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All Posts in Category: Environment

7 Hidden Asbestos (ACMs) in Old Homes

Whether you’re looking to buy or renovate an older home, you could be up against a few hidden asbestos problems that aren’t usually a concern in newer homes. That’s because asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were popularly used in homes built before 1980. Although asbestos is an effective and flame-resistant insulator, it is, unfortunately, a serious health hazard.

Before you commit to buying that charming older home you love or beginning a reno project, you’ll want to have your home tested for asbestos in materials like these.

1. Insulation (ACMs)

Before we knew just how hazardous asbestos exposure could be, this material was the primary type of insulation used in homes, schools, and other buildings built before 1980. As long as they are left undisturbed, though, existing ACMs are not believed to pose a health risk. However, if you plan to renovate an older home, you’ll want to hire professional asbestos testing and asbestos abatement companies to detect and remove the problem first.

2. Textured Ceiling Tiles (ACMs)

Also called “popcorn” or “cottage cheese” ceilings, textured ceilings often contain asbestos. This unique look used to be in style, but because many homeowners now want an updated look, ACMs lurking in textured ceiling tiles could pose a health risk if not tested and properly remediated first.

3. Vinyl Floors (ACMs)

Some vinyl flooring backing and adhesives might also contain asbestos. Before redoing the floors in an older home, it’s a good idea to have a certified asbestos inspector come in and make sure it’s safe to tear up the old floors and give them a fresh new look.

4. Hot Water and Steam Pipes (ACMs)

Since asbestos was so widely used as an insulator, some older hot water, and steam pipes could also contain traces of this dangerous material.

5. Oil and Coal Furnaces (ACMs)

Similarly, oil and coal furnaces could still have their original asbestos insulation. If you plan on ripping yours out and replacing it with a newer furnace, call in an asbestos inspector first.

6. Roofing and Shingles (ACMs)

Some roofing and siding shingles used to be made with what’s called asbestos cement, which is essentially a mixture of asbestos and regular cement. You might also find this material in corrugated roofing and drain pipes.

Some types of asbestos, particularly white asbestos or chrysotile, were banned much later than other types, so buildings as new as 1999 could contain asbestos cement.

7. Walls and Floors around Wood Burners (ACMs)

Wood burners can be an efficient way to heat your home in the winter, especially if natural gas isn’t available where you live. But if there are older cement sheets or millboard surrounding your wood burner, you could have a hidden asbestos problem on your hands.

How Do I Find an Asbestos Testing Laboratory Near Me?

If you think your older home might contain asbestos and you’re planning to renovate, it’s important that you find a reputable asbestos testing laboratory in your area to ensure your family’s safety. Look for a full-accredited environmental laboratory that has experienced professionals who know, understand, and follow the highest safety standards when testing for asbestos.

Feel free to give IRIS Environmental Laboratories a call today at 1(800) 908-6679, or contact us online for more information on how to get started with your asbestos inspection.

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Home Asbestos Testing Kits or Hiring a Professional?

Asbestos testing is now routine before beginning a renovation project or even before having extensive plumbing or electrical work done on your own. When it comes to testing your home for asbestos, you have two main options. One is to get a home testing kit and the other is to hire an asbestos professional.
While it might seem like performing the test yourself could be the way to go, there are actually a number of reasons why bringing in a professional could pay off in the long run.

1. Save Time and Money
Even though the cost of the at-home asbestos test itself might initially be cheaper, you could end up saving both time and money when you rely on a professional instead. Not only is DIY testing not as accurate as professional asbestos testing, but it could also potentially expose you to harmful asbestos particles and therefore put you and your family at risk for asbestos-related health hazards.

2. Professional Asbestos Testing May Be Required in Your Location
Another important factor to consider is that many cities and townships require that homes be tested for asbestos by a licensed environmental laboratory, rather than the homeowner. This is because companies who install flooring, plumbers, electricians, and other workers who have to handle pipes and other materials that are wrapped with insulation want to ensure that they are not putting their employees at risk for asbestos exposure.
Thus, they often require professional testing before proceeding with their work and they will not accept anything less than having a team of professionals testing the materials. If you need to have work done on your home and only have a DIY asbestos test, the project could be delayed until you bring in a professional.

