Hazardous Waste and Substances Facts

Chemicals are used to make just about everything we use, from paper, to medicine, to clothing, to gasoline. Chemicals are the building blocks of our world, and while most are perfectly safe to use, there are quite a few, especially made by humans, that can be dangerous, and which need to be disposed of properly, in order to maintain our safety.

What is classified as hazardous waste?

Obviously, not all chemicals are hazardous. Chemical compounds like sodium chloride (table salt), are used every day and are perfectly safe for use to use. Other chemicals are not so safe and can actually harm our health and the environment if not properly disposed of. Some of the most common examples of hazardous waste include batteries, bug spray, and paint. These and other household examples of hazardous waste need to be properly disposed of in order to protect our health and the environment.

What different kinds of hazardous waste exist?

There are essentially four basic kinds of hazardous waste. The first is corrosive, which eats away at some materials, including clothing and skin. These are acids, like those commonly found in batteries. The acids themselves and the vapor from the acid can be dangerous.

The second kind is ignitable. These are substances that easily ignite—examples include paint thinner and gasoline. The vapors are usually irritating, but the flammability is the real danger.

The third kind of hazardous waste is reactive. These substances are less common, but they can still be very dangerous. The most common example is bleach and ammonia. These substances react with one another and create a gas that is extremely deadly.

The fourth and final kind of hazardous waste is toxic. These are chemicals that are designed to kill things, from bugs to weeds to germs, but can also be harmful to humans, whether ingested or absorbed through skin.

Why is hazardous waste dangerous?

Hazardous waste usually enters a person’s system in one of two ways, the first being inhalation. This occurs when a person breathes in the chemical or its vapors. If a chemical gives off a toxic gas, this can be very dangerous, harming the health of the person who breathes in these vapors. Even if the substance is not toxic, vapors or the chemicals that create them can irritate the mouth, throat, and lungs of a person, causing serious health problems.

The second way a person may come into contact with hazardous waste is ingestion. Even if it accidental, ingesting any kind of hazardous waste is extremely dangerous, as many of these chemicals can burn your organs or cause other serious problems.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.

Mold Warning Signs: How to Tell if You Have a Mold Problem

We all have that friend who is constantly complaining of some non-existent problem. She thinks her house had mold, but she can’t prove it. The paranoia has set in. You don’t have to wonder whether or not you have mold in your home. Knowing is, of course, half the battle. Don’t let hysteria set in at the first sight of an discolored spot on your wall—before you do anything drastic, make sure you know whether or not you really have mold. Here are a few warning signs that will help you determine whether or not you really have mold:

1. An odor. Mold smells. Sure, mold spores are everywhere, indoors, outdoors, and you may not smell them—that’s because the concentration is so low that it does not affect you. However, if you can smell the mold, you know that you have a serious problem. A persistent, pungent odor is a great indicator, especially if your mold is growing under wallpaper or inside the walls themselves, where it isn’t visible.

2. The appearance. Mold itself is fairly easy to spot. Start by looking at the dampest rooms of your house—the bathrooms. It’s not soap scum (that white film that forms on the walls and doors of your shower, but little spots and colonies. In color, it could range from yellow to green to black. Damp areas of your home are most likely to develop a mold problem, as the damp area provides somewhere for mold spores to land and reproduce, creating a visible spot. Besides bathrooms, check your basements and kitchens.

3. Health problems. Those with pre-existing respiratory problems, like asthma, are more sensitive to mold spores in the air than people with respiratory issues. Children and the elderly are also more likely to develop mold-related health problems. If you or someone in your house is experiencing allergy-like symptoms that seem to clear up when you are not in the house, then you might have a mold problem in your home.

Ask if the person feels better when they are work or running errands. Do they start to feel sick only when they step into the house? The higher concentration of mold spores caused by active mold colonies in your house could be the culprit.

What Should I Do?

If you suspect that you have a mold problem, do a little investigating. Where could the mold be living? If you do not have visible colonies, is there a damp place inside your walls that it might be living? When it doubt, it is probably best to call a skilled mold remediation company, who can help you both find and combat any mold colonies.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.

Where Can Asbestos Be Found, and How Can You Identify It?

Until the year 2000, asbestos was used in both residential and commercial construction. If you live in a home that was constructed in 2000 or later, you are not likely to have any asbestos in your home, as its use was banned. However, if you live or work in a home that predates 2000, you may in fact find that asbestos was used to build the structure. As a note: if you think that you find asbestos, do not try to remove it yourself. Do not touch it—call a professional like Brickley Environmental to eradicate.

Asbestos was most commonly used in the following construction applications:

  • As insulation—asbestos is a remarkably good insulator and because it is flame retardant, it was widely utilized. It may be place in ceilings, walls, and around windows, pipes, and doors.
  • Flame protectant—sometimes used a spray around structural supports of commercial and residential buildings.
  • Decoration—some walls or ceilings were sprayed with a decorative coating, which may contain asbestos.
  • In floor tiles—some floor tiles were manufactured to contain asbestos.
  • Roof sheeting—again, because it is so flame retardant, it was often used in the walls and roofs of factories and other industrial buildings.

