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Archive for December 2017

Understanding the Health Effects of Lead Paint

Lead is a naturally-occurring heavy metal that can be found in soil, water, and even air. However, the most common cause of lead poisoning is still exposure to lead-based paints and other building materials that pre-date regulations that disallow lead to be used in these types of products. Unfortunately, lead poisoning is still a very real health threat, especially to young children.

Take a look at some of the health effects of lead paint and what you can do to make sure you and your family are not unknowingly exposed to this harmful substance when buying or selling a home.

Dangers in Lead-Based Paint

Prior to 1978, lead paint was frequently used in homes, schools, furniture, and even children’s toys. Even though there is now a ban in place that prohibits the use of lead-based paint for these purposes, if you are buying or selling an older home, lead paint exposure could be a serious problem that you’ll have to deal with before you can move forward with the buying or selling process.

Exposure to lead paint has been shown to cause the following symptoms and even death if not caught and treated early enough:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Stomach pain, cramping, and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Miscarriage or premature birth

The biggest risks for lead exposure are during demolition and remodeling projects, as any lead dust or particles that are released into the air can be dangerous to your health. For this reason, home inspectors will look for signs of lead-based paint and other materials within a home before a sale can go through. If he or she suspects that lead may be present, the homeowner may need to have the space tested for lead by a third-party.

Your  Lead Testing Questions Answered

If your home needs to be inspected for lead before selling or buying, don’t get discouraged. Although this can temporarily pause the process, professional lead testing doesn’t have to be a hassle. First, make sure you’re working with an accredited environmental Inspector that will send certified experts to evaluate the space and collect samples. Next, those samples will be sent off to the lab for lead testing. An air quality test can also be performed to determine if any lead particles are already present in the air in the home.

If lead is detected, homeowners can choose to hire a team of professionals to remove lead-based paint from the walls. Otherwise, they will need to take special precautions if electing to do the work themselves in order to minimize the risk of lead exposure and the health effects that can come along with it. Keep in mind that children and pregnant women should never be involved in lead removal. If you do have kids, the safest choice may be to have a professional come in and remove the paint for you.

If you still have questions about how to get your home tested for lead or how the process works, please contact us online or give us a call at (908) 206-0073. We would be happy to help!

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Asbestos – High Risk Occupations

Asbestos, which is a naturally-occurring substance known for its ability to resist heat and corrosion, is no longer used in most modern building materials because of its serious health risks. However, many workers can still be exposed to this harmful substance on a regular basis, so it’s crucial that employers in these fields take extra precautions to keep their employees safe. Outlined below are just some of the most high-risk occupations for exposure to asbestos.

Construction Workers

One of the most at-risk jobs for asbestos exposure is construction, especially for workers who are involved in demolition of any kind. That’s because asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are most harmful when they are disturbed and their fibers are released into the air.

Since asbestos was very commonly used in building materials such as insulation, dry wall and shingles up until the 1980s, any structures built within this time period should be treated as though they do contain asbestos. This should involve professional asbestos testing and abatement to ensure worker safety.

Electricians

Asbestos was also commonly used to insulate electrical wires due to its flame-resistant quality. Because of this, electricians who work in old construction could be at a high risk for asbestos exposure, and special care should be taken when removing old insulation and wiring from homes and other structures.

Plumbers

Pipe insulation is another building material that frequently contains asbestos, especially in older buildings, which can put plumbers at risk for coming into contact with ACMs while they work.

Auto Mechanics

Many people don’t realize that asbestos can also be found in some brake pads, linings and various gaskets. Thus, when working with these materials, auto mechanics could be exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

Firefighters

Because firefighters enter buildings that may be burning or are otherwise damaged, they can be at a very high risk for asbestos exposure. However, proper equipment can help to protect firefighters from breathing in asbestos fibers, smoke and other dangerous substances.

Teachers

Older school buildings contain ACMs, so teachers can run the risk of being exposed to asbestos fibers in the classroom if these materials are disturbed.

Additionally, some art supplies have been found to contain asbestos, including powder paints or glaze, clay and wheat paste. Art teachers should take special care when choosing supplies for their classes and when working with any existing supplies that could contain asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure Symptoms

If you work in an environment where your risk of asbestos exposure is high, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of asbestos exposure. Some of the most notable signs include:

  • A persistent cough
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • “Clubbing” fingers or toes

How IRIS Environmental Laboratories Can Help

If you or your workers could be exposed to ACMs on a regular basis, a crucial step in ensuring employee safety is to have the space or materials checked for asbestos. When you work with IRIS Environmental Laboratories, a certified and trained professional will be sent to find asbestos containing materials.

To learn more about how to get started with this process, feel free to contact us online or give us a call at (908) 206-0073.

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