Tales from the Inspector: Environmental Horror Stories

House in Woods

Halloween season is finally upon us again. This is the season of haunted houses, horror films, and spooky costumes. While we attribute horror stories with supernatural entities such as vampires, werewolves, or ghosts; there are many more realistic scenarios that can generate equal amounts of terror. These are environmental issues in properties. In this blog, I will be retelling true environmental horror stories that I have encountered throughout my career. 

Chapter 1: What is in the Dust?

Once upon a time, there was a condo building undergoing extensive renovations. During the process, a tenant noticed that dust from the renovation seemed to constantly build up on the floor and furniture and was also observed in the common areas. Concerned, the tenant reached out to the building manager who reassured them that it was simply construction dust and there was nothing to be concerned with. The tenant attempted the clean up the dust but was also concerned with the crystal needles in the HVAC register vent in the hallway. The tenant reached out to Indoor Science to test the spaces to see what the dust was actually composed of. The results from our testing showed that the “harmless” construction dust was actually composed of high levels lead and asbestos. The crystal needles observed in the duct system were actually an extremely rare asbestos mineral that was in such a high quantity that it was observable with the naked eye.

Chapter 2: Behind the Paint

Our next tale begins with a real estate transaction. After escaping two past properties with environmental issues, a family found their safe haven. Or did they? The home appeared to be remodeled and there were no apparent issues. The family decided to forgo inspections and settle in. While doing work in the basement they uncovered some mold on a wall. They hired Indoor Science to conduct an inspection to determine its source. During our inspection we discovered that the previous homeowner had painted over mold in the basement.  The mold was present extensively throughout the lower walls, likely due to previous heavy flooding. They also had painted and patched an area of the ceiling that was to hide a plumbing leak. Since our clients were the new owners of the home, they were now responsible for this environmental nightmare.

Chapter 3: Missing in Action

For our final story, we will be going to a project where the inspector disappears. A young inspector having recently come into the environmental industry is eager to get out into the field. After a few months of training, the inspector is sent out to an old warehouse that will be demolished for a large commercial and residential development that is undergoing asbestos abatement. The manager informs the inspector that he will be delayed due to heavy traffic and asks the inspector to inform the abatement company of this delay. Once the manager arrives, he was surprised to hear that the asbestos abatement firm has not seen or been in contact with the inspector even though they were onsite. Curious to find the whereabouts of the inspector, the manager began to search the warehouse. The inspector is discovered disheveled and appears to be injured. On the way to meet with the abatement contractors, the inspector fell into an unsealed pit due to the dimly lit warehouse. He had been struggling to pull himself out and no one heard his calls for help. The young consultant suffered some minor bone contusions and learned a valuable lesson about safety. He is also currently writing this blog. 

Epilogue

In conclusion, real-life horror stories may begin with environmental contaminants instead of creatures and spiritual entities. If you think your property is haunted with an indoor environmental contaminant, don’t call the exorcist, reach out to Indoor Science to have us perform an investigation. 

Jordan Thomas

Jordan Thomas

Jordan Thomas is a Project Manager that performs indoor air quality assessments with a specialty in asbestos and lead. Mr. Thomas holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Earth Science from DePauw University. Jordan is an ACAC Council-Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE), Licensed Lead and Asbestos Inspector, Licensed Air Sampling Professional, and HAZWOPER certified. He also holds an asbestos microscopist certificate from the McCrone Research Institute. Prior to working at Indoor Science, Jordan worked as an Industrial Hygienist at Environmental Analysis, Inc and as an Asbestos/Lead Analyst at Metro Technology Laboratory. In his words… “While not in the field, I’m a Nu-Jazz and movie enthusiast.”

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