An excellent infographic detailing the hidden air quality factors in our homes.
Originally posted on MC2 Home Inspections Indianapolis Home Inspectors in Indianapolis Indiana:
By Judy Mottl, http://www.techtimes.com
The study released Tuesday evaluated lifetime exposure among 2,143 utility workers in France who spent workdays dealing with petroleum solvents, benzene and chlorinated solvents. Of the group, 26 percent were exposed to benzene, 33 percent to chlorinated solvents and 25 percent to petroleum solvents.
“Our findings are particularly important because exposure to solvents is very common, even in industrialized countries like the United States,” said study author Erika L. Sabbath, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
The results state that cognitive impact among moderately exposed workers may subside over a period of time but that may not be the case for higher-exposure situations.
“This has implications for physicians working with formerly solvent-exposed patients as well as for workplace exposure limit policies,” states the study. Read more
By Phil Fairbanks, http://www.buffalonews.com
During their work at the Kensington Heights housing complex, Ernest Johnson’s employees dumped asbestos down holes cut in the floor.
They also failed to adequately treat the cancer-causing material while it sat waiting for leak-tight containers.
One of the consequences, the former contractor acknowledged Wednesday, was the repeated release of asbestos into the environment around the East Side complex.
Johnson’s admissions Wednesday are part of a plea deal in which he acknowledged his company’s role in bungling the five-year-old clean-up effort of Kensington Heights, a collection of vacant public housing towers.
“There was asbestos left in the buildings,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango.
By pleading guilty to violating the federal Clean Air Act, Johnson became the most important defendant to admit guilt in the case.
His company, Johnson Contracting of Western New York, was accused of orchestrating a scheme designed to cut corners at Kensington Heights and then cover it up. Read more
Alex Bastian & Maxwell Szabo, http://www.sfdistrictattorney.org
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, along with 31 other California District Attorneys and two city attorneys, announced today that Alameda County Superior Court Judge George C. Hernandez has ordered North Carolina-based Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC, to pay $18.1 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution.
“The dangers inherent in dumping hazardous waste cannot be understated, it is absolutely essential that we protect our environment for future generations,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Those who would jeopardize our environment are on notice – they will be held liable.”
The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement action filed yesterday in Alameda County claiming that more than 118 Lowe’s stores throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a six and a half year period. Those hazardous wastes and materials included pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.
Lowe’s was cooperative throughout the investigation and has adopted enhanced policies and procedures designed to eliminate the disposal of hazardous waste products in California. Stores are required to retain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers so as to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions. Hazardous waste produced by California Lowe’s stores through damage, spills and returns is being collected by state-registered haulers, taken to proper disposal facilities and properly documented and accounted for.
From 2011 to 2013, district attorney investigators along with investigators from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and environmental regulators statewide, conducted a series of waste inspections of dumpsters belonging to Lowe’s stores. The inspections revealed that Lowe’s was routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills throughout California that were not permitted to receive those wastes. The inspections also revealed that at some Lowe’s stores, instead of recycling batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs that the company had gathered from customers at store recycling kiosks as part of a program to responsibly reduce waste, employees were unlawfully discarding these items directly to the trash. Read more
By Jillian Jorgensen, http://www.silive.com
With blighted, mold-infested homes still dotting the neighborhoods hit by Hurricane Sandy, Staten Island elected officials are looking again to pass a law allowing the city to enter abandoned homes and remove mold there.
“We think we have a bill that navigates that fine line between actually being effective and respecting property rights,” Borough President James Oddo said.
The bill — to be introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting — would create a “Remediation of Unsafe Flooded Homes Program” allowing two city agencies to inspect flood-damaged vacant homes and remove mold or other dangerous conditions inside.
It isn’t the first attempt at allowing the city to remove mold from private homes — as a councilman, Oddo introduced a similar bill in July 2013. But it was met with resistance from the Bloomberg administration, leaving the problem unresolved a year and a half after the storm — a timeline Oddo called “an embarrassment.”
“Nineteen months later, we’re trying to find the right language to make a constitutional bill to get government to do something on mold,” Oddo said Monday. “That’s beyond a joke, but that’s where we are. We’re using all the tools we have at our disposal.”
The bill introduced last year asked the Health Department with tackling the mold problem — and went nowhere with the agency’s leadership at the time, with the department saying it did not consider mold in neighboring homes a community health concern. Read more
By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW, http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com
Soil in China’s leading rice-producing region shows high levels of heavy metal contamination, in a study that suggests that the proximity of mining and industry to agricultural areas is posing serious threats to the country’s food chain.
