Monday, June 18, 2018

Michigan Enacts Strictest Lead Water Rules in the Nation

Michigan lead water rule
Michigan's new lead water laws reduce the lead action level to 12
parts per billion and ban lead service lines in the wake of
lead crises such as Flint.

Last week, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) enacted the nation's strictest laws against lead in drinking water. Starting in 2025, the new rules will lower Michigan's lead threshold to 12 parts per billion and require Michigan communities to remove all lead service lines - even those on private property.

The rules are slightly more lenient than Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's original proposal in 2016, which called for a lead action level of 10 parts per billion starting in 2020; however, the new rule is still lower than the federal level of 15 parts per billion.

To assist with enforcing the rules, Michigan created a new water system advisory council. The council will assist communities in creating inventories of their water supply infrastructure. In areas with lead service lines, the council will oversee an annual water sampling.

Legislators say that the initiative was sparked by several lead poisoning crises in Michigan- most topically, the Flint water crisis in which thousands of residents were exposed to lead from eroded lead pipes used heavily in Michigan water infrastructure. According to Michigan lawmakers, the state needed to take aggressive action to stop lead poisoning.

"As a state, we could no longer afford to wait on needed changes at the federal level, so Michigan has stepped up to give our residents a smarter, safer rule- one that better safeguards water systems in all communities," Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in a recent press release.

Several municipalities, such as Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, have already begun replacing lead service lines. However, some city officials are concerned about the ruling. The rule is effectively an unfunded mandate, meaning cities are on their own to replace their extensive lead pipe service lines. 

In response, state officials have recommended cities to incorporate renovation costs into their management plans, and ultimately, their sewage fees. City advisors, however, are uncertain of the logistics for lower income communities.

"We also need to be looking at a real water affordability plan that is based on income and the ability to pay. Many of our urban areas like Detroit and Flint are being hit by rates that are unaffordable," Cyndi Roper, Michigan Senior Policy Advocate for Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a recent press release.

Ultimately, Michigan's new lead laws have the potential protect thousands of citizens from lead poisoning. No amount of lead exposure is considered safe, so all actions toward lead poisoning prevention are important. With its progressive rules, all eyes are on Michigan to see how this lead policy effort unfolds.

For more information about Michigan's lead water rules, visit MDEQ. To learn more about lead abatement and how to get involved in this field, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Home Depot Drops Harmful Chemicals in Household Cleaners

Home Depot announces its new Chemical Strategy, which vows to
stop selling cleaning products with toxic chemicals by 2022.

Last month, Home Depot became the latest retailer to drop harsh chemicals from their household cleaning products. The popular retailer updated their Chemical Strategy, which seeks to protect consumers and environmental quality. As part of this update, Home Depot is asking its suppliers to remove nine chemicals from their household cleaning products by 2022.

The nine harmful chemicals are:

  • Propyl-paraben
  • Butyl-paraben
  • Diethyl phthalate
  • Dibutyl phthalate
  • Formaldehyde
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylates
  • Triclosan
  • Toulene
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
Many of these chemicals have already been flagged by other major retailers for their detrimental impact to consumers and the environment. Walmart and Target, for example, have both pledged to remove products containing some of these chemicals from their stock.

New research has shown that cleaning products can be more dangerous than previously thought. A study conducted by the New York State Department of Health found that women working as building custodians have a significantly higher risk of congenital deformities. Reproductive and developmental problems are echoed in another 2006 study which found exposure to cleaning chemicals like borax can cause testicular atrophy in male test subjects and reduced ovulation in female test subjects.

Certain chemical cleaners can also cause respiratory distress. Fumes from harsh chemical cleaners have been shown to trigger asthma, allergies and skin irritations- even in otherwise healthy individuals.

Some of the ingredients on Home Depot's ban list, such as formaldehyde, are widely known to be carcinogenic. Other chemicals such as toulene can cause dizziness, memory loss, confusion and weakness at even low levels of exposure.

