Sam Rashkin, Paula Schenck, David Shea, and Jack Springston – The MIAQC Conference Interviews Part 2

Air Date: 4-29-2016| Episode: 412

This week on IAQ Radio we are going to play Part Two of our interview from the Maine IAQ Council 2015 Northeast IAQ and Energy Conference…

This week on IAQ Radio we are going to play Part Two of our interview from the Maine IAQ Council 2015 Northeast IAQ and Energy Conference. Bob Krell of Healthy Indoors Magazine and I interviewed some of the speakers at the event and we have both audio and video recordings to play back for our listeners and readers. The conference was a great success and every year they draw some of the top speakers in the industry. For part two this week we will be replaying our interviews with Sam Rashkin,Paula Schenck, MPH, David Shea, P.E. and Jack Springston, CIH, CSP, FAIHA. We will talk some building science, sampling vs. non sampling, mold and health, vapor intrusion and more!

For those of you expecting our Brett Singer, PhD interview we had to push that back a week to accommodate a last minute change in Dr. Singer’s plans.
Z-Man’s Blog:

Maine IAQ Council 2015 Northeast IAQ and Energy Conference Part 2

This week on IAQ Radio we aired Part Two of our interviews from the Maine IAQ Council 2015 Northeast IAQ and Energy Conference. RadioJoe and Bob Krell of Healthy Indoors Magazine interviewed some of the speakers at the event. The conference was a great success and every year they draw some of the top speakers in the industry. For part two this week we will be replaying our interviews with Sam Rashkin, Paula Schenck, MPH, David Shea, P.E. and Jack Springston, CIH, CSP, FAIHA. We will talk some building science, sampling vs. non sampling, mold and health, vapor intrusion and more!

Sam Rashkin

Chief Architect, Building Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy – Washington, D.C.

As Chief Architect for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, This includes work leading DOE’s world-class research program, Building America, and overseeing the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home voluntary labeling program for leading edge builders. In his prior position, he managed Energy Star for Homes since its start in 1996.  He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University; completed Masters of Urban Planning studies at New University; York and is a registered architect in California and New York.

RadioJoe: What percent of new homes today are Energy Star homes?

Sam Rashkin: Thus far, 1.5 million homes. Last year 85,000 certified. 10% of new homes are certified.

RadioJoe: Why is the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home so important to you?

Sam Rashkin: Energy Star is a great start to get building science, integrated with other important issues. IAQ is the heart of it and is inexplicably linked. Zero Energy is “like adult supervision”.  Install a comprehensive indoor energy package, all equipment and components must be efficient. As heating and cooling systems get smaller an increased need to anticipate other loads. Low cost for adding solar in future, critical to control moisture in the house, condition all the space, eliminate waste we have the technology to have hot water without waste. The Zero Energy Package offsets energy costs. It’s the future of housing. Better homes, lower costs, more jobs, improved security, everyone’s better and it makes good sense economically.

RadioJoe: What do you think the chances are that Zero Energy Ready will ever be required by law?

Sam Rashkin: It’s been a long buildup to gain traction. Federal government provides a $2K tax credit for achieving 50% reduction in energy,. In states such as CO and NJ homeowners can obtain another $8K-$9K in addition to the Feds. Early Energy Starstarted in 2009-2012 is code today. Zero Energy Ready will be part of code in 2025.

RadioJoe: How do Energy Star and Zero Energy Programs work together if they do?

Sam Rashkin: Knowledgeable professional people would never start at the bare minimum which is the building code, Energy Star improves on that. Experts seek ongoing improvement wouldn’t settle for anything less than Zero Energy. Energy Star is the prerequisite for Zero Energy, Passive House is the super-most efficient house you can build.

Sam Rashkin: Energy audit is a horrible term, “home colonoscopy” is only worse name I can think of. Everyone detests audits. What we as pros want to do is have people invite us in to help them solve their problem. We have solution for bills, bugs, pests, odors, etc. We can help homeowners address the pains of home ownership. You don’t need to live in pain. We’ll do a home checkup.

Paula Schenck, MPH

Director of Indoor Environment & Health Programs, UConn Health – Farmington, CT

Paula was part of a group that established the Center for Indoor Environments and Health at to UCONN on this objective. She developed multiple initiatives directed at improving indoor environments in schools and offices.  At the UCONN Occupational Medicine clinic, Paula is called upon to provide guidance on environmental and/or workplace interventions as part of patient treatment.  She also teaches environmental health at UCONN, instructs in the masters in public health program, is a seminar leader on asthma and environment and coordinates segments on occupational health in the medical school.  She was instrumental in development of the Mold and Moisture Guidance for Clinicians book

RadioJoe: You do a lot of work with schools and the indoor environments of schools. What are the most common IAQ problems you run across in schools?

