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Richard Nelligan: Celebrating a Career of Success and Dedication.

January 29, 2018
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We are at once delighted and disheartened to announce that Mr. Richard Nelligan, Vice President – Eastern Canada, will be retiring as of January 31, 2018. Richard has been a consummate professional and we truly appreciate his dedication and commitment to making THEM Ottawa in particular, and THEM as a whole a better company. Many successful projects that we recognize as the backbone for T. Harris Environmental Management (THEM) were a reflection of his recognized expertise and experience in large-scale private, historical and government sensitive projects.  He has been involved with some of the largest, most diverse and complex projects in Canada.  Richard has been a tremendous part of our team by sharing this knowledge with all his fellow team members. In addition to his high level of competence and skill, he has achieved great camaraderie with his rare sense of humour.

Richard has provided THEM with over 30 years of devoted service and we treasure his commitment. His industry knowledge and his wide range of expertise have been invaluable. In his projects, he demonstrated expertise in all aspects of asbestos technology, consulting and environmental hazard abatement. His track record of success with large hazardous materials abatement projects and in consulting for a variety of ICI clients underlines his extraordinary professionalism.

Throughout his career, Richard has contributed to every aspect of the industry from policy development to building relationships with clients. He liaised with private clients and government agencies regarding hazard assessments and recommendations on abatement projects. He was involved in every work aspect of environmental consulting services for large-scale construction projects including hazardous materials survey reports, budget estimates, hazmat abatement tender documents and drawings, submittals reviews, inspection, monitoring, progress payments and contract administration.

Richard’s retirement is our loss, but a well-deserved new beginning for him. We wish Mr. Nelligan well as he sets off to enjoy his retirement.

The growth and development of the entire THEM organization is the ultimate goal. Chris Nielsen has been named as Richard Nelligan`s successor in the role of Vice President-Eastern Canada. Chris has been working closely with Richard and he is now excited to continue his efforts with THEM in an expanded role. Chris is committed to furthering our opportunities in Ottawa as well as continuing to support other offices with their environmental challenges and opportunities.

 

Don’t Hold Your Breath: Managing IAQ in the Hospitality Industry

January 23, 2018
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As hotels rush to accommodate the health and environmental concerns of their patrons, they cannot ignore the rising universal concern with indoor air quality (IAQ). As healthy living is the new trend, travellers are paying more and more attention to IAQ-related health concerns and the benefits of clean air. According to a study by the International Hotel and Restaurant Association, more than two-thirds of frequent travellers are concerned about air quality. Sixty percent indicated that they had suffered poor sleep, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, headache, cough or sore throat because of staying in a hotel room with poor indoor air quality.

Poor air quality in hotels is a service, financial and marketing issue. Consider people with respiratory problems. The American Lung Association estimates that 3 out of 5 people suffer from respiratory difficulties. This translates into an average of one person per family. Often travellers will not complain about a poor environment or a room that aggravates their allergies, but these guests will not return and will not recommend it to others. Their symptoms are a direct result of poor indoor air quality. The typical symptoms that travellers experience are sore throats, headaches, running nose and itchy eyes. Given that many of us spend up to 90% of our time indoors, this is an important issue.

Contact a professional to evaluate your IAQ

 

Reasons to monitor your IAQ:

  • The obligation to ensure you are not creating a risk to public health. The mere mention of the word “contamination” is scary for most people involved in commercial building management. This is a reasonable reaction, because while contaminant outbreaks carry the possibility of deadly consequences.
  • Improving guest satisfaction. For general health, well-being and safety reasons, customers require good indoor air quality and environment.
  • Upholding staff productivity. Guests are not the only occupants likely to suffer health effects – staff spend their working hours in the same environment. They cannot work efficiently and effectively if they are uncomfortable. With poor indoor air quality, employers may face high health insurance and workers’ compensation costs as well as low worker productivity and frequent absenteeism. Healthier buildings can boost employee productivity by approximately 15%(Bergs, 2018)
  • Reduce operating costs (and carbon dioxide emissions) through lower energy consumption with proper humidity and maintenance.
  • Increase revenues. Customers who are satisfied with indoor air quality and comfort of their hotels are likely to return.

