Monday, January 13, 2014

Need help with (insert topic here)? There's an ASTM Standard for that!

I have been slowly purchasing and collecting ASTM International Standards for years (they're not entirely cheap), and this weekend, I developed a wish list of ASTM standards I plan to purchase in 2014.

Under Industrial Hygiene and Safety Standards:

ASTM E2238 - 12: Standard Guide for Evacuation Route Diagrams ($37)

ASTM F1461 - 12: Standard Practice for Chemical Protective Clothing Program ($42)

ASTM D4276 - 02 (2012): Standard Practice for Confined Area Entry ($37)

ASTM E2565 - 09: Standard Guide for Consensus-based Process for an Occupational Safety and Health Standard that Includes an Occupational Exposure Guideline ($37)

For Asbestos:

ASTM E2356 - 10: Standard Practice for Comprehensive Building Asbestos Surveys ($67)

ASTM E1368 - 11: Standard Practice for Visual Inspection of Asbestos Abatement Projects ($48)

ASTM D7201 - 06 (2011): Standard Practice for Sampling and Counting Airborne Fibers, Including Asbestos Fibers, in the Workplace, by Phase Contrast Microscopy (with an Option of Transmission Electron Microscopy) ($60)

For Lead:

ASTM E2255 / E2255M - 13: Standard Practice for Conducting Visual Assessments for Lead Hazards in Buildings ($48)

ASTM E2239 - 12: Standard Practice for Record Keeping and Record Preservation for Lead Hazard Activities ($37)

For Mold and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ):

ASTM D7338 - 10: Standard Guide for Assessment Of Fungal Growth in Buildings ($42)

ASTM D6245 - 12: Standard Guide for Using Indoor Carbon Dioxide Concentrations to Evaluate Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation ($32)

If you're a professor or faculty at a university or college, there's a variety of resources available for you and your students. If you're a student, there's limited grant money available for research assistance if you use an ASTM standard in your research.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Useful (and free!) training from FEMA for Industrial Hygienists and Occupational Safety Professionals

While preparing the syllabus and course content for my Spring 2014 course in "Emergency Preparedness and Pre-Planning" at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ, I developed a list of free training sources available on the Internet for my graduate students to use. 

Sometimes if I'm in need of a quick refresher, I turn to these sources for additional guidance. 

Today's list of courses is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Their Independent Study Program will give you certificates of completion and even college credit if you need (and pay for) it. The courses are not just about emergency management and preparedness - they cover a range of topics, as you can see below.

Courses that an Industrial Hygienist or Occupational Safety and Health Professional may find useful:

IS-5.a: An Introduction to Hazardous Materials 

Many of these are on my "to do" list (once I have a little free time). According to FEMA's website, the listed courses will take anywhere from 1.5 to 10 hours to complete.

The next few posts will be on free training in mold, asbestos, lead, safety and health management, and other topics of interest to industrial hygiene and safety professionals. These free training courses won't "certify" you to do the work, just raise your awareness and understanding.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Equipment for the New Year! Featuring Extech.

So, no surprise, starting and operating a business is a tad expensive. But Spore Consulting needs to have equipment in order to actually do work and provide services. Go figure.

I really wanted to purchase fancy equipment, but I also wanted to be able to eat and pay my bills. The whole idea of depreciation on equipment is cool for tax purposes, but less cool when you remember that you still have to pay for it up front (usually).

So I went shopping on Amazon. Spouse and I buy pretty much everything but food on Amazon, thanks to living in a rural-ish area. FYI, no promotional consideration from Extech or Amazon was received for these reviews - I just wanted to let the industry know that there are lower-cost alternatives available for new consultants starting out in indoor air quality and industrial hygiene

What I've purchased so far:

Thoughts on the Extech MO260 Moisture Meter

This is modified from my Amazon review. The pin and pinless availability is nice - I don't always like to poke holes in walls and other water-damaged materials to evaluate the moisture content. Property owners tend to get flinchy if I put holes in their walls. Bonus: the meter comes with extra pins (look in the battery area). 

The meter's indicator sound for the yellow and red ranges is somewhat annoying - I'll eventually read the manual to figure out if this sound can be turned down or off. Last time I used this, the tenant representatives were freaking out every time it made a sound, asking, "Is is bad? Should we be worried?" Gaah. I'd like it to be quieter so I can attempt to be discreet. More on that later.

This meter is larger than the other moisture meters I have used (i.e. Protimeter Surveymaster). It is handheld-ish but doesn't fit great in my back pocket. Remember that this meter requires "D" batteries, so keep extras on hand. The black fabric case is decent quality and roomy, so you can fit a pen-size temperature and humidity meter in the case as well. 

Thoughts on the Extech EA80 IAQ Meter

This is also modified from my Amazon review. I imagined this would be a similar size to the TSI IAQ meters and Graywolf sensing meters that I used to rent for IAQ surveys, but it is not. It's smaller (think hand-held) and the wand is also tiny (a little bit bigger than a standard highlighter). It has a built-in stand so that you can lean it on a surface while collecting measurements. All in all, I am pleasantly surprised.

The meter itself is green but has a bright orange form-fitted case for if you accidentally drop it (not that I ever would!). The meter requires 6 AAA batteries (comes with 6) and software for graphing data points for use in reports. This comes in a fairly large black plastic case - I use it to hold the IAQ meter and a moisture meter. I haven't used it in the field yet, but have used it in my house and outside. It looks like it will fit my needs for limited IAQ surveys.