In “Cadmium Rice: Heavy metal pollution of China’s rice crops,” researchers for Greenpeace East Asia sampled farmland and uncultivated soil, water and rice grown near a smelter of non-ferrous metals in Hunan Province, China’s top rice producer.
In some locations of the study, the researchers found soil containing cadmium levels more than 200 times the national health standard, adding to a growing body of evidence that parts of the country’s soil are heavily degraded after decades of fast industrialization and high economic growth. All but one of the rice samples exceeded the maximum level of cadmium in rice for human consumption in China. Read more
By Craig Welch, The Seattle Times
The workers sat down in the makeshift classroom, prepared to learn how to safely remove cancer-causing asbestos.
Instead, the instructor turned on a video of the 2004 action flick “Van Helsing.”
The owners of a Tacoma company that was among a mere handful certified by the state to train workers to inspect or handle asbestos pleaded guilty on Friday in Superior Court for faking training programs for years.
It’s just the latest in a string of issues nationwide with companies responsible for dealing with the ubiquitous hazardous substance commonly found in ceilings, siding and insulation.
“We get a lot of calls on individuals who are cutting corners — either from a business or a colleague,” Tyler Amon, special agent in charge with the Environmental Protection Agency’s law-enforcement division in Seattle, said in an interview.
“But what we are focused on is where it’s concentrated in a criminal enterprise.”
The Tacoma company, Emergency Management Training, let workers skip training altogether or show up for as little as 30 minutes of an eight-hour course. Owners submitted false records to let workers avoid state-mandated follow-up. It forged documents so its own untrained employees could bid on a hazardous-materials-removal job for the military at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The company even took money under the table so that uncertified contractors could evaluate schools and hospitals to see if they were asbestos-free. Read more
By Rick Kornak, http://www.mesothelioma.com
Washington state’s Department of Corrections (DOC) has put an end to a 23-year-old program that employed inmates for asbestos abatement projects.
Although the DOC has claimed the matters are unrelated, the program’s termination comes not long after a recent investigation by the Department of Labor and Industries, which found that seven crew workers at the Washington Corrections Center for Women may have inhaled asbestos-containing dust in June, 2013. The work involved two nine-hour shifts of removing contaminated floor tiles.
“They were allowing the workers to be exposed to asbestos,” said Elaine Fischer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor and Industries. Although the amount of exposure is unclear, Fischer pointed out that any inhalation of asbestos fibers can be detrimental to one’s health. “There’s no minimum safe amount of exposure,” she said. Inhaling airborne asbestos fibers can lead to a variety of respiratory health problems, including fatal afflictions, such as mesothelioma.
The DOC was originally fined $141,000 for the violations, but this amount was halved when the agency agreed to do additional training and purchase more equipment. The inmates were trained and certified for asbestos removal, but the investigation done by the Department of Labor and Industries led to the discovery that proper procedures were not being followed at all times. The contaminated material was not always wet down, as it should be, and masks, gloves, and other protective equipment was worn inconsistently. Read More
By Biz Carson, http://gigaom.com
The yellow blobs of slime mold normally grow in dark forests, not on computer chips or on gelatinous squares shaped like the United States. But through his research, University of the West of England professor Andrew Adamatzky has shown that the mold can, and should, be grown elsewhere because of its potential in computing.
Physarum polycephalum is a brainless mold that’s sole purpose is to build transportation networks for the nutrients that sustain it. As it expands in search of food, it sends out slimy tubes that continue to branch out until it finds a food source, at which point it forms a blob around the nutrients. Its slime tubes then continue to grow and split until the mold forms a network of tubes to transport the food throughout itself.
The key to Physarum polycephalum’s computing power, however, is its ability to form the most efficient and optimal network.
Because it’s a self-repairing, living creature, it can also model emergency situations. So if a road was cut off due to flooding or an accident, the mold could also be suddenly cut off at that point and its resources redirected in another optimal way.
“By understanding how living creatures build transport networks, an urban planner would probably modify their approaches towards urban development and road planning,” Adamatzky said.
And while we may not see a petri dish of slime mold on an urban planner’s desk anytime soon, there are more practical applications of the mold when it comes to computing. Adamatzky wrote a book in 2010 where he defined the concept of Physarum machines: programmable, amorphous, living computing devices. Because the mold is sensitive to light and certain chemicals, the mold can be programmed to travel certain ways while still finding the optimal network. Read More