WHY BE CONCERNED ABOUT SILICA?

WHY BE CONCERNED ABOUT SILICA?

Why the Sudden Concern with Silica?

Silica has been a major component of planet Earth from the beginning of time. Exposure has been around just as long, but has become much greater with increased activity in the construction and industrial areas.

The sudden concern with silica a few years ago resulted in lower exposure limits issued by OSHA (U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, www.osha.gov). After decades of lawsuits and political arm wrestling, OSHA was able to lower its Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) on silica. This applies to general industry (29 CFR 1910), maritime industry (29 CFR 1915, 1917, & 1918), and construction (29 CFR 1926).

The concern for silica and the resulting disease silicosis has been well known in the United States since the 1930’s. It is unknown as to why it suddenly came to the forefront.

What is Silica?

Silica is a compound made up of the element silicon and the element oxygen. It is made up of one atom of silicon (Si) and two atoms of oxygen (O) and is called silicon dioxide (SiO2). The element silicon has metallic and non-metallic properties and makes up a large part of the earth’s crust. Silica is found in the form of quartz, sand, and other minerals. It occurs in concrete, granite, slate, sandstone, and sandpaper.

What is the Exposure Route?

Silica enters the body through the respiratory tract. It is breathed in and can end up in the lungs. The greater the exposure, the greater the potential to cause silicosis.

Silicosis, the Disease

Silicosis is the respiratory condition that can result from breathing in silica. It is a terrible disease which affects countless workers exposed to silica dust. Here is a link to OSHA’s video on silicosis: : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAByIIzQSuU
It is short and to the point. It makes a strong point for avoiding silica exposure.

Silica Testing

ESC has lots of experience testing for silica. The firm has tested at various construction job sites under real and worst case conditions. Typically, this has been done where concrete is being cut, milled, or drilled. ESC has tested at manufacturing plants where granite counter tops are made, concrete products are constructed, roofing shingles are manufactured, and fertilizer is compounded, plus at a college where pottery is made.  ESC’s Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, www.abih.org) works with ESC’s staff level industrial hygienists in designing testing projects, interpreting the results, and preparing the report. More information is available on ESC’s web site.

Contact ESC (www.escflorida.com) for silica testing. ESC has been providing such testing in the industrial hygiene area for over thirtyEnvironmental Safety Consultants years. The staff has the credentials and experience to help with all silica testing and consulting needs. ESC is just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net). Contact ESC today!

DON’T PAY TOP DOLLAR FOR MOLD TESTING. . . .

Unless You Want It Done Right!

Now you know the rest of the story!  This paper explains why the bargain basement price for mold testing is not necessarily the best.  There are reasons why the price is so low.  Read on.

Ask Why the Mold Testing Price is So Low

Mold TestingThe low price results from several factors.  First of all, the personnel may not have the extensive education, training, and certifications that the higher priced testing companies do.  Second, they may not have to adhere to a code of ethics of a professional certification board.  Third, the types and numbers of samples may be different.  Finally, the report and consultation budget may be cut drastically.  In conclusion, it is a case of apples and oranges – the two cannot be compared.

Mold Testing Prices

The prices can be significantly different.  For example, in our market the low price is $300 for a “mold test” in a small to medium size home or office.  The realistic price to test properly is $750 to $1,150.  That is quite a difference!  It is, but the devil is in the details.  First, the low price work is:

  • 2 air spore traps inside & 1 outside
  • brief report with lab results
  • scant or no interpretation of results

In comparison, the realistic priced work includes:

  • 2 air spore traps & 2 air culture samples inside + 2 of each outside
  • 2 surface tape samples in AC system
  • temperature & relative humidity at same 4 air stations
  • inspection for water intrusion & visible mold
  • moisture mapping with infrared camera & moisture meter
  • American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA, aiha.org) accredited lab analysis
  • detailed report with interpretation of results & consultation

That is quite a difference!

Credentials

The low priced company’s staff most likely does not stack up to the realistic priced company.  The staff members may not all have 4 year degrees and if they do, the degrees are not necessarily in biology or a related field.  Both companies should have Florida licensed Mold Assessors (required by law & officially called Mold-Related Services Assessors).  However, the low priced company’s staff will not have a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, American Board of Industrial Hygiene, www.abih.org).  The credential is extremely difficult to get but courts recognize CIHs as expert witnesses.  That means their work is court defensible which is extremely important in today’s litigious society.  No one plans to go to court, but many end up there!

