Frequently Asked Questions

On this page, you can find answers to the questions we are asked most about the dangerous and life crippling impact of lead paint poisoning.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. Asbestos has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings.

How do I know if I have asbestos in my home (in floor tile, ceiling tile, shingles, siding, etc.)?

The only way to be sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. EPA only recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material. Samples should be taken by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional inspector).

What are the health risks if I have asbestos in my home, building, apartment, or school?

Asbestos that is in good condition and left undisturbed is unlikely to present a health risk. The risks from asbestos occur when it is damaged or disturbed where asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled. Managing asbestos in place and maintaining it in good repair is often the best approach.

Where can I find someone to remove the asbestos in my home?

You can perform an internet search for “asbestos contractor” and the location of your home. Contact your state to determine what state training and accreditation requirements may exist for both the contractor and their workers. EPA recommends that you use an asbestos contractor that is properly trained to handle asbestos.

My attic has vermiculite insulation in it. Am I at risk? Should I take it out?

If you have vermiculite insulation in your home, you should assume this material may be contaminated with asbestos and be aware of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from exposure to asbestos. The EPA recommends that vermiculite insulation be left undisturbed. Airborne asbestos fibers present a health risk through inhalation, so the first step is to not disturb the material, which could release fibers into the air. If you disturb the insulation, you may inhale some asbestos fibers. The degree of health risk depends on how much and how often this occurred.
 
If you choose to remove the vermiculite insulation, this work should be done by a trained and accredited asbestos abatement contractor that is separate and independent from the company that performed the assessment of the vermiculite insulation to avoid any conflict of interest.

I am thinking about buying a house but it has vermiculite attic insulation in it. Should I have it removed before or after I buy the house?

Removal of the vermiculite insulation may not be necessary if it is confined in a manner where it will be left undisturbed. If you choose to have the vermiculite insulation removed, the EPA recommends that you use a trained and accredited asbestos contractor that is separate and independent from the company that performed the assessment of the vermiculite insulation to avoid any conflict of interest.

I use/used vermiculite to enhance my potting soil. Should I be concerned?

EPA's investigation (see report) into these products indicates that consumers face only a minimal health risk from using vermiculite products at home or in their gardens.
 
To further reduce the risk associated with the occasional use of vermiculite products during gardening activities, EPA recommends that consumers:
 
• Use vermiculite outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
• Avoid creating dust by keeping vermiculite damp during use.
• Avoid bringing dust into the home on clothing.
 
Although EPA does not endorse the use of any particular product, consumers may choose to use:
 
• Premixed potting soils, which ordinarily contain more moisture and less vermiculite than pure vermiculite products and are less likely to generate dust.
• Soil amendment materials other than vermiculite, such as peat, sawdust, perlite, or bark.

Where can I find someone to test a material to see if it contains asbestos?

Contact Preemptive Strike Environmental Inspections today.

I'm remodeling my home. Do I need to be concerned about asbestos in the building materials?

It's not possible for you to tell whether a material in your home contains asbestos simply by looking at it. If you suspect a material within your home might contain asbestos (for example floor tile, ceiling tile or old pipe wrap) and the material is damaged (fraying or falling apart) or if you are planning on performing a renovation that would disturb the material, the EPA recommends that you have it sampled by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional (inspector), such as Preemptive Strike Environmental Inspections. The professional then should use a qualified laboratory to perform the asbestos analysis. Also, you may learn more about whether the replacement materials you intend to install might possibly contain asbestos by reading the product labels, calling the manufacturer, or by asking if your retailer can
provide you with the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the product(s) in question.

Since asbestos was banned, do I need to be worried about products on the market today containing asbestos?

On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) banning most asbestos-containing products in the United States. In 1991, the rule was vacated and remanded by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result, most of the original ban on the manufacture, importation, processing, or distribution in commerce for most of the asbestos containing product categories originally covered in the 1989 final rule was overturned. Only the bans on corrugated paper, rollboard, commercial paper, specialty paper, and flooring felt and any new uses of asbestos remained banned under the 1989 rule. Although most asbestos containing products can still legally be manufactured, imported, processed and distributed in the U.S., according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the production and use of asbestos has declined significantly.

Is there still asbestos in automobile brakes?

It is possible that some aftermarket brakes, especially imported brakes, may still contain asbestos.

