Tuesday, August 28, 2018

U.S. Army to Test Bases for Lead After Shocking Report

A Reuters investigation uncovered lead paint hazards
present in many military bases, where service families
have lived for decades without intervention.

Yesterday, the U.S. Army drafted an Army Execution Order to test for lead hazards in 40,000 of its military housing units. The move was in response to an investigation by Reuters, which uncovered a lead paint crisis in U.S. military housing stock.

The Reuters investigation presented previously undisclosed military and state health records. The evidence indicated more than a thousand children on military bases had high blood-lead levels. Additionally, Reuters had five random base houses tested for lead paint; all tested positive for lead hazards, with one over the federal threshold by a factor of 58.

These numbers are only a shadow of the problem, as many military bases haven't had any testing for lead-based paint. Of those tested, results often go unreported to state public health agencies and nothing gets done. Some of the affected bases named in the report include Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Knox in Kentucky, West Point in New York, and Fort Sam in Texas.

Since the bombshell report dropped, several lawmakers have pushed for legislation to review the military's handling of lead exposure risks. Military officials are expected to meet with lawmakers to address local concerns in the coming weeks.

"We are committed to providing a safe and secure environment on all of our installations," Colonel Kathleen Turner, Army spokeswoman, said in a recent press release.

If implemented, the Army Execution Order would create a lead testing program, prioritizing military housing units occupied by children, the most vulnerable victims of lead exposure. The plan would also target homes built before 1978, the year when lead paint was banned in the United States. In homes where lead hazards are detected, the plan calls on the military to provide "temporary or permanent relocation to families.

The dangers of lead have been highlighted in recent years with lead crises such as Flint, Los Angeles, and New York City. Childhood lead exposure is particularly concerning for public health officials because heavy metal poisoning is linked to blood, bone, and reproductive disorders, as well as irreversible developmental delays. The Execution Order is a step in the right direction, protecting the families of those who give so much to our nation.

However, the plan does not address how long it will take to inspect all of the 100,000 homes on military bases, or even the 40,000 built before 1978. The plan also does not address whether the military has the money for the program available, or if it would need Congress to authorize funding;  program costs are estimated at up to $386 million.

About 30% of military families live on base, yet the decline of military base housing has been known for at least two decades.

"Continuing to neglect these issues runs the risk of collapsing the force," the Department of Defense said in a 1996 briefing document presented to a Congressional sub-committee.

In the late nineties, the military began privatizing its homes in hopes of ridding bases of substandard accommodations by having contractors and investors pay for renovations. While the contractors would have a consistent rental income, taxpayers would save millions.

However, a 2016 report from the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General found poor maintenance and health hazards still present in many homes. Insiders blame it on funding - over the years, the DOD has decreased housing subsidies that fund the upkeep of privatized base housing.

Many military families have expressed fear over complaining about these health hazards. With their landlords in direct business with their employer, many are concerned that retaliating could hurt a service member's career. In the Reuters investigation, more than half of service families interviewed indicated this fear of being identified.

Now with the backing of state officials and lawmakers, and the outrage of the public, service families might see some action on this lead paint crisis.

To learn more about the investigation, visit the Reuters report. To learn more about lead paint, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.

USGBC Announces New Membership Structure

USGBC, a global leader in sustainable design, announced
a new membership structure this fall. The new plan
includes increased annual dues.

Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced it was changing its membership tiers and increasing annual dues. Effective October 1, USGBC membership dues will be calculated based on an organization's annual revenue and sector- a move that USGBC hopes will make membership more attainable while contributing more to their mission. USGBC develops the LEED Certification green building rating systems used internationally to promote sustainable design and efficiency in design and construction.

In addition to annual dues, USGBC will also change the benefits plan- now organizations will automatically receive proportional benefits to their dues. This means that:

According to USGBC, the increase in dues is part of a greater goal to spread sustainable design across the globe. Specifically, USGBC intends to use membership dues to provide funding to various projects and expand the USGBC network.

