Category Archives: Remediation/Renovation

Information about cleaning and removing contaminants

Asbestos Exposure at Gateway Arch Closes Museum

By Beth Swantek, http://www.asbestos.com

An asbestos exposure mishap at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis not only delayed a renovation project at an estimated cost of $350,000, but it also exposed park service employees and others to the cancer-causing mineral.

 

Last November, workers with contractor McCarthy Building Companies cut into asbestos insulation around an old steam pipe at the museum. Park officials responded by evacuating the area and halting renovations.

According to Kathy Schneider, project manager for the National Parks Service, the delay would normally last only a few days while the area was sealed and the pipe removed.

In this case, McCarthy workers determined they severed the same pipe a month earlier, not realizing deadly asbestos had contaminated the area. Read more

Advertisements

Teens’ vandalism causing mold problems in classrooms

By Dillon Collier, KENS 5

Southwest Independent School District’s Sun Valley Elementary School continues to deal with mold issues weeks after teens vandalized the school and left sinks running for an untold number of days.

“We’ve been remedying the situation. As it’s escalated, we too have escalated our actions,” said Adriana Garcia, PhD., the district’s director of public relations.

A demolition crew remained on site Monday and could be on campus through the start of February, restoring walls damaged by water.

Garcia confirmed two teens were arrested for the vandalism, which took place some time during the Thanksgiving holiday. Garcia declined to release the names of the teens or other details of the investigation because the teens are juveniles and the investigation is ongoing. Read more

 

This Rocker Has A Heavy Metal Warning For Fellow Parents

By Lynne Peeples, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

JohnfishmanWhen Jon Fishman’s family moved into their 200-year-old Maine farmhouse years ago, they didn’t think to be concerned about lead paint hazards. That all changed this February, a few minutes after a pediatrician pricked their toddler son’s toe. The rapid blood test revealed the presence of lead.

Tiny, largely invisible particles of the poison, they would later confirm, had taken residence in their home — making them one of the at least 4 million households with children that are exposed to deteriorated lead paint and elevated levels of lead dust, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now Fishman, the drummer for the band Phish, wants to share what he’s learned so that other parents have their young children screened for lead. He also wants to ensure people avoid renting, buying, selling or remodeling a home while blind to the threat of the neurotoxic heavy metal.

“I’m just trying to parlay the little celebrity I have to raise awareness,” he said. Fishman recently donated to the completion of “MisLEAD,” a forthcoming film on the lead issue, and will be hosting screenings in Vermont this October.

Homes built in the early to mid-20th century, during the heyday of lead-based paint, are most worrisome. Yet risks may reside in and around any building constructed or painted before 1978, when lead was finally banned from residential paint sold in the U.S.

“Lead is all over the damn place — aging and chipping,” said Fishman, who also discovered lead hazards in a lakeside cottage and a general store his family owns. “It’s an epidemic. And it’s causing serious health problems in lots of kids around the country.”

Of course, the majority of children who suffer from lead poisoning aren’t celebrity kids with multiple residences. Risks are generally highest in low-income communities, where lead paint can often be seen peeling from poorly-maintained properties. But the poison can still find its way onto the hands and into the mouth of any child.

Read more

Grant aims to get rid of lead-hazards in Mid-South homes

By Eryn Taylor and Shay Arthur, http://wreg.com/

hudgrantThe federal government has awarded Memphis with a grant the city said not only helps make the city healthier, but provides jobs.

A $3.7 million grant will be implemented over three years to reduce lead-hazards in homes.

Homes built before 1978 were commonly painted with lead based paint.

Lead can cause permanent brain damage and damage to other organs, especially to children.

The city hopes to remove lead from 240 houses in 12 targeted zip codes.

“I’m very happy about it,” said Janice Taylor.

Taylor has been running Joshua’s Learning Tree, a daycare off Lamar in South Memphis for years.

Soon a sign in front of her building, warning of possible lead will be removed after she coordinated with the city to help rid the building of lead.

“It made us be more involved with the community, with our parents,” explained Taylor. Read more

VA Employee sickened by mold says Federal Workers’ Comp Insurance won’t cover her medical needs

By Adam Walser, http://www.abcactionnews.com/

vaempEarlier this month, we told you about mold inside the St. Petersburg VA Regional Benefits Office, which employees claim is making them sick.

Now we’re hearing from a woman who says she has suffered chronic problems as a result of her exposure there, and claims she can’t get the medical care she needs.

