Asbestos: Not Gone and Not Forgotten

Asbestos Risks for Building Owners and Contractors
Asbestos materials in buildings, and the debilitating diseases caused by exposure to fibers from those materials has flown under the radar for many years. Publicity about this deadly material has been so sparse that many people have been lulled into thinking that either there is no asbestos in their building or it is not a problem. This is a risky misconception for building owners as the regulations that control this dangerous material make building owners responsible for any violations, even if the infringements are caused by contractors.

The risks to building owners are further magnified by the fact that there is no statute of limitations on asbestos violations. If work that disturbed asbestos-containing materials was done without proper controls one or two years ago, and a complaint arises from an employee or occupant who thinks they were exposed, an investigation can proceed. In such a situation, the documentation related to the incident had better be airtight since citations can be written based on paperwork deficiencies as well as current site conditions.

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The Secret of Mold Analysis - Magnification Makes the Difference

The analysis of air and surface samples is a critical part of any mold investigation or remediation project. Nevertheless, many practitioners do not realize that analysis of spore trap samples currently is more of an art than a science. The scientific procedures of the analysis process are not very rigid, even for the most basic aspects of the work. With little strict guidance in the industry, the variation in sample results makes it seem as if each lab is offering its own perspective on the data. Much like multiple artists painting the same sunset, the results can be pretty startling when viewed side by side.

To accurately identify spores using light microscopy (i.e., using a regular microscope like those used in school biology classes), the analyst must consider size, shape, texture, septation, attachment scars and color of the objects seen through the lens. With all these characteristics to observe and interpret, it takes time to evaluate some spores, especially smaller types. During the analytical process, the microscopist needs to focus up and down on a particular field of view on the slide and use higher magnification to determine some of these characteristics.

While large fungal spore types are relatively easy to identify and count, small spore types are very difficult and time-consuming to quantify, particularly when there are heavy concentrations on the slide. Misidentification of small spores can occur if all six characteristics are not taken into consideration, leading to erroneous conclusions. For example, smaller round types of Cladosporium, ascospores and basidiospores can be misidentified as Aspergillus/Penicillium-like spores (or vice versa) if an analyst fails to carefully observe distinguishing characteristics due to time constraints or the use of too low a magnification.

Click here to read the complete article, originally printed in the Cleaning & Restoration magazine, published January 2013


30th Anniversary Throwback Thursday

As promised on our 30th Anniversary, here is our first blast from the past!   Kids these days are calling these posts Throwback Thursdays ...