Lead-Based Paint (LBP)

Lead paint or lead-based paint is paint containing lead.

If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint, but some states banned it even earlier. Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning.

Lead paint is still present in millions of homes, sometimes under layers of newer paint. If the paint is in good shape, the lead paint is usually not a problem. However, deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged, or damp) is a hazard and needs immediate attention.

Lead-Based Paint Risk Assessment/Inspection Combination

For clients that are especially concerned about possible lead-based paint hazards, this is the most comprehensive evaluation available. Not only does this analysis provide the services of a lead-based paint inspection (lead concentration mapping of all painted surfaces), but a full evaluation of current hazards is also performed.

To evaluate current lead hazards, lead dust wipe samples are taken from surfaces within each room. Results obtained from these samples will give an indication as to how much lead containing dust (or small paint chips) is accessible for potential exposure. Soil samples will also be taken from any bare soil observed along the “drip-line” of the house or in child play areas. An inspection of the water supply plumbing system will also be performed to determine if any water samples should be taken.

Results from this evaluation require 3-5 business days for delivery of the report. Prices start at $600 and go up depending on the size of the house and how many rooms are in the house.

How much does a professional lead inspection cost?

XRF paint inspections usually cost between $300-400 for an average size single family detached home. Inspectors use HUD guidelines, even if the property is not part of the HUD system. There simply aren’t any other widely accepted guidelines, so HUD recommendations have become the de facto standard. Typical costs-Lead-based paint inspections are conducted by appropriately certified/licensed personnel. There are several different services that are available as it pertains to evaluating lead-based paint. Please keep in mind that lead-based paint was taken off of the market in 1978, so concerns applicable about lead-based paint are more of a concern for houses built after that time.

What is XRF Testing?

XRF stands for x-ray fluorescence. An XRF is a portable x-ray machine that is frequently used by lead inspectors. It can see through a surface and tell if lead paint is underneath.

Another way is to take paint chip samples and send them to a laboratory. The problem, of course, is that doing so leaves holes in the walls. The other problem is cost. Analysis of one sample usually costs about $20. Because there may be hundreds of samples taken in a house, the cumulative cost can be quite high.

XRF vs. Do-It-Yourself Testing Kit

You can, but you should know that HUD and EPA do not permit the use of chemical spot test kits as an official evaluation method. (Evaluations must be performed by EPA certified and state licensed lead inspectors and risk assessors.) The EPA says these kits may give unreliable results. One of the reasons is that lead paint is usually buried under layers of newer non-lead paint. The do-it-yourself testing kits often are unable to measure deeply buried paint layers. However, the kits are a good way to test pottery, toys and other household items for lead. The final HUD

Guidelines require each component in each room (or area) to be tested. For example, in a bedroom the inspector will test the walls, the ceiling, the crown molding, the baseboards, the door, the door frame, the door molding, the window, the window frame, the window sash, the window sill, plus in closets, the shelves, shelf supports, walls, ceiling etc. Often, the inspector will test one or more of the components multiple times.

A typical three bedroom/2 bath house probably has at least 10 rooms/areas that have to be tested: living room, dining room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, laundry area, hallway, and entry. Realistically, you’re looking at 150 to 300 separate XRF shots or tests. At minimum, that will take from 2 to 4 hours. Of course, a lot depends on the number and size of the rooms, age and condition of the home and amount of painted architectural detail (i.e. chair rails; crown molding; baseboards; built-ins, etc.)

What's the difference between a lead inspection and a risk assessment?

A lead inspection tests every surface inside and outside your home to see if there’s lead paint and where it’s located. This is important information if you plan to renovate or do repairs that might disturb painted surfaces. (Lead paint under layers of newer non-lead paint is usually not a hazard unless it is disturbed.) A lead inspection does not tell you if the paint is a hazard, it simply tells you where it is.

You should have a lead inspection if you plan to renovate, or plan to remove lead paint (to make the property lead-free), or if a property will be demolished.

What's the difference between lead-safe and lead-free?

A lead-free home or apartment has no lead (or lead hazards). A lead-safe home or apartment has no lead hazards, but it may still contain lead paint.

If there's lead in my home, do I have to remove it?

Usually, no.  In most states there are no laws that require you to remove lead paint. (Check with state and local authorities to see if there are more stringent laws where you live.)  But, you do have to contend with it.  That is “manage it” using approved, lead safe work practices when performing maintenance or repairs.

