Mitigating Risk

Asbestos and mold are common in our environment and have the potential to cause serious diseases. How to address these issues, as well as other environmental concerns, can be a complex problem that requires guidance from experts. Plattsburgh is home to a consulting firm, KAS, Inc., whose specialists can help you navigate the laws and regulations governing these problems.

KAS, Inc. is a certified woman-owned enterprise established in 2004 by Amy King, a licensed asbestos inspector. Initially the company provided consultation on environmental and industrial hygiene. Five years later, it acquired a civil and environmental engineering firm and expanded from its home base in Williston, Vermont, establishing a second office in Plattsburgh. Today its service area includes a wide swath of western and central New England. In New York State its reach is south to Albany and west to Syracuse. Services offered include environmental assessments, contaminated site management, construction management, training on compliance with labor and environmental laws, asbestos testing and advice on industrial hygiene matters. The company has seven full time employees and one part-timer in the Plattsburgh office; there are 12 full timers in the Williston office. If you were to acquire an older building that you wanted to demolish or extensively modify and you suspected the presence of asbestos, getting an opinion from a professional would be the place to start. KAS will inspect your property and test for asbestos. Using their findings, they will help you solicit bids from contractors who can abate the problem. They will oversee the repairs or demolition and, when the work is finished, will retest to ensure that all the asbestos is gone. While KAS does not handle the asbestos removal itself, they do provide the necessary oversight to make sure your project is in complete compliance with all applicable regulations.

Another important phase of KAS’s business is providing assistance with issues relating to industrial hygiene, a large and varied field primarily concerned with the safety and well-being of workers, their families and the community. Conditions addressed include workplace temperatures, noise, radiation, and chemical hazards, as well as other issues like indoor air quality often called sick building syndrome. Issues as simple as indoor illumination to more complicated matters like emergency response planning and disposal of hazardous wastes are also areas of expertise for the company.

Employers use KAS to perform required OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training for employees. One of its most highly sought out training subjects is lockout/tagout, a method designed to prevent the unwanted or unexpected powering up of machinery or circuits. At home, if you are replacing an outlet, you can be fairly sure no one will turn on the circuit breaker in mid-job. In a large manufacturing plant, that is not always the case. The best insurance against unwanted powering up is to literally put a lock on the switch, hence the name.

While mold has always been part of our environment, it became a more important concern in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Thousands of homes and other buildings were damaged by the storm, which brought out unscrupulous contractors who, without any credentials, offered mold abatement services. Their shoddy work brought enough complaints that a law to protect consumers went into effect in 2016 that requires a remediation process similar to asbestos abatement.

There was a time when lead based paint was considered an excellent product — durable and color fast — but over time we learned that, like asbestos, it can be dangerous. Testing to determine the presence of lead paint is one of KAS’ many services.

Lenders, insurance companies, municipal authorities, and developers use KAS to perform environmental evaluations. It is part of due diligence — the act of making sure there are no unknown environmental problems with a site. An evaluation may be fairly simple or decidedly more complex. A site that formerly had a gas station or dry-cleaning plant would require extra scrutiny and evaluation. No one wants to become the unwitting owner of a leaking underground oil storage tank or a property with contaminated soil.

As it has grown, KAS has established strong working relationships with federal, state and local agencies which streamline the permitting process for projects. The company is proud of its success, crediting the “diversity and flexibility of its staff — a team of civil, environmental and structural engineers, scientists, industrial hygienists, and technicians — that focus on practical and cost-effective solutions while keeping the client in charge.”