Demolition, Mold (Mould) and Asbestos Removal Services by Urban Environmental.
604-299-0379

What to do if you find blood or bodily fluids in your home

Forensic scientist looking blood through magnifying glass

If you are one of the many landlords in the Vancouver area, one of your greatest fears is damage to your home. Although we normally think of damages to do with parties or other unruly behaviour, damages from bodily fluids can also damage a property almost beyond repair. In this article, we are looking at what you should do if you become aware of a scene that is contaminated with blood and/ or bodily fluids.

  1.  First and foremost, you will need to contact the police. If this was not expected, the police may need to get involved and will be able to provide you with a point of contact, normally the lead investigator, going forward. If you are not the homeowner, this would be the time to call your landlord and have them to come down to the scene as well.

  2.  You need to know if you are dealing with a death or not. If the coroner is going to be getting involved, you will need to ensure you have their name. They may need to get into the scene or contact the cleanup company you will be hiring.

  3.  Do not enter the scene no matter what is inside. There is zero need for you to be more traumatized then you may already be. The cleanup company will be able to retrieve any belongings or things that you need when the time comes. It is also important to not enter the scene before the police clear the property. As you may contaminate evidence that they need, or spread your own DNA throughout the crime scene.

   4.  As a homeowner, you will need to be able to provide the cleanup company with a permission to enter form. If you are not the homeowner, you will need to contact the party that is fiscally responsible to have this form signed. A cleanup company cannot enter the premises till this is signed. A delay with this form will result in delays for a cleanup company to start the process.

  5.  Do not attempt to clean up the scene yourself. Bodily fluids and blood are dangerous biohazards, and contact with them may expose you to unknown risks that could cause serious illness and even death. To clean a scene, you need the proper tools and protection, and only professional technicians should be tasked with such a job.

  6.  Call Urban Environmental, the leaders in decomposition and body clean up in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Our team of technicians will be able to be on scene in a matter of minutes and will ensure that your home will be back to normal as soon as it is possible.

Urban Environmental has been providing blood and bodily fluid cleanups in the Vancouver area for years, and no matter what kind of shocking scene is beyond the door, our team will be able to get your home back to normal in no time. Call us today, and experience what the premier cleanup company in the region can do for you.

 

5 things to look for know when you need to re-insulate

Insulation word cloud

When it comes to our insulation, we generally do not pay attention unless things are going terribly. Many have prescribed rules that they follow that they believe make sense. For instance, that re-insulating your house is only necessary if the house was built before 1980. This is simply factually incorrect, and here at Urban Environmental, we want to clear a few things up. Thus, we have brought together 5 things that you need to know for when you need to re-insulate in your home.

      1.   Your air conditioner or furnace is running continuously.

Re-insulating your home is not just about keeping warm air inside your home, it is about maintaining a steady temperature inside the home, no matter the weather outside. If you are noticing that your furnace or air conditioner is running continuously even when your thermostat is set to automatic, it may be time to look at re-insulating.

      2.   Rising Energy Bills

A great clue on whether you need to look at re-insulating your home is your energy bill. First, look at last year’s energy bill and compare it with your current one. There may have been rate changes or ridiculously hot or cold days, but the median should reflect that they are very similar. If you notice an upward trend you may have discovered the fact that your insulation is failing or you have air leakage within the building envelope.

      3.  Visible ice

If you live in a northern climate, the visibility of icicles or ice dams could be an indicator of poor or failing insulation for your home. Ice is able to form on the edge of your roofline when there is poor insulation and/or air leakage in the attic space, which makes for perfect ice making conditions. These are not only dangerous for people down below but can severely damage your roof if not taken care of! Proper insulation can ensure that ice dams are not able to be formed, and more importantly your roof and family will be safe from ice-related injuries.

      4.   Warm Attic or visible condensation

If you are noticing water forming in your attic and running down through your ceiling, it is directly caused by inadequate or failing insulation. If you have failing insulation you will have a warmer attic than normal, and this will lead to moisture that can condense and trickle down. Without detection, or changes to your insulation, this will lead to the growth of mould and rotting wood. Make sure to look for brownish water stains on the ceiling or wall, as well as soft spots in the drywall or plaster.

