Category Archives: Education

Environmental educational issues

These Cities Have More Lead Exposure Than Flint, and Nobody’s Talking About Them

By Kylie Cheung, http://www.attn.com/

or the past few weeks, the eyes of the nation have been on the city of Flint, Michigan, and for good reason.

Last month, a state of emergency was declared over the city’s lead-contaminated water supply about a year after government officials switched Flint’s water source to the Flint River. Many have raised concerns about the severe long-term effects of lead poisoning on youth and the delay of action and lack of transparency from the city’s government has garnered criticism from politicians and advocates around the country.

However, new reports are revealing that other major U.S. cities have even higher lead exposure and more lead-affected children than Flint, and it’s not just water that’s the problem. Read more

Astronaut Nurses Zinnia to Full Bloom After Mold Invasion

By Marcia Dunn, http://www.sci-tech-today.com/

The International Space Station now has a bright pop of orange, thanks to commander Scott Kelly’s green thumb. Kelly showed off his gardening results — a thriving zinnia with a beautiful orange-yellow bloom — over the weekend. He posted photos of the flower on his Twitter account.

“Yes, there are other life forms in space!” Kelly said in a tweet.

Last month, Kelly had to fight off mold that threatened to kill all the flowers in the space station’s mini-greenhouse. Mission Control gave him free rein, and he managed to save some of the crop. This type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions, Kelly noted. Read more

 

How risky is drinking water contaminated with lead?

By Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/

LeadwaterThe public health emergency declared in Flint, Michigan, over high levels of lead in the drinking water raises concerns about the long-lasting impact lead exposure could have on the city’s residents, especially children.

After the city switched its municipal water supply from Detroit to the more local Flint River in 2014 to save money, some 100,000 residents may have been exposed. Chemicals used to treat the water leached lead from old pipes leading to homes, contaminating the water people got from their taps.

Reports of smelly, discolored water began to flow in last fall and researchers have since found elevated lead levels in dozens of children.

Just how much lead people have been exposed to isn’t clear yet, said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“My understanding as of yesterday is that they don’t have all of that mapped out yet — that’s part of the investigation. We on the health side have a lead testing program and since the 2014 Flint River water switch, we have seen about 100 children with lead levels greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter [in their blood],” said Wells.

Wells, who is also a clinical associate professor in epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said a level of zero is the ideal.

“Lead at any level can be associated with decreases in IQ, behavioral disorders, even an association with certain juvenile delinquency as these children get older,” she said. Read more

Former Letcher County teacher files lawsuit claiming asbestos in school caused cancer

By: Angela Reighard,http://www.wkyt.com/

rogerhallRoger and Evelyn Hall are holding onto each other a little tighter these days.

Roger was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Mesothelioma about one year ago.

He taught history at the old Letcher High School from 1976 to 2003.

“If you wanted to have a decent life, you had to become a doctor, a lawyer, school teacher, so on. So, I figured a school teacher is easy enough,” Roger Hall said.

Hall spent a lot of time in the break room at the high school. It’s now an office at Letcher Elementary. He said he ate lunch there.

“You had no thought that you were limiting your life,” Hall said.

When he found out he had Mesothelioma, he did some research. One thing kept coming up: asbestos.

“When I asked several people I worked with is there asbestos in that school? They said it was loaded with it,” Hall said.

Hall filed a lawsuit against various members of the school district saying asbestos exposure caused his cancer.

As of today, the principal of Letcher Elementary says they are dealing with asbestos.

“We always kind of knew it was here. We just assumed it was being taken care of the way it was supposed to be taken care of,” Letcher Elementary Principal Wendy Rutherford said.

Rutherford said in the seven years she’s worked at Letcher Elementary, the custodians have followed protocol. They clean and wax the tile in order to prevent asbestos exposure.

The hallway in the school was recently sealed. However, some classrooms and the cafeteria still have the old tile.

“It is something I do think we need to address just for the safety of our students and staff and to help with fears any people have,” Rutherford said. “I think it’s a wise call for our board to remove the tile.” Read more

Lead-poisoning settlement deals draw scrutiny, calls for reform

By Timothy B. Wheeler and John Fritze, http://www.baltimoresun.com/

Maryland lawmakers vowed Thursday to investigate and clamp down on companies that “buy” lawsuit settlements after learning that hundreds of lead-poisoning victims in Baltimore had signed away their court-approved rights to long-term financial support in return for quick cash worth only a fraction of what they were due.

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said his office would work to strengthen Maryland’s law regulating purchases of so-called “structured settlements” when the General Assemblymeets in January. But he also pledged to investigate the companies involved and go after them if his staff determines they broke the law as it stands now.

“We want to be able to take action to protect people from this kind of scam and see if we can help the folks that have already been victimized,” Frosh said.

State legislators and members of Maryland’s congressional delegation joined in expressing dismay and pledging change in reaction to a Washington Post report this week on companies that struck deals with lead-poisoning victims to swap guaranteed regular payments over years for much smaller one-time payouts.

One lead-poisoning victim has filed a lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court saying she had been misled into agreeing to such a deal.

Baltimore lawyer Saul Kerpelman said he brought the case because he considers such settlement transfers “obscene.” Kerpelman, who’s represented thousands of families in lead-poisoning lawsuits, said the companies are undoing financial arrangements specifically crafted to give victims a long-term stream of income, rather than a big one-time payout. Read more

Indirect Exposure to Asbestos Is Still Risky for Sheet Metal Workers

By Tim Povtak, http://www.asbestos.com/

roofingSheet metal workers rarely handle asbestos directly, but they remain seven times more likely to die from mesothelioma – the rare cancer caused by it – than the general population, a recent study shows.

