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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.
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.
Friday, October 10th, 2014
Customer service doesn’t have to be evil!
Does Your IAQ Business Get Thumbs Down for Service?
No matter how great your company’s product or service is, if your customer service skills are lacking, it won’t make much difference. This is especially true in today’s economy, as struggling business owners need every possible advantage over their competition. Unfortunately, far too many business owners make the same mistakes over and over again, sending their customers into the arms of their competitors. Here are 5 simple but effective ways for small business owners to turn angry, frustrated, or dissatisfied customers into happy customers — who come back for more!
1. Not Training Your Staff Properly
It does not matter whether you have two or two hundred employees, you must train everyone in the art of customer service. Customers and clients will not tolerate rudeness, incorrect information, or apathy on the part of your staff. Not taking the time to thoroughly train ALL employees — from the bottom to the top — is a major mistake made by too many indoor environment businesses.
2. Trying to Win the Argument with a Customer
It is worth remembering that it takes five times more effort and cost to gain one new customer than it does to maintain one current customer. When it comes to succeeding as a small business owner, it really is true that “the customer is always right.” If you try to win an argument but lose a steady customer, you are punishing yourself and your business with lost revenue — and, very likely, ensuring bad reviews on sites like Yelp.
3. Being Inaccessible to Customers
If you want to see repeat business, you need to be reachable by your customers. If people find it difficult to contact the customer service department or speak to a manager, they may not return. Many businesses, especially online, try to maintain a distance from their customers, but this often backfires by sending people somewhere else where they’ll get the one-on-one attention they are looking for.
4. Standing by Your Policy … No Matter What
Treat every customer interaction as an opportunity to build a personal relationship — this is one of the ways small businesses can shine where a huge, faceless corporation can’t. While the store clerk who is scared to lose his job can say “Sorry, that’s our policy,” customer service representatives and managers should be able to find ways to bend policies to build positive customer relationships. The phrase “If I do that for you, I’ll have do to it for everyone,” is one of the fastest ways to lose customers.
5. Failing to Keep Promises
If you assure a customer that something will be ready by Thursday, then it should be ready by Thursday — no exceptions. If you can’t honor your commitments to a customer for reasons beyond your control, do not make excuses; the only words you need to remember are “We’re sorry,” backed up by an extra effort to make the customer happy. Be sure customers give you the thumbs up!
Source: All Business
photo credit: mattygroves via photopin cc
Sunday, August 28th, 2011
Abita Springs, LA
NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors, conducted its first Virginia Mold Licensing class in Alexandria last week between an earthquake and impending Hurricane Irene. The successful training provided three days of mold training for professionals who were interested in being trained as Mold Inspectors and Mold Remediator Supervisors which include a curriculum sponsored by NORMI, a Virginia Board-Approved training provider. This training included 24 hours of training centered on the techniques of assessment and remediation including hands-on training, lectures, and the specifics of mold, its helath effects and mold management for removal.
“We started the week with a thundering earthquake and finished with flight to prepare for the impending hurricane,” reported Doug Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI. “Amidst the excitement we provided excellent mold training from four highly experienced and dedicated trainers who converged on Alexandra, PA from Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey and Louisiana. All in all we were impressed with the dedication and commitment of these mold professionals who came and stayed for the express purpose of getting the training they need to comply with the Virginia Mold Licensing law. We will be in Pennsylvania next week and anticipate another great group of guys who want to learn better how to practice their craft.”
For more information on classes designed specifically to meet the Virginia Mold Licensing Law contact Best Training School at 888.856.4803 or view the easy-to-understand mold training video for more information. Classes are being conducted in Virginia and other states. The next class will be held in Pennsylvania, PA at the Schapers Supply store. For information on NORMI, contact 877.251.2296 or email email@example.com. Facilities Maintenance Directors, Home Inspectors, General Contractors and other professionals who deal with toxic mold removal should consider taking this course to understand the correct standards that should be utilized to remove toxic mold from indoor environments.
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
Abita Springs, 08/02/2011
NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors, announced today that mold classes have been scheduled in Pennsylvania to meet the new Commonwealth of Virginia DPOR Mold Licensing Law and give Pennsylvania mold professionals the training and credibility they need to succeed in the marketplace. The classes will be held at Schaper’s Supply in Philadelphia, PA on 09/27-29/11 and include the 16 hour Mold Worker, 24 hour Mold Remediator Supervisor and 24 hour Mold Inspector courses. Each course offers a proctored examination at the end of the final day and provides the needed paperwork to secure Virginia licensing. NORMI was approved in July as a training provider for the Virginia Mold Licensing law as well as Louisiana and Florida and is scheduling classes throughout the eastern seaboard to meet these licensing requirements.
