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5 Celebrities Who Have Been Affected by Mold

While some might associate mold with subpar living conditions, the truth is that mold can affect just about anyone at any time. In fact, many high-profile celebrities have notoriously been affected by mold, a testament to the fact that it’s a good idea for everyone to be aware of the dangers of toxic mold exposure and to have their homes tested for this dangerous substance.
Take a look at the stories behind some of the most interesting celebrity cases of toxic mold, and what to do if you want to have your home tested.

1. Dr. Oz
Known for providing health tips and advice on his popular TV show appropriately titled The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz himself discovered that he had been living with toxic mold behind his living room walls. On his show, Dr. Oz emphasized the importance of getting your home tested for mold, as oftentimes, you can’t see, smell, or otherwise detect it yourself.

2. Bianca Jagger
Bianca Jagger, former wife of Mick Jagger, reportedly began feeling sick while residing in a New York City apartment that cost a cool $4,600 per month in rent. After three different environmental tests for asbestos came back positive, Bianca quit paying rent and sued the owner of the building for millions, on the basis that she had been living in that asbestos-infested building for the past 23 years and was now experiencing health problems as a result.

3. Brittany Murphy
Although her sudden death back in 2009 remains a Hollywood mystery, there is speculation that late-actress Brittany Murphy died from complications due to toxic mold exposure. Interestingly enough, her husband also passed away from similar flu-like symptoms just five months later.
While it’s impossible to ever say for sure, the back-to- back deaths of Brittany Murphy and her husband may make a case for mold poisoning.

4. Michael Jordan
After paying to have synthetic stucco applied to the outside of his Chicago mansion, NBA superstar Michael Jordan began having problems with mold. According to reports, the synthetic stucco ended up retaining water rather than deflecting it, causing mold growth all over his home. It would seem that MJ had no choice but to file a $2.5 million lawsuit against the company who installed it.

5. Muhammad Ali
As it turns out, even larger-than- life celebrities can get duped during the home-buying process if they’re not careful. Back in 2011, boxing champion Muhammad Ali purchased a home in Louisiana for over a million dollars, only to later find out that it was covered in water damage and mold. Both Ali and his wife struggled with respiratory issues associated with the mold exposure.

Should You Have Your Home Tested for Mold?
In a word, yes. As you can see, even celebrity mansions and pricey New York City flats aren’t immune to toxic mold growth. Rather than risk the health of you and your family, have a professional mold inspector test your home.

For more information about professional mold testing, contact us at (908) 206-0073 or by using our online contact form.

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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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Why Test for Mold If I Know It’s There?

Many homeowners are now aware of the health hazards of toxic mold that may be growing inside their home. However, merely visually detecting mold is not an effective way to manage or remediate the problem. Even if you already know that you have mold in your home, you should still call in a professional to collect samples and perform a comprehensive test for mold. Here’s why.

It’s Important to Know What Type of Mold Is in Your Home
There are lots of different types of mold, including “black mold,” aspergillus, penicillium, alternaria, and more. Thus, if someone in your home gets sick and is exhibiting symptoms of toxic mold exposure, it is important to know exactly which type of mold they’ve been exposed to so that it can be effectively treated. The type of mold, however, is impossible to tell with just a visual inspection, so having the mold tested, as soon as you see a sign of this problem in your home, is of the utmost importance.

According to the CDC, some of the most common health effects of mold exposure include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Throat, eye, or skin irritation

In the case of black mold poisoning, you might also experience fatigue, muscle weakness, headache, loss of memory function, joint pain, skin tingling and numbness, and shortness of breath.

Mold Testing Can Detect Mold in Other Areas of Your Home
Even though you might only see signs of mold on your bathroom ceiling, for instance, it could also be lurking underneath your tiling flooring, carpeting, inside your walls, or in other less noticeable areas of your home. For this reason, a professional should come in to inspect your home for mold, take samples, and send them off for testing to ensure you don’t miss anything when looking for mold yourself.

