Category Archives: Uncategorized

Asbestos Materials All Over

Think asbestos is a problem of the past, but not today? Unfortunately, although asbestos materials have been banned for some uses for many years, it is still in use for some things and can be found in many older buildings, both residential and commercial.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s chart of asbestos materials is much longer than even we thought. We work with people to safely clean up and remove asbestos products every day, but it’s been a while since we thought about just how many there are!

Potentially Lethal Asbestos Materials:

  • Cement Pipes
  • Elevator Brake Shoes
  • Cement Wallboard
  • HVAC Duct Insulation
  • Cement Siding
  • Boiler Insulation
  • Asphalt Floor Tile
  • Breaching Insulation
  • Vinyl Floor Tile Ductwork
  • Flexible Fabric Connections
  • Vinyl Sheet Flooring
  • Cooling Towers
  • Flooring Backing
  • Pipe Insulation (corrugated air-cell, block, etc.)
  • Construction Mastics (floor tile, carpet, ceiling tile, etc.) Heating and Electrical Ducts
  • Acoustical Plaster
  • Electrical Panel Partitions
  • Decorative Plaster
  • Electrical Cloth
  • Textured Paints/Coatings
  • Electric Wiring Insulation
  • Ceiling Tiles and Lay-in Panels
  • Chalkboards
  • Spray-Applied Insulation
  • Roofing Shingles
  • Blown-in Insulation
  • Roofing Felt
  • Fireproofing Materials
  • Base Flashing
  • Taping Compounds (thermal)
  • Thermal Paper Products
  • Packing Materials (for wall/floor penetrations)
  • Fire Doors
  • High Temperature Gaskets
  • Caulking/Putties
  • Laboratory Hoods/Table Tops
  • Adhesives
  • Laboratory Gloves
  • Wallboard
  • Fire Blankets
  • Joint Compounds
  • Fire Curtains
  • Vinyl Wall Coverings
  • Elevator Equipment Panels
  • Spackling Compounds

Great thanks to the EPA for the list, but even that list is only a selection of asbestos materials.

After a natural or man-made disaster or during a renovation project, you may be removing or replacing these products or materials. It is not safe for you to work with or near asbestos materials without proper training and equipment. Even one exposure can be dangerous to your health and the health of your family or community.

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. If you think you might be dealing with something which contains asbestos, call in a professional asbestos abatement company to remove it completely and safely. Asbestos removal is NOT a DIY project!

Bed Bug Tips for Renters

When you move into a new apartment or rental house, you start all over–new paint, new appliances, maybe even new carpets.  Everything looks beautiful and pristine, almost like no one has ever lived there before.

But it is possible that someone is still living there and you just don’t know it.

Bed bugs are difficult to eradicate on your own or with pesticides, and easy to overlook when you’re excited about finding the perfect new place.  Here are some bed bug tips for renters to help you avoid having a bed bug problem in your new residence:

Ask the Landlord about Bed Bugs

Bring someone with you when you meet with your landlord so that there is a witness to the fact that you asked and what his or her answer was in case of a problem later. And don’t be shy. It’s a question every potential tenant should be asking: have there ever been bed bugs in this building?

Get a Bed Bug Inspection

This might sound like an extra expense when you are spending a lot on moving, but it could save you a lot of trouble later on.  If you don’t want to tell your landlord you are having the place inspected, bring your inspector along as a friend when you are doing a final look around before you sign the lease.

If you don’t want to bring in an inspector, be sure to do a thorough inspection yourself before you sign on the dotted line. Check baseboards, inside drawers, behind anything hanging on the walls.

Don’t Keep the News to Yourself

In multifamily housing, if one apartment has bed bugs, they all could have them–now or in the future. Bed bugs are not your fault, so don’t be embarrassed. Do make sure that the landlord and the other tenants have been informed in writing. Having bed bugs doesn’t mean you’re dirty or a bad housekeeper.  It’s just something that happens.  A lot.  But your landlord is responsible for treating the infestation.  Nip them in the bud! Communication is essential.

Tell the Health or Housing Department

And file a claim. Authorities need to know, too!

Take Pictures of the Bed Bugs and Your Bites

As much as you want to forget all about it, you need to have a record of your infestation and its effects. Also make sure your doctor puts the incident in your medical records.

