Asbestos is non-toxic and is mined form the earth like iron, lead and copper and its history as a valued mineral conjures images of prospectors stumping the California mountains or exploring African jungles in search for gold or jewels. Asbestos, though, does not break into gleaming particles of precious ore. It divides into millions of deadly fibers, so fine that they are undetectable to the naked eye.
The word asbestos derives from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable, its resistance to fire was greatly admired by the ancients. The Greeks and Romans spun asbestos into cloth, using it for LAMP wicks, and some historians believe they cleaned asbestos fabric by tossing into the flames.
There are three common varieties of asbestos: Chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite - all fibrous materials with similar properties of resistance to heat and chemicals.
In early times, all forms of asbestos were rare, so its use remained limited until large deposits were found in Canada in the 1800s.
The Canadian discoveries were hailed widely, and soon asbestos was being used in many ways: as an insulating component for boilers, pipes and other high-temperature applications, in siding, roofing shingles and wallboard, in theater curtains and acoustical plaster. Almost anywhere fireproofing was desired, asbestos was incorporated in the construction - in schools, churches, public buildings, private plants and office buildings. Asbestos was used to strengthen concrete and other building materials and often was sprayed on ceilings and walls as a decorative item.
During World War II, asbestos frequently was used in American shipyards. Use c
ontinued to increase in the post-war years until two major occurrences in the 1970s: 1) The nation experienced a building recession and 2) Asbestos was established as a human carcinogen after numerous dis-ease and death claims that produced bans by the Environmental Protection Agency on spray-applied materials.
On October 22, 1986, Congress enacted the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), directing the EPA to study the affects of asbestos in public and private building and to prepare guidelines for dealing with the asbestos problem in schools. A flood of federal asbestos regulations followed.
The scope of the problem is reflected is reflected in a 1988 EPA study which reported the possibility of asbestos in about 20 percent of all public and commercial buildings in the United States. That prevalence, public fear and government and economic pressures, all made asbestos abatement mandatory.
Soft and malleable, lead has been used for thousands of years and would appear to be ideal for purposes such as pipes, cable sheaths, batteries, paint pigments and ceramics. Unfortunately, it is highly toxic- one of the few naturally occurring substances of no apparent use to the human body.
The toxicity of lead is detectable at the lowest measurable levels. Lead is so poisonous that its prevalence menaces children and some adults, causing ailments from mental retardation to heart and kidney damage.
Public awareness of lead as a problem is new. A lead statue found in Turkey from 6500 B.C. In 370 B.C., Hippocrates recognized lead as the cause of a metal worker’s severe attack of colic. In 1700 A.D., Bernardino Ramazzini, the father of occupational medicine, described 54 different occupations associated with lead poisoning.
Knowledge of lead’s dangers has heightened during the 20th Century, but so has distribution. Tetraethyl lead, introduced in 1923 as an additive to gasoline, is a major offender. Both gasoline and high-lead paint cause widespread pollution because they are not recyclable. Paint dust and chips from older houses are a major source of soil contamination. Lead pigments are found in toys, furniture, tin cans, caulking, cosmetics, medicine containers and even moonshine.
In recent years federal regulations have focused public attention on lead’s dangers. The EPA, for example, now limits lead in drinking water to less than 50 Kg/liter.
In view of the hazard it constitutes, “Get the lead out” would be a good motto.

Molds (fungi) have been around as long as life has existed on earth. Neither plant nor animal, it is their incredible ability to adapt and exploit an extreme range of environments that has allowed fungi to thrive from antiquity. One of the reasons these organisms are so successful is their ability to produce and disperse huge numbers of tiny spores, which are microscopic, are generally airborne (water and animals can also carry them), and can be transported vast distances. By their sheer numbers, fungi can quickly take advantage of any new food supplies that become available - all they need to germinate and grow is moisture and a source of carbon (e.g.: many building materials).
The air we breathe can contain tens of thousands of spores per cubic meter, while the soil holds vast numbers. For example, Ganoderma, a bracket fungus, which commonly grows on decaying stumps or logs, can produce more than 30 billion spores per day. A Penicillium "colony," about one inch in diameter, may shed some 400 million spores. Many of these spores can remain viable for years (e.g.: Penicillium) while others are unable to germinate after only a few days or weeks (e.g.: Stachybotrys). As a consequence, there will always be fungal spores present in the air that we breathe, both outdoors and indoors. It is almost impossible to completely exclude fungi from any environment (including the cheese we seal in plastic and put in the refrigerator).
As living organisms, fungi are inherently unpredictable (unlike other sources of contamination, such as asbestos and lead). As a consequence, each potential building contamination problem will be different and dependent on the degree of flooding or water intrusion, kinds of fungi growing, degree of contamination, nature of the various materials affected, and the type of construction of the building itself.
Like Asbestos and Lead remediation, mold remediation requires protective measures to prevent undo exposure to workers, house/building occupants and
other unimpacted areas of the house/building. The most important aspect of mold remediation is mitigation of the moisture source that led to the original
mold contamination. It is impossible to remove all mold spores during remediation and, if the moisture source is not removed, further mold colonization can