Archive for August, 2015

Where Were YOU When Katrina Hit NOLA?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Abita Springs, LA

Coming up on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we take a moment to ask, “Where were you and what is your story?”  There are many, many stories and we need to listen to one another about our experience…it was life-changing!

NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors was formed in Hammond, LA on July 4, 2004.  Created to become a national certifying agency for mold professionals, our first trainings were held in the New Orleans area to train mold remediators so they could become licensed as Certified Mold Remediators in the State of Louisiana, the first state in the union to have licensing for mold professionals!  It was a small beginning to what turned out to be a very fast and successful growth over the next eleven years.

But what happened just a year later following Katrina catapulted NORMI into the national spotlight because we were not carpet-baggers or “vultures” coming in for the kill, we were home-grown, already planted and dedicated training professionals committed to helping people clean it up right!   Here’s what we did: 1) we held training sessions (some held even in our home) for homeowners and remediators to hone their skills and educate them on proper safety precautions and protocols, 2) we held FREE public seminars at the library in Jefferson Parish (with Paul LaGrange, Ronnie Wirth, Doug Hoffman and other experts) to help property owners work through the maze of insurance, the building department and other issues, handing out free copies of our book Mold-Free Construction, 3) we negotiated with underwriters to write a NORMI Certificate of Sanitization that could verify that work done was done properly and without the use of bleach, 4) we helped the DEQ (Department of Envionmental Quality) find a solution for the formaldehyde problem in FEMA trailers, and 5) we appeared on multiple TV stations and radio channels answering questions, simply making a positive difference in an environment that seemed all but positive!

The years following Katrina have dramatically changed the complexion of metro New Orleans.  Covington, Mandeville and Abita Springs (where NORMI is now located) became a Northshore magnet for folks wanting to move out of the bowl of New Orleans yet remain close enough to enjoy the spirit of New Orleans.  The look of neighborhoods in Lakeview changed dramatically as previously ground-based homes were elevated to avoid future flooding.  Over and over again citizens expressed their gratefulness to God and others for having survived with their lives even when they had lost virtually every material possession.  And faith-based organizations, rather than government, shined as the true heroes of a disaster because they were first to respond and first to supply the needs of those who needed a hand up not a hand-out!  And so the recovery continues, even now.

This spot is not normally reserved for feedback but here, and wherever this is shared on social media, it would be wonderful to hear once again the wonderful stories of heroism, sacrifice and selflessness that marked the days following Katrina.  Is there someone you’d like to honor?  Do so here for we will never forget how the Gulf Coast continues to grow stronger as a result of a storm that could have destroyed lesser men!  Thank you for being such an inspiration.

For more information about NORMI and training for mold professionals, email support@normi.org or call 877.251.2296

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New York Mold Law Training Starts Soon!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Abita Springs, LA

NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors, announced today that, pending Department approval, they will begin training in New York after the first of the year.  The New York Mold Licensing Law will go into effect January 1, 2016 requiring Assessment Consultants, Remediation Contractors and Mold Workers to be licensed to perform work on mold projects in excess of 10 square feet of visible mold.  The law includes a training requirement where such training must be approved by the Department.  Applicants are responsible for confirming such approval before investing in classes that claim to meet the State of NY requirements.

“The process for approval has been quite detailed and strenuous,” said Doug Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI, “but that means the training will meet a very high standard so that those who are trained will understand the importance of protecting themselves and their clients from the potentially devastating effects of mold contamination.  This industry is very dynamic with constant changes in techniques and technologies so it is vital that mold professionals NEVER stop learning!”

NORMI has been training mold professionals since its founding in July, 2004 across the country, which coincided with the State of Louisiana mold remediation licensing law, the first State to have such licensing.  “We have been privileged to do mold training throughout the US and, even in Canada,” reported Mr. Hoffman.  “States that currently have mold licensing laws include Texas, Florida, Maryland and Louisiana with the District of Columbia and New York coming on board on January 1, 2016.  New York has established a curriculum that requires 32 hours of training for assessors, 24 hours of training for remediators and 16 hours of training for workers, probably the most detailed requirement of all the licensing laws.”  NORMI will provide training that includes the NORMI Professional Practices, an improved standard of care for mold professionals.  For non-professionals, NORMI offers the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Guidance Document at the homepage of their website.

