Now Environmental Services https://www.nowenvironmental.com Now Environmental Services Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:56:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 VOCs and Cigarettes https://www.nowenvironmental.com/asbestos-testing-seattle/vocs-and-cigarettes/ Thu, 30 Nov 2017 22:54:25 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=1127 We talk a lot about asbestos at Now Environmental Services and at this point we all know how dangerous asbestos exposure can be. Asbestos generally can not be detected when it is inhaled and can cause all sorts of problems down the road. The microscopic fibers are known to lodge in the lining of the lungs and cause various forms of cancer. Thankfully much of the easily accessed asbestos has been removed from many of the places that we go. That being said, the danger of asbestos in older buildings is still a reality and comprehensive air monitoring is a good idea whenever there is a disturbance of the building. Of course asbestos is not the only air quality issue that can be present inside of your home. There are many indoor air quality issues that could be present, smoke you may realize but others are much more hidden.  

Smoke

In this day and age, not too many areas indoors offer a nice smoky haze that seemed to be so prevalent in the past. The health ramifications of smoking have drastically reduced the places that smokers are allowed to light up. In fact, many public buildings in this country are smoke free, of course it is not possible to prohibit someone from smoking in their own home and smoking can be a major cause of indoor air pollution. We all know the dangers of smoking and that of second hand smoke, but the addictive qualities of tobacco mean that many smokers tend to neglect the health ramifications of smoking indoors. Cigarette smoke contains a wide variety of nasty chemicals and can cause harm. While smoking indoors has increasingly become more of an oddity, second hand smoke is a major cause of indoor air pollution.

VOCs

VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds are increasingly coming under scrutiny for creating various health problems. The effects of breathing or touching these compounds can range from mild irritation to severe respiratory issues. VOCs are unfortunately everywhere as they are essentially the off-gassing of compounds being stored. Basically when you are storing a can of gas in your garage, the liquid is emitting small amounts of toxic particles into the air. Many times these harmful compounds are not known to the resident of the home because they cannot be detected unless indoor air quality testing is ordered.

Building Materials

Of course stored chemicals are not the only source of VOCs and many building materials are guilty of emitting compounds into the air. A big cause of VOCs when related to building materials is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is one of the major gasses that can cause problems in the home. The culprits are generally materials that you would never consider to be hazardous. A few of the largest offenders are fundamental building materials like carpet, insulation, and even plywood. That’s right, ordinary plywood is a major source of formaldehyde in the home. The reason is because of its construction. Plywood is made up of thin sheets of wood glued together at alternating angles. This gives plywood superior strength and durability. The only problem is that the glue that has historically been used would emit formaldehyde into the air. As for insulation, we are talking about the pink rolls of the stuff, and the glue that is used to attach it to the paper is what causes issues. Currently, you are able to buy insulation with adhesive that is VOC free and many building materials are following suit. The VOC option for clean building materials has created much safer indoor air quality in this country.

Testing Services

What do you do if you suspect that your home could be the victim of chemicals that are creating unsafe air quality in your home. Cigarette smoke of course, was used as an example of obvious compromised indoor air quality but VOCs are not generally easy to detect without comprehensive testing. At Now Environmental Services, we offer a full range of indoor air quality testing services. Performed by highly trained technicians whose goal it is to keep your family safe and free of irritating compounds. So, if you suspect that your air quality may be compromised, or would just like to sleep easier, give Now Environmental a call today.                                                                    

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Textured Ceiling Removal (Part Two) https://www.nowenvironmental.com/asbestos-testing-seattle/textured-ceiling-removal-part-two/ Wed, 27 Sep 2017 19:17:50 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=977 Previously we discussed the popcorn ceiling and the lineage that it shares with some of the most famous ceilings in history. Not that your popcorn ceiling is as ornate as the Sistine Chapel, but if your home ever had a smoke living it it, the color will be similar, as tobacco smoke turns the texture a toasted brown color. The color of tarnished gold greeting you when you come through the door is something that we are sure you will not miss. Before you decide to rip down that popcorn ceiling, it is important to have an environmental assessment done by NOW Environmental Services. The possibility of your popcorn ceiling containing asbestos in this day and age is pretty rare but there are thousands of homes still out there that have yet to have it removed.

Why Is There Still Asbestos in My Home?