Start Monitoring Your IAQ Today

 

Issues that can have an adverse effect on your IAQ:

  • Poor ventilation as a result of energy efficiency measures
  • Off-gassing VOCs from building materials
  • Water damage which may lead to mould growth
  • Chemical contaminants
  • Smoking guests
  • Poor air quality within indoor swimming pool areas

 

5 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Get your IAQ assessed by a professional.

If in-house efforts have not solved your indoor air quality concerns or if you want to verify that you are on the right track, you should contact a professional indoor air quality consultant. Even when you think you have found the source of the issue, verification may require specialized sampling methods, as well as professional experts to interpret the test results correctly and provide recommendations on how to rectify the issues. Engaging a consultant is especially important when indoor air quality concerns escalate. An independent investigation will develop a credible analysis and actionable recommendations that all stakeholders can trust. Contact a professional for a consultation.

Be aware of pollution in your air.

Although society tends to think of air pollution as an outdoor issue, indoor air can be worse. With an increased air tightness and other energy efficiency strategies, indoor air circulation is frequently restricted and pollutants remain trapped in your indoor environment. The way to improve this is to focus on ventilation. Strategies such as heat recovery can provide fresh air without the loss of heat. Regularly maintaining your HVAC systems and changing air filters is also key. To check if your efforts are providing sufficient results, routinely get your IAQ tested by a professional at least once per year.

Watch out for VOCs.

Do your research if you have any questions about what is going on your walls and into your renovations. Materials like carpeting, paint and vinyl can release harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Check with manufacturers to find materials that minimize chemical off-gassing and use low-VOC paint for interior design.

Keep humidity between 20%-60%.

Mould can produce allergens and mycotoxins, which have adverse health effects. Health effects range from allergy-like reactions (even in non-allergic people) to asthma attacks. Long periods of low relative humidity can cause dryness of the skin and mucous membranes, which may lead to chapping and irritation. High humidity levels can result in condensation within the building structure and on the interior or exterior surfaces and subsequently lead to the development of fungal growth.

Clean with care.

Many everyday cleaners contain fragrances that make things smell ‘clean’, and these can aggravate respiratory problems.  With advances in chemical-free cleaning, it is possible to use HEPA vacuuming, steam and engineered water to reduce chemical use and thus avoid adverse effects on indoor air quality.

Contact a professional for a consultation

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Sources:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB92964886728798185

http://lodgingmagazine.com/how-to-improve-hotel-indoor-air-quality/

http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/hotelezra/hiaq.pdf

http://www.greenhotelier.org/our-themes/indoor-air-quality/

http://www.iklimnet.com/expert_hvac/air_quality_hospitality.html

http://reachforthewall.com/2018/01/06/when-the-pool-makes-you-sick/

https://facilityexecutive.com/2017/06/green-cleaning-to-safeguard-health/

 

Evict Radon With Professional Help.

January 23, 2018
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 4 Reasons For a Professional Radon Test

It is odourless, tasteless, invisible and dangerous – it is radon gas. According to Health Canada, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the only way to know if it is in your building is to test. While there is no current specific legal requirement to test for radon, more and more commercial tenants are employers and are requesting their spaces to be tested. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is the employer’s duty to keep their employees safe from occupational exposures. However, the only way for an employer to know if they are compliant with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) or the Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) Guidelines is to have their work environment tested. As a result, proactive property managers who have completed this testing are gaining a market advantage. We see highly proactive property management firms completing radon assessments as a part of their BOMA Best applications.

When it comes to radon testing, there are short-term and long-term testing DIY kits available. Short-term tests only provide insight as to radon levels during the short time of testing, while long-term tests, allow you to track the levels of radon over an extended period. Short-term testing is prone to missing spikes in radon exposure, whereas long-term testing captures them. It may be prudent to use both types of testing kits because many different variables affect radon levels, and they can fluctuate at different times of the year.