      5.   Varying Temperatures throughout the house

A home will have some small differences in temperatures depending on the positioning of the room, but massive temperature differences could suggest issues with insulation. A home that is well insulated should feel uniformly warm throughout. If you crank up the heat in one room, and another room feels cooler, it could be an issue of sub-standard insulation within your home.

When you need insulation removed, the only team you need to call is Urban Environmental. We have been providing the Greater Vancouver area with removal and cleaning options that fit every budget for years and cannot wait to help you and your family out with your insulation needs.

5 Tips for Dehumidifiers

Basements and other damp areas of your home can cause significant issues if left untreated. Many of us need to rely on a dehumidifier to alleviate moisture problems before they occur. With these simple tips, you can get more efficiency and effectiveness from your dehumidifier.

Empty the reservoir often

One of the most common mistakes is simple to avoid. A damp room might require that you empty your dehumidifier more often than you think. Don’t be afraid to check out the water level daily, and it’s always a good idea to empty the chamber long before it fills to the brim. It’s easier to manage, plus you don’t risk spilling that stinky wastewater on yourself. Another idea? Consider using the drain hose feature if you can easily channel the water flow into a drain.

Location, location, location

Just like real estate, the position of your dehumidifier unit can make all the difference when it comes to performance and efficiency. Make sure to place the unit as centrally and unobstructed as possible. If you are trying to air out a room with doors and windows, it’s a good idea to shut everything to maximize the moisture removal potential. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, always place your dehumidifier unit far away from curtains and furniture.

Control the humidity level

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the relative humidity control if your unit is programmable. Depending on your climate and the seasonal weather, you may want to adjust your unit periodically to reflect the changing conditions. Typically, your relative humidity should be 30-50% but may depend on where you use it and what else sits in that room. Musical instruments, clothing, wood furniture, and other valuables may need more or less humidity than average.

Clean before you dehumidify

Dehumidifiers rely on air currents to get the job done. An unfortunate side effect of their running operation is dust in the air. It’s always a good idea to vacuum and sweep the room before you fire up your unit. This preparation might seem unnecessary, but it will greatly reduce the potential for dust in the air. It will also extend the life of your dehumidifier, and your unit will run with greater efficiency.

Timing is everything

Most modern dehumidifiers perform better in certain conditions over others. It’s counterintuitive, but they often dry out the air more effectively when there is extra moisture present. You can “hack” your dehumidifier by using it right after a shower or drying your clothes next to it. If you live in an area with time-based energy tariffs or smart metering, you might consider running it at night or on weekends to reduce the operating expense.

Hopefully, you can increase the performance of your dehumidifier and save on your energy costs. Excess moisture isn’t just bad for your home – it’s bad for you and your whole family. Mould is very dangerous to human health, and it’s unpleasant to smell and see inside your home. With a quality dehumidifier and these helpful tips, you can quickly improve the quality and safety of your indoor air in damp rooms and basements. Good luck!

5 Environmental Hazards from Building Renovations and Demolitions

jeune homme faisant des travaux

With all the renovation shows on television these days and an endless stream of DIY guides online, it’s more tempting than ever to tackle home improvements yourself. Unfortunately, there are many things that are best left to the professionals when it comes to construction waste. Demolition services and environmental waste management are often seen as “nice-to-haves” from ambitious homeowners, but they are almost always a better option than tackling the problem on your own.

Mould

If you are renovating an old home, mould is almost guaranteed to present problems for you during removal. Spores from household mould can be extremely toxic and damaging to human health. Even with the proper equipment, many DIY-type will commit tragic errors in removal and disposal. Remediating mould is a professional skill that requires extensive training. If you have mould-ridden building materials, it’s a good idea to hire a trained and experienced specialist to tackle the job.

