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Group plans model law for indoor air quality.

With regulations to ensure indoor air quality on the minds of virtually every legislator in the country, a multi-faceted task force is nearing completion of a model for any laws that may be enacted.

Established by the Environmental Safety Council, Inc., The Indoor Air Quality Task Force includes representatives of every side of the indoor air quality question: Real estate and building services, government, unions, employment and consumer advocacy groups, attorneys, and environmental companies, professional associations. It is chaired by Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger.

"We think it will carry a lot of weight because we've made great effort to include everyone," Gayle Essary, executive director of the Environmental Safety Council.

The task force is entering the final stag of its year-long development process. Two public comment sessions will be held this week - tomorrow Aug. 6 in Manhattan and Friday, Aug. 7 in Washington, D.C. - before the final drafting process begins.

The model law will be introduced in San Francisco, Oct. 20 at at the national conference of the American Society of Heating and Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers titled "Indoor Air Quality 92: Environments for People." The legal prototype will then be available to state, county and municipal lawmakers through the Council of State Government's "Suggested Legislation."

Tomorrow's session will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p. m. at the Manhattan Borough President's Conference Room, at 1 Centre Street (19th floor). The drafting panel will ask further questions of the legal committee and technical committees and, there will be opportunity for the public to comment on the panel's findings and make any other remarks on indoor air quality.

"If anyone has any idea on how a model law should be written that is the place for them to bring them forth," said Essary.

Why a Law?

Though many in real estate would prefer an indoor air quality law not be added to the long list of regulations the industry must now comply with, there is a growing sense of inevitability as indoor air quality bills spring up all over America.

"There is going to be law in this area one way or the other," said Bettina Browne, an environmental attorney who is a member of the task force's drafting committee and executive vice president of the New York-based International Service System, a facilities maintenance company.

The Legislation, which has been proposed all over the country and on the Federal level, Browne said, is very different from state to state.

"What you have is real hodge-podge of varying levels of regulation, "Browne said.

The model, Browne said, will be bipartisan and represent the concerns of every group concerned with indoor air quality.

Essary said the Environmental Safety Council does not advocate the passage of any law, but, he said, this is intended to create a "standard language to refer to for that purpose."

Written comments will also be accepted through Sept. 1.

Copies of the scientific and technical review and legal and statutory review reports may be obtained by sending a 9-by 12-inch self-addressed envelope, with $1.21 postage affixed, to the Environmental Safety Council of America, at P. O. Box 471, Forest Hills, New York 11375.

As chair of the task force, Essary said, Messinger was diligent in ensuring balance. She was chosen to chair the panel, he said, not only because she is a public servant, but because she brings a strong urban perspective, particularly that of New York.

"She is the president of the borough that has the most real estate in the nation," Essary said.

To the extent that it would force all owners to take seriously the problem of indoor air quality, enacting legislation would be "helpful", said C.J. Berger, Esq. an attorney and author of three books on buildings and environmental hazards.

"A lot of owners don't want to look at this issue unless and until they have a major problem," said Berger.

But while there has not been law in the past, Berger said, many owners have adopted standards, such as those of the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRE).

"Though that's not a mandated standard," she said, "it's come to be used by many people as if it were."

The Environmental Safety Council, which formed the model law committee, has, as its principle members, major real estate owners and tenants. Its other levels of membership include major non-profits, attorneys, architects and contractors. According to Essary, the mission of the group is to minimize risk for owners, and the main way to do that he said is through accountability to the public.
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Title Annotation:Environmental Safety Council Inc.
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 5, 1992
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