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Environmental Consulting

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Category Archives: Consultant Advice


Keeping Your Cool: Best Practices For Working Safely Under Extreme Temperatures

Posted by in Consultant Advice,Services,Uncategorized | June 5, 2018
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Nice weather has finally arrived and many workers are feeling the heat. It is now the season to expect heat-related illnesses in the workplace. Summer may put many workers at risk of heat stress and seriously injure them. A series of hot and humid days following one another may adversely affect workers who did not previously acclimatize to heat exposure.   Extreme heat directly affects the health of workers, puts their safety at risk with impaired judgment and reduces productivity. This is a significant issue not only for occupational health and safety of people but also for the effectiveness of an organization as a whole. While Heat Stress Prevention Plans are complex and their development is better left to the professionals, every responsible supervisor should know some key facts to manage work in extreme heat on a daily basis.

Did you know?
Loss of consciousness because of heat stroke is classified as a critical injury and is a reportable event under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  

Who is most susceptible to heat stress?

Fortune examined the sectors with the highest risk of heat stress and found that the sectors highest on the list were those with a lot of outdoor work. The top three are workers in government services, agriculture, followed by construction and business service. Government services included workers who maintained parks, fought forest fires and collected trash. Other professions who are inclined to suffer seasonally from this hazard include military personnel, landscapers and hazardous materials abatement contractors. Employers should also look out for new workers on the job. New unacclimatized employees working in manual occupations and ‘young workers’ who may not realize the risks are most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Important note:
There is a range of heat illnesses and they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition.

What contributes to heat-related illness and how to mitigate the hazard?

Environmental factors such as high temperature, high humidity, and radiant heat sources such as direct sunlight, ovens, boilers, steam pipes and engines can contribute to heat stress.  The best way to remedy this is to make the work environment cooler through engineering control measures such as convection, radiant or evaporative heat control measures.

Did you know?
Just 30 minutes of exposure at the temperature of 40 C is enough to cause permanent disability or brain damage.

Administrative controls such as limiting exposure times or temperature, reducing metabolic heat load, enhancing tolerance to heat, screening for heat intolerance, health and safety training and instituting a heat alert or hot weather program are suggested.  Equally important are ensuring personal hydration, acclimatization of employees, controlling work duration times and monitoring the levels of physical exertion as key components of combatting heat-related illnesses. It is considered the next best method to protect workers because it allows employers to proceed with work without eliminating the source of the danger.

Conjointly with administrative controls, Personal Protective Equipment must be reviewed. PPE and protective clothing is the third level of protection from heat stress. Selecting the proper PPE for each situation can dramatically lower the effects of heat – and it is not the only reason to review all PPE use. In hot conditions, PPE that protects workers from other hazards may become uncomfortable and workers may then avoid wearing it. This is an issue that consultants frequently encounter when conducting inspections on job sites. For example, abatement contractors working in enclosures may avoid wearing a full-face air-purifying respirator in hot conditions where a powered air-purifying respirator that provides airflow across the face will be more comfortable.   The impermeable clothing required for abatement work prevents heat exchange from the body to the environment and contributes to heat burden.   Auxiliary body cooling may be required in the form of water-cooled or air-cooled garments or cooling vests.

There is no standard set of measures to prevent heat-related illnesses, so the best solution to comply with regulations and keep workers safe is to establish a Heat Stress Prevention Plan unique to each project or workplace (Ask THEM for assistance). Many physical factors affect the solutions that will be implemented: the age of workers, their state of health and physical fitness, required work tasks and personal protective equipment, as well as available resources – all play a role in finding the right solution. While each situation is unique, all plans share these common elements:

  • Methods to monitor temperature and humidity levels.
  • Description of conditions when heat stress measures should be implemented.
  • Outline of engineering controls and administrative controls.
  • Outline of proper PPE/clothing.
  • Emergency response measures.
  • Training requirements for all workers and supervisors that include the signs, symptoms and prevention of heat stress and how to deal with those risks.

