Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

News

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

Chrysotile Asbestos Threatens Schools, and Businesses

Contrary to popular belief, Chrysotile asbestos is far from being a thing of the past. Although regulations are now in place that prohibits the use of some asbestos-containing materials (although not all) in new construction, any home, school, business, or other structure that was built before 1980 is likely to still contain ACM’s.

If disturbed, ACM’s can release microscopic particles into the air, leading to serious health concerns. Chrysotile and other types of asbestos have been linked to a form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma, as well as a serious non-cancerous lung disease called asbestosis.

What Is Chrysotile?

Chrysotile also called “white asbestos” or “serpentine asbestos” is the most common type of asbestos that is still found in homes, schools, businesses, and even ships. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 95% of all asbestos found today is chrysotile. Like other types of asbestos, which include actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, and tremolite, chrysotile poses a serious health risk if its tiny fibers are released into the air and inhaled through your lungs.

Thus, asbestos-containing materials on their own are not necessarily a hazard to your health, but if you are planning a demolition or renovation project that could disturb these ACM’s, you’ll need to have the area inspected and tested for asbestos first. If found, a professional asbestos remediation company should come in and safely remove the materials before your project moves forward.

How to Tell If There Is Asbestos In Your Home, School, or Business

One of the most common questions people ask about asbestos detection is, “Can’t I just look around for asbestos in my home or business?” Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just look for asbestos, because it is impossible to tell with the naked eye whether or not a material contains asbestos fibers.

Asbestos is considered to be a hazardous material, so any school, business owner (among other occupations that may expose you to asbestos)  or overseer of a demolition or renovation project needs to have the space-tested by a trained professional and properly remediated if asbestos is found. Once ACM’s are professionally removed, an environmental laboratory can provide a final air quality test to ensure that all traces of asbestos particles are, indeed, removed from the space.

About IRIS Environmental Laboratories

IRIS Environmental Laboratories is a fully accredited lab with certified experts in the field of asbestos testing, mold testing, air quality testing, and other environmental testing services. We are committed to providing each and every client with the highest-quality environmental testing available and at an affordable price. IRIS Environmental Laboratories understands that the health and safety of you and your family mean everything to you, so we go out of our way to ensure the best possible testing and consulting services to keep your family safe.

If you’d like more information about IRIS Environmental Laboratories or how to take the first step to have your home, school, or business tested for asbestos, please feel free to contact us online or give us a call at 1-800-908-6679.

Read More

Harmful Textured Ceiling Tiles and Drywall

Covering Your Textured Ceiling Tiles with Drywall is Not Safe

If your home features those so-called “cottage cheese” or “popcorn” ceiling tiles that were popular in homes built in the 50s up until the 80s, you might be looking for easy solutions to update the space. If you’re selling your home, you may be asked to have your textured ceiling tiles tested for asbestos prior to closing.

Although covering up these unsightly ceiling tiles with drywall might sound like the easiest and most convenient solution, unfortunately, this is not safe. Here’s what you need to know about the potential health risks of textured ceilings and how to safely get rid of them.

What Makes Textured Ceiling Tiles Harmful?

As with many other types of building materials that were commonly used in homes and other structures built prior to 1980, textured ceiling tiles are known to contain asbestos. The good news is that if left undisturbed, this asbestos is not considered a health risk. However, as soon as you go to remove these ceiling tiles, the tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air and can be a very serious threat to your health when breathed into your lungs.

The most serious health effect of asbestos exposure is the development of a type of lung cancer called mesothelioma.

Why Covering with Drywall Isn’t a Safe Solution

Whether you’re trying to sell your home or are simply looking to do a little updating, covering popcorn ceiling tiles with drywall is not a safe option. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the process of putting up drywall requires surface abrasion and nailing, which can disturb the underlying textured ceiling tiles and release dangerous asbestos particles into the air.

The second reason why this is not a good solution is that new homeowners who don’t realize that there may be asbestos-containing materials under the drywall ceiling could be at risk for asbestos exposure should they go to remodel the home.

How to Have Your Home Tested for Asbestos

So what should you do if you have “cottage cheese” ceiling tiles that you want or need to get rid of? The first and most important step is to have the materials tested for asbestos. Although there are DIY asbestos testing kits out there, the most accurate and effective way to have your home tested is to contact a professional asbestos testing company.

A certified, trained professional will first inspect your home for possible asbestos-containing materials. Then samples of the materials, including textured ceiling tile, will be sent to the environmental laboratory to be tested for asbestos. If the results show that the tiles do contain asbestos, the next step is to have them removed by a trained professional to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including the new homeowners if you are selling.

How Do I Get Started with Asbestos Inspection?

When hiring an asbestos inspector, it is important that you choose a qualified professional to avoid inspector fraud and get the most accurate results. If you still have questions about how to begin to the asbestos inspection process, contact IRIS Environmental Laboratories online, or give us a call at 1800-908-6679.

Read More

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.

Read More

Real Estate Agents – Are You Prepared?!

Real estate agents know better than anyone that if a bump along the way can happen, it probably will. However, there are some things real estate agents can do to better prepare themselves and their clients for curveballs like asbestos, mold, and lead, which could turn into expensive and time-consuming headaches if you’re not careful.

If you’re looking for ways to make your real estate transactions smooth and seamless, one of the best places to start is knowing how to handle issues with environmental hazards as quickly and effectively as possible.

Why Asbestos, Mold, and Lead Can Be Major Setbacks

Today, evaluating a home for environmental hazards like asbestos, mold, and lead is often a standard practice before a sale or purchase can go through. Sellers will need to disclose this information to all potential buyers in their seller disclosure statement. However, if asbestos, mold, or lead is found in the home, it may be necessary to remediate the situation prior to closing.

If you’ve ever run into this situation as a real estate agent, you know how time-consuming this process can be if left until the last minute. Not only can these environmental health hazards scare off potential buyers, but it could also cause a sale to fall through if they’re not taken care of properly and in a timely fashion.

How to Give Your Clients Peace of Mind

While there’s no way to completely predict or prevent problems with asbestos, mold, and lead, you can help to give your clients peace of mind by being well-educated about what these substances are, where they’re most commonly found, and how to have a home inspected, tested, and remediated if need be. The more information about asbestos and mold testing that you can provide your sellers upfront, the less of a hassle you both will have to deal with if these problems are left to surface right before closing.

At IRIS Environmental Laboratories, we provide presentations at your real estate office at no cost to help inform realtors of the possible headaches and setbacks that can crop up during a sale when asbestos, mold, and lead show up.

What to Do When Tight Deadlines Matter

Obviously, the ideal situation is to not have to deal with environmental hazards at all. But the fact of the matter is that many homes, especially those built before 1980, still contain materials like asbestos and lead, and mold could be lurking behind walls, under flooring, or within ceiling tiles.

Whether you’re planning ahead of time or are zeroing in on your closing date, arranging for professional asbestos or mold testing as quickly as possible is crucial for a smooth, seamless real estate transaction. Even if you’re getting down to the wire on your closing date, IRIS Environmental Laboratories can help. With one of the quickest turnaround times for test samples available, IRIS can get you your final report in lightening speed.

Get in Touch with IRIS Environmental Laboratories

Don’t let asbestos, mold, or lead get in the way of your real estate transaction. Give IRIS Environmental Laboratories a call today at 1(800) 908-6679 or email support@irislaboratories.com to get the environmental hazard testing process started so you can have happy (and healthy!) sellers and buyers.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

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