Calibration appears to be simple.

Thoughts on the Extech Temperature and Humidity Pen

Ditto on the Amazon review. I needed a temperature/humidity meter that I could use with my moisture meter for initial site assessments after water damage - at the time, I had super-limited flexible income and couldn't afford the EA80 IAQ Meter. I bought this one because it was cheap and readily available. 

My two issues with it: 

  1. It turns on (and stays on) while in the case because the buttons are really sensitive, so sometimes it is out of batteries when I have hardly used it.
  2. The clip in the back snaps off pretty much the first time you try and clip it to anything (fail).

It does what it needs to and works as anticipated. I just have to keep extra batteries in the case.

View of my lovely new equipment:

The Industrious Hygienist's starter IAQ arsenal. Highlighter to show the relative size.

What I plan to purchase in the future:

Other equipment on my wish list:

Friday, January 3, 2014

This is my Accountability Dalek.

I'm doing this blog post as an extension of my review of this super-fun product on Amazon

I have this freaking adorable Dalek sitting on my computer desk, positioned so that I can see the Dalek's "head" over my laptop. 

My Accountability Dalek in action. Watching me work.

Every now and then, when I am bored (Gasp! Say it isn't true!) or needing to smile, I squish the Dalek to make it talk. The sticker on its midsection says "TRY ME!" On some stuffed animals, this is an invitation. With the Accountability Dalek, it's a direct challenge. 

"Exterminate! Exterminate!" I like to play that one when people are getting a little snippy on the phone. If you haven't watched Doctor Who, you're missing out. See a clip here. Summarizes the show quite nicely.

"You would make a good Dalek." I sometimes use that one when I am feeling particularly robot-like or like my hands are glued to my ergonomic keyboard. It reminds me to get up, move around, look around, and experience the world in person, not just through Google.

"You are an enemy of the Daleks! You must be destroyed!" I like to play that one when I break free of my computer and go do something that involves my brain and my body. Or when I am working on something creative.

Mostly, though, the Dalek watches over me and I can feel it silently judging me if I goof around on the Internet too much or get distracted from my report writing and data analysis. 

Everyone should have an Accountability Dalek. 

Lots of BLUE for the Accountability Dalek.

Plus, the Dalek is blue, which is apparently the color of honesty, trust, and dependability in business psychology. It makes you remember what business should be about and what kind of person you want to be. All this in a goofy Doctor Who stuffed robot. We all have to find meaning somewhere, yeah?

Buy yourself one, if you dare. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thoughts on proper safety and etiquette for taking down holiday decorations

All of the industry authorities do a social media blitz before the holiday season to remind you to be safe while putting up the various holiday decorations. I haven't seen an article yet about safety concerns when taking down holiday decorations, so I thought I would do one.

Why take down holiday decorations?

  1. Your home-owners association (HOA) will make you take them down.
  2. Your electric bill. It's scary.
  3. Your neighbors were just being nice - they really don't like your 10-foot Santa (including sleigh and reindeer) statues strung with lights and tinsel. They want everything back to normal. And they'll passively-aggressively punish you until you take them down.
  4. The holidays are over, yo. Just let them go away until next year.
We didn't put up decorations this year (indoor or outdoor) since we spent the holidays traversing the state to get to various holiday functions. Yes, we're scrooges. On the plus side, the double-wide that we are renting has been ready for Christmas since we moved in (April) - holiday lights line all the fences, and some fake Christmas trees guard the front porch stairs. The lights are questionably deteriorated and the trees look sort of droopy. We haven't bothered to test the lights to see if they work. No need to set the house on fire.

No, I'm not posting a picture of the house...sad enough I have to see it when I drive up. :)

Safety tips for taking down holiday decorations:

  • When cleaning up artificial snow, take a look at the container (if you still have it) and see what it is made of before you try vacuuming it up. 
  • Please take your live tree down before it becomes even more of a fire hazard. Many cities have Christmas tree recycling programs you can take advantage of. City of Prescott picks them up the week of January 13
  • Put ornaments and breakables away carefully so that you aren't surprised by broken glass next Christmas.
  • Wash your hands after taking down Christmas trees and ornaments - there's a number or allergens/irritants and other less-than-safe compounds that could be present on the surface.
  • Take lights down in an orderly fashion (not just toss them in a tangled mess into a box). Next year, you'll be happy you did. And use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) next year on outdoor lights.
  • Be careful taking down lights outdoors - be conscious of weather (wind, rain, etc.) that could affect visibility and safety during removal.
  • Be sure to unplug the lights before trying to take them down.
  • Next year, please don't use nails or staples to put up lights.
  • No standing on counters, chairs, desks, or furniture to take decorations down. A ladder is much cheaper than a hospital stay.
  • When using a step ladder near a doorway, find a way to lock or barricade the door and post signs so your family doesn't open it and knock you off the ladder
  • When climbing the ladder, always face the ladder and grip the rungs to climb – not the side rails. Always keep three points of contact on the ladder whether two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.
  • When on the ladder, keep your hips between the side rails and try not to lean too far or over-reach beyond the rails too far. Get down and re-position the ladder closer to your work area instead.

These tips were developed or modified from the National Safety Council "Holiday Safety Tips" and from past personal experience. Good luck for all you suckers who gave into the "holiday spirit" and decorated. Safe wishes for 2014.