“We are excited to be able to offer a regional training in Pennsylvania,” said Doug Hoffman, CEO of NORMI. “Training is essential for mold professionals who want to do it right and the public will be protected when they hire a NORMI pro! Our goal is to train as many professionals who want to enter this industry or expand their knowledge to include a better understanding of the IICRC, NYC Guidelines and EPA standards. This is a great opportunity for all mold professionals who want to perfect their craft!”
Classes are listed at www.BestTrainingSchool.com where students can register with a small down payment or call 888.856.4803 to register by phone. A fax registration is also available at the online registration website. For more information about NORMI, contact 877.251.2296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, January 8th, 2011
Abita Springs, LA
“I read, with interest, the New York State report on toxic mold and concluded that you can spend a lot of money to study a problem and land in the same place that many before you landed. For years we have taught on the following: 1) you must use proper procedures for removing mold from contaminated environments. 2) if you don’t fix the moisture source (whether inside the envelope or a penetration in the envelope of the building) the problems will come back. 3) even with the use of good protectants, a wholistic approach must be used that includes proper lifestyle changes, indoor air quality equipment, and safe/biodegradeable cleaners. 4) sometimes contamination levels are so high that materials need to be discarded rather than cleaned. 5) the industry should be properly regulated with good, fair legislation that requires mold professionals to be trained, licensed and insured.
In my book at www.MoldFreeConstruction.com I talk about the importance of all of these issues and this book becomes a guideline for homeowners who have or are concerned about having mold-related problems in their home. There is not doubt that the good health of our families depend on these kinds of environmental issues.
So, I encourage you to read the full report and use it as a document to help explain why good training organizations, like www.BestTrainingSchool.com, good certifying organizations, like www.NORMI.org, and good companies providing mold removal products, like www.BestLivingSystems.com continue to improve indoor living environment, one building at a time.” D. Douglas Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI, National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors
NYS Toxic Mold Task Force Completes Final Report
Section 1384 of the New York State (NYS) Public Health Law established the NYS Toxic Mold Task Force. The goals of the NYS Toxic Mold Task Force was to:
- assess and measure, based on scientific evidence, the adverse environmental and health effects of mold exposure, including specific effects on population subgroups at greater risk of adverse effects;
- assess the latest scientific data on mold exposure limits;
- identify actions taken by state and local government and other entities;
- determine methods to control and mitigate mold; and prepare a report to the Governor and Legislature.
To achieve these goals the NYS Toxic Mold Task Force activities were organized into four main areas of inquiry:
- health effects of molds in indoor environments;
- exposure limits and assessment of mold in buildings;
- approaches to mold mitigation and remediation;
- building codes, regulations and other actions taken by other governments and private-sector organizations that relate to building mold problems.
In reading the executive summary it is clear that the NYS Toxic Mold Task Force came to the usual conclusions regarding mold that the many in the industry already know. For example:
- Since mold problems in buildings are preventable with proper building construction, maintenance, and housekeeping aimed at preventing excess building dampness, mold exposure is preventable.
- Overabundant growth of any mold or other dampness-related organisms is undesirable and can be addressed by removing contaminants and correcting water problems. Whether or not exposure to mold toxins is likely when mold growth occurs in a damp building does not substantially change the need for mitigation of the water and mold problem.
- Continue to improve building code requirements that address building design, construction techniques, and property maintenance so that they prevent or minimize the potential for water problems to occur.
- The presence and power of the code enforcement official (CEO) can also help minimize the potential mold problems in buildings when approving construction documents, during construction inspections of new buildings, and when issuing property-maintenance violations related to moisture conditions in existing buildings during required inspections.
- Regulating the mold assessment and remediation service industry is dependent upon how desirable it is to have persons poperly trained and following acceptable protocols. The main public health goal of any regulation or additional guidance to the mold industry will be to reduce the potential for mold exposures and the risk of health effects in damp buildings. Costs for such a program can range from $150,000 for using already developed general recommended work practices and certification programs to $4.5 million per year for a full regulatory program like the NYS asbestos program.
- The development of reliable, health-based quantitative mold exposure limits is not currently feasible.
- Their is limited evidence of the benefits of chemical disinfectants or encapsulant treatments for mitigating or preventing mold growth on building materials.
- The main approach to mold control and mitigation should be focused on identifying and repairing water damage in buildings and removing mold source materials. This method of mitigation is less complicated to implement than mitigation based on attaining a numerical clearance critertion, because the main goal is to return the building to a clean and dry condition.
