Tuesday, November 25, 2008

USEPA PSA on Dealing with Mold

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, recorded public service announcements (PSA) to provide information to people in the hurricane affected areas. Topics featured in these PSA's include:

"Dealing with Mold" (:30 secs, 472kb, MP3) en EspaƱol
Mold is a serious problem in flooded areas.

The key to controlling mold growth is by controlling moisture — and doing it quickly. If you have a mold problem at home, wash it off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.

Be sure to get rid of the excess water or moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. You may have to replace absorbent materials — such as ceiling tiles and carpet — that become moldy.

For more information about mold cleanup, call 1-800- 438-4318.

Source: From U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

U.S. EPA honors Postal Service for pledging to remove nearly 8,000 pounds of lead from its vehicle fleet / First USPS region in nation to voluntarily

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 11/19/08) As part of the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored the Pacific Area of the U.S. Postal Service for its commitment to voluntarily replace all lead wheel weights for approximately 31,000 fleet delivery vehicles -- removing more than 8,000 pounds of lead from its workplace operations and potential deposition into the environment.

The USPS’s 34 vehicle maintenance facilities in California and Hawaii will perform about 70,000 tire balancing services annually eliminating nearly 8,000 pounds of lead in the workplace and approximately 500 pounds in the environment from wheel weights that fall off onto roadways.

“The U.S. Postal Service will not only remove thousands of pounds of hazardous lead from our environment, but recently also helped the EPA launch its National Lead Free Wheel Weight Initiative to encourage the transition away from using lead for wheel weights,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s Waste Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “The U.S. Postal Service Pacific Area’s leadership serves as a model both for public and private fleets to get the lead out.”

“Given the size and scope of Postal Service operations, we can reduce our environmental footprint by pursuing the development of sustainable business practices that protect the environment, maintain a safe workplace, and are fiscally prudent,” said Patrick Langsjoen, Pacific Area environmental specialist for the U.S. Postal Service. “Participating in the lead free wheel weight initiative fits well with our larger corporate sustainability strategy.”

The EPA’s lead-free wheel weight initiative engages partners in the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of wheel weights to participate in a voluntary effort to accelerate the transition to steel weights. Lead can enter the environment and create potential human exposures by weights falling off tires and being washed into storm sewers or waterways.

Quick Facts:
· Wheel weights are clipped to the rims of every automobile wheel in the United States in order to balance tires.
· Lead weights will be phased out in California by the end of 2009 under a court settlement between Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health against Chrysler and the three largest makers of lead wheel weights for the U.S. market: Plombco Inc. of Canada, Perfect Equipment Inc. and Hennessey Industries.
· There are 200 million autos and light trucks on the nation's roadways, with 16 million new autos produced annually in the United States.
· An average of 4.5 ounces of lead is clipped to the wheel rims of every automobile in the United States.
· Approximately 50 million pounds of lead is used annually to produce tire weights worldwide in autos and light trucks.
· It is estimated that 1.6 million pounds are lost in the United States when wheel weights fall off during normal driving conditions (e.g., hitting a pot hole).
· It is estimated that half a million pounds of lead each year is released into the environment in California from wheel weights falling off vehicles.
· Local service stations may have steel weights available, and consumers can request them in lieu of lead weights.

The National Partnership for Environmental Priorities encourages public and private organizations to form partnerships with the EPA to reduce the use or release of toxic. Lead is a chemical of concern for the EPA because it bio-accumulates in the food chain, damages ecosystems and can cause brain damage in humans, especially children.

The EPAs goal is to partner with industries, municipalities and federal facilities to reduce the use or release of 4 million pounds of priority chemicals by 2011. The EPA also encourages all consumers to ask their tire vendors to provide lead-free wheel weights.

For more information on the EPAs National Partnership for Environmental Priorities Program, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/minimize/partnership.htmn
For more information about USPS, please visit: http://www.usps.com

Source: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/85f6da001abb40a8852575060082293f?OpenDocument

Thursday, November 13, 2008

EPA Settles with Three Maryland Schools and One School District to Ensure Safe Management of Asbestos

PHILADELPHIA (November 12, 2008 ) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled four cases in Maryland in an effort to ensure the safe management of asbestos-containing materials in schools.

