Environmental Archives - Alliance

The HOA & Manager’s Guide to Mold in Apartment Complexes

Winter is here and that means one thing when it comes to mold: it’s time for it to grow and spread. Since mold prefers areas with high humidity and moisture, winter can pose an issue for apartment and condo complexes in particular as it is harder for these spaces to regulate the condensation that happens in individual units. HOAs and property managers need a plan to deal with potential mold growth during the winter.

Here, we’ll discuss:

  • what makes winter an ideal time for mold growth,
  • related issues that can encourage unseen mold growth,
  • steps managers and HOAs can take to be preventative, and
  • how to deal with a mold outbreak if it has already occurred.

The Winter Effect on Mold Growth
There are actually a couple of reasons for increased humidity and condensation in apartment buildings during the winter. First, there is the condensation that occurs on the many windows and HVAC exit vents throughout a building. This can lead to mold growing on windows and other entrances to the building, including balconies. You will likely see this sort of mold growth occur in the window and door frames, where it can grow in the cracks and crevices where people may not see it.

As for HVAC vents, increased condensation occurs where hot air leaving a building meets the cool winter air. This, in turn, can lead to more water in the HVAC system, which could develop a mold outbreak without people noticing, especially if the building does not invest in regular mold inspection or HVAC inspections and maintenance.

The other reason for increased humidity in the winter is simply more water in the air. This can be due to replacing air conditioning, which dries out the air, with heating, which can increase the overall humidity. It can also be the climate itself. If you live in an area that hovers around the freezing mark in the winter, the constant melting and freezing of water can lead to increased indoor humidity.

The Danger of Unattended Spaces in Apartment Complexes
Another factor that can lead to unseen mold proliferation in apartment complexes is spaces that are shut for the winter. These areas are often completely ignored in the wintertime after they have been closed off. As such, condensation and other humidity issues can help mold grow unseen for months. This can mean mold can increase in one area and then potentially spread elsewhere through the HVAC system, which can take in the spores and redistribute them throughout the building. This is why regular inspections of areas closed in winter are essential for preventing mold growth.

What Every HOA & Community Manager Needs to Know
Acceptable mold levels during inspections are usually rated 100 since mold can simply exist in a space. At levels above 800, many professionals will recommend remediation services as mold at this level will likely start to impact the health of those living in the space.

While laws and regulations are different for counties and states, there is often a requirement of landlords to deal with mold issues if they are reported by tenants. This is called the “implied warranty of habitability.” This states that a landlord has a duty to maintain healthy living conditions in their units. Failure to do so can lead to legal consequences.
HOAs need to keep abreast of potential mold outbreaks as well, especially in common areas, even if they are not held responsible for individually-owned units. They will need to understand their legal obligations related to their specific area.

That said, health impacts aren’t the only problem that can come with mold growth in apartment buildings. Mold can also lower rent rates as people don’t want to live in mold-infested areas. The mold itself can also cause damage to a unit, leading to expensive renovations that could have been easily, and cheaply, avoided.

How to Deal with Potential Mold Growth
The best, least expensive and easiest way to deal with mold growth in apartment complexes is to be proactive. This means regular inspections and testing. This should be handled by companies dedicated to mold inspections and remediation, not simply a property management company. This is because mold testing needs to be handled by professionals who can test for mold levels and also recommend preventative maintenance before mold becomes an issue. If it does become an issue, however, or if you already have a mold issue, then it’s time to call for mold remediation experts.

How to Get Rid of a Current Mold Outbreak
If you have an outbreak already, then you will need the help of dedicated, professional mold remediation experts. Mold remediation is the process of safely containing and removing mold from a space. This work must be carried out by experts who understand the necessary health and safety issues that come from the dangerous work of mold removal.

The process usually involves sealing off the area needing remediation. From there, the team will remove the mold. Most of the time, this is done through heat, which will eliminate all of the mold without damaging much of the space and items inside. Once the mold has been completely destroyed through this process, then the team will ensure that it is removed and anything needing replaced is noted and catalogued for future renovations. The team will likely also be able to point to the core issue that caused the mold growth and help you figure out a plan for preventing mold outbreaks in the future.

If you have a mold outbreak in your apartment building or condo complex, then you will need to call mold remediation experts immediately. The issue will only get worse with time, and it’s imperative that it be dealt with sooner rather than later. It’s the only way to ensure the mold growth doesn’t get worse and will restore the space back to safe and healthy levels.

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Dangers of Lead in Children’s Toys and the Home

Protecting families from health risks is something everybody wants to do, and within many homes, there are still risks of lead poisoning for children and adults alike. Lead has been banned in many household products and children’s toys, but it is still a problem that can affect families.

The holiday season is a big time for families, especially for children looking forward to the toys left by Santa under the tree, and while in 2008 the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was signed into law and requires toys to be tested for lead before being sold, there are still many toys with lead integrated into them. Then there are also the risks of homes that were built before the 1970s having lead in paints or other parts of the home, so understanding these risks better can help people protect themselves and their children.

Lead and Its Dangers
Lead is an element on the periodic table (Pb) and was commonly used in a lot of materials for the last several centuries. It is a strong, and versatile material, but in the mid-1900s it was discovered that it was very dangerous to the human body. Lead in many forms cannot be properly processed by the body, and often cannot be filtered out, and therefore bioaccumulates over time. The more people are exposed to lead, the more they are affected by it in the form of lead poisoning. Today most aren’t commonly exposed to lead, but there is still a big risk, as even small amounts of lead in children have been found to be very detrimental to their growth.

As lead builds up in the body from whichever source exposes it, it can spread through the body in the bloodstream. Lead poisoning can cause anything from mild headaches at low exposure levels, to organ shutdown at larger exposures. Children when exposed to lead can exhibit behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, and anemia. Severe lead poisoning can result in seizures, coma, and death. Pregnant women should also be particularly concerned about lead exposure, as the lead can transfer to the fetus, greatly damaging the viability of the pregnancy and stunting proper fetal development. This means that every family must understand the risks associated with lead, how to detect lead in their home or toys, and to avoid it at all costs.