It is good to know the option is always there to test for radon gas on your own, but in most situations, including property management, it is probably better to hire a C-NRPP-certified radon measurement professional. If you hire a professional, they will oversee the testing process and handle the samples appropriately as to exclude the possibility of compromising the integrity of the test.

Get Your Building Professionally Tested

Here are some of the advantages to hiring a radon professional:

1 . Ensures correct testing process and placement. Radon testing can be complicated. The results can be easily swayed by many different variables: preparation of the sampling media, sample collection, processing, packaging and transportation of samples when tests are completed. Accordingly, there are many ways it could go wrong at every stage from setup to time of analysis. Simple things like opening doors or windows, setting up the testing kit for a too short of a time or failing to seal the test kit well for shipment, can cause inaccurate results. C-NRPP certified professionals comply with recognized standards of practice to protect public health and safety.

2 . Unbiased third-party validation results. While most property managers are honest and hard-working professionals, they can still encounter challenges in gaining credibility with their tenants. A third-party licensed, professional test ensures that there is no question about the quality of results.

3 . Transfer of risk and assurance of legal compliance. Both the provincial and federal governments are considering laws to make radon testing mandatory. Using knowledgeable and licensed professionals ensures that you are protected from any errors and omissions.

4 . Actionable recommendations. Once you have the results from the lab, what are you to do with this knowledge? Unlike a test result, radon professionals are able to provide a property manager with a report containing actionable recommendations. This report will specify the scope of any remediation work, save you hours of research and the risk of making any mistakes.

Get Your Building Professionally Tested

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

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.

CASE STUDY 1: EVALUATION OF A CHEMICAL MIXTURE

December 22, 2017
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As companies innovate and redevelop products, a change in the manufacturing process or an introduction of a new process are becoming common occurrences.  These changes can involve the introduction of complex chemical mixtures. The use of complex chemical mixtures poses many safety challenges. Frequent questions include:

  • Can workers be overexposed by inhalation?
  • Is the mixture a flammability hazard?
  • How do I measure exposure?
  • Are engineering controls adequate?

For the best results, company should engage a safety professional to evaluate if a chemical mixture is safe to use.

Contact T. Harris Environmental Management for a consultation

The Story:

The client company, a small innovator in the food industry, has implemented new processes. When the executives suspected that their new production process was causing a possible overexposure issue, they looked for a niche expert in occupational hygiene. As a small producer in a competitive market, they had a small budget to spend and a tall order of expectations to meet.

The goal of the client company is to be a quality local alternative to imported items in their category. As a result, they were looking for a solution that would guarantee that their product and process remain safe for consumers and workers. As a part of the overall corporate strategy, ensuring occupational safety was more than just a legal precaution – it helped gain a competitive edge. Importers could not guarantee worker safety in their production facilities and did not provide insight into product safety. Overall, the company was aiming for a certified niche expert who could understand and ensure the safety of their operations. The solution had to be (1) cost-effective, yet (2) timely and (3) professional. The executives chose THEM as a reliable consultant with proven expertise and a history of success since 1979.

The Challenge:

This project required THEM to assess the potential occupational exposure to a paint primer.  A paint primer is a complex mixture of chemicals. Current assessment techniques and laws for chemicals tend to focus on potential exposure to individual chemicals, mostly considering only a single source. This practice is concerning, because, as a result, manufacturers rarely examine potential risks of these chemicals in combination. Although, scientists and regulators develop and apply methodologies for assessing the combination effects of chemicals, so far there is no systematic, consistent, comprehensive and integrated approach across different pieces of legislation.

Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) are experts in advance sampling strategies and other exposure determinants to assess what is significant or important with respect to a chemical mixture in order facilitate professional judgement on assessing the safety of the mixture.

