Fires spur Bay Area smoke warnings again

conifers, environment, fir trees


On the heels of the Snell Fire in Napa County, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District [BAAQMD] warns that, once again, smoke from the state’s many still-burning wildfires could pose a threat to the Bay Area, putting a Spare the Air warning in place over the weekend that will last through Tuesday.

According to the BAAQMD, “Upper level smoke from wildfires may impact visibility in northern and eastern parts of the Bay Area,” through September 11. The agency goes on to say that “if it looks smoky outside, avoid physical outside activities” and “keep indoor air as clean as possible” by keeping the windows closed.

Looking at the EPA’s AirNow air quality site, it appears that conditions in the Bay Area over the weekend were consistently clear during what turned out to be a resplendent couple of days in most areas.

On Sunday, for example, patches of “moderate” quality bad air did spread across parts of the North Bay and East Bay, as predicted.

But conditions never worsened beyond the “moderate” level on the EPA’s air quality scale (the second least worrisome measurement of air pollutants). In San Francisco and the rest of the region, skies remained clear.

Today’s AirNow forecast calls for more extensive haze in the North Bay; however, the outlook remains sound for SF and other more southern regions.

Even so, the warning remains in effect.

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Schools Across the U.S. Find Elevated Lead Levels in Drinking Water

Schools in multiple states are tearing out water fountains and old faucets after finding elevated levels of lead in their drinking water.

Indiana tested 915 schools in recent months and found that 61% had one or more fixtures with elevated lead levels. Schools in Colorado and Florida, among others, are taking steps to address lead in drinking water.

Some testing is mandated by new state laws, as in Maryland. In Montgomery County, Md., outside Washington, D.C., the district is midway through replacing 238 fixtures that had elevated lead.

There isn’t a national standard for what level of lead, measured in parts per billion or ppb, is acceptable in school drinking water specifically. Districts and states are struggling to find individual solutions.

The Environmental Protection Agency requires public water systems to take action to reduce lead when more than 10% of samples from homes exceed 15 ppb. Its voluntary guidance for schools, set in the 1990s, states that schools should take individual water fountains and other fixtures out of service if lead exceeds 20 ppb.

Schools face a balancing act because cutting lead to lower levels is costly. Indiana’s statewide testing cost $4.7 million, said a spokeswoman for the Indiana Finance Authority, which paid for the program using state and federal funds.

“We have chaos around the country,” said Marc Edwards, a professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech. “Each school system is trying to find their own way.” Mr. Edwards, who helped uncover lead contamination in Flint, Mich., in 2015, sparking greater national awareness of the issue, called the voluntary EPA protocol “totally outdated.”

An EPA representative said the agency plans to update its guidance for public schools, possibly as early as this year.

Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body, and there is no safe level of lead in blood for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Last week, the Detroit public school system shut off water across the district, before its 47,000 students started school on Tuesday, after finding higher-than-expected levels of lead or copper at some schools. Officials said schools would pass out bottled water until new water coolers arrived.

In most cases, water problems are a result of old plumbing that contains lead, not municipal water supplies. Water that sits in school pipes over weekends or school breaks tends to have higher lead concentrations, experts say.

A July report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 43% of school districts it surveyed had tested for lead in 2016 or 2017. Of those, about 37% showed elevated lead in drinking water, as defined by the districts. About 41% of school districts hadn’t tested for lead in the 12 months before completing the survey, and 16% said they didn’t know if they had tested.

All school districts that detected elevated lead reported taking steps to reduce or eliminate the exposure, the report said, including by replacing water fountains, installing filters or new fixtures or providing bottled water.

In the past few weeks, Pueblo City Schools in Pueblo, Colo., concluded its first-ever water testing at its 31 schools. Of more than 580 water fountains and other fixtures tested, the district disabled or repaired 27 which had lead above 15 ppb, the EPA’s standard for public water systems.

