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Quotes of the Month: 

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and actions" 
Harold S. Geneen

"Leadership and learning are indispensible of each other"
John F. Kennedy






The Greenest Paper is No Paper at All!

     Increasingly AET's clients are asking for only email copies of our proposals, letters, reports and invoices. While we are committed to preserving the environment, we are also concerned about paper free as it relates to our clients best interests and needs.

     Hence, in March 2009 AET will initiate a fact finding mission to determine our clients concerns about paper free. Expect to hear from us.  If any customer requires hard copies of reports, invoices, etc. we will always accommodate you.


Wallpaper on exterior perimeter walls  

   Realtors will tell you location, location, location is vital in buying a property. But, where mold is concerned, the problem is moisture, moisture, moisture! Find the source of moisture and you've found the root of mold problems.

     Although common in hotels and commercial office buildings, application of wallpaper (especially vinyl wallpaper) on exterior perimeter walls is a BAD IDEA. Wallpaper can trap moisture laden air and serve as a moisture source for mold. Mold spores will eat the drywall, the wallpaper adhesive and/or the wallpaper itself.

     Application of wallpaper on bathroom walls is another bad idea as the wallpaper will serve as a vapor barrier trapping the humid and damp air/moisture. 

Tips for wallpaper in bathrooms include:

Keep a dehumidifier in the bathroom, turn it on after showering.
  • Turn on the exhaust fan when showering
  • Instead of wallpapering, paint bathroom walls. If you must utilize wallpaper, select woven wallpaper or porolated wallpaper which is designed with up to 150 tiny holes per square inch to permit the wall to breath and dry.

Three Biggest Reasons Why Mold Reoccurs After Repairs

Water damage extended into wall cavity or other building spaces which were missed during the mold inspection. Hence, these areas were never dried or fixed. Tracing all the possible pathways of water is critical in preventing mold reoccurance.
  • Building materials used for repair purposes contained excess levels of moisture or were left unprotected to outdoor elements prior to installation. Such materials could include concrete or wood products in which the exterior appears dry but may contain interior moisture.
  • The original cause of moisture intrusion was not repaired. Any roof, building envelope, or plumbing/HVAC issue which resulted in moisture intrusion must be remedied prior to mold remediation and space build-back.


Finds the Problem

     For those too young to remember, Quincy was a forensic scientist played by Jack Klugman on TV. Each episode ended by Quincy finding the right solution (A KILLER). At AET, our CIHs are trained/experienced as building scientists who utilize their unique knowledge of building construction and state-of-the-art instrumentation (such as infrared cameras) to find the cause of water infiltration and resulting mold growth. The importance of the building scientist's professional experience cannot be overstated when dealing with concealed conditions (such as behind walls).

     Project Profile

: In mid-winter, AET received an emergency call from a banking client regarding suspect mold growth in a newly constructed (

     End Result... The project was closed without further issue or expenditure by the client. Fortunately, AET's CIH had the experience and expertise to question the lab findings. Similar problems have been encountered with carbon disulfide in soil and groundwater samples.


Understand the Restrictions/Limitations (R/Ls)

     OSHA's Asbestos Construction Standard requires employers who discover ACM/PACM on a work site to convey the presence, location and quantity to the owner and other employers at the site within 24 hours of the discovery.  What makes this provision necessary if an asbestos survey has been completed?... Concealed Conditions. 

     At AET, concealed conditions are addressed in every asbestos inspection proposal and final report in the R/Ls section.  Site-specific R/Ls such as pipe fittings inside solid walls or ceilings are compared to the extent of the planned renovations/demolition and the usability of our findings discussed with our client.  Frequently, destructive sampling (opening up the wall cavity) must be added to the proposal to minimize this limitiation. 

     However, no asbestos survey can fully guarantee all ACM is identified.  Uncovering previously concealed ACM during renovations and demolition all-too-frequently occurs. Confirmatory analysis and removal of confirmed ACM when identified will be required.  The building owner must anticipate this contingency and require the contractor to halt work and take the appropriate steps. 

      CASE STUDY:  In 1999, AET was hired to complete an asbestos survey at a former warehouse (now converted to an occupied multi-tenant commercial building) prior to renovations.  In  2008, removal of identified ACM was performed.  In 2009, the building was in the process of being demolished to redevelop the site into a Lowe's store.  While removing the concrete pad, work had to be halted due to the presence of floor tile which was located below the 6" concrete pad.  Sampling confirmed asbestos content in the floor tile and an asbestos contractor had to be called in to complete said work. 



     AET was asked to perform an IAQ investigation in a high-rise apartment building on the East Coast. This on-slab facility had been constructed on a remediated hazardous waste site; site contaminants included VOC's and metals. Construction on the middle floors of this steel and concrete structure occurred during the coldest part of the winter. In May, approximately two months after construction was completed, building occupants reported noxious odors.

     Easy Answer... The state hired environmental consultant assumed the odors were the result of vapor intrusion from previous hazardous waste operations.  They collected air samples utilizing Summa canisters and confirmed low levels of VOCs (ppb range) and concluded air quality was within OSHA limits... End of Story?

     Right Answer... Due to continued occupant complaints, the owner contracted AET to reevaluate the problem. Immediately upon entering the building, AET noted a strong ammonia odor. AET's air quality testing confirmed ammonia in various locations ranging from 2 ppm to 7 ppm. Subsequent material testing utilizing concrete cores from the building confirmed ammonia was emanating from the concrete walls and floors. Ammonia gas was also being dispersed by an improperly operating HVAC system.

     Cause... Concrete contains cement mix, aggregate, water and miscellaneous hardeners and plasticizers. The cement mix at this facility was manufactured in Mexico and also contained urea as an impurity. Concrete as it cures gives off energy which released the ammonia gas into the air. 

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