Asbestos

If you don’t know already, asbestos is one of the top concerns when renovating or demolishing an older home. Asbestos was extremely common as a fireproof insulator and building material that you will find in thousands of common products used in the past. Manufacturers would put it in all sort of different things – tiles, insulation, drywall, and many more. Before you start swinging your sledgehammer, you should strongly consider the services of an asbestos abatement specialist. They will quickly audit your home and let you know where any asbestos may be. Exposure to asbestos is a known cause of cancer, so it’s very important that you rely on professional help for removal and disposal.

Vermiculite

Vermiculite is a common household building material used for decades before it fell out of favour in the 1990s. Vermiculite product manufacturers sourced most of the world’s vermiculite from a single mine, contaminated by high levels of asbestos. If you have vermiculite in your home, you should treat it just like any other asbestos materials. Leave it to the professionals, and let the experts worry about safe removal and environmentally-friendly disposal.

Dust and Airborne Particles

Any renovation or demolition project will feature a lot of airborne dust and particulate matter. While it’s tempting to tackle the problem yourself, you should rely on a professional team to minimize the cleanup required and reduce the risk of human health problems. Many people are extremely sensitive to dust and other allergens, and the professional services of a demolition expert will help you keep your family safe.

Glass, Nails, and Other Sharps

When you watch a renovation show on television, there is a lot going on behind the scenes that you don’t see. One of the most common hazards from demolition is sharp edges and protruding metal such as nails or bolts. It’s all too easy to cut yourself or injury your garbage collector with improper disposal of sharp materials. A professional-grade demolition company will safely and quickly remove any hazardous material, and you can rest assured that your construction waste won’t harm anyone.

The lowdown on mould spores

Black mold in the corner of room wall

With the wrath of weather we have seen in the Caribbean and Southern United States, now is a great time to talk about mould. Let’s take Hurricane Harvey for instance. We all saw the widespread flooding, the issues of low lying areas and of course the wind, but one thing that the news did not talk about is the widespread mould growth in the Houston area. As soon as flooding receded, the mould started to appear. It is well known in the remediation community that mould can grow within a single 24-hour period, but how is that even possible, and more importantly, what can you do to prevent it?

How mould works

You may be asking yourself who would mould be appearing a mere 24-hours after a flood, would it not take longer?! Well, the answer to that will take a little explaining. Let’s start with how mould works. Mold spores can be best described as an organism that is similar to pollen. They are very tiny and are in fact naked to the human eye, but they also are light as a feather and are able to float on air. Combine this with its ability to live a long time without a food source, and you can quickly see why mould is a bit of a problem. It also thrives outdoors, and while it cannot be active during winter, a spring thaw allows the mould spurs to be released from their dormant mode and mould will quickly become a threat once again. To survive, mould needs three things, oxygen, standing moisture and food. Their food source can be anything organic, but mould spores love cellulose which can be found in a number of textiles and carpets that are within the home. Mold is a serious concern, and you need to remember a few things about this dangerous spore and how to prevent it:

–    Repair any leaks in plumbing, roof, windows, or other sources of water as soon as possible to limit the possibility of mould growth

–    Mold will peak during the late summer and early fall due to the abundant wet vegetation that can be found throughout your area.

–    Use a dehumidifier to control excess moisture and high humidity when needed during the warmer months

–    Ensure that your home has adequate ventilation including an exhaust fan in your bathroom or any room with a shower.

–    Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to help remove mould spores before they flare up

Why is it important

Mold is something to take care of immediately, and if left unattended will spread rapidly. Once a mould patch is large enough, it will produce more mould spores which will enter into your HVAC system and spread throughout the home, causing a true infestation. This is an issue as mould can cause a variety of issues that include:

–    A persistent cough or a dry throat

–    Irritation of the eyes

–    Stuffy nose

–    Respiratory issues

There is help on the horizon, and the first thing that you need to do is to call the team at Urban Environmental. We have been handling mould remediation services to the Greater Vancouver for years and will be able to get rid of your mould quickly and before it spreads to the rest of the house.

 

7 things to spot when looking for in a house that has a grow-op

Water leaks on the ceiling Causing damage, the ceiling tiles and cement.

