Tag Archives: hazardous materials

My Path to the Certified Environmental, Safety and Health Trainer (CET)

CET Self Assessment Exam

My well worn Self-Assessment Exam.

I’ve spent a chunk of my career teaching environmental, health and safety (EHS) courses. I’ve know about the Certified Environmental, Safety and Health Trainer (CET) for years, but I didn’t really need it for my job. Therefore, I never pursued it. I asked other EHS trainers I know and no one else had it or had even considered it. Was this process going to be worth the effort? Eventually my curiosity got the best of me. I didn’t have any first-hand accounts of the process. Therefore, I write this in hope that it helps you on your path to the CET.

Spoiler: I was approved, passed the test and am now a CET. Continue reading

Fun with 49 CFR Hazardous Materials (DOT)

If you work in the field of hazardous materials and hazardous waste, then you are probably familiar with 49 CFR Subchapter A. This is where you can find the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for shipping hazardous materials. You have to keep a good sense of humor when reading regulations or you will find yourself in a CFR-induced nap. Some of the tidbits and citations you can find in here are quite interesting. So let’s have some fun with 49 CFR.

I’m using photos taken of the actual printed CFR. Reading it off an electronic CFR is not nearly as enjoyable as coming across these in a big heavy book.

1. Black powder for small arms. This is for when a T-Rex has to ship black powder.


2. The mass explosive, secondary detonator Dingu ate my baby.


Continue reading

TNEP Profile: Richard Cartwright, PE, CHMM, CPIM

Richard CartwrightRichard Cartwright is an engaging and energetic speaker on hazardous material management. His knowledge and passion for the subject ooze out of him. He teaches and speaks to environmental professionals all over the world and if you connect with him on LinkedIn, he seems to be somewhere different every day.

Richard is the Senior Vice President/Owner of MECX and has been involved with the Alliance of Hazardous Material Professionals (AHMP) as a Certified Hazardous Material Manager (CHMM) since the start of the organization. He continually works to bring together CHMM’s around the country, coordinating with chapters, and enhancing the brand.

We previously met when he spoke to the Colorado Environmental Management Society and he was back in Denver to give a talk on the history of hazardous material management to the Rocky Mountain Chapter of CHMMs. By chatting with him and hearing his presentation I gained an insight into his background and interest in having hazardous materials managers in all aspects of life.

I often ask people, “What drew you to this field?”, but I didn’t have to ask him. It was obvious when he spoke.

His life is a personal connection to the chemistry, toxicology and management of hazardous materials. He talks about Paracelsus, Marie Curie, and Rachel Carson as if they are Washington, Napoleon, and Churchill.  During his presentation this night, he presented a history of hazardous material incidents, both good and bad. For all the bad ones, such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, he is assured that they could have been avoided if a good CHMM was involved in the operation.

His talks are a mix of technical problems and solutions and interesting stories that make you think more deeply about the topic. For example, hazardous material management or toxicology is the world’s oldest profession. Huh? He makes the point that our ancestors looked to the animals and nature to see what they were eating. The “original CHMMs” would see an animal eating a food and then give it to another person and see if it was good or poisonous.

After he talked, I had one specific question for him. It’s one that I ask nearly all the environmental professionals profiled here.

TNEP: Everyone in this room has an appreciation for what you talked about tonight? How do you relate to people who don’t understand our field?

Richard: You have to give examples. It’s kinda like scripture. They’re parables. You’ll become fishers of men. Instead of catching fish, we’ll have new disciples and new people and we’ll grow and multiply. You have to capture the new young generation. They’re willing to learn and they’re willing to change. At my age, people will dump trash and their kids and grandkids will go pick it up. So it’s a culture change.

And understanding these different tragedies and why they occur. Unfortunately in America, we’re a nation of under-reaction and overreaction. And the only time we learn is from a catastrophe. We don’t listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth and we just don’t listen. And only when it goes wrong we actually do something.

TNEP: Thank you, Richard. It was an enjoyable evening learning more about the history of hazardous material management and getting an insight into one of the original CHMMs.

Richard will no doubt continue to travel the world emphasizing the need for good management of hazardous materials. He regularly blogs on his LinkedIn page, is writing several books on the topic, and I’m sure will keep speaking to any and all groups that invite him in.



Hazardous Materials in the Field

A lot of national attention regarding environmental issues is spent on climate change, sustainability, and alternative energy. These are topics that demand attention from scientists, policymakers, and the community. There are everyday environmental incidents that don’t impact a wide population, but can be extremly impactful to a person, workplace, or neighborhood. When these smaller issues are overlooked for an extended time, we get incidents like the West Virginia water contamination or the Texas fertilizer plant explosion.

I’ve spent most of my career trying to keep work places healthy from exposure to hazardous materials, wastes, and toxins. Here are a few interesting photos of what it’s really like out there. All of these have been taken by me on job sites.

DDT found in a storage room. How old is this?

DDT found in a storage room. How old is this?

Rusted, bulging 55-gal drums.

Rusted, bulging 55-gal drums.

funnel hole in drum

Uh, what they thinking?

Used oil in a Pepsi bottle. Don't put it back in the fridge.

Used oil in a Pepsi bottle. Don’t put it back in the fridge.

Good or bad? A garbage can full of oil.

Good or bad? A garbage can full of oil.