Paula Schenck: Problems run the gamut. The most critical is poor maintenance. Fewer custodians and budgets cut, legacy problems, old schools built on land towns couldn’t sell otherwise. Inadequate poorly maintained vent systems and bioaerosols.

Paula Scheck: We see many teachers in our clinics but get action in schools because people are worried about kids. I hate the thought that teachers are canaries in a coal mine.

Bob Krell comment:  The challenges of public meetings with parent and teachers unions.

Occupational and environmental medicine is becoming more important

RadioJoe: How to interpret reports with good quality assessments?

Paula Schenck: Comparing indoor and exterior sample numbers isn’t helpful.  Patientsare focused and worried about mold and overlook other contaminants. Challenges of IEQ consultants who say the air samples show lower numbers indoors than outside so there is no problem; when there really is a problem.

Bob Krell comment- One of my pet peevesis that enviro sampling results don’t relate to health correlation. Consultants make health related claims in reports.

Paula Schenck:

RadioJoe: Are MD’s learning about how indoor environments may affect their patient’s health in medical schools today?

Paula Schenck: Prevention is turning a corner.

RadioJoe: You help coordinate with MD’s and patients to determine if IAQ issues may be affecting patients help. While doing this you often times see reports from IAQ investigators. What is the most important information that an IAQ report needs to have in it to help the physician help their patient?

Paula Schenck: Physicians don’t have time to interpret sampling reports.Don’t get hung up on the causal. Mold is an indicator of moisture. Where there’s moisture there is: animals, insects, dust mites and bacteria. Mold tells us there is moisture a contributor to respiratory conditions. Some consultants try to make mold a slam duck.  Doctors need to sort out the individual situation and reduce risks.

RadioJoe: Do you feel mold inspectors and/or remediators should be required to have a state license?

Paula Schenck: I’m a fan of peer reviewed professional certifications. I don’t want certifications to drive up client costs.

RadioJoe: Please tell listeners about the project you are working on called “Recovery from catastrophic weather: mold exposure and health-related training”?

Paula Schenck: Climate change in the northeast means wetter weather. More wetness means there will be more moisture in buildings to be dealt with. The Catastrophic Weather Project is about the need to be protect people from exposures they are going to have. Funding for the project was provided by NIOSH and the CDC. The website: provides guidance material so people will protect themselves.

David Shea, P.E.

Sanborn Head & Associates – Concord, NH

As a Principal Engineer with Sanborn, Head & Associates in Concord, New Hampshire, he is responsible for leading vapor intrusion and environmental remediation projects throughout the US and abroad. He has conducted vapor intrusion and mitigation assessments at sites involving more than hundreds of structures and millions of square feet. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University and a M.S. in Civil Engineering from M.I.T. He is a licensed professional engineer in 13 states.

RadioJoe: How common is vapor intrusion in residential and commercial properties today?

David Shea: Put in perspective, radon intrusion is the transfer of subsurface air or vapor into a structure. We refer to vapor intrusion when sourced from hazardous chemicals in soil. Common VOC sources include dry cleaning plants and gas stations, New Jersey has more vapor intrusion potential due to the large number of sites. Drycleaners are small businesses and are often unfunded for cleanup costs Drycleaners plants are often embedded in residential areas. Dry cleaning plant and waste disposal sitesare probable causes of vapor intrusion. VOCs can travel and migrate in ground water.

Bob Krell follow-up:  How can a buyer assess a property for potential of vapor intrusion?

David Shea: Some states have an online search system that allows user to mapout a specific address and its relationship to hazardous waste facilities.

RadioJoe: When it comes to vapor intrusion issues do you see more problems with basements, slab on grade or crawlspaces?

David Shea: The potential source of VOC is the most important issue. Everything being equal intrusion depends on structural integrity. Cracks, utility penetrations are pathways for vapor entry. Deeper basements may put you closer to contaminates. Vapor barrier under slabs are a deterrent to vapor intrusion. Old fieldstone basements are prone to VOC intrusion.

RadioJoe: When homes have a vapor intrusion problem what are some common methods for fixing the home/building?Are there many times when you cannot fix the home or building?

David Shea: Adding a radon mitigation system combined with sealing or preferential pathways and crawlspaces works 99% of the time. Use an experienced radon mitigation system installer.

Other points from David Shea:

All vapor intrusion has a source. You won’t detect VOC vapor intrusion with your nose. Sewer gas odor has been an indicator of vapor intrusion. Dry sewer traps and backfilled sewer laterals are pathways for vapor intrusion.

