December, 2003
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



OSHA Issues Mold Guide

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

ASHI Capitol Hill lobbyist Randy Pence advises that the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration has issued a formal Safety and Health Bulletin (SHIB 03-10-10) titled, “A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace.”

The introduction to the  multi-page guide explains the intended audience and suggested use as follows: “Concern about indoor exposure to mold has increased along with public awareness that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. This safety and health information bulletin provides recommendations for the prevention of mold growth and describes measures designed to protect the health of building occupants and workers involved in mold cleanup and prevention. This bulletin is directed primarily at building managers, custodians, and others responsible for building maintenance, but may also be used as a basic reference for those involved in mold remediation. By reading this safety and health information bulletin, individuals with little or no experience with mold remediation may be able to reasonably judge whether mold contamination can be managed in-house or whether outside assistance is required.

The advice of a medical professional should always be sought if there are any emerging health issues. This document will help those responsible for building maintenance in the evaluation of remediation plans. Contractors and other professionals (e.g. industrial hygienists or other environmental health and safety professionals) who respond to mold and moisture situations in buildings, as well as members of the general public, also may find these guidelines helpful. The information in these guidelines is intended only as a summary of basic procedures and is not intended, nor should it be used, as a detailed guide to mold remediation.”
The Guide can be found at www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib101003.html

NAHB reports builder confidence surges in October

Builder confidence in the market for single-family homes surged in October to the highest level in almost four years, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index (HMI). The  HMI rose four points to 72 in October to match the level recorded in December of 1999.

“The October HMI clearly demonstrates how sensitive the housing market is to changes in interest rates,” said NAHB President Kent Conine, a home and apartment builder from Dallas. “Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage peaked at an average of 6.44 percent during the first week of September, causing some erosion of the HMI. By the first week in October, they had dropped back down to 5.77 percent, fueling a rebound in builder sentiment.”

The HMI is derived from a monthly survey of builders that NAHB has been conducting for nearly 20 years. Home builders are asked to rate current sales of single-family homes and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” They are also asked to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for responses to each component are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index, where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

CPSC denies petition to ban CCA pressure-treated wood playground equipment

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to deny a petition to ban the use of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) pressure-treated wood in playground equipment. CCA manufacturers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had previously agreed to phase out CCA treatment of wood for most consumer uses by the end of 2003.

CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton said, “The industry has already agreed to stop using this chemical as a treatment for wood for most residential consumer uses. The EPA action effectively addresses the petitioners’ request.”

Commissioner Mary Sheila Gall said, “…I urge the staff to continue its work to identify stains and sealants that will reduce exposure to arsenic from existing CCA wood structures.” Statements by the commissioners are available at www.cpsc.gov

In a report submitted to CPSC commissioners earlier this year, staff scientists found that some children may face an increased risk of developing lung or bladder cancer over their lifetimes from playing on playground equipment made from CCA pressure-treated wood. CPSC staff states this increased risk to children is primarily due to exposure to arsenic residue on children’s hands followed by hand-to-mouth contact. To minimize the risk of exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playground equipment, the CPSC staff recommends that parents and caregivers thoroughly wash children’s hands with soap and water immediately after playing on CCA pressure-treated wood playground equipment. In addition, the staff recommends that children not eat while on CCA-treated wood playground equipment. CPSC and EPA are conducting studies of coatings and sealants to determine effective measures for reducing the amount of arsenic released from CCA-treated wood. Consumers may obtain a fact sheet on the findings of the commission staff at the CPSC web site at www.cpsc.gov or by calling the CPSC hotline at 800-638-2772.

Beware: Fraudulent insurer  targets real estate agents and home inspectors

According to Ted Bader, chief investigator for the legal affairs division of the Washington State office of the insurance commissioner, Nations Hazard an insurer operating out of Illinois, is targeting real estate agents and home inspectors nationwide. Visit their Web site at www.insurance.wa.gov to check actions under the heading of disciplinary actions for Nations Hazard.