Beyond health risks, chemical cleaners pose a threat to environmental safety. Runoff from cleaners always ends up in waterways- and are not always able to be filtered out. These chemicals can cause imbalances in the ecosystem and defects in wildlife, too.

As a result, many consumers are asking for better regulation of cleaning products - and it seems like businesses are listening.

Home Depot's new chemical policy could potentially protect millions of consumers by offering more non-toxic cleaners and reducing reliance on conventional, harsh chemicals. Encouraging all retailers to pay attention consumer and environmental safety is an initiative worth taking, and hopefully we will see more of it this year.

To learn more about Home Depot's new chemical strategy, visit its corporate page. To learn more about environmental safety and how to get involved in this important line of work, visit Zack Academy's environmental sciences homepage. Zack Academy offers in-person and online vocational training for a variety of environmental careers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

NYC Settles NYCHA Negligence Scandal for $2.2 Billion

NYCHA settlement
A 3 year federal investigation revealed widespread misconduct
and lies that endangered NYC public housing tenants. Now,
the city will pay $2.2 billion to overhaul its housing authority.


This Monday, New York City agreed to pay out $2.2 billion to settle a federal investigation into claims of gross negligence by New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Among the allegations submitted in the 80-page civil complaint, NYCHA lied and falsified records to cover up deplorable living conditions in its public housing program.

Federal prosecutors accuse NYCHA of promoting systematic misconduct by falsifying reports, misleading federal inspectors, and covering up noncompliance. These organizational failures jeopardized more than 40,000 low-income tenants by neglecting mold remediation, vermin control, adequate heating, and lead paint regulations.

The settlement ended a probe that began in 2015, which uncovered several predicaments involving the NYCHA- most notably, NYCHA's falsification of lead inspection certificates. NYCHA's then-chairwoman, Shola Olatoye, came under fire for neglecting to annually test properties suspected of containing lead paint, citing that a funding deficit caused the authority to switch to a biannual inspection schedule.

Now, it seems that the lies went even further than anyone expected.

The civil complaint was filed last week in federal court by Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. NYCHA chose to settle rather than stand trial.


Disturbing details of the probe can be found in the consent decree between NYCHA and New York City:

  • Federal investigators found at least 19 cases where children were directly exposed to lead paint in their NYCHA apartments;
  • NYCHA failed to ensure its workers employed lead-safe practices;
  • NYCHA falsified lead abatement reports and neglected to test some 55,000 apartments for lead paint; 
  • Unserviced boilers and heating systems left over 300,000 residents without heat last winter;
  • Some elderly or disabled tenants reported being trapped in their apartments or forced to sleep in building lobbies due to malfunctioning elevators that were never fixed;
  • Federal investigators found a large scale mold issue in NYCHA housing stock;
  • NYCHA circulated a "Quick Tips" training guide among employees that showed how to hide poor performance from federal inspectors;
  • Advice from the "Quick Tips" guide suggested staffers to shut off water lines to buildings with leaks and use painted cardboard to cover up damaged ceiling tiles during federal inspections
As part of the settlement, New York City will spend an additional $1 billion over the next four years, and $200 million per year after that, in order to improve its housing authority. NYCHA will also submit to oversight by a court-appointed, federal monitor and take responsibility for its numerous health and safety violations.

"These violations will no longer be tolerated," Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney, said in a recent press release.

However, some tenants seemed wary.

"I don't think things are going to change and get better even if there is oversight. Who's going to oversee the overseers?" Trinese Cropper, resident of NYCHA's Bronx River Houses, said in a recent press release.

NYCHA properties in Bronx have long complained over vermin, peeling paint, broken utilities, and other issues.

Still, the settlement is a major step forward in repairing the New York City's public housing program. With more transparency and more funding, NYCHA can potentially turn around this situation.

"Fixer Upper" Hosts Fined $40K for EPA Lead Paint Violations

Hosts of the popular renovation show, Fixer Upper, were fined by
EPA for violating lead safety rules.
source

Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of HGTV's Fixer Upper, were fined $40,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lead paint safety violations. EPA found that in 33 of their home renovations, the duo did not employ appropriate lead paint protections and violated the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.