You might wonder why the asbestos acoustical ceilings and floor tile still exist if the danger has been known for many years. It is because of the nature of asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally and is actually still mined today in parts of the world. The danger is known, but for all of its negative connotations there still are uses for asbestos today. Many countries do not have the same restrictions on asbestos as the U.S. but its use has slowly diminished due to the known health risks. Asbestos is made up of fibers of varying size. These fibers are characterized by their needle-like points and ability to be breathed in. This is where the toxicity to humans comes from. Once the asbestos fibers are disturbed they break into microfibers and can become scattered into the air, and can then be inhaled into the lungs. Once a sufficient amount of asbestos is inhaled, the microfibers then lodge themselves into the lungs and in large enough numbers, cause all sorts of health problems. The airborne nature of asbestos is why it is so dangerous but it is also why asbestos still exists in many buildings, it is completely harmless unless disturbed.

What Can Be Done

Now the fact that you may have asbestos laying around in your home can be somewhat nerve-racking. Removal of a popcorn ceiling is not a huge deal, but disposal of the asbestos contaminated material can be quite a hassle. Keep in mind that removing a popcorn ceiling that contains asbestos is not out of the realm of possibility of a homeowner but it still carries the risk of exposure. That being said, removing any asbestos materials, regardless of their origin is best performed by the professionals. There are a few ways that popcorn ceiling can be hidden or reinforced but none are a foolproof way of getting rid of the asbestos.

Sealing

A common way of dealing with an asbestos ceiling is known a encapsulating. This is a way of reducing the risk of disturbance by painting the ceiling with special materials and essentially sealing off the asbestos. Does it work? Well to a point—any time a popcorn ceiling is struck, pieces fall off and could release asbestos into the air.

Drywall

Many of those with asbestos ceilings simply elect to cover the old surface with drywall. This seals in the asbestos and the risk of release is physically blocked by a false ceiling.

Removal

Assuming that you have determined your ceiling is free from asbestos, popcorn ceiling removal is pretty easy, but extremely messy. You will need enough plastic to cover every surface that will need to be kept safe from the material. Make sure you cover everything and be sure to turn off your A/C or heater so the material is not blown around. Take a weed sprayer and fill it with warm water. Spray a small area and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. Now for the fun part, utilizing a paint scraper, slowly scrape off the popcorn texture onto the plastic. Now as you can imagine, if your ceiling is large this process can take a very long time. Then you will need to touch up the drywall on the ceiling and repaint. Overall the sweat equity that you put in will make for a much more appealing living space. If you are ready to get rid of your popcorn ceilings but don’t know if they contain asbestos, please give the experts at NOW Environmental Services a call, we can put your mind at ease.                     

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Textured Ceiling Removal (Part One, A History) https://www.nowenvironmental.com/asbestos-testing-seattle/textured-ceiling-removal-part-one-a-history/ Sun, 17 Sep 2017 16:43:48 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=975 We have talked at length about the wonderful substance that is textured or “popcorn” ceilings. Of course they have somewhat fallen out of style, but before you decide to remove that popcorn ceiling, particularly if your home was built before the mid-1980s, it is critical that your ceiling is tested for the presence of asbestos. While looking around on the internet it may seem like every textured ceiling is riddled with deadly asbestos, that is not always the case. Of course, the risk of asbestos exposure is always a possibility when working on an older home and the easiest way to ensure your safety is to have an indoor environmental assessment performed on your home. NOW Environmental Services has been serving the environmental testing needs of Seattle, Federal Way and Tacoma for over 25 years. We offer a wide variety of services from asbestos and mold testing to asbestos building inspector courses. Our training department is extremely respected in the asbestos removal community and we have trained thousands of remediation technicians and building inspectors. Aside from the exceptional training we offer, NOW Environmental is a full service testing facility and we can help you ensure that your home is asbestos free.

The Ceiling

Way back in antiquity, the ceiling was simply a way to keep the rain off, and unless the roof/ceiling was made from solid stone, not many have survived. Early ceilings were pretty much made of wood and as you can immagine, sealing technology was not up to current standards. The renaissance period is known for a opulent ceilings that, in their own right, are exceptional works of art. The Sistine Chapel, Versailles and many more opulent ceilings of the period are famous for their beauty. Away from Europe the mosques of the islamic world are extremely ornate and intensely beautiful. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem was completed almost a thousand years before the renaissance and remains today one of the most gorgeous representations of islamic architecture. As time went on the decorative use of the ceiling fell by the wayside, that is until the early 1900s.