What do I have to do to comply with the Federal disclosure laws?

Each time a home or apartment built before 1978 (the year lead was banned in residential paint) is sold or rented, owners are required to give sellers or renters a copy of the EPA pamphlet Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home and disclose any known lead or lead hazards on the property. The pamphlet is free and can be ordered by calling 1-800-LEAD-FYI. Mobile homes are included.

What is a Risk Assessment?

Tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure such as peeling paint and lead dust, and tells you what actions to take to address these hazards. This is most helpful if you want to know if lead is causing exposure to your family now.

Mold

Molds are types of fungi. They grow in the natural environment. Tiny particles of molds are found everywhere in indoor and outdoor air. In nature, molds help break down dead materials, and can be found growing on soil, foods, plants and other items. Molds are also very common in buildings and homes. Mold needs moisture to grow. Indoors, mold growth can be found where humidity levels are high, like basements and showers. Molds produce microscopic cells called "spores" that are spread easily through the air. Spores can also be spread by water and insects. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold colonies when they find the right conditions.

I found mold in my home, what should I do?

The first thing you should do is to bring in a professional to inspect your home and see how extensive the mold problem is. Often you only see the “tip of the iceberg” and there is more mold in places such as attics, inside walls, in crawlspaces, under carpets, on top of ceiling tiles, etc.

I smell mold but don’t see any. Is it dangerous?

If you smell mold, you are inhaling mold spores and mycotoxins, both of which may be dangerous and can cause a wide range of medical issues.

What are the symptoms of mold exposure?

The common symptoms of mold exposure include a runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, headaches, congestion, and asthma like symptoms. Longer exposure can result in pneumonia, skin rashes, depression, joint pain, chronic fatigue and other life-threatening complications.

Is it safe for my family to remain in the home?

We do not recommend staying in a home that has mold. The real question you need to ask is whether it is safe to stay in the home while the mold is being removed. This is something you need to determine after discussing it with the remediation company and your family doctor.

Which mold test kit should I use to test my home for mold?

Home test kits are not as reliable as professional testing. Most homeowners will use test kits inaccurately, which will cause the results to be unreliable. Although professional testing is more expensive, when your family’s health is at stake it is important to get accurate results.

Is it safe for me to remove the mold myself?

It is always better to hire a qualified professional. In some cases your homeowners insurance cover the cost. Check with your insurance carrier.
 
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you should call a professional if:
 
• The moldy area is more than 10 square feet.
• You suspect mold is in your HVAC system.
• The mold/water damage was caused by contaminated water such as sewage.
• You have any health concerns. Speak to your physician before starting any mold cleanup.

How do I remove the mold?

Removing mold is more difficult than most people think. You need to isolate the mold, set up negative pressure so mold spores don’t get into other parts of your home, wear proper personal protection, and replace porous items that have mold.

How do I prevent mold in the future?

The key to prevention is moisture control. Mold can’t grow without excessive moisture. Check under sinks for leaks. Look in your attic from time to time and check to see if the roof is leaking. If your basement feels humid, get a dehumidifier. Run an exhaust fan in the bathrooms when you are showering and leave the door or window open a crack. If you have a humidifier built into your heating system, buy a hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels in your home.

Chinese Drywall

"Chinese drywall" refers to an environmental health issue involving defective drywall manufactured in China, imported to the United States and used in residential construction between 2001 and 2009 — affecting "an estimated 100,000 homes in more than 20 states."

How can I tell if my home or the home I wish to purchase has problem drywall?

The presence of drywall imported from China in a home is not considered to be the primary problem; instead the Florida Department of Health (DOH) suggests people focus on the occurrence of premature and severe copper corrosion. DOH developed a case definition and a user-friendly step by step self-assessment guide so that a homeowner or inspector can determine if their home has the signs typically found in homes with this problem. The most definitive way to determine if drywall in a home is imported from China is to locate “Made in China” markings on the back of a sheet of drywall. This is likely to require the cutting of holes in the drywall.
 
During the inspection of several homes, DOH staff observed some drywall in homes with either no discernible markings or markings with no indication of the origin of manufacturer. The origin of unmarked or nondescript marked drywall is unknown. DOH observed that many homes contained a mixture of Chinese drywall and drywall marked as made in USA. Remember that it is unknown how many sheets of the suspect drywall can cause problems. DOH staff did observe at least one home with marked Chinese drywall that showed none of the associated corrosion or odor problems.