Contact T. Harris Environmental Management for a consultation

Evaluating Occupational Exposure to Paint Primer

Finding the Focus: Currently, in the production processes, the variety of chemicals and their possible combinations is so great that it neither realistic nor useful to test every combination. Where do we begin in assessing the complex mixture of paint primer?   The assessment begins with a qualitative step to prioritize exposures to minimize the need for the sampling.

A quick look at SDS: Looking at the manufacturer’s safety data sheet (SDS), consultants determined that this primer paint contains three main volatile solvent ingredients in the coating mixture: (83-93%) 1-methoxypropyl-2-acetate, (<4%) 2-methoxypropyl-1-acetate and (2-7%) ethanol.  The remaining ingredients are proprietary polymers with no vapour pressure according to the SDS. They do not contribute to the volatile organic compounds and can be left out of the vapour pressure analysis of the mixture.

Further analysis/modelling: Using the AIHA[1] fundamental heuristics of Rule-of-Ten (ROT) and Vapour Hazard Ratio (VHR) the consultant can assess complex solvent mixtures.

The Rule-of-Ten correlates the fraction of saturated vapour pressure with the level of control.   The fraction of saturation is an approximation of the 95th percentile  and should not be considered an absolute exposure level but rather be used as a tool to provide the correct order of magnitude of exposure.

Vapour Hazard Ratio (VHR) is an indication of the potential of the agent to exceed acceptable airborne levels. The American Industrial Hygiene Association have linked VHR to the required level of ventilation control necessary to maintain the 95th percentile exposure below the agent’s occupational exposure limit to assure worker exposures are acceptable.   The significance of exposure is related to both tendency for a material to vapourize and levels of concentration in the air that can cause harmful effects.

Table 1.Vapour Hazard Ratio Linked to Ventilation

Table 1 associates ranges in VHR with the required level of ventilation control necessary to assure worker exposures are acceptable.

Finding the controlling component: Depending on partial pressures and concentration, the controlling compound with the highest adjusted VHR can be determined in a chemical mixture. If occupational exposure air monitoring shows that the controlling ingredient is below the occupational exposure limit, then all chemical ingredients will be in control. If such an ingredient is identified, it can drastically limit the need for multiple chemical air sampling and the site can focus on the only on the controlling compound.

Using Raoult’s Law for ideal solutions the consultant is able to calculate partial pressures for each chemical ingredient in the solvent mixture and then determine the adjusted vapour hazard ratios. With this method, consultants calculated that of the three volatile solvent ingredients present in the mixture, 1-methoxypropyl-2-acetate, also commonly known as propylene glycol methyl ether acetate, has the highest adjusted vapour hazard ratio of 0.062 and was the controlling component for occupational exposure monitoring.    This VHR corresponds to a Vapour Hazard Ratio Scale of 2 from Table 1, which indicates that good general ventilation between 6 – 12 air changes per hour is the required level of ventilation to control occupational exposure to this paint primer.

Determining the necessary ventilation control measures:  If we use the corrected vapour pressures for the ingredients to calculate the saturation vapour concentrations for each ingredient and multiply by the fraction of saturation value for each level of control from the Rule of Ten, we get the following relative risk determination based on ventilation control as per Table 2 below.

 

Table 2. Saturated Vapour Pressure Calculation & Relative Risk Determination By Ventilation Control Parameters (Rule-of-10)

These calculations showed that confined space ventilation conditions (very limited) are required before the three chemical ingredients exceed the occupational exposure limits.   Even under poor ventilation conditions (< 6 air changes per hour), occupational exposures to this solvent mixture would be acceptable.

 

Technical Outcomes:

1. THEM were able to demonstrate to the client that 1-methoxypropyl-2-acetate is the controlling solvent in this mixture. If air sampling is to be conducted, then this is the chemical ingredient that should be measured thus saving the client money on analytical costs for the other two chemical ingredients.

2. THEM showed that general good ventilation of 6 – 12 air changes per hour would control occupational exposures below the occupational exposure limit.