It’s Better to Have a Professional Interpret the Results
Another benefit of calling in mold testing experts is that a professional will be able to interpret the results of the testing, which can involve a variety of different factors that need to be taken into account before reaching the final result.
Once you get your mold testing results back and a professional explains exactly what they mean, you can then set to work creating a mold remediation plan that will address the specific problem areas that the testing revealed.

Need More Information on Mold Testing?
Whether you’ve already noticed mold growing in your home or you simply want to take preventative measures to ensure the safety of you and your family, getting a mold test can be extremely helpful. Just make sure you are working with an accredited environmental laboratory that offers mold testing.

For more information on how to have your home tested for mold, please feel free to contact IRIS Environmental Laboratories 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 mold testing process.

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Talc Contains Asbestos – Be Cautious When Buying These Products

Talc is a very soft, naturally-occurring clay mineral that is used to make talcum powder, an ingredient in many different cosmetic, personal care, and household products. However, some talcum powder has been shown to contain a specific type of asbestos called tremolite, which is a toxic substance linked with lung cancer.
Since so many everyday household products contain talc and talcum powder, it’s crucial that you use caution when buying these products to ensure the safety of you and your family. These five common products are known to contain talc, so you may have to do a little digging to determine the source of the talc used in that particular product and whether it has ever been tested for asbestos.

1. Baby Powder
Talcum powder is very good at absorbing moisture, which is why it is the primary ingredient in most baby powders and many feminine hygiene products. While cosmetic-grade talc should not contain asbestos in theory, some samples of baby powder, makeup, and other cosmetic products have tested positive for asbestos.

2. Paint and Coatings
Talc is also widely used in paint, coatings, and sealants either as a filler or to improve functional properties such as weathering protection, scrub resistance, and physical appearance. You can find an extensive list of paint products that contain talc on the FDA’s website. While this isn’t to say that every one of these products necessarily contains asbestos, it is a good idea to do a little research on the talc supplier for that product, or even to have it tested for asbestos prior to use in your home.

3. Pesticides
Some garden pesticides contain talcum powder to repel certain insects that could harm crops and flowers. Unfortunately, pesticides that contain talc with asbestos could also be harmful to you, your family, and your pets.

4. Rubber
Talc is also often used to manufacture many different rubber products, including rubber-backed carpeting. If you are starting a renovation project and will be ripping up old carpet, insulation, and other materials that could contain asbestos, it’s recommended you bring in an asbestos testing company first so that you don’t end up stirring up dangerous asbestos fibers and releasing them into your home.

5. Paper and Plastics
Many papers and plastics contain talc as a filler, a brightening agent, and to improve the opacity of the finished product. Talc can also be used in the paper recycling process, so it’s possible for recycled paper products and plastics to potentially also contain asbestos.

Asbestos Testing
While it can be difficult to avoid using products that contain talc or talcum powder altogether,  you can have these products tested for asbestos by a certified environmental lab so you can have the peace of mind that you and your family are safe from asbestos exposure.

For more information on how to have your home or products tested for asbestos, contact IRIS Environmental Laboratories at (908)206-0073 or using our online contact form.

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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.

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Asbestos Found in Children’s Makeup

According to a recent report published just a few days ago by CNN, asbestos was found in several eye shadow and other makeup products marketed towards children from international beauty giant Claire’s. Since the revelation, the company has pulled nine products off its shelves while awaiting third-party asbestos testing results.

So what is asbestos, why is it so dangerous, and what can you do to make sure your family’s makeup and personal care products are safe? Here are some of your most frequently asked questions answered.

What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally-occurring minerals that were once widely used in building materials and other products due to their incredible insulating and heat- and flame-resistant qualities. However, it has been found that exposure to asbestos particles poses a serious risk of developing mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer, as well as other health risks.

Although many products are no longer manufactured using asbestos, the effects of asbestos inhalation can take years or even decades to present themselves. Moreover, children and adults alike are still being exposed to this dangerous substance, even in unlikely places like makeup, paints, toys, and other products. The fact of the matter is that people are still dying from asbestos exposure.

