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Archive for November 2017

Are People Still Dying from Asbestos?

Despite the fact that regulations have been in place since 1971 regarding how much asbestos workers can be exposed to and what types of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can still be manufactured, up to 15,000 Americans are still dying from asbestos exposure each year. Not only are many workers still at risk, but many families could also still be exposed to ACMs that are within the four walls, flooring and ceiling tiles of their homes.

For this reason, familiarizing yourself with the potential risks of asbestos exposure as well as the proper way to test for and get rid of ACMs in your home, business or other structure are crucial steps in minimizing your and your family’s risk of asbestos exposure and associated health complications. Read this article for more information.

How Can I Be Exposed to Asbestos?

Asbestos becomes the most dangerous and biggest health threat when its tiny particles are dispersed into the air. Thus, any time you disturb asbestos-containing materials that might already be in your home during a renovation, for example, you and your family could be at risk for inhaling the harmful particles. This is why calling in professional asbestos testing and asbestos abatement teams are an important first step before starting any major demolition or renovation project yourself.

Additionally, many workers are still being exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, especially those who work with older structures and building materials. Some of the highest-risk occupations for health problems associated with asbestos include:

  • Construction workers
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Mechanics
  • Teachers

What Are the Health Effects of Asbestos?

A specific type of lung cancer called mesothelioma remains the leading cause of asbestos-related deaths, and has accounted for more than 45,000 deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2015.  The first signs of mesothelioma can take years or even decades to develop, which is why this disease is more commonly seen among people over 85.

However, there continue to be cases of people as young as 35 who are beginning to show signs of the negative effects of asbestos, which means that people today are still being exposed to this dangerous substance. In fact, children are at the greatest risk for developing asbestos-related health issues later in life, as their lungs and respiratory systems are still developing.

In addition to mesothelioma and other types of lung cancers, asbestos can negatively affect your health in many ways, including:

  • The formation of plaques in the lining of the lungs
  • A condition known as “folded lung”
  • Increased risk of developing laryngitis
  • Reduced immune system function

IRIS Environmental Laboratories

The bottom line is that many people don’t realize that asbestos is not a thing of the past—it remains a very real public health threat today. If special care is not taken when working with or around ACMs, you could risk developing related health complications down the road.

If you’re about to start a home renovation project or are concerned about ACMs in the workplace and the safety of your employees, start by having the space tested for asbestos by a certified environmental testing laboratory. Then, if asbestos is found, hire a team of asbestos abatement professionals to properly handle and remove it from your home or other building.

Still have questions about the effects of asbestos or how to initiate the asbestos testing process? Please feel free to send us a message, or give us a call at (908) 206-0073.

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Mold 101: Common Spores & Exposure Side Effects

There is almost a complete lack of information on specific human responses to well-defined exposures to molds contaminants. There is currently no proven method to measure the type or amount of mold that a person is exposed to, and common symptoms associated with molds exposure are non-specific, aggravated by the facts that molds are present everywhere in the environment and that responses to exposure vary greatly among individuals.

 

Mold is a non-scientific term for many types of fungi – unwanted, unattractive spots of green, brown, yellow, black, furry, smelly growths. Endless species of mold are found both indoors, and outdoors.

 

Mold and fungus harbor in many different places, most of them being unpleasant: damp basements, underneath carpets, on or behind drywall, ceiling tiles, cabinets, attics, among others. On a positive note, molds are also responsible for penicillin and blue cheese (let’s face it; hot wings and blue cheese are like peanut butter and jelly), yeasts are fungi used in beer, bread, and for those who don’t know……wine.

 

Although mold and its spores are literally, everywhere, active mold growth requires moisture. Common indoor mold species include Aspergillus, Alternaria, Acremonium, Cladosporum, Epicoccum, Penicillium, Stachybotrys, and Trichoderma. Specific types of molds can be tested for and identified. This allows comparison of indoor and outdoor mold species. If both indoor and outdoor don’t correlate, at least roughly, it’s possible that indoor mold has developed. Even without showing signs of visible surface mold.

 

The Nitty-Gritty

Although difficult to predict, exposure to mold growth indoors is most often associated with the following allergy symptoms:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Cough/sore throat
  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Asthma
  • Epistaxis (nosebleed)
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Headache
  • Skin and eye irritation

 

Having long term exposure in indoor molds is certainly unhealthy to anyone, but some will develop more severe symptoms sooner than others, including:

  • Infants and children
  • Elderly people
  • Individuals with respiratory conditions, allergies and/or asthma
  • Immunocompromised patients

 

Don’t freak out! There are ways to prevent and eliminate indoor mold!

Now let’s be honest. Mold spores are found typically anywhere! The key aspect of preventing their growth is in controlling the moisture. This means preventing leaks, removing standing water, venting areas prone to condensation (bathrooms and kitchens) and drying furniture or removing wet carpets immediately.  Air conditioners and dehumidifiers should be used during humid temperatures.

In the event mold in present or suspected, having the property inspected for mold and mold spores is important. Although, there are no nationwide standards for mold inspectors, testing methods, or reporting formats – this makes it difficult to interpret test results. Hiring an inspector can be a very delicate process, you need to make sure the inspector you hire is very knowledgeable when it comes to mold, this will save you a lot of time and headaches when you need someone to provide a breakdown of the analytical results.