If you live or work in a building that predates 2000, it is possible that there is asbestos in any or all of these locations. If it is contained, like inside walls, used as insulation, it is unlikely that it has done any harm, but if any construction or renovations are done to the building and the asbestos is disturbed, this is when it becomes a serious problem. It is better to be sure that something is not asbestos before you knock down a wall or remove insulation, than find out later that it was.

What Does It Look Like?

Asbestos was manufactured to have many different colors and textures. The most common kinds are blue, brown, and white. The most difficult part about identifying asbestos is that it was often mixed into other building materials, and therefore may be completely invisible.

The easiest form of asbestos to identify is insulation. It will look like spun sugar, and have a white or bluish color. It is the easiest to identify and it is also the most dangerous, as it is likely to shed fibers that can then be breathed in. Any kind of asbestos is dangerous, whether it has been mixed into another material or lacquered into a piece of tile or simply stuffed into the wall.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.

5 Mistakes that Lead to Hazardous Waste Fines

No one wants to be slapped with a hazardous waste fine. Not only is the fine punishment, the knowledge that you may have done something that could harm the environment can weigh heavy on many people’s shoulders. This fine can also snowball in to a long and expensive legal battle and investigation. In order to avoid the hassle and the guilt, we have compiled a list of five mistakes that lead to fines.

  1. Toxic waste into the sewer system – This is less common these days than it was in the eighties and nineties, but we will still find some companies dumping toxic waste into a sewer system, either without realizing that it could be harmful, or laboring under the belief that they will not be caught. This kind of dumping is unequivocally illegal, and because most municipal sewer systems are equipped with specialized sensors, it is now easier than ever for law enforcement individuals to figure out who has been dumping what kind of waste into the system. The take away from this mistake is to just not dump your hazardous waste into the sewer.
  2. Incorrectly labeling hazardous waste. This is one of the most common mistakes and definitely one of the most common reasons a company is fined by the Department of Toxic Substances. It is easy to commit. You’re just working along, and a container is incorrectly labelled—or, even worse, not labeled at all. Labels are required by just about every state, not just on the containers themselves, but on the rooms that house the containers.
  3. No lids for hazardous waste containers, or improper use of lids. This occurs most often as a result of incorrect handling procedures. Both the EPA and the DTS require most hazardous materials to be in closed containers. This means that the lid is closed tightly enough to prevent both leaves and the escape of vapors. Neglecting this could lead to serious fines, so make sure that all containers are properly closed.
  4. An improper contingency plan. As a company that handles hazardous waste, it is required by law that you have a contingency plan. However, some companies, even if they have a plan, will not keep it up to date. This can lead to serious fines, as every company is required to have an updated plan that includes the newest guidelines and methods.
  5. Exceeding the limit of hazard waste accumulation. Most companies are only allowed to store 55 gallons of waste at a time, before correctly disposing of it. Having more than this allotted amount can incur fines, even if the containers themselves are properly closed and sealed and the waste is being properly disposed of.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.

Mold: An Indoor Air Quality Concern

Did you know that we are constantly coming into contact with mold spores? Mold is a part of our everyday lives and it is usually not a major concern, until it finds a place in our homes to attach and begin growing a colony. Both summer and winter create indoor environments that are conducive to the development and proliferation of mold colonies, and therefore, and increased number of mold spores in the air. While a few spores will likely have no effect on a person, air that is saturated with these spores can present a serious health risk.

What is mold?

Mold is a branch of the fungi family. It travels in the form of microscopic spores, which float through the air. Indoor and outdoor air is full of spores. While this might sound frightening, they are usually not in a high enough concentration that they pose any health risk.

As these spores travel, they land on the surfaces of our home. If they find a damp place, they may begin reproducing and creating a colony, that will release even more spores. An accumulation of these spores in the air may become toxic, as mold, especially black mold, contains mycotoxins. In general, it is best to assume that all mold is dangerous and have it properly disposed of.

Why are summer and winter the worst seasons for mold growth?

Mold prefers moderate temperatures, humidity, and low air flow. These conditions are most common in the summer and winter. Many places in the world have very humid summers. When the wood of a home becomes wet, simply through the humidity in the air, it becomes a breeding ground for mold. Areas like basements or crawl spaces, where there is no air conditioning are the most likely spots.

And because many people heat their homes in the winter, and may even humidify rooms in order to stave off dry winter air, the home again becomes a prime spot for mold. Anytime mold finds a patch of damp, it will attach and begin to grow.

What are the health risks of mold?

Some of the most common health risks include irritation of the eyes and sinuses, as well as serious respiratory illnesses. For young children, the elderly, and those that have asthma, a higher concentration of mold in the air can become very dangerous, very quickly. Anyone with a pre-existing respiratory problem might be at significant risk.

If you notice allergy or other illness symptoms while at home that clear up when you leave home, mold may be to blame. It is best to have a qualified inspector and remediation company inspect and remove any mold that is found.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.