The presence of asbestos, lead, and mold can pose a serious threat to your building and its inhabitants. Exposure to asbestos can cause long-term health problems, such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Inhaling or ingesting lead dust can cause neurological issues and damage to the nervous system, stomach, and kidneys. In addition, exposure to mold can cause allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
If left to spread, mold can also cause damage to the building itself, which can further endanger the safety of the people who work or live inside. Because of these threats, it’s a good idea to have asbestos, lead, and mold surveys to ensure your facilities are free of these hazardous materials. In some cases, these surveys are even required by law.
What is an Asbestos Survey?
An asbestos survey is a professional search for asbestos containing materials (ACM) that identifies the type of material, location, and extent, or quantity. Asbestos can be found in flooring, roofing, drywall, insulation, siding, other building materials and in walls, and attics . Because most ACMs only contain a small amount of asbestos, they’re not always easy to locate or identify with a simple visual inspection. However, even a small amount of asbestos can be hazardous. Because of this, an asbestos expert (inspector) should perform the survey, and professional sampling and laboratory testing is often required.
What is a Lead Survey?
Building owners, managers, and potential buyers use lead surveys to check for the presence of lead-based paint on their premises. Lead-based paint was widely used in both residential and commercial buildings prior to the 1980s, so if your building was constructed before then, there’s a good chance it contains lead paint. While there are some telltale signs of lead-based paint (cracking and wrinkling, for example), the only way to know for sure is to have it professionally tested.
What is a Mold Survey?
A mold survey (or mold inspection) checks for the presence of mold in or around your building. It may include a visual inspection, moisture mapping, air sampling, and/or surface sampling. Once collected, samples are sent to a laboratory for testing. If left unchecked, mold can threaten the integrity of your building’s structure and pose a threat to the people who work or live there. That’s why it’s important to have a professional survey done if you suspect your property has mold.
5 Reasons to Get Asbestos, Lead, and Mold Surveys
Finding out you have asbestos, mold, or lead-based paint in your building is never fun, but it’s better to know now than to let the problem fester and potentially cause problems down the line. Here are 5 reasons to have professional asbestos, lead, and mold surveys done sooner rather than later:
1. To Protect People’s Health
Mold, lead, and asbestos can all cause health problems, especially when disturbed by renovation, demolition, or construction. Lead and asbestos are both likely to be present in older buildings, while mold can grow just about anywhere there’s moisture. It’s never worth risking the health and well-being of the people who work or live inside your building, so it’s a good idea to get surveys to ensure people’s safety.
2. To Prevent Damage to Your Building
When mold starts to take hold in an indoor environment, it often spreads within the substrate of damp or moist building materials, such as wood, drywall, and carpeting. Over time, mold can threaten the structural integrity of your building, so it’s important to address it as soon as you know it’s there and take measures to prevent it. Because it typically grows in dark, moist, poorly-ventilated areas, mold can be hard to spot. That’s why it’s a good idea to have mold inspections on a regular basis.
3. To Protect Against Lawsuits
Obviously, protecting the health and safety of your workers and anyone else who enters your building is your number one priority. However, another (related) reason to check for the presence of hazardous materials like asbestos, mold, and lead is to avoid potential lawsuits that could arise from someone being exposed to them on your property. Particularly if you’re planning on remodeling and potentially disrupting building materials, getting a survey beforehand is important to protect everyone’s health.
4. To Avoid Costly Repairs
It’s never a good idea to postpone finding out about something that could pose a serious and costly threat to your building. In some cases, waiting could make the situation far worse, and this is particularly true in the case of mold. Since mold can grow and spread, potentially causing structural damage, and doesn’t sit dormant when untouched (like lead paint and asbestos), you may be looking at major repairs if you put off an inspection for too long.
5. To Comply With the Law
In some cases, you may be required by law to have surveys done. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires local educational agencies to inspect school buildings for ACM and to develop asbestos management plans. The EPA also requires firms and individuals engaged in lead renovation, repair, and painting (RRP) activities to be EPA-certified and trained in safe practices. Also, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations for worker protection when impacting hazardous materials. In addition to these and other federal regulations, states and local governments may also have regulations to protect people’s safety.
How Often Should you Get Surveys?
For asbestos and lead, you typically only need to get surveys for these materials performed once. You may also decide to get additional testing done if you’re planning to repaint or do any remodeling, to ensure that all the hazardous materials were identified during the initial survey.
When it comes to mold, the frequency at which you should get surveys done is dependent upon a number of factors. The following circumstances often warrant a mold inspection:
- Someone smells or sees mold.
- People are exhibiting symptoms associated with mold exposure.
- You’ve had leaks or flooding.
- You’ve recently had mold remediation and want to confirm that the problem has been resolved.
Professional Asbestos, Lead, and Mold Surveys in Portland and Beyond
JSE Labs is a trusted provider of environmental consulting, surveys, and analysis for government agencies, commercial buildings, health institutions, schools, and research facilities. Our decades of experience and state-of-the-art laboratory allow us to provide unmatched expertise, accuracy, and guidance to our partners.
If you’re in need of environmental consulting or require a mold, lead, or asbestos survey, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to working with you.
Lisa started in the industrial hygiene and environmental industry in 1992 as an asbestos microscopist and began performing building inspections for asbestos, lead paint, and other hazards in 1994.
“This career has been an amazing experience, traveling for work to perform inspections both locally and abroad to locations such as Hawaii and Germany. My real love however is being in the laboratory and assisting our wonderful clients.”