3. The Asbestos Laboratory Is Responsible for Reporting Accurate Results
So why is it so important to many state and local authorities that you use a professional? It’s because they can then hold the licensed environmental laboratory responsible for the accuracy of the test results.
For example, when IRIS Environmental Laboratories provides a final report with our findings, we are placing our licenses on the line by definitively stating, “Yes, there is asbestos,” or “No, there is not.” If anything goes wrong, it falls back on the professionals that performed the inspection, not the homeowner.

Have More Questions about Asbestos Testing?
When it comes to keeping yourself and your family safe from the dangers of asbestos exposure, it’s best to rely on the skill, expertise, and accreditation of a professional instead of trying to perform the test on your own. In the long run, you’ll most likely end up saving time, money, and headaches down the road.

If you still have questions about hiring a professional asbestos inspector, please feel free to contact us at (908)206-0073 or by using our online contact form. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have and help you better understand the asbestos testing process.

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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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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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Iris Environmental Laboratory’s Accreditation / Compliances

AIHA

AIHAThe American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is an official participant of the OSHA Alliance Program Through the AIHA-OSHA Alliance, AIHA helps OSHA provide AIHA members and the general public information on OSHA’s rule making and employer compliance laws, in order to fulfill the mutual mission of ensuring safe and healthy conditions for workers.
Additional Info:The actionable plan is twofold: 1). raise awareness, and 2). be a source of outreach and communication. AIHA worked with OSHA to provide resources available to employers and employees regarding specific hazards pertaining to relevant industries, in order to create awareness with workers and employers. AIHA has provided several additional educational documents through the OSHA Alliance program, specifically on the construction industry, which has been widely affected by the silica rule.

EPA

EPA The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United Stateswhich was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.

ISO/IEC 17025

ISOIs the main ISO standard used by testing and calibration laboratories. In most major countries, ISO/IEC 17025 is the standard for which most labs must hold accreditation in order to be deemed technically competent. In many cases, suppliers and regulatory authorities will not accept test or calibration results from a lab that is not accredited.

HUD (US Department of Housing & Urban Development)

US department of HousingHUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHAOSHA is responsible for enforcing its standards on regulated entities. Compliance Safety and Health Officers carry out inspections and assess fines for regulatory violations. Inspections are planned for worksites in particularly hazardous industries. Inspections can also be triggered by a workplace fatality, multiple hospitalizations, worker complaints, or referrals.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – is a measurement standards laboratory, and a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce. Its mission is to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSHIs the United States federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.NIOSH was established to help ensure safe and healthful working conditions by providing research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health. NIOSH provides national and world leadership to prevent work-related illness, injury, disability, and death by gathering information, conducting scientific research, and translating the knowledge gained into products and services.[2]

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)

NJDEPIs a government agency in the U.S. state of New Jersey that is responsible for managing the state’s natural resources and addressing issues related to pollution.The major goal of the air quality division is to ensure the cleanliness of the air quality by enforcing air-pollutant standards imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
NELAP – Stands for National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program and is a national accreditation program developed by the NELAC institute. NELAC standards for laboratories are modeled after similar ISO standards.

United States Department of Labor (DOL)

Department of Labor Cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, reemployment services, and some economic statistics; many U.S. states also have such departments. The department is headed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. The purpose of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Department of Health

Department of HealthPart of government which focuses on issues related to the general health of the citizenry. Subnational entities, such as states, counties and cities, often also operate a health department of their own. Health departments perform food inspections and other health related inspections (the person who performs this job is often called a public health inspector).

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got mold

Got Mold?

Got Mold? Mold exists naturally everywhere, indoors and outdoors. There is no such thing as mold-free environment. Remediation is all about putting the mold level back to normal.

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Asbestos Assessment

What is an asbestos assessment?

An asbestos assessment is when a certified individual inspects a building for the presence, location and quantification of asbestos-containing material (ACM) or suspected ACM. ACM is defined as material that contains greater than 1% asbestos. An asbestos inspection also includes re-examining of building or facility to identify the presence or location of additional or existing ACM or suspected.

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