Lead in Toys
While toys need to be tested for harmful substances as per the 2008 CPSIA, it can still be common for lead to be found within toys today, especially imported, or antique toys. In most cases, the lead used in these toys isn’t actually a hazard to children just touching and playing with them, but as many know, children do have a habit of putting things in their mouth, and this is where it starts to become dangerous. Many plastic toys, especially those that are made of soft plastics that retain their shape, often use lead integrated into the plastic to get that softness, even after the passing of the CPSIA law.

Further risks come when those soft plastics are exposed to sunlight, air, or detergents when cleaning them when the bonds between the plastic and lead break down. This resulted in lead dust forming on the outside of the plastic in the product, and that can expose children to dangerous levels of lead. Lead can also be mixed with metals like tin to form alloys when making children’s toys. Any product found to test too high in lead exposure risks will often be recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), so this should be checked for recalls before giving a child a potentially dangerous toy.

What to Do in Case of Potential Exposure
There are take-home lead testing kits available on the market today, but their ability to detect small amounts of lead is very limited, so only certified testing labs can produce truly accurate results. Most parents rely on CPSC testing and recall. For any parents concerned about potential lead exposure from a toy (particularly imported or antique toys that may fall outside of the CPSC scope), they should remove the toy from the child’s environment immediately. After removing further exposure, they should book an appointment with their child’s primary health care provider and get their opinion on the matter. In most cases, they may order a blood test, as lead can be detected in the blood. This test will give the health care provider the information needed to provide parents with further appropriate follow-up actions.

Further Exposure Risks in Homes for Children and Adults
Older homes in particular can have many exposure points for the lead. Lead-based paint was very common in the early 1900s until about the 1980s when it was banned from household use. While painting on the walls is not a large concern for those in the home if it has been maintained, as soon as it gets damaged it can disperse lead particles into the air and onto high-touch surfaces, making it prime for exposure to adults and children alike. If homeowners are concerned about lead paint, they can call in a lead abatement company to remove the lead after test results showing positive results on lead have been received.

Older water pipes are also a concern for lead, as seen in cities like Flint, MI. Lead pipes went out of style in the mid-1900s, but older homes may still have them. These pipes should be replaced as soon as possible no matter the condition they are in.

Lead can also be found in the soil around homes, but this varies greatly, so homeowners could have their lawns tested for lead content if they are concerned. If lead is found in the soil around a home, then it’s very important to teach children and adults to clean off their boots and shoes before entering a home, to minimize the risk of lead making it into the home. Also, if the property uses well water, it should be tested for lead as well.

Prevention is the Best Method with Lead
While there are ways to help cope with lead exposure, prevention of exposure is always the least damaging and best option. If a homeowner is concerned about lead exposure in their older home, calling in a professional lead abatement company to remove the lead in the home and surrounding soil and water can give them peace of mind that they are doing everything they can to protect their family and themselves from the dangers of lead.

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Understanding Asbestos Risks During Winter Renovations

The holiday and winter seasons are a great time to get together with family and friends, however, it is also a great time to get some home renovations done while off from work. These renovations are often small, but they can still come with risks if working on an older home that could contain asbestos.

Asbestos was a very common building material in the mid-20th century and was found in almost every home due to its versatility, strength, and fire-retardant properties. Although it was eventually banned in the 1980s, it can still be found in homes today, specifically those that haven’t been fully renovated since before the 80s, or where asbestos materials have been left undisturbed.

Home renovators need to be vigilant when they work on an older part of their home and need to understand the asbestos risks that could be hidden in their homes.

How is Asbestos in Homes Dangerous
Asbestos is a natural fibrous material, and when it is undisturbed and undamaged poses no immediate risk, but the moment it is damaged it becomes a major health hazard. Damaged asbestos can release microfibers into the air, and these fibers, when inhaled, cause major damage to the throat and lungs, with a high risk of forming cancers. Lung cancer such as mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavity, while asbestosis is when the lungs themselves become scarred with fibrous materials.

While cancers have been more successfully treated these days, they are still major health events in a person’s life; a small amount of asbestos can greatly increase the risk of cancer. Another issue is that once inhaled, the fibers don’t just go away; so even if cancer or other health problems don’t appear right away, they can develop 20 or 30 years after exposure.

This means, it’s very important when working on home renovations that you remain aware of the asbestos risks, be vigilant, and rely on professionals to detect and remove asbestos.

Where Homeowners Can Find Asbestos While Renovating
There are numerous areas in the home where asbestos can be found, as it was a widespread material, being used in almost every aspect of homebuilding.

Lab testing is one of the best ways to be able to identify what materials contain asbestos. Asbestos in its natural form can be white, green, blue, or brown, but as soon as it’s processed and embedded into a building material, its identifying markers become harder to note, especially when mixed with plastics or cement that look similar. The following are some common exposure points for asbestos during renovations.

Attic Renovation
Attics were commonly insulated with asbestos-containing materials due to the fire retardation properties, often in the form of either fiber-bearing materials or vermiculite. If asbestos insulation is disturbed, even when just shoveling into a bag, the asbestos can get into the air, easily spreading through adjoining rooms, or into the HVAC system.

Asbestos in Drywall
Asbestos fire retardation, and sturdy material properties, meant that drywall used in homes before the 1980s often included asbestos. Any removal of drywall will release asbestos into the air unless kept completely wet or if negative air pressure is used in the rooms. Anyone working around asbestos, even when these precautions are taken, must be in full-body PPE suits. Even holes drilled into asbestos drywall can release dangerous particles.

