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Other Inspection Services

Lead, Asbestos, Radon, Allergen & Other Substance Testing

Sampling can be performed for possible air, surface, and/or water contamination. This testing can detect allergens and special substances such as lead, asbestos, radon, mercury, and several others. Environmental Services special substance testing also includes methamphetamine residue testing and sewage contamination analysis. A report of laboratory findings and an analysis report by a specialist are issued to the client following the inspection.


Soil and Bacteria Testing

Common causes of indoor sewage / bacterial contamination can be caused by the following:

  • Sewage pipe leak in the walls, ceiling, crawl space, basement, etc
  • Sink drain leak into a cabinet, floor, counter, etc
  • Toilet, sink, shower overflow onto floors, carpet, ceilings, etc
  • Rat feces in homes, attics, crawl spaces, basements, ducts, pipes, etc
  • Pets, cats, dogs, birds, rodents, rats, mice, etc
  • Poor house cleaning

Harmful contaminates can be present in the soil, water, contents, building materials and more. Our soil screens can identify elevated ions such as magnesium, iron and nickel, bacterial contamination, pesticide contamination and many others. It is important to identify any contaminant that may be present on or near your property. The health and safety of your family and friends may be compromised if contaminants are present.

Sewage or fecal contamination of indoor environments poses a serious health risk, as feces are reservoirs for enteric pathogens. These pathogens are normally transmitted by the fecal-oral route and infect the gastrointestinal tract. However, when sewage contamination occurs, these pathogens, along with other intestinal organisms, can also be transmitted through air, water, and food.

Samples from indoor environments such as water, air, surface (swab), or bulk can be tested for the "indicator bacteria" to assess possible sewage contamination. These tests include:

  1. Total coliforms,
  2. E. coli
  3. Enterococci

Humans become infected with E. coli by ingestion or through open wounds. Swimming in contaminated pools or other recreational waters is another source of E. coli infection, usually by swallowing the water. It can be contracted by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. Infections from the well known strain E. coli O157:H7 usually result from contaminated ground meat. Sewage leaks or floods create a bacteria rich environment allowing for increased risk of infection. The main means of infection being hand to mouth and person to person.

E. coli, as stated above, normally exists as a bacterium that lives in the intestines of mammals where it aids in digestion. It is when this bacterium is located in the environment that there is cause for concern. The only time that E. coli would be located in the environment would be through fecal contamination. Sewage contamination in or around houses or other buildings is a major source of environmental E. coli and other pathogens. It can seep into carpet, contaminate groundwater, or be tracked into other areas by foot traffic. Contaminated food products, a common source of the bacteria, also are a result of fecal contamination. This mostly occurs during processing at meat plants or from fruits and vegetables grown in human waste fertilizers. These food products can contaminate kitchen utensils, countertops, etc… which can also serve as a source of infection.


Water Testing

Water contamination can be serious and detrimental to your health. Our water sampling encompasses a range of criteria including pH levels, alkalinity, ion levels, organic and inorganic contaminate, and bacterial analysis, searching for elevated coliform bacteria, specifically E-coli and Entercoocus. These are two key bacterium found in fecal contamination and can be isolated from water samples.

It has been estimated that upwards of 7 million Americans become ill from water that has contaminates present. These sicknesses can be become fatal for some. Many contributors such as out-of-date pipes, pollution, and old treatment techniques can compromise the tap water quality.

It is important to investigate the quality and safety of the water your family and you are exposed to on a daily basis.

The contaminates categorized by the EPA include the following:

  • Organic chemicals
    • Included are pesticides, solvents, and other chemicals that seep into ground water supplies. Some organic chemical are known as volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). These are unstable and may evaporate and/or change form. Most VOCs are linked with cancer and/or nervous system, liver and kidney disorders. Another common organic chemical contaminate is a by-product of chlorination, a water treatment technique, called trihalomethanes (THMs). These can react with nearby decaying plant and animal matter and can result in the production chloroform which is a suggested carcinogen.
  • Inorganic chemicals
    • This group includes harmful metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic, sodium, nitrates and nitrites, asbestos, fluoride, and a variety of natural minerals. Lead is a common water contaminate and can cause significant brain damage. Pregnant women and infants are susceptible to the harsh effects from exposure to small amounts of lead contamination. Out-dated pipes and lead-based fixtures can be the source of lead contamination in a water supply.
  • The most immediate cause for illness comes from water contamination with microbes, parasites, protozoa, bacteria and viruses. Elevated levels of said contaminates are usually cause by “back-flow” of septic systems into a clean water supply.

As stated by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “In the long term, we all have reason to be concerned about pollution in tap water. The water in many cities contains pollutants that are carcinogens and that, over time, could cause cancer. That's why we all should try to get cities to clean these contaminants out of tap water as soon as possible.”

Although your water may come from an established treatment plant in your local area, every company has annual reports that reflect the possible health effects that can come from confirmed pollutants that violate the EPA’s standards.

The EPA does not regulate all potential contaminates such as some types of infectious parasites, radon and many different types of unregulated pesticides. These may be present in your water and still hold the same level of harmful effects.

