Our Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does my home or workplace contain asbestos?
A: Asbestos was used in more than 3,000 building materials and products. If your home or workplace was constructed before 1990, then there is a chance that one or more building materials contain asbestos. Essentially, if a building material is not wood, glass, or metal, it might contain asbestos. To verify the presence or absence of asbestos, a sample of the building material or product should be carefully collected and submitted to an AIHA-LAP, LLC-accredited laboratory for analysis by PLM (polarized light microscopy). In many cases, sample collection must be conducted by a trained and licensed professional.
There are specific types of surveys and inspections required for government, public, and commercial buildings (including apartments with more than 4 dwelling units). An EPA-accredited (or state-licensed) asbestos building inspector must conduct the inspection. In the city of Philadelphia, additional licenses are required.
Our licensed and trained staff can provide a variety of inspection, survey, and analytical services to assist you.
Q: How do I have something tested for asbestos?
A: If you are a homeowner considering a remodeling project, follow these instructions to learn how to collect and submit a sample for laboratory analysis. If you are a public or commercial building owner and planning to renovate, demolish all or part of a building, or sell property, request an inspection tailored to meet your needs.
Q: If my home or workplace contains asbestos, is it hazardous?
A: Asbestos materials that are intact, in good condition, and are not being disturbed are not considered hazardous. It is only when these materials are disturbed by renovation, demolition, or accidental damage that there is the potential to release tiny fibers that can be harmful when inhaled. Preventing the release of asbestos fibers into the air is the most important safety tip.
Our trained and experienced staff can evaluate and assess conditions to determine if any asbestos hazards exist, and provide you with a scope of work for remediating any identified hazards.
Q: What are my responsibilities as a public or commercial building owner?
A: For workplaces covered by OSHA regulations, Section 29CFR1910.1001(j)(2) specifies that:
"Building and facility owners shall determine the presence, location, and quantity of ACM [asbestos-containing material] and/or PACM [presumed ACM] at the work site. Employers and building and facility owners shall exercise due diligence in complying with these requirements to inform employers and employees about the presence and location of ACM and PACM."
This section also requires that records be kept and transferred to successive owners and that housekeeping personnel be informed where asbestos may be present while working.
Q: If asbestos is found, do I have to remove it?
A: It depends. If the asbestos is in good condition and there are no plans to disturb it, then the answer is "No." If renovation or demolition work is planned that will disturb the asbestos-containing material, the answer is "Yes." The US EPA regulates the removal and disposal of asbestos, and has delegated the authority to state and local governments to determine specific requirements.
Our licensed and trained staff can provide a variety of asbestos-related services to meet your needs.
FAQ's: Mold/Indoor Air Quality
Q: If I see a small amount of mold in my bathroom, kitchen or basement, should I be concerned?
A: Mold is common and found everywhere. Small amounts may occur in damp environments and can be cleaned with a detergent solution or a small amount of bleach in water. Mold can become a potential when it grows after flooding or significant water damage (such as a roof leak). Mold grows by feeding on woodbuilding materials, paper on gypsum wall board, and other materials of organic origin.
Eliminating water (leaks, etc) is the most important step, followed by the ventilation and drying of wet areas. Ventilation is important for kitchen and bathrooms to reduce the chances for mold growth caused by high humidity and condensation. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website has published additional information about mold and moisture.
If you, your family, or employees are experiencing recurring allergic or asthma like symptoms connected with smelling moldy or musty odors at home or in a building, you can consult with our experienced certified industrial hygienists for a solution.
Q: If my basement or crawl space smells musty, does this mean I have mold?
A: Most likely a musty smell is associated with mold and/or mildew. This is common for below-grade spaces that may be closed up for a period of time, and especially during damp and rainy seasons.
Q: Where does carbon monoxide come from?
A: Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is a byproduct of combustion engines (cars or generators) and fuel burning equipment (stoves or fireplaces). Do not start or run car engines in an attached garage, don’t use gas stoves or kerosene heaters in unventilated spaces, and ensure that gas or oil-fired heaters have adequate ventilation and are inspected periodically. HUD has published useful information about carbon monoxide.
Q: What risks are there from insects and other pests in the home and how do I control them?
A: Insects may cause serious health problems by transmitting bacteria and diseases to humans. All pests are looking for food, shelter and water. It’s important to know what kind of pests you may have, where they are found, and to eliminate those things that attract them by non-chemical methods whenever possible. This type of approach is called Integrated Pest Management.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, contact your physician or go to a hospital. Common concerns in the Delaware Valley include rabies (raccoons, foxes, and other mammals that may be transmitted to pets), Lyme disease from deer ticks (carried by field mice and can be transmitted to pets), mosquito bites and equine encephalitis, and toxic spider or snake bites. HUD has published useful information about Integrated Pest Management.
FAQ's: Lead Paint
Q: Why is lead-based paint a concern with small children?
A: Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years as an ingredient in paint. Children can be exposed to lead by swallowing or breathing in dust that contains lead. Lead is a poison that affects every organ and system in the body.
Very high levels of lead exposure can cause coma, seizures, and death. Even small amounts of lead can enter the bloodstream, affect the development of the nervous system, and result in behavioral problems and learning disabilities.
Children six years old and under are most at risk. Every parent knows that toddlers are prone to putting small items into their mouth, including flakes of paint and lead-contaminated soil.
Q: Does my home or workplace have lead paint?
A: Paints made before 1978 for residential use most likely contain lead. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) restricted the amount of lead in residential paints in 1978 to 0.06%.
New paints may be free of detectable amounts of lead. Industrial paints and coatings used on bridges and other steel structures (water towers, antennae, etc) are likely to contain higher levels of lead.
Q: How can exposures to lead paint occur?
A: Old paint will deteriorate and "chalk" due to aging and exposure to weather. Chalking mostly occurs on exterior surfaces exposed to weather. This makes it available as dust through direct contact or by being washed off the surface and into the soil at the drip-line of the home or building.
Dust also occurs from actions that cause surface abrasion, such as the opening of windows and doors. When lead attaches to dust it becomes easily available for infants and toddlers to be taken in by hand-to-mouth contact with surfaces or objects.
Q: What is the most common source of lead exposure in adults and children?
A: Home renovation and remodeling projects are the major sources of lead exposure. Dust can be inhaled and small children can easily swallow loose paint chips. Precautions must be taken to reduce the amount of dust generated during work, contain the work area, and confine lead-contaminated debris for proper disposal.
The EPA publication, "Renovation, Repair and Painting," provides information on EPA requirements for lead-related renovation work and lead-safe work practices and procedures.
Contact us to learn about the lead assessment, remediation, and analytical services that we can provide. Our trained, licensed, and experienced professionals can address your needs.