Category Archives: Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality testing information and practices

Judge slams NYCHA officials for not showing up to hearing addressing cleanup of toxic mold in public housing

By Greg B. Smith, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

nychaA judge overseeing NYCHA’s flailing efforts to clean up its toxic mold problem ripped into agency officials for being no-shows at a hearing Friday.

A lone NYCHA lawyer showed up, but none of the top brass appeared in Manhattan Federal Court to answer why they’ve failed to live up to a 2013 promise to abate mold in decrepit apartments.

“Why wouldn’t some policy-making, decision-making official of NYCHA be here?” fumed Judge William Pauley. “I can’t believe they have more important things to do.”

In December 2013, NYCHA signed a consent decree, promising to “effectively remediate” mold infestation deemed “simple” within seven days and mold deemed “complex” within 15 days.

Months later, tenants who sued say in one-third of these so-called “remediations,” the mold returns. Lawyers for the tenants also say NYCHA is now interpreting the decree to give themselves more time to fix things. Read more

Google’s Street View cars have been quietly testing air pollution

by  Katie Fehrenbacher,http://fortune.com/

googlemobileWhile Google’s Street View cars have been busy snapping images of roads across the globe, including some of the most remote locations on Earth, a small handful of the smart vehicles have been quietly gathering data on something that’s much harder to see: air pollution.

Three of Google’s Street View cars were equipped with sensors from San Francisco startup Aclima and the roving sensor-laden vehicles spent a month driving around Denver last year, testing the air quality. The cars spent 750 hours on the city’s streets and collected 150 million data points about levels of various air pollutants, many of them caused directly and indirectly by gas-powered cars and fossil fuel-based power plants. The test was done in collaboration with NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

A key point of the test was to validate seven-year-old Aclima’s environmental sensor tech, which is a first step for the startup to offer the environmental sensors more widely. The company uses algorithms, big data analytics and machine learning to make its sensor data highly accurate. The company also makes it own hardware and has been developing what it says is the world’s smallest particulate matter sensor in collaboration with the EPA and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Read more

Brain Fog, Weight Gain, Fatigue — the Sneaky Symptoms of Household Mold

By Yahoo Health Editors, https://www.yahoo.com

moldsymptomsWhen you hear the word mold, chances are you think of the fuzzy stuff growing on the leftovers in your fridge, or the shower scum that develops on your bathroom tile when you’ve slacked on cleaning. But the truth is, some mold isn’t just an icky sign of neglect — it can be toxic, even deadly.

Dave Asprey — the former Silicon Valley entrepreneur behind “The Bulletproof Executive” blog and Bulletproof Radio podcast — has released a new documentary calledMoldy, which explores the hidden health dangers associated with mold toxicity. (A screening of the film is available for free now until June 14, and can then be purchased through the documentary’s website as a DVD or digital download).

The documentary is personal to Asprey who suffered from mold toxicity. He says it’s a problem that potentially impacts hundreds of millions of people — even if they don’t know that’s what is making them sick.  Read more

How Germs Might Shape the Future of Architecture

By Vicky Gan, http://www.citylab.com/

We know that buildings can make us sick. Take, for example, cases of lead poisoning, mold exposure, or the aptly named Sick Building Syndrome. But cabiobuildingn they also make us healthier? Scientists are trying to answer that very question, starting with detailed studies of the microbes that populate our homes and offices. The end goal? Using this information to design structures constructed with bodies in mind.

This is a big shift in how we’ve previously conceptualized microbial life. We’ve long treated bacteria as the enemy. But it turns out that few of the germs we’re constantly trying to kill with hand sanitizer actually cause disease—and the more bacteria we have on the whole, the better. In fact, our habit of ultrasterilization appears to be hurting us. A number of recent studies have lent credence to the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” which attributes the uptick in autoimmune and allergic diseases, including eczema and asthma, to a lack of early childhood exposure to germs. Read more

Brooklyn tot has high levels of toxic lead while NYCHA denies paint is a problem

By Greg B. Smith, http://www.nydailynews.com

leadpaintstampWhen tests showed Helen Jackson’s 2-year-old daughter had dangerous levels of toxic lead in her blood, the worried mom instantly suspected her public housing apartment.

Tests by city health officials say she might be right — though New York City Housing Authority officials insist she’s not. An attorney assisting the Jackson family knows which agency she believes.

“It’s clear that NYCHA is trying not to be blamed because they’re at fault, and the proof of that is the lead in that child’s body,” said lawyer Bonita Zelman. “Since she was born, she has only lived in that apartment.”

While NYCHA claimed paint in Jackson’s Brooklyn home tested negative for lead, a March 25 visit by city health inspectors found different. Read more

Young Shooters at Risk

By Christine Willmsen and Lewis Kamb, seattletimes.com

vancouver-rangeThe youngsters knew their sport could be dangerous, even deadly.

But for the junior team at the Vancouver (Wash.) Rifle and Pistol Club, the peril that emerged from their sport didn’t come from a stray bullet.

It came from lead.

In 2010, blood tests revealed that 20 youths had been overexposed to the poisonous metal after shooting in the club’s dirty, poorly ventilated range.

