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What our customers are saying...

"As a former clinical microbiologist I can tell you that not all laboratories are created equal but the service, professionalism, and expertise provided by Forensic Analytical continues to exceed my expectations. They have an excellent sample turnaround time and are always willing and able to answer my questions. Their wonderful customer service is most appreciated and they are a very valuable resource for my business."

-- Cheryl Pearce, Owner, Mold Busters

 
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Frequently Asked Questions

Lead & IH Chemistry
FAQs
Asbestos
FAQs
Microbiology
FAQs

 

Lead & IH Chemistry FAQs

What is the MRL?
How do I convert % lead by weight to parts per million (ppm)?
How do I convert mg per kilogram (mg/Kg) to parts per million (ppm)?
How do I convert mg per liter (mg/l) to parts per million (ppm)?
What are the regulatory levels for lead in paint?
What are the regulatory levels for lead in soil?
What are the regulatory levels for lead in drinking water?
What are the regulatory levels for lead in settled dust (wipe samples)?
What are the regulatory levels for lead in air?
How do I calculate a time-weighted average?
What are the regulatory levels for waste characterization purpose?
What are the regulatory values for waste characterization?


 

What is the MRL?

"Method Reporting Limit." MRLs can best be defined as the lowest concentration that can be reliably reported under current laboratory operating conditions. The MRLs are typically 5-10 times higher than the method detection limit.

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How do I convert % lead by weight to parts per million (ppm)?

Multiply % lead by weight value times 10,000
Example: 0.5% lead by weight x 10,000 = 5,000 ppm lead.

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How do I convert mg per kilogram (mg/kg) to parts per million (ppm)?

mg/kg is equal to ppm; 1 mg/kg = 1 ppm

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How do I convert mg per liter (mg/L) to parts per million (ppm)?

mg/L is equal to ppm; 1 mg/liter = 1 ppm

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What are the regulatory levels for lead in paint?

  1. The HUD Guidelines consider lead levels of 0.5 percent lead by weight (AA analysis) or greater as lead-based paint which may be a potential hazard.
  2. In 1978, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned lead-containing paint containing greater than 0.06% lead in residential paint. As a result, the congressionally established definition of "lead-based paint" under the Lead Based Poison Prevention Act (0.06%) automatically became effective.
  3. In addition to lead content of paint, current OSHA regulations (e.g. 29 CFR 1926.62 Lead in Construction Standard) apply to all construction work where an employee may be occupationally exposed to lead. Therefore, any work performed on a surface containing any amount of lead must comply with this regulation.
  4. Some cities and states are now setting their own standards. Contact the department of health in your local city or county to verify regulatory levels.

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What are the regulatory levels for lead in soil?

The "Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing" published by HUD in June 1995 and the US EPA Toxic Control Substances Act (TSCA) Title IV, state the following lead hazard in soil recommendations.

Hazard in play areas > 400 ppm
Bare soil yardwide average > 1200 ppm

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What are the regulatory levels for lead in drinking water?

According to 40 CFR Section 141.80, Subpart 1, Control of Lead and Copper, the lead action level is exceeded if the lead level is greater than 15 ppb.

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What are the regulatory levels for lead in settled dust (wipe samples)?

The Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing" published by HUD in June 1995 and the US EPA Toxic Control Substances Act (TSCA Title IV), have published the following lead in settled dust recommendations:

Floors > 40 µg/ft2
Window sills > 200 µg/ft2

California Title 17 sets forth the following regulatory levels:

Interior floor surfaces > 50 µg/ft2
Interior horizontal window surfaces > 250 µg/ft2
Exterior floor and exterior horizontal window surfaces > 800 µg/ft2

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What are the regulatory levels for lead in air?

According to Federal OSHA (29 CFR 1926.62) and Cal OSHA (8 CCR 1532.1)" Lead in Construction Standard," the following action level and permissible exposure limit have been established:

Action Level (AL) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)
30 µg/m3 50 µg/m3

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How do I calculate a time-weighted average?

