Newsletter- May 2015

May 2015
QuanTEM Chronicle
An Informative Newsletter for Environmental Professionals
In This Issue
Turnaround Tracker
Monthly Musing
“Hard work is part of life, so we might as well make friends with it. “
TEM Summer Sale

$39 each on 24-hour 

Quick Links

How Germs Might Shape the Future of Architecture

By Vicky Gan,

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 can 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.

Cross-section of New York’s bio-inspired Public Safety Answering Center II. (SOM).

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.

So how do we get that healthy exposure to bacterial flora when we spendmore than 90 percent of our time indoors? That’s the focus of an emerging field, so new that it doesn’t even have a proper name yet. Today, scientists studying the microbiology of the built environment are changing the way we think about bacteria and working toward ways to harness their potential for good. Here we’ll use the term “bio-inspired” to refer to design that incorporates biological processes or systems.

Read more

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John’s View

Hi Friends,

I had an experience this past week which left me a little amazed. You just never know what to expect from your fellow man and it seems that most times we’re not that impressed with what we get. It’s not uncommon to hear discussions about how the younger generation just doesn’t live up to the standards we’d like to see.
Anyway, Saturday morning I was heading down the turnpike with my utility trailer in tow. As usual I was in a hurry, when one of the trailer tires blew out. Of course it was shredded and I didn’t have a spare. Now I was stuck sitting beside the highway, on my phone, looking for help with minimal success.
About this time a truck and trailer pulled up beside me and the driver asked me if I needed a spare. I’d never met this gentleman before, and so I was a little surprised when he said I could use his. We removed it from his trailer and he took off. I got his phone number and the tire has been reunited with its rightful owner, but I’m still astonished by his act of kindness towards a total stranger. This was a young man with his young son, whom I’ll bet grows up to be a fine gentlemen, just like his dad.
It’s nice to know that there are people like this gentleman out there. Who knows, maybe mankind still has a chance.
Thanks Matt.
John E. Barnett

Time for TEM

Jeff Mlekush, Chief Operating Officer
Jeff Mlekush, Vice President

I know a lot of you will be doing Clearance Testing on asbestos abatement projects in the coming months, so here is a quick summary chart for your reference.

Method Description Flow Rates Sample Volume Media # of samples Blanks

NIOSH 7400

Used for asbestos worker exposure screening and some clearance tests.

All fibers are counted.

Not asbestos specific.

0.5 to 16 lpm Min. 48 liters

Volume of air effects detection limit.

Detection limit at 1200L is ~ 0.0022 f/cc

0.8µor 0.45µ



Depends on application.

Typically 25% of workers.

Usually 3 min. for clearance.


(Min. 2)


NIOSH 7402

Used for asbestos worker exposure.

Combines PCM and TEM to arrive at asbestos concentration.

Should not be used for school clearance.

0.5 to 16 lpm Min.48 liters

Volume of air effects detection limit.

0.8µor 0.45µ



Depends on application.

Typically 25% of workers.

Usually 3 min. for clearance.


(Min. 2)



Used for completion of response actions in schools or other buildings. <10 lpm 1200 to 1800 liters

If less than 1200 liters of air is collected, all 13 samples must be analyzed.




5 inside containment (minimum)

5 outside containment (minimum)

2 – 30 second

(1 in / 1 out)

1 – box blank

(unopened cassette)

Black fungus may provide cheaper jet fuel

By Brett Smith,

We all want cheaper airfare, but the high cost of jet fuel is a major driver of today’s ticket prices.

However, a new report from researchers at Washington State University indicates that cheaper jet fuel could be on the way thanks to a common black fungus found in rotting fruit called Aspergillus carbonarius.

By providing a special diet, the study team was able to get the fungus to produce hydrocarbons similar to those in jet fuel.

“It’s very promising,” said study author Birgitte Ahring, a bioproducts expert at WSU, in a press release.”I think that the fungus-based fuels are something that is going to happen. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

The team saw that fungus generated the most hydrocarbons on a diet of oatmeal but also produced them by consuming wheat straw or the non-edible leftovers from corn production. Fungi have been appealing to biofuels researchers for around a decade as the essential producer of enzymes required for converting biomass to sugars.  Read more

Testing Around Exide Plant Continues, Community Voices Frustration over Lack of Clarity in Results

By Sahra Sulaiman,

“I still don’t have a clear picture of what the results [of the lead testing in the Expanded Assessment Areas] are,” said a representative of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard.