Does this phenomenon pose a health hazard to me, my children, or pets?

This is undetermined at this time. DOH has not identified data suggesting an imminent or chronic health hazard at this time. DOH will continue to review all available data to help determine a more definitive answer to this question.

Is it possible to sample and test my homes drywall for corrosive gasses or for the presence of chinese drywall?

Yes, contact us today to set up an appointment.

Which builders or communities have imported drywall?

This is a defective materials issue and not a specific builder or community issue. At this time, the best method of determining if a building is impacted is to use our case definition and/or our step by step self-assessment guide.

Is the chinese drywall radioactive?

Testing of the drywall for radiation demonstrated very low levels of the kind of radiation you would expect from materials derived from rocks. This radiation is part of the natural background level in our environment.

Whow can evaluate, repair, remediate or fix my home for this issue?

Environmental consultants (i.e. Preemptive Strike Environmental Inspections), licensed plumbers, electricians, air-conditioning contractors, mechanical contractors and drywall contractors, home inspectors, your builder, electrical engineers, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning engineers, industrial hygienists, building scientists to name a few. Be advised that each group will bring with them their own specialized expertise and experience and will likely be conducting a visual inspection for the presence of metal corrosion.

Is there a known treatment to deal with suspect drywall emissions?

DOH is not currently aware of any proven and effective treatment method other than removal and replacement of the suspected or known source material. Claims of treatment involving ozone, coatings, and air cleaners should be scrutinized for evidence of proven effectiveness. The Office of the Attorney General of Florida recently posted a consumer alert on this subject. DOH recommends against the use of ozone generators in occupied spaces, since ozone is a highly reactive and irritating molecule and is considered hazardous to people and pets. See US Environmental Protection Agency report "Ozone Generators That Are Sold as Air Cleaners".

Do the corrosive gasses absorb and re-emit from other surfaces or materials?

Based on reports from occupants and preliminary test results, this may be possible for some porous materials such as drywall and fabrics. It is uncertain whether this will affect materials such as concrete and lumber. The effectiveness of cleaning these materials is currently unknown.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns. Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.

Can mold make me sick?

Mold can affect the health of people who are exposed to it. Exposure occurs primarily by breathing spores or other tiny fragments. Exposure can also occur through skin contact (for example, by touching moldy surfaces) and by swallowing it. The type and severity of health effects that mold may produce are difficult to predict. The risks can vary greatly from one location to another, over time, and from person to person. People having mold reactions often report problems such as: nasal and sinus congestion; cough; wheeze/breathing difficulties; sore throat, skin and eye irritation and upper respiratory infections (including sinus). On rare occasions, more serious problems can develop. Mold-related symptoms typically disappear when the mold is eliminated from the indoor environment.

Can formaldehyde affect my health?

Small amounts of formaldehyde are harmless but can be irritating and toxic at higher concentrations. The indoor and outdoor air usually contains formaldehyde concentrations of 0.06 ppm (parts per million) or less. This concentration of formaldehyde is typically harmless to the public. Airborne concentrations at or above 0.1 ppm can cause symptoms such as watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat, nausea, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and skin rashes. Higher concentrations may trigger asthma attacks in asthmatics. People with formaldehyde sensitivity can experience these symptoms at concentrations below 0.1 ppm. At 100 ppm, it can be immediately dangerous to life and health. Formaldehyde has also been observed to cause cancer in laboratory animal studies and may cause cancer in humans. Humans are typically exposed to levels that are much lower than what was used in the scientific studies. Therefore, any risk of cancer is believed to be small at levels normally encountered by the public.
 
People who suspect they are experiencing formaldehyde-related symptoms should work closely with a knowledgeable physician to verify that it is causing their symptoms. Those who have adverse reactions to formaldehyde may want to consider avoiding the use of pressed wood products and other formaldehyde-emitting goods. Even if you do not experience such reactions, you may wish to reduce your exposure as much as possible by purchasing furnishings and wood products that emit less formaldehyde.

