A little more than halfway done interning with the Boston Public Health Commission

It is amazing how quickly this summer has gone by and that I am more than half way done interning with the Boston Public Health Commission.  BPHC’s inspections of Boston public schools is completed for now, so I have been shadowing health inspectors as they conduct inspections in small businesses such as nail and hair salons.  I also went to an emergency health hazard call at a restaurant in Mattapan where a sewage pipe burst in the basement of the building complex, which also affected a neighboring barbershop.  The restaurant’s permit for operation was suspended until the matter was cleared up and they passed a follow-up inspection.  I still find it  interesting to observe the protocol for each inspection, in different types of businesses, that the commission deals with on a day-to-day basis.

In addition to shadowing these inspections, a majority of my work this month was directed towards finding an affordable ventilation system for nail salons that meets the new regulation standards.  Recent regulations put into effect by the commission regarding ventilation in nail salons include an increased outdoor airflow rate and the banning of recycled air within the salons.  These requirements follow those set forth by the International Mechanical Code of 2009 http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/icod/imc/2009/icod_imc_2009_4_par015.htm and must be fulfilled by October of this year.  Most of the salons will have trouble meeting this deadline for financial reasons, as existing ventilation systems that fulfill the requirements are pricey.

Finding appropriate ventilation for the salons is difficult as well because specific requirements pose different challenges.  For example, the zero percent recycled air requirement will make it hard for salons to retain heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, so a system that can fulfill the need of exhausting air without losing heat is ideal, but expensive.  This is why the commission is working with students at Wentworth Institute of Technology on developing an affordable system.  I was tasked with trying to find a mechanical engineer who was familiar with the International Mechanical Code of 2009 and was interested in partnering with the Wentworth students on developing a system. However, none so far have shown a strong interest because the scope of the project is daunting, or because they are unfamiliar with the needs of the nail salons.

Lastly, I have continued to do educational outreach with nail salons and auto body shops through the commission’s Green and Clean program http://www.bphc.org/whatwedo/healthy-homes-environment/green-and-clean/Pages/Green-and-Clean.aspx.  This involves going out to new auto body shops throughout Boston to inform them about the program and its benefits, such as free advertising of your business on the commission’s website as being a “green” business.  If a business decides to sign on, then a follow-up walk through is conducted and if enough points are earned, then the business passes.  For auto body shops, points can be made for initiatives like recycling oil or windshield glass, in addition to using a water based primer instead of an oil based one.  Overall, my experience with the commission continues to be personally fulfilling as I feel that I am directly impacting the improvement of public health within the city of Boston, which is a fantastic feeling at the end of each day. I look forward to seeing what project I get involved in next.

IMG_0309IMG_0326To the left is a picture of a typical flammable storage container and it is required that all flammable or volatile chemicals be stored within one, such as the acetone seen in the picture in a nail salon.

To the right is a paint spraying room in an auto body shop.  One of the point based initiatives in the Green and Clean program is that all paint spraying conducted in an auto body shop must take place in one of these regulation spraying rooms with proper ventilation.

-Ben Krause ’15

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