In separate consent agreements with EPA, the Board of Education of Dorchester County Schools, St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Md., the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church preschool and kindergarten in Baltimore, and Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church School in Kingsville, Md., have settled alleged violations of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), the federal law requiring schools to inspect and manage asbestos-containing building materials.

The AHERA violations the three individual schools and the one school district were cited for include failing to include all school buildings in the management plan, failure to conduct an initial inspection of all school buildings to determine if there was any asbestos located in the facility, failure to submit an asbestos management plan, failure to conduct reinspections of all friable and nonfriable asbestos every three years, and failure to provide annual notification of the management plan to parents, teachers, and employee organizations.

EPA did not find that students or other building occupants were exposed to asbestos as a result of the alleged violations. The schools that were cited have now certified their compliance with the AHERA requirements.

Under AHERA, EPA may agree to reduce or eliminate penalties due to the schools’ cooperation with EPA, compliance activities and expenditures. The four Maryland settlement agreements are:

1. EPA inspected St. Timothy’s School, Stevenson, Md., and cited it for failing to maintain copies of updated management plans in the school, failing to inspect the athletic complex, and failing to provide annual notification to parents, teachers, and employees. The school has spent at least $17,195 to come into compliance, so there is a zero penalty amount.

2. EPA inspected 13 schools in the Dorchester County Public School district, headquartered in Cambridge, Md. The violations vary from school to school but include failure to conduct reinspections of nine facilities every three years and failure to make management plans available for inspection. Dorchester County Public Schools has spent at least $55,250 to comply with AHERA regulations, so there is zero penalty amount.

3. EPA cited First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Baltimore, Md. for AHERA violations discovered during inspections by the Maryland Department of the Environment, which included failure to have an initial inspection conducted at the facility to determine whether there was any asbestos in the facility prior to its use as a school, and failure to submit an asbestos management plan for the facility. EPA determined the civil penalty to be $5,500. The school has spent $3,000 on compliance and agrees to an additional penalty of $2,500.

4. EPA cited Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kingsville, Md., for failing to include the parish hall, a school building used for recreational activities, in the management plans. The school has spent $5,682 to come into compliance, so there is a zero penalty amount.

Asbestos was once widely used in building materials due to its insulation and fire retardant properties. Damaged or disturbed asbestos may release fibers which, if inhaled, create a risk of asbestosis, lung cancer, and other respiratory illnesses. However, intact, undisturbed asbestos materials generally do not pose a health risk, if managed in accordance with AHERA safeguards. For general information about asbestos and its regulation, visit www.epa.gov/asbestos. Information on asbestos in schools is available at www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/asbestos_in_schools.html.

Today’s action contributes to EPA's record-shattering enforcement results for the 2008 Fiscal Year. To date, EPA has concluded enforcement actions requiring polluters to spend an estimated $11 billion on pollution controls, clean-up and environmental projects, an all time record for EPA. After these activities are completed, EPA expects annual pollution reductions of more than three billion pounds.

Source: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/e9e2fdab6e1904e0852574ff006a6447!OpenDocument

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mold Resource and Information Links

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency New Residential Mold Guide http://epa.gov/mold/

"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" by the US EPA http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldguide.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/mold

U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyMold Resources http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/moldresources.html

Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, March 2001 http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home

As per the USEPA http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldbasics.html

Why is mold growing in my home?

Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

Can mold cause health problems?

Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. This brochure provides a brief overview; it does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.

How do I get rid of mold?

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's YOUR Environment and now EPA.gov is YOUR Web Site

EPA is opening the doors on a new, more interactive, and task-oriented Web site designed to meet users' needs. We've heard from our audience – the American people – and they are interested in more than just reading about EPA programs on the Web. Citizens want to participate in protecting the environment in which they live and work. People want an active voice in what happens at EPA. They want to find topics of interest to them quickly.

"EPA has heard the voice of the people loud and clear! We're going to do everything possible to make participating in environmental protection a reality," said Molly O'Neill, EPA's Chief Information Officer and assistant administrator for the Office of Environmental Information. "We're using Web 2.0 technologies to give citizens a Web site that is more interactive, uses multimedia tools, and is better organized by what they want to do or know. "

The new design includes:

Links to immediate actions people can take to protect the environment at home or in their community:

How can I make my home more energy-efficient?
What and where can I recycle?
How do I learn about environmental conditions in my community?
What can my community do to help to prevent pollution?

Interactive media like blogs so people can:
Post comments to our blog "Greenversations"
Comment on proposed regulations
Bookmark EPA pages with Digg It.