Vinyl Floor Tiling
Older vinyl floor tiling commonly installed in homes in the 1950s almost always contained at least some amount of asbestos, and scraping up tiles can result in damaged tiles, and asbestos releasing into the air.

Popcorn Ceilings
A popular style of ceiling that has fallen out of style years ago can also contain small amounts of asbestos that become airborne particles when scraped off. Even when you are using goggles and a respirator, this asbestos can be dangerous as it spreads onto parts of the room or into an HVAC system.

Pipe Insulation
Asbestos was an excellent insulator, so older pipes in older homes may be wrapped in asbestos insulation. This insulation by now likely is deteriorating anyway, so should be removed as soon as possible by a professional asbestos abatement company.

Roofing, Shingles, Siding
While removing roofing, shingles, and siding, they are likely not going to break during the removal process, but it’s still a risk that shouldn’t be taken by a homeowner. Call a professional.

Other Miscellaneous Exposure Risks
Other areas of concern when renovating from the holidays include cement sheets, millboard, or paper around old furnaces and stoves, soundproofing, door gaskets, patching, and joint compounds, and textured paints.

What Homeowners Should Do About Asbestos?
If a homeowner believes a material they are going to be cutting into could contain asbestos, they should immediately consider it contaminated and have a professional abatement company come in to do a full inspection and produce lab-test certified results. Professionals will know how to safely take samples, and if they find confirmed locations of asbestos, the homeowner can hire them to also safely remove and dispose of the asbestos according to federal, state, and local legislation.

Managing Undamaged Asbestos
There are cases where asbestos can be found in the home undisturbed and undamaged. If the homeowner can avoid damaging asbestos during their renovations, their safest and cheapest option maybe just to leave it alone. However, if there are any signs of wear or damage to any asbestos-containing material it should be removed immediately. While repairing is an option, this would only mean making it harder and more costly to remove later.

Asbestos Abatement – Using Professional Services
Ultimately any homeowner that is considering doing renovations during the holiday seasons, or at any time of the year, should be aware of the risks of asbestos and where it can be found. If they are renovating a part of their home they suspect hasn’t been touched since before the 1980s, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Call in a professional asbestos abatement company to do a certified inspection, and if needed, abatement of the asbestos.

Asbestos is a major health hazard, not just during a renovation, but long afterward if it has contaminated the home’s HVAC system, kids’ toys, kitchen dishes, or anything in the home. Avoid the potential health risks.

Call a professional.

Student Health Changes – The Link Could be Mold

Mold, hiding inside the walls and ceilings of public buildings, especially schools, is more common than previously thought. This is because it is often difficult to detect, and health and safety regulators have been slow to react.

In Weaverville California, a quaint, all-American school district near Sacramento, respiratory issues were becoming all too common in students. Parents reported asthma flair-ups and migraines as common reasons for their child being absent from school. Doctors in the community chalked these cases up to being caused by the grind of day-to-day life (i.e. stress from being back at school, auto-immune responses from suddenly being exposed to all those people again, puberty). It turns out they were wrong.

Out of sight, out of mind

One day, someone reported a mold spot in the cafeteria of Trinity School in Weaverville. The investigations that followed of the site were jaw-dropping. Most buildings on the school campus had, to some degree, been contaminated with mold. Often, it would show up behind drywall, above ceiling tiles, or under floorboards. Subsequent airborne mold tests revealed that there were in fact high mold concentrations in the air of many of the contaminated buildings.

How could something like this happen? Surely, the safety inspections conducted on these sites are supposed to catch things like this before they get out of control, right? Not so much. Mold can be notoriously difficult to detect.

Mold is a species of fungi. It is not uncommon for fungi to thrive in dark conditions. What often happens is that, in the event of a leaky pipe, for example, moisture can collect inside ceilings and walls. Because there are often organic components present in most building materials (i.e. wood), the mold spores now have a food source that they can feed on as they multiply. Unfortunately, these onset mold colonies tend to go unnoticed because many state-sanctioned inspection protocols rely on visual evidence only. This means that an annual walk-through by a professional inspector may fail to generate any evidence of mold because it is not visible in plain sight.

Mold takes flight: airborne particles

Adverse health effects tend to show up once the colony of spores gets some inertia behind it. Typically, they release some spores into the surrounding air, where they are then inhaled by the building’s occupants. The higher the concentration of spores in the parent colony, the higher the concentration of airborne ones will result. The greater the presence of airborne spores, the greater the likelihood of people inhaling them. In the case of the children at Trinity School in Weaverville, the airborne mold was exacerbating inflammatory conditions like asthma, and also causing respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.

Time to update the protocols

At this point, the solution seems somewhat obvious – if the mold cannot be seen upon visual inspection, and the problem is ultimately one of airborne contamination, why not simply test the air for mold spores? Parents and school administrators in Weaverville posed this question to local and state authorities. They responded by underscoring their reluctance to use air quality tests because such tests are expensive and difficult to interpret. This line of thinking might also explain why California, to date, has no formal minimum thresholds for airborne air mold levels in schools.

There are many techniques and strategies used by professional mold abatement companies that go far beyond the efforts of feeble visual inspection. If a test reveals high levels of airborne mold, the next step is often to gather samples from the source to determine what specific species of mold is present. This will help determine the most effective remedy to be used. Modern mold remediation has become less dependent on harsh chemicals like bleach and chlorine. Often, simple heat treatments are enough to eradicate most species of mold. The real trouble is containing the high concentration of airborne spores that come out when a parent colony is exposed during removal.

The use of negative air machines is a must for containing the spread of airborne spores. These work by creating a differential in air pressure so as to prevent the movement of air from one space to another. Suppose one classroom, in particular, has a high concentration of spores compared to other neighboring ones. Instead of sealing off the entire block of rooms, a negative air machine could be used to create a barrier of negative pressure. The negative air pressure would prevent the airborne spores from escaping into the adjacent rooms, hence making it safe to keep them operational during abatement. Another scenario could be that a specific space that everyone uses, like the main foyer near the front doors, for example, could be highly contaminated relative to the rest of the building. In such a case, a negative air pressure barrier would be ideal for keeping the rest of the building operational.

