Monthly Archives: February 2015

Are Nanomaterials the Solution for Particle Pollution?

A Stanford University scientist has developed an air filtering material that experts believe may solve the problem of particulate pollution.

What is Particle Pollution?

Let’s ask the Environmental Protection Agency:

“Particle pollution (also called particulate matter or PM) is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope.”

Those very tiny particles are not only hard to see, they are hard to filter out. That is where the new nanomaterials come in.

How could Nanomaterials help?

The Stanford scientists used a material called Polyacrylonitrile (PAN), commonly used to make non-latex gloves for the healthcare industry. PAN is a very strong material which has the added advantage of actually attracting the particles that are so harmful.

“A process called electrospinning was used to convert the liquid PAN into a bundle of solid fibers like a spiderweb. The individual fibers are about one thousandth the width of a human hair, but when integrated into a crisscrossing network with other fibers, it effectively filters particulate matter out of the air. The filters made from electrospun PAN are still 70% transparent to visible light, but can capture more than 99% of particles blown through it. Perhaps most importantly, they don’t impede air flow.”

Strong, translucent, breathable, and filter out dangerous particle pollution? Sounds like great stuff!

How long will we have to wait to improve Particle Pollution?

Lots of testing still needs to be done, so it will take a while before PAN filters will make it to the consumer market, but there are many potential uses for them, in cars, power plants, factories, medical facilities, homes and schools.

It only takes a “gentle breeze” to make these particle pollution filters work. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that gentle breeze didn’t carry any air pollution into our indoor or outdoor environments? Ahhh.


Bed Bug Tips for Renters

When you move into a new apartment or rental house, you start all over–new paint, new appliances, maybe even new carpets.  Everything looks beautiful and pristine, almost like no one has ever lived there before.

But it is possible that someone is still living there and you just don’t know it.

Bed bugs are difficult to eradicate on your own or with pesticides, and easy to overlook when you’re excited about finding the perfect new place.  Here are some bed bug tips for renters to help you avoid having a bed bug problem in your new residence:

Ask the Landlord about Bed Bugs

Bring someone with you when you meet with your landlord so that there is a witness to the fact that you asked and what his or her answer was in case of a problem later. And don’t be shy. It’s a question every potential tenant should be asking: have there ever been bed bugs in this building?

Get a Bed Bug Inspection

This might sound like an extra expense when you are spending a lot on moving, but it could save you a lot of trouble later on.  If you don’t want to tell your landlord you are having the place inspected, bring your inspector along as a friend when you are doing a final look around before you sign the lease.

If you don’t want to bring in an inspector, be sure to do a thorough inspection yourself before you sign on the dotted line. Check baseboards, inside drawers, behind anything hanging on the walls.

Don’t Keep the News to Yourself

In multifamily housing, if one apartment has bed bugs, they all could have them–now or in the future. Bed bugs are not your fault, so don’t be embarrassed. Do make sure that the landlord and the other tenants have been informed in writing. Having bed bugs doesn’t mean you’re dirty or a bad housekeeper.  It’s just something that happens.  A lot.  But your landlord is responsible for treating the infestation.  Nip them in the bud! Communication is essential.

Tell the Health or Housing Department

And file a claim. Authorities need to know, too!

Take Pictures of the Bed Bugs and Your Bites

As much as you want to forget all about it, you need to have a record of your infestation and its effects. Also make sure your doctor puts the incident in your medical records.

We sincerely hope that you never encounter a bed bug, at home or anywhere else!

And best wishes in your new home!

New Mold Rules in New York: Will California Follow?

As of July 31, 2015, New York State will be instituting new mold rules for licensing and work standards. The stricter mold rules are, the better off we all are when we have mold issues in our homes and commercial buildings. Here are some of the highlights:

Mold Rules for Licensing

When the new rules take effect, it will be illegal for anyone to do mold assessments or advertise as an assessment contractor without a Mold Assessment License from the New York State Department of Labor. These licenses will have to be renewed every two years.

The license will have to be posted at the work site.

Mold assessors will have to be at least 18 years old and have taken required courses, including training in the use of personal protective gear.

Mold Rules: Work Standards

Any licensed mold assessor has to prepare and give to the client a work analysis before work starts. A mold remediator has to present a work plan.

Mold Rules: Conflict of Interest

No one will be able to be both a mold assessor and a mold remediator on the same project, nor can they be even a part owner in each other’s companies.

Mold Rules: Mold Remediation Plan

The mold remediation plan must include (from Healthy Indoors):

      • Rooms or areas where the work will be performed
      • Estimated quantities of materials to be cleaned or removed
      • Methods to be used for each type of remediation in each type of area
      • Personal protection equipment (PPE) to be supplied to workers
      • Proposed clearance procedures and criteria for each type of remediation in each type of area
      • How to properly notify occupants of such projects, taking into consideration proper health concerns
      • Recommendations for notice and posting requirements that are appropriate for the project size, duration and points of entry
      • Estimate of cost and an estimated time frame for completion
      • Underlying sources of moisture that may be causing the mold and a recommendation as to the type of contractor who would remedy the source of such moisture, if possible

The above are just some of the new rules being put into place by the State of New York. What kind of rules does your state have?

Seacliff Environmental

Seacliff Environmental is a licensed mold removal and remediation contractor, and is experienced in removing mold from basements, bathrooms, ceilings, residential and commercial buildings, crawlspaces, and attics. We can remove all wet materials from the site and provide the necessary air circulation to deter dampness before bacteria can multiply. Seacliff will then develop a remediation plan detailing method, scope, time and controls to be used. We would have no trouble following the new mold rules in New York State–we already do.

Asbestos Misconceptions

We came across a story in The Star Phoenix, a newspaper published in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada that was so full of asbestos misconceptions, we could hardly believe they had done any research at all.

Workers in a Civic Center in Saskatoon were exposed to Chrysotile asbestos, one of the family of asbestos-related minerals. In fact, Chrysotile is the most common form of asbestos found in the US. The asbestos was exposed during a renovation project and as many as 50 city and contract workers may have been exposed. Those are the facts.

Let’s look at the asbestos misconceptions in the article one by one:

Asbestos Misconception #1: Chrysotile is not as dangerous as asbestos

“the city discovered remnants of chrysotile, a material that contains asbestos…”

FALSE: Chrysotile does not contain asbestos, it IS asbestos.

“Of the two types of asbestos material used in construction, chrysotile is considered to be less potent.”

FALSE: All types of asbestos are known carcinogens.

Asbestos Misconception #2: It takes a lot of asbestos to cause disease.

“Asbestos is not considered dangerous unless there is a significant amount in the air…”

FALSE: There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and it doesn’t take a lot to cause a problem. In fact, one fiber of inhaled asbestos can cause cancer years or decades down the road.

Asbestos Misconception #3: Asbestos stays put

“Members of the public attending the facility were never in danger…”

Perhaps. But since the majority of workers were exposed by walking through the room which contained the asbestos, they were obviously traveling from one location to another in the facility. If asbestos was in the air (it was), it could have been transported into other parts of the facility including public areas by these workers. It remains to be seen whether members of the public were exposed.

The city officials in Saskatoon appear to have taken a rather casual attitude toward this incident involving chrysotile asbestos. Perhaps their attitude was informed by the misconceptions often found in media reports, but we recommend that anyone in charge of facilities which could contain asbestos do their research before a small incident turns into a large liability.