Web 2.0 Tools to inform people on EPA activities:
RSS news feeds to provide information to subscribers
Videos and podcasts
Widgets to put EPA information on their Web site.

Take YOUR new Web site out for a "test drive": www.epa.gov
And please use the blog (http://blog.epa.gov/blog/ ) to let EPA know how it runs.

Source: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/F5D93C8B0829072C852574BF0054DCAD

Sorting Hurricane Debris Can Help Clean Up Communities

AUSTIN, Texas -- As families begin cleaning up after Hurricane Ike, state and federal officials offer directions on how to carefully pre-sort their household debris to help cleanup and disposal efforts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are partners in the disaster recovery, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Governor's Division of Emergency Management.

"The first recommendation we have is to follow the guidelines in your community," said Federal Coordinating Officer Sandy Coachman.

"The debris created by a hurricane has unique challenges," State Coordinating Officer Joan Haun added. "We want everyone to help clean up and start getting neighborhoods back to normal, and we want them to do it safely."

Texas residents should separate their household debris in piles as follows:

* Household garbage - bagged trash, discarded food;
* Construction debris - wood, drywall, carpet, furniture;
* Household hazardous waste - motor oil, batteries, bug sprays;
* Vegetation debris - tree branches, leaves, logs;
* "White" goods - refrigerators, washers and dryers, air conditioners;
* Electronics - televisions, radios, computers;
* Orphan containers - butane or propane tanks, chlorine cylinders.

If possible, residents should clearly mark debris containers before disposing. To prevent spills, leaking containers should be placed in plastic bags. Household hazardous waste should never be poured down drains or storm sewers.

If your community offers curbside pick up, please leave all household debris at the curbside. Do not leave debris leaning against trees or poles or on private property, as this makes it harder to retrieve the debris.

If your community does not offer curbside pick up, please contact your local waste disposal agency for instructions.

Once household debris is gathered, it will be processed for final disposal.

For information on local environmental regulations go to http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/

For EPA information on hurricane response, visit: http://www.epa.gov/hurricanes

More information about the Texas Hurricane Ike disaster is available at http://www.fema.gov/

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Source: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/0BC408BC588886F7852574D700772FDD

Sunday, November 2, 2008

EPA Encourages Homeowners Impacted by Hurricane Ike to Take Proper Measures To Safeguard Drinking Water

EPA Encourages Homeowners Impacted by Hurricane Ike to Take Proper Measures To Safeguard Drinking Water

Release date: 10/21/2008
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Tressa Tillman at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

(Dallas, Texas - October 21, 2008) - Homeowners who are still concerned about the quality and safety of their drinking water following Hurricane Ike are encouraged to be pro-active in ensuring that all proper measures to safeguard drinking water in the home are taken.

As a result of flooding and the speed and direction of ground water flow, some pumps and wells used to provide drinking water for homes may be contaminated with bacteria and other pollutants. What follows are some tips that will help in taking the appropriate steps in securing safe drinking water.

Only water that has been disinfected should be used for drinking, cooking, making any prepared drink, or for brushing teeth. Bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters should be used. If residents do not have bottled water, there are ways to ensure that the water is safe for consumption and use. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to boil water. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, it should be filtered through clean cloths or allowed to settle. Then, clear water can be drawn off for boiling. Residents should boil the water for one minute, let it cool and store it in clean containers with covers.

If boiling is not a possibility, chemical disinfection of filtered and settled water collected from a well, spring, river, or other surface water body will still provide some health benefits and is better than no treatment at all. Residents can disinfect contaminated water with household bleach by adding 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stirring it well and letting it stand for 30 minutes before use.

If a resident has a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after floodwaters recede. When emergency disinfection is necessary, disinfectants are less effective in cloudy, murky or colored water. After filtering until it is clear, or allowing all dirt and other particles to settle, clean and clear water may be drawn off for disinfection.

Boiling and chemical treatment are two general methods used to effectively disinfect small quantities of filtered and settled water. Boiling is the surest method to make water safe, but when done correctly, chemical disinfection is just as effective.

Information on home water treatment units is available from EPA by phone at 1-800-426-4791 or the U.S. EPA’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/region6/disaster/pdf/private_wells.pdf.

Source: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/7F3CCC484C8A0F5F852574E9005F6DFE