TWA ACTUAL =
 
(C1 T1) + (C2 T2) + ... + Cn Tn)

T1 + T2 + ... + Tn
TWA 8 HOUR =
 
(C1 T1) + (C2 T2) + ... + Cn Tn)
480 Minutes

C1 = Concentration for the first sampling (in µg/m3)
C2 = Concentration for the second sampling (in µg/m3)
Cn = Concentration for each additional sampling period (in µg/m3)
T1 = Duration for the first sampling period (in minutes)
T2 = Duration for the second sampling period (in minutes)
Tn = Duration for each additional sampling period (in minutes)

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What are the regulatory levels for waste characterization purpose?

Waste characterization is a complicated issue as there are several different tests currently performed in order to determine if your waste is "hazardous" or "non-hazardous." The following decision tree has been provided as a general guideline.

  1. Take a minimum of four (4) representative samples (200 grams/8 ounces) of each segmented waste stream.
  2. Request a Total Threshold Limit Concentration (TTLC) test.
  3. If the results of the TTLC are less than 50 ppm, the waste is not hazardous per California Standard.

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What are the regulatory values for waste characterization?

RCRA 8 and CAM 17 Metals
STLC, TTLC, TCLP - Concentration Limits

Analyst STLC Max. Limit
mg/L (ppm)
TTLC Max. Limit
mg/kg (ppm)
TCLP Max. Limit
mg/L (ppm)
Antimony 15 500  
Arsenic 5.0 500 5.0
Barium 100 10000 100
Beryllium 0.75 75  
Cadmium 1.0 100 1.0
Chromium, Total 5.0 2500 5.0
Cobalt 80 8000  
Copper 25 2500  
Lead 5.0 1000 5.0
Mercury 0.20 20 0.20
Molybdenum 350 3500  
Nickel 20 2000  
Selenium 1.0 100 1.0
Silver 5.0 500 5.0
Thallium 7.0 700  
Vanadium 24 2400  
Zinc 250 5000  

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Asbestos FAQs

What is asbestos?
What are the main types of asbestos?
What exposure limits are there for asbestos?
What regulations are there for asbestos?
What are the health effects of asbestos exposure?
Where can I obtain a list of asbestos consultants/technicians who are certified to perform these surveys?
Where is asbestos typically found in a structure and how can I be certain asbestos is present?
Does asbestos have to be removed?
Does my contractor have to be licensed to remove asbestos?


 

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. Chrysotile (white asbestos) is the type most commonly used in structural applications. Asbestos is heat resistant, very strong, and has remarkable insulating properties, making it a desirable material in construction.

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What are the main types of asbestos?

There are essentially 6 types, only 3 of which were used commercially. These are:

Chrysotile or White Asbestos: It is the most common type in the U.S. It is mined in Canada and previously mined in California. It is a serpentine structure, both wavy and hollow.

Amosite or Red-Brown Asbestos: This type's name is derived from its place of origin, Asbestos Mines of South Africa. It is an amphibole structure, long straight solid rods.

Crocidolite or Blue Asbestos: Only about 2% to 3% of the asbestos we encounter in this country are of the Crocidolite type. It is an amphibole structure very similar to Amosite, except for color. This mineral is mined in Australia.

The other three, which may be included in regulatory standards, are listed as tremolite asbestos, anthophyllite asbestos, and actinolite asbestos All are fire resistant with high tensile strength and not easily destroyed or degraded by natural means. All are carcinogenic; that is, all have been shown to cause cancer of the lung and stomach, based on studies of workers.

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What exposure limits are there for asbestos?