Heat Stress in Indoor Environments

Although heat stress is typically associated with seasonal outdoor work environments, heat can be a year-round hazard in indoor workplaces. Commercial bakeries, kitchens, laundries and environmental abatement sites are just some activities that may be affected. In these workplaces, workers are often near sources of radiant heat or inside buildings with limited cooling capabilities and air movement.

Common question:
Should an individual in an indoor work setting use the same preventive measures for heat stress as someone working in an outdoor setting?

Measures to prevent heat-related illness are similar in both indoor and outdoor environments, but indoor workplaces have additional concerns.  For example, an indoor environment with little airflow may diminish the cooling effects of that sweat provides through evaporation. Nonetheless,  these environments also provide additional opportunities to use engineering control measures.  As with outdoor work environments, it is important to develop a prevention plan to handle the potentially hazardous indoor heat.

About THEM

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. is experienced in assessing workplace factors that may contribute to heat stress/heat strain are able to provide recommendations on engineering and administrative controls. We can help conduct a detailed analysis of work areas regarding clothing properties, worker demands, task times and thermal environment according to the ACGIH threshold limit value as recommended by the Ontario Ministry of Labour. We can help you determine if excessive heat strain is occurring and whether general controls or job-specific heat stress/heat strain controls are required in your workplace.   Please call us to conduct an assessment.

Sources

https://www.iwh.on.ca/newsletters/at-work/73/young-and-new-on-job-most-affected-by-heat-stress-study
http://ohsinsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Protect-Workers-From-Heat-Stress.pdf
https://www.ihsa.ca/topics_hazards/heat_stress_faq.aspx#responsibilities
https://rmehs.fullerton.edu/_documents/programs/HeatIllnessPreventionProgram.pdf
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/prevention.html
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2016-106/pdfs/2016-106.pdf

Underground Storage Tanks: Finding The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Posted by in Consultant Advice,Services,Uncategorized | May 4, 2018
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When warm weather sets in and the real estate season starts, it is the perfect time to detect and assess underground storage tanks (USTs). Underground storage tanks are typically made of bare steel and were an efficient method of fuel storage used in the 1980s and early 1990s [1]. However, the conditions of soil can corrode the bare steel over time and thus lead to the leakage of content from the tank.

Sellers, buyers and property managers can all benefit from proactive UST management or removal. It helps sellers protect the value of their property by ensuring that they are compliant with the laws and that they have addressed any potential risk of contamination. As per the Technical Standard and Safety Authority (TSSA), all existing USTs must be registered with the TSSA and any unused USTs must be properly removed within 2 years by a licensed contractor [2]. For buyers, ensuring that there are no faulty USTs and/or contamination is a prudent strategy to minimize their risk of buying a “lemon” property.  For ongoing management of the property, it is one of the ways to reduce the risk associated with contamination, and consequently, avoid the loss of property value.

Tell-Tale Signs of a UST

Consultants often find that some property owners or managers are unaware of existing USTs at their property until specific events, such as piping inspections, occur. If a property manager knows whether they have an existing UST sitting in their backyard, they are already ahead of the game!

To determine whether a property may have an unregistered UST, T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) suggests the following tips and procedures for managers and owners that are unsure whether a UST is present on their property:

  • Property owners and managers could look for available past records (if any) and/or environmental reports concerning the property for any indications of USTs. Records can be requested from TSSA. Having no records may not always mean that there is no UST on the property.
  • Perform a historical review of the building’s records. USTs are often built for the purpose of building heating. Having a comprehensive history of the heating source and the time that the current HVAC system was installed may indicate whether a UST is present.
  • Perform an exterior building walk around, look for any signs of the following:
  • Unused steel pipes coming out of the ground and going into the building. This could be a transfer pipe of the UST.
  • Broken asphalt may indicate the presence of a large object underground. During seasonal changes, soil temperature may cause the soil to expand and potentially make the UST ‘float’ up in the soil.