The findings published earlier this year in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reiterated the long-held but increasingly-debated belief that even indirect exposure to toxic asbestos remains a serious threat, long after its use as a building material was reduced dramatically in the U.S.

“The most important thing to take from this study is that you didn’t have to work with asbestos directly to be in danger,” Dr. Laura Welch, medical director at the Center for Construction Research and Training in Silver Springs, Maryland, told Asbestos.com. “All you had to do is be around it.” Read more

Home inspectors using drones

Could lead exposure increase likelihood of teen pregnancy?

By Lois M. Collins, Deseret News

Here’s another possible reason to reduce exposure to toxic materials: While national experts hail better choices as a reason for lower teen pregnancy rates, some research indicates that efforts to reduce youthful exposure to lead may have helped, as well.

In a paper just released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, an associate professor of economics at Amherst College, makes the case that reducing the amount of lead in teens’ blood reduces the likelihood of pregnancy by age 17 — and offers even greater reduction in the chance a teenager will be pregnant by age 19.

Her analysis, Reyes wrote, “indicates that higher childhood lead exposure is associated with substantial adverse behavioral consequences from childhood through young adulthood.” Among the behavior problems are teen pregnancy, teenage aggressive behavior and teenage criminal behavior. … “This evidence suggests that, by increasing aggression and other behavior problems, even moderate exposure to lead in early childhood can have substantial and persistent adverse effects on individual behavior.”

Concerted efforts to reduce exposure to lead, including The Lead Contamination and Control Act of 1988 and phasing out of gasoline as part of the later Clean Air Act, have coincided with reductions in teen births (down one-fifth in the 1990s) and teen crime (down one-third), according to Reyes’ analysis.

“The forgoing results suggest that lead — and other environmental toxicants that impair behavior — may be missing links in social scientists’ explanation of social behavior,” Reyes wrote. “Social problems may be, to some degree, rooted in environmental problems. As a consequence, environmental or public health policy aimed at reducing exposure to environmental toxicants may be effective in reducing the social and economic costs associated with child behavior problems, teen pregnancy, aggression and crime.” Read more

IAQA Transition – The Future is Bright!

donald weekes photo-Special contribution by IAQA Immediate Past President, Don Weekes

Most of you have heard that IAQA is in the process of a transition with our new partner, ASHRAE.  It has been my honor to serve on the Transition Team on behalf of IAQA along with Don Herrmann, Eva King, and Kent Rawhouser.  John Barnett of QuanTEM Laboratories asked me to write a short article on the transition and what it means to all IAQA members.

It has been a real learning experience for me to see how another professional organization works. ASHRAE’s volunteers and staff have been very helpful in the transition, and I personally look forward to a bright future for IAQA as it partners with ASHRAE.  In this article, I will outline what has already been accomplished, and what remains to be done.

Each Tuesday, the Transition Teams of both IAQA and ASHRAE meet by teleconference with staff to discuss the previous week’s event, and what is planned for the upcoming week. These meetings were critically important in July and August because we had a deadline of August 15th for the transition of the IAQA association management from A&A Communications to ASHRAE. With help from all parties, we met that deadline with little in the way of hitches. For most members, there was a change of street and web addresses and phone numbers that were posted on all appropriate web pages and correspondence. However, there was little else that changed, with the continuation of the great membership service we have all come to expect. I was pleased to note that the IAQA Digest continued each week, and ASHRAE staff was answering the phones and emails from IAQA members in a timely fashion. The transition was as smooth as possible.

For now, ASHRAE staff is providing organizational management for IAQA. This has helped with our planning for the March 2015, Annual IAQA Conference and Expo.  All members will be receiving notifications shortly regarding registration and details on the program. I expect that, under Convention Committee Chair Eva King, we can expect a terrific conference and expo with lots of interesting and exciting presentations. Please plan to attend!

The IAQA and ASHRAE Transition Teams will be meeting in early November to discuss, negotiate, and finalize an agreement between the two organizations. I can say that it is both Teams’ intention that this agreement will be signed as soon as possible so that both organizations can begin to work together on items of common interest. At the meeting, the Teams will discuss the future of IAQA, including the tremendous opportunities for both organizations. As much as IAQA is looking forward to working with ASHRAE, I can assure you that ASHRAE is looking forward to working with the members of IAQA. They are looking forward to tapping into our expertise in indoor air quality, mold, residential buildings, and remediation. With their expertise in mechanical engineering and HVAC systems, this is a great combination for the members of both organizations to learn from each other. This has already begun at some of our Chapters in both organizations where IAQA and ASHRAE members have networked and begun the dialogue.

In my view, this partnership is the best of all outcomes for IAQA. We remain an independent member-based professional organization with the support of another professional organization that has the resources to help IAQA realize all of its potential. I believe that ‘The future is bright’ and the best is yet to come.

Please contact any members of the IAQA Transition Team with any questions or comments that you have. We look forward to hearing from you! Click here for a list of IAQA Officers and Directors.

Bill would require certified mold technicians

By Ilya Hemlin, http://nj1015.com/

Believe it or not, there aren’t many requirements be a mold remediation technician in New Jersey, but new legislation aims to change that.  

Mold
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

“We have people who represent themselves as experts – there’s no training, there’s not certification, there’s not standards,” said Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway), chairman of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

Under the bill, the state Department of Community Affairs would establish a certification program for mold inspectors and mold hazard abatement workers based on information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The bill also requires procedures for inspection and abatement of mold hazards in residential buildings and school facilities.

“Community Affairs would adopt rules and regulations about what training has to be accomplished, and then how it would be certified – probably taking a test and having a license,” Smith said.

If passed, the bill would require mold technicians to obtain the necessary certification within three to six months. Read more