Mercury Remediation

So are you saying a Pro-Lab Mold sample and report is no good? If so, why?

The detectable limit established by the Lab was 0.0000 mg/m3.

Home was 5 years old.

Child was under 1 year. (I am assuming thermometer was new).

Assuming the thermometer contained mercury, how much mercury could potentially be intrioduced into the home from a single exposure of 1 thermometer?

Does the risk of exposure warrant the extent of remediation conducted at this home? (Complete removal, collection and encapsulation).

Hi Joe:

Originally, you posted that

“Recommended cleanup levels range between 0.0003 mg/m3 and 0.001 mg/m3.” and now you are saying that “The detectable limit established by the Lab was 0.0000 mg/m3.” Ignoring the fact that the last reported value is missing a significant figure, I think you may be confusing clean-up criteria values with detection limit values.

For example, it is completely possible to have literally six pounds of mercury contamination in an internal vacuum system, and still have “Test results were reported as BDL (Below Detection Limit).” by the laboratory. That is because the laboratory test results have NO INTRINSIC VALUE outside the data quality objectives of the person performing the test.

I could easily walk into an heavily Hg contaminated house, and collect samples such that the sample results “were reported as BDL (Below Detection Limit)” by the laboratory. Because the detection limits do NOT speak to the issue of “Recommended cleanup levels.” and do not speak to the concentration of extant contamination. They are two completely different beasts, and cannot be used simultaneously. The DLs are merely the lab’s stated ability to quantify a parameter based on a variety of considerations, including their own corporate liabilities.

Also, the units you have used, mg/m3, as used in the case of Hg, express the amount of Hg in the air, NOT the amount of Hg in a contaminated item (the central vacuum system) since the contamination in the vacuum system CANNOT be expressed as mg/m3. So, one cannot have a reasonable “Recommended cleanup levels” for a vacuum system expressed as mg/m3.

Except, here is a real-life Hg contamination scenario I worked on where I did use mg/m3 to prove a specific contamination level. In a certain Eastern state, during the relocation of a rich family, the movers knocked over and badly damaged an old grandfather clock that contained a large amount of mercury. The Hg spilled onto a priceless carpet worth more money than I will earn in a lifetime. The health department, in an act of governmental tyranny (IMHO), condemned the carpet and ordered it destroyed – the law suit was inevitable.

The Hg in the contaminated carpet is rightfully expressed either as the weight of Hg per weight of carpet, or, the weight of Hg per unit of surface area of carpet – therefore, the recommended cleanup level must similarly be expressed, and the detection limit as designed by the DQOs (i.e. designed by the person taking the samples - NOT the laboratory) must be capable of being translated to that cleanup limit.

I was hired by the rich family. I pinned the health department down, and forced them to declare a limit of acceptable contamination (i.e., they had to define what constituted “contaminated.”) I supervised the cleaning of the carpet with consultation from an antique expert. I then had the carpet sealed in a large air-tight container, and the carpet was gently heated for a period of several days. I calculated the volume of the container, the volume of the carpet, the saturation of Hg vapor at that temperature and altitude. I developed DQOs and a sampling protocol based on those DQOs, that would determine the Hg content of the carpet, such that even if the Health Dept didn’t like it, we could prove the carpet did not meet the State’s definition of “contaminated.” After a specific period of time, I withdrew several air samples from the air tight container. From those samples, based on the data quality objectives, by expressing the results in mg/m3, I proved that the carpet, on a weight per weight or weight per unit area basis could not possibly contain the amount of Hg the State established as constituting “contamination.” The State was forced to withdraw their order, and the carpet was released. (It’s what I do.)

State clean-up levels are not always what they seem. In one case, the State clean-up levels for a Hg contaminated soil were much lower than the surrounding natural soils (that is, the state wanted us to cleanup the Hg to a level that was lower than naturally found in the normal surrounding soils). I told the state to pound sand and to sue my client if they wanted to go that route, but if they did, we would force the state to provide scientifically based decision criteria that supported their demands. The State official laughed, and withdrew the “mandatory” cleanup criteria, and said that his office was just “raising the flag to see who saluted.” We were permitted to cleanup the soils to ALARA levels.

You also ask:

Assuming the thermometer contained mercury, how much mercury could potentially be intrioduced into the home from a single exposure of 1 thermometer?

That kind of modeling is a lot of fun, but takes a long time to calculate and we don’t have enough info in your post – so here is the easy qualitative, thumbnail, answer. Assume a 3,600 ft2 floor plan with 8 ft ceilings. Assume an average 0.5 ml thermometer. The Hg will slowly evaporate, let’s assume that at any single point in time, 1% of the available Hg is evaporating. Houses “breathe” and constantly exchange indoor with outdoor air – let’s assume a “breathing reduction factor” of 500. Houses have “mixing factors” that are never perfect, and typically are about 0.05; but assume this magical house has a perfect mixing factor (which will artificially increase the apparent concentration). A broken thermometer may be expected to contribute perhaps 0.0002 mg/m3 into the house at the beginning, and then, the concentration will steadily and continuously decline thereafter (starting within one minute of release).

You ask:

Does the risk of exposure warrant the extent of remediation conducted at this home? (Complete removal, collection and encapsulation).

Risk based on which risk model? Perceived risk? Market risk? Health risk? Emotional strain? Peace of mind? I can answer the health risk side of the question from strictly an objective, scientific point of view: “No.”