It’s all about the air

As buildings age, the sources for potential mold contamination become innumerable (i.e. leaky plumbing, condensation on windowsills, faulty roofing, dirty HVAC coils). Most of these are impossible to detect from a visual inspection until they have become quite advanced, and highly expensive to deal with. In the long run, the most economical preventative strategy would be to test the air for mold spores at regular intervals. In the event that a particular room or zone tests high, there is no need to think that the whole building will need to be vacant during the remediation process. The benefit of containment structures and negative air machines can keep everyone else safe while the toxic mold gets taken away. Maybe more school districts in California should consider adopting this kind of strategy, instead of relying on visual inspections and then acting surprised when the air in their buildings is toxic.

Alliance Environmental has completed over 25,000 mold remediation projects across California. Our crew members follow all guidelines and protocols as stipulated by the EPA, OSHA and other regulatory standards. Request a Quote for your project by contacting one of our locations today.

Household Repairs, Air Quality, and Disclosure – What They Don’t Tell You About Asbestos in Older Homes

Up until the mid-1980s, many common building materials and components in use contained asbestos. It is relatively easy to disturb, even when performing trivial repairs. You could be putting yourself and your loved ones at risk and not even know it.

Asbestos, a fibrous material, was widely used in commercial and residential construction well into the 1980s. It was an economical means of fireproofing and insulating homes. It added strength and durability to heat duct systems and was also a wonderful soundproofing upgrade to ceilings. It even turned out that mixing it with cement created a nice low-cost alternative to metal pipes.

Do not disturb

Problems begin when repairs are needed in these homes. When an HVAC technician, for example, needs to replace a furnace filter or repair some ductwork, the asbestos insulation laying beneath becomes disturbed. When it is exposed to the air, the asbestos bits break apart into tiny, microscopic particles that remain suspended.

Healthy lungs are surrounded by a membrane known as the pulmonary mesothelium, which is a slippery surface around the lung cavities and surrounding chest wall. As the airborne asbestos travels down the respiratory tract upon inhalation, it sticks to the mesothelium on the exterior of the lungs and chest wall. In small doses, this is not life-threatening. However, if one is exposed to this regularly it can cause big problems.

A slippery slope

Normal mesothelial cells produce a complex of proteins that make up the slippery membrane coating most of the body’s major organs. If the one surrounding the lungs and chest wall becomes repeatedly damaged from airborne asbestos exposure, its cells will stop producing the healthy slippery membrane proteins, and start producing alternate proteins that are found in malignant tumors. The cells that produce these alternate proteins, called rogue cells, form the basis for the development of mesothelioma – cancer of the mesothelial membrane.

Unfortunately, this type of cancer is often highly aggressive. Symptoms do not usually present until it is too late to intervene surgically. Because it is usually fatal, lawsuits brought on by the disease often result in substantive payouts to plaintiffs.

The scope of the problem

Various health and safety regulators have attempted to estimate the true prevalence of asbestos in buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compiled a sample list of possible asbestos-containing materials that included everything from structural components like joint compounds, to floor and ceiling tiles, and even carpet. This is consistent with the Canadian province of Ontario’s Ministry of Labor, Training and Skills Development 2011 estimate that there are as many as 3,000 products still in use today that contain asbestos.

This may seem hard to believe – if most of these products were banned from use by the mid-1980s, how could there possibly be so much of them still out there? The great difficulty with this is that once a building is constructed, it is difficult to do a recall on its core components. Even if there were some kind of civil engineering miracle that would make it structurally and economically viable to do so, the real risk would be one of exposure to all of the workers as they remove the affected materials. It is a job for professional remediators, not the average construction worker.

Another dimension to all of this is regulations. At the time of manufacture and sale of many asbestos-containing products designed for homes, there were fewer regulations that required manufacturers to disclose all of the different materials that went into each product, let alone a breakdown of how much. What has resulted is an outcome of chaos and uncertainty, because it is difficult to know exactly how much asbestos might be in a given building. One common reason why demolition is posed as an alternative to extensive remodeling is because of concerns about asbestos.

Better to be safe than sorry

If you suspect that you might be living or working in a structure that contains asbestos, a good first step is to have air and fiber samples tested at a certified asbestos lab. Professional remediation companies will work with you to determine the extent of remediation necessary – is it just in your HVAC ducts, or in your ceiling too? Once these questions are answered, they will formulate a remediation plan.

To ensure that the remediation is performed safely, it is important to choose someone who adheres to all the best practices and rules set out by the EPA and OHSA. This means that the removal is performed by trained technicians, with the use of containment structures and negative air machines to keep the air clean, and the use of devices to constantly measure air contamination levels in and outside the compartments. Then, the asbestos is packed in air-tight containers and brought to a designated site for special disposal.

Don’t take chances. If your home or building is older, deal with the possibility of asbestos promptly. If someone you love starts experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, and swelling in the face and arms and the biopsy comes back positive, it could be too late. Avoiding the tragedy altogether by calling the professionals early to check for and dispose of asbestos is always money well spent.

Alliance Environmental has been performing asbestos abatement projects for almost 26 years. From residential ductwork removal to large full-scale commercial abatement, the company is a leader in asbestos abatement across California, Arizona, and Nevada. Schedule a free estimate today.

Lead Paint Removal and Disposal

Lead paint was the most common type of paint for many years and used heavily in most homes built before 1978 in the United States. However, after the discovery of the dangers of lead it was phased out of household products and building materials. Today, lead still remains in many older buildings and pipes, causing issues for people and water contamination.