"This is not about transactions. It's about togetherness. Together, we can re-imagine what's possible when we invest in one another and in something bigger than ourselves," Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC, said in a recent press release.

This year, USGBC has spurned some impressive green building projects. From stadiums to schools, and hospitals or homes, USGBC unites leaders in sustainable design with the latest technology to create smarter projects.Their sustainability credentialing system, LEED, is one of the most widely used rating systems in the world, and LEED-certified projects are now a commodity in the industry. Builders across the world are implementing LEED principles such as energy conservation and sustainable materials into their designs.

For an organization with such a global reach, it's easy to see how USGBC has quickly outpaced its old membership structure. The new membership system may be just the thing that takes global sustainability to the next level.

To learn more about USGBC membership, visit the USGBC webpage. To learn more about LEED, and how to become certified in this dynamic industry, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

OSHA Releases Silica Hazard Resources to Protect Workers

OSHA released some educational resources on the dangers of
crystalline silica hazard, and how to avoid them on work sites.

Earlier this week, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released several educational resources for respirable crystalline silica exposure training. The free resources are intended to help workers learn the dangers of exposure to crystalline silica, and prevent illness due to dust inhalation.

The free resources include:

Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone. Those who work in construction, masonry, tiling, and other such industries are at risk for the dust particles to become lodged in their lungs. Long-term exposure can result in silicosis, a chronic lung disease. OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust each year.

Last October, the Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction standard went into effect in order protect workers from inhaling the dust on work sites. The hallmark of the standard was its new exposure limit - 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air during an 8-hour shift. It was five times lower than the previous limit after scientific studies proved that even low amounts of exposure over a period of time can result in lung disease.

These resources are free and a great refresher for anyone working with or around silica.

To learn more about OSHA standards for crystalline silica, visit OSHA's website. To learn more about silica hazard awareness and receive industry-standard training, visit Zack Academy's silica course page.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Supreme Court Denies Rehearing of Sherwin-Williams, ConAgra

Supreme Court upholds $1.13 billion ruling against ConAgra,
Sherwin-Williams, and NL Industries for their contribution
to lead-based paint poisoning.

Three former manufacturers of lead paint - ConAgra, Sherwin-Williams, and NL Industries- filed separate petitions with the US Supreme Court after a California court denied their requests for a rehearing, while affirming a $1.15 billion payout on lawsuit pursued by the People of California. The petition for appellate review is the latest from this ongoing litigation spanning nearly 12 years.

In 2006, several California counties including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara County filed a public nuisance lawsuit against some former lead-based paint producers. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants- including ConAgra, Sherwin-Williams, and NL Industries- were liable for damages sustained by these communities.

The defendants appealed this ruling to the California Supreme Court. In 2010, the Court ruled that contingency fee arrangement between the plaintiffs and their counsel was insufficient and remanded the case back to the trial court. From there, the plaintiffs tried the case again but this time only against Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, and ConAgra specifically.

In 2014, the People of California won $1.15 billion in a nonjury trial which was supposed to be placed in a lead abatement fund for the community. This led to the appeal to the Supreme Court.

According to the defendants, the trial was unfair because the plaintiffs did not have to "demonstrate the presence of deteriorating lead paint at any house".  The companies are concerned that the ruling will set precedence for other similar lawsuits.

"It is thus imperative that this Court intervene now, before an extreme causation-and-reliance-free form of 'public nuisance' liability becomes the weapon of choice in the ongoing tort wars," ConAgra defense said in their recent petition.

Regardless, the petitions were denied and the three former lead-based paint manufacturers are expected to pay $1.15 billion toward lead abatement in the state of California. California has recently been the site of a lead poisoning crisis due to deteriorating lead paint in old homes.