“It was devastating,” said Marc Ueltschi, the junior team coach and a club member. “It scared the life out of me. No one knew anything about lead poisoning and what to fix.”

Vancouver Rifle is just one of several private gun clubs across the United States that have posed health hazards in a sport with growing numbers of youths and women.

While those most likely to be poisoned by lead in gun ranges are the workers themselves, The Seattle Times has found dozens of avid shooters overexposed in such states as Washington, Massachusetts and Alaska.

The most vulnerable are children learning to shoot and compete in clubs operated by volunteers who may have little knowledge of the risks of firing lead ammunition. Gunfire can put lead residue in the air, and on the skin and nearby surfaces. Read more

Winemaker’s Mesothelioma Blamed on Asbestos Filter

By Alex Strauss, http://survivingmesothelioma.com/

AsbestoswineThere is new evidence that some wine-making practices could increase the chance of developing malignant pleural mesothelioma. Italian researchers are reporting the first case of mesothelioma in a person whose only known exposure to asbestos was in the winemaking business.

The man worked for an Italian winemaker from 1960 to 1988. According to the authors of the new report, the winemaker treated the wine for impurities using a filter made of asbestos. As authors Alessandro Nemo and Stefano Silvestri of Florence’s Institute for Study and Prevention of Cancer explain, “The filter was created by dispersing in the wine asbestos fibers followed by diatomite while the wine was circulating several times and clogging a prefilter made of a dense stainless steel net.”

Drs. Nemo and Silvestri report that the asbestos exposure which probably triggered the man’s mesothelioma could have occurred during the mixing of dry chrysotile asbestos fibers into the wine as well as during the filter replacement. The researchers had to estimate the average level of the patient’s exposure and the cumulative dose since winemakers do not typically monitor airborne asbestos fibers.

Although this is the first mesothelioma case associated exclusively with the winemaking business, asbestos exposure in winemaking is not unheard of. Since 1993, the Italian National Mesothelioma Register has recorded 8 cases of mesothelioma where the patient spent at least part of his working life in the winemaking business. Read more

Woman finds mold in Chandler apartment, alleges cover-up

By Rebecca Thomas, http://www.kpho.com/

moldyapartmentThis week’s record rainfall caused roofs to leak all across the Valley.

But for a Chandler woman, a leaky roof revealed an even bigger problem, one she said put her family’s health in danger.

“I woke up in the morning and my ceiling was gaping open,” Jessica Ford said.

She said water began gushing into her apartment during Monday’s storm.

Ford immediately called the management office at Laguna Village, near Arizona Avenue and Elliott Road and maintenance crews brought over an industrial fan to dry things out.

“They plugged it into this outlet while my wall was still damp,” Ford said about the counterproductive measure, since her ceiling was still leaking.

There was obvious water damage to her daughter’s room, with water pockets bulging from the ceiling.

Ford said a maintenance worker cut the ceiling open on Wednesday and what she saw shocked her.

“Mold, tons of black mold,” she said.

Again, Ford called management to report the problem and got a voicemail Thursday addressing the issue.

“That drywall has a colored backing on the back of it and that is what the discolored spots are,” said a woman who identified herself as Andrea and said she works with Laguna Village’s corporate office. “It’s actually not mold and there’s no mold that’s been seen.”

Not convinced, Ford took a sample of the sheet rock and gave it to a friend who is a biology professor.

He looked at it under a microscope and said he found very high concentrations of Stachybotrys Chartarum.

It’s a black mold known to cause respiratory problems, especially in people who have asthma, like Ford’s 6-year-old daughter. Read more

Are Contractors Taking Mold Seriously Enough?

By Matt Bishop, http://www.achrnews.com/

MoldHAVC

Mold is a serious threat, especially in areas such as the Deep South, where moisture and humidity pose a constant problem for HVAC contractors.

Even though mold remediation could potentially open a new revenue stream for HVAC contractors, some believe their peers don’t take mold nearly seriously enough.

In Louisiana, “toxic molds” are defined as those that produce compounds called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are produced as a defense against other microorganisms. “Black toxic mold” can refer to a certain type of mold — Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Black is a color, not a type of mold. Therefore, not all black molds are Stachybotrys chartarum.

“The majority of air conditioning contractors, at least the ones we see here, don’t have the necessary state mold remediation license; they don’t want it,” said Mike White, ASCS, CEO, Clean Air Systems of Louisiana, Shreveport, Louisiana. “They’re interested in selling boxes to people, and that’s it. I’ve gone in behind some of these guys who’ve installed a brand new air conditioning system, and we’ve found mold growing on the ceiling and blowing out of the duct work. [The customer] wants to know why they weren’t made aware of the mold.”

Jason Fricks, owner, Keystone Air Care Inc., Seneca, South Carolina, insists most HVAC contractors aren’t taking mold as seriously as they should. Because they are working around it so often, they are, to an extent, immune to its effects.

“It’s present in probably half the systems we see, and most kind of just ignore it because they don’t know how to deal with it, don’t know what it is, or are scared of the liability if they mention its existence,” Fricks said. 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.