“My first symptom was just absolute bone-numbing fatigue, then lungs, sinuses, terrible infections,” said Aileen Mullin.

She was granted workers’ comp in 2012 after doctors determined that mold inside the St. Petersburg benefits office where she works made her sick. 

As the I-Team first reported, multiple reports show mold has been detected in the building for several years.

Constant leaks from a skylight and the roof have been blamed for the problem. 

“January 2012 was when I was taken out in an ambulance,” said Mullin.

Since suffering her first life-threatening asthma attack, Mullin has depended on nebulizers, inhalers and prescription drugs to breathe.

Qualifying for workers’  comp has created additional issues, since her regular employee health insurance coverage no longer applies to any respiratory-related claims.

“They reversed the charges from my doctors and the doctors in turn have billed me, creating an enormous financial debt,” she said. 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

US cleanup would leave some asbestos in contaminated town

By Matthew Brown, Associated press

LibbyA long-delayed cleanup proposal for a Montana community where thousands have been sickened by asbestos exposure would leave some of the dangerous material inside houses rather than remove it, as government officials seek to wind down an effort that has lasted more than 15 years and cost $540 million.

Details on the final cleanup plan for Libby, Montana, and the neighboring town of Troy were to be released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Health workers have estimated that as many as 400 people have been killed and almost 3,000 sickened by asbestos dust from a W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine that operated outside Libby for decades.

Asbestos-containing vermiculite would be left behind only where it does not pose a risk of exposure to people, such as underground or sealed behind the walls of a house, EPA Libby team leader Rebecca Thomas said.

“You might have vermiculite in the walls. But as long as it’s sealed within plaster or behind drywall and nobody can breathe it, it does not pose a risk,” Thomas said.

Some residents worry the material eventually would escape. An EPA research panel concluded last year that even the slightest exposure to asbestos from Libby can scar lungs and cause other health problems. Read more

Mold in vacant homes poses health threat

By  Kirsti Marohn, kmarohn@stcloudtimes.com

MoldceilingFrom the outside, it looks like a typical two-story split-entry on a corner lot, not much different than the other houses in this newer suburban development.

The first indication that something is amiss is the sign posted in the yard announcing that the house is in tax forfeiture. Step inside the front door, and the reason for the home’s emptiness becomes startlingly clear.

Black mold covers the walls in angry splotches from ceiling to floor. It coats woodwork, sinks, appliances and doors. In the basement, it has decimated the ceiling, leaving a gaping hole.

Chad Martini, land management director for Stearns County, says it’s the worst case of mold he’s ever seen.

The county had planned to demolish the house at 424-13th Ave. N in Wildwood Estates after it went into tax forfeiture last fall. But several contractors have called the county with interest in buying, rehabilitating and reselling it.

So the county will try to sell it at a public auction this spring for a minimum bid of $10,000, a fraction of its original value. In 2009, the county estimated the house’s market value at more than $235,000.

The county’s goal is to get the property back on the tax rolls, Martini said.

“I think what we’re hoping to see is a contractor that will come in, buy the house, rehab it and make it a good neighbor in the neighborhood,” he said.

Across the nation, mold has been a problem in houses left empty after the housing market crisis. In some states, it’s estimated that as many as half of all foreclosed homes have mold and mildew issues.

Some mold contains toxins, so if it’s not removed and remediated, mold can cause serious health issues. That’s especially true for people with asthma, allergies or other respiratory problems. Read more

Window replacement project leads to asbestos contamination at Englewood apartment complex

By Lance Hernandez, http://www.thedenverchannel.com/

windowasbestosDozens of tenants have been forced from their apartments at a complex in Englewood, because of asbestos contamination.

Work crews unknowingly loosened the dangerous fibers when they began replacing windows at the Carmel Park Apartments several weeks ago.

State health officials say the asbestos was in a texture compound on existing drywall, and that some of the drywall had been cut away to remove the old windows and install the new.

They say just a small amount of material was loosened in the affected apartments.

The contamination wasn’t discovered until a repairman, who knew there was asbestos in the popcorn ceiling, told the window installers there “might” be asbestos in the drywall texture.

“They tested it and found asbestos,” said Christopher Dann of the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Apartment management then sent a note to affected tenants asking them to move out temporarily while licensed crews clean up the contamination. Read More

Home inspectors using drones