Environmental Engineering

This area of engineering addresses the safe and proper production, transportation, storage, use, and disposal of chemicals and wastes, and the safe design, operation, and utilization of related equipment. To achieve these goals, chemical and physical processes are often evaluated, environmental pathways are identified, and control and remediation processes are designed and evaluated.

Baghouse Safety

Baghouses mitigate air pollution resulting from commercial processes by filtration of released gasses. Dust is collected in cylindrical fabric filters capable of withstanding high temperatures. In part because of the layer of dust that collects on the filtration devices, baghouses enjoy very high efficiency of particulate collection. However, the formation of this dust layer also necessitates periodic cleaning of baghouse filters.

Many safety issues arise from the operation and maintenance of baghouses. In particular, common issues include confined space entrance considerations (OSHA 29 1910.146), fires, flow blockages, incompatibilities, ladder access, control of hazardous energy (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147), personal protective equipment ( OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132), lockable access doors, and interlocks.

Data Sheets and Contaminants

A number of Reference Data Sheets have been written by Meridian Engineering & Technology staff members and consultants. The topic of these data sheets is usually a specific chemical, a group of chemicals, or a specific topic in the field of safety, industrial hygiene, or environmental engineering.

Contaminants may exist in the forms of solids, liquids, or gases, and depending on ambient conditions at the time may change their physical state and mobility. High vapor pressures, combustion, and mechanical actions can all change the form and distribution of contamination which can effect exposures.

The evaluation of the environmental hazards of a contaminant may include elements of toxicology, epidemiology, chemistry, ventilation, and physics. An assumed acceptable environmental hazard may in reality be an unreasonably dangerous condition when evaluated from a position of knowledge.

Contaminants have the tendency of moving and changing when released to the environment. It is important to understand these pathways, these various physical states, and the collection and control alternatives available. Effects like buoyancy and infiltration can significantly change concentration levels. Rupture disks, pressure relief valves, and discharge points are examples of exhaust sources which require evaluation.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Department of Transportation are three organizations that have numerous regulations concerning environmental control. Violation of these regulations can result in more than a fine. Issues as basic as Material Safety Data Sheets can become pivotal for safety.

Chemical Process Safety Analysis, the Hazard Communication Program, Environmental Audits, Operating Permits, and Phase I Audits are examples of Environmental regulations to control emissions and assure environmental compliance. Having audits performed by external services may not only identify problems, but provides an additional level of comfort.