Textured Ceiling

Asbestos was very well known as a fireproof material by the time acoustical ceilings came into fashion. The original purpose for textured ceilings was simply to cover up imperfections. Before drywall, both ceilings and walls inside of a home were made of slats of wood with plaster over the top. Texturing was an effective way to cover up the small imperfections involved with the process. As texturing evolved into almost an art form in itself, the materials used moved from wood slats to drywall. With the advent of drywall, the challenge became hiding tape, nails and seams, not much different than using boards but due to the weight of drywall a lighter weight substance needed to be utilized. Thus, the popcorn ceiling was born.

Fire Resistant Ceiling

The fire resistant properties of asbestos were well known long before acoustical ceiling became popular. During the 1930s through the 1980s asbestos was used in many building materials, everything from flooring to roofing contained asbestos. After the Clean Air Act of 1978 the use of asbestos in ceiling covering was not allowed. Of course simply because that was the law does not mean that every contractor followed it to the letter. A contractor who buys materials is generally going to utilize what they have available due to the fact that it is extremely expensive and not good for business to throw away inventory. Needless to say, simply because a law was passed, the use of asbestos ceiling texture was discontinued forever, it was probably utilized for many years after the Clean Air Act. Generally when these types of situations occur, the government allows for the supplies to run out without penalty to the applicators, and the main purpose is to curb the production. Regardless, if a home has a popcorn ceiling, removal is one of the most desirable upgrades to the home. The process is extremely easy but also very time consuming. Next time we will discuss the process of how to remove your popcorn ceiling. Of course, the the removal process should begin with a call to NOW Environmental Services for comprehensive testing of the material for asbestos. Contact us today with any questions you may have about popcorn ceiling removal.                          

                               

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Renovations and Restorations – Know What You Are Dealing With https://www.nowenvironmental.com/asbestos-testing-seattle/renovations-and-restorations-know-what-you-are-dealing-with/ Wed, 06 Sep 2017 19:37:26 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=972 This time of year we begin to think of the upcoming winter and the typical list of projects that should be done before the first frost. Fall is the ideal time to make the home improvements that can carry you through the winter and into next year with the confidence to know that everything is correct. A home is basically a living thing that is cared for by those that live within its walls. Every so often a home needs to have some care, home care is often a complex mixture of renovation, repairs and upgrades. Owning a home can sometimes feel like a full time job, particularly if the home is older. The variables that come into play with older homes can be very serious if you do not know what you are dealing with. Let’s say that you have a mid or early 20th century home that is pretty much original, save for a couple layers of paint. You have been kicking around the idea of renovating the home but are unsure about the added cost of material disposal due to the fact that they may contain lead, asbestos and many other dangerous substances.

Restoration or Renovation?

As you may know from watching the excessive number of home renovation shows on TV, renovations are easy and completed within a set period of time, usually with no surprises or setbacks, right? Wrong. Regardless of whether you are doing a renovation or restoration on your home, you are bound to have some surprises. Unless you are doing a large scale renovation where you gut the interior of the home and start from scratch, many original materials will remain and that means the potential for exposure will increase the deeper you get. First, however, you need to consider to what degree your home improvement project is going to be. A typical renovation is going to entail removing the flooring, adding paint to the walls, installing new cabinets and appliances. A restoration is going to be a bit more involved as this includes a much more comprehensive form of renovation. Many times elements of the home are replaced with new materials and completely put back to the original configuration. Of course a period correct restoration will always have elements of modernity and the materials will be upgraded. Renovation is generally reserved for the outside of the home while restoration is typical of what homeowners do with the outside of the house.

Kitchen Renovation

To be fair, a kitchen is almost always remodeled, and not generally restored to its original configuration. In every kitchen renovation the main goal is to make it better and more functional. Not many owners of an early 70s home would want the same appliances that came with the house. The most common upgrades for the kitchen are the appliances, flooring, cabinets and countertops. Of course adding design elements is always a good idea when renovating the kitchen. Features like creative storage, skylights and even a built-in breakfast nook can add value to your kitchen. Appliances are the holy grail of kitchen renovation. These days, we can be connected with almost every appliance in our kitchen through our smart phones, whether that is a good idea or not, we will let you decide. Flooring is another area that can truly make your kitchen stand out, unless you like the yellow linoleum that is currently on the floor. The old, hardwood flooring that cracked and warped with every little temperature change is long gone. Now there are engineered wood flooring options that are ideal for a kitchen environment.