THEM has an experienced environmental team that specializes in Underground Storage Tank assessment, removal and remediation in institutional, commercial, residential and industrial sites. Contact THEM for a pre-consultation if the above UST tips were not sufficient to alleviate your doubts about having a UST on your property.

tank

The economic benefit of addressing UST issues

Proactively addressing UST – related issues promotes safe fuel storage, protects the environment and reduces costs in the long term. This is accomplished by ensuring that a company’s actions to mitigate contamination comply with all environmental requirements. Proactive managers benefit from risk reduction. An unregistered abandoned UST tank is not only a violation of regulations but could also reduce property value when it is discovered during a due diligence ESA.

Time is a crucial component: the sooner an ageing and corroding UST system is upgraded or removed – the greater the likelihood that a costly tank leak can be prevented. Therefore, property owners can reduce their financial risks, exposure to enforcement from environmental regulators, and protect themselves from litigation with adjacent property owners (who would otherwise be affected by a leaking tank).

UST assessments in areas prone to extreme weather provide further opportunities to reduce risk. UST systems can be vulnerable to damage and may leak contaminants during extreme weather events. Before returning a UST to service after a disaster, the owner needs to ensure the system is safe to operate. As a result, USTs usually require pre-emptive actions prior to the extreme weather event and an inspection after the event, which is becoming increasingly more common.

Maintaining or removing USTs can reduce the risk of vapour intrusion, and consequently, help avoid the costs associated with addressing it. Vapour intrusion occurs when contaminants infiltrate from subsurface sources into indoor spaces of a building. This can occur if leftover substances in the UST, such as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel, turn into petroleum hydrocarbons and enter a building as vapours. Preventing such intrusion helps improve safety (e.g. avoid explosions) and possibly adversely affecting the health of building tenants. Well-water and vapour intrusion are probably the most critical threats to human health from UST releases.

The social benefit of addressing UST issues

Maintaining or removing USTs is more than compliance and risk reduction – it is a socially responsible and sustainable thing to do. It can benefit human health, improve ecosystem functions, add to aesthetic values, and make land more productive. Cleanup of UST contamination potentially increases the amount of urban land available for redevelopment, and it can reduce the pressure for development of new land parcels. This can help preserve green spaces and shorten commute times. Taking care of USTs also reduces human exposure to contaminants. It results in reduced health risks to employees as well as nearby residents, who may consume well water or become exposed to vapours. To top it all off, old UST sites such as vacant gas stations with suspect contamination, are often visually unappealing and reduce the desirability or curb appeal of that site or area. Restoring such a site can make the community and businesses around it flourish, earning the company who did it a portion of goodwill.  These are just some of the benefits of taking care of USTs – and it all starts with being proactive in the detection and assessment of USTs.

Bibliography

[1] U. E. P. A. (EPA), Technical Standards and Corrective Action Requirements for Owners and Operators of Underground Storage Tanks (UST)., Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

[2]”TSSA Storage Tank,” Technical Standard Safety Association, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.tssa.org/en/fuels/storage-tanks.aspx. [Accessed 22 April 2018].

 “Prevention, Cleanup, and Reuse Benefits From the Federal UST Program”, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Center for Environmental Economics, Robin R. Jenkins, Dennis Guignet and Patrick J. Walsh, 2014 [Online] Available: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-01/documents/prevention_cleanup_and_reuse_benefits_from_the_federal_ust_program.pdf [Accessed: 01 May 2018]

Don’t Give a Cold Shoulder to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Management

Posted by in Consultant Advice,Services,Uncategorized | March 26, 2018
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Maintaining good indoor air quality is often a challenge during spring and fall. The increased likelihood of poor IAQ during shoulder seasons is a result of a combination of poor ventilation, moisture and airtight insulation in buildings. The HVAC’s primary purpose is to maintain good indoor air quality and adequate air supply.  During the shoulder seasons, it is on average neither hot nor cold, so the HVAC is not activated by the thermostat to correct the temperatures. As a result, the building may not receive a sufficient daily circulation of fresh air and accumulate pollutants from repair projects, cleaning procedures and simple daily activities.