Rental properties continue to be a popular method for a family to bring in a second income, and yet these properties are not without their risks. Damage to the property is possible as well as incidental costs that can add up are a regular occurrence. But, the worst possible scenario for a homeowner is dealing with a marijuana grow-op in the property. With this in mind, here are 7 things to look for in your property if you suspect a marijuana grow-op.

–    Ductwork

If you have never noticed ductwork before, now is the time to take a look up. Ductwork that is irregular and seemingly does not make sense in its current state could be a big hint that something is up with the property.

–    Circular holes in joists or ceiling

While looking up for the ductwork, make sure to check for patched circular holes. These holes will be where ductwork or ventilation would have been utilised for a grow-op on the property.

–    Changes to the exterior of the home

When taking your initial walk around the property, is there new siding, or new brickwork that has been completed without talking to you? Outside access is always necessary when growing plants inside, and the side of the house is normally the fastest way out for grow-ops.

–    Bald spots on the roof during winter

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with an actual Winter, looking judgingly at your Vancouver, bald spots on the roof during the summer will be a huge red flag. Ventilation will either go through the roof or the side of the house, both of which will melt snow in a distinct pattern.

–    Modified wiring

Seasoned electricians will not make a mess of an electrical panel, and when hastily setting up a grow-op people do not care about the tidiness of their work. Look for bare wires, and a jerry-rigged electrical

–    Toxic Moulds in the basement or interior walls

Growing a plant indoors creates a humid environment, and with that comes mould. Look on the inside of windows, ventilation systems and of course the roof. Mould can be deadly and will be needed to be taken care of by professionals.

–    New plumbing in the basement

If you are the homeowner, you know your plumbing system, and if something seems off, it probably is. Make sure to look for water supply lines as well as drainage coming in and out of the room.

If you have spotted any of the above issues, especially toxic mould, you need to contact Urban Environmental immediately. We are the proven solution for those facing hazardous material removal issues in the Greater Vancouver area. If you have any questions about grow-ops or any other issues you may be facing contact us today.

 

Five of the best reasons to demolish a house

A track hoe excavator using its claw thumb to tear down an old hotel to make way for a new commercial development

Demolishing a house can be a great thing when making room for a new home to go in its place. Whether it’s bigger, better or just plain new, it can be a great thing. With that in mind, here are the best reasons why demolishing your home to make room for a new one is a solid idea.

  1. Location:

    When someone owns a plot of  land on a lake, it is sometimes easier to remove a house and rebuild on the same spot. Whether it’s a bigger house that’s needed, or just the location that is perfect, by demolishing the house and building the perfect one in its place, demolition makes things much easier.

  1. Efficiency:

Using the land more efficiently is another reason to demolish a home as well. If the property lines change or the land erodes, it can open up or remove a lot of land, completely changing the layout of the system. By demolishing the home and rebuilding, it can use the land way more efficiently and improve the property value.

  1. The Perfect Home:

    Sometimes people have unrealistic expectations about their dream home. And sometimes instead of forcing a home to grow into the dream home, or letting the dream change, demolishing the original house to rebuild the dream home is easier than taking it one step at a time. By doing it all at one, and getting it right the first time it saves time, money and a whole lot of hassle.

  1. Safety.

Older homes have tons of little cracks and ticks that can leave a family in trouble. Sometimes, instead of waiting for that wall to fall, or the ceiling to come crashing in, it’s easier to plan it, demolish the home and take care of the family. When a home becomes unlivable and seems to be coming apart on its own accord, it just helps to do it before it can be done to you.

  1. Wildlife

    A very specific and dangerous reason to demolish a home can be because it is infested with wildlife. Whether it’s racoons, squirrels, or something like termites or ants, this can cause huge problems for a homeowner. Bugs like termites or ants can ruin a home, and are very difficult to get rid of, even with extermination. Once termites damage the structural integrity of the home, it is cheaper sometimes to break down the old home and build up a new one that will save time and money at the same time.

