The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.
OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.
About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.
- Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
- Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
- Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
- Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.
One of the first considerations is how the flooding happened. Flooding can occur in storm periods or near bodies of water from the outside environment near the residence. Flood damage is a common problem after a fire, due to the fact that what is necessary to extinguish the fire affects several areas in the house. However, flooding can also come from inside the home, from broken or malfunctioning plumbing or pipe work. When you find the source of excess water, you can determine the type of water causing damage in your house.
There are three main classifications of water: clean, gray, and black. Clean water has very few harmful substances in it, for example, when water supply lines are broken, spilling forth clean, fresh water. It can certainly still cause water damage, but there is little chance of bacteria or chemicals causing illness following the flooding. When sinks or tubs spillover, the water is also usually considered clean. Gray water, formally referred to as category 2 water, can cause sicknesses and physical problems because the amount of pollutants in the water is considerable. These impurities may be chemical, biological, and/or physical. Gray water will have micro-organisms present as well. Some good examples of water damage with category 2 implications are sump pump breakdowns, flows from dishwashers, defective washing machines, or leaking toilets(containing urine but not feces). Black water, or category 3 water, has a serious level of toxins and is very unsanitary. This water is highly disposed to induce physical issues, illness, or discomfort. Black water has microorganisms, fungi, chemical pollutants, and other dangerous materials. Category 3 water damage may emerge from lakes, streams, rivers, seawater, ground surface water, sewage leaks, overrunning toilets with fecal material, and stationary water that stands for 48-72 hours after a category 1 or 2 flood problem. The standing of the water increases its dangerous contaminants. Black water clean-up requires the use of protective gear and specific gear to prevent disease or wellness problems as well as safeguard the structure. Trusting clean up and restoration to experts can assist you get your house back rapidly and safely.
Think you've got mold? Mold sampling is the first thing to do. There are several ways to collect and analyze mold samples. You can take a surface sample, air sample or use a do-it-yourself kit.
The most basic type of mold sampling is surface sampling. If you've got visible mold in your house, you can take a sample of it, and analyze it to see if it is toxic or not.
There are a number of techniques for taking samples. One method is to use clear tape. Stick the tape to the surface, peel it off, and drop the tape into a plastic bag with the mold sample stuck to it. This sample can then be analyzed.
You can also swab the area for samples. You can take a regular Q-tip and swab the area 3-4 times, then drop the samples into a bag for further inspection.
Air sampling is the best way to check your mold problem. The results will tell you if you've got airborne mold spores already floating around your house, wreaking havoc on everybody's lungs.
The inspector uses a pump and spore trap. The pump sucks up air and holds it in the spore trap where it can be analyzed. It pumps not only air, but also bits of dust and insects which can reveal more accurately the amount of spores in the air.
This is the most reliable way to check for mold problems because it looks for the spores themselves. The inspector takes samples from various parts of the house, as well as inside walls and under floors. Often, mold infestations aren't visible to the naked eye.
At-Home Sampling Kits
You can buy at-home mold sampling kits to use yourself. These are easy and give quick results. The only downside is that they don't do as thorough a job as a professional mold inspector. There is some margin for errors.
Mold sampling is the first step in ridding your home of mold. If you think you have a problem, check it out and clean it up immediately.
Remove Black Mold From Your Bathroom Walls
Before a person ever decides to search for the best mold inspection company in their area, they should first know a few facts:
1. In the author's opinion, every house on the planet has mold in it. Mold is a member of the Fungi family and exists naturally in our environment. It is airborne and enters our houses whenever a door or window is open and in numerous other ways.
2. Inside of a house, mold will not be a problem unless it has been exposed to water for more than 48-72 hours. So, if you have seen, or know of evidence of water inside your house and you suspect that it has been there for at least 48 hours, you are most certain to have harmful (toxic) mold.
3. Even if you can't see any water, it still may be lurking behind your walls, sinks, or tubs; perhaps under windows or other locations. If you can smell a musty or unpleasant odor (some in the family may detect it while others can't), you have a harmful mold problem.