While small amounts of lead have a limited effect on the body, it is bio-accumulative, so as more and more builds up in someone’s body, organs and the brain can be damaged. It’s important to minimize contact to lead in any home, and lead paint removal should be considered the moment it starts flaking, or when any renovations are being considered.

Dangers of Lead Paint

Lead paint has a set safe level of exposure limit, but it is extremely low. Initially, the EPA had set the exposure limit to 50 ppb (parts per billion), however, after more research the amount considered safe was lowered to 15ppb, and when children are involved, it’s recommended that concentration should be even lower, or completely removed. One ppb is equivalent to 0.001 milligrams per liter; an extremely low amount.

When exposed to lead via paint chips or water contamination, the body starts to build up levels of lead, as it cannot be processed by the body. The lead gets absorbed into the bloodstream and starts being deposited in organs, or even the brain. Lead poisoning in organs can start causing them to mutate, creating cancers, and cause organ failure. If it starts building up in the brain, it can cause dementia, memory loss, loss of control of the body, widespread body shutdowns, and ultimately death. The problems are exacerbated in children, as their bodies are still developing; lead can stunt the growth of the brain, reducing intelligence and other brain functions, and mutate organ cells, forming cancers.

Lead paint on the walls is not a major threat on its own, but over time, everybody knows that paint can start to chip, even from a simple scratch. These paint chips can get on surfaces in a home, and touching these surfaces can cause lead chips or dust to get into the body. It is when lead paint is disturbed that it becomes highly problematic.

Lead Paint Removal

With such a high risk from lead paint, it’s important that any home or commercial building that has it eventually gets the paint removed. If the surfaces with lead paint aren’t damaged in any way, they have limited risk to humans or animals, but the moment they get damaged (chips, flakes, wearing down) call in the pros.

For building owners and landlords, it’s important to know that in California, they are required to inform current and future tenants of all instances of lead within the building, so that tenants know where to be careful to avoid lead exposure.

Lead paint removal isn’t a simple process, as the act of just scraping lead off the walls can lead to it becoming airborne and spreading through HVAC systems, or getting into the lungs of the paint removal technician. Professional services should be called in for any lead paint removal, as they will have the training, and equipment to deal with the issue, and be able to handle the disposal of the lead paint afterward.

Issues of Lead Leaching and Water Contamination

Another big issue with lead paint is what to do with it after it has been removed from a building. In the past, people may have considered just throwing it out in a landfill; out of sight, out of mind. However, many studies have shown that lead paint being thrown out in landfills will end up as water contamination in nearby water tables. Lead leaching is a large issue around landfills where people have attempted to cheaply dispose of lead paint. Rain over landfills that have lead will eventually cause lead-contaminated water to soak into the water table, and cause water sources for communities to have to deal with decontaminating water. On top of this is the threat such contamination poses to wildlife.

For people concerned about lead leaching in their water, whether through local landfills, or lead paint getting into water supplies, they should consider getting their water tested. Most water tests can cost between $20 to $100, although there may be local programs available for free water testing.

How to Remove Lead Paint Safely

There are multiple methods for removal, but all safety measures must be taken to ensure the safety of those removing the paint and to ensure there is proper containment of the lead.

Wet removal of lead paint is the most common if the area of removal can allow it. With this method, as the lead paint is removed, it must be wet constantly, as this will prevent errant clips, and dust particulates from being kicked into the air. Special tools are designed to be able to wet down the lead paint while removing it safely to storage bags that will be properly disposed of. While the wet method can keep lead under wraps, it’s often still best to isolate the area so unauthorized personnel doesn’t disrupt the process.

Dry removal of lead paint isn’t ideal, but can still be done. In this method, paint is removed through scraping or just complete removal of the paint wall materials. Without water, however, there is a risk of dust and particulates, therefore the entire area needs to be contained.

Drop sheets should be placed over any furniture left in the room, and the removal workers need to be wearing full PPE to protect themselves. Dry methods may also require a negative pressure area to be set up. After working, PPE suits must be vacuumed off to ensure all lead particles have been captured.
Once safely removed from walls, or other places, lead paint should be secured in proper containers, and then taken to the local disposal site. If using a professional abatement service, they will handle all the requirements for proper lead disposal, following local, state, and federal regulations.

The risks of lead paint are great, and removal is an important process to ensure that a building is safe during renovations, or from lead, chips causing health issues in the future. Hiring a professional team is ideal for lead paint removal, as they have the training, expertise, and equipment to do a full safe removal and disposal.

Alliance Environmental is an experienced remediation contractor that has completed thousands of residential lead paint removal and lead abatement projects. Contact Alliance today for a free estimate.

The Legacy of Lead – Toxicity and the Removal and Remediation from Septic Tanks

Are you noticing a bunch of old paint flaking off window and door trimmings at one of your company’s older commercial sites? It might be tempting to think you can scrape it off yourself and let the chips go down the drain. This could be very harmful to the site’s septic system, and adjacent drainage fields.

Lead paint, although it has been banned in the United States since the late 1970s, is still turning up and contaminating aquifers and groundwater via septic tanks. This type of contamination, which deposits lead in the water, is entirely avoidable with the use of certified commercial lead abatement methods.

Why was this highly toxic metal used to make paint in the first place?

As far back as pre-industrial England, paints were incorporated with a lead-based pigment, because it was highly effective and durable in preserving color. Interestingly, the insidious effects of lead poisoning were acutely observed even back then, because the teams of men and women responsible for grinding the lead into powder for mixing into the paint would die of lead poisoning. Eventually, when English inventor Marshall Smith devised a mechanized process for the grinding and mixing of the lead, the paints that resulted would dominate European and North American markets for the next two centuries because of its low cost and effectiveness at mitigating rot in walls. Fast forward to modern day America, where we have sewage treatment systems that did not exist in the days of Marshall Smith and his primitive lead grinding techniques. All that lead would have to go somewhere eventually, right?