    There are many reasons to demolish a home and these are the top five. Saving the headache and the money, in the long run, gives great reason for the homeowners to demolish. By demolishing once, early, and making it count, they can maximise the value of the property while building their dream home or getting rid of the bugs. As extreme as it may seem, it follows the one and done mentality. By demolishing, the house, you something right the first time and it will pay off in the long run.

7 Way to Make Your Roof Last Longer

Man cleaning the rooftop from pine

Your roof is a principal component of your home, and if you live in a single family dwelling – it’s your roof alone. You’ve bought it,paid for it, and we imagine you’d like to get as many years out of it as possible. Needless to say, re roofing a home is an expensive venture. But when you get to that point, it’s not an optional one. You have to replace it!

As a premiere home restoration service provider here in Vancouver, those of us here at Urban Environmental have learned a thing or two (or two hundred) about what it takes to properly maintain a roof, so we’ll share some of that with you today.

All of this is particularly relevant given the fact that we live in the Lower Mainland of BC, which is a rain forest and gets a LOT of precipitation in the winter, not to mention the constant dampness that means your roof may still be wet long after the rain has stopped. There’s nothing you can do stop Mother Nature’s fondness for the wet stuff, so you’re only option is to be proactive in maintaining your roof

Here are seven tips and insights on how you can make your roof last for decades.

  1. General Inspections

If you want your roof to serve you for decades, you need to inspect your roof on a regular basis to see if there is no definitive structural damage occurring. Moreover, you need to do a thorough check-up before the onset of winter and after the wet season has passed. You will probably notice cracks and other points of breakage. Make sure you start your inspection at the ceiling. Keep an eye on rust when checking metallic materials on the roof. Ensure the flashing is in good condition. The general examination is important because it tells you if the roof needs repair.

If you notice something that looks damaged or not quite right in any way, now is definitely the time to move on it and prevent it from degenerating further.

  1.   Frequent Gutter Cleaning

Your gutters are hard working fellas, and if they don’t ever get a reprieve from all the debris and whatnot that accumulates there then you’re going to eventually have problems. Clean them – thoroughly and regularly.

It ‘s not a good idea attempting to clean from the top of the roof. What you need to do is to stand firmly on a ladder, making sure to avoid the top three rungs. You will need two buckets; one for the debris and another for the tools you will use. It is safe to use wire hooks when attaching the buckets to the ladder, and the best place to start cleaning is the downspout. A trowel is essential in removing large debris. For finer materials, a hose can be used to flush them. If you see the water not draining after cleaning, it may be a sign of the downspout clogging. Take the time to carefully remove the downspout and clear it before re-affixing it. Take the time to do it correctly – it’s well worth it in the long run

  1. Repair Broken Gutters

Yes, this is a more tedious task than cleaning, but if you do in fact have broken or damaged gutters you definitely want to be putting in the work now rather than later. If after you flush the gutters there is standing water remaining, it is a sign that the gutter needs repair. If the gutter doesn’t slope well, you should detach the hangers and fix the drain. Check if the hooks are missing and replace them. If the channel lengths are not tight, repair the seams. Apply some paint to cover any rusting so that the circuit may look desirable. There is usually a close connection between the gutters and the roof. If water is not flowing well, the water may overflow from the gutters, and later spread on the roofs.

Long story short, water and debris that linger in a gutter can (and likely will) become a threat to your roof’s structural integrity. Be proactive in repairing your gutters to

  1. Get Rid of Moss

Nip this problem in the bud. As soon as moss growth appears, get up there and remove it thoroughly. If you get after it right away it won’t take long or be a particularly laborious job. Moss affects asphalt and wood in particular. Moss starts growth as a thin layer between and on the shingles. With time, they lift the shingles and water can seep through, which can then lead to wood rotting. Don’t use a pressure washer – it can damage the shingles. Many home renovation and supply stores sell a moss remover product.

To prevent moss from returning, you can install copper or zinc coated metal sheets beneath the top ridge on either side of the roof.