We sincerely hope that you never encounter a bed bug, at home or anywhere else!

And best wishes in your new home!

New Mold Rules in New York: Will California Follow?

As of July 31, 2015, New York State will be instituting new mold rules for licensing and work standards. The stricter mold rules are, the better off we all are when we have mold issues in our homes and commercial buildings. Here are some of the highlights:

Mold Rules for Licensing

When the new rules take effect, it will be illegal for anyone to do mold assessments or advertise as an assessment contractor without a Mold Assessment License from the New York State Department of Labor. These licenses will have to be renewed every two years.

The license will have to be posted at the work site.

Mold assessors will have to be at least 18 years old and have taken required courses, including training in the use of personal protective gear.

Mold Rules: Work Standards

Any licensed mold assessor has to prepare and give to the client a work analysis before work starts. A mold remediator has to present a work plan.

Mold Rules: Conflict of Interest

No one will be able to be both a mold assessor and a mold remediator on the same project, nor can they be even a part owner in each other’s companies.

Mold Rules: Mold Remediation Plan

The mold remediation plan must include (from Healthy Indoors):

      • Rooms or areas where the work will be performed
      • Estimated quantities of materials to be cleaned or removed
      • Methods to be used for each type of remediation in each type of area
      • Personal protection equipment (PPE) to be supplied to workers
      • Proposed clearance procedures and criteria for each type of remediation in each type of area
      • How to properly notify occupants of such projects, taking into consideration proper health concerns
      • Recommendations for notice and posting requirements that are appropriate for the project size, duration and points of entry
      • Estimate of cost and an estimated time frame for completion
      • Underlying sources of moisture that may be causing the mold and a recommendation as to the type of contractor who would remedy the source of such moisture, if possible

The above are just some of the new rules being put into place by the State of New York. What kind of rules does your state have?

Seacliff Environmental

Seacliff Environmental is a licensed mold removal and remediation contractor, and is experienced in removing mold from basements, bathrooms, ceilings, residential and commercial buildings, crawlspaces, and attics. We can remove all wet materials from the site and provide the necessary air circulation to deter dampness before bacteria can multiply. Seacliff will then develop a remediation plan detailing method, scope, time and controls to be used. We would have no trouble following the new mold rules in New York State–we already do.

Asbestos Misconceptions

We came across a story in The Star Phoenix, a newspaper published in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada that was so full of asbestos misconceptions, we could hardly believe they had done any research at all.

Workers in a Civic Center in Saskatoon were exposed to Chrysotile asbestos, one of the family of asbestos-related minerals. In fact, Chrysotile is the most common form of asbestos found in the US. The asbestos was exposed during a renovation project and as many as 50 city and contract workers may have been exposed. Those are the facts.

Let’s look at the asbestos misconceptions in the article one by one:

Asbestos Misconception #1: Chrysotile is not as dangerous as asbestos

“the city discovered remnants of chrysotile, a material that contains asbestos…”

FALSE: Chrysotile does not contain asbestos, it IS asbestos.

“Of the two types of asbestos material used in construction, chrysotile is considered to be less potent.”

FALSE: All types of asbestos are known carcinogens.

Asbestos Misconception #2: It takes a lot of asbestos to cause disease.

“Asbestos is not considered dangerous unless there is a significant amount in the air…”

FALSE: There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and it doesn’t take a lot to cause a problem. In fact, one fiber of inhaled asbestos can cause cancer years or decades down the road.

Asbestos Misconception #3: Asbestos stays put

“Members of the public attending the facility were never in danger…”

Perhaps. But since the majority of workers were exposed by walking through the room which contained the asbestos, they were obviously traveling from one location to another in the facility. If asbestos was in the air (it was), it could have been transported into other parts of the facility including public areas by these workers. It remains to be seen whether members of the public were exposed.

The city officials in Saskatoon appear to have taken a rather casual attitude toward this incident involving chrysotile asbestos. Perhaps their attitude was informed by the misconceptions often found in media reports, but we recommend that anyone in charge of facilities which could contain asbestos do their research before a small incident turns into a large liability.

Heat vs. DIY: Bed Bug Remedies

No one wants bed bugs and once a infestation is discovered, it’s hard not to panic and do the first thing you think of. But you may be doing more harm than good. Let’s talk about the options.