In 1980, a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)/OSHA work group concluded that there was no level of exposure to asbestos below which clinical effects did not occur. They recommended a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) based on the lowest measurable airborne fiber level, 0.01 f/cc. EPA has accepted this conclusion and recommends that 0.01 fibers per cubic centimeter be used to define the successful completion of asbestos abatement work. The risks associated with low levels of cumulative exposure are not well-established, and considerable debate surrounds the issue.

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What regulations are there for asbestos?

The three primary regulations or types of regulations are:

  1. AHERA (applies to schools)
  2. NESHAP (applies to exposures or potential exposures to the general public)
  3. OSHA (Cal-OSHA in California who's standards apply to employees of employers in the workforce)

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What are the health effects of asbestos exposure?

There are three exposure routes for asbestos fibers: (1) inhalation via the respiratory system (2) ingestion via the mouth associated with asbestos fibers in drinking water and (3) skin contact. Asbestos has been known to cause a number of disabling and fatal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and pleural plaques. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos; therefore, all exposure to asbestos should be avoided.

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Where can I obtain a list of asbestos consultants/technicians who are certified to perform these surveys?

This list can be obtained by calling the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health at 916-574-2993.

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Where is asbestos typically found in a structure and how can I be certain asbestos is present?

Asbestos can be found in various locations throughout a structure. Some examples include, but are not limited to acoustic ceilings, taping mud on sheetrock, plaster, flooring, heating ducts, stucco, flue pipes, pipe lagging, and roofing. To determine the presence of asbestos, a sample must be taken to a laboratory and tested using polarized light microscopy (PLM) as the testing methodology.

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Does asbestos have to be removed?

No. If it is in good condition and is not being disturbed, it is best to leave it undisturbed. In order for asbestos to be a health hazard, it must be released from the product into the air people breathe.

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Does my contractor have to be licensed to remove asbestos?

The California State Contractors Board requires that contractors have a valid and current contractors license and certificate for asbestos abatement work.

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Microbiology FAQs

What type of organism is mold?
Mold was found in my home/office, should I leave?
What are 'toxic' molds?
What are potential health effects of molds?
What fungi should I be most concerned about?
What causes mold to grow?
What are the reproductive properties of mold?
What results can occur from mold?
Who do I call if I suspect a problem with mold in my home/office?
Why are Aspergillus and Penicillim grouped together in some of the analyses?
Now that I have the results, what do I do?
How is mold remediated?
How can I prevent mold growth?


 

What kind of organism is mold?

Molds are the most typical form of fungus found on earth, comprising approximately 25% of the earth's biomass. Other fungi include yeasts and mushrooms. Molds are ubiquitous on our planet and are essential decomposers of organic substances necessary for sustaining plant and animal life. Molds are made up of masses of filament-like cells called hyphae. Under the appropriate conditions, the hyphae will grow into long intertwining strings that form the main body of the fungus, or the mycelium. Molds reproduce via spores; however, they can also spread if a fragment of broken hyphae is transplanted to an area with adequate moisture and organic matter for food.

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Mold was found in my home/office, should I leave?

Do not panic, mold is common in the environment and is normally present. It is found in soil, air, on plants and just about every substrate. Just because mold was found does not mean that there is a problem. However, when concentrations are high suggesting a fungal growth source present, this indicates further action should be taken, i.e. removal of the fungal colony and its source.

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What are "toxic" molds?

This term generally refers to only mold capable of producing mycotoxins, natural organic compounds that are capable of initiating a toxic response in vertebrates. However, all molds under proper conditions are capable of eliciting a negative health response in humans through other methods such as inflammation, allergy, or infection. The severity of the response depends upon the type and amount of mold present as well as the susceptibility and sensitivity of the individual experiencing mold exposure. It is believed that specific environmental conditions are needed for mycotoxins to be produced, however, the specific conditions that cause mycotoxin production are not yet fully understood.

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What are potential health effects of molds?