“The majority of our schools are aging facilities,” said Dalton Sprouse, a spokesman for the district. Now that the district has its test results, he said, it can take further action if the EPA lowers its guidance for lead in water.

Indiana officials also chose a standard of 15 ppb lead and found that 8% of fixtures in schools statewide were above that level. In Warrick County, 11 of 17 schools had at least one fixture over the level.

Brad Schneider, superintendent for the Warrick County School Corp., said he immediately replaced the fixtures. “You can’t solve a problem when you don’t know you have a problem,” he said.

Laura Stewart, a parent and PTA leader in Silver Spring, Md., wants the Montgomery County Public Schools to follow Washington, D.C., and a handful of states to adopt a lead limit of 5 ppb in school drinking water. Tests in the district, the state’s largest with 206 schools, found 238 of 13,248 fixtures had lead above the 20 ppb threshold. Ms. Stewart said several thousand were above 5 ppb. She wants schools to flush water lines more regularly and use filters to be get below the 5-ppb level.

“Everything is constrained by money,” said Ms. Stewart, 47, who has two school-age boys.

Derek Turner, a spokesman for the district, said it is working with state health officials to explore using a lower lead limit.

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EPA to revisit air pollution rule for power plants

casual, cliffs, enjoyment


The EPA is revisiting a rule intended to prevent pollution from power plants, one that specifically limits the release of mercury and other toxic pollution into the air.

The move comes just a week after EPA announced that its proposal to alter regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions from power plants to give states more authority to set goals to reduce emissions instead of setting a national goal.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards required power plants to limit emissions of mercury, arsenic, and other metals. Now the agency says it is sending a draft of a revised rule to the White House to begin the review process.

EPA spokeswoman Molly Block said the agency is looking into whether it is “appropriate and necessary” to set standards for mercury and other pollutants — and the specific standards set by the rule.

Block also said the EPA will look at how to account for the benefits of reducing pollutants that are not actually the subject of the rule at hand, known as co-benefits, and the EPA has proposed changes to how it considers secondary benefits under the Trump administration.

For example, the Obama’s administration considered the benefits of reducing pollution that would reduce smog under the Clean Power Plan as part of the benefits.

The Trump administration’s proposed replacement for that plan, the Affordable Clean Energy rule, has been criticized for allowing an increase in pollution that could contribute to smog and premature deaths, but the EPA has defended that rule by saying it is only focused on greenhouses gases and that other types of pollution are addressed under other regulations.

(MORE: EPA’s response to Obama climate policy could allow more pollutants that ‘adversely affect’ health)
“EPA knows these issues are of importance to the regulated community and the public at large and is committed to a thoughtful and transparent regulatory process in addressing them,” she said in a statement.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg Environment.

(MORE: EPA touts reduced air pollution, but impact of wildfires felt nationally)
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote to EPA last week asking the agency not to change this rule, saying that it has already successfully reduced pollutants in the air. Carper said the decision to revisit the rule is particularly egregious because toxins like mercury pose serious health risks, especially to developing children.

“As I made very clear to EPA just last week, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule is currently surpassing expectations, and changing it now not only doesn’t make sense, but is irresponsible. I warned this administration not to touch this rule that has the support of environmental groups, health organizations, states, industry and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers. It’s why I fought like hell to protect the rule when EPA issued it in 2012, and it’s why I’ll keep fighting the agency’s foolish decision to abandon it,” Carper said in a statement.

EPA says it could be 60 to 90 days before the revised rule is released for public comment.

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Cooperative Purchasing Makes Indoor Air Quality & HVAC Services Immediately Available

IAQ Cooperative purchasing

What is cooperative purchasing and how does it work?