Do I need an air cleaner, what kind should I buy?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has researched the issue of air filters and duct cleaning in their publication Residential Air-Cleaning Devices: A Summary of Available Information. The following is an excerpt from that document:
 
"Some air filters, under the right conditions, can effectively remove small particles which are suspended in air. However, controversy exists as to the efficacy of air filters in removing larger particles such as pollen and house dust allergens, which rapidly settle from indoor air. In assessing the ability of an air cleaner in removing allergens, one should consider the relative contribution of airborne to surface concentrations of the allergens, particularly in the case of pollen and house dust allergens where natural settling may be so rapid that air cleaners contribute little additional effect. Animal dander may settle more slowly, although, again, the surface reservoir far exceeds the amount in the air. Furthermore, control of the sources of allergens and, where allergens do not originate outdoors, ventilation should be stressed as the primary means of reducing allergic reactions."
 
To paraphrase the above excerpt in layman’s terms, some allergens are small and can float in the air for a long time while others are large and rapidly fall to the floor or other surface (like furniture). Air filters, as the name implies, can only remove the allergens if they are suspended in air (floaters). If the allergen you are reacting to is a “floater”, an air filter may be able to remove it and alleviate your symptoms. If it is a “sinker,” the allergen will probably not be in the air long enough for the air filter to “catch” it so its use is unlikely to have a significant beneficial effect. The most effective way to solve your problem is to prevent allergens from getting into your house and if that is not possible, provide adequate ventilation (aka “fresh air”) to dilute their concentration.
 
The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends consumers refer to either of these publications before purchasing a device:
Air Cleaners, from Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Residential Air-Cleaning Devices: A Summary of Available Information, from EPA

Does cleaning the duct work in the home reduce indoor air contamination?

Why do you want to clean your ducts? If they are “dirty” and you want to remove the debris, duct cleaning may be appropriate. If your goal is to use duct cleaning to solve an indoor air-related health problem, duct cleaning is unlikely to be effective. An excellent discussion of this issue can be found in the EPA document, Should You Have the Ducts In Your Home Cleaned? The following discussion is an excerpt from this document:
 
"Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space.
It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoor and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around, can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. There is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to your health."
 
Air duct cleaning may be indicated in gross contamination situations such as:
Ducts are infested with vermin. (e.g. rodents or insects)
Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust, tobacco ash and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers when used.
Substantial visible mold growth present in hard surface (e.g. sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system.

How do I solve a mold problem?

The critical step in solving mold problems is removing the moisture source and removing contaminated materials. Repair of the defects that led to the moisture problem should be conducted in conjunction with fungus removal. Once the moisture source has been eliminated, building materials supporting fungal growth must be remediated as rapidly as possible. Specific methods of assessing and remediating fungal contamination should be based on the extent of visible contamination and underlying damage. The simplest and most expedient remediation that is reasonable and properly and safely removes fungal contamination, should be used.

What about Carbon Monoxide?

As the weather turns cooler and people start using their heaters to warm their homes the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning increases. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas. Unless you have a meter to measure the gas level you may not know you are being poisoned.
 
There are many sources of carbon monoxide poisoning that are associated with heating your home.
 
• Fireplaces
• Furnaces
• Gas stoves
• Leaking chimneys
• Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters
• Wood stoves
 
Carbon Monoxide is formed when fuel is burned. To prevent the gas from reaching deadly levels you can make sure your fuel-burning heater is properly vented. Always open the flue when the fireplace is in use, wood burning stoves and kerosene heaters should be properly vented to the outdoors. Trained technicians should periodically inspect furnaces and fireplace chimneys.
 
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu and include the following:
 
• Dizziness
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Irregular breathing
• Nausea
 
A simple way to insure you and your family's safety is to purchase a carbon monoxide detector. These detectors are sold at most stores that sell smoke alarms. The carbon monoxide detector works just like a smoke detector, alarming the occupants of dangerous levels of the poisonous gas.

What about house dust?

House dust is the most common indoor pollutant and is a major contributor to indoor environment problems. However, the public rarely implicates it as the cause. It is a mixture of many things. A speck of dust may contain fabric fibers, insulation, skin, animal dander, dust mites, bacteria, cockroach parts, mold spores, food particles and other debris. Another dust problem that is occasionally encountered is a phenomenon known as “soothing”. Soothing is an unexplained dark mark or film on an interior wall, carpet or furniture surface. Unlike house dust, soothing is caused by a carbon-generating source and is usually created during a combustion process. Soothing can look like and it is frequently mistaken to be mold. Common causes of soothing include the indoor use of tobacco, candles and gas appliances.
 
