Welcome to Iris Environmental Laboratories

Opening Hours : Monday to Friday - 9am to 5:30pm | Drop Box - 24/7
  Contact : 1800-908-6679

All Posts in Category: Home

Mildew, Mold and Understanding the Difference

If you’ve heard horror stories about mold infestations in homes, you might be on high alert for this common household enemy. So when you come across what you think to be mildew lurking on your bathroom tile and shower wall, you might suddenly find yourself questioning if it could really be something more dangerous – like black mold.

So how do you know when to simply take a little elbow grease to gunk on your walls or floor and when the problem might be better left to a professional? Take a look at this brief overview of the differences between mildew and mold and how to handle each problem.

What Is Mildew?

Mold and mildew are both types of fungi. Of the two, mildew is much less invasive and also much easier to get rid of on your own, than mold. If it’s really mildew that you’re dealing with, it’ll probably be grayish-white or brown and can look powdery. Since it only lives on the surface of materials like your bathtub or bathroom sink, mildew is fairly easy to scrub clean with a regular household cleaner or diluted bleach.

Although mildew can cause similar symptoms as mold, including allergic reactions and respiratory problems, it’s not usually as big of a deal because of how easy it is to get rid of.

What Is Mold?

Unlike mildew, mold can be extremely difficult to remove from your home completely, as it can penetrate through surfaces like walls and furniture and hide out there for long periods of time becoming more noticeable. Although some mold resembles mildew in color, other types of mold can be red, green, and very dark black.

Stachybotrys, or “black mold,” is one of the most dangerous types and can cause flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, headaches, memory loss and severe respiratory damage. If you see black, gray, or dark green mold in your home with a very musty odor, it’s best not to try to deal with this problem on your own. Instead, call in a professional for mold testing and mold removal if necessary.

We always recommend testing for mold, even when you visually see mold in your home, and here is why.

Home Remedies for Mold

Although professional mold removal can be costly, you don’t want to risk your health or the health of your family by either ignoring the problem or trying to do it yourself. Once any active mold is completely gone, however, there are some steps you can take to try to prevent more mold from invading your home in the future.

The best mold prevention tip is to keep your home as dry as possible. If you know you have a leaky basement or roof, making these repairs could save you in the long run by keeping mold at bay. There are also special types of drywall on the market that may help to keep the air in your home dry and clean.

If you still have questions about how to detect mold or how the mold testing process works, feel free to call IRIS Environmental Laboratories at 1-800-908-6679 or contact us online for more information.

Read More

Asbestos Floor Tiles-Tips for Installation Companies

For any company, employee and client safety are of the utmost importance, and most reputable flooring, construction, and demolition companies do take necessary steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved. However, in some cases, there could be health hazards lurking at the job site that workers may be unaware of, which could put them and the homeowners at risk. Anytime a flooring company is asked to remove old flooring, asbestos floor tiles are one of their biggest hazards.

The Importance of Asbestos Testing before Flooring Removal

IRIS Environmental Laboratories has encountered quite a few homeowners who wanted to have their floor tiles inspected for asbestos. One, in particular, had previously hired a general contractor to have his floor tiles encapsulated with another layer of floor tile, simply because he’d always suspected that the floor tiles were actually asbestos floor tiles. However, when the workers arrived, they mistakenly began removing the floor tiles instead of sealing it, which resulted in the dust – and potentially asbestos – particles throughout his home.

Sure enough, the flooring tested positive for asbestos. Unfortunately, the entire time the workers were removing the flooring, they were unknowingly exposed to deadly asbestos particles. Had it not been for the homeowner asking them to stop for asbestos testing, they would have continued their work and risked further asbestos exposure.

Sealing Asbestos Floor Tiles vs. Removal

Even if a job requires sealing asbestos floor tile rather than removing it, all workers should be made aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure and what to do if they find themselves in a potentially hazardous situation. In the story described above, had even one of the employees realized that asbestos testing should be done prior to flooring removal, the entire incident would have been avoided altogether.

If, on the other hand, the job requires workers to completely remove flooring tiles, it’s best to play it safe and test for asbestos before starting anything. A good rule of thumb to follow is to arrange for asbestos testing prior to any demolition or flooring renovation project that could disperse asbestos particles into the air.

Taking the Next Step: How to Arrange for Asbestos Testing

So, how do you go about testing for asbestos and safely removing asbestos, if necessary, before beginning a demo project? You can either work with a company like IRIS Environmental Laboratories to ensure all necessary testing is complete prior to beginning a job, therefore you know your workers are safe, or you can ask the homeowner to have the material tested prior to your arrival.