The document is 150 pages including tables and exhibits. It will be interesting to see if this document actually goes anywhere in regulating the mold assessment and remediation industry. REPRINTED from futureen.blogspot
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
The National Construction Warranty Corporation has approved the NORMI Assessment and Remediation Protocols for their 10 Yr. Warranty! Homeowners with Chinese Drywall problems can now have them SOLVED permanently by utilizing a NORMI professional. And those interested in learning how to perform the work so a warranty can be offered to their clients are invited to take a closer look at the CDW program by NORMI. It is the best in the marketplace!
NORMI, through Best Training School, is now offering training on interim controls and the remediation of Chinese Drywall, beginning NOW. This training will help hundreds, even thousands, of homeowners and professionals who are currently dealing with this issue. “We have been studying the Contaminated Drywall issue (formally referred to as ‘Chinese Drywall’, ‘Defective Drywall’, ‘Imported Drywall’ and ‘Corrosive Drywall’) for nearly two years. Our team of expert researchers, engineers, construction professionals, microbiologists and remediation specialists started in the summer of 2008 when clients first called NORMI looking for solutions. There has been a lot of ‘misinformation’ dispensed and ‘gimmickry’ solutions offered to address these problems but finally, we have found the solution and are proud to partner with Best Training School to train professionals on the assessment and remediation of Contaminated Drywall (CDW).
The problem first required intense scrutiny and investigation through a variety of disciplines. We have looked at the building science aspects of the problem, IICRC S-520 and NYC Guidelines for potential mitigation/remediation solutions, microbiological analysis utilizing DNA sampling and straight microscopy to help us identify a more holistic approach to the problem and relied on our intense construction background to propose a solution. But that wasn’t enough! Once you have a proposed solution, a mitigation/remediation protocol that works, how can you find someone who is well-trained AND insured to actually perform the work?
Now we have accomplished our purposes: provide a program that really 1) identifies the problem, through proper assessment, 2) effectively removes the source of the problem, through remediation protocols that are holistic, effective and specific to the unique job and 3) provides the customer with a guarantee that the problems WILL NOT return, a warranty aspect absent from many proposed solutions.
Well-trained, highly skilled, licensed and insured professionals for assessment AND remediation with protocols that work—come see for yourself at the next Best Training School CDW Certification class near you!” Doug Hoffman–Executive Director of NORMI
THE MITIGATION/REMEDIATION TRAINING
The NORMI Certified CDW Remediator (CCDWR)—The NORMI Certified CDW Remediator is a fully licensed and insured construction professional who has met the stringent requirements associated with the mold remediation certification (NORMI Certified Mold Remediator) also offered by NORMI. Having been trained in the standard remediation protocols (IICRC S-500, IICRC S-520, NYC Guidelines, EPA, and others) the NORMI Certified CDWR fully understands how modifying existing cleaning, restoration, mitigation and remediation techniques accomplishes the overall goals of contaminated drywall mitigation/remediation. When implementing contaminated drywall mitigation/remediation the utilization of proper containment, establishing negative pressure, use of Personal Protection Equipment and chemical/mechanical sanitization techniques are vital to the successful project. The NORMI CDWR attends this training with a rich background of training and experience so projects can be initiated immediately upon completion of the course.
The ASSESSMENT TRAINING
The NORMI Certified CDW Assessor (CCDWA)—The NORMI Certified CDW Assessor is a fully licensed and insured professional trained in all aspects of IAQ-related and CDW assessment because, first and foremost, the issues related to corrosive drywall are indoor air quality problems. The “rotten-egg odors”, the VOCs, relative humidity anomalies, and surface contamination all affect indoor air quality and must, therefore, be fixed and continually managed. The assessment process identifies those factors contributing to the symptoms in that specific and unique project then proposes protocols that mitigate or remediate the problem. The solutions are specifically tailored to match the design, construction and nature of the problem. In some cases the contaminated drywall is asymptomatic and requires only the installation of IAQ management techniques, light mitigation and/or containment. In other cases, removal of the contaminated drywall is in order. Rather than taking a “let’s kill the flea with an elephant gun” approach, the NORMI Certified CDWA is trained to match the solution with the problem. There will be no “unnecessary” redundancy just to cover up or mask the problems. The problems are identified and protocols written to solve the problem at its source.
THE HEALTHIER HOME WARRANTY
The NORMI Healthier Home Warranty is the goal of all mitigation/remediation projects. A home that has been properly assessed and remediated qualifies for the ongoing warranty which guarantees to the homeowner, the problems were solved. Upon completion of the project the homeowner is presented with a NORMI Certificate of Sanitization as a third-party confirmation that all protocols were followed resulting in a post remediation verification that all levels of IAQ are in “expected/normal” ranges. The NORMI Certificate of Sanitization then becomes the basis for the ongoing warranty. Should the homeowner elect to continue this warranty, an annual compliance review is scheduled and ongoing IAQ management through IAQ monitoring and maintenance is implemented.