Bathroom Renovation

Now the bathroom, depending on the age of your home may be something that you may want to keep as original. If you have an old Victorian with a pedestal sink and a clawfoot bathtub, keeping your bathroom the same might be desirable. Of course, bathrooms that vintage never really survived the 1950s and the modern revolution. Bathrooms are just as exciting to remodel as kitchens and although they do not hold the same characteristic of bringing everyone together, it is a distinctly personal room. You can find out all sorts of information about someone, just by using their bathroom, and no we are not talking snooping through the medicine cabinet. As simple as a bathroom appears, technology has still invaded the space, to the point that there is even a bluetooth controlled toilet. That’s right, next time you eat too many Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, you can have a seat surrounded by ambient lighting and a dedicated playlist emanating from the speakers. It will set you back more than a few bucks but isn’t it worth the comfort of a fully remote controlled toilet, it is clearly the direction we are headed.

Exterior Renovation/Restoration

Generally the outside of a home is the portion that announces the vintage of construction. Unless there has been a bunch of major changes the home can be placed in a certain era. For example a Tudor home has unique embellishments that make it recognizable from the outside. This is what many homeowners attempt to preserve and it is probably one of the reasons why they bought the home in the first place. With the abundance of new materials that closely resemble the originals, it is very easy to get the same feel. Even if a home is old it does not need to look like it, if your home is aging and has seen better days many times the outside could use some sprucing up. An old home that has a fresh coat of paint, attractive landscaping and a whimsically painted door is sure to exude curb appeal.

Convenient Testing

At this stage of the game it is difficult to find a home that has the original paint, drywall, flooring and pipes from the days when asbestos and lead were common building materials. Prior to the 1980s asbestos was utilized in many aspects of construction; the most common being flooring and ceiling materials. The old “popcorn” ceilings from the 1970s may be impregnated with asbestos. Early linoleum flooring generally contains asbestos and toxic adhesives. Although the chances are slim that any has survived to 2017, many types of early 20th century roofing was asbestos based. The paint that covered both the interior and exterior of many homes was made of lead. Lead paint was so common because lead created a paint that not only performed well, but was extremely durable. These are all reasons why it is imperative to contact the testing specialists at NOW Environmental Services. If you are unsure of what you will be exposing you and your family to when performing a restoration or renovation we offer both onsite and home testing kits for lead, asbestos and indoor air quality. Worried the testing will take too long? No problem—we can expedite the procedure and have an answer for you within 24 hours. We can then help with the next steps of your project in order to make sure that the construction is not disturbing asbestos that weren’t apparent before the work started. If you have any questions concerning the presence of lead or asbestos in your home please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email, your health is important to us!        

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Rebuilding after a Flood https://www.nowenvironmental.com/mold-testing-seattle/rebuilding-after-a-flood/ Fri, 01 Sep 2017 21:52:11 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=967 A major issue that is about to be addressed in the media is mold. This is due to the hurricane in Houston with estimates as high as 40 thousand homes destroyed the area, there is going to be a lot of mold to deal with. Mold will grow quickly once the waters recede and the drywall is exposed. This will more than likely be an incredibly devastating time for those affected by the floods. Not just because of the damage of property and the loss of life that has hit so close to home but rather the psychological damage that will be with the victims for a very long time.

The Aftermath

Regardless of how a flood happens, the effects can create much more than mold, including severe property damage. If sentimental items are damaged there is really no way to bring them back, fortunately the structure itself is generally ok after a moderate flood. The issue that you will deal with initially is the water damage. Water, for all of its positive characteristics, is excellent at destroying a home. One of the best natural solvents on the planet, water will infiltrate everything and cause major damage. If left to sit on surfaces, water will eventually cause damage, even to metal.