Why older paint should be approached with caution?

It turns out that all that lead was really a problem when we started dissolving large amounts of lead in the water with the rise of indoor plumbing. In rural areas, where septic tanks are widely used, lead poisoning emerged because of unknowingly sketchy disposal practices. Suppose you decide to paint your fence one afternoon. When the job is done, you rinse your brushes under the faucet. The lead particulate in the paint does not go away when it travels through the septic tank – all the organic waste is treated, and harmlessly returns into the groundwater, but the lead particulate that becomes dissolved in with it is far from harmless. In children, lead poisoning can cause intellectual disability and seizures. In adults, it can cause organ failure and death. Much of the dissolved lead particulate remains throughout the water cycle and ends up in the drinking water.
What all of this means is, if you are at a commercial site that is not connected to a major urban sewage treatment system, and there are bits of lead lying around (maybe in the form of old chipped paint), do not flush any of it down the toilet or drains. You will ultimately be putting led in the water that residents or livestock will be drinking. Additionally, lead particles can become suspended in the air when one tries to scrape lead paint. If enough of the particulate is inhaled, it will end up in the bloodstream.

How professional commercial lead abatement companies can help?

Lead abatement refers to a general process by which all the lead is physically removed from a site and then taken away for proper disposal at a specially designated waste depot. Many other firms use the highly inferior renovation, repair, and painting (RRP) model. The problem with RRP is that it typically does not remove any of the actual let from the site; it simply coats it in a membrane that prevents it from being dissolved into water. This is a much less expensive solution; however, it will be a determent to the value of the asset in the long run.

Having to re-apply the membrane as it wears off over time is another one of those tedious maintenance tasks that must be monitored and scheduled, often over several periods of employee turnaround. Then there is also the issue of removal and remediation from septic tanks. Some of that lead is always left behind in the tank itself. RRP will not work if this is the case. Only a commercial-led abatement team that adheres to the requirements of the EPA, in accordance with SDWA criteria should be used for this kind of job.

The main reason why abatement is the most expensive is that lead is notoriously difficult to remove safely. The crew members must be always protected in air-tight gowns, the site itself requires negative air pressure containment structures to prevent the diffusion of lead dust particulate, and regular bloodwork monitoring must be done to ensure there is no incidence of unsafe exposure. Additionally, landfills are not a safe means of disposing of lead because the lead will dissolve into the fluids contained in household waste and leach into the adjacent soil. Because its proper disposal must be carried out and managed by professionals, this is another cost-increasing component involved in abatement.

Sometimes doing the most responsible thing involves spending money. At least there are people out there who can ensure that no further damage can be done once a person decides to act. The main thing to do is to be proactive and make the right plans for proper disposal. All these kinds of damaging events are preventable with a little bit of foresight. And, if something goes seriously wrong on a site with a piece of equipment, do not worry – the professionals are a phone call away. There is no such thing as a mess that cannot be cleaned up.

Contact Alliance Environmental, we adhere to the health and safety standards to carry out lead abatement. Get a free estimate on dealing with lead paint, click here to visit our website.

Asbestos in the Housing Market – Popcorn Ceilings

Looking to do something about the popcorn ceiling in your older home? Make sure to take precautions against potential asbestos contamination – know the risks, and how to confront them safely and economically.

We all grew up with that generic white bumpy surface above our heads – that white stucco-like surface on every ceiling that you would stare up at while taking a bath or trying to fall asleep. These have come to be known as popcorn ceilings. For anybody born before about 1995, popcorn ceilings existed as a generic suburbia household default that was just part of life.

Eventually, home builders figured out how to make ceilings in new homes more aesthetically pleasing by introducing low cost texturization methods that gave the ceiling a more elegant look. For many owners of existing homes, re-texturizing is a nice low-cost way to spruce up a tired looking space. Unfortunately, if asbestos is present in the ceiling, a simple texturizing upgrade can render a home inhabitable. The good news is that there are professionals out there who can remove the toxic ceiling materials safely using a standardized asbestos removal p5 procedure.

How did popcorn ceilings become common, and why were they made with asbestos?

The use of asbestos in housing and construction goes back as far as the 1890s, when it was discovered that there was a subset of naturally occurring minerals that, when in a fibrous state, were highly effective at retaining heat, blocking out sound, and enhancing structural integrity. The term asbestos was adopted to refer to any one of the fibrous minerals that worked well in these applications.

After the Second World War, there was a big push in America to put up as many homes as possible, and build them as cheaply as possible, so that ordinary people would be able to own their own homes. It turns out that asbestos-based popcorn ceilings were one of the most cost-effective quality control techniques that were used in the process of mass producing the homes of the middle class. It was not uncommon for ceiling drywall to contain many little imperfections when it was being installed. The easiest way to solve this problem was to coat the drywall in a white, crumbly asbestos-based membrane that covered up all the drywall imperfections and was also effective at blocking out noise. The dry, hard white ceilings that resulted hence became known as popcorn ceilings.

This was widely used as the industry standard until all those buildings constructed with asbestos from the 1890s started requiring more and more maintenance. Every time a pipe needed replacing, the workers would have to cut through the asbestos-laced insulation around the pipes. They began dying in large numbers because the little bits of airborne asbestos particulate that they would inhale caused acute respiratory illnesses and aggressive varieties of cancer. By the 1970s, asbestos-free insulation and drywall coatings were brought to market as a safer alternative.

Why is it so difficult to remove or modify old asbestos-based fixtures once they’ve been installed?

Unfortunately, for all those old buildings with asbestos in the walls and ceilings, the asbestos itself was just about impossible to remove without at least some of the toxic particulate being accidentally ingested by someone. It was often the case that it was too dangerous to perform maintenance on such buildings, and so the functionality of many of these buildings was impaired. It took several decades of air quality filtration innovations, the adoption of special disposal techniques, and the harmonization of best practices and regulatory standards before asbestos could be removed and disposed of safely on a large scale.