3. THEM found that concentrations in a confined space would not exceed the ethanol LEL of 3.3% (33,000 ppm) or of 1-methoxypropyl-2-acetate)  LEL of 1.3% (13,000 ppm) (78°C) and the paint primer is not an explosion hazard.

Sources:

https://books.google.ca/books?id=ZWiZsjnpyXMC&pg=PA280&lpg=PA280&dq=Exposure+Potential+%E2%80%93+%22Rule+of+10%22&source=bl&ots=8d69FysNDF&sig=r3ziOTYgR6ZKPHoJHl8Fu29vB7o&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwirtKqcloXYAhWjTd8KHcORA_4Q6AEILzAB#v=onepage&q=Exposure%20Potential%20%E2%80%93%20%22Rule%20of%2010%22&f=false

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1278475/

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/effects/effects_en.htm 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273230016301337

References:

[1] S. Jahn, W. Bullock, J. Ignacio – A Strategy for Assessing and Managing Occupational Exposures – 4th Edition, American Industrial Hygiene Association, Chap. 26, p. 335-348, 2015

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

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!

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

 

Article Summary: A natural strain of fungus could clean oil spills and return life to Alberta’s oilsands

October 30, 2017
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About 800 square kilometers of Alberta’s Athabasca oilsands are covered in coarse tailings. Contaminated, lacking nutrients and resistant to absorbing water, it is a hostile environment to both plants and soil microbes. It is rare for even weedy plants take root. One of these, a dandelion, was discovered growing naturally on a coarse tailings site. A unique strain of fungus was isolated from its roots.  The researchers soon found that when its spores are applied to plants, those plants grow and thrive on coarse tailings – it is in symbiosis with a plant. This fungus has the ability to eat the hydrocarbons and help the plant survive in these environments.

The fungus was even able to grow directly on diesel, crude oil and similar materials as its only nutrient source. This is promising because it can be  used to complete remediation and reclamation at the same time. Ordinarily, the removal of contaminants from a site is done separately from land restoration.  Contaminated soil is often taken away and replaced, which is in an expensive process. With the help of the newly discovered fungus, treated seeds can be applied directly to the contaminated sites. The next step is proving the method works in the real world.

Read the full article here.

T. Harris Environmental Management Offers Services in Alberta

With growing demand for environmental consulting services in Western Canada, it is with great pleasure that John C. Fisher, President & CEO of T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM), is excited to announce the addition of a new location in Edmonton, AB. As of April 3, 2017, this new location will not only complement, but add to the core competencies of our existing strongholds in Ontario and Quebec.

Contact us for a consultation


About T. Harris Environmental Management

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. Since 1979, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.


Scary Halloween Hazards – Fact, Not Fiction

October 30, 2017
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The spookiest time of year is around the corner. A Halloween celebration in the offices is a great way to boost morale and teamwork. While it is fun, you should still keep safety in mind. There are many people who dress up and/or decorate their work areas at the last minute. Here are a few possible safely concerns to think about and how you can avoid them.

  1. Avoid a Flight From Height
  • When putting up decorations, remember ladder safety.
  • Make sure to have a colleague spot you on the ladder when hanging those hard-to-reach decorations.
  1. Keep the Light Just Right
  • Keep your space well lit! While darkness is spooky, too dark is dangerous.
  • Avoid using electrical lighting near flammable objects.
  1. Leave the Slips and Trips for the Horror Movies
  • Don’t obscure your vision in your costume. Complete your creep-crawly look with makeup instead of a mask and make sure there are no loose or trailing parts to your costume.
  • Eliminate tripping hazards in your decorations. Watch out for electrical cords and place the decorations away from areas with high traffic.
  1. Act to Avoid Allergies
  • Food dye is great to colour anything blood red – but make sure you read the ingredients! It may be hard to remember, but keep in mind the allergies of your coworkers. Even if you know the allergies of people around you, avoid common allergens such as eggs and peanuts. You never know who may drop by.
  • Moderate your use of new cosmetics and test it on a small patch of skin first.
  • Food is not the only source of allergies. Unusual chemicals or perfumes can also cause a reaction.
  1. Watch Out for Sharp Objects
  • Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.
  • If you are doing any cutting or carving for your decorations, Pay extra attention and set up in an office area with little traffic so you don’t have anyone bump into you or startle you.
  • Inspect decorations and costumes and avoid or remove any sharp objects. It seems intuitive, but some things like spikes made out of paper or evil queen crowns are often missed.
  1. Look Out for Fire Hazards
  • If you have to have candles, stick to electrical ones.
  • Avoid plugging too much into a single circuit.
  • Don’t hang flammable decorations like balloons near the lights.
  1. Know Your Substances

