In September 2016, the New York State Department of Health issued an emergency regulation requiring all school districts state-wide to test their water for lead contamination by Oct. 31. Working seven days a week, the WSP USA hazardous materials and industrial hygiene (HazMat/IH) team collected thousands of samples at New York City and state schools to meet the deadline.
“If schools do not open or our projects are in the newspaper, that usually means we have failed our clients and ourselves,” said Craig Napolitano, WSP industrial hygiene and hazmat services lead.
Such is the fast and demanding pace of the HazMat/IH industry throughout the New York/tri-state region, where requests for sampling, oversight and design on an emergency or urgent basis are common.
“This work supports the capital budgets of our clients and is often a critical first step in the pursuit of a planned project,” Napolitano said. “We receive work on a consistent, albeit rush basis, supporting other disciplines or when an unexpected incident—such as an asbestos release—occurs on-site.”
The emergency nature of these projects can present significant technical and logistical challenges, and when work in public spaces such as schools, subway stations and public spaces is required to ensure the safety and health of the occupants, there is an added pressure to perform.
“The type of work that we do—indoor air quality, air testing, lead-based paint testing—has a real impact in the public spectrum,” Napolitano said. “Knowing we play an integral part in large public projects, often before any work is done, helps our group cope with the high-pressure turnaround of our industry.”