Environmental Safety is a Profitable Investment
There are significant global environmental concerns, particularly in developing nations: global warming; degradation of air, water and land in industrialized areas; depletion of natural resources; loss of agricultural land due to deforestation and soil erosion; and threatened wildlife habitats.
One of the reasons Montclair State University exists is to transform people’s lives through education and research. The value judgment made by members of our university community are based on our role in society and what kind of impact we have on the environment. From the environmental perspective, sustainability is about increasing stakeholder and societal value while decreasing our environmental footprint. We define our footprint as injuries, illnesses, incidents, water consumption, waste, emissions and energy.
What is Mold?
Molds are naturally occurring fungi that can be found anywhere. Many different species of mold exist in New Jersey. Molds help break down dead materials and convert it back into organic matter which can be used by living organisms.
How Does Mold Grow?
Molds grow by digesting and destroying the material they grow on. Molds can grow on virtually any substance, as long as moisture, oxygen, and an organic source are present. Molds reproduce by creating tiny spores (viable seeds) that usually cannot be seen without magnification. These spores become airborne, both outside and inside of buildings. If spores land on suitable material and conditions are favorable, the mold will begin to grow.
What Does Mold Look Like?
Molds grow in colonies and growth may take on different shapes and colors. Some molds may appear circular in growth while others may grow and spread to cover an area. Molds may appear brown, yellow, green, or black in color. The appearance depends on the species of mold present.
Even though molds are everywhere, they may become a problem when they begin to grow inside homes and buildings. Many building materials such as drywall, ceiling tiles and wood framing contain cellulose, which is a material on which molds can grow.
As molds grow on building materials they may become destructive. Molds may grow unnoticed, above ceilings, behind walls, in attics and basements or in crawl spaces. Molds can cause staining of walls and ceilings and can begin to break down the studs and joists of buildings causing extensive property damage.
Excessive moisture is a key ingredient which causes molds to grow. Sources of excess moisture may be:
- plumbing leaks
- leaking roofs or windows
- high humidity
- flooding or
- condensation inside walls due to poor insulation
Health Concerns About Mold
Individuals at highest risk for health effects resulting from mold exposure include:
- Those who have pre-existing health conditions (allergies and lung conditions such as asthma or emphysema)
- The Elderly
Molds emit spores and chemicals as part of their normal life cycle and some individuals may exhibit reactions when exposed to these materials. Molds are microscopic and, once airborne, can easily be inhaled. Spores may contain allergens that can cause irritation to the nose, throat and respiratory tract.
In addition to allergens, molds may emit microbiological volatile organic compounds (MVOC’s). These chemicals usually have a strong and unpleasant odor and are associated with the musty smell that individuals equate to mold being present. These chemicals, when released into the air, can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. When inhaled, they can cause allergic reactions. MVOC’s have also been linked to headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
Some molds may cause more severe reactions than others. If you are experiencing severe reactions, that improve when you leave the affected building, you should speak to your physician and a consultant regarding the advisability of staying in the building where the problem exists.
How to Report Suspected Mold on Campus
If at any time mold is suspected within any residential space, residents are strongly encouraged to report their findings immediately to their Community Director via email. That in turn will begin the coordination to inspect, clean and remediate any area as quickly as possible.
If you do not know your Community Director’s contact information, please refer to the Residence Life website under the Contact Us tab at the bottom of the page.
Faculty, Staff and Other Campus Constituents
Please contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 973-655-5457.
Montclair State University Mold Policy
Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold. There are no mandated actions specific to molds and indoor air quality required by any state or federal agencies. The U.S. EPA states “Standards” or Threshold Limit Values for airborne concentrations or mold, or mold spores, have not been set.
Although there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold contaminants, there are microbiological benchmarks or assessment guidelines. Therefore, in the event that we discover mold on campus, Montclair State University’s policy is to follow EPA’s recommended protocol for Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), and other guidelines from professional and government organizations. While not required by EPA, as a quality control measure, air testing may be done (before and after remediation) to confirm that once the remediation is complete the concentration of spores inside the area is lower than outdoor/background levels.
Indoor Air Regulations and Mold
“Standards or Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for airborne concentrations of mold, or mold spores, have not been set. Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold contaminants.”
Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
Is sampling/testing for mold necessary? (From EPA FAQs)
In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building’s compliance with federal mold standards. Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.