Many unusual substances are utilized at Halloween to create spooky effects. It is impossible to list them all so here is an example of dry ice, which is likely the most popular substance. Handling Dry Ice Safely (Source : http://www.uvm.edu/safety/lab/DryIce):

  • Explosion hazard:If dry ice is packaged in a container that does not allow for release of the gas, it may explode. Do not store dry ice in any type of tightly sealed device or enclosed space. Store dry ice in a stryofoam chest, insulated cooler or a special cooler designed for the the storage of dry ice (i.e. allows for the release of carbon dioxide gas)
  • Suffocation hazard:Dry ice must be stored in a well-ventilated location. Never store dry ice in a cold room, warm room, or storage closet unless adequate supply ventilation is provided. A large volume of carbon dioxide gas emitted in a confined space, or other unventilated area (e.g. cold room) may create an oxygen deficient atmosphere.
  • Contact hazard:Dry ice causes severe frostbite upon contact with skin. Never handle dry ice with your bare hands. Instead, use special equipment and wear thermal gloves to reduce risk of thermal burns to the skin. Also, do not place dry ice on a tiled or solid surface countertop as the extreme cold will cause damage.
  • Disposal: Dispose of unneeded dry ice by letting the unused portion sublimate in a well-ventilated area. Do not leave unneeded dry ice in hallways or other public areas. Never dispose of dry ice in a sink, toilet or other device and do not put it in the trash or garbage.

For environmental consulting issues big and small you can count on T. Harris Environmental Management. Contact us for a consultation.


About T. Harris Environmental Management

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. Since 1979, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.


Environmental Due Diligence – Why Bother?

October 30, 2017
Comments Off on Environmental Due Diligence – Why Bother?

By: Christopher Nielsen, Senior Director – Environmental Services

Environmental Due Diligence Can Stop A Bad Deal

Over the years I’ve seen quite a variety of environmental site conditions that have adversely impacted the value of a property.  Many of these conditions were discovered during the environmental due diligence period and either stopped the deal in its tracks, or were taken into consideration by making adjustments to the purchase price.  Others were missed by other consultants and were discovered at very inopportune times by the owner.  In my experience, there are two main reasons for the failure to identify these problems.  The first reason is an inexperienced environmental consultant was selected to do the Phase One Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), or no ESA was conducted.  The second reason has a fairly clear explanation: the purchaser used private or self-financing and was not required to conduct an ESA as part of the purchase process.  The first reason gets a bit more complicated and is often the result of a short-sighted purchasing process.  It is hard to understand how saving a few hundred, or even a few thousand dollars as part of the procurement of a multi-million dollar property could be worth the risk.  If any single issue is missed as part of the environmental due diligence assessment, the cost to remedy that issue will undoubtedly be many fold the difference between the cost of an ESA conducted by a “low cost provider” versus one conducted by a high-quality firm with extensive experience in the field.  A recent article titled “Don’t Purchase a Lemon: Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Closing the Deal!” by the environmental lawyers Donna Shier, Robert Woon and Serin Remedios1  highlighted this fact.

