Environmental Requirements for Child Care Center Licensing in New Jersey

Child Care Center (CCC) Licensing in New Jersey is much more complicated and costly than other states due to environmental requirements needing to be fulfilled.

Two (2) New Jersey Agencies regulate the environment issues, namely 1) the Site Remediation Program (SRP) in the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and 2) the Environmental and Occupational Health Assessment Program (EOHAP) in the NJ Department of Health (NJDOH).

The CCC must obtain a Response Action Outcome (RAO) by hiring a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) who is a private environmental consultant licensed by NJDEP. David L. Poling, President of Professional Environmental Associates is an LSRP (#587232). The original trigger for requiring the RAO was a case in Cumberland County where a CCC was opened and operated on a site and in a building which was formerly a Mercury thermometer manufacturer, exposing the children and staff to unacceptable levels of mercury.

The LSRP conducts a Preliminary Assessment (PA). The PA investigates into the site’s/unit’s past history and current site use so as to identify if there are any Areas of Concern (AOC’s) that may result in exposure of the children, staff or visitors to contamination. Such AOC’s include 1) past usage of the site as a factory, gasoline station, dry cleaners, nail or hair salon, etc.; whose operations can result in site contamination, 2) former use of the site for agriculture which can use and release pesticides, 4) former release of hazardous materials or waste, 5) the past and current presence of above or underground storage tanks (AST’s/UST’s), dumpsters, transformers, air vents and ducts, floor drains, chemical storage closets, boiler rooms, etc., 6) presence of historic fill, 7) etc. It not only is the building but the outside grounds which must be considered. A site and building visit is mandatory. NJDEP has a standard list of AOC’s to guide LSRP’s but it is not all inclusive. If no AOC’s are identified or those that are identified can be disqualified as to having a potential to contaminate, the RAO can be issued. Prior to May 7, 2012, the NJDEP issued a “No Further Action” Letter (NFA) instead, based on submission of a PA.

Otherwise, a Site Investigation (SI) needs to be conducted to determine whether or not the AOC actually has resulted in site contamination. Frequently, the soils of the playground need to be sampled and analyzed. If the site investigation does not detect contamination above NJDEP Standards/Levels, the RAO can be issued.
If contamination is detected for an AOC, a Remediation Investigation (RI) must be conducted to determine its extent. The contamination must then be remediated, before the RAO can be issued. There are a multitude of remediation options including removal, isolation, alteration so as to be non-hazardous, use of engineering or institutional controls, etc.

The CCC must also obtain a Safe Building Interior Certificate from the NJDOH’s Environmental and Occupational Health Assessment Program (EOHAP) unless the building is newly constructed or extensively and appropriately renovated. In rare cases it could still be required, i.e. if there is a possibility of contamination because of the site’s past usage. This certificate is obtained by the CCC hiring an Indoor Environmental Consultant (IEC) licensed by the NJDOH, who conducts an Indoor Environmental Health Assessment (IEHA) and submits it to NJDOH’s EOHAP. Professional Environmental Associates and David L. Poling, President, are IEC’s (#1195 and 276 respectively).

The IEC investigates into 1) the past usage of the building/unit and site, 2) the past or current usage of an adjacent or nearby unit, building or site, 3) the current character and condition of the building and 4) whether or not there has been past environmental investigations. It assesses whether or not the indoor environment is safe for children, staff and visitors i.e. there is no unhealthy exposure to radon, lead, asbestos-containing materials, bloodborne pathogens, mold or other chemical, physical, and biological hazards. Testing is required for radon and lead and possibly the other hazards. If the IEHA indicates no potential for exposure, the Safe Building Interior Certificate will be issued. However, it may indicate the need for air sampling in the facility to prove no exposure possibility to air contaminants before the Certificate can be obtained. Even if there are indoor air quality problems, they may be rectifiable though removal of the source or installation of a ventilation system.

Since the first regulations were promulgated in 2007, PEA has conducted about 500 such studies for CCC’s.