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.

Article Source: https://sf.curbed.com/2018/9/10/17842368/air-quality-smoke-snell-fire-bay-area

EPA to revisit air pollution rule for power plants

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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.

Article Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/epa-revisit-air-pollution-rule-power-plants/story?id=57487433

Central Pa. school district pushes back start of school because of mold

Kids in the Fairfield Area School District just got a little reprieve from the back-to-school blues.

The Adams County district on Friday announced that the start of classes was being moved up three weeks as a result of a mold concern in all buildings.

The first day of school, which had previously been set for Aug. 21, will now be Sept. 4.

“I  apologize for the short notice, but we have recently confirmed the need to delay the start of the school year in order to allow the district to bring professionals to clean all buildings and ventilation systems prior to accepting staff and students,” said district Superintendent Karen Kugler.

In a press release, Kugler explained that according to the environmental health contractors, mold is common in homes and commercial buildings, especially big buildings like schools.

Record amounts of rainfall this summer, may have contributed to the situation, she noted.

“It’s really difficult to keep an exact balance with the HVAC system so you don’t get conditions where you get condensation and other conditions conducive to mold growth,” Kugler stated.

She added that she has no doubt that the district will be able to stay on schedule and open in the first week of September.

“They are sure they can get it fixed so we can get kids in here where they belong,” Kugler said.

Last year, the East Pennsboro Area School District dealt with the issue of elevated mold spore counts in three of its schools.

Allergies are the most common health problems connected with mold.

Symptoms of mold allergies include runny nose, post-nasal drip, coughing and wheezing. In some cases, mold can cause more serious problems, such as strong allergic reactions in the lungs or sinuses and hypersensitivity pneumonitis — an inflammation of the lungs.

Other health problems associated with mold include toxic mold syndrome and sick building syndrome.

With smoke from wildfires, valley air quality looks unpredictable for near future

With wildfires burning throughout the state, in addition to recent local grass fires, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District continues to warn the public about poor air quality, including incidents of severely bad air that may occur sporadically in the coming days.

For a few hours late Saturday, the amount of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air spiked in Bakersfield and all eight counties across the San Joaquin Valley air district, to a Level 5, the highest level, where all people are advised to remain indoors.

By the next day, Bakersfield had clearer skies and air quality was back down to a moderate range. District officials said winds temporarily pushed smoke into the valley during that several hour period.

“All that pollution literally just inundated the entire San Joaquin Valley,” said Cassandra Melching, outreach and communication representative for the air district.

Because the air can be safe at one point in the day and dangerous at another, depending upon wind flows, Melching said an air quality alert is standing for all areas.

On Saturday, regions farther north in close proximity to the fire were substantially affected, Melching said, with Oakhurst in Madera County reaching a PM 2.5 concentration of 246 micrograms per cubic meter. It takes only 75 micrograms to reach level five risk. Bakersfield hit 87 micrograms that same day.

“We can’t quite say who is going to be impacted the most and when…It doesn’t mean that every single day our air quality is bad,” Melching said.

Glen Stephens, air pollution control officer of the Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District, said the district has not released any alerts, but is tracking the smoke levels. He said there is less of a concern in eastern Kern County and mountain areas compared to valley locations like Bakersfield, but that there is still poor air quality.

“It’s generally bad. Right now it’s bad because of ozone, not because of the fire,” Stephens said.

The best way to know whether it is safe to be outdoors is by tracking your location on the Valley Air app or online at valley air.org. It is especially important for sensitive groups such as the elderly and those with asthma to remain cautious and updated.

Melching said to also be aware of the potential for ash in the air, which is most likely when temperatures cool down and is not monitored in the air quality levels.

“If you smell smoke, or if you see ash falling, you are being impacted,” Melching said.

Ways to reduce your risk of being affected by the smoke are to limit outdoor exercise, stay hydrated, change your air air filters and keep windows shut.

Article source: www.bakersfield.com/news/with-smoke-from-wildfires-valley-air-quality-looks-unpredictable-for/article_ad179f8e-99d4-11e8-88fb-ff92b41270ae.html

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.

K-12
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.

Article Original Source: http://pureaircontrols.com/cooperative-purchasing-indoor-air-quality-services-immediately/

Ashley parents meet with district, elected officials for information on air quality

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As students, parents and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools prepare for summer break, discussions continue about the indoor air quality of an East Winston elementary school.

District administrators and a handful of Board of Education members sat down Monday with parents at Ashley Academy for Cultural and Global Studies to discuss air-quality concerns and what school officials plan to do about them.

Steps have been taken by the board to help improve the school building’s air quality before the new school year, but some in the community have publicly called for further action in the form of a new school building they feel is overdue.

The purpose of Monday’s meetings was to sit down with parents and answer any questions or address concerns they had about the subject.

“They have a plan in place I think that will bring the school up to where it needs to be come August,” said Renee Hairston, who has a grandson at Ashley.

Earlier this semester, concerns about the indoor air quality at the school were expressed to administration and the board.

Two air-quality reports prior to that showed low levels of indoor mold spores.

But a new report released in April showed evidence of mold growth in some HVAC units, and recommended replacing or cleaning the units.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, mold can cause allergy and respiratory infections, and worsen conditions such as asthma, for those sensitive to it.

The board voted in early May to go ahead with replacing units during the summer months at a total cost of $1.585 million.

School board member Elisabeth Motsinger said the meeting Monday was positive. “I think it was good to hear directly from parents what their concerns were and to be able to answer their questions with reliable, good and accurate information,” she said.

Hairston said that if she didn’t think the school and the district were taking the right steps, she would not have her grandson return to Ashley next fall.

“But I think they’re taking the right steps,” she said. “They’re doing as much as they can until they get the funds on the referendum to replace the school. So I think they’re doing OK.”

At the May 22 board meeting, a group of concerned citizens under the name #Action4Ashley had a large presence and spoke during public comment, saying they felt not enough attention has been given to Ashley and the air quality. Many asked that funds be moved around in the 2016 bond to speed up the process of designing and building a new Ashley school building.

Article Source: https://www.journalnow.com/news/local/ashley-parents-meet-with-district-elected-officials-for-information-on/article_56f1b024-0ab0-52d7-8863-3401e79a10b7.html