Bruce White | Vice President, American Environmental Specialists | IAQA First VP – Wildfires and IAQ, Construction Monitoring in Health Care & The New OSHA Silica Rule!

Air Date: 1-5-2018|Episode 489

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Mr. Bruce White, Vice President at American Environmental Specialists & IAQA First Vice President. Mr. White’s and his company provide IAQ and environmental consulting on a wide range of issues from their Southern California office.


This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Mr. Bruce White, Vice President at American Environmental Specialists & IAQA First Vice President. Mr. White’s and his company provide IAQ and environmental consulting on a wide range of issues from their Southern California office. We will discuss wildfires and IAQ, Hospital Construction Monitoring, The new OSHA Silica Rule and Mechanical Systems and IAQ. Bruce brings a unique perspective to his consulting, he has been in the environmental business for over 30 years with a wide range of experience in the real world. He started out in the restoration industry and was also part of the early days of asbestos abatement and other types of environmental contracting. From there he has spent almost 20 years as an environmental consultant with a stint working for a large distributor of environmental safety supplies and equipment. He also has a long history of volunteering for industry related associations and is currently the First Vice President of the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA). Bruce has numerous tips and techniques to share with listeners and will also share his insights on the future of our industry. LEARN MORE this week on IAQ Radio!

Z-Man’s Blog:

“Control the Dust”

Bruce White, VP of Southern California based, American Environmental Specialists was today’s guest on IAQradio. His varied set of background experience which he calls hisEnvironmental Circle of Life (as a disaster restoration and HAZMAT remediator, in sale of radiation equipment and supplies, and of working with consultants) provides a unique prospective to work as a consultant avoiding the common antagonism between consultant and contractor on projects that is stressful and upsetting to clients.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

  • Because he knows which local contractors are good and which need close supervision, he’ll often tell a client that they either don’t need his services or only need fewer services. Good contractors who know the risks to their workers and the environment are trusted to work with only with PRV of visual inspection and lab sampling.


Bruce’s firms’ fire damage consulting is focused on commercial losses and wildfire smoke and soot sampling. Particulate composition and deposition differs in wildfires and fires which occur within structures. Wildfire residue consists of gases, vapors and fine particulate. Fire related particulate in structure fires contains a whole slew of toxins including lead, asbestos, dioxins, furans. Air and surface sampling are used to determine what is present in the soot. Charis burnt material and is classified according to morphology or color. Ashis residue left following complete combustion. Soot is black carbon left after incomplete combustion. Bruce provides advice on scope or cleanup methods on only 10% of fire his claims.

Studies have shown that wild fire residues settle and deposit within 1-2 miles of where created. Its common for building owners significantly further away (whose awareness has been heightened by solicitors) to also file claims. Consultants like Bruce verify or deny loss exists. He prefers tape lift sampling or micro-vacuuming with a 25mm or .45 micron ester cassette and sending to lab for analysis over sampling with alcohol wipes.

In outer limits of areas effected by wildfires, where fine fire related particulate is visibly absent; smoke odor remains a problem entering structures through attic vents and the opening of doors and windows. Fogging, ozone (only in unoccupied structures), deodorant gels, carbon filtration have all been effective in removing smoke odors. When significant odor is present carpet cleaning is also recommended. It’s also a common practice to rinse roofs, stucco and water the grass to remove fire related particulate.

Hospital Construction Monitoring


Hospitals exist to do no harm to patients or general population. For work as minimal as lifting a ceiling tile in a hospital an ICRA (Infection Control Risk Assessment is required.

Performing work activities in hospitals releases varying amounts of dust. Microorganisms are known to be found in dust. ICRA outlines who is working, where they are working, type of work being done, and assigns risk levels to patients.

Is it work in an administrative office or in neonatal care or an operating room? The assessment considers issues such as interim life safety measures (ILSM), noise, light, vibration, entrances and emergency exits. The assessment considers the area in which work is being done andoccupants in adjacent areas above and below. Based upon a historical consideration of what has gone wrong previously and what can go wrong now, stakeholders such as: contactors, consultants, administrators, risk managers, infection control and engineering departments work together to prepare an appropriate plan. (At minimum critical barriers, negative air, tack mats, are used.)

For new hospital construction a PCRA (Preconstruction Risk Assessment) is required.

Monitoring of ICRA and PCRA

Methods include both visual observation and particulate measurement. As microbes travel with dust, the setup and operation of negative air machines is checked with a magnehelic gauge and particle counter. Tack mat setups, critical barriers, employee removal and handling of debris (should be on carts covered and sealed in plastic and wheels damp wiped) are all observed. Stationary monitoring devices may be mounted along debris pathway of travel as it exits containment. Stationary monitoring devices such as allow real time monitoring of work areas and measure particle sizes, air pressures, VOCs, CO, etc., and allow multiple parties to be invited to access. Anomalies or events trigger notification.Use of the stationary monitors lowers monitoring costs, provides transparency and improves communication. Stationary devices communicate wirelessly.

Commonly overlooked issue

Dust tracking is a big issue. Glaxo Smith Kline did a study which found that it takes 6-8 footsteps to remove 80% of particulate from worker shoes.

Reusable matting while higher in cost provides superior dust removal.

Crystalline Silica

Almost everyone is affected by the OSHA Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction. The standard requires employers to limit worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica and take other steps to protect workers. Employers can either use a control method laid out in Table 1 of the construction standard, or they can measure worker’s exposure to silica and independently decide which dust control work best to limit exposures in their workplaces to the PEL.

Regardless of which exposure control method is used, all construction employers covered by the standard are required to: establish and implement a written exposure plan, designate a competent person to implement the written plan, restrict housekeeping that expose workers to silica, offer medical exams, train workers on the health effects of silica and maintain records.

Crystalline silica tips and resources:

  • Before sanding drywall, review the MSDS of joint compound when available to determine if crystalline silica is present? When no MSDS is available assume crystalline silica is present.
  • Tools with vacuum and water mist assists are available.
  • UC Berkeley’s has a Construction Technology and Ergonomics School which is working on improving tools. Ergomek Drill Boss.
  • Wearable particle sensor is available from
  • Restoration worker sampling strategy is to monitor 20% of workers performing the same task.
  • Remove wet material before it dries and rebecomes a health greater health risk.
  • There is a lack of consultants who can perform the sampling and the lab fees for sample analysis are steep. Tip from listener: A PLM bulk analysis with XRD will nail down both asbestos and silica hazards.
  • OSHA Crystalline Silica Standard
  • OSHA Fact Sheet on Silica Standard

Answers to listener questions:

What about fiberglass?  Fiberglass dust is a dermal concern not really an inhalation concern.

Recommendations on field calibration of instruments?  Field calibration of instruments should be done according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Final comments:

IAQA news

The IAQradio audience is invited to both attend the convention get involved with IAQA.

The 2018 IAQA/ASHRAE Conference January 22-24 in Chicago will be a dynamic event with a great keynote speaker and super lineup of presenters.

IAQA has teamed up with a Distributor and Safety Company to provide discounts of training and equipment that will pay for your IAQA membership.

Z-Man signing off

Trivia Question:

What is the official rule governing the naming of wildfires with in the USA?

Trivia Answer:

There are no official rules. First responders usually name a fire after a meadow, creek, city or type of plant they see.