What are Air Emissions?
Air emissions can be direct (e.g., out of a pipe or stack) or indirect (also known as fugitive) through the HVAC system or open windows. Emissions can be in many forms, including nitrous oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter (all resulting from combustion) or volatile organic compounds, ozone depleting substances, and CO2. Examples of process related equipment that could result in air emissions are abatement devices (e.g., Catalytic Oxidizers), boilers, emergency generators, and storage tanks.
Why Is Air Emission Management Important?
Air emissions can have an impact on a local and global level as evidenced by some of the resulting consequences: smog, climate change, and holes in the ozone layer. There are multiple regulatory requirements for maintaining an accurate profile of our air emissions and reporting emissions regularly to multiple agencies, including the national, state and local regulatory agencies, and Montclair State University. Most emissions information is available to the public. Not complying with the regulations can result in a Notice of Violation, which can damage the university reputation with local officials, the community and with stakeholders.
What Should I Do?
- Learn what air emission sources are present in your area and how they should function to minimize releases.
- Seek current best technology for emission abatement.
- Learn the criteria set forth by the air permits in your area.
- Consult with EHS professionals to understand how your operations impact air emissions.
What Is Community Outreach and Conservation?
Community outreach brings together, government, private industry, community groups, and private citizens to discuss and understand activities that have the potential to affect public health, quality of life, or the environment. Conservation is a broad term generally referring to efforts to preserve, protect, or enhance our critical land and water resources. Each Montclair State University site must have an annual written conservation and community outreach plan based on local issues and concerns.
Why Is Community Outreach and Conservation Important?
Community outreach is a proactive way to build productive relationships that yield tangible benefits (e.g., an expedited permit application) and intangible benefits (e.g., a good reputation in the community). The primary goals of your community outreach should be to improve community and regulatory relationships; open lines of communication with stakeholders to foster mutual trust; anticipate potential conflicts and discuss possible solutions before problems escalate; understand community values; ensure that the public understands how your operations affect the environment; and promote awareness of environmental issues.
Conservation is essential to protecting the health of the planet’s ecosystem, which in turn, protects human health. Water conservation, for example, is cost effective and maintains our drinking resources. Efficient use of water through behavioral, operational, and equipment changes can help to mitigate the effects of poor water quality and drought conditions.
What Should I Do?
- Provide input to the community outreach plan; make sure it is aligned with business needs and issues.
- Get involved and encourage others. Clean up a stream, educate about ecology, sponsor an Earth Day event, etc.
- Think of your daily activities and how you can conserve natural resources more effectively. Encourage others to do the same, and share best practices.
What Is Energy Conservation?
It is the responsibility of each business unit to establish mechanisms for creating, maintaining, and tracking an energy efficient facility and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Energy conservation efforts are managed through the use of Energy Star Best Practices, and success is measured by tracking annual CO2 emissions.
Why Is Energy Conservation Important?
There have been many studies conducted that link increasing CO2 emissions to climate change, and energy production and use is a leading cause of CO2. In addition, energy costs have been increasing significantly. A fully implemented energy conservation process can lead to reduced CO2 emissions to help meet University Facilities’ goals and achieve financial savings.
What Should I Do?
- Learn what equipment consumes electricity in your area.
- Conserve energy use wherever possible.
- When purchasing decisions are made, ask for the most energy efficient models possible.
- Reinforce conservation by talking with your employees.
What Is an Environmental Management System (EMS)?
An EMS is a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving what an organization does to meet its business and environmental goals. An EMS guides goal setting, procedures, auditing and corrective actions. For many years, the University has had an internal management system, which was stricter than that required for compliance.
Why Is an EMS Important?
An EMS is the key to managing our environmental risks because it makes our work more systematic. Having an EMS increases our eco-efficiency, reduces costs and enhances our image with the public, regulators, lenders and investors.
What Should I Do?
The Montclair State University environmental professional typically coordinates and monitors the EMS, but to be strongest, people from other functions must be engaged.
- Work with EHS to establish the environmental policy for your unit and conduct an annual Management Review to assess if the EMS is working as intended.
- Participate candidly in the EMS self-assessments. Consider what works well and what needs to be improved.
- Allocate sufficient human and financial resources to maintain a strong EMS.