DIY Bed Bug Remedies

  1. Sprays–Late-night infomercials advertise them all the time. Order this amazing spray and you will kill every bed bug and keep them away forever! The small print says they kill bed bugs “on contact” and they do, but what they don’t tell you is most of the bed bugs in your infestation won’t have direct contact with the spray because they are hiding in cracks and crevices, in upholstery, behind pictures and in seams of mattresses. And their eggs are hidden even better. If that spray doesn’t touch the bug, it won’t kill the bug.
  2. Bombs–A fog of killer chemicals while you go out sounds like it will reach everywhere. Unfortunately Ohio University researchers have found that the pesticides in foggers don’t even kill bed bugs out in the open, let alone the ones hiding in cracks or upholstery. They also leave nasty chemical residue all over the surfaces in your home. Bug bombs can also scatter insects rather than kill them. They cause bed bugs to find new locations, spreading an infestation. Frequent use can also lead to pesticide resistance. The bugs that survive a fogger will lay resistant eggs. 
  3. Essential Oils–We come across articles quite often about using essential oils to kill bed bugs. A recent study took a look at the efficacy of essential oils and found that few killed even 50% of bed bugs after direct exposure for days and none of them had any repellent effect.

Best Bed Bug Remedy

Heat is the best remedy for bed bugs, without question. Why?

  • Heat works in a few hours, not a few days.
  • Heat reaches everywhere bugs and their eggs can hide, even inside walls.
  • Heat leaves no chemical residue.
  • Heat does not require you to move out of your home while it dissipates.
  • Heat does not destroy food, textiles, or personal property.
  • Heat kills bugs at every stage of development, even eggs.

You cannot do an effective heat treatment for bed bugs yourself, but you can call Alliance for quick, professional bed bug eradication. Don’t panic and make the wrong choice. You’ll just end up with more bugs–and bites!–later.

Mold and Health Problems

We are familiar with stories about mold and health issues like respiratory symptoms and headaches, but did you know that mold can also cause more serious health problems?

Allergy and Asthma Attacks


Sick Building Syndrome

And evidence has been found that mold can even cause cancer.

A theory propounded by Italian oncologist Dr. T Simoncini in his book “Cancer is a Fungus,” claims that it may indeed.

Dr. Simoncini’s hypothesis:

“A fungus infection always forms the basis of every abnormal growth of tissue, i.e. tumor, and this formation tries to spread within the whole organism, unimpeded. The growth of fungus colonies, together with the reaction of the tissue that tries to defend itself against the invasion, causes the tumor…Therefore, there must be only one cause of cancer: fungal infection…”

There is an established connection between the mycotoxins produced by aspergillus mold and the development of liver cancer. Aspergillus is found mostly on crops like grains, corn and peanuts but if we eat enough of it, it can contribute to not only cancer of the liver, but breast, testicular and lung cancers as well. A study in Sweden found that “toxic” or “black” mold, also known as stachybotrys, contributed to a 40% cancer incidence in the employees who had worked in a school there for 5 years or more. That is a high degree of correlation, if not definite causality.

We cannot get away from mold entirely–it is everywhere–but we can take mold and health more seriously when we encounter more than a little mildew in the shower. Be sure to:

  • Fix leaks promptly
  • Dry or replace any wet or damaged material as quickly as possible
  • Inspect your home twice yearly for mold outside and in
  • Have mold problems dealt with by professionals before you get sick

Everyone gets a little mold in the bathroom every once in a while, but any mold you see is accompanied by a lot more you can’t, under flooring, inside drywall, in eaves or gutters. After a leak or a flood, be sure to be vigilant about drying and replacing porous materials that got wet. All takes for mold to grow is a little damp. Don’t let that little damp cause big problems! Contact Seacliff Environmental for mold removal services before it can make you sick!

Autism and Air Quality: Is there a connection?

We first heard about a possible link between air pollution and autism in the first issue of JAMA Psychiatry in 2013 when they published a new study linking traffic-related air pollution with autism.

Since then, the evidence has been piling up.

For many years, both parents of children on the autism spectrum and parents of neurotypical children have been mystified by the prevalence of autism today and the lack of information about its cause. Is our air quality the culprit?

