Outdated EPA Regulations May Increase Asbestos Exposure

Earlier this year, the Office of the Inspector General announced that it believed that the Environmental Protection Agency (an agency obviously expressly created in order to protect the environment) does not have adequate policies in place to protect the public from asbestos exposure. For example, the OIG specifically noted a policy that allows companies or individuals to release water that has been contaminated by asbestos.

This regulation is part of the National Emissions Standard for Asbestos, which was first released in 1973, and does not, in general, have environmentally sound regulations for the demolition or destruction of buildings that may contain asbestos, therefore allowing asbestos to be released into the water and soil of the surrounding areas.

One of the toxicologists who helped to prepare the OIG report stated that demolitions have the ability to be very damaging to the environment and that the amount of asbestos entering the environment is likely to exceed what is legally allowed. Older buildings are very likely to contain asbestos and demolishing these buildings is also very likely to release asbestos fibers into the environment. When humans come into contact with asbestos, it has the potential for causing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other serious issues.

The report states that it is both the demolition procedures and the materials themselves that are responsible for asbestos contamination, and recommends that because asbestos was so commonly used in buildings before 1980, the EPA needs to review its policy, determine the risk of asbestos exposure, and develop new regulatory practices to protect the public from exposure.

In response to the OIG, the EPA has said that it believes its regulations are comprehensive and that the recommendations made by OIG will not be implemented. They do admit, however, that because the document itself is so old, it could use clarification, especially as more and more older buildings are being torn down to make way for new construction. The EPA said that it is currently in the process of creating a team of experts and inspectors to investigate the risk of asbestos exposure in an area where demolition is taking place and to clarify their current regulations to make sure they are fully understood.

Five Things You Need to Know about Asbestos

After a few decades of controversy, asbestos has largely fallen out of the public spotlight. Regulations enacted in the late 1980s seemed to quell the public’s concerns about asbestos, and society has moved on to worrying about other environmental issues. The truth is, however, that asbestos is still very much a problem in this country, especially considering how frequently it was used in buildings throughout most of the last century. Here are five things you need to know about asbestos:

1. Asbestos is actually still legal.
Remember those regulations? Only two years after the EPA ordered industries that use asbestos to phase into a different material, producers and manufacturers of asbestos filed a case against the EPA. The court actually sided with Big Asbestos, overturning most of the bans that the EPA ordered. This means that most industries are still allowed to use this material.

2. Asbestos-related diseases are more prevalent and deadly than skin cancer.
In society today, we have a serious problem with skin cancer and we talk a lot about the need for better sun protection and treatments. Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other lung cancers caused by inhaling asbestos fibers are deadlier than skin cancer, and yet they somehow get far less press.

3. There is no such thing as a safe level of asbestos exposure.
Unlike radiation, sunlight, and even things like pesticides, there is simply no level of exposure at which it is safe to be exposed to asbestos. Even a single fiber inhaled into the lungs is enough to cause cancer and other serious issues.

4. Asbestos-containing products are often imported to the US.
While more than fifty countries actually do have very real and enforceable bans on asbestos use, asbestos is still being imported to the US every day. Over eight million pounds of asbestos waste was delivered to the US in just the last ten years.

5. Asbestos is in just about everything.
That may sound paranoid and almost like a conspiracy theory, but before the EPA’s ten-year study about the dangers of this product, it was widely used in construction, appliance manufacture, and even fabric. It is a great insulator that is resistant to flame, which made it an ideal choice for insulation in buildings, stoves, as filler in cement, and in outer clothing like coats and jackets.

Facts About Mold

What Are Molds?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions, that do not support normal mold growth.

What are some of the common indoor molds?

– Cladosporium
– Penicillium
– Alternaria
– Aspergillus

How do molds affect people?

Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay.

Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.

I found mold growing in my home, how do I test and remove the mold?

Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds.

Since the susceptibility of individuals can vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal.

Contact Brickley Environmental for Mold Removal

At Brickley Environmental, we have 30 plus years’ experience providing environmental remediation services in Southern California, including expert mold removal and indoor air purification.

We perform thorough, safe mold remediation and cleanup; microbial and particulate decontamination of building components, HVAC systems, and other air delivery systems; and filter replacement in sensitive areas such as hospital morgues, laboratories, and cleanrooms. Our technicians are fully certified, and they receive ongoing training in mold abatement and remediation practices. In addition, our company has one of the best safety records in the industry.

Contact an expert today by calling 1.800.530.3366 or visit our contact page

Where are molds found?

Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected, both indoors and outdoors, year-round. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers.

How can people decrease mold exposure?

Sensitive individuals should avoid areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas. Inside homes, mold growth can be slowed by controlling humidity levels and ventilating showers and cooking areas. If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix the water problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water.

If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:

Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.

Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.

Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.

If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.

Specific Recommendations:

Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.

Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.

Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.

Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.

Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.

Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.

Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.

What areas have high mold exposures?

– Antique shops
– Greenhouses
– Saunas
– Farms
– Mills
– Construction areas
– Flower shops
– Summer cottages

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.

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.