What is one hurdle every company must jump when selling to a governmental agency? Price. You could have the best bid package and offer the best service or product but there is always concerns on the side of the purchasing agent.  That is where cooperative (co-op) purchasing agreements help ease deal. Co-op purchasing helps public agencies to have a little more flexibility in procuring goods and services, and greatly reduces administrative time and expenses. Essentially, it’s a bridge for the member agency to get the best price or value and delivery from a pre-bid vendor. Co-op purchasing vehicles also provide a vetting process of the vendor and compliance to give an extra layer of trust for the procuring agency. Think of it as a pre-bid or piggybacking contract rather than no bid contract. Cooperative purchasing offers the ability to save time, money, and frustration by the sharing of contract resources within the co-op member base.

The benefits of using cooperative purchasing

Cooperative purchasing eliminates the need to write bids over and over. This saves time by removing the request for proposal process, which can normally be a lengthy process. Sometimes 60-90 days! It reduces the paper work and layers of review that can take months to complete. This will have a direct positive effect on cost savings for the procuring agency. A co-op removes the stress of the job being completed in a timely manner while guaranteeing it’s done by a capable and trustworthy approved vendor. This provides greater efficiency for acquiring services. If there is an immediate indoor air quality (IAQ) issue, for example, it can be addressed without the need to go through an arduous bid and review process.

Another benefit is that there is no or little cost to participating members, depending on the specific cooperative agency. A co-op also enables members to use the professional service that is highly specific or proprietary to their needs. Pure Air Control Services offers PURE-Steam coil cleaning, and HVAC New Life Restoration which are state-of-the-art IAQ and energy saving services that are readily available to those agency members in the cooperative purchasing group.

Cooperative Contracts with Pure Air Control Services Inc.

Higher Education and K-12
E and I LogoPure Air Control Services has teamed up with Educational & Institutional Cooperative Purchasing (E&I) Contract no. CNR01446
Educational & Institutional Cooperative Services (E&I) is a not-for-profit buying cooperative established by members of the National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP). The cooperative is owned by its membership of more than 1,800 colleges, universities, and K-12 educational institutions throughout the United States.

PAEC LogoPanhandle Area Education Consortium (PAEC) and their Florida Buy Program contract no. 18-05
PAEC partners with the Association of Educational Purchasing Agencies (AEPA) to leverage the purchasing power of schools in more than half the country ease the procurement of our IAQ testing and remediation services. This agency features contracts that are available to all Florida schools, municipalities, country government, colleges, and universities, and non-profit organizations.

City, County and State Governments
TIPS LogoThe Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS) contract no. 170602 and 170702
The Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS) contracts simplify the purchasing process for governmental agencies to procure our IAQ Consultation and remediation services. TIPS has over a decade of experience providing effective and economical purchasing activity for any government entities.

Pure Air Control Services, Inc. can provide IAQ services through our contracts with these agencies to assist city, county, state and federal governments, along with schools and universities with identifying baseline IAQ/Energy conditions and providing specific, definitive remedial recommendations to improve building health and efficiency.

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Asbestos In The FNPF-Owned Building In Suva Poses No Threat

The Fiji National Provident Fund advises that asbestos-containing material has been identified at the Kwong Tiy Plaza building in Marks Street, Suva.

The asbestos-containing material was found in the fascia board and roofing insulation by the National Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Service of the Ministry of Employment.

The asbestos identified in the Plaza is well-contained in the building and does not pose any threat to the health and safety of occupants, surrounding stakeholders and the general public.

The Fund acquired the Kwong Tiy Plaza Building in 1994. Built in the early 1980’s, it was common for asbestos to be used in most buildings constructed or renovated at that time.

FNPF acknowledges its obligations as the property owner and is working closely with nominated consultants, asbestos removal contractor and the Ministry of Employment, in line with the Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos and international best practices to safely remove the asbestos-containing material.


Air monitoring will be conducted regularly throughout the removal process to ensure that there are no airborne threats to the general public, workplace and the surrounding environment.

The FNPF sees its role as vital in dealing with the matter responsibly and requests the understanding and cooperation of our stakeholders in regards to this matter.

Source: Fiji National Provident Fund