Final Note

ESC is not the low priced company and it does mold testing right.  The firm has taken over more than one job from owners who realize they just threw their money away on low priced testing.  There is even more information in papers on our web site.  They are in our blog section and can be found by clicking on  https://www.escflorida.com/category/indoor-air-quality/.

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo there is a discussion of point counting building materials for asbestos.  If you need any assistance, ESC (www.escflorida.com) is here.  On staff, we have a board Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and three Florida licensed Mold Assessors.  ESC has been providing mold testing services to our clients for over thirty years.  We have the credentials and experience to help you with your asbestos needs.  Our firm is just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

ASBESTOS POINT COUNTING

Asbestos Point Counting Defined

Point counting is a detailed laboratory method that determines the actual asbestos content of friable building materials.  It shows if the content is greater than 1%.  The federal asbestos regulations for building renovations and demolitions allow point counting.

The actual regulation is found in Chapter 61.145 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, otherwise known as 40 CFR 61.145.  Chapter 61 contains the NESHAPs rules (National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants).  NESHAPs covers quite a few hazardous air pollutants and asbestos is addressed in Subpart M of Chapter 61.  NESHAPs is enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov).  State agencies such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (www.floridadep.gov) also enforce it.

When to Asbestos Point Count

Do point counting when the material is friable and the initial results are less than 10%.  This more detailed procedure tightens the statistics, providing a more accurate concentration.

Options

What are the options?  First, assume the initial results are correct and the material contains more than 1% asbestos.  Next, abate it prior to disturbance (renovation or demolition).  Otherwise, point count it.

Asbestos point countingThe decision involves money.  The cost of point counting a few samples is a few hundred dollars.  But, the cost of abatement is a few thousand dollars.  In either case, removing the material can cause an inhalation hazard for the workers and occupants.  This is true even for asbestos concentrations less than 1%.  That number is a regulatory number, not a safe, no exposure number.

Decision

Like a lot of construction issues, point counting is a business decision.  The building owner and occupants make the decision, with the building contractor, licensed asbestos consultant, and licensed asbestos contractor.  Consider the potential outcomes.  For example, the owner and occupants may say they want it removed properly by a licensed asbestos contractor whatever the concentration is.  Alternatively, they may not care about the potential exposure and opt for the building contractor to carefully remove it it if it contains less than 1% asbestos.

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo there is a discussion of point counting building materials for asbestos.  If you need any assistance, ESC (www.escflorida.com) is here.  On staff, we have a Florida Licensed Asbestos Consultant and board Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).  ESC has been providing asbestos consulting services to our clients for over thirty years.  We have the credentials and experience to help you with your asbestos needs.  Our firm is just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Can I Reuse My N-95 Masks?

Introduction

This paper is the fourth in a series on the pandemic disease, COVID-19. The first paper focused on safely reopening your business.  The second one concerned face masks, the primary PPE (personal protective equipment). The third paper involved examining the exposure routes. Finally, this one will discuss the reuse of N-95 masks. This has been of great importance during the current pandemic.  That is due to shortages of N-95s and the need to protect everybody.  Further, health care workers and other front line workers must be protected from infected and asymptomatic carriers of the SARS-CoV-2 novel corona virus.

N-95 Masks Not Designed for Reuse

Do not reuse N-95s. Wear them one time and throw them away. Their paper cloth-like material does not stand up well when washed or disinfected. The filtration can be reduced and put the wearer at risk. The elastic bands and the filter material may become distorted.  Then the mask does not seal properly to the face or fit properly. This allows air leakage and defeats the purpose. Also, viruses, bacteria, and physical particles can become trapped on the outside of the filter material and lead to infection when touched.

Short Supply has Forced the Issue

Necessity is the mother of invention! And because the N-95 has come into such demand, we have been forced to explore reuse of these disposable masks. The scientists and regulatory agencies have explored various options and made emergency concessions for the reuse of N-95s. Federal agencies involved include the Center for Disease Control (CDC, www.cdc.gov), Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, www.fda.gov).

N-95 Masks Reuse Guidelines

The simplest method is to store the N-95 in a closed paper bag and not reuse it until 5 days later. This is not true disinfection but it banks on the virus dying outside of the body, which is typical of most micro-organisms. The CDC identifies the following disinfection methods:

  • Moist Heat (think autoclave)
  • Ultra-violet Light
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

Only trained scientists and medical personnel can use these disinfection procedures. Examine the masks for distortion and damage, then fit test them on personnel.  Just remember – when in doubt, throw it out!