The Flood

Regardless of whether your flood is caused by a pipe that burst while you were on vacation or a spring rainstorm that dumps way too much water into your neighborhood, it is critical to act quickly. In a flood situation mold and bacteria will grow very quickly on the walls if nothing is done right away. Of course you are at the mercy of the waters if the flood is natural and will need to wait until the waters recede. This is why the homes sustained so much damage in Houston, the waters have not fully receded from the homes yet. Even after the water lowers, the area might not be safe due to foundation damage and saturated ground. But if your home is a victim of a flood that recedes quickly, it is possible to save the structure from mold damage. Once the mold takes hold it is incredibly difficult to remove and will entail replacing drywall.

Where does the mold come from?

Well, the answer is simple: mold is everywhere. We breathe it in, we eat it with every meal and we drink it with our water. What mold needs to grow is water and water from a flood is the perfect medium for mold to spread in a home that has had a flood. Mold also thrives in environments that are stagnant and lack proper ventilation. If left unchecked, a home that has sustained very little water damage can be uninhabitable simply due to the mold that was encouraged to grow by the optimum conditions.

What Happens Now?

When you have had a flood it is a pretty traumatic experience. The environmental experts at NOW Environmental services can test your home and make sure that it is safe following mold remediation. The most important thing to remember is that indoor mold can be very dangerous and it is critical that you have follow up testing done in order to make absolutely sure that the mold has been eradicated. So if you have been the victim of a flood please give us a call right away and we will help you through the options during this difficult time. We take great pride in servicing our neighbors in the Seattle area and we want you to know that when disaster strikes, NOW Environmental Services will be there for you.     

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After Asbestos https://www.nowenvironmental.com/asbestos-testing-seattle/after-asbestos/ Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:16:25 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=964 The threat of asbestos exposure is still a very real possibility for not just homeowners but businesses as well. As we have discussed before, asbestos is a substance that was very widespread in the previous century to create flame resistant building materials. Although the instances of fires drastically decreased due to utilizing asbestos in products such as siding, shingles, and flooring, the dangers came to light that asbestos was the leading cause of certain types of cancers. This led to a shift in the production of building materials and an active strategy to eliminate asbestos. The beauty of asbestos is its extreme effectiveness as an insulator and for flame resistance. When it became apparent that asbestos should be eliminated, alternatives needed to be found.

Asbestos Alternatives

Asbestos, although labor intensive to produce, was extraordinarily widespread and there was no reason to produce a synthetic form of asbestos. In the 1970s, industry kicked into high gear to try and create a material as effective as asbestos; like most commercial products developed in the mid to late 20th century are based entirely on synthetic plastics. One big contributor to asbestos in a home or business was pipe insulation, and the development of cellulose insulation has retained the effectiveness of asbestos with none of the risks. An interesting development is in the crack sealing portion of what once was ruled by asbestos. Caulking and crack sealing materials were once made of asbestos and it was a huge contributor to the issues that arose from asbestos. Foundations were sealed with asbestos, windows were caulked with it, even bathtubs and sinks were sealed with asbestos based materials. Surprisingly, crack sealant has been developed with natural products, and even includes flour from common sources like wheat and rice.

If you suspect that your home or business may have asbestos present, NOW Environmental Services is your local asbestos mold and lead testing center. Please give us a call for more information about our testing services.               

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Heavy Metal – Lead In Your Home https://www.nowenvironmental.com/asbestos-testing-seattle/heavy-metal-lead-in-your-home/ Wed, 31 May 2017 20:08:00 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=938 We previously explored the scourge of the 21st century home buyer, acoustical, (or popcorn) ceiling texture. The substance that can influence a potential homebuyer for no other reason than it severely dates the home. The truth is that many popcorn ceilings contain asbestos and exposure can lead to lung problems and cancer. Homes of the popcorn ceiling era also may be hiding much more than a bat in the attic, the danger lies in the substance lead. Essentially if you have a home built pre-1980 you are at risk for cancer, lead poisoning and all sorts of other ailments simply because of the materials that we were used back then. Now, in light of that fatalistic view of older homes, removing and/or mitigating the danger is fairly easy, but first, you need to know what you are dealing with. At NOW Environmental Services we are your local consulting and compliance contractor for indoor air quality. We test your home for contaminants such as mold, lead, and asbestos. We are proud to serve the King County area and cherish the opportunity to make the lives of others better.