Poor Indoor Air Quality can have consequences ranging from loss of productivity in the workplace to serious health challenges for building occupants. Eye and upper airway irritation are a common result of poor IAQ and are among the top symptoms reported in office questionnaire studies. To maintain optimum health it is important to lower the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your environment. There are two ways of achieving this: to eliminate the source of indoor air pollution and to increase the amount of incoming clean air.

Eliminating the sources of indoor air pollution:

  • Monitor humidity and water infiltration: Dry Air, Mould & Bacteria

Regulating humidity levels will help make tenants comfortable and minimise health issues. During shoulder season, testing your IAQ will help monitor the environment for the development of mould allergens associated with high humidity levels and help prevent problems of dry skin, airways, and lips associated with low humidity levels. If you suspect mould you can visually assess your building and have your IAQ tested for mould spores. The correct level of humidity also prevents cracks in wood, helping the building and furniture in it last longer. To keep humidity within comfort ranges, the building should have humidity sensors in the thermostat or a separate hygrometer system that can control humidification separately.

  • Consider your building materials: VOCs, asbestos, formaldehyde and lead

In addition to passive health and comfort concerns, spring is the season for renovations and property maintenance. Make sure you know the building materials and property issues so that you avoid exposing building tenants to further health risks. Some building materials may contain substances such as asbestos and lead that pose a health risk if they are disturbed or improperly handled. New materials that are installed in the building may also contribute to indoor air pollution by off-gassing formaldehyde and other Volatile Organic Compounds. To learn more about VOCs and Designated Substances, visit our Hazardous Materials page.

Increasing the amount of incoming clean air:

Studies have found significant direct effects of ventilation rates on health and on increases in some allergy and asthma symptoms in buildings with less ventilation. Another study estimated that increases in building airtightness without compensating measures could increase indoor radon concentrations by 57%.

  • Create a sufficient exchange of clean air

Improving ventilation with outdoor air can make IAQ better, but only if the incoming air is cleaner than the indoor air. Often this is not the case, and ventilation worsens IAQ. Poor outdoor air quality can be a result of elevated outdoor contaminant levels, motor vehicle exhaust from nearby roadways and contaminants from adjacent buildings. In these cases increased air ventilation may be counterproductive unless it is accompanied by the appropriate and effective increase in air filtration and cleaning.

  • Consider IAQ during building performance improvements

Building owners and managers often miss the opportunity to improve IAQ and energy efficiency during routine renovations. Renovations are a great opportunity to improve IAQ if it is integrated into the project. Yet, efforts to achieve high levels of building performance without consideration for IAQ can lead to problems. Some common measures that can potentially affect IAQ are envelope tightening and the addition of insulation to the building envelope, all of which reduces air ventilation. A consultant can help evaluate the IAQ needs for your project or at the very least tell you if it is necessary to consider a consultation.

  • Keep pesticides, pollen & other outdoor pollutants in mind

Spring is the season for increased allergen levels in the outdoor environment. Paying close attention to the substances and plants in your landscape can also help with indoor air issues. Building managers often overlook the fact that every time a door opens in the building, outdoor air pollutants such as pollen enter the building’s air supply. Therefore, plants and pollutants near your building can affect tenant health. Managers should evaluate landscaping and vent placements to determine what is potentially entering their building. Additionally, you can integrate low-allergen plants and fertilizers to make sure tenants are protected.

  • Maintain your HVAC system

Everything in the building air will eventually end up in the indoor air duct system, caught in the air filters of the HVAC system or built up inside the HVAC system itself.  As a result, a poorly maintained HVAC system may introduce pollutants every time it starts. This is a particular concern in spring and fall since the system starts and stops more frequently. To safely remove the accumulated debris, maintain your HVAC system and change filters frequently.