House Dust and Soothing Health Effects
House dust is a common cause of year-round runny or stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes and sneezing symptoms. Dust can also make people with asthma experience wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Animal dander, house dust mites and cockroaches are the most common substances in dust that cause these symptoms. Health effects can occur even though there are no visible signs of dust. While soothing can cause significant aesthetic problems, it is not normally considered to be a health threat.
 
Solving House Dust and Soothing Problems
Many materials in house dust cannot be removed by typical housekeeping methods. For example, no matter how vigorously one dusts or vacuums, the number of dust mites present deep within carpeting, pillows, and mattresses will not be reduced. Vigorous dusting, sweeping and vacuuming can put more dust into the air making symptoms worse. Use of a vacuum with HEPA filtration and dusting with a damp or oiled cloth is recommended for reducing ambient house dust. Ideally, someone other than the dust-sensitive person should do the cleaning. If the dust-sensitive person must clean, they should wear a mask. Use of a vacuum with HEPA type filtration may also be advisable. The best approach to resolving house dust-related health problems is to consult with an allergist to identify what the affected person is allergic to and then eliminate those allergen contributors from the indoor environment.
 
It is extremely difficult for a homeowner to resolve a soothing problem without professional help. Resolution of these problems typically involves diagnostic tests of the house (including blow-door and leak tests), HVAC system measurements, infrared measurements of wall insulation and air current studies. These types of studies are beyond the abilities of do-it-yourself homeowners and most health department staff. It is therefore recommended that a professional with extensive experience in such investigations be contacted.

What about lead poisoning?

There are many sources of lead in the environment because of the widespread use of lead in the past. For most households, and for most children, the major source of lead is contaminated dust. The most important sources of lead contamination of dust are from old paint and from leaded gasoline (now banned for most uses). Near major traffic corridors, soils are sometimes heavily contaminated from the prior use of leaded gas. (As an element, lead does not decompose, and it tends to stay in place over the years.) If this soil is tracked into the house, it becomes an important health hazard. Other minor sources can contain lead as well, such as older, vinyl mini-blinds.
 
Play areas with lead contamination can be a source of exposure due to hand-to mouth activity. Frequent handwashing is especially important. Landscaping (grass, dense shrubs) can keep kids from coming in direct contact with contaminated soils. Soils of lands used as orchards in the 1940s may also be contaminated with lead (and arsenic) from pesticides used during that era.

What are the health effects of asbestos?

Asbestos fibers enter the body primarily through inhalation (breathing) or ingestion (eating, drinking). Many of the fibers will become trapped in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat where they can then be removed, but some may travel deep into the lungs, or, if swallowed, into the digestive tract. Once they are trapped in the body, the fibers can cause health problems. These health problems take years to develop. Diseases that have been attributed to asbestos exposure include asbestosis, mesothelioma and gastrointestinal cancers. Asbestos workers (i.e., working 40 hours/week - 48 weeks/year) who were smokers and not properly protected, have increased risk of developing lung cancers. The incidence of lung cancer in people who are directly involved in the mining, milling, manufacturing and use of asbestos and its products is much higher than in the general population. It is not known what amounts of asbestos are hazardous over what periods of time. It is therefore important that exposures to asbestos be kept as low as possible.

What is Radon?

Radon is an odorless, tasteless gas. It occurs from the natural radioactive decay of uranium and radium in the soil. The radioactive decay products of radon are charged ions. The ions have a static charge that enables easy attachment to water vapor, dust, and smoke particles in the air. Radon is measured in units called picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. Annual radon levels above r pCi/L are considered excessive and require remediation.

Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.

Can radon cause cancer?

Yes, Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas. You can’t see radon. And you can’t smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home. Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That’s because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Where can radon be found?

Radon can be found all over the U.S. Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building—homes, offices, and schools—and result in a high indoor radon level. But you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.

Why test for radon?

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. EPA also recommends testing in schools. Testing is inexpensive and easy—it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon (see page 5).

What if my home has radon?

Radon reduction systems work and they are not too costly. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.

Can new homes can be built with radon-resistant features?