Lead Through History

Lead is classified as a heavy metal in chemistry and has been utilized for thousands of years due to its ease of manipulation. Lead, being fairly soft, is easy to work with and form, which led to thousands of uses over the centuries. Romans made pipes, the Chinese used it as a contraceptive, and the Europeans used it for stained glass windows. Of course, its uses were much more widespread than this, but being as though it is naturally occurring, it is a metal that was readily available throughout history. Around the dawn of the 20th century, doctors began to look much more critically at what was perceived as lead poisoning, particularly in victims who engaged in trades where lead was prominent. Regardless of the dangers, lead continued to be used into the present day. Items like lead pipes, batteries, bullets and gasoline all contained lead in high concentrations.

The Next Chapter, Lead Paint

During the 1970s, lead was being phased out of pretty much everything due to the destructive effects it has on the human body. Gasoline was one of the testaments to lead’s diverse uses, and it prevented more primitive engines from pre-detonation. Leaded gas was phased out and replaced by more effective engineering and better fuel. Lead pipes are still an issue in many parts of the country and have come to light recently due to the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Other than lead pipes, lead paint is a major issue in homes before 1980.                 

Lead paint has been around for thousands of years and was finally linked to health issues about a hundred years ago. Due to the vibrant colors and durability of the paint it was widely used for painting homes, inside and out. The dangers of lead paint are particularly enhanced in children as lead has a sweet taste which encourages young children to ingest the paint chips and put toys painted with lead paint in their mouths.  

Much like asbestos, lead is dangerous when it is introduced into the air. Lead causes massive organ issues and even brain damage. The danger when children are exposed to lead is that it impairs their development and the effects are life long. Lead can accumulate over time and cause compounded damage, particularly if the exposure is unknown.

What Can Be Done?

The issue with lead paint is, rarely older buildings are stripped of existing paint and many times lead paint is hiding underneath newer paint. This can create obvious issues for the homeowner. At NOW Environmental Services we offer comprehensive, lead and asbestos testing and analysis. If you feel like your home is at risk for lead contamination, whether through water, paint or dust, our survey will pinpoint the risk areas and we can recommend the next course of action. All of our lead testing is done by certified lead inspectors to ensure accurate results. We also offer an extremely convenient sample drop off program. Our laboratory analysts can guide you through the sample process, and in many cases your sample can be analyzed within four hours of drop off. Take the steps to keep your family safe; if your home was built before 1978 it is advisable to have a complete lead and asbestos test done on your home. Serving the Puget Sound and Seattle area, we are never more than a phone call away and our telephone consultations are always free. So take advantage of the vast knowledge available and give us a call if you feel you need lead or asbestos testing. At NOW Environmental Services we care about the health and wellbeing of our clients. Take the first step in preventing damage to your health from lead and contact us today.

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The Dreaded Popcorn Ceiling https://www.nowenvironmental.com/asbestos-testing-seattle/the-dreaded-popcorn-ceiling/ Tue, 30 May 2017 19:42:13 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=912 As with the fickle nature of our society, trends come and go. One of the great mysteries of the 20th century is the ubiquitous popcorn ceiling. Is it a ceiling? Is it supposed to be more natural looking? A throwback to when humans lived in caves perhaps? Whatever it is, popcorn ceilings were very popular through a major portion of the 20th century. At NOW Environmental Services we want to provide you with relevant information about substances that may be present in your home, such as mold, lead, radon and formaldehyde; in the case of popcorn ceilings, the concern is asbestos. At NOW Environmental we offer the most comprehensive testing solutions for a wide variety of indoor air quality issues. Additionally, we offer training classes from simple awareness seminars, CPR/First aid and even AHERA Certifications. Whether you own an asbestos disposal business or simply have a mold problem in your basement, NOW Environmental has services to fit your needs.  

The Origins of Popcorn Ceilings

In the old days, building technology dictated that plaster was used to cover the walls and ceiling. Many of the walls were built, not of drywall, but slats of thin boards and plaster was applied to the finished walls and ceiling. As time went on and the use of gypsum drywall become much more cost effective, plaster fell out of favor due to the cost. Enter popcorn ceilings. As with many other building advancements, popcorn ceilings caught on due to the ease of application, sound deadening benefits and the ability to cover mistakes. The real reason for utilizing popcorn ceiling texture varies by which source you ask. Some say that the construction industry began relying heavily on the texture as a crutch to save time during the build. Basically, a spray-on textured ceiling is much more time efficient than a traditional finish utilizing taping and texturing. One of the more popular answers is that it cuts down on ambient noise, making for a much quieter home, particularly in the bed rooms and hallway where popcorn ceiling was most often utilized.

