Doug Farquhar, J.D. – National Conference of State Legislatures

Air Date: 1-7-2011|Episode 191

We start out 2011 with a look at the regulatory landscape for IAQ, disaster restoration and building science issues…

Full Description:

We start out 2011 with a look at the regulatory landscape for IAQ, disaster restoration and building science issues. What’s pending? What’s on hold? What’s in place? What does the future look like?

Z-Man’s Blog:

Environmental Health Legislation Update Show

Today, Doug Farquhar, J.D.- enlightened IAQradio listeners on the behind the scenes workings of the National Conference of State Legislatures, where he serves as Program Director for Environmental Health. The NCSL is a bipartisan organization through which the lawmakers, the state legislatures of all 50 states, communicate, create policy and have a cohesive voice in their interaction with the federal government and congress.

Nuggets gleaned from today’s show:

· NCSL’s Environmental Health Program directs and funds state programs and places the states’ environmental health concerns in front of Congress.

· Prior to 2000 the environmental health focus was on single issues such as pesticides, asbestos, mold or lead. Now the program is much broader.

· Product safety is the #1 environmental health issue of concern of the NCSL. The Slinky is a toy made in Pennsylvania that is subject to a host of local, state and federal regulations. The Slinky has been market proven to be a safe toy. China lacks regulatory oversight: having no EPA, CPSC or OSHA, so for financial reasons having toys made in China was tempting to toymaker Mattel. When toys made in China were found to have been decorated with lead paint, a governmental Voluntary Recall was issued. Walmart’s contract with vendors specifies that Walmart doesn’t pay for products that are under a Voluntary Recall. Within minutes of the Voluntary Recall a few keystrokes on a computer and all toys were pulled off shelves and returned to Mattel. Sourcing product in China without the necessary oversight was costly for the toymaker.

· Since 911 and Katrina, terrorism and disaster restoration are the #2 environmental health issues. Pest, mold and reconstruction challenges are often collateral damage of major disasters. States deal with disasters differently. California is well prepared while Florida was demonstrably not. FEMA and insurance industry have gotten tough with Florida to mandate better building practices. NCSL has a new focus on codes to make safer and healthier buildings.

· States are shifting policy from advocating voluntary compliance on hazardous chemicals such as Bisphenol A and flame retardants to mandatory compliance.

· Great definition of science “as the propensity of what people agree to.”

· NCSL has no opinion on LEED certified government buildings, NCSL does see merit in LEED program

· States vary in their regulation of contractors, North Carolina being one the worst and California being one of the best. Highly unionized Michigan is very in favor of licensing programs. It’s hard to argue that mold licensing doesn’t result in fielding better contractors.

· Big lawsuit awards in the south drove Texas to enact mold licensing regulations.

· Healthcare legislation has changed the monetary incentives in the healthcare field. Formerly the healthcare industry made money when people got sick, now the monetary incentives will be in keeping people well.

· Even though the political pendulum swings between liberalism and conservatism, steady on the rudder is business as usual at the NCSL.

· There is a history of American presidents establishing cancer focus groups. While prior groups were focused on single types of cancer such as breast cancer; the current Cancer Group appointed under George W. Bush is the first to focus on reducing cancer in the workplace.

· The majority of insurance commissioners having prior ties to insurance industry tend to lean towards protecting the insurance industry. Example of environmental exclusion and pollution and contamination exclusion being used to exclude mold claims.

Today’s Music: Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death By: Giancula Zanna & Patrick Henry

Z-Man Signing Off