Even the EPA’s standards with regulated contaminate levels are not adjusted to the potential health effects certain water contaminates may have on the immune-compromised, children especially infants, the elderly, and cancer patients.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is up to the private well owner to perform maintenance, including annual tests for coliforms, nitrates and other harmful contaminates. It is recommended that testing be performed whenever there is notable change in color, odor, and taste of the water, if a family member is suffering from a constant G.I. illness and/or if immune-compromised family or friends are present in the home and their health is fragile.

Some water companies treat their water by chlorination which eradicates most bacterial contamination and diseases, but in the process create harmful by-products, such as chloroform, chloramines, Trihalomethanes and other related organic compounds. Another treatment often used is water in fluorination where fluoride ions are presented into a water supply which can cause other possible damaging side effects. When it comes to regulating what is a harmful contaminates level and what is acceptable, it is a numbers game and the decisions by the regulating government agencies are often arbitrary. It is up to private citizens to ensure that their water is desirable and safe.


Infrared Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging survey inspections using specialized infrared equipment has proven to be an exceptional tool for rapidly and reliably providing inspectors and clients with an accurate diagnosis for a wide range of problems. Examples include detection of structural damage following a fire or flood, moisture intrusion in a hidden wall, floor, or ceiling relating to a leak or broken pipe, pockets of moisture that could signify mold growth, structural defects from poor construction or wear over time, and many other issues. Issues detectable by infrared thermal imaging can all be devastating to the structural integrity of a building as well as the health and safety of those living or working within it. Utilizing this technology has helped many solve or avoid hazardous situations.


Rodent Infestation

There are many serious health hazards involving the exposure to rodent feces/urine. Rodent urine contains allergens that may be irritating to those with allergies or asthma that are exposed on a regular basis. In addition, rodent urine can stain surfaces which can make their presence in your home surely known.

Structural damage to your home is another concern of rodent infestation. Rodents will eat food and chew on property if they find their way into a home. Severe rodent infestations can result into costly structural damage and abatement to remove the contamination and damage. Mice and rats have also been known to chew through electrical wires which is extremely dangerous and can cause electrical fires.

The following are common infestation signs to look for in your home or office:

  • Rodent fecal droppings and urine. These can be found in areas and paths that the rodents travel. The fecal droppings appear as black, soft, pellet that have a shine when it is fresh. As the dropping ages it turns hard, dull, and disintegrates after a few weeks. Mice being smaller than rats can have droppings that vary in size. Mice dropping are usually about 1/8 of an inch in length and rat dropping are about 1/2-3/4 inch in length.
  • Tracks and tail markings are left behind and in close inspection can be identified. These clues are found in normally dusty areas or areas where loose soil is present.
  • Gnaw markings are another common sign of an infestation or presence of rodents in your home. They are commonly found on the bottom of doors, walls, baseboards, cabinets and many other household building materials.
  • Many times you are able to hear the rodents squeaking, gnawing or climbing. By listening, you may be able to pin-point the possible are of infestation and point of entry into your home.

The effects of rodent infestation on human health can be deadly. Many serious health concerns arise of the by-products and presence of rodents in your home. Below is information of the human diseases caused by rat infestations. Information referenced by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention Below are health concerns associated with a rodent infestation.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) - Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. Humans can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus. HPS was first recognized in 1993 and has since been identified throughout the United States. Although rare, HPS is potentially deadly. Rodent control in and around the home remains the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infection.

Murine Typhus - Murine typhus (caused by infection with R. typhi) occurs worldwide and is transmitted to humans by rat fleas. Flea-infested rats can be found throughout the year in humid tropical environments, but in temperate regions are most common during the warm summer months. Travelers who visit in rat-infested buildings and homes, especially in harbor or riverine environments, can be at risk for exposure to the agent of murine typhus.

Rat-bite fever (RBF) - Rat-bite fever (RBF) is a systemic bacterial illness caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis that can be acquired through the bite or scratch of a rodent or the ingestion of food or water contaminated with rat feces.

Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium - As its name suggests, it causes a typhoid-like disease in mice. In humans S. Typhimurium does not cause as severe disease as S. Typhi, and is not normally fatal. The disease is characterized by diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and nausea, and generally lasts up to 7 days. Unfortunately, in immunocompromized people, that is the elderly, young, or people with depressed immune systems, Salmonella infections are often fatal if they are not treated with antibiotics.

Leptospirosis - Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. In humans it causes a wide range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a rash. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare cases death occurs.

Eosinophilic Meningitis - Eosinophilic meningitis is an infection of the brain occurring in association with an increase in the number of eosinophils, white blood cells that are associated with infection with worms that penetrate into the body. The organism most commonly causing eosinophilic meningitis is a rat lung worm called angiostrongylus cantonensis.


Phase I Site Assessment/Land Evaluation

The purpose of the Phase I Environmental report is to identify, to the extent feasible, recognized environmental conditions in connection with the property. This assessment will include a site reconnaissance as well as research and interviews with representatives of the public, property management, and regulatory agencies. Environmental Services will perform a Phase 1 ESA in accordance with the current ASTM standard E1527-05 and the AAI final rule. In response to a request for a Phase I ESA, Environmental Services deploys experts to conduct an inquiry into current and past environmental management practices. We query property owners and key facility personnel and review historical documentation including deeds, records of use of the site and surroundings, historical fire insurance maps, aerial photographs, and agency databases. A Phase I ESA includes a regulatory search of historic records to evaluate the potential presence of concerns on or near the property being evaluated.

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