As bad as popcorn ceilings look, they can be even more dangerous, particularly if the home was built before the 1990s. Pre-1970s homes more than likely contain asbestos in the popcorn ceiling texture. Due to the ban on asbestos in the ‘70s, popcorn texture was converted to a styrofoam base but when the ban took effect there was obviously a surplus of materials and using these materials was still allowed. Meaning that many homes well into the ‘80s still had asbestos included in the popcorn ceiling texture.

Getting Rid of The Popcorn Monstrosity

Unfortunately, getting rid of popcorn ceilings can be a costly endeavor, particularly if the texture contains asbestos. NOW Environmental offers testing for asbestos in your popcorn ceilings. Please contact us before you hire a contractor or attempt to remove the texture yourself.

The only way to remove the popcorn ceiling is to scrape. Techniques may vary, but they all include a massive amount of scraping, and you can probably imagine that this creates a large mess if not contained. Herein lies the problem with scraping your popcorn ceiling off yourself; if your ceiling contains asbestos introducing the fibers into the air is when it becomes dangerous. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they lodge in the lungs and can cause diseases such as mesothelioma. Of course there are many ways to avoid removing the popcorn texture and saving the expense and hassle of scraping the ceiling. Asbestos is not thought to be dangerous if it is not introduced into the air and many companies are able to seal up the ceiling, rendering the asbestos, tainted texture inert. The next, most common way to cover up the asbestos popcorn texture is to mount a new ceiling right to the old one. One technique is to fit acoustical tiles directly onto the ceiling, another is framing out the ceiling and drywalling it in. Some homeowners have simply elected to leave their asbestos ceiling and keep their home in original condition. The problem is, one never knows when asbestos will be introduced into the air. Whatever your feelings about popcorn ceiling it is best to have your home tested for indoor air quality by the experts at NOW Environmental Services. We offer complete asbestos surveys and analysis, utilizing AHERA certified inspectors; we also offer mail-in testing kits for a super easy, noninvasive results, generally within a few weeks.     

Contact us today for more information, whether you need training or simply testing we are your local Puget Sound consulting and compliance firm. Stay tuned until next time when we discuss lead in homes. Lead can be more common than you think and is an issue that should be addressed as soon as possible, particularly with small children. Feel free to contact us 24/7 for any asbestos related issue and until next time, breathe easy!

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5 Critical Tests for Your Home https://www.nowenvironmental.com/asbestos-testing/5-critical-tests-for-your-home/ Sun, 28 May 2017 21:22:57 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=879 Our homes are supposed to be a sanctuary, a place where we can escape from the madness of the modern world. A place where we can relax with our loved ones, and enjoy some degree of safety. But we might not be as safe as we think we are at home, and that’s why environmental consulting can be so important.

We get it, though. There are those out there that don’t want to spend the money. They might think that, unless you live next door to a toxic waste dump, everything is just fine. Understandable, but there are potential hazards that can affect you and your loved ones. Read on for 5 tests we strongly recommend having performed in your home.