  1. Trim Overhanging Branches

Overhanging tree branches aren’t harmless. Not only do they let wildlife access your house with greater ease, they can actually damage the roof themselves. While trimming tree branches, you need to take more care, especially while dealing with the large ones. The safest process is to cut the branches into small sections. It allows for easier removal without the risk of damaging the roof. Don’t hesitate to call in a tree trimming service if you think the job is going to be too much for you. Cut branches that tumble onto your roof can actually cause the damage you’re working to prevent.

  1. Remove Rust Spots on Flashing

Any iron or steel component that’s directly exposed on a roof top is going to rust. That’s just how it is. The rust will then stain – and degrade – your shingles or other roofing material. Keep the spots clean  by hosing them several times a year. Also considering using an additional sealant coating on the shingles that are in the path of the rusty water as it trickles away from the metal. Again it’s time consuming, but again it’s worth it.

  1. Replace Blistered Shingles

There are two primary reasons why shingles blister. The first is when moisture becomes trapped and then exterior temperatures vary. The other problem is when the roof is installed poorly and not properly ventilated. Blistering shingles are not a concern to many people if they still keep granules, but if allowed to continue unchecked they will eventually pop. When this occurs, it dislocates the granules. The shingles then become exposed to the UV rays, and the loss rate for the granules increases rapidly. Which eventually leads to – you guessed it – leaking. To prevent blistered shingles from progressing to this stage, replace them when you see the first signs of blistering. Replacing during the warmer months of spring or summer is highly advisable.

This is only an introduction. There’s much more you can do to maintain your roof long-term, so feel free to do some online research of your own. And of course, for any property restoration needs in Vancouver or the surrounding areas, you’re always in the best hands with Urban Environmental.

 

Homeowners Can – And Should – Be Proactive in Preventing Flooded Basements

mold and water damage from basement leak
mold and water damage from basement leak

It’s that time of year again in the Lower Mainland, and with this year’s recurring snowfalls that are often followed by rain when the temperatures sneaks back above zero (a very common trend in the Southwest corner of BC) there’s going to be more than a few flooded basements before spring arrives. We understand the concerns. We’re property restoration experts in Vancouver, but most of us are homeowners ourselves.

Naturally, homes in low-lying areas with subterranean basements are going to be most at risk, and we imagine the owners of those types of homes really don’t need to be appraised of this fact. There’s nothing we can do to convince Mother Nature to cease with blankets of snow followed by the deluges of rain, but smart homeowners will be proactive in taking steps to ensure their basement isn’t flooded. Or is flooded much less significantly than if they were to do nothing at all.

Let’s discuss these tips here.

The key word here in all of this, again, is proactive. You should be aiming to prevent or minimize flooding damage before it occurs. Let’s start with what you can do for the exterior of your home.

Exterior Considerations

  • Sealing cracks or openings in walls, floors, windows and foundations, and seal all window wells. If you don’t know how to effectively seal cracks and the right products to do so, learn it or hire a professional to do it for you (recommended of course)
  • Clearing eavestroughs and downspouts of leaves and other debris that prevent proper drainage. This one is doable for anyone, so get on it and complete the job thoroughly and regularly
  • Disconnecting your downspouts from the sewer system – this is also not particularly difficult or time consuming, and can be done right at the beginning of the season
  • Ensuring the grading around your home slopes away from the foundation wall to help drain water away from your home
  • Increasing the green space around your home with native plants and shrubs, and installing porous pavement to help absorb rainwater and melted snow
  • Repairing or replacing damaged weeping tile systems, which can magnify the volume of a flood in big way, particularly if the driveway lies flat or slopes down inwards
  • Ensuring drainage swales (shallow ditches) between properties are maintained and clear of obstructions

Now to the interior of your detached home

Interior Considerations

  • Ensuring plumbing and drainage systems are in good working condition. Keep in mind that homeowners are responsible for the plumbing, from the property line to the inside the home
  • Understanding how your plumbing and foundation drainage systems work, and how to maintain them. Every home is different and homes over time have been built with different building practices and building codes
  • Installing a backwater valve and a properly-sized sump pump and piping. If your home is in a high-risk area, having a sump pump on site and ready to go in event of an emergency is truly a very smart decision
  • Sealing cracks or openings in walls, floors, windows and foundations, and seal all window wells
  • Do not keep valuable possessions in subterranean areas of the home. A simple one, yes, but still worth mentioning.

