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Environmental Consulting

Since 1979, we provide unparalleled environmental services to our clients.

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Occupational Hygiene

Our teams include Certified Industrial Hygenists & Registered Occupational Hygenists.

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Health & Safety

Our training programmes include legislation & working with hazardous materials.

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Hazardous Materials

Our hazardous materials management system includes waste, characterization & audits.

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Category Archives: Services


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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It is spring and the snow is melting – along with it come the leaks and floods. 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.

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.

Request a Consultation
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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