  1. For homes built between the 1940’s and the 1970’s, many building materials were made from asbestos. This mineral was found to be naturally fire resistant, and was quickly used for insulation, siding, and inside of popcorn ceilings. But a linkage was found between asbestos and increased rates of cancer and mesothelioma. Certified asbestos inspectors are able to test the air quality of a home to determine if an issue exists.
  2. Mold can develop within a house due to high amounts of moisture. This can be a side-effect of catastrophic water damage, an undetected leak, or insufficient ventilation. Excessive exposure to mold spores can cause respiratory issues and allergic reactions, and mold itself can do long-term damage to the structure of your home. Sometimes mold can be easy to find, particularly due to its distinctive and unpleasant odor. But if mold begins growing behind walls or underneath carpets and floors, it can be impossible to detect unless a professional is called in.
  3. For decades, lead was a common ingredient in house paints. It’s highly toxic, and in 1978, the federal government passed legislation restricting its use. However, many houses painted prior to 1978 have lead-based paint. If the paint is accidentally ingested, it can cause severe health problems like brain disorders and damage to the nervous system. With lead paint testing, the paint is initially inspected visually, then samples are taken and specialized equipment is used for more in-depth analysis.
  4. For those who receive their water from a well, periodic testing of the water quality is critical to check the cleanliness and identify any pollutants. Water can become contaminated by arsenic, which can damage the circulatory system, nitrate, which can be harmful to the health of infants, and bacteria, which can spread pathogenic diseases. Water treatment specialists can accurately assess the quality of the water and detect any contaminants.
  5. When uranium decomposes within soil, rock, or water, the gas radon is released. On the one hand, it’s not an issue if it is released outside since it gets quickly diluted by fresh air. On the other hand, if radon is released indoors, particularly during winter when doors and windows are closed, there can be problems. Radon gas is viewed as one of the leading causes of lung cancer, and it has been estimated that approximately 1 in 15 homes has elevated levels of the gas.
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Plants As Air Purifiers https://www.nowenvironmental.com/mold-testing-seattle/plants-as-air-purifiers/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 13:29:49 +0000 https://www.nowenvironmental.com/?p=890 Plants are the quintessential equalizer for our environment. They are a bachelor’s ideal pet. They only need water and a little sunshine and they will thrive. They can’t run away and they don’t have separation anxiety. The plant is the perfect decoration and it makes you feel like you are taking care of something bigger than yourself. Plants also are natural pollution eliminators and that may be the best reason to brush up on your horticulture skills. At NOW Environmental Services, the core of our business is indoor air quality and we can help you identify the issues that may be lurking in your home. Toxic chemicals like benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde may be present and making you sick, not to mention mold that may be present as well. We offer testing and advice about dealing with compromised indoor air quality. We offer a wide range of testing services that can identify a multitude of indoor air pollutants, our mold testing can even be done with our exclusive home test kits. A great value, our kits allow you to receive results in 24 hours, and are super easy to use.

Mold Testing

Our mold and indoor air quality services are available to both residential and commercial buildings. It may seem like the air quality in your home or business is not entirely under your control because most of the sources are due to building materials or hidden dangers like mold. Formaldehyde in particular, is one of the substances that has gotten a lot of attention due to its widespread use in building materials. Basically, the adhesive that is used, contains formaldehyde. Things like insulation, particleboard, and even carpet, all contain adhesives that will off gas formaldehyde. The levels are generally not severe enough to cause concern but who really wants to be inhaling formaldehyde? So what can be done? At NOW Environmental Services we can advise the proper way to eliminate the dangers of indoor pollutants, like formaldehyde.

The Green Solution

You may be wondering what, exactly you can do on a daily basis to combat the dangers of poor indoor air quality. The answer is simple, plants. Keeping the right houseplants can actually improve the air quality in your home, how much easier can it get? Keep in mind, that if your indoor air quality is substandard already, plants will probably not remove all of the harmful toxins in the air. Plants, however are excellent at providing clean air to breathe in your home. These plants are not necessarily anything special, but common houseplants that will not only make your home look better but you will breathe easier.

The Peace Lily

The peace lily is what can be considered a super plant. It is a truly remarkable air cleaning plant,that filters out formaldehyde and many other nasty, toxic gasses. The best part of the peace lily is the fact that it is relatively low maintenance and can thrive in lower light and do not need to be watered as often. The downside is that, peace lilies are hazardous to humans and pets when eaten so if you have kids or pets it is a good idea to either not keep peace lilies or keep them out of reach.

Chrysanthemum

This common, beautiful flower is an amazing air cleaner. The care is much more extensive than the peace lily as you need to water it on a regular basis, still not too difficult. The peace lily and chrysanthemum are both extremely effective air cleaners and should be considered for any home if only for the air scrubbing qualities.

Aloe Vera

This miracle succulent is not only used as a traditional medicine and an ointment. It is also a fact that the aloe plant is effective at clearing toxins out of the air, including formaldehyde.

Indoor air quality can be greatly improved by keeping houseplants. The building industry is taking more and more steps to eliminate toxic compounds from building materials. That does not change the fact that these materials have been used for many years and can be present in your home. Give NOW Environmental Services a call and rest easy knowing the air is safe in your home or office.          

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