Commercial Services – Site Assessments
Any piece of real estate can be the subject of a Phase I ESA
Environmental Site Assessments and Selection Services (Phase I, II, III)
Envirotest performs site assessments and investigation for a full range of our customer’s needs. We manage projects ranging from ASTM Phase I environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) to thorough subsurface and wetland surveys/investigations to underground storage tank inspections and remediation planning. Our environmental professionals are the experts to the experts. We have been contracted to perform assessments on the assessors. All Envirotest Phase I Environmental Site Assessments are conducted in accordance with the ASTM E 1527-00 Standard. The majority of our Phase I ESA’s are customized to fit client needs and exceed the ASTM Standard in many areas. Give us a call for your next commercial site assessment.
Whether the real estate is residential, mixed us, multifamily, commercial or industrial, Envirotest will engage our environmental professionals to research and document the full history of the property up to its current use.
All Appropriate Inquiries Rule
The EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiries Rule governing the scope of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments went into effect on November 1, 2006. Envirotest experts provide our clients with practical historical data and environmental risk avoidance recommendations.
The current standard that governs these assessments is the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM E1527-13).
Phase I ESA Scope:
- Inspection of the Site by an Experienced Inspector
- Catalog the Presence of Hazardous Materials or Petroleum Products
- Historical Aerial Photographs
- Reverse Street Directories
- Building Permits
- Planning Records
- Topographical Maps
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
- Department of Oil and Gas Maps
- Title Information
Geology and Hydrogeology
- Soil Type
- Geological Setting
- Groundwater Depth
- Fire Departments
- State Environmental Agencies
- Federal Environmental Agencies
Interviews and Document Review
- Interview Tenants and Owners
- Interview State and Local Regulators
- Review Provided Reports
Mold Inspections – Residential & Commercial
If you think you have mold in a building here are some helpful tips BEFORE you start to look for a company to inspect your residence or commercial site.
Why hire a consultant or contractor?
There are companies whose primary focus is mold that offer the services of indoor air quality (IAQ) consultants and mold remediation contractors.
Many insurance companies will require a mold inspection prior to any remediation or construction after a flood. (check with your insurance company first) In most cases if you can see and smell mold in your home, you have a mold problem. Because we live on the gulf coast, we are susceptible to Hurricanes and torrential rains. These cause flooding and can create an environment where mold can begin to grow. In some cases, mold is usually a symptom of a bigger problem related to inadequate ventilation and a buildup of moisture. Homes with high moisture (also called “high relative humidity”), that have been recently flooded or stagnant water are more susceptible to mold growth.
If you have a problem with high humidity or stagnant water or if your home was recently flooded, you may need to hire a consultant or home performance specialist. Home Performance Consultants conduct indoor air quality (IAQ) investigations and can determine when structural issues exist that may be causing mold problems (such as ice dams, moisture, and heating and cooling complaints). They can help you understand why mold is growing in your home and what actions you will need to take to prevent mold growth.
Tips on hiring
Many consultants and contractors providing mold inspections and remediation services are honest, reliable and skilled. Below are suggestions on how to find good consultants and contractors.
- Get more than one estimate. Make sure all parties are bidding on exactly the same work. A mold remediation plan (provided by a mold consultant) will help ensure all contractors are bidding on the same work. Make sure the contractor comes to the job site rather than giving a telephone estimate. Be leery of an extremely low estimate. Be cautious of a contractor or consultant that uses SCARE tactics to make you do more than you really need to have done.
- Ask for the names of recent customers and call to see if they are satisfied. Would they hire the contractor or consultant again?
- Get a written inspection report. Did it include a summary of all the areas inspected, the cause of the mold growth, how to take care of the problem and any sampling results? Did the contractor show up on time, clean up afterward, perform follow-up service on warranties?
- A building cannot be made mold free. Avoid a contractor who claims to remove all mold from your building.
- Find out if complaints have been filed against the contractor or consultant by checking with your state agency or the local Better Business Bureau.
- The firm that conducts the inspection or air sampling should not be financially related to a firm that conducts the mold remediation due to a potential conflict of interest. Ultimately, it is the property owner’s responsibility to ask about such a relationship.
- Select a laboratory that is accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) or by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- In the state of Texas, a mold inspection can only be performed by a licensed mold inspector. Be wary of companies that come into town after a storm event.
- In the state of Texas, mold licensing and remediation notifications are regulated and monitored by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) Visit their website for more information.
What is Mold?
