I’m Dreaming of a White…. Asbestos?

  As we have discussed in previous blog posts, asbestos is a versatile substance. Although it is typically only thought of being used in building materials, its usage eventually branched out to Hollywood. Due to the texture and pale color of chrysotile, a common form of asbestos, it was sometimes used as a snow substitute

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What’s in House Dust?

House dust can contain many different particles and contaminants.  The type of dust and the composition can vary depending on climate, region, the number of occupants, and the activities performed in the space.  Researchers estimate that one-third of dust originates from indoor sources such as fabric fibers, human skin cells, animal fur, decomposing insects, food

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Foreclosures And Hidden Mold

A funny thing happened during a recent inspection.  The client had purchased a home roughly four years ago.  She was concerned when a visiting relative complained of having symptoms of her mold allergy while in the property.  The client called a mold company to come in and do air testing.  Picture her shock when she

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Questions From The Field

    During one of my recent inspections, a client presented me a list of questions after the assessment. I often encounter these questions in the field, so I picked out some of the best questions and I am providing the answers below. Q1. Is everything in a room where mold spores are present assumed

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Mold Testing In Winter

Winter brings a unique situation for environmental consultants. With the colder weather and snow cover on the ground that comes with winter in Chicago, there are usually very low outdoor mold levels. Occasionally we can even see outdoor air samples that have no spores present. If you recall from my last blog post on interpreting

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Fundamentals of Mold Remediation

My new book, “Fundamentals of Mold Remediation“, was published this week.  Over the past few years, I have been collecting my thoughts from designing and evaluating countless mold remediation projects.  I have seen some mold projects done right, and many more projects done wrong.   There are a number of guidelines and standards on mold

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Patio Doors That Make You Weep

Several of our clients have experienced water intrusion around sliding glass doors.  There is a mixed bag of flashing problems that can cause water intrusion.  Flashing materials, weep holes, and weep ropes are used to drain water that gets behind the masonry.   In this image, the black material beneath the vertical bricks is the flashing

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Is October “Mold Season” in Chicago?

“This is the time of year for mold around Chicago.” This isn’t a quote from an allergist, but rather Dusty Baker, the manager of the Washington Nationals (and past Cubs manager).  He made this statement at a press conference after game 4 of the NLDS baseball playoffs, which was postponed due to rain. This was

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It Can Happen To Me

I have been living in my home for a number of years now and really don’t have any reason to go up in my attic.  I would need to get a ladder out and set it up in the middle of my hallway and access the attic through a small door in the ceiling.  But

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ERMI Testing Vs. Air Samples

Very often we receive calls from very concerned people that need help determining if they need an Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) test or not.  The range of knowledge in the general public for this type of test varies.  In this post, I will highlight a few points to keep in mind when deciding on

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Featured Asbestos – Chrysotile

    Did you know that there are different types of asbestos?  There are six different minerals that we collectively call “asbestos”.   Chrysotile is the most commonly found mineral in asbestos-containing materials. According to OSHA, Chrysotile makes up 95% of the asbestos found in asbestos-containing materials in the United States. Chrysotile fibers are typically

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Microbiomes, Buildings, and Human Health

An informative report was published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report highlights how a building can influence changes in the microbiology inside the building which can impact human health.  In this blog post, I summarize some of the key points from the consensus study report.   It may be helpful

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Bio-Contaminants in Water-Damaged Buildings

[The following is a chapter I submitted for a workshop on water damage, with a target audience of property managers.  It is a good primer on the contaminants found during water damage.]   Microorganisms are all around us.  In fact, they are in and on our bodies as well!  The vast majority of these organisms

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Vermiculite and Asbestos

  You may have come across something called “vermiculite” in potting soil or in attic insulation.  Why is it often associated with asbestos? Vermiculite is a mineral that appears in a pebble-like form. It is often gray, silver, and gold in color and can shimmer in light. Because of its insulating properties and versatility, vermiculite

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Mold Clearance Testing

One of the key parts of an effective mold remediation project is one that is often overlooked. “Post remediation verification” (PRV), or “clearance” is the process that evaluates the performance of a mold remediation project. This step should always be done by an unaffiliated, third-party testing company to assure an unbiased assessment. This assessment is

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