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 June 2006 Editorial

The Best Tools

Caring for the environment requires an understanding of past issues, a grasp of current situations and a vision for how the future can be better and safer.

It also requires a great deal of teamwork, as governments, industry, standards developing organizations and individuals find ways to work together to make the buildings we inhabit, the air we breathe and the water we drink safer for everyone.

And, of course, like any other job, good tools are needed to tackle environmental concerns. Standards, such as those described in this issue, are among the most important of these tools.

In her story on the latest revisions to ASTM E 1527, Practice for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, Julie Kilgore clearly demonstrates how this ASTM standard was affected by the 2002 Brownfields Law enacted by the United States Congress that created new landowner liability protections and provided additional guidance regarding the criteria for conductuing all appropriate inquiry. She recounts how ASTM International Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stepped up to successfully reevaluate and revise the standard. Jon Walker’s story on ASTM E 1528, Practice for Limited Environmental Due Diligence: Transaction Screen Process, is a natural follow up to Kilgore’s article, as E 1528 has also been revised to be newly relevant in the wake of the Brownfields Law.

When it comes to environmental issues, few words strike as much fear into a property owners’ heart as “mold” and “asbestos.” Robert Barone and Katie Schwarting write about a new ASTM standard on mold testing, E 2418, Guide for Readily Observable Mold and Conditions Conducive to Mold in Commercial Buildings: Baseline Survey Protocol, and how it will act to reduce much of the uncertainty that comes with surveying for mold. Anne Horan’s story on the new asbestos standard, E 2308, Guide for Limited Asbestos Screens of Buildings, details the history of asbestos, looks at the health risks it poses and explains how the standard will provide a common language and scope between users and providers.

In her article on environmental regulations, Helen Waldorf explains how ASTM standard E 2365, Guide for Environmental Compliance Performance Assessment, can provide a prioritized framework for small businesses to effectively deal with compliance issues.

Clean water is essential to environmental health and since its founding, ASTM Subcommittee D18.21 on Ground Water and Vadose Zone Investigations has been dedicated to addressing the sampling, testing and monitoring of ground water and the unsaturated zone of soil or rock above the groundwater. Jeff Farrar details the history of the subcommittee and notes some of the many important standards that it has developed.

Taking care of our environment effectively, in a way that satisfies the needs of many, is difficult but very important work. Fortunately, ASTM technical committees are on the front lines, developing some of the best tools around for doing it. //

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

 
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