Sources:

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/

https://www.epa.gov/mold

http://www.phamnews.co.uk/the-danger-of-airtight-buildings/

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/home-garden-safety/pollutants-furniture-building-materials.html

https://www.onhealth.com/content/1/indoor_air_pollution

https://www.onhealth.com/content/1/asthma_lung_inflammation

https://medlineplus.gov/indoorairpollution.html

https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/56023.pdf

https://medlineplus.gov/asbestos.html

https://medlineplus.gov/leadpoisoning.html

Tips to address floods and water damage

Posted by in Consultant Advice,Services,Uncategorized | March 26, 2018
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Floods and the associated water damage that often follows can be unexpected and often times devastating financially. When water finds its way into a building as a result of precipitation or a mechanical failure, it can be a challenging experience both emotionally and financially. If severe flooding occurs, it is important to act quickly and effectively mitigate any damages. While it is tempting to wait and see what happens or to try to fix the situation on your own, it is important to know how a professional can assist in addressing flood and water damage right away.

Tips for mitigating against further damage:

Moisture only needs a few hours to cause critical damage to materials in a home or workplace. When any type of water loss or damage occurs, the amount of time a material stays wet is the most crucial factor in determining the damage sustained, and whether or not the material can be restored. The longer you wait – the more damaged your property can become! Responding quickly decreases the likelihood of substantial mould growth, which can further damage the building materials and cause potentially adverse health effects to building occupants.

Flood waters and sewage backups are a health risk, as they may carry with them a lot of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Any contact with these microorganisms can be especially dangerous for at-risk building occupants such as seniors and children. If the water is contaminated, it is safer to let professionals handle the cleanup. Professional companies possess the proper safety equipment for these situations and are trained on how to protect both themselves and the building occupants from these hazards.

Learn more about Mould and Floods

Choosing a qualified water damage professional:

In addition to contacting your insurance company, the first call to make in a water damage situation should be to a qualified water damage professional service. Finding a company that can respond quickly, provide a full range of services, and is available 24/7 is the first crucial step in response to any water damage or flood situation. Water damage professionals have an extensive selection of technology at their disposal. They are equipped with specialized vacuums and pumping systems, dehumidifiers, air movers and moisture metres to assess and effectively dry building components, and chemicals required to destroy mould and fungi growth. To ensure quality of work, choose IICRC-certified water damage professionals. IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) assures the company possesses the most up to date training and is equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively handle your specific situation. The IICRC maintains a Certified Firm registrant-only database, making it easy to find a professional in your neighbourhood.

Looking for a restoration professional? Request a free consultation!

What can an EHS professional do?

An Environmental, Health and Safety professional can assist in evaluating the damage and determine cleaning/drying procedures in situations with extensive mould growth or other severe public health concerns, such as buildings with high-risk occupants. This will help outline the specific scope of work for the restoration contractor and ensure all the necessary work completed without any extras. Additionally, EHS professionals can also provide post-remediation testing and analysis ensure the effectiveness of remediation and restoration activities. This gives you both records of completed work, as well as the peace of mind that your home or building was restored quickly and safely.

Mind the Gap: Recognizing women’s unique OHS needs.

Posted by in Consultant Advice,Uncategorized | February 28, 2018
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Today, women are becoming more numerous in the global workforce and are moving into traditionally male-dominated industries. A half a decade ago, industries like construction, property management, maintenance and production management could not boast of many female employees. Today, even though women’s representation in many of these industries is still under 10 percent, the number is rapidly growing.   For employers who want to recruit and retain staff, building an inclusive workplace culture that supports employees across differences in race, class, and gender is crucial to success. The knowledge and skills to do this are frequently missing in many work environments.

