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Archive for the ‘Air Quality Testing’ Category

How a Laboratory Can Help You Identify Problem Chinese Drywall

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

by Alyson Fortune, Air Quality Scientist; Michael Tuday, Director of R&D; Nicole Pannone, Air Service Specialist

Identify Problem Chinese Drywall

For the past four years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been receiving complaints from homeowners regarding corrosion and odors in their homes linked to imported drywall. The problem drywall, which was installed in homes between 2004 and 2007 and is commonly referred to as “Chinese drywall,” has resulted in more than 2,500 complaints to the CPSC. The complaints originated from homeowners primarily in the southeastern part of the United States, but have since been reported throughout the country.

Homeowners have linked their Chinese drywall to corrosion in their air conditioner coils, corrosion in copper wiring, and emission of foul odors. The odors have been described as smelling like rotten eggs, burnt matches, and other sulfurous smells.

Chinese Drywall Columbia Analytical has been studying this issue and testing both foreign and domestic drywall samples since February 2008. Laboratory tests have been developed to aid in the identification of defective drywall products. These tests may be used to verify visual home inspections and determine if corrosion effects are from drywall and not from other household items, such as carpets, cleaners, paints, or personal care products.

This article presents a chronology of how Columbia Analytical established their test methods for determining problem drywall and how each of the issues that arose was resolved with a laboratory solution.

See Chinese drywall lab tests and results…

Hydrogen Sulfide to be Reported for Toxic Release Inventory

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Hydrogen SulfideEPA has announced plans to require reporting for hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and is accepting public comments until April 27, 2010. Under the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), the EPA will require H2S reporting estimates of all on-site releases and off-site transfers for disposal by each facility that meets the manufacture thresholds for hydrogen sulfide. Manufacturing limits for H2S emissions are 25,000 pounds per year, process limits are 25,000 pounds per year, and “other” use is 10,000 pounds per year.

Read more about hydrogen sulfide…

Air Emissions from Industrial Diesel Engines now Regulated by EPA

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Industrial Diesel EngineThe EPA aims to reduce air emissions from certain stationary diesel engines and issued their first standards on February 17, 2010. The rule will help reduce formaldehyde, benzene, acrolein and other toxic air pollutants from diesel powered stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE), also known as compression ignition (CI) engines. The toxic air pollutants, also referred to as hazardous air pollutants or air toxics, are suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects as well as environmental damage.

EPA estimates that the rule will reduce annual toxic air emissions by 1,000 tons, particle pollution by 2,800 tons, carbon monoxide emissions by 14,000 tons, and organic compound emissions by 27,000 tons when fully implemented in 2013.

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Total Volatile Organic Compound (TVOC) Measurement for LEED/Green Building Evaluation

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

LEED Testing

Background

Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC) may be evaluated when building designers/managers are pursuing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System for New Construction (LEED-NC) EQ Credit 3.2. The latest LEED-NC guidance document specifies that the maximum allowed concentration of TVOC measured in a building (post construction, pre-occupancy) is 500 µg/m3; the guidance also mentions using the sampling/analytical methods in the US EPA Compendium of Methods for the Determination of Air Pollutants in Indoor Air. However, none of these sampling and analytical methods address TVOC in particular, and thus the existing methods must be modified. In addition, TVOC is not defined (in terms of boiling point range, etc.) in the latest LEED-NC guidance and therefore is left open for interpretation; historically, many definitions of “TVOC” exist in literature.

For TVOC measurement, the analytical technique used must always reference one compound for calibration purposes. All compounds detected are then assumed to have the same response factor as the calibration compound. For instance, handheld instruments are most often calibrated using isobutylene or methane, and laboratory-based methods may reference TVOC as hexane (C6), toluene, or some other chemical species.

In practice, indoor air quality practitioners may use several different techniques for evaluating TVOC in buildings. Each sampling & analytical method has its own benefits and drawbacks, cost implications, and applicability.

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Update to Massachusetts Air Petroleum Hydrocarbons (APH) Method

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

MassDEP APH MethodThe Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) recently updated and finalized their Air-Phase Petroleum Hydrocarbons (APH) analytical method. The APH method, which had been in draft format since February 2000, was completed last year by a MassDEP Workgroup and approved after a month long public comment period in December 2008. The committee was comprised of MassDEP personnel, laboratory experts and data users.

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Air Sampling Media Cleanliness for Vapor Intrusion

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

The increase in regulatory oversight at vapor intrusion sites nationwide, as well as recent publication of Federal and local vapor intrusion guidance documents and screening levels has led to a need for reliable air phase (indoor air and sub-slab/soil vapor) data at extremely low concentrations. This paper will explore and discuss the importance of media cleanliness and certification to achieve typical low level data quality objectives.

Several potential pathways of media contamination will be examined, including: canisters, flow controllers/critical orifice assemblies, vacuum gauges, and canister pressurization/fill stations in the laboratory.

Several contamination situations will be explored and quantified. The resulting data will be used to support laboratory and field sampling best practice recommendations.

Read the complete air sampling media cleanliness case study… (Acrobat PDF)

Naphthalene Air Sampling from Manufactured Gas Plants

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Naphthalene is a contaminant of concern at former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) and other property redevelopment sites across the country. A major component of coal tar waste and a possible human carcinogen (EPA Group C), naphthalene is a chemical that may adversely affect human health at remediation sites. Due to its boiling point and vapor pressure, naphthalene can exhibit both volatile and semi-volatile characteristics; therefore the question can arise as to how to properly measure naphthalene in ambient air.

Two commonly applied methods of measuring vapor phase naphthalene include EPA Method TO-15, which utilizes whole air sampling in passivated stainless steel canisters; and EPA Method TO-13A, which utilizes high volume sorbent based sampling with polyurethane foam/XAD resin cartridges. Analytical differences between these two methods will be discussed, keeping reference to naphthalene’s unique chemical & physical properties.

This case study will present weekly data spanning a twelve month period (December 2006 – December 2007) from co-located EPA Method TO-15 and TO-13A ambient air samples at the perimeter of two MGP cleanup remediation sites. Distinct trends are noted and discussed in this paper when comparing the concentration results from the two methods.

Read the complete naphthalene air sampling case study… (Acrobat PDF)