We were now nearly two hours into a community workshop explicitly intended to brief residents on the extent to which lead emissions from Exide Technologies’ secondary smelting operations may have contaminated properties found within the Expanded Assessment Areas (see explanation, at left). And a number of stakeholders had met one-on-one with representatives of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and L.A. County Department of Public Health (DPH) in the two hours prior to the meeting to get the specific results of testing done on their property.

Having tracked Exide’s many air quality standards violations over the years and watched family members and friends suffer from the kinds of issues that run rampant in environmental justice (EJ) communities – asthma, cancer, developmental delays, etc. – residents were frustrated. Even as they celebrated the pending closure and dismantling of the battery recycler that they had battled for so long, they were still looking for definitive answers about what Exide had done to their community while it operated for 15 years under a temporary permit and with minimal oversight. Read more

US cleanup would leave some asbestos in contaminated town

By Matthew Brown, Associated press

A 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. Read more

Firefighters test positive for toxic mold exposure

By John Dzenitis,

Two firefighters have tested positive for toxic mold exposure, and the firefighters’ union believes old, run-down fire stations are to blame.
“They had all types of toxins in their body,” said John O’Connor, president of the local chapter of the International Association of Firefighters.

The two firefighters worked at Station No. 7 in Vero Beach and Station No. 10 in Fellsmere. In recent years, O’Connor said the firefighters have been complaining about leaky roofs at their stations, as well as mold and dead rats in the ceiling.
“We became very concerned when a lot of guys were complaining about watery eyes, upper respiratory infections, runny noses,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor claims the county has largely ignored firefighters’ complaints, and not enough money has been allocated to fixing up fire stations with serious health concerns. Read more

Jury Awards Woman $13 Million for Asbestos Exposure

By Brian Melley, Associated Press

A Los Angeles jury awarded $13 million to a 73-year-old woman who contracted a deadly disease from using asbestos-containing talcum powder manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive Co.

Jurors deliberated for two hours Tuesday before finding that New York-based Colgate was 95 percent responsible for Judith Winkel’s mesothelioma, a fatal lung disease, according to her lawyers. The verdict included $1.4 million in damages for her husband.

Winkel’s lawyers said she got the rare cancer from using Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder.

“This is an example of the legal system exposing what a company should have been honest about 50 years ago,” attorney Chris Panatier said. “Judith Winkel only wanted a jury to hear the truth about this product and hopefully to help others who are similarly exposed.”
Panatier said it was the first verdict against Colgate-Palmolive involving asbestos exposure from talcum powder. Read more

Massachusetts Students Show Academic Gains After Reducing Lead Exposure, Study Shows

By Hanna Sanchez,

A new study suggests reducing the children’s lead exposure in Massachusetts have helped them do better in school, Jasmine Garsd of NPR News reported. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, an Amherst College associate professor of economics, has been researching on the effects of lead since the 1990s.

“Throughout history people keep using lead despite the fact that it has these neurotoxic effects,” she said. The effects of lead in kids could lead to lower IQ and behavioral problems.
The study, published in the Harvard Educational Review, also found that schools with a larger decline in lead showed greater improvements in test scores. Reyes said the “unsatisfactory performance” in the state would have been 5 percent higher if lead usage remained at 1990 levels.
And “because the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program reduced children’s lead when they were very young,” she added, “those children performed substantially better when they were in elementary school.”
The report also showed 2 percent of children who would have been failing are now doing well because of the state’s lead policy.

Read more

Alarming Spike in Imported Asbestos Products in Canada

By Tim Povtak,

The importation of asbestos into Canada increased by a startling 22 percent in 2014, raising safety concerns for the unsuspecting general public and those still working with the toxic products.

Brake pads and brake linings were the most popular asbestos import, valued at a seven-year high of $3.6 million, according to The Globe and Mail news service research.

Other related imports included various friction materials, compressed asbestos fiber jointing and shipments of crocidolite fibers – the most dangerous form of asbestos. Much of the findings came from Statistics Canada, a government website that provides economic, social and census data.
The total value of Canadian asbestos imports in 2014 was $6 million – a significant jump from $4.9 million in 2013.
Although the use of asbestos materials in Canada has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years, and the last asbestos mine in Canada ceased operations in 2011, the recent rise in imports has been unsettling to some. Read more

QuanTEM Chronicle Newsletter
Produced & Edited by
Joanna Mueller, Social Media Director

Did you find this newsletter helpful? Have any suggestions or comments?
Email me here.

These excerpts were taken from various sources. Any publication included in this Newsletter and/or opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the views of QuanTEM Laboratories, LLC but remain solely those of the author(s). QuanTEM Laboratories is not responsible for the content or use of the information contained in this education/information service.


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