The hit show featured the designs and renovations of Magnolia Homes, the Gaines' company. Often, Magnolia Homes would revamp old, outdated homes into modern masterpieces.

However, old homes - especially those built before 1978 - are more likely to contain lead-based paint. When this lead-based paint is disturbed, the dust and chips can circulate toxic lead particles into the air, soil and water. Lead exposure is linked to various health defects, including cognitive delays. As a result, special precautions must be taken by renovators who work on these sites- or else they can face thousands of dollars in fines for exposing others to lead.

In a notice, EPA stated it reviewed footage from multiple Fixer Upper episodes where Magnolia Homes did not comply with EPA requirements. EPA contacted Magnolia Homes and found evidence of repeated lead paint violations. Among the violations alleged by the EPA, Magnolia Homes:

  • failed to obtain a firm certification from EPA before performing renovations covered by the RRP Rule
  • failed to assign a certified lead renovator to such projects
  • failed to provide home owners or occupant to provide an approved pamphlet about lead-based paint hazards prior to renovation
  • failedto post signs to clearly mark the work area and warn people
  • failed to comply with RRP work practice standards, such as covering floor surfaces and ducts
As part of a settlement with EPA, Magnolia Homes agreed to pay $40,000 in civil fines and another $160,000 toward clearing homes and child-occupied facilities of lead paint in their hometown of Waco, Texas. Magnolia Homes must also use their platform to educate the public about lead-based paint hazards; Chip Gaines is set to star in an educational video on lead safety.

EPA reported that Magnolia Homes has since taken immediate steps to ensure compliance by becoming an EPA certified firm, obtaining lead renovator certification for staff, and bringing its current projects into compliance.

To read the settlement in full, visit EPA. To learn more about lead renovation and how you can avoid fines, visit Zack Academy's lead renovator homepage.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Safety Soleil Partners with Zack Academy to Offer Lead Paint Training Online and in Southwest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fort Lauderdale, FL (June 12, 2018) - Zack Academy, a national provider of certification and training courses, announced today that it has partnered with Safety Soleil to promote its lead paint training courses available in an online/in-person blended learning format.

Based in Tucson, Arizona, Safety Soleil offers several lead paint training courses in both Arizona and California, including Lead Renovator Certification Initial, Lead Renovator Certification Refresher. Safe Soleil also offers a unique blended learning format where students complete a majority of the class online prior to taking an abbreviated in-person class to complete the required hands-on training exercises and examination. Safety Soleil's next course, Lead Renovator Certification Initial, certifies individuals to perform renovations, repairs and painting projects on properties older than 1978 or child-occupied facilities that may contain toxic lead paint. Without this certification, individuals can face fines of up to $37,500 per day of work.

"Safety Soleil is a great addition to the Zack Academy Network of EPA Accredited training providers. Its unique training format allows flexibility for busy professionals who can't miss a full day of work to sit in a class but still want quality training," said Zachary Rose, founder and CEO of Zack Academy.

About Safety Soleil:
Safety Soleil provides in-person and online training in several states for lead paint certification and professional development. Safety Soleil counts on the hands-on, diverse contractor experience of its training team to help students earn their lead paint certification.

About Zack Academy:
Zack Academy is a leading online marketplace for career-oriented training and certification courses, offering classes and seminars across the United States in areas including software and programming training; construction; contractor licensing and renewal; lead, asbestos and mold certification; LEED exam prep; stormwater and water management; solar training; cleaning/restoration/water damage; business practices; analytics; and more. Zack Academy provides a one-stop shop for career and certification training in partnership with hundreds of local training companies across the United States.

Release Contact:
India Edouard
Operations & Marketing Assistant

Monday, June 11, 2018

All NYC Safety & Training Joins with Zack Academy to Offer Construction Safety Training in NY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fort Lauderdale, FL (June 11, 2018) - Zack Academy, a national provider of certification and training courses, announced today that it has partnered with All NYC Safety & Training to offer OSHA and construction safety courses.