For more information on how this training and solution could help you, call the NORMI CDW Hotline at 877.251.2296 x 8911 or email email@example.com
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Best Training School, LLC a training provider for many states, announced today that they will be bringing their classes to Portland OR for a BTS Regional Training scheduled for June 4-6, 2009. This event will feature classes on indoor air quality, power savings devices, mold inspection and assessment certified by NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors. Scheduled in the line-up will be training by activTek Environmental, an IAQ Solutions manufacturer based in Dallas, TX who produces commercial indoor air quality products.
“We are very excited about this upcoming event,” said Mr. Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI. “This event gives the local contractors, mold professionals, home inspectors, and general public an opportunity to receive the very best training available in their specific area of interest. We have been to Portland before and look forward to the typically good reception from the professionals in that beautiful area of the country.”
Best Training School, LLC offers both ONLINE and ONSITE trainings and NORMI provides certifications and one of the strongest support systems in the industry for its members. To register for a class, go to www.BestTrainingSchool.com and for more information on NORMI go to www.NORMI.org or call 877.251.2296
Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors is America’s #1 provider of training and certification for Indoor Air Quality Screening to Contractors and IAQ Sales Professionals. I believe it is time to define indoor air quality in a new and exciting way.
Over the past decade, millions of Americans have become more aware of Indoor Air Quality issues and contaminants that can contribute to negative health. During this same period of time, a number of Indoor Air Quality products have been masterfully marketed promoting the concept that one product can solve all of your indoor air quality problems. Whenever I am confronted with a commercial heralding these amazing products, I am reminded of snake oil salesmen in the old west. Just one teaspoon of snake oil per day will cure all that ails you. The reality is that indoor air environments are complex and diverse with many causes and hundreds of contaminants that can contribute to unhealthy conditions. To promote a program that promises “one product fixes all” is simply unprofessional. To honestly provide solutions to these significant Indoor Air Quality problems, management systems utilizing multiple products must be designed. Most importantly, before any management system is designed, the indoor environments must be assessed and screened documenting specific inherent indoor air quality problems within the environment.
In the medical profession, prognosis without diagnosis is malpractice. Much like medical professionals, indoor air quality contractors and sales professionals should be trained and certified to assess environments and define IAQ problems prior to providing solutions. Factors contributing to poor indoor air include odors, gasses, bio-contaminants and airborne allergenic particulate commonly known as dust. Most of the contaminants contributing to unhealthy environments are not visible to the naked eye. Many times an unhealthy environment looks the same as a healthy environment. Pet dander, pollen, mold spores, volatile organic chemicals in cleaning products, paints, glues, litter boxes, dust mite feces and dead skin are unseen contaminants that contribute to unhealthy indoor air. Anyone of these can lead to allergic reactions, and some alone can lead to chronic health issues. With no management systems in place, our immune systems are the only line of defense in battling this unending barrage of indoor air contaminants. No wonder it is estimated that over 70% of the indoor environments in America are unhealthy.
The point is this: professionals like heating and air conditioning contractors or Indoor Air Quality sales persons should be trained in the basic methods of assessing and screening indoor air environments. They have a responsibility to educate the customer about indoor air contaminants and a responsibility to assess and screen environments prior to selling indoor air quality products or services. The standard method used by environmental consultants when defining indoor air environments is survey, assess, sample and then solve.
Information such as the health status of individuals living in the environment, possible causes of IAQ problems like water damage, and areas of discoloration are gathered in the survey. Assessment of the home should include major spaces like general living areas, water prone areas, and heating and cooling systems. Air or surface samples should be taken and delivered to laboratories for analysis to identify and quantify indoor contaminants. Once all of this information is gathered through surveys, assessments, and sampling, IAQ management systems can be designed and solutions can then be provided to the customer.
For those professionals who are selling indoor air quality products and services, it is time to define. If you are not already trained in the assessment, screening and defining of indoor air environments, start now. Millions of Americans are faced with serious health issues that can be cured by providing well designed IAQ management systems for their specific indoor air quality problems. The only way contractors and IAQ sales persons can provide customers with these services is by becoming trained and certified in methods of surveying, assessing, sampling and then designing IAQ management systems for defined IAQ problems.
The market for indoor air quality products and services is exploding. To secure your piece of the IAQ pie, invest in your education and training.
D. Douglas Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI