June 2011

PCBs in Building Materials

Lead and asbestos have been a concern in building materials for some time, which has lead to strict assessment, demolition, verification and disposal requirements of these materials.  More recently, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in building materials have been identified as a health concern.
 
Buildings constructed or renovated prior to 1978 have a likelihood to contain PCBs in caulking and other sealants.  PCBs were added to these products because of their resistance to decomposition and their ability to remain compliant in harsh weather conditions.  Often PCBs are found around windows and door jams and in expansion joints.  These can be very challenging mitigation scenarios.  Further, since caulking and sealants are usually used on the exterior of buildings, PCB contaminated soil around buildings with PCB containing building materials is not uncommon.
 
Other likely sources of PCBs include:

  • Transformers and Capacitors
  • Heat Transfer Fluids
  • Hydraulic fluids
  • Paints, coatings, and sealants used in waterproofing, anti-fouling, and as fire retardants
  • Fluorescent light ballasts
  • Capacitors in electronics and electric motors


The source of PCB exposure is generally by means of ingestion of contaminated foods (think bottom-feeding fish), from exposure to contaminated electrical equipment or dust from contaminated building materials.  Dust from these materials, whether generated during remediation or in an existing building can be inhaled or absorbed by skin contact.
 
When demolishing or remediating buildings with PCB containing materials, it is critical to use appropriate personal protective equipment, and comply with EPA rules and disposal requirements.
 
PCBs are recognized as carcinogens and developmental toxicants, and have been tied to  interfering with hormones such as estrogen.  Given these health risks, their presence is of concern, particularly in schools. If a school or other building was constructed after 1978, PCBs are not likely to be present. However if a building predates 1978 or if there is cause for concern, testing must take place prior to renovation or demolition.


Spring Makes Conditions Ripe for Mold Growth

As most New Englanders say “good riddance” to the winter of 2011, Guy Sylvester, CEO of Absolute Resource Associates, wants the public to be aware that there can be a down side associated with the warmer temperatures of spring: MOLD. The increased moisture from melting snow and seasonal rain showers often leads to mold growth in our indoor spaces, causing property damage, unpleasant odors, and even illness. “Mold is not only dirty, smelly and unpleasant to look at, but many people don’t realize that it can have very serious effects on our health, especially in young children and people who are immunocompromised, such as asthmatics,” warns Sylvester.
 
A nationally recognized mold expert and author, Sylvester says if not addressed properly, indoor moisture issues can easily lead to toxic mold growth. Many New Englanders experienced ice dams this winter. Sylvester is concerned that some are not aware of the moisture and mold that could now be hidden within wall and ceiling cavities at home and at work.
 
Often people do not know they have a mold problem until long after they start to experience health issues associated with mold exposure, such as allergies, respiratory issues, eye and skin irritation. What to do if you cannot see the mold, but suspect it is there? “Follow your nose,” advises Sylvester, since most people are familiar with the musty odor of mold. If you can smell it, it is there. Sylvester urges the public to be sure to call a certified indoor air quality professional to help with mold issues, because if not handled properly, the mold is almost certain to grow back.
 
Sylvester is committed to raising indoor air quality awareness and helping the public breathe easier, not only through his consulting business, but through his recently published book for homeowners, entitled Mold: Myth or Monster?. Sylvester is also on the Board of the Indoor Air Quality Association Manchester Chapter, the American Lung Association of New Hampshire,co-founder and co-chair of the NH Mold Task Force, and is working with New Hampshire lawmakers to enact legislation to protect residents from inappropriate mold mitigation.
 
Recently, Guy also wrote an article for the NH Business Review. Click the link below to read the complete article:
Got Mold? Buyer Beware!


ARA Teams Up With the American Lung Association of NH

The American Lung Association of New Hampshire sponsored the “Cycle The Seacoast” on May 1st.    Absolute Resource Associates sponsored a team of eleven employees and clients that participated in this years event. Cycling is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. and the “Treks” of the American Lung Association are inspiring weekend rides, attracting dedicated groups of people on philanthropic and physical journeys that tests stamina and willpower.

Absolute Resource Associates sponsors the event to “Promote employee wellness, boost employee morale, have the ARA name tied to the American Lung Association, encourage teamwork, promote community service and most of all socialize and have fun achieving all of the above.”  The American Lung Association had over 300 “TREKKERS”, riding 25, 50 or 100 miles while raising over $100,000 dollars for the cause.  Absolute Resource Associates brought in over $3,200 dollars this year and had a great time doing it!


 

Let ARA Make Life Easier for You!

Many of you already use Absolute Resource Associates’ pre-printed CoCs for your monthly, quarterly or annual sampling events. You know how reliable and convenient it is for ARA to keep track of your sampling schedule and have bottles dropped off in advance of the sampling date.

If you have repeating projects that are not yet on our calendar please contact us today. We can draft a pre-printed CoC for your approval, schedule it according to your calendar and ensure bottle drop off prior to your field work. Contact us today if you’d like to discuss this convenient option for your business!


TRIVIA!

The 3rd person to reply to the Resource Rambler who can tell me how many ‘Cycle the Seacoast’ cyclists were on the ARA Sponsored Team this year will win an ARA water bottle!