Licensing laws have successfully separated the functions of mold professionals into two major categories: those who assess the problem(s) and those who perform the work to resolve the detected problem(s).  “The real value in licensing by the State is avoiding the conflict of interest that has traditionally plagued this industry,” according to Lance Eisen, COO of NORMI.  “When a remediator is also the one who determines whether or not the problem is large enough to require remediation, there’s an inherent conflict of interest.  You never want the fox guarding the chicken coop!”

Licensing classes are planned throughout the State of New York and registration for those classes will be available at www.BestTrainingSchool.com.  For more information contact NORMI at 877.251.2296 or email support@normi.org

“I’ll Just Have Water Please”

Monday, August 17th, 2015

That’s what we say to our waiters when we aren’t ordering a beverage, right? Have you ever been served water at a restaurant and realize it tastes so bad you might have to order a beverage after all? Sometimes I think restaurants refrain from using water filters for that very purpose! Anyway, that’s not really the point of this article, but I wanted to bring you to a realization that tap water isn’t always very drinkable. Now, assuming you’re a reader from the US where most drinking water is supplied through public systems, you’ve probably had this experience. Water can carry many components that create poor taste and odor, as well as not-so-detectable ones, that may have some harmful effects. Since 70% of our bodies are made up of water, and we can only survive without it a few short days, isn’t it essential to make sure the water you drink is as clean as possible?

This article is going to give you a general overview of the challenges we face with our drinking water quality.

First of all, where does water come from? Is it limitless and renewable? We have usable access to less than 1% of all the earth’s water.  Water goes through a natural process of evaporation from ground sources, into the atmosphere and back. That’s over-simplification, but most of us know our water resources get low when we haven’t had enough rainfall.  As water concentrates in  lakes, rivers and waterways and underground, it can carry contamination from many sources. Chemicals, heavy metals, human and animal waste, mining and factory discharge, and living organisms such as bacteria and parasites are commonly found in the earth’s water.

watercyclesummary.jpg

Let’s take a look at this in relation to our use of the water and our health.

From the beginning of history, one of man’s biggest threats has been biologically contaminated drinking water causing disease and death for millions. In first-world countries we have overcome that danger with various disinfection processes, the most common being the use of chlorine. Now, you may not know chlorine itself is dangerous to our health and linked to cancers, but it has become a “necessary evil” in our modern world. Since most public treatment systems use chlorine and the water often comes from surface water sources such as lakes and rivers, the chlorine mixes with organics in the water and creates what is called “disinfection by-products”. These are a host of chemicals that can cause even more illness and cancer. One of the primary chemicals from disinfection is called Trihalomethanes. Just this week in our region of North Carolina they reported elevated levels of this in our drinking water.

Toxic chemicals in drinking water are becoming so common now that public awareness is beginning to increase.  Another big chemical threat is the many pharmaceuticals that get dumped into our water supplies. How does this happen? Did you ever flush an expired drug prescription down the toilet? How about the instances where illegal drugs are flushed during a drug raid? Narcotics, contraceptives, hormones, antibiotics, anti-depressants, you name it, it’s probably ended up in a water source near you. And, don’t forget, any drugs you take can leave your body with your waste and flush into the sewer on a daily basis. You must be saying to yourself by now, HOW does that have anything to do with drinking water? Well, brace yourself! MANY of our municipal water treatment centers are downstream from sewer treatment centers. In our area we have sewer plants discharging water into the same lakes and river system that our water treatment plants are drawing the water supply from. The term “toilet to tap” is getting very real in many areas of the country. In fact, California is already converting sewage to drinking water in the midst of severe drought.

