Occupational Exposure Limits

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the October 2013 newsletter.

OSHA uses Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) to regulate worker exposure to airborne contaminants. Many of its PELs are “outdated and inadequate for ensuring protection of worker health”.  That’s a quote from OSHA itself, not some opinionated blogger!

Most of the current PELs are state of the art… for 1968.  Admittedly, it’s hard to jump through all the hoops required to update PELs.  The lack of updates hasn’t hindered other organizations from incorporating the latest research, technology and experience.  OSHA has now created a list of its “outdated” PELs with side-by-side comparisons to the following occupational exposure limits:

  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs®)
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs)
  • California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)

Now you don’t need to thumb through four different publications to see the various occupational exposure limits.  The coolest part? In the past, you needed to purchase the TLVs® each year from the ACGIH®.  Now OSHA gives them to you for free.

Note the difference between occupational exposure limits for two common IAQ contaminants:

Formaldehyde

  • OSHA PEL: none
  • ACGIH® TLV®: 0.3 ppm ceiling
  • NIOSH REL: 0.016 ppm up to 10-hour TWA (carcinogen), 0.1 ppm 15-minute ceiling
  • Cal/OSHA PEL: 0.75 ppm 8-hour TWA, 2 ppm short term

Carbon monoxide

  • OSHA PEL: 50 ppm 8-hour TWA
  • ACGIH® TLV®: 25 ppm 8-hour TWA
  • NIOSH REL: 35 ppm Up to 10-hour TWA, 200 ppm ceiling
  • Cal/OSHA PEL: 25 ppm 8-hour TWA, 200 ppm ceiling

To view the entire list of chemicals, visit this month’s featured website: OSHA’s Annotated PELs.

Please note: occupational exposure limits are not designed to be protective of the entire population.  In our classes you will learn about other, more protective exposure guidelines.

IE Connections Now Online

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the January 2009 newsletter.

In the past we have featured the website for Indoor Environment Connections. But it just got better. So much so that we decided to feature them again as the IAQ Website of the Month.

Although many of you already receive this publication, it is now free to everyone else. A full PDF version of the publication is available on their homepage. You may find the PDF version preferable because you can search for specific terms and keep unlimited editions on your computer. If you’re like me, you may also appreciate cutting down on your carbon footprint.

If you are not already familiar with IE Connections, it is a monthly newspaper that keeps you up to date on emerging standards and technology in the IAQ field. Most articles have a more casual writing style when compared to other industry publications like Indoor Air. My favorite feature of the publication is the Ask Dr. Harriet Burge section where she fields submitted questions.

To visit this months featured website, click IE Connections.

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

The Top Radon Website

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the September 2010 newsletter.

I try to be an equal opportunity educator who highlights all the major IAQ contaminants. Admittedly, radon has received minimal attention in my newsletter, so this month I set things straight.

When it comes to radon websites, one stands head and shoulders above the rest. Three of the most recognized radon organizations (EPA, AARST, CRCPD) created a portal that does it all.

The following sections of the website provide excellent information:

Scientific papers on radon from leading journals
Latest radon news
Miscellaneous radon publications

The site also maintains a good discussion forum, but that requires registering on the site. The registration is free but a little time consuming.

If you are thinking about getting into radon assessment or mitigation work, check out the website’s listing of states with licensing requirements.

To visit this month’s featured website, click: www.RadonLeaders.org

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

Have Ian, the indoor air nerd, consult on radon issues in your home. Visit the Radon Testing page of our website for more information.

Mold and Health

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the October 2010 newsletter.

I recently had a client ask, “Are these levels of mold that you found causing my symptoms?” It may seem like an innocuous question, but it proves to be quite tricky to answer. It puts you in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. Let me explain.

If you do provide an answer, either affirmative or negative, you are taking on the role of a licensed health care provider.

If you don’t provide any answer, you may be leaving that person stranded with a family doctor that has no clue how to interpret mold data.

May I suggest some middle ground? Provide general information on the health effects of mold. For this, you only want the most trusted resources available. There is too much information in the internet that tends to one of two extremes.

This month’s featured websites are the two most reliable resources to reference when dealing with health effects:

The first document is from the World Health Organization and the second from the Institute of Medicine, which is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. You can read the documents online, but I recommend purchasing the bound books to add to your library.

These two documents are by no means perfect. They do, however, provide authoritative information on the whole “soup” of problems that happen with dampness.

To visit this month’s featured websites, click the two links below:

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

Check out our Certified Microbial Investigator course for more information on mold and health.