This poses a range of gender-related questions about the different effects of work-related risks on men and women. For example, women have different exposure limits and protections when it comes to hazardous substances, biological agents, the physical demands of heavy work and ergonomic design. Occupational health and safety regulations have traditionally focused on dangerous jobs in sectors dominated by male workers. As a result, OSH standards and exposure limits to hazardous substances are often based on male populations and laboratory tests. The risks to men workers are better known and addressed and OSH hazards affecting women have been traditionally under-estimated. These factors can affect the bottom line by lowering retention rates, reducing morale and increased absenteeism. There are also the direct and indirect costs of complaint investigations that must be considered. Below we outline just some of the issues that can be beneficial to address and to improve women’s well-being in the workplace.

PPE:

Women in non-traditional employment frequently face health and safety risks due to the equipment and clothing provided to them at their workplace. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing (PPC) are often designed for average-sized men. This poses both health hazards as the protective function of PPE/PPC may be reduced when they do not fit female workers properly. For example, poorly fitting respirators may not protect adequately against chemicals, loose clothing can be caught in machinery or overly large boots can cause tripping. Furthermore, many women may find the poorly fitting equipment uncomfortable and put themselves at risk by refusing to wear it.

In recent years, many manufacturers have been making PPE that fit women, but it is rare and expensive. Many employers do not make the right PPE available for women and are resistant to women bringing their own PPE. Providing PPE in a wide range of sizes would benefit both workers and employers.

Ergonomics:

Researchers and employers find that women have gender-specific musculoskeletal problems. For example, their shorter hands and lower grip strength as compared to men frequently make standard hand tools too large. In addition, many women may have less upper body strength than men, which leads to back problems when lifting heavy objects. As a solution, making tools available in smaller sizes to accommodate women and adapting lifting demands for women as well as men across your business can help. Being aware of similar issues and addressing them is an important step to an inclusive workplace.

Cancer:

Workplace exposures to hazardous substances can play a role in the development of cervical and breast cancer. NIOSH is conducting studies of women exposed to the following hazardous substances to determine whether there is a link to cancers: Ethylene oxide and Perchloroethylene. These chemicals are widely used in industries where women are the dominant workforce.

Reproductive Hazards and Chemical Exposure:

The effects of potential occupational hazards on women’s reproductive health have increased in recent years as more environmental hazards are identified and as more women enter the paid workforce.  A range of occupational reproductive hazards has been documented but a large number of possible risks still require further examination.

Solvent levels that are considered safe for adults may affect IQ of the fetus. The unborn child’s brain is much more sensitive than the adult brain. According to research, children born to mothers exposed to solvents in the workplace appear to have significant developmental problems such as lower IQs, compromised language and memory skills, inattentiveness and hyperactivity. This information suggests that current workplace exposure limits may not be good enough and employers should do everything possible to help women minimize such exposures. Women with occupational exposure to toxic chemicals are in general highly vulnerable to adverse reproductive health outcomes. Medical experts warn that there is sufficiently robust evidence to support that exposure to chemicals during pregnancy leads to adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes. And the risks are highest for those exposed at work.

The issue is not solely about women and pregnancy. Father’s exposures are also relevant. Prenatal exposure to certain chemicals has been documented to increase the risk of cancer in childhood. For example, adult male exposure to pesticides is linked to altered semen quality, sterility, and prostate cancer. Postnatal exposure to some pesticides can interfere with all developmental stages of reproductive function in adult females.

Chemical exposures are not the only concerns. Factors that have a cumulative effect on risk include working night hours, irregular or shiftwork schedule, standing, lifting loads, noise, and high psychological demand coupled with low social support . The researchers say eliminating these factors before the 24th week of pregnancy can bring the odds of impairment down to those of unexposed women.  Exposure to a range of workplace risks in pregnancy can increase the likelihood of having an under-sized infant, according to a new report in the American Journal of Public Health. Additionally, working night shifts in the first three months was linked to a doubling of a woman’s risk of early labour.