Kenneth – as a rebuttal expert, I love Pro-Labs reports; they make my life very easy since, in my experience, they are one of the easiest to discredit, and those consultants who rely on their reports, are similarly, in my experience, the easiest consultants to discredit. You may read my comments on this matter elsewhere.

Cheers!
Caoimhín P. Connell
Forensic Industrial Hygienist
www.forensic-applications.com

(The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

AMDG

When she was 5, my sister bit the end off an oral thermometer and swollowed it. The doctor told my parents it was no problem, it would pass right through, and it did. That was 40 years ago, no problem yet. Personally I’d be more worried about biting the end off a *rectal *thermometer.

Anyone living back East is prabably getting bigger exposures of mercury coming in on the wind from car switches vaporized in arc furnaces than anyone was going to get from that thermometer dropped on the floor.

Now THAT’s funny! :freaked-:

It wasn’t that long ago (but then I’m older than most trees on my property) that metallic Hg was used to treat constipation. Patient merely swallowed about three pounds of mercury, and it just … well, it just sort of pushed everything through.

Honestly, such really is the toxicological fate of ingested metallic mercury – although I wouldn’t want to try it myself.

Cheers!
C

Their detection limit is too low. Not enough time under a microscope. Will be hard to hold up in court. I tried using them several times, I was not impressed. You are better off finding an Industrial Hygienist locally that is certified in mold. I found most Industrial Hygienist do not know swat about mold. In college they are taught very little about mold like the poor information the EPA has. Very out dated.

Just wanted to add that I was mistaken. It’s not the 10-12 tons of mercury per year put into the air by arc furnaces vaporizing auto switches which are the concern… it’s the 50+ tons of mercury per year put into US air by coal-fired power plants which settles wherever the wind drops it that builds up in the body of your child. Mercury damages childhood development both physically and mentally.

Snopes take:

http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/cfl.asp

EPA’s take:

Hello Kenton –

Your point is well taken, but we need to remember that the comment “[FONT=Verdana]Mercury damages childhood development both physically and mentally.” Is true if, and only if, the mercury is present at sufficiently elevated doses, at the right times in life. Otherwise, the statement is not true, since there are de minimis quantities for Hg, for which there are no adverse health effects.[/FONT]

Hello James –

Two points –

[FONT=Arial]Their detection limit is too low.[/FONT]

First, the ProLabs reports can be defeated without ever having to go into detection limits. I have been able to defeat opponents just because they use ProLabs, and no other reason, and impugn their entire reports, for the same cause.

Second –

[FONT=Arial]I found most Industrial Hygienist do not know swat about mold.[/FONT]

Unfortunately, you are correct. I find that the problem stems from a couple of areas 1) individuals who are not Industrial Hygienists are calling themselves Industrial Hygienists, and getting away with it lending a bad name to legitimate Industrial Hygienists. In my state, Colorado, this is becoming more and more of a problem in spite of the fact that an individual can be criminally prosecuted for criminal impersonation if they claim an occupational position to which they are not entitled; and 2) technically incompetent Industrial Hygienists who, in violation of our code of ethics, practice outside an area of their technical competency.

In the last two years, I have opposed five Industrial Hygienists in litigious actions; all five of whom were certified Industrial Hygienists, and two of whom also held a PhD. In all five cases, the CIHs lost. They lost for one reason - they strayed from good science. Even an Industrial Hygienists who knows NOTHING about mould, should have sufficient technical foundation to quickly notice that sampling for moulds, as typically done, is fatally flawed.

However, to our credit, most Industrial Hygienists do NOT get involved in mould and microbiology for exactly the same reason – they recognize they are not technically competent to so do. However, the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (the company that owns the copyright to the title “CIH; certified industrial hygienist”) seems entirely uninterested in addressing the competency issue among its certified members, and appears much more interested in title protection, and ad hominem attacks against practicing Industrial Hygienists who choose not to join their club. As a result, many certified Industrial Hygienists engage in work entirely outside their area of knowledge, cloaked only with the “ competency” derived by using the title “Certified Industrial Hygienist.”

Which is why, when I testified before the Colorado Board of Health in 2005, the board informed the State of Colorado that being an ABIH “Certified Industrial Hygienist” was no longer considered a statement of competency to practice Industrial Hygiene. Which is a most unfortunate broad brush for most CIHs with whom I work, since they are some of the most competent IHs I have known.

Such is life…

Cheers!
Caoimhín P. Connell
Forensic Industrial Hygienist
www.forensic-applications.com

(The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

AMDG

So are you saying I can’t be a mold expert by taking a 16 hour course?

Gee, I really thought they were a legitmate outfit…with all the telemarketing calls and all…you know.

The most prestigous schools in the nation always calls prospective students…right?

I bet they will have there own late night ads on tv soon…:slight_smile:

Ok…so I am just kidding…:slight_smile:

Joe H. That is an amazing story…I can’t believe anyone would pay 10K to “remediate” mercury from one thermometer…We all need to be in the remediation business. :slight_smile: That is apparently where the real money is.

Hello Caoimhín,

Could you get more specfic why ProLabs’ reports, if any other labs too, are ‘flawed’?

thx,

Mercury didn’t do those involved in the felt business much good either, as it was used in the proccessing of Felt for hats, hence the term “Mad as a Hatter”

More useless information next week, same time same channel :wink:

Regards

Gerry

No information is usless just some is more valuable then others .
Thanks Gerry, Looking forward to it.
… Cookie