See this short excerpt video from 60 Minutes on CA Toilet to Tap Reality

Our public water treatment systems are often aging, as are the miles of water supply lines snaking through urban areas, sometimes laying within the same trenches as the sewer lines. So, even if the treatment plant succeeded in removing all targeted contaminants (except, of course, the disinfecting chemicals and added fluoride), you have no guarantee that what comes out of your faucet is safe.

Well water users are also vulnerable to the many ground water pollutants that can travel from miles around through underground aquifers to reach and contaminate private or community wells. Gasoline products leaking from storage tanks, toxic chemical dumping and farming chemicals are just a few ways your well water could be compromised. Microbial contaminants are also a primary concern in well water as are heavy metals such as lead and arsenic.

So, where does that leave you and your options for healthier water? You may be one of the millions that regularly purchase bottled water, thinking it’s better than your tap water. Well, maybe not! Many bottled waters are simply bottled tap water with no filtering or treatment process. Others use some form of treatment, but storing water in a plastic bottle can leach chemicals from the bottle, especially in  warmer temperatures. The bottles themselves have become a landfill issue, even heavily polluting our lakes and streams.

To ensure you are getting the safest and healthiest water to drink, you really need to consider your own “point-of-use” water treatment. It may be confusing to choose from the many options for water filtering or water purification. In order to know what treatment your water needs you should answer some simple questions:

1) Is your water from a city source, community well or private well?

2) Have you had a water test to screen for specific contaminants or do you have a water report from your municipal services? You can request this if you have a public water supply and some areas offer free testing. Remember, though, you may not get a comprehensive test that shows all the varied contaminants, so be careful.

There are testing options from simple and limited home kits starting at around $20 to full analysis at nationally certified labs at upwards of $300. Understanding your water quality is a valuable tool in deciding what water treatment system is going to serve your needs.

Filtration options are varied from simple carbon refrigerator or pitcher-type filters to multi-stage processes either at one tap or on the whole house. Added media beyond carbon can help reduce some chemicals and metals that carbon can’t remove, such as fluoride. Disinfecting is an added component for well water that could be infected with e-coli or other disease-causing microbes. Point of use options also include water ionizers or alkalizers, which are gaining popularity in the US.

You can find water quality consultants who are trained to guide you through the process of water analysis and treatment options. Be aware though, some professionals are not without bias and may be sales reps for specific water treatment systems.

If you’d like to participate in our NORMI National Water Screening Project short survey, it will allow you to request valuable free phone consultation with the author of this article.

 

Linda Eicher is an Indoor Environmental Health Professional specializing in assessing indoor air quality, water quality and mold since 1995. She is the CEO of Environmental Services Group Carolinas, LLC.  Linda also serves as the National Training Director for Best Training School, a training provider for environmental professionals, NORMI certifications and state mold licensing requirements.

EPA Launches Mobile APP for School IAQ Screenings

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Schools tend to be a hot bed for mold, mildew, dust mites, and other IAQ issues. Long ignored, school districts are starting to pay attention to the health and learning issues that can be caused by the air in their buildings. To assist, the Environmental Protection Agency has recently launched a new app to help school officials detect  indoor air quality issues.

“Kids learn best in a healthy school environment. Now there’s an app for that! This app puts a powerful tool in the hands of people at the state, district and school level to protect children’s health” said Janet McCabe, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “This mobile app is our latest effort to provide updated, user-friendly guidance to help schools identify, resolve and prevent indoor air quality problems, using low- and no-cost measures.”

For more information, click here.

American Lung Association Agrees That Poor IAQ Can Contribute to Poor Health

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Poor IAQ Can Contribute to Poor HealthMany Americans are living or working in buildings contaminated by mold, mildew, bacteria, particulate, dust mites VOCs, etc. This very often can contribute to a variety of health issues. The American Lung Association says on their website that, “Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma. In addition, it can cause headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue. People who already have lung disease are at greater risk.”

For more information on the kinds of contaminates to be concerned about, and how it contributes to your health visit their website.

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