There is a difference between mold and mildew. Mold and mildew are types of fungi; typically, mold is black or green, and mildew is gray or white. Mold tends to grow on food, whereas mildew is an issue on damp surfaces, like bathroom walls, basement walls, or fabrics. Mold grows in the form of multicellular filaments or hyphae, while mildew has flat growth. Mildew is often referred to as a kind of mold (or mold in its early stages) and is classified as powdery (under the order Erysiphales) and downy (under the family Peronosporaceae).
To assist in clarification, please refer to the chart below.
||Mildew is a specific kind of mold, usually with a flat growth habit.
||Mold is fungi that contains multiple identical nuclei. It grows in the form of hyphae of filaments.
||Mildew could be downy or powdery: Downy mildew starts as yellow spots that first become brighter in appearance and then the color changes to brown. Powdery mildew is whitish in color and that slowly turn yellowish brown and then black.
||Mold has a fuzzy appearance and can be an orange, green, black, brown, pink or purple in color. Can be found in several shapes.
||Some molds are used in food production, for example, Penicillium is used in the production of cheese, Neurospora in the production of Oncom, which is made from the by-product of tofu.
||To prevent mildew at home, keep all the areas moisture-free. There are mildew removers available at stores to eliminate mildew. To protect crops from mildew use mildew-resistant seeds, remove infested plants, avoid overhead heating.
||To prevent mold in your home, you need to keep all the areas dry and moisture-free. Check the humidity levels inside the house and take measures to control it. Finish perishable food within 3-4 days.
Differences in appearance
Mold has a fuzzy appearance and can be an orange, green, black, brown, pink or purple in color. Downy mildew starts as yellow spots that first become brighter in appearance and then the color changes to brown. Powdery mildew is whitish in color and looks like talcum powder. These white spots slowly turn yellowish brown and then black
Health Effects of Mold VS Mildew
Prolonged exposure to mold spores can cause health problems such as allergic reactions and respiratory problems, due to the toxins (mycotoxins) it produces.
Mildew can cause damage to crops and other plants it infests. Inhalation of mildew can cause coughing, headache, scratchy throat and lung problems. Mildew can also start growing in lungs and cause other serious health problems.
Prevention and Control
To prevent mold and mildew in your home, you need to keep all the areas dry and moisture-free. Check the humidity levels inside the house and take measures to control it. Fix any leak in the bathroom, kitchen or other areas. Have your heating and cooling systems regularly inspected. Finish perishable food within 3-4 days.
A dehumidifier is the most common way to control excess humidity. You can purchase a specialized crawlspace dehumidifier or even a full-sized unit to control humidity throughout the whole house.
To protect crops from mildew use seeds that are resistant to mildew, remove infested plants and weeds; avoid overhead heating, plant crops that are resistant and susceptible to mildew in rotation to prevent the growth of these fungi.
Molds obtain their energy from food and other organic matter. Enzymes secreted from the hyphae breakdown complex molecules such as starch, cellulose and lignin into simpler substances, and then absorbed by the hyphae. Reproduction may be sexual or asexual through spores. These spores are airborne and able to survive in extreme conditions. Mold has a musty smell and is only visible to the naked eye when the colonies start growing.
Mildew is found on host plants like beans, maize, potato, tomato, rice and other plants. Mildew also grows on clothing, leather, paper, shower curtains, window sills where the moisture content is high. Reproduction is both sexually and asexually, via the production of spores.
How can Envirotest Help?
Rule #1 – Never disturb the affected area
If you do find large areas of mold during the inspection be careful not to disturb it if possible as this can spread spores or even mycotoxins throughout your home. Large mold colonies should only be disturbed once you have set up the proper containment during remediation.
Mold and Allergan Inspections
If you suspect you have a problem, contacting Envirotest is your first step. An inspection of the dwelling will require a licenses Envirotest technician to visit the site and perform an inspection. The inspection will reveal if there is in fact suspect material in or around the dwelling. Once this determination is made, a plan must be devised on when, how and where the mold sampling should take place.
Envirotest follows a documented regimen that meets both State of Texas and Federal EPA standards. This requires a plan to ensure that all of the necessary processes and procedures are implemented.
A written report details the Envirotest findings with our recommendations. All reports have photographs of noted potentially affected areas. if testing was conducted a copy of the laboratory results from the samples taken will be included in the final report.
There are several different types of sampling processes and procedures that Envirotest utilizes to ensure we are meeting all state regulatory requirements and providing the most comprehensive service to our clients.
Air Sampling – Taking air samples during a mold inspection is important for several reasons. Mold spores are not visible to the naked eye, and the types of mold present can often be determined through laboratory analysis of the air samples. Having samples analyzed can also help provide evidence of the scope and severity of a mold problem, as well as aid in assessing human exposure to mold spores. After remediation, new samples are typically taken to help ensure that all mold has been successfully removed.