Most homeowners in BC will have homeowner’s insurance. While it’s nice to know that you’re covered in the event of a flood, it’s still a particularly upsetting experience for most people. Being on top of everything you can do to prevent or minimize flooding is highly recommended, and particularly so these days with the trend towards more and more instances of flooding with our increasingly wild weather.

Here’s to your success with your preventative measures, and be sure to call us first for all your property restoration needs in Vancouver and surrounding areas.

Effectively Identifying and Remediating PCBs in Building Materials

UrbanEnvironmental.caAsbestos continues to be public-enemy #1 when it comes to building material contaminants that property owners want to quickly identify and be thoroughly rid of when it comes to their properties and the air quality within it. That’s perfectly natural given the health risks associated with breathing in asbestos fibres, but there’s another potentially airborne contaminant that was incorporated into building materials in far previous decades that needs some attention paid to it as well.

 PCBs, or Polychlorinated Biphenyls, were found in building materials used between roughly 1950 and 1979 in North America, both in Canada and the USA. As is the case with asbestos, one of the more common locations for them was in schools and other public-utility buildings and offices.

 Potential PCB Trouble Spots

 Here at Urban Environmental, we are equally experienced and adept with testing for and remediating PCBs in building materials. Let’s take a look at where they are most commonly found:

  •  Caulk put in place between 1950 and 1979 may contain as much as 40 percent PCBs and can emit PCBs into the surrounding air. PCBs from caulk may also contaminate adjacent materials such as masonry or wood.
  •  Fluorescent lighting fixtures that still contain their original PCB-containing light ballasts and have exceeded their designated lifespan have an increased chance of rupture and emitting PCB. Sudden rupture of PCB-containing light ballasts may result in exposure to the occupants and may also result in the addition of significant clean-up costs
  •  Some building materials – paint and masonry walls most notably – and indoor dust can absorb PCB emissions and then become potential secondary carry sources for PCBs. When the primary PCB-emitting sources are removed, the secondary sources often emit PCBs.

When it comes to removing contaminated caulk, it is preferable to use and electrical joint cutter with oscillating blade rather than any manual implement. A big reason for this is that the oscillating blade creates a low volume of dust and there is typically a low risk of damage to joint faces when the work is conducted by a skilled and experienced tradesperson.

A rotary cutting tool can be used too, and some remediation technicians will use dry ice blasting, which is also very effective but expensive and comes with complex requirements for protective measures.

 Like any remediation process when contaminants that pose health risks may be present, it must be undertaken by industry professionals. Property owners can be proactive in identify the possibility of it though, and in particular by identify products by their manufacture date or classification.  With fluorescent lighting, look for the following indicators:

  •  A black, tar-like substance inside the small capacitor within the FLB or in the potting material. If an FLB fails or over heats, the capacitor may break open resulting in release of its oils and potting materials
  •  A yellow, oily liquid or in the tar-like potting material that leaks from the FLB

 The capacitor does not always leak when the FLB fails, and a leaking capacitor does always cause FLB failure. A leaking or rupturing FLB may increase PCB levels in the air, therefore, measures should be taken to limit or avoid personal exposure. 

 Airborne contamination stemming from degrading paint and masonry walls is measured by a Toxic Organic Compounds in Ambient Air test, with one of 2 tests determined by a high or low air volume. This approach is usually paired with wipe sampling testing from the suspected source material(s), and between them we are extremely reliable at identifying and then removing all PCBs via the offending building materials.

 Urban Environmental is Greater Vancouver’s premiere home and commercial property remediation service provider, and we’re proud of our nearing 2 decades of meeting and exceeding customer expectations and maintaining an ‘A’ rating with the Better Business Bureau. If you have any reason to suspect airborne contaminants in your home or business property, please call or email us without delay.