All molds have the potential to cause health effects such as allergic reactions of the eyes, nose, and throat, dermatitis, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and other immunologic effects. Other reported effects such as fever, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, respiratory dysfunction, excessive and regular nose bleeds, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, and liver damage are symptoms of an individual who has been exposed to mold via inhalation. The extent to which an individual may be affected depends upon one's state of health, susceptibility to disease, the organism with which one came in contact, and the duration and severity of exposure. Some effects may be temporary until the infested area is vacated; however, others may be long-term or permanent.

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What fungi should I be most concerned about?

Genera of fungi that are of most concern include Aspergillus and Stachybotrys as they have been implicated in disease. Cladosporium, often found in fungal studies, is the most common fungus encountered in indoor air quality studies. Read more about these and other mold spores in our Mold Library.

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What causes mold to grow?

According to Peter Kozak in his paper on mold health effects, "Endogenous mold problems generally occur after prolonged or repeated water damage to a variety of organic materials." Floods, leaking pipes, leaking windows, and leaking roofs are all potential sources of moisture that can lead to mold infestation. Increased ambient humidity as a result of inadequate ventilation or improper drying of flooded areas can also lead to mold growth. Lifestyle choices such as overpopulating a residence, keeping a house closed up without running an air conditioner or dehumidifier, the presence of multiple indoor houseplants (especially if over watered and without adequate ventilation), and poor housecleaning habits can also lead to mold growth.

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What are the reproductive properties of mold?

Molds reproduce through the production of spores. The environment in which a given mold may grow prolifically is very likely different from the environment necessary for spore production. After the spores are formed, they are released into the air to be carried elsewhere for germination and growth. Mold spores can survive for many years in dry or hot environments, requiring only moisture and available organic matter to allow them to germinate.

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What results can occur from mold in a building?

Mold results in building biodeterioration with degradation of structural integrity, and destruction of interior furnishings. Public awareness of mold in buildings has been heightened by frequent events including: proliferation of mold in buildings from excessive moisture and water damage; evacuation of mold-contaminated schools and buildings; debilitating health claims by building and residential occupants exposed to mold; and escalating rates of asthma and allergies among adults and children.

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Who do I call if I suspect a problem with mold in my home/office?

Contact us at Forensic Analytical Laboratories for consulting and laboratory services to investigate potential mold problems and assist in providing solutions. Be sure to take control of your home before mold does!

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Why are Aspergillus and Penicillim grouped together in some of the analyses?

In non-viable sampling generally only the spores are present to analyze. Aspergillus and Penicillium have very similar spores that cannot be distinguished from each other using non-viable techniques.

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Now that I have the results, what do I do?

Look at your results carefully, using the data interpretation sheet provided by the laboratory. Assess whether you think you have a problem. If you have any further questions or are still unsure about your results, please call and we will be happy to help you. If you think you have a problem, do not panic. The problem may be fixed by a thorough cleaning and not require major remediation. Talk to a professional who can advise you as to the best method to remove any mold. The California Department of Public Health Indoor Air Quality Program has developed a web site that includes a variety of documents, including "Mold In My Home: What Do I Do?" for additional information on this issue. The documents are currently available online at http://www.cal-iaq.org.

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How is mold remediated?

There are no mandated actions specific to molds and indoor air quality required by any state or federal agencies. The U.S. EPA Indoor Air Quality web site states, "Standards or Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for airborne concentrations of mold, or mold spores, have not been set. Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold contaminants."

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How can I prevent mold growth?

The first step in preventing mold growth is to remove the source of moisture. Stopping leaks, decreasing indoor air humidity, and proper cleanup of waters after flooding are key to stopping the germination and growth of molds. It is important for individuals, landlords, building maintenance personnel, architects and builders need to know effective means of avoiding mold growth, which might arise from lifestyle choices or maintenance and construction practices. Locating and proper remediation of existing mold growths are essential to decrease the health affects of mold contamination.

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For more information and industry links on Mold Contamination Issues and Current Regulations, visit the EPA Indoor Air Quality web site at http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html.