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Vermiculite insulation that is tainted with asbestos can "pose a substantial health risk to workers and residents," so states a recent memo from the United States Public Health Service.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been asked to investigate further.  More information on vermiculite. . .

Indoor air pollution may be higher than outdoors.   Indoor air pollution levels may regularly be two to five times higher than levels outdoors, according to recent EPA research.  At times, the research showed the levels to be up to 100 times higher.   Since Americans spend most of their time indoors, the EPA has named indoor air pollution among the most urgent national problems.

23,600 homes had fires that started in the fireplaces, furnace, or chimneys in 1996, according to a Consumer Product Safety report. As a result, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is recommending that annual chimney inspections be performed by certified chimney sweeps.

A New York undercover operation fined twenty-one unlicensed contractors and seized their vehicles, in an operation aimed at catching fraudulent home improvement contractors.   In order to get their vehicles back, the contractors had to pay all outstanding fines, settle all outstanding consumer complaints, and obtain a legitimate contractors license.

Women are owners or co-owners of 230,000 construction companies in the U.S., according to an article in the Nation's Building News. The article goes on to cite a National Association of Home Builder's (NAHB) Women's Council member, who indicated that because women owners actually sign the paychecks, they face far fewer obstacles than tradeswomen when entering the construction industry.

Fiberglass-asphalt shingles must meet tougher standards.   The 1997 SBCCI building code uses the ASTM D3462 performance standard which sets minimum requirements for things such as tear resistance, etc.  According to Ted Michelsen, of the Roofing Industry Educational Institute, in a recent interview with the Journal of Light Construction, "there are still many fiber-glass asphalt shingle products on the market that are not in compliance with ASTM D3462".  If you are having your roof re-shingled and if the contractor is using fiber-glass asphalt shingles, be sure to verify that the product being used is in compliance with the newest standards.


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