Employers should improve recognition of women’s reproductive health in workplace policy and processes. This is necessary to both provide assurances to women that women can discuss their needs with employers and to provide managers and employers with tools to support them. We encourage employers to review policies and processes around occupational health and safety to ensure that these health conditions are taken into account. In particular, employers should ensure that occupational health practitioners recognise women’s reproductive issues during risk assessments.

Sources:

Meet the Expert: Mr. Chris Nielsen, B.Sc., P. Geo. (Limited), QPesa

Posted by in Consultant Advice,meet the expert | January 23, 2018
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We are very pleased to announce that Mr. Chris Nielsen, B.Sc., P. Geo. (Limited), QPESA, is taking over the role of Vice President – Eastern Canada. 

Mr. Nielsen is a senior environmental consultant, geoscientist, project manager and leader with more than 30 years of progressive experience in environmental site assessment, remediation, hazardous materials management and health & safety consulting.  Chris has led environmental groups in two international corporations where he was responsible for day-to-day operations, budgeting, staff retention and mentoring and the overall business operations of the groups.  Mr. Nielsen has managed multiple large projects in a variety of client sectors and has strong expertise in client relations, project budgeting, scheduling, delivery and supporting systems development in residential, commercial, institutional, industrial and public sector settings.

In his work, he demonstrates subject-matter expertise and exhibits strong resource leadership among large projects, including a $2.5 million environmental site assessment on a former military base, asbestos surveys of 1,900 buildings throughout Ontario, a large site assessment and remediation project on the Niagara Escarpment, and many smaller projects involving mould, asbestos, lead and other Designated Substances as well as contaminated properties.

Chris is an active volunteer, mentoring new professional geoscientists through a program organized by the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario, and is currently the President of Muskies Canada Sport Fishing & Research Inc., a not-for-profit volunteer conservation organization.

Meet the Expert: Richard Quenneville, B.Sc., CIH, ROH

Posted by in Consultant Advice,Services,Uncategorized | December 22, 2017
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Richard Quenneville, B.Sc. (Chem.), is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and a Registered Occupational Hygienist (ROH) with over 30 years of experience. He has been a successful external occupational hygiene consultant for the past 14 years. Currently, he is the Senior Director of Corporate Services for T. Harris Environmental Management Inc.  Before joining our company, most of his work was in telecommunications, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries in both union and non-union environments. Richard has thrived in local, regional and international EHS positions for companies such as Nortel Networks and GlaxoSmithKline.

Richard is recognized for his excellent professional performance. He is a recipient of the OHAO Hugh Nelson Award for Excellence in Occupational Hygiene and past president for the Occupational Hygiene Association of Ontario. As an expert, he often speaks at conferences and takes an active role in developing industry best practices.

Richard has a broad base of professional knowledge. He is an expert in risk assessment, occupational exposure assessment strategies, exposure modeling and statistical analysis of sampling data.  He is also a subject matter specialist in asbestos, lead, silica, isocyanates, nanomaterials, welding, heat stress, legionella and many other assessment strategies  including dermal exposure and biological exposure monitoring.

Richard develops workplace strategies that are tailored to address only the hazards that you need to evaluate.  He can help your business with an occupational exposure sampling strategy that is concise and practical. With a combination of modeling and / or on-site sampling, his strategies will maximize the benefits of the evaluation relative to the costs and respect your budget. Richard can also deliver occupational health and safety training that directly meets your worker training requirements.

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The Smell Of The Holidays Is In The Air – 6 Tips to Keep It Fresh!

Posted by in Consultant Advice,Services | December 15, 2017
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Christmas Day is the most toxic day of the year to be at home. Families could breathe in as many harmful particles as if they stood all morning on a busy road in London, UK. People count on good building management to insure that that fumes from the ovens, fireplaces and party poppers are not the highlights of their holiday parties. So, what is a property manager to do?

