Table of contents
Air Quality FAQ’s
Do I need an air quality test ?
In general, air quality testing is performed to evaluate levels of the specific contaminants that you may be concerned about. Air quality tests can include testing for mold, bacteria, VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), asbestos, mercury, silica, and formaldehyde. Afterwards, air samples are sent to a certified state laboratory for analysis to obtain the accurate results. Additionally, general indoor air quality testing can be performed. However, such tests only include measuring temperature, humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and dust.
How do I know which air contaminants to test for?
A meaningful decision as to which contaminants to test for is based on many factors. One factor is the presence or onset of any odors. Another factor is the presence of any adverse health effects being experienced by occupants. Thirdly, any recent history of moisture intrusion and plumbing leaks may indicate a mold problem. Lastly, any ongoing work being performed and the installation of any new building materials in the space may contribute dust and off gassing in the space.
How long does air sampling take?
In general, air samples are collected using small pumps and air sample cassettes. Sampling time depends on the test method used and the contaminant being evaluated. Typical air sampling times per sample vary as follows: bacteria – 2 minutes; mold – 10 minutes; VOC’s – 15 minutes; asbestos – 90 minutes; silica – 2 to 4 hours; soot – 90 minutes; formaldehyde – 60 minutes.
What is the cost of air testing?
Test laboratory analysis fee depends on the type of analysis (mold, bacteria, formaldehyde) that the lab is performing and how quickly you need the lab results (i.e., turnaround time). The fee increases as the turnaround time decreases. There is also a professional fee for the air quality inspector to collect the air samples, interpret the laboratory test results, and to write a report.
When do I get the results from the air quality tests?
Results from tests performed using hand-held, direct-reading instruments are available in real-time. Other tests require the collection of samples that are sent to a lab for analysis. Most test results are available within 5 business days, but expedited results are usually available for a small upcharge.
What does a mold inspection include?
A mold inspection includes a visual inspection of room-side surfaces for water damage and mold growth. A mold inspection also includes an evaluation of musty odors, moisture measurements and photo-documentation of any water damage and mold growth conditions observed. Air samples may be taken for laboratory analysis to evaluate the air quality. Air sample results may also indicate whether hidden mold growth conditions may be present. An inspection report is prepared that summarizes observations, laboratory results, conclusions, and a mold remediation plan, if more that 10 square feet of mold is visible, as per NYS law.
Do I need a mold inspection or air quality testing for mold?
If visible mold is present on surfaces, then you can assume that the levels of airborne mold are elevated. Therefore, when mold is visible, there is little need to take air samples to evaluate whether there is mold problem. However, if you would like to determine whether visible mold in a room is adversely affecting the air quality, then taking an air sample for mold may be helpful.
Is mold dangerous?
In 2004, the Institute of Medicine stated in its report entitled Damp Indoor Spaces and Health that there is sufficient evidence of an association between exposure to mold and other agents in damp indoor environments and upper respiratory tract symptoms. Other symptom can include coughing, wheezing, and asthma symptoms (in sensitized individuals with asthma). Moreover, the World Health Organization stated in its report entitled Dampness and Mould (2009) that “There is sufficient epidemiological evidence of associations between dampness or mould and asthma development”. Asthma exacerbation, current asthma, respiratory infections, upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, wheeze and dyspnea may also occur.
Are all molds create equal?
No, all molds are not created equal. Some molds provoke allergy-like symptoms in sensitive individuals. Some molds produce mycotoxins and are considered toxigenic. Also, a genus of mold may have numerous species, and some species may be mycotoxin-producers, and some species may not be.
Do I need to hire a mold inspector if I know I have a mold problem?
Yes, if you are going to hire a contractor and there is more than 10 square feet of visible mold present. The NY State Department of Labor states that you need to hire a mold inspector to conduct a mold inspection. The mold inspector determines the scope of work and the cause of the mold problem. Secondly, the mold inspector prepares the mold plan. The plan will include the mold treatment methods. The plan will also include safety procedures and the post-mold remediation clearance protocols to successfully close out the mold project.
What do I do with the mold plan provided by the mold inspector?
The mold inspection plan is given to a NY state certified mold remediation contractor. The mold remediation contractor performs the work written in the mold plan. However, prior to performing the work, the mold contractor should provide you with a cost estimate.
What do I do after the mold remediation contractor finishes the work described in the mold inspector’s plan?
Before you do the rebuild work, the NY State Department of Labor states that you need to re-hire a mold inspector. The mold inspector will evaluate the work performed by the mold remediation contractor. Secondly, the mold inspector will determine whether the plan was properly followed. During the reinspection, the mold inspector will take moisture measurements. He will also evaluate musty odors and re-inspect surfaces for water damage and mold. Additionally, the mold inspector will collect air samples to evaluate levels of airborne mold. Lastly, If levels of airborne mold meet the clearance criteria in the mold inspector’s plan, the mold inspector will prepare a clearance report and indicate that the remediation work was successfully performed and that the the affected areas are eligible for rebuild.