To follow the litigation, visit the court document here. To learn more about lead abatement and how to get involved in this important field, visit Zack Academy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Zack Academy Partner Speaks at TEDx Talk on Lead Poisoning

Kate Kirkwood, founder of Lead-Edu, a partner with Zack Academy, spoke
on the dangers of lead in homes and how to prevent lead poisoning at a TEDx Talk
event in Wilmington, DE.

Kate Kirkwood, founder of Lead-Edu (a Zack Academy training partner), was recently selected to provide a TEDx Talk on the dangers of lead in homes. In her presentation, Kirkwood describes lead hazards in both old and even new homes, and educates the public on simple steps they can take to prevent lead poisoning from happening to them.

The brainchild of nonprofit organization TED, TEDx Talk is a global community of experts who provide short and informative presentations on a variety of subjects. The talks are free to view in keeping with the spirit of the nonprofit. Some famous talks include magician David Blaineauthor Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, and life coach Tony Robbins

As a professional with decades of experience and several national and state lead certifications, Kirkwood was a natural choice to provide a talk on lead poisoning. Based in New Hampshire, her training facility Lead-EDU provides training such as lead abatement and lead-safe renovation

During her presentation, she recounted the story of a child in her home state who died of lead poisoning, which sparked her passion for spreading the word on lead paint safety.

"I got hooked on this problem, and I've been trying to make a difference ever since," Kate Kirkwood, founder of Lead-Edu, said during her TEDx Talk.

Kirkwood is no stranger to educating the public on lead safety. Besides her TEDx Talk, she runs a Youtube channela blog, and has even authored books on the subject. Despite being an expert, she is able to write to the average person uninitiated in lead paint. In the spirit of her "lead paint clear and simple" mantra, Kirkwood authored a children's book to spread awareness about lead poisoning prevention.

"Far too many children are poisoned every year, and I believe the only thing that will make a difference is greater awareness,"  Kirkwood wrote in a recent recap of her TEDx Talk.

Our partners at Zack Academy do more than just provide certifications - many of them, like Ms. Kirkwood, educate the public on the real-life impact of the work their work. Sharing the knowledge they have with others can help prevent tragedies. Zack Academy congratulates Kate Kirkwood on her first TEDx Talk- and hopes it inspires professionals at all levels to spread the word on lead poisoning prevention.

To learn more about Kate Kirkwood's lead paint safety activism, visit her website. To learn more about lead paint certification and how to get started in this field, visit Zack Academy. Zack Academy offers the best live in-person and online vocational training courses all in one place.

Palmer Engineering and Forensics Joins Zack Academy Network to Offer MSHA, OSHA Training in Utah


Fort Lauderdale, FL (August 7, 2018) - Zack Academy, a national provider of certification and training courses, announced today that it has partnered with Palmer Engineering and Forensics, LLC to offer miner safety, asbestos, hazardous materials, and OSHA safety courses in Utah.

Based in North Salt Lake, UT, Palmer Engineering and Forensics offers several safety courses taught by experienced instructors. Courses include New Miner Training and annual refreshers; OSHA 10-Hour and 30-Hour Outreach programs; HAZWOPER 40-Hour Initial; and this fall Palmer will be launching asbestos contractor training courses. The company also offers courses in Spanish.

Palmer Engineering and Forensic's next course, the MSHA Annual Refresher Training, is a required by the Mining Safety and Health Administration to renew a surface miner certification . Participants in this course review mine safety protocol, including industry updates and new standard equipment- in order to recognize hazards and prevent accidents.

"Palmer Engineering and Forensics, LLC is a great addition to the Zack Academy Network in Utah, providing the necessary training to support the local industries in their area," commented Zachary Rose, founder and CEO of Zack Academy.

About Palmer Engineering and Forensics, LLC:
Palmer Engineering & Forensics, LLC sees that education is the one of the keys to a successful project. We pride ourselves on impactful, meaningful training done with the purpose of making better workers and citizens. We strive to provide the very best trainers and the very best experience to each student.

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.

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