Unidentified chemical drums discovered during a home inspection might indicate an environmental site contamination hazard. Indoor Environment Test, Diagnosis, Improvement
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Building environmental hazards:

Guide to articles giving in-depth advice on indoor and building related environmental hazard inspection, detection, remediation: Environmental Hazard Testing, Effects, Remedies, Prevention Procedures. Indoor Contaminant Detection, Testing, Cleanup, Illness, Symptoms, Diagnosis.

These articles explain building indoor environmental hazard inspection, detection, and remediation procedures giving advice from un-biased experts.

Example topics include explanation, testing and remedy procedures for building hazards from: asbestos, mold, IAQ, toxic gases, fiberglass, sewage backups, bacterial hazards, lead, radon, UFFI, noise pollution, oil spills, odors & smells, ozone, other potential building indoor contaminants.

Also try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Environmental Hazard Testing, Effects, Remedies, Prevention Articles

Ceramic glaze fragments art school (C) Daniel Friedman

This page provides an index to key articles about the building indoor environment: hazards, troubleshooting, or contaminant identification, risk assessment, and remediation: as you'll see, hazards in buildings are not limited to the latest worry popularized by the media, such as "black toxic mold".

To find what you need quickly, if you don't want to scroll through this index you are welcome to use the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX to search InspectApedia for specific articles and information.

To make the indoor environment as safe as we can, it's important to identify and address environmental hazards based on an informed risk-assessment.

Even reading about mold hazards here you'll learn that other indoor molds are far more likely to be a health hazard than the infamous Stachybotrys chartarum seen as ugly black mold on drywall.

You will also find our master index to building environmental topics at the MORE READING links at the bottom of this article or scroll down through the descriptive list of building-related environmental topics discussed at InspectApedia.

The photo at page top shows steel chemical drums that we discovered on a residential property during a home inspection.

Not only did these steel drums raise a question of possible environmental contamination of this site, even worse, they were uphill and close to a stream, raising a still more broad question of area contamination.

Above is a microscope photograph of particles in a dust sample collected in a pottery studio. Some of these dust particles are highly-toxic while others are harmful because of their very small size. [Click to enlarge any image]

See the detailed list of article links listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article for our full list of environmental topics.

Examples of Environmental Contaminant & Hazard Topics Discussed at

Asbestos in floor tiles © D Friedman at Air conditioner duct contamination © D Friedman at Fiberglass © D Friedman at

U.S. EPA's Top To Toxic Threats

In October 2017 the New York Times, in an article about the chemical industry's role in shaping US EPA policy, cited the U.S. E.P.A.'s Top 10 Toxic Threats and included notes on the chemical industry's "pushback".

Below we list those top ten toxic threats. However it is essential that any contamination concern regarding a specific property needs to take a different approach, examining the site's history, occupancy, and uses as well as making the most-basic tests such as of drinking water.

Don't let fear of these items so capture your attention that you fail to attend more-immediate life safety threats such as fire hazards, stair, trip and fall hazards, and driving hazards. Based on accident reporting statistics, more people are injured in automobile accidents, falling down stairs, or by drugs or firearms than by chemicals in the home. However the following chemicals and materials can still be dangerous.

  1. Asbestos - not produced in the U.S. since 2002 but still used in some products and processes. Associated with lung cancer, mesothelioma.
  2. 1-Bromopropane - used as a refrigerant, lubricant, solvent in spray adhesives, degreaser, agricultural applications, manufacturing of foam cushions.

    Associated with dizziness, headaches, slurred speech, confusion, muscle twitching, difficulty walking and loss of consciousness, possibly associated with reduced blood cell counts, toxicity to the liver, reproductive and nervous systems.
  3. Carbon Tetrachloride - used in drycleaning, has been used in refrigeration, aerosol propellants, pesticides, degreasing agents.

    Most uses are currently banned in the U.S. but it remains in use in some industrial applications. Effecs: liver damage, kidney damage, and at high levels brain and CNS damage, possibly fatal.
  4. 1,4 Dioxane, used in industrial applications in the production of adhesives and sealants, paint strippers, greases, varnishes, waxes, antifreeze, deodorants, even some shampoos and cosmetics.

    Likely to be carcinogenic to humans. Found in some drinking water supplies (at low levels [sic])
  5. Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster, chemicals used in flame retardants, plastic additives, some polystyrene foams used as insulation. Potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects.
  6. Methylene Chloride, used in the pharmaceutical industry and in polyurethane foam production, also paint strippers, metal cleaners, adhesives, solvents used in aerosols.

    Affects the central nervous system, dizziness, incapacity, can be fatal; liver damage, lung cancer, associated with known deaths.

    Note: in May 2018 the U.S. EPA announced that it would proceed with its ban on methylene chloride used in paint stripping. Under the proposed rule, use of methylene chloride will still be permitted in commercial furniture refinishing wher companies can more reliably control its use and protect workers.

    Watch out: In residential use or DIY projects, using a methylene chloride based paint stripper can be fatal. - Lipton, Eric, "Lowe's Says It Will Phase Out Paint Strippers Blamed in Dozens of Deaths", The New York Times, 2018/05/31, p. B1.
  7. N-Methylpyroolidone, solvent used in the petrochemical industry, and in production of plastics, paints, inks, enamels, some cleaning products, some arts and crafts materials.

    Of particular risk to pregnant women (based on animal studies) suggesting delayed fetal development.
  8. Perchloroethylene or "perc", drycleaning solvent, also used in automotive care products, lubricants, greases, adhesives, sealants, paints.

    High-level inhalation can cause kidney damage, liver damage, unconsciousness, likely to be carcinogenic to humans, associated with bladder cancer, non-HGodgkin lymphoma, multiple myleoma. Found as a contaminatn in some drinking water.
  9. Pigment Violet 29, used in watercolors, acrylic paints, automotive paints, printing & packaging inks, cleaning and washing agents, solar cells, paper, sporting goods, industrial carpeting, and has been approved to be used in food packaging.

    Health studies have been limited, preliminary studies suggest "acute toxicity, some eye and skin irritations, possible reproductive and developmental harmful effects
  10. Trichloroethylene, TCE, used to produce refrigerant, as a degreaser, and in some drycleaning applications.

    Associated with cancers of the liver, kidneys, blood, birth defects, testicujlar cancer, leukemia, lymphomas, lungtumors, this chemical appears as a contaminant in some drinking water.

- Source: Lipton, Eric, "Chemical Industry Insider Now Shapes Policy at E.P.A. - sidebar "The E.P.A.'s Top 10 Toxic Threats, and Industry's Pushback", The New York Times, 2017/10/22 pp. 24, 25


In these articles we give inspection, testing, and cleanup as well as prevention advice for: Allergens indoor, Animal dander, Asbestos, Carpet dust, Cell Phones, Carbon Monoxide, Disinfectants, Drinking Water, EMF, Electromagnetic Fields, Electrical Hazards, Exteriors of buildings, Fragrances, Fiberglass particles and Fiberglass Insulation, Fiberglass mold contamination, Formaldehyde, Toxic Gases, Hazmat maps, Indoor Air Quality Testing & Improvement, Lead paint, lead in water, MCS, multiple chemical sensitivity, Mold inspection, testing, cleanup, prevention, MVOCs, Odors, Oil Tanks buried/above ground, Pet illness, Rodents mice urine fecals dust, Septic Systems, Sewage spills sewage contamination, Smells & Odors, odor source detection, sewage and septic odors, UFFI or Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation, Water contamination testing and correction.


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