How to Detect Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacterial Contamination that is Putting Open-Heart Surgery Patients at Risk?

November 08, 2016
Comments Off on How to Detect Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacterial Contamination that is Putting Open-Heart Surgery Patients at Risk?

It is the question many healthcare professionals are – or should – be concerned with in the light of recent events. To protect their cardiac patients, it is essential for healthcare practitioners to evaluate their heater / cooler units for NTM (non-tuberculosis mycobacterial) contamination.

heart health pictureThere is a growing number of reported cases concerning NTM infection in the operating rooms:

  • Health Canada identified NTM Bacterial infection concern in 12 models of heater/cooler units.
  • Quebec doctors have already reported at least two cases of NTM infection.
  • CDC estimates that in hospitals where at least one infection has been identified, the risk of a patient getting an infection from the bacteria was between about 1 in 100 and 1 in 1,000.

The Key: Evaluate Water and Air in Contact with the Heater/Cooler Units

NTM is caused by Mycobacterium chimaera – a slow growing NTM that is a member of the Mycobacterium avium complex, which is widespread in nature and can be found in soil and water, including drinking water sources. The contamination can spread through water and air. Heater-cooler devices include water tanks that provide temperature-controlled water to external heat exchangers or warming/cooling blankets through closed circuits.

Harris Environmental Management can help you establish safe operating procedures.

Our team of professionals is experienced in evaluating water and air for NTM microbial contamination and has created the sampling protocol used in some Ontario Hospitals. Our senior staff are experts in the field of microbiology and have specialized in issues concerning NTM.

Contact us for a free consultation to get a custom solution!

About T. Harris Environmental Management Inc.

We are 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 and safety and committed to excellence. For more than 35 years, 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.


Regulatory Update: ON Drinking Water Quality, Chemical Handling Blitz Preparation and more

September 23, 2016
Comments Off on Regulatory Update: ON Drinking Water Quality, Chemical Handling Blitz Preparation and more
  1. drinking water glassOntario Drinking Water Quality Standards Update:  

The Minister’s Advisory Council on Drinking Water Quality and Testing Standards (the Advisory Council) is recommending changes to Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards. It is seeking stakeholder input via a 45 day public review and comment period starting August 23, 2016.

The recommended changes are as follows:

  • Adopt three new Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards based on new federal guidelines:
    • 06 mg/L for Toluene;
    • 14 mg/L for Ethylbenzene; and
    • 09 mg/L for Total Xylenes.
  • Revise two existing standards:
    • Revise Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard of 0.01 mg/L to 0.05 mg/L for Selenium; and
    • Revise Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard of 0.03 mg/L to a more stringent value of 0.01 mg/L for Tetrachloroethylene.
  • Remove the current Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard of 10 mg/L for Nitrate + Nitrite as this parameter is redundant since individual standards of 10 mg/L for nitrate and 1 mg/L for nitrite are maintained.

The Advisory Council also made recommendations to adopt Health Canada’s aesthetic objectives for the following substances, effective January 1, 2017:

  • A new Aesthetic Objective of 0.015 mg/L is proposed for methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE); and
  • Revise the Aesthetic Objectives for ethylbenzene and xylenes to 0.0016 mg/L, and 0.02 mg/L, respectively.

Learn more and submit your input here.

Is the quality of your drinking water acceptable to these proposed standards? Ask us how you can ensure the quality of your water, contact us at 1-888-ASK-THEM or at info@tharris.ca.

  1. Ontario Blitz: Chemical Handling

Ontario is continuing its efforts to reduce workplace injuries. From September 19 to October 31, Ministry of Labour (MOL) Inspectors to check that employers have taken proper steps to protect workers handling chemicals.

Prepare for the blitz using this checklist:

  1. chemicals

    Know what you have:

  • Have an up-to-date list of all chemicals, their quantities and their properties.
  • Determine the type of risks your chemicals pose and the risk-specific handling requirements.
  • Check if personal protective equipment is required and that it is correct.
  • Have documentation to support your established system. Ex: inventory list, handling procedures, training records, material safety data sheets and safety data sheets
  1. Make sure the system works:
  • Make sure chemicals are stored in a way that minimizes the above risks.
  • Check the functionality of equipment and engineering controls, and make sure that they are sufficient.
  1. Train your people:
  • Make sure your personnel is fully trained. They should know the hazards, following the proper procedures, understand the MSDSs or SDSs and recognize the hazard symbols on labels.
  • Make sure personnel is aware which PPE they need, that they have it and know how to use it correctly.
  • Have a plan for emergency response and make sure it is sufficient.  Employees should have the knowledge and equipment to act quickly if they come in contact with hazardous chemicals.
  1. Be proactive
  • Have a system to review incidents, make changes and encourage input from employees
  • Look for additional ways to minimize handling and implement them where possible.
  • Check that the correct attachment for drum lifting is utilized

Ask us how you can avoid the risk of mishandling chemicals, contact us at 1-888-ASK-THEM or at info@tharris.ca.