Based in Brooklyn, NY, All NYC Safety & Training offers several OSHA and construction safety courses in the Brooklyn area. Courses include OSHA 30-Hour Construction Industry, 16-Hour Suspended Scaffold User, 8-Hour Site Safety Coordinator, and more. All NYC Safety & Training's next course, the 4-Hour Supported Scaffold User Safety Training, is mandatory for any construction professional using supported scaffold equipment. Participants in this course learn the associated electrical hazards, fall hazards, ladder safety and personal protection equipment.

"All NYC Safety & Training is a great addition to the Zack Academy Network in New York. Its long list of OSHA and construction safety courses will better expand our availability in the NYC metro area and help properly train even more construction professionals on important safety issues," said Zachary Rose, founder and CEO of Zack Academy.

About All NYC Safety & Training:
All NYC Safety & Training is a leader in safety training for NYC’s construction industry. Employers require their workers to be prepared and well trained, thus workers must be certified to work on construction sites. All NYC Safety and Training's team of dedicated safety professionals offers professional instruction by providing students with a fully immersive learning experience. Its OSHA authorized instructors bring regulations to life by sharing field experiences related to the many standards taught in our classrooms. All NYC Safety & Training's faculty prides itself on giving the best experience possible, by giving students the opportunity to learn by doing, not just sitting in a class looking at slide presentations. There really is no substitute for quality hands-on training provided by experienced instructors.

About Zack Academy:
Zack Academy is a leading online marketplace for career-oriented training and certification courses, offering classes and seminars across the United States in areas including software and programming training; construction; contractor licensing and renewal; lead, asbestos and mold certification; LEED exam prep; stormwater and water management; solar training; cleaning/restoration/water damage; business practices; analytics; and more. Zack Academy provides a one-stop shop for career and certification training in partnership with hundreds of local training companies across the United States.

Release Contact:
India Edouard
Operations & Marketing Assistant

Thursday, June 7, 2018

FL Contractor Exam Prep and Pool Management Courses Now Available Through Partnership With 1 Exam Prep

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fort Lauderdale, FL (June 7, 2018) - Zack Academy, a national provider of certification and training courses, announced today that it has partnered with 1 Exam Prep to offer contractor licensing and pool management courses.

Based in Coconut Creek, Florida, 1 Exam Prep offers several contracting licensing and pool management courses both in the Coconut Creek area and online. Courses include Certified Pool Operator, Florida General/Building/Residential Contractor Exam Prep, Florida Plumbing Contractors Exam Prep, and more. 1 Exam Prep's upcoming Certified Pool Operator (CPO) course teaches essential information for running pools and spas. Participants will be certified to perform maintenance, renovation, water testing, filtration, recirculation and energy management within the scope of pools. Participants earn CPO certification in all 50 states; the certification is mandatory in several states for performing pool management.

"As a fellow Florida-based trainer, 1 Exam Prep is a great addition to the Zack Academy Network. Its long list of contractor licensing and pool management courses will better expand our reach throughout Florida and help properly train even more contractors and pool professionals," said Zachary Rose, founder and CEO of Zack Academy.

About 1 Exam Prep:
1 Exam Prep provides access to online contractor course content, exam prep, books, and practice test questions to students and professionals preparing for their state contracting exams. 1 Exam Prep specializes in flexible online learning, allowing for students to learn at their own pace. 1 Exam Prep also offers a number of courses in-person at their Coconut Creek location.

About Zack Academy:
Zack Academy is a leading online marketplace for career-oriented training and certification courses, offering classes and seminars across the United States in areas including software and programming training; construction; contractor licensing and renewal; lead, asbestos and mold certification; LEED exam prep; stormwater and water management; solar training; cleaning/restoration/water damage; business practices; analytics; and more. Zack Academy provides a one-stop shop for career and certification training in partnership with hundreds of local training companies across the United States.

Release Contact:
India Edouard
Operations & Marketing Assistant