It's pretty difficult to find
a firm foothold when the ground is constantly shifting under your feet. Yet that's just
what the Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario (EACO) is trying to do.
EACO is the successor organization to the
Ontario Asbestos Removal Contractors of Ontario (OARCA) and it has a broader base which
includes consultants as well as contractors.
Formed last year, EACO is addressing a far
broader range of issues than its predecessor did although "we're really just starting
to get it off the ground," said council president Tom Kelly.
Kelly is with Inscan Contractors (Ontario)
Inc., a firm that does industrial insulation but also has a division specializing in
asbestos and toxic mold abatement.
"OARCA fell apart through lack of
interest," he said, "We were'nt getting anything done."
Now, EACO is recruiting from a broader base.
"We have most of the consultants in that area on board but the contractor side is
small and, to my mind, not very representative. Some of the bigger guys who were members
of OARCA haven't come on board with EACO yet. We need to show these guys that things are
Kelly made a profile of EACO available. It
notes that "with environmental remediation being relatively new industry, there has
been no agreement on acceptable standards and industry-policed controls on performance and
quality nor have any imposed by the regulatory agencies."
Then, it makes a reference to the constantly
shifting ground beneath the organization's feet when it says that "a convergence of
different types of abatement firms (has) caused the scope and definition of the
environmental abatement industry to continuously change and expand."
"These changes have created new areas of
remediation such as lead and mold, which has caused the diversification of the services
offered by our core membership. This diversification and the potential for further
change... emphasizes the need for EACO to take the lead as a strong, focused point of
representation of our.... industry."
The council has already submitted a number of
independent research proposals dealing with asbestos, lead, silica and mold to the
provincial Labour Ministry, and the ministry has accepted the one dealing with asbestos.
Council vice-president Don Bremner, of Restoration
Environmental Contractors Ltd., was one of the driving forces behind the council's
formation. He had earlier been deeply involved with OARCA.
He has devoted so much time to environmental
abatement and studied the problems so often, that he earned status as an expert witness in
a number of court cases.
He said the council is "trying to work
with the various ministries to establish a protocol for mold assessment and remediation in
"Most people are following the New York
City protocol, which has been widely adopted throughout North America by consulting
engineers who adopt it, then adapt it to their own needs," he said.
"We're trying to promote our industry
and police it. And we're working with the Ministry of Labour on guidelines and regulations
to ensure the quality of workmanship."
As well, the association hopes to educate
both general contracts and the public.
To that end, Bremner has already taken steps
within his own company to increase its education role.
The company Web site has many articles on a
wide range of environmental issues, including several on mold. Some of the articles have
been extracted from scientific journals.
"We try to get good articles from
reputable sources," he said. And he has obtained permission to post the New York City
mold-abatement protocol on the site as well.
The company has also sponsored a day-long
conference on mold and a second has been planned. ( click here for more info on the Mold and
Environmental Conference )
"We've found ourselves in the role of
educators, not only for our clients but for the industry and for the general public, which
doesn't get a lot of information on mold, asbestos, lead paint or PCB's," he said.
Bremner said he hopes EACO will soon develop
a Web site of its own.
Mold, he said, is a big issue that's getting
bigger. While it receives a lot of public attention when it invades such things as old,
wooden portable classrooms, it shows up in places where it receives little public notice.
In Ottawa, for example, the Ottawa-Carleton
Home Builders Association recently published an article in its newletter warning members
about mold that has formed in piles of lumber stored on the jobsite.
"Because of the shortage of carpenters,
lumber has been sitting on site for a much longer time than usual, waiting for carpenters
to arrive," said the association's Richard Lee.
"The rain falls, the sun comes out, and
ideal conditions are created for mold to grow in the gaps between the pieces of
The heart of the warning to members was
simple, he said. "Mold is not acceptable. Deal with it."
He said the association is "trying to
encourage all our member to develop a policy on mold."
"If a homeowner phones and says he
thinks he has mold in a wall, we want builders to develop a policy to deal with that phone
call. They just can't say 'It's not our problem'--because it is."
Lee said there have not been many complaints
so far, although the number of phone calls has been increasing.
"I suspect though, that the incidence of
mold has not increased. I think it is consumer awareness that has increased."
Although mold is currently a hot topic, that
growing consumer awareness of the environment means that EACO has "a whole slew of
things" to deal with, Kelly said.
Individuals and individual companies may not
have a lot of success dealing with government, he said, "but the government does have
an interest in working with us as a group."
Contact Mr. Don Bremner
Tel 1-800-894-4924 or (905) 888-0066 Fax 905-888-0071
P.O. Box 746
10 Stalwart Industrial Drive Unit 5,
Gormley (Markham), Ontario
Canada L0H 1G0