Noise Regulations Come into Effecthearing protection

The Noise Regulation came into effect on July 1, 2016. It will help protect Ontario workers from hearing loss. Currently it is a leading cause of occupational disease.  See the details here.

Ask us how employers and supervisors are responsible for noise exposure. Contact us today at 1-888-ASK-THEM or at info@tharris.ca

Mould Assessment – when do you need one?

August 12, 2016
Comments Off on Mould Assessment – when do you need one?

You probably know or at least have an idea about what mould looks like. When you see it in your home or work environments, you should be considering a mould assessment. Here is why:

It is true that mould naturally occurs in outdoor environments – many of us encounter it every day with little to no adverse effects on our health. So why is it such a big deal in our homes and indoor work environments? When mould occurs indoors things can drastically change. In addition to the often unpleasant sight and odour, mould and its airborne spores can accumulate in high concentrations. Then, they can pose a health risk when inhaled.

Start your journey to a safer environment – request a free consultation!


So, when do you contact a mould professional?

Avoid mould-related health concerns:

Sometimes people think they see or smell mould, but they are not sure. To avoid adverse health issues, a mould assessment can be an effective tool to confirm whether mould is present, where it is located and at what concentrations.

tissue-box-1420439There is a health issue which seems to be related to mould. Do you or your tenants frequently and persistently have itchy eyes, cough, sneeze, or get headaches? Healthcare practitioners may tell you it is a reaction to fungi spores. A mould assessment is a good way to confirm or dismiss the presence and extent the issue in your environment. Young children and elderly people are most susceptible to mold-related illnesses, but even healthy young adults can be affected.

Are you buying or selling real estate? Don’t forget to test your home!

A mould assessment will help avoid complications no matter which side of the deal you are on. Property buyers will avoid from spending thousands on combatting water damage and mould. Sellers will dodge delays in closing the sale and even later court disputes.

pexels-photo-106399Avoid damage to your home. Mould consumes the building materials and can cause structural damage. Your home inspector may be able to spot warning signs of mould. Even so, it is advisable to get an independent assessment from a certified mould professional since they have a complete understanding of the possible issue. This will help mitigate your risks and potential for future major expenses. An added benefit of a mould assessment is that it can also help discover leaks or other sources of water infiltration.

Do you and your tenant constantly argue over a mouldy or musty odour? The only way to control it is to find and remove its source! Air fresheners and household cleaning products may temporarily mask the smell but they will not get rid of it forever. A mould assessment can help put an end to the disputes. It will determine for certain whether or not a mould problem exists and to what degree. Plus, the smell can be a sign of bigger problems – which, if left unaddressed, can have you looking at more expensive solutions later. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

After an EHS-related fix:

water-ideas-2-1542012Have you noticed water staining or water damage? Or maybe you discovered hidden but persistent leaks?  In any case, when there is a history of leaks or other water damage, it helps to test for mould. It may exist in the air and/or hide behind walls and may cause problems later on – even when the water damage has been repaired!

Clearance inspection and testing after a mould remediation  is a good idea. It will help ensure that mould counts have returned to normal levels and do not pose any further health risk, rendering the issue resolved. You will be able to keep track and have proof of the clearance via documentation from independent licensed professionals.

About T. Harris Environmental Management:

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leader in the environmental consulting industry since 1979. We are committed to providing the highest quality of service and support to our clients. Our experienced and professional staff is comprehensively trained and certified by several institutions, including the IICRC. They hold designations as Professional Engineers (P.Eng.), Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH), Registered Occupational Hygienists (ROH) and Registered Occupational Hygiene Technologist (ROHT).
Having been in business for over 35 years, we are experienced with various types of buildings and we share your urgency, while remaining individually and corporately accountable for the results and delivery of our services.

Contact us for a free consultation!


Dangers of Lead in Water

July 29, 2016
Comments Off on Dangers of Lead in Water

Canadians are exposed to lead through many sources, while non‑food items containing lead (such as dust, lead-based paint, soil) and drinking water remain among the top sources of exposure. Lead is a toxin that can affect the neurological system, including the brain.  Children under 6 years old and pregnant women are the most susceptible to lead.  It is important to ensure the safety of drinking water and building materials to protect them.