Air samples can be used to gather data about mold spores present in the interior of a house. These samples are taken by using a pump that forces air through a collection device which catches mold spores. The sample is then sent off to a laboratory to be analyzed. Envirotest inspectors who perform mold inspections often utilize air sampling to collect data, which has become commonplace.
Tape Lifts – Tape sampling is the most common technique used to test surfaces for mold during a mold inspection. It provides valuable information. The species of mold, the relative degree of contamination, and the potential for airborne spore production may all be determined by tape sampling. mold growth on a wall.
This method can be performed using either standard, clear cellophane tape or a packaged kit specifically designed for mold sampling. Both types involve sampling by direct contact to visible mold. The tape or a slide prepared with adhesive is pressed against a moldy surface in order to collect the sample, which is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. This method is non-invasive and will not damage materials or surfaces, when performed properly. Depending on the material, tape samples can be obtained from the surfaces of valuable furnishings and materials of historical provenance that have visible fungal growth, usually without risk of damage.
Swab Sampling – Much like tape lifts, Swab Sampling physically captures a sample of the suspect material. Sterile surface swabs are an easy way to sample suspect areas for mold contamination. You should keep in mind that Mold Sampling swabs have a limited shelf life. So it is important that your inspector and company performing the inspection are using sample kits that are not out of date.
Do I need Envirotest?
Professional service can be expensive. If you would prefer to first test a suspect area of your property, there are very simple and easy home test kits. Some are even available for purchase on the internet. Envirotest is happy to serve you locally if you prefer to test your property. Simply call to schedule a pickup of one of our sample kits (Tape or Swab) and you can return it to us for quick and accurate results you can rely on. If there is a bigger problem with your property, you now have a place to go to discuss your options to remove and address the cleanup of your home.
We believe it is always best to hire a professional mold inspector, simply because of the experience and knowledge of where to look for mold and how to quickly identify it. Most mold is not in readily visible areas of your home. Envirotest will always be here to service your residential needs. If you do not wish to risk yours or your family safety, we are happy to come to your home and collect the samples for you.
When Should I call Envirotest?
Anytime you suspect an area of your house has been exposed to significant moister or if there have been any significant weather events that produce excessive moister or when you need professional testing and laboratory services, such as;
- Water leaks or moisture damage
- Flood damage
- Flooded carpets
- Fire damage
- Strange unidentified odors
What is Remediation?
To put it simply remediation means that you will remove the mold.
Self-Cleaning – In some cases, if the area that has been affected is small you could remove the mold yourself with simply household cleaning supplies. The biggest issue with this approach is disturbing the mold itself and then breathing the spores.
Professional Cleaning / Remediation – in many cases the affected areas are much too large for a homeowner or renter to take on themselves. One of the things a mold remediation specialist can do is clean areas like the crawlspace under your home and the duct work in the walls and attic. Mold spores that get into your heating and cooling system can get recirculated through your home, continuing to make you sick even if you’ve cleaned up the area where you originally found the mold.
IMPORTANT NOTE – Envirotest is NOT a remediation contractor. As a professional environmental consulting organization, we build plans for remediation and oversee remediation company work, but we do not perform the remediation itself. In the state of Texas, the two companies must be separate by law.
What Does Remediation Cost?
The level of infestation will directly affect your mold removal cost. It could be as little as $500 or as much as $30,000 or higher depending on the size of the impacted area, and how much mold is present. Having mold under a sink is simple enough to address, if you whole house is flooded your costs will most likely be at the upper end of the scale. Always compare services and prices. You should always look at a company’s experience and what guaranties or warranties you are getting with the remediation work being performed.
Remember Insurance Considerations
Most consumers don’t have that kind of money to spend out of pocket, so when you’re considering insurance, make sure you get something that will cover at least part of the remediation cost if you live in a flood zone. If your home has mold, here are some tips to handle water damage claims through your existing insurance.
Call Envirotest today even if you only suspect you may have a problem. If mold is an issue, we can quickly address your situation and help ensure your family is safe and provide you with the peace of mind that your home has been inspected by a professional.
Why Hire Envirotest?
Envirotest has over 30 years of experience working in the environmental sciences field. We have the experts who have lived in this area all their lives and understand how the gulf coast can impact our homes and businesses. Our primary focus is to help protect our clients and the environment and provide the most straight forward and accurate analysis of any job we perform. We promote honesty and ethical practices and always provide our clients with the facts, not hype.