It’s important to note that you need to make sure you’re working with a certified asbestos testing company, as there have been many incidences of fraud in the past. When it comes to keeping your workers and clients safe and healthy, it really doesn’t pay to skip this step or hire an unauthorized asbestos inspector.

For more information about how to arrange for asbestos testing prior to a flooring removal job, contact IRIS online or give us a call at 1-800-908-6679.

Read More

Consequences of Violating Clean Air Act

Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Violating Clean Air Act

When it comes to keeping people safe from environmental hazards as outlined in the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency does not take policy violations lightly. Recently, a man was charged with three counts of violating the Clean Air Act for his unlawful involvement in an asbestos inspection and removal scheme within the Pillsbury Mills plant in Springfield, Illinois.

Why It Doesn’t Pay to Be Caught up in an Asbestos Scheme

Joseph J. Chernis IV was ordered to spend a total of 37 months in federal prison because he knowingly hired an untrained person to illegally inspect and remove asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) from the Pillsbury Mills factory. As a direct result of his actions, asbestos-containing dry insulation was improperly and unsafely removed from four buildings within the Springfield facility, putting countless people at risk of asbestos exposure. Clean-up efforts that are estimated to cost the U.S. EPA millions of dollars will now need to be carried out to ensure the safety of factory workers.

Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure

What is particularly troubling about Mr. Chernis’ actions is the fact that they did not just put him at risk. Asbestos removal workers, factory workers, and anyone else in the vicinity could have been exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers, which can cause a deadly form of lung cancer called mesothelioma. For this reason, asbestos testing and removal need to be performed by a trained and certified professional who will abide by all EPA standards and policies to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

EPA Regulations for Asbestos Removal

Asbestos is included as a type of hazardous pollutant outlined in the Clean Air Act. As such, business owners, contractors, or anyone else overseeing a demolition or renovation project needs to be aware of the EPA’s rules and regulations for identifying and properly removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials.

In the long run, it simply doesn’t pay to try to save a few bucks by illegally hiring an unqualified individual to remove ACMs. Before beginning a demo or renovation project, make sure you’re compliant with EPA regulations.

How to Know If You’re Hiring a Legal Asbestos Testing Company

The first step in getting rid of ACMs safely is to call in a professional to inspect the property for asbestos and have samples tested. To make sure you’re working with a reputable company, don’t be shy about asking for things like certifications, accreditations, and whether or not they are compliant with all federal rules and regulations regarding the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.

At IRIS Environmental Laboratories, a trained professional will always conduct a thorough asbestos inspection and have any possible ACMs tested for the presence of potentially deadly asbestos fibers. Once any detected asbestos is properly removed by a professional asbestos remediation company, IRIS Environmental Laboratories will then conduct an air quality test to ensure that there are no longer dangerous asbestos particles in the air.

If you still have questions about how to properly test for and remove asbestos before starting a demolition or renovation project, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-908-6679 or contact us online.

Read More

Protecting You and Your Loved Ones From Radon Gas

When you buy or sell a home these days, you will more than likely run into questions regarding
radon gas and radon testing. That’s because it is now becoming more widely known and
understood that when high levels of this gas are present in your home, you and your family
could be at risk for developing serious health risks, including lung cancer. Here is everything you
need to know about the dangers of radon and how to make sure your home is safe.

The Dangers of Radon Gas
Since you can’t see, smell, or taste radon, it is impossible to detect without special testing. For
this reason, homes are now being tested for radon gas during the buying and selling process.
Even if you’re not buying or selling your home, however, you may still want to have the indoor
air tested for radon.

When too much radon is able to seep through cracks in the foundation or walls of your home, it
can become trapped inside and could increase your risk of developing lung cancer. In fact, radon
exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, second only to
cigarette smoke.

How Do I Know If There Is Radon in My Home?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, counties in many regions in the United
States are likely to have radon levels above the safe limit of 4 pCi/L. Some of the most at-risk
areas include New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Ohio, Illinois, and many parts of the
mid-west and northwest.

However, the only way to know for sure whether or not the radon levels in your home are safe
for you and your family is to have the air tested for radon. If your radon test comes back with readings of 4 or greater, it is highly recommended that you have a radon remediation system
installed to pull radon from beneath your home and vent it outside where it can then disperse.

Professional Radon Testing vs. DIY Test Kits
At this point, you might be asking, “How do I get my home tested for radon?” You have two
options. The first is to get a DIY radon testing kit from your local hardware store and follow the
instructions to set up the test yourself. You’ll then need to send it off to an environmental
testing lab to get the results.