The JAMA study was done in California and involved both children with autism and a control group of neurotypical children. The mother’s address during gestation and the first year of life was used to determine exposure to traffic-related air pollution before birth and until age one. Their conclusion: “Exposure to traffic-related air pollution, nitrogen dioxide, [particles greater than 2.5microns] and [particles greater than 10 microns] during pregnancy and during the first year of life was associated with autism.”

Recently, the University of Rochester researchers showed that mice exposed to air pollution early in life showed “enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia.” University of Rochester

Researchers at Harvard University have found that pregnant women breathing pollution from car exhaust or smokestacks have twice the risk of giving birth to a child who falls on the autism spectrum. Exposure to particles during the third trimester seems to be the main culprit. ‘”We found an association that was specific to pregnancy and especially to the third trimester, identifying a window, which might shed a light on processes that are happening that can lead to autism,” said Marc Weisskopf, the report’s senior author and associate professor of environmental and occupational epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.’ NBC News

In our research, we often discover environmental factors which are important to the healthy development of children, whether exposure to volatile organic compounds, tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide, radon, bacteria, mold spores, or allergens, all of which affect our air quality. We join with scientists all over the country in hoping that further study clarifies the links between autism and air quality so that we can reduce exposure to dangerous substances and increase healthy outcomes for all of our children.

Asbestos Basics

We hear about asbestos on TV all the time, but how much do you really know about asbestos?Here are some asbestos basics you may not have encountered:

The Ancient History of Asbestos

Asbestos is not one substance, but a set of six minerals which separate into thin fibers and have heat, fire and acid resistant properties.  The use of asbestos goes back at least 4500 years in Finland and was named by the Ancient Greeks.

In the 6th Century, wealthy Persians would astound dinner guests, cleaning their asbestos napkins by throwing them in the fire.  Charlemagne is believed to have owned a tablecloth made of asbestos.  Famous explorer Marco Polo was reported to have been offered fireproof garments made of “wool from the mountains,” but were in fact made from wool-like asbestos fibers.

Asbestos in the United States

Asbestos use in the US began in 1858 and became ubiquitous during the Industrial Revolution.  Asbestos has been used for such diverse products as: concrete and fireplace cement, pipe insulation, fireproof drywall, lawn furniture and heat and fire resistant gaskets.  It was once used in the braking systems of automobiles.  One brand of cigarettes even used asbestos in their filters in the 1950’s!

When did we know asbestos was dangerous?

The danger of exposure to asbestos was being observed as early as ancient Roman times.  Through the Twentieth Century, information and research have increased our knowledge of the dangers of asbestos exposure enormously, leading eventually to passage of the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule in the US in 1989, which was unfortunately overturned in 1991.  However, the EPA does have very strict rules about asbestos exposure in the workplace.

Asbestos in the 21st Century

The new millennium began with possibly the worst asbestos-related disaster in history, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.  It is believed that over 1000 tons of asbestos were released into the air on that tragic day and has probably been the cause of many of the respiratory diseases in first responders, construction workers and others exposed to the air in the aftermath of the attack.

Although employers are very careful today to follow EPA regulations regarding current exposure to asbestos, wrongful death lawsuits are many and growing from the years when asbestos was commonly encountered in the workplace.

What do we use today instead of asbestos?

Fiberglass is the most common substance used as a replacement for asbestos in current construction for insulation.  Other organic fibers and silica are also used for many of the products that used to contain asbestos.

What to Do If You Find Asbestos

Asbestos is often discovered during renovation and reconstruction projects, as well as exposed after natural disasters.  Homeowners are not required to remove asbestos, but since exposure on even one occasion can cause disease, it is a good idea to have it removed once it has been exposed.  If you are planning to sell your house, California law requires you to disclose the presence of asbestos to potential buyers.

Commercial property owners are required to remove asbestos if it has become exposed or dangerous.

If you need to remove asbestos safely, call a qualified, licensed asbestos abatement contractor like Seacliff Environmental.  We have the necessary knowledge, talent, experience and resources to solve your asbestos abatement challenges efficiently and safely. If you need asbestos abatement services for flooring, sheet goods, pipe insulation, siding, roofing, duct work, stucco, drywall, ceiling tile, popcorn ceiling, plaster, buttonboard, fireproofing and other products, we are here to help!