What is Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a chemical that is used to fabricate wood products. Some engineered wood products include kitchen cabinets and furniture. Cabinets and furniture fabricated with MDF may off gas formaldehyde for years.
Should I be concerned about inhaling formaldehyde vapors?
Formaldehyde is a mucous membrane (eye, nose, throat) irritant. Some people develop allergic sensitivities to formaldehyde and other VOC’s.
What is a safe level of formaldehyde vapors that may be inhaled?
There is no one standard that is generally accepted as the “safe” level for formaldehyde vapor concentrations. The National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established a recommended exposure limit of 0.016 ppm or 16 ppb. Formaldehyde vapors are classified as a human carcinogen.
Can I test the air for formaldehyde?
Yes. Air quality testing is conducted using a vacuum pump and an DNPH absorption tube. The pump operates for about an hour. The tube sample is sent to a lab for analysis to determine the concentration of formaldehyde in the air. Indoor levels are then compared to NIOSH and other regulatory exposure guidance levels. Because of the very low NIOSH recommended exposure level (REL) of 16 parts per billion (ppb), samples are taken onto DNPH tubes. The samples are analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC, method NIOSH 2016). We do not recommend that a direct-reading hand-held instrument be used.
Where can I get more information?
Contact us or click on any of the links below:
Lead Paint FAQ’s
As a landlord in NYC, do I need to be concerned about lead paint in my rental units?
Yes, under Local Law 31 of 2020, NYC HPD requires landlords to conduct lead paint testing in multi-family apartment buildings throughout NYC. One and two-family homes that are rented are also required to be tested.
Can I conduct lead paint testing myself?
No, you must hire an EPA-certified lead inspector or lead risk assessor to conduct a lead paint inspection.
How long does an inspection take?
A two-bedroom apartment can be inspected and tested in approximately one hour. However, the inspection report may take two hours or more to prepare.
How is the lead paint tested?
Lead paint is tested using a hand-held direct reading x-Ray spectrometer (XRF).
When will I get the results of my XRF lead paint inspection?
Each tested surface takes approximately 10 seconds to complete, so results are basically obtained immediately.
How long do I have to get the lead paint inspection completed?
NYC HPD requires every qualifying rental unit to be tested by August 2025. However, if a child under the age of 6 spends ten or more hours in the apartment, the unit must be inspected by August 2021.
What do I do with my lead paint inspection report?
HPD is required to conduct 200 audits annually. This assures that landlords are complying with Local Law 31. Be prepared to present the lead paint report upon their request.
How can I schedule an XRF Test?
Call Angstrom Testing Services at 516-724-4574 or click on the link below to visit our XRF page.
Can I get a lead paint exemption for my apartments?
Yes. If no lead paint is found in an apartment, then you can apply for an exemption. Local Law 1 of 2004 provides for an exemption from certain provisions of the law. You are required to submit test documentation. Exemptions can be issued for individual apartments and for an entire building.
What is the difference between a lead paint-free apartment and a lead paint safe apartment?
The lead-free designation means that there is no lead paint in the apartment. All lead paint has been removed. Lead “safe” means that there is no accessible lead paint in the apartment. The lead paint is covered by sheetrock or boxes. The lead paint is still present, but the paint is inaccessible. Landlords must conduct annual visual inspections, since the coverings may deteriorate over time.
What is the definition of lead paint?
Effective December 1, 2021, lead paint is defined as paint containing 0.5 milligrams of lead per square centimeter (0.5 mg/cm2) of paint. This supersedes the long-standing definition of paint containing 1.0 mg/cm2.
If I have an exemption, must I have my rental apartment retested for lead paint at turnover?
Yes, all lead paint exemptions are voided at turnover, and you must have your apartment retested using a certified XRF instrument that has been calibrated at the 0.5 mg/cm2 action level.
Water Testing FAQ’s
Can I test my tap water for bacteria?
No. Water must be collected into a bottle that contains a buffer. The buffer removes the chlorine disinfectant in your tap water. Without the buffer, the chlorine will kill all of the bacteria. This may give false negative results.
How many water samples must be collected in a house to evaluate water quality?
First draw and 30 second flush samples should be taken from a few cold water outlets in a house. The water should be allowed to stagnate for 8 to 18 hours before sampling.
Which contaminants should I test tap water for?
Lead and bacteria are good starting points. However, water can be testing for many heavy metals. Some metals include copper, lead, and zinc. Levels of coliform bacteria and a heterotropic plate count is a good way to evaluate the potability of the water.
Should I have my well water tested?
Yes, if you consume well water or use well water for cooking, then the well water should be tested for bacteria. The water should also be tested for pesticides, herbicides, and petroleum products.
Do I need to test the water in my NYC daycare?
Yes, the New york City Health Department requires that the water from bathroom and classroom sinks be tested for lead. Water fountains are also required to be tested for lead. First draw and 30 second flush samples are required after the water has been allowed to stagnate for 8 to 18 hours. You are required to hire an EPA certified lead inspector employed by an EPA certified firm. The water must be analyzed by a NYS Health Department accredited laboratory.