, and terms.  The Scope should be designed to specifically investigate the RECs that were found during the Phase I.  This includes the media type and the contaminant types.  The media may include soil, surface water, sediments, and groundwater.  One or more of these media may need to be included.  Types of contaminants include gasoline, diesel fuel, used oil, solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, and perc (perchloroethylene, a dry cleaning chemical), among others.  There may be concerns with different contaminants in different locations on the site.  These locations may have different media to be tested.

The Scope of Work should follow Standard Operating Procedures of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for quality assurance and control. Additionally, make sure the firm is using a laboratory accredited by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program, NELAP (www.nelac-institute.org) and certified by the Florida Department of Health (www.floridahealth.gov).  Otherwise, the data may not be court defensible or accepted by regulatory agencies in the event that those agencies become involved with the site.  Similarly, make sure that if a Well Driller is involved that they are licensed by the FDEP.

After all of this is done, request a Professional Services Agreement from the firm.  This is the written contract between you and that firm.  It must spell out the basis for the Phase II, the turnaround, Scope of Work, and Terms & Conditions.  Review it closely and make sure it meets your satisfaction.  Otherwise, request revisions before you sign it.

So you have retained the firm, they are ready to start the project, and you are done, correct?  Not so fast.  When you give them notice to proceed, you need to request that they keep communications open.  Tell them that you want to know when the site work is scheduled, what the results are from the site work, what the significance of those results are, and what the analytical results from the laboratory are and what they mean. You may need to notify the seller of any significant findings as the work progresses.  Finally, let the firm know that you need the report at the time specified in the Agreement.

Once you receive the report, review it closely, then call or meet with the firm to answer any questions or clarify certain sections.  Keep in mind that there is no requirement to have the report submitted and approved by environmental regulatory agencies.  However, some lenders and other entities use other environmental consulting firms or attorneys to conduct peer reviews of the reports.  If significant contamination is found, then you or the seller should explore remediation options, which are the topic of another paper.  At that point, you may cancel the transaction and look for another site.  Your attorney must advise you.

Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can make sure due diligence is exercised in completing your Phase II.  We have the credentials and experience to properly complete the work.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business with certified Environmental Site Assessors, a Professional Engineer (P.E.), environmental scientists, and 30 years of experience completing ESAs.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Be diligent and contact us today!