Monday, January 6, 2014

Do I need to remove asbestos from a building before it is demolished?

The short answer is yes.

Asbestos can be found in many materials throughout a single building. Because asbestos is so distinctive, it has been used in the making of insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, wall texture material and much more. The qualities that asbestos have are invaluable in the products that contain them. Unfortunately, once asbestos has been disturbed or broken down, it can become hazardous. Asbestos will continue breaking down into smaller fibers which can be harmful when they are inhaled. Once these fibers are in the lungs they begin to scar and damage tissues leading to asbestos related diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and even lung cancer. For all these reasons it is plain to see that every precaution needs to be taken to reduce the amount of asbestos fibers released into the environment. To reduce the amount of asbestos released during demolition, the EPA and the National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) have specific regulations that must be followed. Three pertinent guidelines during demolition involve a building inspection, regulatory notifications, removal of asbestos materials and proper disposal. If building owners follow the established requirements they can guarantee a safe demolition as well as avoid any fines associated with improper work practices.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What are the requirements for lead paint stabilization?

Lead paint stabilization is a method of interim control. Unlike lead paint abatement, stabilization and other interim controls are meant to temporarily reduce exposure to lead paint hazards. Repairing physical defects that cause paint deterioration, removing loose paint and other material from surfaces containing lead paint, and applying new paint or protective coatings are all methods of stabilization.

Stabilization and other interim controls are generally favored over permanent abatement when the lead paint-containing surfaces are intact and the building is structurally sound, or if the building containing the lead hazard is slated for demolition or renovation within the next few years. In situations such as these, lead exposure results primarily from chipping paint, lead dust, and/or lead-contaminated soil, and stabilization is sufficient to remove the lead hazard. Lead paint stabilization is also sometimes used when permanent abatement is not financially possible.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

How can I get rid of mold?

Mold may cause health problems for certain individuals when they are exposed to spores in the air. Molds can produce allergens, irritants, and occasionally toxic substances. Allergic reactions to mold generally result in symptoms similar to those of hay fever, and mold can also cause asthma attacks in asthmatics. Even for people who are not allergic to mold, exposure to mold can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Mold can also cause damage to the surfaces on which it grows. For these reasons, it is important that you remove any mold that may be growing in your building, as well as preventing further mold growth.

The most important step in mold removal and prevention is moisture control. Mold needs moisture to grow, so the best way to permanently get rid of mold is to determine and eliminate the source of excess moisture. Any leaking plumbing should be fixed, and any other sources of moisture should be identified and eliminated. Moisture levels should be monitored consistently in order to maintain a mold-free building.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Can I remove PCBs from my building?

There are no laws expressly forbidding you from removing PCB’s yourself. However, PCB’s can negatively impact both human health and the environment. They are known to cause cancer and to adversely affect the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. In addition, PCB’s do not easily break down, and therefore remain in the environment for a long time. They cycle between air, water, and soil, can accumulate in small organisms as well as leaves and the above-ground parts of plants and food crops, and can be carried a long way from the source of the contamination. Therefore, it is very important that PCB’s are removed safely and disposed of properly. For this reason, the EPA strongly recommends that PCB removal be carried out by an experienced contractor.

Even if PCB’s are removed by an experienced contractor, it is important that the removal process is carried out properly and safely in order to protect the environment, your health, and the health of others. All caulk that contains more than 50 ppm of PCB’s, or any materials coated with such caulk, must be removed. Caulk containing less than 50 ppm of PCB’s does not need to be removed. When removing PCB-containing caulk, protective clothing such as facemasks and gloves should be worn at all times in order to prevent injury. After the caulk has been removed, it must be managed and disposed of as a “PCB bulk product waste.”

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Are schools required to remove asbestos?

When asbestos fibers become airborne, they can become lodged in the lungs and cause such serious respiratory diseases as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. In order to protect students and school employees from the hazards of asbestos materials, public school districts and private schools that do not collect tuition are subject to asbestos regulations which are distinct from those imposed upon businesses and other institutions.

Schools are not required to remove asbestos unless it is damaged or likely to be disturbed by renovation or demolition. However, according to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), there are several other regulations that they are required to comply with. First, school buildings must be inspected for asbestos-containing materials, and must have known or suspected ACM re-inspected once every three years. Any person conducting these inspections, or responding to any asbestos hazards that may be found, must be trained and accredited according to the EPA’s Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan. If the school is being demolished or if removal of ACM is necessary for any reason, schools must comply with the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) requirements for asbestos removal. Schools must also appoint a contact to ensure that the school follows all regulations.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why do costs of Phase One cost vary so much?

A Phase I inspection is usually conducted prior to financing or selling real estate. The purpose of a Phase I inspection is to determine the probability of environmental impacts caused by current or past usage. These probabilities are not only based on the subject site but extend to property surrounding the subject property. The purpose of a phase I inspection is to determine if conditions exist that pose a hazard to health or to the environment.

During a Phase I inspection, the inspector will conduct a detailed and extensive site visit, as well as gather information about the surrounding area through interviews with neighboring sites. They will also review local government documents regarding past businesses that may have existed long ago but have been torn down. These activities will help the inspector know whether any past uses of the site or any operations in the surrounding area could be or has been an environmental hazard. Generally, there are certain types of properties that have a greater chance of imposing environmental problems. These typically include gas stations, dry cleaners, dumps, or auto repair shops. Certain manufacturing facilities in the past used little discretion in disposing of hazardous wastes and often dumped or buried such materials on their property. Over time, these hazardous materials can spread to adjacent properties and contaminate ground water.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Asbestos complaints by building occupants.

If you are a building owner: private, public, or residential, it is important to manage your property
responsibly. A building owner is responsible for ensuring safety to all building occupants and guests that visit a property. If there is any kind of risk that can be prevented, the owner needs to address the issue promptly. This includes everything from snow removal, water leaks, mold, or any potentially hazardous materials such as asbestos. Therefore, if an occupant has a complaint, the least the owner or manager should do is investigate the validity of the complaint. The building owner needs to assess the complaint, make every attempt to remedy the condition, as well as inform the occupant as to how the complaint was handled.