If mold is present during the visual inspection, it should be remediated as soon as possible to avoid destroying any materials that the mold is growing on and to prevent health problems. The longer you hold onto this problem, the worse it will get. Check out some more FACTS or feel free contact us directly to learn more about how we might be able to help with your mold problem.

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How Can Asbestos Affect Your Child’s Future?

When most people think of asbestos exposure, an image of an older person who may have been exposed to asbestos containing materials (ACMs) decades ago is typically what first comes to mind. But the reality is that any home or other structure that was built prior to 1980 could still contain asbestos, meaning that you and your family could still be at risk for asbestos exposure.

What’s even more concerning is that asbestos exposure at a young age can pose serious health risks as your child develops, although the first recognizable signs might not show up until 20 years later. Fortunately, as a parent, there are some steps you can take to help minimize this risk and keep your family safe.

Recognizing the Risks of Asbestos Exposure in Children

The main health risk that asbestos poses for both adults and children is the potential to develop mesothelioma—a specific form of lung cancer—and other types of cancers later in life. With children, however, this risk is even greater, as their lungs and respiratory system are still in the developing stages.

In addition, according to the Children’s Environmental Health Project, children are at a greater risk for breathing in harmful particles, including asbestos fibers, because their smaller lungs have a higher surface area to volume ratio than do adults. Children also have a faster breathing rate than adults, which means that they can breathe in even more potentially dangerous particles with each breath.

Finally, children also tend to put their fingers in their mouths without thinking about what might be on them, so it is possible that they could accidentally ingest asbestos fibers if they’ve touched or played with materials that contain asbestos particles.

Preventing Asbestos Exposure in the Home

To minimize the risk that you or your family members could be exposed to asbestos fibers, you should first determine if your house contains any of these building materials that commonly contain asbestos:

  • Laminate floor tiles
  • Stucco
  • Cement sheet
  • Boiler, furnace, or pipe insulation
  • Original roof shingles, ceiling tiles, or siding

If your home was built before 1980 and contains these materials, there is a good chance that there may be asbestos in your home. Before you panic, though, know that the real danger of ACMs is when these materials are disturbed and therefore can release the dangerous asbestos fibers into the air. Because of this, the best way to handle ACMs in your home is to avoid touching or removing these materials and call in a professional asbestos testing laboratory.

Your home can be tested for asbestos in three simple steps. First, a trained and certified professional will conduct a thorough inspection of your home, as well as perform an air quality test if needed. Next, samples will be taken and sent to the asbestos testing lab, which will then provide you with an easy-to-understand report.

If the results of your testing find that there are asbestos containing materials in your home, you are encouraged to hire a professional asbestos remediation company to safely remove the dangerous materials. Once all remediation is complete, your asbestos testing company will perform a Clearance Air test to make sure that all traces of asbestos particles have been removed from your home.

Not only is this a much safer way of dealing with asbestos in your home than trying to tackle the problem yourself, but working with a professional asbestos testing lab will also give you the peace of mind that you and your children are safe in your own home. Contact our Lab to receive more information or to answer any questions you may have. Our Certified Field Inspectors are ready to tackle any job you may have. There’s no need for you to do this alone.

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Makeup Products Test Positive for Asbestos

It’s a hard pill to swallow when you hear that everyday make up is currently testing positive for asbestos. You might think to yourself, “How is that even possible?” or “Who would purposely place asbestos into cosmetics?!”  As if that’s not scary enough, tween cosmetics are also turning up positive for Tremolite asbestos fibers! This means when you purchase a makeup kit for your daughter, niece, granddaughter, or little cousin for their birthday’s or Christmas, there’s a chance they are applying asbestos directly onto their faces. Keep reading to get more details on what to look out for and how asbestos is making its way into our cosmetics.

 

So, How Does Asbestos Even Get Into Makeup?

Talc is a mineral that is mined around the U.S. and was often found to have the presence of tremolite asbestos within it. While many domestic manufacturers have taken safety measures to prevent levels of tremolite in their mined talc to later be used for cosmetic products, foreign manufacturers tend to have less environmental regulations on asbestos use and allow contaminated products to enter the country. Talc, a common ingredient in cosmetics, is a naturally occurring mineral often mined near asbestos deposits on the earth’s surface. Sometimes, the two substances mix.

 

Who is Producing These Cosmetics?

Justice, a national retail chain marketed to young girls, has stopped selling a cosmetics product after discovering it contained talc contaminated with asbestos fibers. The tainted product was Just Shine Shimmer Powder, which the company stopped selling at stores and removed from its website, according to a Tuesday post on its Facebook page.

 

Recent lab tests show that kids’ face paint and makeup still contain frightening ingredients like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and lead. The Campaign also found other creepy chemicals, such as toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, lurking both on and off the label of kids’ Halloween and play makeup.

 

HEALTH CONCERNS: Cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, bioaccumulation, eco-toxicity.

How Can You Avoid Carcinogens in Cosmetics?

Read labels and avoid cosmetics and personal care products containing formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol), phenacetin, coal tar, benzene, untreated or mildly treated mineral oils, ethylene oxide, chromium, cadmium and its compounds, arsenic and crystalline silica (or quartz).

 

With Holidays Approaching Fast…

Help us pass along this information to your friends and family so they can also be aware of the dangers lurking in talc containing products! Don’t let the people you care about be the next victim.

For more information on asbestos containing makeup, and ways you can have your loved one’s products tested, please contact our support team or give us a call at (908) 206-0073 today!

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