4. If you or other members of your house have asthma, other respiratory problems, coughing, runny nose or eyes, headaches, or tend to feel much better when you are away from the house and worse when you are in it, you almost certainly have a mold problem.
Knowing that you likely have a mold problem but not knowing what to do next, speaks volumes in favor of hiring a professional. But which one? You could likely have several mold inspection companies to chose from on sites like Yahoo or Google; but how does a homeowner find the best one for their needs?
My advice is: First I recommend that the company specializes in mold. Not mold and/or radon, lead, air ducts, etc. Next, I recommend that they have both education and experience at least equal to or better than their competitors. While most every state requires that home inspectors be licensed, only two states require so of mold inspectors.Are they certified? This would tell you that they cared enough about their profession to acquire knowledge and training to meet standards. Experience counts. How long has the inspector been certified? How many jobs have they performed? Not just the company, but the individual inspector? Can they get references? Have they been cited by the Better Business Bureau for any deceptive, misleading, or dishonest practices?
The next criteria is critical: Are they also in the business of mold remediation or removal? If they are it could be a blatant conflict of interest. Wouldn't it be to there interest to overstate the level of mold problems and/or the amount of remediation needed if they were in line to pick up a job worth several thousands of dollars? Therefore, I recommend that you find a professional who only inspects for mold.
OK, so now how should your inspector look for and find your problem? When they are finished will they be able to tell you for certain where your mold is and why you have the problem? Isn't that how you would like to spend your money?
Testing for mold is most often done by the old fashioned method called air testing. This procedure sucks air into a machine that then traps it into a laboratory testing dish, which in turn gets sent to a laboratory for culturing. This process can take a week or more for the results. When air testing is performed, the inspector should always take one test outside of the house in order to determine a benchmark as to what mold(s) are prevalent in your area. They then will try to take as many tests inside of the house as the customer can afford. In most areas of the country, these tests cost about $100 each. Some of the problems with air testing are:
1. The more tests that are performed, the more costly the job.
2. Air testing is highly inaccurate. All it can do is to tell you what was in the air at that location at that moment in time. Results can vary widely over time and method used. Airborne fungal spore concentrations vary greatly over the course of hours, days, weeks, and seasons.
3. In colder climates when there is snow on the ground, the results of the outside test will be useless in that spore count is greatly or totally reduced. I have yet to hear that a customer was told this fact.
4. There are no numerical standards to which tests can be prepared, making interpretation difficult.
5. Even the best tests can not determine how much exposure people in the house have had in the past.
6. Fungal air tests are expensive.
7. Results are slow to receive.
8. Knowing the type of mold does not change the way that you would respond. All mold that is active, or was active, is bad mold.
Then what does represent a professional, accurate, and helpful mold inspection? The most intelligent inspections should: Find all mold. Determine the cause; i.e. Where is the water problem(s). Explain how to fix the problem(s).
This inspection requires work, experience, and knowledge. It is also labor intensive; lasting about 2 hours or more on average. It begins with an intensive investigation of the property outside of the house. It finds flaws in roofs, chimneys, gutters, downspouts, foundations, and/or landscaping. In short, anywhere and any way that water could get into the house and cause a problem. Then, moving inside the inspection closely is conducted looking throughout the house, basement, and attic for issues under windows, sinks, tubs, showers, washer and dryers. Tools such as moisture meters, hygrometers, and boroscopes should be utilized as appropriate.
Following that, in my inspections, I work with a Certified Mold Dog. Together we systematically cover every inch of the house. Dogs such as mine have the ability to detect the scent of mold in one part per trillion. Humans are limited to one part per hundred. Two university studies are known that matched dogs scenting ability versus that of machines. Dogs won easily both times. Dogs have the ability to detect the scent of mold from behind walls, floors, or ceilings where it often is found. No machine can do that. With their ability to pinpoint the location of the mold, remediation costs are reduced to a fraction of what they may have been, or eliminated entirely.
Lastly, the customer should ask for, and receive a professionally written report that captures all that was seen, found, and measured during the inspection and remediation recommendations. This is how my company, Mold Rover, Inc. operates. It is what I think the customer needs and deserves for their money.