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Tools for Environmental Health.

In addition, we recommend using the Check-Temp or Check-Temp II from the Tel-Tru Manufacturing Company for easy and rapid daily recalibration (or revalidation for the battery-type thermometers).

Electronic Thermocouple Probe Thermometers

We are still partial to the Atkins Series 340 unit for three very good reasons. It is rugged and comfortable to use, it is easy to operate and read, and the probe K-connection is protected against contamination and damage--a feature unique to the Atkins family of thermometers. In addition, the shape of the probe permits easy temperature measurements on even the thinnest hamburger patty. While the accuracy of these instruments must still be validated according to the old two-temperature method with a temperature standard thermometer, we recently learned that the Check-Temp calibration units will soon have a receptacle made specifically for the geometry of the Atkins probe.

Infrared Thermometers

We like them--all of them. We know that these units are still somewhat controversial in certain circles, but after writing more about them than about any other instrument in our arsenal, and after learning all about their uses and limitations, we are convinced of their utility as screening tools. The infrared (IR) thermometer measures surface temperatures in almost any environment. With a little practice, we are able to take total-facility temperature profiles with amazing speed and accuracy. All major manufacturers have vastly improved both their thermometers and the accompanying instruction manuals by including materials that were recommended in the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 2333 draft standard.

We are particularly partial to the infrared thermometers made by DeltaTRAK, Raytek, and Omega because of their quality and the exceptional technical and service support provided by these companies. The choice of model is a personal preference best left to you. We do, however, recommend certain features that you might want to consider. These include circular laser sighting; hold- and max-registering back-lighted display; ergonomic handgrip; and, for food safety inspections, the most recent innovation--JR emissivity specifically designed for high-moisture-content foods, If you need the convenience of a thermocouple and an JR thermometer, we highly recommend the Omega Model OS634W that combines both features into one unit.

Single-Use Paper Thermometers

Over the past two years, we have used two types of disposable indicating thermometer (the self-adhering label and the thicker and more rigid type that is wedged between the tines of a fork). We have come, however, to rely mostly on the self-adhering Thermolabel, for the following reasons: 1) The self-adhering label works on any porcelain and metal surface to measure final rinse temperatures in dishwashers, and 2) in correctional settings there are no forks. Thermometers of both types, however, work well and are relatively accurate.


Our preference in flashlights is still the AA-cell type. We find the C- or D-cell type too heavy and the AAA-cell battery too weak and short-lived, It is a shame that the most rugged double-A flashlight, the Mini-Maglite [TM], is also the most difficult to operate and the most expensive. With a notebook or clipboard in one hand, and a pen or thermometer in the other, we find rather impractical any flashlight that requires two-handed on/off operation and refocusing of the light beam with each operation. Our Mini-Mags have been relegated to the tackle box and auto glove compartment.

Over the past two years, the selection of AA-cell flashlights has increased almost by an order of magnitude, particularly in the large discount-type stores--and their price has plummeted. We found two models manufactured by Garrity to be particularly suited to our inspections. Although these flashlights are slightly larger than their more expensive cousins, they are actually lighter in weight and cost less than half. The Garrity models include a fixed-beam type and one with a nonproprietary halogen bulb. One model has the on/off switch on the butt end, and the other has it near the front by the bulb. Both are rubber-clad and virtually indestructible.

Light Meter

We still feel that the Type 217 GE light meter is the ideal portable instrument: small, rugged, versatile, and lightweight--and it uses the light it measures as its energy source. Its only drawback is that it cannot measure illumination below 10 footcandles, a capacity needed when you are evaluating a facility for compliance with the Life Safety Code of the National Fire Protection Association.

Electrical Safety

We still rely on two small instruments to ensure our own safety and to detect most electrical problems. The A/C Sensor, which is slightly larger than a pen, simply indicates the presence of electrical current when held close to a live source or piece of equipment. We use the ground fault circuit interrupter/receptacle tester to check the wiring configuration of outlets and to test the ground fault interrupter. This unit is about the same size and weight as a golf ball.


To answer the questions "Is there ventilation?" and "In which direction is the air moving?", we have come to rely on either the Flowchecker [TM] or the Tel Tru Borozin Gun. Both are safe for use around people; the former contains amorphous silicon dioxide powder and the latter zinc stearate powder. Although the Borozin gun is bulkier, the powder is a bit more persistent. We use both. We also take the inexpensive and compact Dwyer 460 Air Meter with us on every inspection, just in case we need a velocity or static-pressure measurement.

Temperature and Humidity

For rapidly and accurately measuring both temperature and humidity in any area, we have come to rely on the compact digital thermohygrometer, which is about the same size as our AA-cell flashlight. However, for critical temperature and humidity measurements, where the results must be compared against a standard, we use the battery-powered Psychro-Dyne, which has replaced our sling psychrometers.

ADA Compliance

Any establishment that meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements is also safe for the general public. We always include an 8-foot tape measure in our inspection kit. It has universal application--both for ADA and for measuring other critical areas in institutions. In addition, we include a pensized door pressure gauge and a 1:20/1:12 ramp-slope bubble measuring device in our kit.

Indicator Papers

We have found that the Whatman[R] Type CF, 0-14 pH indicator papers are probably the most useful. We use them for evaluating every kind of water, from potable, to laundry, to swimming pool, to runoff, as well as quaternary sanitizer concentration. In addition, we carry with us Code 4250-BJ, acid-free LaMotte Chlorine Test Papers, whose end point color we have found easiest to discern.

Other Stuff

Our inspection kits also contain the following: a hardcover, bound notebook and a date-recording 35-millimeter (mm) camera; wooden-stick cotton swabs to show where the dirt really is; a small awl for making a hole in frozen food; sealable quartsized plastic bags; a cosmetic mirror; powder-free disposable exam gloves; and a brimmed white cap with "Sanitarian" embroidered on it. We still have not found any carrying case better than a GI-issue, Korean War--era, 50-mm ammunition carrier--or a washable tool bag with a single-zipper top opening, internal and external side pockets, and easy-carry handles. Both are available for under $20 in Army/Navy surplus stores or in discount hardware and variety stores.

This recommended complement of portable inspection tools costs about $600--including the IR thermometer and the camera.


If we have left anything out, or if you have any ideas for other portable measuring equipment or peripheral supplies, please send your thoughts to us in care of the Journal at NEHA, 720 S. Colorado Blvd., #970-5, Denver, CO 80246. We welcome your input and promise that we will present all recommendations, ideas, and suggestions in future articles.
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Environmental Health Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:The Best of the Best--An Update on Our Basic Inspection Kit.
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