As the Virus Turns

That sums up reuse and disinfection at this time. But stay tuned, because new information and data come in every day!

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo there is a discussion of reusing N-95s. If you need any assistance, ESC (www.escflorida.com) is here. We have a board Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) on staff and have been providing respiratory protection services to our clients for thirty years. ESC has the credentials and experience to help you with your respiratory protection needs. We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net). Contact us today!

HOW DO I GET COVID-19?

Introduction

This paper is the third in a series on the pandemic disease, COVID-19. The first paper focused on safely reopening your business.  The second paper concerned the issue of face masks which have become the primary PPE or personal protective equipment to prevent the disease. Additional protective measures which everybody is familiar with are frequent and thorough (at least 20 seconds) hand washing and social distancing where every person is no closer than six feet to the next person. And we cannot forget protective clothing, gloves, and face shields, depending on the situation. So, with that introduction, let’s dive into exposure!

Exposure Routes

The SARS-CoV-2 novel corona virus which causes COVID-19 is no different than any other biological airborne contaminant when it comes to exposure routes into the body. It may enter the body through inhalation, injection, or ingestion. Inhalation is obvious because you breathe it into your body. Injection covers all other routes except ingestion. So if the virus gets on your hands and you touch your eyes, it can enter your body. If you touch your nose inside, you have injected it, but then you inhale it. I am not aware of it entering the body through cuts, but as we all know, we learn more and more about this virus every day! The same can be said for ingestion, that is you swallow it. Supposedly, the acidic nature of the stomach renders it harmless, but once again, stay tuned!

Inhalation of the Virus

So, by the process of apparent elimination, we are left with inhalation as the primary exposure route for SARS-CoV-2. And what you typically breathe in are respiratory droplets which contain the virus. If it were the virus alone, we would all be in trouble because of the virus’s size. The virus is approximately 0.1 micron (micrometer or 1/1,000,000th of a meter) in diameter, which is like 1/1,000th the size of an average hair (70 microns in diameter). Or, it is 0.00000393701 inches! It is very small! And, from our last paper, it would pass through the material of an N-95 respirator (certified by NIOSH, the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health, which is a part of the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov) because it only stops particles which are 0.3 microns or larger in diameter.  But an N-95 does stop respiratory droplets because they are 5 microns and larger.

So, you ask, why bother? Because, typically the route of infection is via those droplets according to the World Health Organization (WHO, www.who.int), not via airborne transmission of the virus alone.  And, if the N-95 is sealed to your face properly, it stops those droplets coming to you from others and it stops your droplets from reaching them. The reason is that the respiratory droplets are 5 microns and larger, which are much larger than the 0.3 micron threshold for N-95 respirators.

COVID-19 - Surgical MaskThat cannot be said about surgical masks, cloth masks, masks made of other materials, handkerchiefs, or neck gaiters. Those all pretty much stop your droplets from getting out, but because they do not seal properly to your face, your droplets can get out and reach others.

N-95 Use and Care for COVID-19

So, now that you are convinced an N-95 is best, how do you use it? Reuse it? Clean it? Disinfect it? Stay tuned and those questions will be answered in our next paper!

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo there is a discussion of how you get COVID-19. If you need any assistance, ESC (www.escflorida.com) is here. We have a board Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) on staff and have been providing respiratory protection services to our clients for thirty years. We have the credentials and experience to help you with your respiratory protection needs. We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e- mail away (escinc@verizon.net). Contact us today!

Face Masks and COVID-19

Introduction 

This paper is the second in a series on the pandemic disease, COVID-19. The first paper focused on safely reopening your business. The current paper will concern the issue of face masks. These face masks are part of PPE or personal protective equipment which has become an everyday term since the pandemic began in this country last year. It is refreshing to be able to discuss PPE without the listener’s eyes glazing over! Of course, PPE can include gloves, suits, hearing protection, face shields, hard hats, steel toed boots, and more, but this paper concerns face masks for respiratory protection. 

Face Masks and COVID-19 Primer 

The face masks used to protect people from breathing in SARS-CoV-2 (the novel corona virus which causes the disease COVID-19) have included surgical masks, N-95 masks, handkerchiefs, face shields, neck gaiters, and more. None of these actually filter out the virus (which is approximately 0.1 micron in diameter), but rather, they filter out respiratory droplets that are expelled when people exhale, talk, sing, laugh, cough, sneeze, etcetera.