What Is A Good Environmental Site Assessment and How It Can Make A Difference

Don’t make the mistake of believing that all Phase One ESAs are of the same quality or that the experience of the firm and the senior assessor involved in the project doesn’t matter.  Over nearly 30 years in the environmental consulting business, the number of errors and omissions I have identified in the work of others is significant.  There have been multiple instances of underground fuel storage tanks being identified after others have boldly stated that there were none present.  My favourite example is a peer review conducted recently where the author and senior reviewer concluded that there were no underground storage tanks on the property and that there had never been any.  I was able to refute this statement without even visiting the site by simply reviewing the property using Google Street View and observing evidence of an underground tank.  Omissions like these can be potentially costly as old tanks are often the source of significant contamination, and any tank not in use must be removed according to current legislation.  This is at best a $10,000 consideration in the purchase price in order to remove the tank and potentially much higher if there is significant soil and groundwater contamination associated with the tank.

The experience of the assessor and senior project professional can easily make the difference between identifying potential environmental risks and purchasing a property without having all of the relevant information.  Something that often gets overlooked is the importance of interviewing people with knowledge of the area.  Although it can be difficult to identify knowledgeable individuals, a little creativity and experience can go a long way.  As part of a recent site assessment, the broker trying to lease a unit in an adjacent strip mall containing a dry cleaner was contacted.  The broker indicated that the dry cleaner was diligent with their recordkeeping and ran a very clean shop.  However, he also indicated that another nearby property formerly housed a dry cleaner and that there was contaminated groundwater associated with that property.  This information did not show up in the standard information reviews, but awareness of this situation led to some additional investigations which teased out a few more details relevant to the assessment.  Another example I am reminded of is a vacant site which was assessed several years ago.  There was no one directly familiar with the history of the site, so during my site visit I stopped into a small store across the street to talk to the occupants.  Their front window overlooked the site.  It didn’t take long to find out that for several years a local fuel delivery company parked some of their trucks on the site, backing up against a ditch and swampy area.  They would open the fuel tank valves on Friday night so the trucks would be empty on Monday morning.  This valuable information would have been nearly impossible to find using common search methods and without talking to the right person.

What To Look For During A Property Purchase

There are a few things that should be considered when purchasing any property.  The first is to make the most of the due diligence period.  Before you make an offer, it would be prudent to talk to a trusted and experienced environmental consultant about potential issues associated with the property and the required due diligence period to ensure the process is not overly rushed.  This will minimize costs associated with rush surcharges and more importantly, last minute surprises or missing critical information due to time constraints.  Next, retaining a qualified consultant to conduct a thorough Phase One ESA will go a long way to ensuring that an environmental issue won’t haunt you in the future.  A quality ESA is even better than insurance.  Insurance covers you if something goes wrong, and a quality ESA minimizes the risk of purchasing a property where something is already wrong!  In my opinion, that is good value!

And finally, don’t forget to ensure that engage a qualified professional that is legally entitled to do the work required.  Under Ontario’s Professional Geoscientist’s Act, for example, only a registered Professional Geoscientist, or suitably qualified Professional Engineer, may conduct environmental geoscience work, including Phase One ESAs.

If you have any questions about environmental liabilities at your property or a property you may be looking to acquire, feel free to contact me directly.  The first call is always complimentary.

About the Author: Christopher Nielsen

Christopher Nielsen is a Senior Director, Environmental Services with T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM).  Chris is a registered Professional Geoscientists with the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario and has been providing professional environmental consulting services to public and private sector clients since 1988. He is also 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 volunteer, not-for-profit conservation organization

Christopher Nielsen can be reached at 1-888-ASK-THEM (275-8436) or cnielsen@tharris.ca

 


About T. Harris Environmental Management

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. Since 1979, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.


References:

Wilms & Shier Environmental Lawyers, published on-line, www.mondaq.com on September 11, 2017,  (http://www.willmsshier.com/docs/default-source/articles/article—don%27t-purchase-a-lemon-top-5-mistakes-to-avoid-when-closing-the-deal!—ds-rw-and-sr—september-11-2017.pdf?sfvrsn=4?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original

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