Your second option is to have a professional radon remediation company to come in and
perform the test for you. The advantage to this option is that if your test does come back with
unsafe levels, the company can then begin the process of installing your radon remediation
system as soon as possible. The costs of your testing might also be lower when performed by
the same company that installs your system if needed.

Still Have Questions?
If you still have questions about what radon is or how to get your home tested for radon, feel
free to contact IRIS Environmental Laboratories at (908)206-0073 or using our online form. We
would be happy to answer your questions or recommend a professional radon testing and
remediation company in your area.

Read More
home-inspections-why-quality-is-key

Home Inspections: Why Quality Is Key!

home-inspections-why-quality-is-keyYou’ve just found your dream house and you’re anxious to get the ball rolling so you can move in and live happily ever after. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a new home, it’s easily one of the biggest investment a person might make in their lifetime. Home inspections are an important step in the home buying process. Read this article to learn about home inspections: why quality is key. 

It’s important that you take the proper precautions to make sure the house you’re buying is a safe place to call home. From the untrained professional there are details that might go unnoticed. A thorough home inspection will help bring the true condition of the home to light and give the buyer confidence that he’s making the right decision.

Why Are Home Inspections Important?

Even though you might think you’ve found your dream home, it’s your inspector’s job to make sure that your home is in a good, safe condition and doesn’t need any major repairs. A certified home inspector will analyze the property and all its major functions such as; major mechanical systems such as furnace and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical components, as well as an overall analysis of the roof.

A home inspector will also determine whether the home has any potential hazardous health risks like mold, lead paint or asbestos. If your home does have one of these flaws, don’t freak out just yet. A professional and qualified home inspector should also be able to suggest other professionals who can help remove and  remedy the problem.

Once the home inspection is complete  the inspector should give you a detailed report, from there it is the buyer’s responsibility to follow up with any questions or concerns. Moving forward you can discuss the results with your realtor to decide if this purchase is right for you. You can also review the results with the sellers and ask them to repair some of the things on your priority list. Having the home inspection will help you plan what kind of costs you’re willing to put into the home after the closing.

What If My Home Inspector Finds Asbestos?

If your home inspector suspects there may be asbestos or asbestos containing materials than it’s a good idea to contact a professional who is certified to treat the material. There is a step by step process to remedy the issue.

Inspection Of The Property

You just had a home inspection, so why does the property need to be inspected again? If the home is suspected to have asbestos than one of our certified and trained professional to come out and inspect all of the problem areas and areas that are thought to have asbestos and samples of those materials will be collected.

Samples – Sent To The Lab

Samples are sent to our Certified Laboratory facility under the Environmental Standard criteria. Each piece of material will be analyzed and tested for further findings.

Lab Analysis and Solutions

Once the lab has completed the testing an easy to read report will be generated and available to go over. If the tests show (ACM Asbestos Containing Material) than it is time to start looking for a remediation service company.

Post Remediation

After the asbestos has been removed and the home is thought to be safe of any hazardous materials,  a third party company must perform what is commonly called Clearance Air Test to ensure there is no asbestos fibers present in the air.

Why Should You Choose A Professional?

The potential buyer has the choice of who does the home inspection. It’s important that you do the research a choose someone who is qualified to do a thorough inspection. This sometimes goes deeper than just a look at some of the homes major mechanical systems. There are some other tests that can be done that may be helpful to you based on the condition of your home.

Older homes may have some hidden issues that are naked to the eye. Your home inspector should be able to tell you by the age of the home and overall condition of some of those tests are necessary for further investigation.

If there is an issue of asbestos it’s best to hire someone who is certified and trained to handle the situation. Dealing with asbestos can be a potential health risk to you and your family. If it’s not dealt with properly it could lead to bigger problems.

Choosing a home inspector is really important. Choosing a certified and qualified inspector could be crucial to the outcome of your home inspection. It’s a good idea to have some questions prepared so you can see how each person differs.

Questions To Ask A Home Inspector:

  • Are you licensed?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have a limitation of liability clause in your contract?
  • What experience do you have that is related to home inspections?
  • If you miss something in the home inspection, what happens?
  • Are your inspectors infrared (IR) certified?
  • How do you inspect tall roofs above two stories?
  • How is my report delivered to me?
  • How long does it take to get a report?

A good quality home inspector will play a big part in your home inspection. When purchasing  a home, make sure you educate about the process so you can make the best possible decisions.

What Else Do You Need To Know About Home Inspections?

If you still have questions about home inspections and why it’s important to contact a professional, take a look at our FAQ page for more information. If you still can’t find the answers you’re looking for, feel free to contact us online or give us a call at (908) 206-0073 and one of our friendly team members would be happy to help you.

Read More