- Identify eco-efficient improvements in your area.
- Hold others accountable for their role in the EMS.
What Is Hazardous Waste?
Hazardous waste is any material that is: toxic, ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or acutely hazardous; a listed material, or mixture of materials; deemed hazardous due to institutional and industry experience, impact studies and/or testing. In other words, hazardous waste is a material solid or liquid which if spilled on the ground or in water will affect the current and or future life (plant, animal or microbial) in a non-sustainable manner.
There are varying hazard levels to human health and the environment when it comes to handling waste. It is important to treat each situation separately, making a hazard determination each time a new waste stream is discovered. Each hazardous waste has a listed quantity above which releasing it to the ground, water or air is a violation of federal, state, and local regulation. Some wastes are hazardous in quantities of hundreds of pounds, while others in quantities of mere ounces. The difference is related to the impact the material has on our environment if released.
Why Is Hazardous Waste Management Important?
The State of New Jersey has very strict regulations when it comes to Hazardous Waste Management. These apply to all hazardous waste from the moment it is generated until it is disposed, reclaimed, or recycled. Waste is still the university’s responsibility even if it has left the site for disposal. As an example, failure to comply with Hazardous Waste Management Regulations in the U.S. can result in a $27,500 fine per day per offense. Beyond financial consequence, not complying with Hazardous Waste Regulations could result in polluting the communities where we live and work.
What Should I Do?
- Ensure that your waste streams are in compliance.
- Understand Hazardous Waste Regulations that apply to your work area.
- Learn to manage your Satellite Accumulation Area (a location near the point of generation where hazardous waste is accumulated before disposal).
Montclair State University Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (posted March 23, 2021)
What Is Storm Water Pollution Prevention (SWPP) in the U.S.?
The Clean Water Act of 1977 established the basic structure for regulating discharge of pollutants into U.S. waters. The Act made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under its provisions. The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) was formed to regulate industrial, commercial, and construction activity with point sources that lead to discharges that go directly to surface waters.
A site conducting commercial, industrial, or construction activities must verify with local authorities if a storm water permit and prevention process is necessary. The site’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Team oversees SWPP to ensure compliance with the NPDES. The team is responsible for establishing a means of documenting and sharing Best Management Practices to eliminate unlawful discharges, and improving the quality of surface water conveyed to nearby storm drains.
Why Is SWPP Important?
As storm water flows over pavement, lawns, sidewalks, and off of buildings it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants. Storm water flows into storm drains where it is discharged untreated into lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, and coastal waters where we fish, swim, and obtain drinking water. By practicing Best Management Practices we can keep the University chemical liquids/solids and debris from polluting the ground and flowing to storm drains.
What Should I Do?
- Ask EHS professionals how the work in your facility affects storm water quality.
- Know which storm water Best Management Practices are used in your area.
- Learn who is on the SWPP Team.
- Learn the difference between a non-authorized and an authorized discharge.
- Make sure that your employees know to never put anything down a storm drain.
What Is Water Management?
Water management means that there are processes in place to: a) conserve water consumption and provide personnel with safe drinking water, b) manage storm water, and c) manage wastewater. The first ensures the health and safety of our human resources, and the second and third prevent pollution.
Cross connection studies and laboratory analysis testing ensures that the highest quality of drinking water is provided and maintained at every source. It is important to provide employees with the security of knowing that the water they drink at work is safe and does not put their health at risk.
Wastewater management monitors all sanitary and processed wastes that leave the facility to make sure they are within State and Local environmental law and regulations. Storm water management monitors run-off. These requirements are established to eliminate any ill effects to the health and environment of our community.
Why is Water Management Important?
The most important reason to monitor our wastewater is to ensure that wastes leaving our facility are at safe enough levels to discharge to the environment. Waste streams should never come in contact with drinking water streams. This is why we closely regulate both streams coming into and out of the facility to ensure the safest and best quality for our employees and the surrounding community.
What Should I Do?
- Review waste disposal systems and seek opportunities for disposing in a more environmentally friendly way.
- Notify EHS or Maintenance of any malfunctioning water sources, or anyone tampering with water devices or sources.
- Create habits that would eliminate any cross connection to drinking water sources.
- Evaluate what goes down the drain in your facility, and if not eco-friendly, find alternative methods of disposal.