Of the masks above, N-95s offer the best protection. To explain, the N stands for non-oil proof, so they do not work in an oily environment – anywhere there is oil in the air, typically as a mist. Next, the 95 means that they filter out 95% of particles 0.3 micron in diameter. Dioctyl phthalate is the chemical used to test the respirators. If they pass the test, the manufacturers can deem them N-95 respirators after meeting other certification requirements of NIOSH (the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health, which is a part of the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, (www.cdc.gov). Once they meet the certification requirements, they can display N-95 labels. 

How to Wear the N-95  Face Mask

The N-95 face mask has two straps, a lower, and an upper strap. Firstly, put it on the lower strap by putting it over the head and then lowering it so it rides along the back of the neck. Secondly, put the upper strap over the head and rest it on the crown in the back.  Thirdly, seal the face piece snugly over the nose, down the face, around the mouth, and beneath the chin. Finally, bend the part that goes over the nose so it fits closely over the bridge and down the sides. By following these steps, the N-95 will be sealed to the face so no air comes through cracks, which means the mask filters the air inhaled and exhaled. Which brings up a point that exhalation valves do not filter exhaled air. People can inhale the germs, so exhalation valves are not recommended.

What if you Can’t Get an N-95 Face Mask for COVID-19 Protection? 

If you cannot get an N-95 face mask for COVID-19 protection, use a surgical mask. If one is not available, use a cloth filtering mask. The other types of masks are on down the list. 

How often Can I Wear the Face Mask? 

The face mask is not designed to be worn over and over. Throw it away after each use or disinfect it if possible. As with everything else, consult the manufacturer. 

Tell Me More about Inhalation Exposure from the COVID-19 Virus

Inhalation exposure from the COVID-19 virus is the topic of our next paper. We will discuss airborne exposure of the virus itself and exposure to respiratory droplets. Stay tuned! Environmental Safety Consultants

So there is a discussion of face masks and protection from the SARS-CoV-2 which causes the disease COVID-19. If you need any assistance, ESC (www.escflorida.com) is here. We have a board Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) on staff and have been providing respiratory protection services to our clients for thirty years. ESC has the credentials and experience to help you with your respiratory protection needs. We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e mail away (escinc@verizon.net). Contact us today!

Sewer Discharges Of Industrial Wastewater

Evaluate the Industrial Wastewater 

In this paper, we continue our series on environmental engineering.  Specifically, we discuss acceptance of your plant’s sewer discharge by the off-site treatment plant.  Conversely, this is not about discharges to surface waters, on-site treatment facilities, or ground water.

How do you evaluate your industrial wastewater?  Firstly, perform a mass balance calculation.  To explain, identify and quantify all chemicals and materials.  Basically, mass balance means what goes in must go out.  Secondly, list the chemical properties.  Finally, determine if the discharge is acceptable. And that is very important.  Why?  Because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov) requires it.  But the County usually enforces it.  How? By using a Sewer Use Ordinance. 

Why Worry about Sewer Discharges of Industrial Wastewater? 

There are good reasons to worry about your plant’s sewer discharge.  For starters, the discharge could be toxic.  As a result, it could kill micro-organisms at the treatment plant.  What’s more, the discharge might be flammable or explosive.  As a result, it could cause a fire or explosion at the plant.  Additionally, it could cause the plant’s discharge to pollute surface or ground water.  Finally, it could violate the Sewer Use Ordinance.  Consequently, your plant could get bad press and be fined.

Will They Know it is from Your Facility? 

The County can do sewer discharge tracing.  First, they inspect and test the wastewater at lift stations.  Second, they use the results to identify one lift station causing the problem.  Third, they determine which plants discharge to that lift station.  Fourth, they decide which plant is the most likely suspect.  Fourth, they knock on your door, ask questions, and test your discharge.  It is not that difficult.

Clean It Up 

So, before the County comes knocking, see if you need to clean up your wastewater.  First, read the Ordinance closely.  Second, determine if  banned chemicals could be in your discharge.  If so, test the discharge.  If the results confirm a problem, you are dead in the water, right?  No, now explore the following treatment options:

  • Change the process 
  • Substitute chemicals 
  • Remove hazardous wastes 
  • Pretreat the wastewater
  • Get input from environmental engineer or County 

Next, run a bench scale test on the wastewater after treatment.  Good results mean start the treatment.  Bad results mean you adjust the treatment, retest, and then start the treatment.