How Does Asbestos Wind up in Makeup?
The asbestos that was reportedly found in some Claire’s eye shadow products is most likely linked with contaminated talcum powder, although the company claims that the talcum powder that it uses in its makeup products is safely sourced from Europe.

Nonetheless, talcum powder can be contaminated with a type of asbestos known as tremolite, which is exactly what preliminary tests found in some Claire’s eye shadows. Once these tests are completed, Claire’s has stated that it will then “take the necessary action.”

Asbestos-contaminated talcum powder has also fairly recently been found in some children’s art
supplies and toys, making this a growing problem, despite the fact that we are now well-aware of the risks of asbestos exposure, especially to children.

Can You Have Your Makeup Products Tested for Asbestos?
Yes! Although Claire’s has since pulled the items in question off its shelves until the results of additional asbestos testing come back, you can take an active role in protecting yourself and your family from unknowingly being exposed to asbestos. Environmental testing labs like IRIS Environmental Laboratories can test makeup products for asbestos particles, so one option would be to send a sample of the makeup you’d like to have tested to our lab so that you can know for sure whether or not your children could be in danger of asbestos exposure.

How Can I Get More Information?
If you still have questions about what asbestos is or how you can have your makeup products tested for asbestos, please feel free to contact us online or by phone at (908) 206-0073.
Asbestos inhalation can lead to serious health problems, so catching and stopping exposure as early as possible is the key to reducing these risks and keeping your family safe.

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When Should I Test The Air Quality of My Home?

There are a number of different substances that may be present in your home that could
contribute to poor indoor air quality, including asbestos, lead, radon gas and mold. What’s more
is that not only can these substances lower the quality of the air that you’re breathing each and
every day, but they can also lead to serious health problems.
While this is by no means an extensive list, these five factors are good indicators that it might be
time to get the indoor air quality of your home tested.

1. You’re Experiencing Adverse Health Effects
If you or a family member begins to develop health issues seemingly out of nowhere, asbestos,
lead, radon or mold that’s lurking in your home might be to blame. Some of the most notable
symptoms that are often associated with these dangerous substances include:

  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Sinus congestion
  • Eye or skin irritation
  • Asthma and other respiratory problems
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

2. Your Allergies Are Flaring Up
People who struggle with allergies may notice that their symptoms begin to flare up when they
are exposed to hazardous materials like asbestos fibers and mold. While there are other
unrelated causes of indoor allergies, such as pet dander and dust mites, unexplained flare-ups
could indicate poor air quality.
Once you have your air tested by a certified professional, you’ll then be armed with the
knowledge you need to remove any potentially dangerous materials or substances from your
home.

3. You’re Planning to Renovate Your Home
Even if you’ve lived in your home for decades and never seemed to have a problem with
asbestos or other harmful materials, as soon as you begin a renovation project, you could stir up
dangerous particles and release them into the air. In fact, asbestos is most dangerous when you
breathe its microscopic particles into your lungs.
Thus, before you start any demolition or renovation project in your home, call in a professional
asbestos testing lab to make sure you’re not going to stir up any of these dangerous particles
during your project. If asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are detected, you’ll want to hire a
professional to remove them before continuing to ensure the safety of you and your family.

4. You’re Buying a New Home
You may elect to have the indoor air quality tested during a home inspection before purchasing
a new home to make sure you’re not going to be strapped with the cost of installing a radon
remediation system, for example, or dealing with other hazardous issues before you even move
in.

5. You Have Kids
Because their lungs are still developing and they breathe in more air in each breath than adults
do, children are even more susceptible to health complications due to asbestos, lead, mold and
radon exposure. If you have, getting an air quality test could give you the peace of mind you’re
looking for.

How to Test the Air Quality in Your Home
If you’re concerned about poor indoor air quality, the first step is to contact a certified
environmental laboratory to have your air tested. If hazardous substances such as asbestos,
lead, radon gas or mold are discovered through testing, the next step is to hire an experienced,
trained professional to remediate the situation so that you and your family can safely breathe
clean air.
For more information on asbestos, mold or air quality testing, contact IRIS Environmental
Laboratories at (908)206-0073 or using our online contact form.

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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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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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