State IAQ Laws

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the November 2010 newsletter.

On a federal level, very few regulations exist in the United States that are related to indoor air quality. Individual states, however, have been very active in regulating indoor environmental contaminants. In fact, there are so many state regulations, it can be menacing to keep them all straight.

This month’s featured website is a detailed listing of all state IAQ regulations from the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). Lists of any regulations become outdated quickly, so you’ll be happy to note that ELI updated their database earlier this year.

The list of regulations is in PDF format, freely available to download. You can download a list of all regulations or only those pertaining to mold, radon, or schools. I recommend downloading the complete database of laws and saving it on your computer. I wouldn’t print it out for two reasons:

  1. The list is 66 pages long
  2. It violates one of my 4 Rules to Keeping Documents Organized

I would strongly recommend you read through your state’s regulations, but don’t stop there! Read the regulations of any neighboring states where you may occasionally work. You’ll find wide discrepancies in regulations, just by crossing over a state border.

These regulations are the law, not just a mere guideline. Therefore, it is your duty to comply with all state regulations.

To visit this month’s featured website, visit: Environmental Law Institute. You’ll want to navigate to the download page and follow the “CLICK HERE to download” link.

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

USGBC’s Ask a Pro

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the January 2011 newsletter.

In efforts to green your home or your clients’ homes, you will inevitably ponder some tough questions. Fortunately, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) maintains a great website called, “Green Home Guide.” A little known section on their site called “Ask a Pro” is a wealth of information.

The questions submitted by the public are on topics ranging from indoor air quality to solar panel installation. You’ll find a surprising number of the questions relate to indoor air quality and building science.

Here are some select questions that are answered on the site:

The questions are answered by people labeling themselves as experts in the field. I will caution you that I have seen inaccuracies in some of the replies. Check the comments section of each Q&A and hopefully others have corrected any mistakes.

If you know a thing or two about IAQ and green buildings, join the website, get involved, and improve on the answers given. If, on the other hand, you don’t know a thing or two, feel free to submit some questions!

To visit this month’s featured website, visit: USGBC Green Home Guide’s Ask a Pro.

To subscribe to this newsletter click the following link: IAQ Website of the Month.

IAQ, House Plants and More…

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the April 2011 newsletter.

When I was touring one of Chicago’s first green buildings, the tour guide turned our attention to some house plants. He remarked how these plants improved the indoor air quality. Is that really true?

This month’s featured website, BuildingEcology.com, has a scientific opinion on the matter. The site has a few resources devoted to the relationship between IAQ and house plants. This link is a good place to start: IAQ and Plants.

The website has several excellent articles on a wide range of IAQ topics. Many of the articles are written by Hal Levin, a well-known consultant, researcher and author. He’s also the Executive Director of ISIAQ and involved in the upcoming event Indoor Air 2011 in Austin, TX June 5-10.
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Articles, Videos and Downloads from Berkeley Lab

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the June 2011 newsletter.

A few years ago, I featured a website from Berkeley Labs’s Indoor Environment Department. Back then I highlighted all the articles you could download, but finding them was an absolute pain.

This month I’m re-featuring the Indoor Environment site and a few others from Berkeley Lab. You can now easily search those countless articles with a new interface. Check out their Publications page and use the drop down for “keyword”. Pick the keyword that most interests you from the list of over a 100 options.

But wait, that’s not all! Berkeley Lab has also built a website called the IAQ Scientific Findings Resource Bank. It has great information all around, but I especially like it’s drill down pages on the following three topics:

20 Years of Indoor Air Journal

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the August 2011 newsletter.

Last month I shared the four publications that I faithfully read each month:

  • ASHRAE Journal
  • Indoor Air Journal (bi-monthly)
  • IE Connections
  • The Synergist

Of these, I get most excited when the Indoor Air Journal shows up every other month. A subscription to the Indoor Air Journal is provided to members of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ). ISIAQ has traditionally been an organization comprised of international researchers, but there is a growing interest from practitioners who actually apply the research to IAQ field work.
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Resources for Infrared

Each month we publish a newsletter titled IAQ Website of the Month.  The excerpt below was originally published in the September 2011 newsletter.

Do you want to learn how infrared cameras might be used as part of an IAQ assessment? Would like to better understand what infrared cameras can and can’t do?

This month’s featured website provides free online training on a wide range of topics related to infrared thermography. The Infrared Training Center is run by a large manufacturer of infrared cameras, FLIR Systems. They offer free camera specific training, but I would like to highlight a few classes on general infrared thermography.
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