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo, there is a discussion of the environmental engineering related to sewer discharges of industrial wastewater! If you need any assistance, ESC (www.escflorida.com) is here. We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering firm with a P.E. on staff. We have the credentials and experience to help you with your industrial wastewater sewer discharge needs. We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net). Contact us today!

Environmental Engineering for NPDES Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

Background 

So far, we have provided several papers on or related to environmental engineering, which is provided stormwater pollution by environmental consulting firms like ours, Environmental Safety Consultants, Inc. (ESC). We provided information on environmental permits, then went into an overview of environmental engineering. Next, we addressed industrial wastewater and, finally, air emissions control provided by an air engineer. There was also a paper discussing Florida NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Industrial Stormwater requirements. Now we will discuss the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

The current paper will discuss environmental engineering required for an SWPPP (Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan). The regulatory requirements are provided by both the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov) and the FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection, www.floridadep.gov). The requirements discussed herein primarily cover manufacturing and industrial facilities with SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) Codes 21 – 39 with specific exposure to stormwater. 

Objective 

The objective of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan is self-evident from its name. That is, the SWPPP is prepared by an environmental engineer to prevent pollution of stormwater so it does not discharge and impact receiving waters. Why? Because if it does, it can impair the biological organisms and public health. 

Components of Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan

In preparing the SWPPP, the environmental engineer first identifies the facility and describes its operations, location, and receiving surface waters. Then, information and data are gathered in the following areas to assess the facility’s impact to stormwater: 

  • Topography, runoff, & discharge point(s) 
  • Material inventory, quantities, & exposure 
  • Significant spills or leaks last three years 
  • Non-stormwater discharges
  • Pollutant sources & specific parameters 
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control pollutants 

Based on the results of the preceding, the environmental engineer discusses the findings with the client, then prepares the SWPPP and submits it for review. It is important that the client be able to implement and use the plan to reduce or eliminate pollutants in the facility’s stormwater runoff. 

Implementation 

The client’s management must endorse the SWPPP and sign it as documentation. A Pollution Prevention Team is formed and identified in the SWPPP. Team members and other personnel receive training. Resources are committed to attain the plan’s objective by implementing the BMPs selected. Visual monitoring of the stormwater discharge is required quarterly and laboratory analysis may be required during the second and fourth years of the five year permit. All records are kept in the SWPPP and, thus, it is a living document. 

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo there is a discussion of the preparation of an SWPPP by an environmental engineer! If you need any assistance, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here. We are a Florida licensed environmental consulting and Florida licensed environmental engineering firm with a P.E. on staff. We have the credentials and experience to help you with your SWPPP. We are just a telephone call (800- 226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net). Contact us today!

Environmental Engineering for Air Emissions

Background 

In three previous papers we dealt with an overview of environmental engineering, industrial wastewater permits, and industrial wastewater environmental engineering. In this paper, we will discuss environmental engineering required to address air emissions to the outside environment. Environmental engineering for air emissionsThese emissions result from manufacturing and industrial operations. They may be from a point source such as a smoke stack or from a non-point source and are called fugitive emissions. The latter result from processes typically inside a building or in an outside designated area. Environmental engineering is required to determine the best reasonably achievable control technology to minimize the emissions to the environment outside of the facility. The environmental air engineer must be involved in the design, testing, and adjusting the controls. Applications for Title V Air permits and Federally Enforceable State Operating Permits (FESOPs) must be signed and sealed by a Florida licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.). A P.E. in Florida is only allowed to practice in areas that he or she has the required education, training, and experience. Thus, the P.E. must be an environmental engineer with air emissions knowledge and experience and is quite often called the Air Engineer and is usually with an Environmental Consulting firm such as ours, Environmental Safety Consultants, Inc. 

Start with the Pollutants 

To engineer the air emissions controls, you have to know the process generating the emissions. The environmental engineer must review the raw materials, the industrial or manufacturing process, the resultant air emissions, and the control options. Following are a few pollutants which may be of concern: 

  • Particulate Matter (physical particles or dust) 
  • Nitrogen Oxides 
  • Sulfur Dioxide 
  • Carbon Monoxide 
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) 
  • Ozone 
  • Lead 

All of these except VOCs are criteria air pollutants established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, https://www.epa.gov/criteria-air-pollutants).  Each type of pollutant may require a different environmental engineering design to remove or reduce it before being emitted to the outside environment.

Clean It Up 

The goal is to clean up the air so the pollutants are eliminated or below State standards prior to emission. These standards are thresholds for public health concerns. If the pollutants are below these criteria, there is not a public health concern, but there still may be a concern for unborn babies (pregnant women), children, the elderly, and individuals with certain lung conditions, such as emphysema, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), etcetera. 

Control Design 

The control design is selected to address the pollutants. Following are a few examples: 

  • Alternative raw materials 
  • Industrial process modifications 
  • Filters (cloth, baghouses) 
  • Cyclones (gravitational) 
  • Air scrubbers 
  • Precipitators (electrostatic) 
  • Equipment maintenance and cleaning 

Role of the Environmental Air Engineer

First, the environmental engineer reviews the industrial process, including materials and chemicals, generating the air emissions. The engineer then evaluates several control design options and runs calculations to determine which one will work best and will be cost-effective. He or she then prepares the air permit application; submits it to FDEP and, if required, to the County; provides additional information requested by the FDEP and County; reviews the permit making sure that it meets good engineering practice and is manageable for the client; and, if requested, monitors the treatment process in light of the permit conditions. 

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo there is a discussion of air emissions environmental engineering and what the environmental engineer’s role is! If you need any assistance, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here. We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a P.E. on staff. We have the credentials and experience to help you with your industrial wastewater needs. We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net). Contact us today!

Environmental Engineering For Industrial Wastewater

Background

In two previous papers we dealt with an overview of environmental engineering and industrial wastewater permits. In this paper, we will discuss environmental engineering required to address ESC - Environmental Engineering for Industrial Waste Waterindustrial wastewater. This is the engineering required to treat the wastewater so it does not pollute the receiving surface water, or so it is within tolerable limits and virtually has no impact. Environmental engineering is required to determine the best reasonably achievable control technology to do so. The environmental engineer must be involved in the design, testing, and adjusting the treatment process. Florida NPDES Industrial Wastewater permit applications must be signed and sealed by a Florida licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.). A P.E. in Florida is only allowed to practice in areas that he or she has the required education, training, and experience. Thus, the P.E. must be an environmental engineer with industrial wastewater knowledge and experience.

Start with the Pollutants

To engineer the treatment, you have to know the waste stream. The environmental engineer must become familiar with the industrial materials and processes generating the wastewater. Following are a few pollutants which may be of concern:

  • Heat (thermal)
  • Nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen)
  • Biochemical Oxygen Demand (e.g., organic matter)
  • Heavy Metals
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Radioactivity
  • Particulates resulting in Turbidity

Each type of pollutant may require a different environmental engineering design to remove or reduce it in the wastewater before discharge.

Clean It Up

The goal is to clean up the wastewater so the pollution is below State standards prior to discharge. Mixing zones can be approved where the concentration is above the standard at the point of discharge but is allowed to mix with the receiving water and must be below the State standards so many feet downstream. Approval of such mixing zones by the FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection, www.floridadep.gov) is possible, but not likely. There has to be a very good reason why the State standard cannot be met at the point of discharge.

Treatment Design

The treatment design is selected to address the pollutants. Following are a few examples:

  • Cooling of heated (thermal) effluent
  • Primary and secondary settling of particulates in pond or tank
  • Aeration to encourage biota to degrade organic matter
  • Chemical additives to oxidize or coagulate select pollutants
  • Percolation to allow filtration in soil column
  • Filtration with various types of filters

Role of the Environmental Engineer

First, the environmental engineer reviews the industrial process, including materials and chemicals, generating the industrial wastewater. The engineer then evaluates several treatment design options and runs calculations to determine which one will work best and will be cost-effective. He or she then prepares the permit application; submits it to FDEP and, if required, to the County; provides additional information requested by the FDEP and County; reviews the permit making sure that it meets good engineering practice; and, if requested, monitors the treatment process in light of the permit conditions.

So there is a discussion of industrial wastewater environmental engineering and what the environmental engineer’s role is! If you need any assistance, Environmental Safety Consultants
(www.escflorida.com) is here. We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a P.E. on staff. We have the credentials and experience to help you with your industrial wastewater needs.

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