Many buildings in can carry an elevated lead content in drinking water due to a network of old piping systems. Recent studies found that up to 15 per cent of Toronto water has dangerously high levels of lead, and 5.4 per cent have lead levels double what’s considered safe. The city of Montreal has sent notices and pamphlets to 128,000 residences that might have lead pipes connecting their homes to the city’s water supply. This could mean that there is lead in the drinking water of some residences. Cities across the country are in the midst of multi-year processes to remove those pipes. Meanwhile, it is advisable to test your water for lead to ensure safety.

See these sources for more details:

Health Canada on lead:

CTV News about lead in pipes:

Healthline for symptoms of lead poisoning:

We are here to help you with cost-effective testing and affordable lead management solutions.

Request a free consultation or call for 1888 ASK THEM

THEM Now Offers Radon Testing

July 20, 2016
Comments Off on THEM Now Offers Radon Testing

For the past several years, there has been an increased concern about radon gas within occupied environments. T. Harris Environmental Management (THEM) is proud to offer a solution to further peace of mind to those who are concerned with the risk that this toxic gas poses. With professional radon testing and management consulting services, THEM is able to assess your home or workplace for potential radon exposure. Our C-NRPP certified professionals are able to provide both short and long-term testing, as requested.  THEM also provides Lunch-and-Learn sessions to educate and raise awareness about the hazards of radon and offer management solutions.

Radon has been frequently detected in Ontario homes. While outdoors this gas is diluted to lower concentrations, in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces, it can accumulate to high levels and pose a health threat. According to Health Canada, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, accounting for 16 per cent of lung cancer cases. Even though studies are still ongoing, the risks posed by radon are already regarded as high.

homeRadon is EVERYWHERE!  It is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, which is produced during the decay of uranium in soil, rock or water.  Uranium is naturally found in the composition of all parts of our planet in at least trace amounts. Radon is invisible, odourless and tasteless and emits ionizing radiation. This gas can seep into the building through cracks in foundation walls and floors, or gaps around pipes and cables. Radon levels are generally highest in basements and crawl spaces because these areas are nearest to the source.

It is important to be diligent and assess your environment.  Contact T. Harris Environmental Management for a free consultation at 1-888-ASK-THEM or at info@tharris.ca


About T. Harris Environmental Management:

Since 1979, T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) has been a leader in the environmental consulting industry. We continue to maintain our leadership role by providing the highest quality service and support to our clients. Our compliment of professional and highly trained technical staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial, institutional, and residential.

Notice of the publication of the proposed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made under Sections 140, 209 and 286.1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 in the Canada Gazette, Part I

June 08, 2016
Comments Off on Notice of the publication of the proposed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made under Sections 140, 209 and 286.1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 in the Canada Gazette, Part I

The Department of the Environment has identified the need for a number of changes to the regulatory texts of five regulations made under CEPA. The Department of the Environment has also identified other necessary changes and minor issues.

The following regulations have been identified for amendments as part of this omnibus regulatory process:

  • Fuels Information Regulations, No. 1;
  • Gasoline Regulations;
  • Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations;
  • Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations; and
  • Regulations Designating Regulatory Provisions for Purposes of Enforcement (Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999)[Designation Regulations].

To find out more visit  http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2016/2016-05-21/html/reg1-eng.body.html

Building a New Era Based on Tradition

June 04, 2013
Comments Off on Building a New Era Based on Tradition

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. Announces Change in Ownership

Toronto ON (December 21, 2012) – T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM), an established leader in environmental and occupational health and safety in Canada today announced some ownership changes related to the firm.

After 33 years of service to the organization, THEM founder, Trevor J. Harris, has passed over ownership of THEM to President and CEO John C. Fisher, effective October 31, 2012.  Mr. Fisher, who joined THEM in 1988, has served in the role of President and CEO since 2010.

Established in 1979, THEM is one of Canada’s most respected environmental consulting firms,  offering a comprehensive collection of expertise and a broad range of services including all aspects of environmental services, occupational hygiene and hazardous materials management.

“Trevor Harris’s forward thinking, mindset and drive set the direction for THEM and allowed the firm to realize strong growth within the environmental industry.  Under Trevor’s leadership, THEM established a client roster that reads like the “Who’s Who” of the industrial, commercial and institutional community. We wish Trevor all the best in his retirement years,” says Mr. Fisher.

Signalling its new direction and plans to embrace technological advances to provide new and better service to clients, THEM proudly unveiled its new web site, https://tharris.ca/, showcasing the firm’s expertise, broad range of environmental consulting capabilities, and the market sectors it serves.