Similar issues emerge when dealing with popcorn ceilings in private homes. When one tries to texturize a ceiling that contains asbestos, little bits of that airborne particulate go into the lungs of whoever is working under it, setting the stage for serious illness and potential lawsuits.

How calling the professionals can help?

The gold standard for safely removing asbestos is in the use of p5 procedures. These procedures use a systematic combination of HEPA air filtration devices, external air quality monitoring techniques, and standardized disposal protocols to ensure that all that harmful airborne particulate gets removed from the air as the asbestos is being removed. The companies that offer this service in domestic homes are simply scaling down and modifying the methods that have been used in commercial buildings to make them work in the home.

As you begin your search for the right team to remove your household asbestos, keep in mind the importance of the p5 procedure. Anybody out there who claims to be an asbestos removal expert who does not provide p5 procedure-based services cannot make any guarantees that they are adhering to county-specific air quality rules and regulations, as well as federal environmental protection standards.

If you live in an older home and think there might be asbestos in your popcorn ceiling, a good place to start would be an asbestos testing kit. If your ceiling does contain asbestos, your days of having to continually stare up at that ugly ceiling do not have to persist. All you must do is pick up the phone, and let the experts take over. After that, the possibilities for your ceiling are bound by nothing. You can texturize, you can paint, you can add tiles, wooden panels, or even baseboards. Or, if you are feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options, you could just go with a nice classic, asbestos-free popcorn finish. It’s easy to put on yourself and the fact that it insulates noise is practical. It seemed to work well enough for our parents.

Alliance Environmental has completed over 200 000 jobs over 26 years from residential duct removals to commercial asbestos abatement. Schedule a call with one of our skilled and trained estimators or request a quote.

Lead Paint: What is it and How to Safely Deal with it?

Before the 1980s, all kinds of residential paints contained lead, which is a highly harmful toxin. The problem still lingers in older apartments, residential complexes, and even commercial buildings.

The main issue, in recent times, is surrounding the carelessness of people towards lead paint and its adverse effects. The smallest amount of lead can cause health issues because it accumulates in the human body. We know that it’s bad for our health, but not many homeowners actually take the initiative for lead paint removal.
This blog will look at the reason for banning lead paint, the effects of lead paint, and why you need to opt for professional help rather than taking on a DIY project. Read on to gain a thorough understanding of lead paint removal before beginning a home improvement project.

What do you mean by toxic lead?
Lead is a naturally occurring soft blue-greyish metal in the ground. Exposure to lead can cause neurological illnesses and damage to every organ in the body. The popularity of lead in paint comes from multiple reasons. Lead improves the color, longevity, and coverage of paint. It’s more durable, flexible, less prone to cracking, and washable than other metals.

Why was lead paint banned?
Until 1978, paints contain high levels of lead because, unfortunately, people did not know the health hazards. Like any other mineral, lead can distribute inside a person’s system and cause health defects, especially in children. Moreover, kids tend to be susceptible to hand-to-mouth activities, making them more prone to ingesting toxic lead.

Lead was widely used in toys, batteries, walls, water pipes, cosmetics, and residential paints. The government banned the consumer use of lead paint in 1978 to stop the spread. However, older homes containing lead paint and affected soil and air quality, and still pose a significant threat.

What are the effects of lead paint?
Older homes generally have lead-based paints, and even if it is in good condition, there’s always a risk factor involved, which means you need a professional lead abatement service.

Lead poisoning primarily comes from the dust released from deteriorating lead paint. Chipping, flaking, peeling, or chalking paint can crumble into dust, resulting in lead poisoning. When lead particles circulate in the air, it poses severe health risks, especially for pregnant women, children, and unborn babies.

If the lead paint is not chipping away and intact, it’s best to leave it undisturbed. It’s helpful to paint surfaces in good condition with non-lead paint to seal them. Hire a pro to check the severity of the problem and determine the abatement costs.

How to identify if your house contains lead-based paint?
Lead paint can be dangerous and can pose serious health risks to children and adults. First, check to see in what year the house was built. If a house was built before 1970, most likely lead-based paints were used in the making. To be sure, there are specific testing kits available online to determine whether your paint contains lead. These are not always reliable as the older layers of paint can still have lead; however, it’s a helpful indicator.

To get an accurate answer, consult a professional lead abatement company like Alliance Environmental.

Should you attempt to do it yourself?
There are several methods to remove lead-based paint from residential or commercial buildings. However, most of the methods for lead abatement are hazardous and increase the risks of lead poisoning, not vice versa. Dry sanding, scraping, or power sanding can aggravate the issue of lead dust.

Our ultimate goal is safe lead paint removal while creating minimal lead dust and fumes.
For the reason mentioned above, it’s highly unsafe for individuals to take on a lead paint removal project using store-bought supplies. Instead, call a professional lead abatement contractor specializing in the safe removal of lead-based paint. You simply cannot put a price on your long-term health.

A Safer Option
Make sure to select a lead abatement certified company that has all the regulations covered. They must follow strict procedures, and the technicians should be trained for on-site work and use appropriate PPE.

As for the process, a professional crew has adequate specialized equipment to do the job. To reduce the amount of lead dust present in the air, they utilize wet sanding or wet scraping techniques in order to keep the area moist. Safety gear is worn at all times during the process of lead paint removal. Then, the surface is prepared for encapsulation. In the end, the house is vacuumed to remove any remaining lead dust. Finally, the remediated areas are wiped down with water. A certified contractor will recoat the affected surfaces. It’s recommended to test the house for lead-based paint once more after the remediation procedure.

Alliance Environmental is a certified lead paint removal contractor who takes great caution for the operation and its workers. Every worker has the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment) for protection, daily exposure assessments, and yearly blood monitoring for the entire crew.