  1. Keep the air flowing.

With all of the festive cooking and decorations, hazardous particles are bound to spread around your well-insulated building. They have the potential of giving your tenants and their guests flu-like symptoms and allergies. Electric stoves, for example, emit ultrafine particles smaller than 100 nanometres in size, studies show. They can get deep into our respiratory systems and cause inflammatory effects. Speak of bad timing to fall ill!

To prevent this, make sure your ventilation is set to deliver a sufficient amount of clean air from the great outdoors. According to a Survey on Minimum Ventilation Rate of Residential Buildings the most common Air Change, based on the sample set evaluated, was 0.5 air changes per hour. This means that half of the indoor air should be replaced by fresh air every hour, or in other words that all air should be replaced 12 times per day. This is for the health of both buildings and people.

holiday tree spreads mould

  1. Ditch the Mouldy Christmas Tree.

Researchers discovered that mould spore levels can increase up to five times the normal level within a two week span with the presence of a natural Christmas tree. No wonder many people tend to get the holiday “flu”. Mould sensitivity is a known cause of allergies and asthma attacks. To keep your tenants healthy, go for the artificial tree, or just ditch it altogether.

If you must have a natural Christmas tree in building, here is how to reduce its ill effects:

  • Clean the trunk with water and bleach.
  • Get rid of any surface particles before you bring it indoors.
  • Set the tree up later and dispose of it as soon as possible. Mould spores increase with time.

With tenants spending more time indoors, it is a good idea to do an overall Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Test and step into the New Year with your building smelling fresh!

Contact us for an IAQ Assessment Today

  1. Leave Old Decorations in the Attic.

Vintage ornaments might be the most dangerous. When the dangers of asbestos were still undiscovered, its heat resistance made it perfect for Christmas tree decorations and sprinkles. The oldest decorations made in 1920s to 1970s, may still have small amounts of asbestos.

On a separate note, dust from insulation (i.e. vermiculite) in the attic or from hanging decorations can also contain asbestos. If your home is old and you have not tested for asbestos, be extra careful. The children in the home are most vulnerable when it comes to asbestos dust. They have a higher breathing rate and will inhale more of the fibers. Younger kids breathe in dust when they play on the floor or with the ornaments. If in doubt, leave the decorations in the attic, where the asbestos is better left undisturbed, and get asbestos tested soon.

  1. Stop Spraying Snow.

While asbestos is not an ingredient in modern snow sprays, they contain acetone or methylene chloride. Inhaling these chemicals can cause respiratory reactions, headaches and nausea. Longer or more concentrated exposures can be more serious. Both your tenants and your employees are safer without this stuff. If you are dead set on making snow happen, use proper PPE.

  1. Avoid Air Fresheners and Cut Out the Candles.

Lighting candles and spraying a festive air freshener are two simple ways people make their homes feel cozier during winter. Air fresheners produce airborne contaminants that irritate the respiratory system.

There is a dark side to candles too. Colour pigments can release metals when the candle burns and soot is produced when the candle flame flickers. These particles and soot have health impacts.

  1. Leave Lead Lights Alone.

Cornell researchers found that many Christmas light sets contain such elevated levels of lead, meaning that they exceed limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lead could be ingested from hand-to-mouth contact after handling the lights or released into the air during installation and removal. Since lead is especially dangerous for children, we recommend that children are not permitted to touch the lights. As a basic safely rule, anyone who handles Christmas lights should wash their hands immediately afterwards.


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Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4060468/Why-Christmas-worst-day-year-air-pollution-home-fumes-roast-log-fires-party-poppers.html#ixzz515GTfss2

http://blog.lindab.com/5-facts-about-indoor-air-quality

https://homeairguides.com/air/7-things-youre-bringing-home-that-worsen-winter-indoor-air-quality/

https://calpoison.org/news/holiday-safety-tips

http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2008/11/tis-season-beware-lead-christmas-lights