Yes, Radon-resistant construction techniques can be effective in preventing radon entry. When installed properly and completely, these simple and inexpensive techniques can help reduce indoor radon levels in homes. In addition, installing them at the time of construction makes it easier and less expensive to reduce radon levels further if these passive techniques don’t reduce radon levels to below 4 pCi/L.
Every new home should be tested after occupancy, even if it was built radon resistant. If radon levels are still in excess of 4 pCi/L, the passive system should be activated by having a qualified mitigator install a vent fan.

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)

A Phase I ESA is a tool commonly used in evaluating the environmental liability associated with a real estate asset of any type. Whether the property is industrial, commercial, mixed-use, and multifamily.

What is a Phase I Assessment?

In the United States, an environmental site assessment is a report prepared for a real estate holding that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. The analysis, often called an ESA, typically addresses both the underlying land as well as physical improvements to the property. A proportion of contaminated sites are brownfield sites. In severe cases, brownfield sites may be added to the National Priorities List where they will be subject to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program.

Is there sampling involved in the Phase I ESA process?

The actual sampling of soil, air, groundwater and/or building materials is typically not conducted during a Phase I ESA. The Phase I ESA is generally considered the first step in the process of environmental due diligence.

Is there a standard “Environmental Professionals” follow for the research?

Yes, there are two standards we follow: The EPA's AAI (All Appropriate Inquires) and the ASTM Standard E1527-13. The ASTM Standard has been determined to meet the AAI requirements. Preemptive Strike Environmental Inspections follows the ASTM E1527-13 Standard and meets the EPA's AAI rule.

Who should conduct a Phase I?

The Standards state that an environmental professional, geologist or engineer should conduct the work. However, each state differs on who can practice. Preemptive Strike Environmental Inspections conducts all Phase I ESAs to the standards and all work is either directly conducted or directly supervised by an environmental professional, a geologist or an engineer.

What is a Phase II ESA, and can I just do that one first or skip the Phase I ESA completely?

If a site is considered contaminated, a Phase II environmental site assessment may be conducted, ASTM Standard E1903, a more detailed investigation involving chemical analysis for hazardous substances and/or petroleum hydrocarbons.
 
It is not recommended to skip a Phase I ESA to conduct a Phase II ESA. The Phase I ESA process provides historical information on the property and identifies past impacts that may have occurred. Its also part of a legal framework that makes up the due diligence process.
 
If a professional is asked to conduct a Phase II ESA on a site without a Phase I ESA, the client would have to provide the professional with the exact list of chemicals that they are concerned about, the location on the site, the media they are concerned with (air, soils and/or water) and the depth of the investigation. Since most of this information is rarely known prior to completion of a Phase I ESA, we recommend a Phase I ESA to be completed prior to Phase II ESA work.

Free Training Courses

Lunch & Learns & Custom Classes For Realtors, General Contractors, and more.
Class Course Topics May Include: Asbestos, Lead-Based Paint, Mold, IAQ, Radon, and Chinese Drywall as requested.

What are the FREE courses offered?

Introductory training courses (typically 30-minutes to 1-hour in duration) which explain the: nature, history, associated hazards, and regulatory concerns of the following;
 
• Asbestos
• Lead-Based Paint (LBP)
• Mold
• Chinese Drywall (also known as Corrosive Drywall or Problem Drywall)
• Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
• Baseline Property Condition Assessment (PCA)
• Radon
• Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)
 
Courses are customized to cover one or more of these topics depending on the client needs. Contact us today for more information.

What training format are available?

Lunch-n-Learn, Direct Instruction, Casual meeting, etc.

Are more extensive courses available?

Yes, call us today and we can help you determine what level of training is needed for your success.

Who can benefit from these courses?

Realtors, Realtor Associations, Architects, General Contractors, specialty contractors, estimators, administration teams, condominium associations, and project managers just to name a few.

What is the maximum number of participants for the training courses?

The maximum number of participants is limited to the number of seats in the training rooms provided by the entity requesting the training.

What do I have to bring for the training?

Pens, pencils, highlighters, notepads, etc. to be provided by the entity requesting the training or the individuals receiving the training.

Are food and drinks provided during the training?

During the training, drinks, snacks and/or lunch to be provided by the entity requesting the training or the individuals receiving the training.

Training locations

Our training sessions are offered at different locations as provided by the entity requesting the training or the individuals receiving the training.

How much does a training course cost?

For Introductory training courses there is no fee. For more extensive training or consulting fees will be determined based on request. Call us today and let us know what your training needs are.

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