We strive to offer safe removal and containment of lead dust and site decontamination. The hazardous materials are lawfully disposed of to prevent increased contamination. In addition, we take the help of negative air pressure containments to keep the job sites safe for employees.

Lead paint can be dangerous. Homeowners should not neglect this grave situation and take practical actions to renovate/repair it. you are dealing with asbestos too, ask our professionals about both lead and asbestos removal.

At Alliance Environmental, we adhere to the health and safety standards to carry out lead abatement. For more information on dealing with lead paint, click here to visit our website.

Why Asbestos Abatement and Disposal are Best Left to the Pros

Asbestos abatement professionals work with a commitment of keeping people safe and provide healthy indoor environments. These experts stay aligned with all OSHA, EPA, Department of Transportation, and county-specific air quality district rules and regulations.

Proper handling of asbestos-containing materials is not only integral to the health of those working with it, it’s essential to the health of those around them who may also be impacted through contaminated air circulation, clothing, or even tools and equipment. The associated danger is so serious, it is the actual legal obligation for those working with asbestos to dispose of it properly.

The danger of asbestos
Asbestos contains fibrous minerals that break off, become airborne, and have major impacts on people’s health when they’re inhaled. Research has linked asbestos exposure to lung cancer and other diseases. Because of its heat resistance and structural integrity, asbestos was commonly used in the past for several building materials and household products. However, today the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warns those remodeling or demolishing older properties of the hazards associated with asbestos-containing products. The CDPH also regulates the packaging, transportation, and disposal of asbestos on these projects. In fact, when it comes to asbestos abatement and disposal, it’s typically best left to experienced professionals who have the expertise, training, tools, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to deal with the hazardous material effectively and safely.

It must be underscored that improper handling and disposal of asbestos puts both workers and the general public at risk for serious health complications and lung diseases, most of them incurable. There are massive health and legal responsibilities associated with asbestos abatement, including potential associated fines and penalties when regulations are violated. In light of this, when it comes to handling hazardous asbestos, building owners are encouraged and incentivized to hire asbestos abatement companies that follow state-mandated regulations and work to preserve public health. Due the carcinogenic properties associated with asbestos, these expert abatement professionals are trained and licensed in best practices around carefully working with these materials. In the case where asbestos is even suspected to be in a home or building’s materials, these professionals will conduct a thorough inspection and assessment of the property prior to starting any work. This way the home or building owner receives an expert opinion around how to handle the asbestos abatement project, as well as a reliable time and cost estimate for the project in order to avoid added costs and surprises. A proper consultation also ensures that the necessary permitting is more easily and quickly secured so the project can move smoothly forward.

Advantages of hiring an asbestos abatement company
Hiring a professional and trusted asbestos abatement company brings several key advantages for the home or building owner. The first is a well-prepared work area. Properly sealing off the area with plastic sheeting, including covering all necessary surfaces within it, can be a time and labor-intensive process for those not trained and experienced in doing so.

In addition, a professional service provider will have the proper negative air pressure units to prevent contamination from spreading into the air outside the area. During the asbestos abatement work period, these expert technicians also arrive equipped with the latest certified PPE including an N or P-100 respirator and protective clothing. These technicians know how to carefully disable the HVAC system in order to protect it and prevent any asbestos fibers from circulating into the air throughout the entire indoor space. Using commercial grade wet wipes, products, and HEPA vacuum cleaners, these professionals not only get the job done right, but they also leave it clean, dust-free, and safe at the end of the project to ensure the health of all the people who use and visit the space.

When the asbestos removal is complete, the project is far from finished. Asbestos abatement professionals must then safely and properly dispose of the asbestos-containing materials and waste products. The first part of that safe disposal lies in wetting down the asbestos-contaminated materials prior to removal. Next, it is to be double-bagged in plastic bags that meet state-mandated regulations. This means these materials are enclosed within a plastic, leak-free, sealed container that’s been properly labeled. Professional asbestos abatement service providers also know exactly which landfills have been approved and designated to take on asbestos waste, as well as the proper procedures to adhere to ensure the landfill can accept it when they show up.

Along with major demolition projects where asbestos-containing hazardous materials are a threat, comes the decontamination process in addition to safe disposal. Many professional asbestos abatement service providers will make use of decontamination units they have readily available. These enclosed systems are installed near the worksite for workers to remove any potentially contaminated clothes, shoes, and even tools they’ve used for the abatement project. Proper removal, disposal, and/or decontamination of all clothing, tools, and equipment used in an asbestos abatement project helps break the cycle of decontamination to keep workers, their families, and the general public safe from the serious health effects these fibers can effect on those who come in contact with them.

Remember, there are legal implications when it comes to asbestos
It’s also a good reminder to keep in mind the potential legal and regulatory consequences that surround improper asbestos removal and disposal. This is important when people consider the health of their loved ones and especially given the responsibility associated with public spaces, businesses, and rental properties. A legal ruling that improper asbestos removal and/or disposal has occurred can be devastating to the business and the person in charge of that decision-making. So, how can a home or business owner, or even a manager entrusted with the responsibility, be sure their asbestos abatement service provider can properly handle the job? Thanks to California’s Business and Professions Code, companies who advertise their asbestos removal and disposal services are prohibited from conducting business unless their technicians and the business as a whole qualify for the proper certification under California’s OSHA registration system.

The best asbestos abatement service providing companies are led by visionaries who take their responsibility to their customers and people in general extremely seriously. They ensure their crews adhere to the most stringent setup, decontamination, and asbestos disposal procedures that ensure they’re aligned with all OSHA, EPA, Department of Transportation, and county-specific air quality district rules and regulations. They’re also happy to show the people they serve proof of these certifications and compliance measures. Finally, these professionals have a genuine desire to help keep people safe and provide them the healthy indoor environments they not only deserve, but that play a major role in preserving their health.