Water is the best barrier to vapor intrusion. Wet soil and ground water is your friend in preventing vapor intrusion.

VOCs can migrate through pipes and through soils.

Hydraulic fracturing, doesn’t cause fractures to get close the surface.

RadioJoe: Tell our listeners about an unusual vapor intrusion project?

David Shea: In industrial buildings sometimes the HVAC system will exacerbate vapor intrusion worse. Older HVAC systems can create negative pressure. Sometimes the HVAC system is in close proximity to where chemicals were mixed. On one project, an air handler sitting next to trench with VOC vapors resulted in what we call “supercharged” vapor intrusion.

Ed Light question: How conclusive is IAQ testing for ruling in or out VOC intrusion?

David Shea: There are Portable Real time GCMS devices which can be taken into structure for testing.

Guy Sylvester comment: Investigate the building and look at local documents geotechnical monitoring.

David Shea: Gather the needed info before sampling, we need context for sampling. Is there an external source that could have released?

Ed Light: comment on a good use of monitoring its to help you narrow down your focus.

Guy Sylvester: How would a consultant go about investigating a VOC related event?

David Shea: Research before the investigation is important. State guidelines in NJ are assuming there is an understanding there is an external source.

Steve Caulfield: Real crossovers, people who work inside don’t understand what goes under a building and geotech people don’t understand what goes on inside a building.  When geo mapping look for the plume and then sample. What goes on underground is fascinating. Most importantly work as a team to help solve the problem.

Jack Springston, CIH, CSP, FAIHA

TRC Environmental Corporation – New York, NY

Jack Springston has over 27 years of experience in industrial hygiene and occupational health. He has been a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) since 1993, and is one of only approximately 50 active CIHs who also hold a sub-specialty certificate in Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ). Jack received a BS Degree in Environmental Science and Biology from LIU/Southampton College and a MS Degree in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences from CUNY/Hunter College. He is a past-Chair of both the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s (AIHA) Indoor Environmental Quality committee and the Biosafety and Environmental Microbiology committee and is an AIHA Distinguished Fellow.

RadioJoe: Do you feel mold inspectors and/or remediators should be required to have a state license?

Jack Springston: 4 day wonders are the problem. The training is dependent on the provider and varies widely. Experience asbestos investigators are teaching mold remediation and don’t have the background and necessary understanding of building science. Inspectors must pass the exam with 70%, if they fail they may be able to retest the same day.

RadioJoe: How is the NY mold licensing program going?

Jack Springston: The program is driven by abuses during Hurricane Sandy. Bad training is worse than no training at all. People can be licensed and clueless. An asbestos investigators doesn’t need to know building science to investigate they only need to know asbestos containing materials and how to ID them. In mold investigation it’s crucial to understand building science.

Bob Krell comment: State inspectors don’t have a code, rule, or detail on how to enforce the mold law. The only thing they can enforce is whether or not you are licensed. The intent of the law was to protect consumers, the reality is it confuses consumers and increases costs. In New York if you don’t call it mold the work is exempted from the law. The result of the law is its turned an industry into a commodity.

RadioJoe: When is sampling appropriate on IAQ projects?

Jack Springston: If you need to rely on sampling to determine if there is mold there you need more training. Air sampling can be questionable side by side sampling inconsistencies. Take tape lifts on surfaces where particulate is likely to settle, a good lab will ID and tell.

Bob Krell comment: For example in a basement is the white fuzz on the concrete block wall efflorescence or fungi, take a tape lift to find out.

Follow-up RadioJoe: What about a situation where there is hidden mold growth behind vinyl wall covering.

Jack Springston: No air sampling. I’d take tape lift samples on settled samples that will tell you what was in the air and what settled. If moisture indicator fungi is found then you need to look for the source. Get historical date.

RadioJoe: What IAQ issues has the best chance of becoming the next mold?

Jack Springston: If I knew I wouldn’t tell you.  PCBs in New York, the northeast and California. The central US doesn’t have the money to think or do anything about PCBs. The health impact of PCBs isn’t obvious. Legionella in cooling towers. The NYC Dept. of Health requires legionella testing every 90 days. Other groups are concerned about Legionella: ASHRAE 188 standard for building water systems and AIHA guideline Legionella in building water systems. Other states have enactedtheir own regulations on cooling towers and hot water systems. Another concern is the use of nanoparticles: some resemble chrysotile asbestos. While gold is safe when used in jewelry, nano particles of gold are toxic.

Today’s music:  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Theme YouTube

Z-Man signing off

Trivia question:

Name the first woman to be placed in nomination for presidency of the US at a major party’s convention?

Margaret Chase Smith