Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you are a new or returning client of LEW Environmental, The Environmental CompanySM, we are committed to assisting you with environmental inspections, training, remediation and abatement, and complex compliance issues. To help clients better understand the procedures and processes involved in our environmental services, we have compiled this list of frequently-asked client questions. If you do not see your question here, please call LEW Environmental at 908-654-8068. A qualified representative is available to assist you.


Asbestos, a mineral which occurs naturally in rocks, is resistant to fire and is not easily degraded. It is these properties that once made asbestos an appealing substance to use in construction and building material and household products.

Is asbestos dangerous?

Unfortunately, there is no level of asbestos exposure that experts can guarantee is safe.  After multiple studies of workers regularly exposed to asbestos, researchers have concluded there is a link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, as well as certain types of lung and stomach cancers. The danger arises when small fibers of asbestos material break off, float in the air, and are inhaled by personnel or building occupants. These virtually invisible fibers are so small that they pass through the filters of heating, ventilation or air conditioning systems and vacuum cleaners, thus reentering the air. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can become wedged in internal body tissue where it can remain for an extended period of time. Over time, cancer may develop.

Are all products with asbestos a health risk?

In general, asbestos containing material is dangerous if it is in a deteriorated condition. When it is in this crumbling form, asbestos fibers can more easily break off and enter the air people breathe. This creates a greater health risk.

Where is asbestos found in buildings?

Building material that commonly contain asbestos include heating appliances, ceiling and wall coverings, ceiling coatings, floor tiles and coverings, roofing materials, water and heat pipe insulation, and house insulation.

How can I tell if I have asbestos in my home?

The best way of determining whether asbestos is present is to have a survey conducted and have samples taken and analyzed by a laboratory. Alternatively, if the manufacturer of a product can be contacted, they may be able to verify whether the product contains asbestos.

What does it mean when asbestos is reported to be friable?

The term “friable” refers to a material that can be pulverized with hand pressure. If asbestos containing material is friable, there is greater danger and health risk for exposure to asbestos.

If asbestos is found in my home, what should I do?

If the asbestos containing material is friable or damaged, the concern over exposure to asbestos is escalated. In many cases, the best thing to do is to leave the asbestos-containing materials undisturbed. If renovation or demolition work will take place, asbestos abatement practices must be employed to reduce the risk of exposure.

What is recommended when suspect asbestos materials are present on a heating system?

Many hot heating pipes, heat ducts, and heating units in homes built before the 1980’s were covered with asbestos-containing materials. If undamaged, it may be appropriate to leave the material as is and maintain it. If the material is deteriorated, or to reduce future asbestos concerns, it can either be repaired and encapsulated, or removed by an asbestos specialist.

Who is most qualified to work with asbestos?

Generally, a home repair contractor is not trained or licensed in the proper procedures for managing asbestos. An experienced and licensed asbestos abatement contractor is most qualified to repair, encapsulate or remove asbestos-containing materials.

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact LEW Environmental if you have questions about a specific issue.


What are molds?

Molds are a type of fungi that reproduce by releasing spores and are found indoors and outdoors. Molds thrive in warm, damp conditions, but can survive in harsh, dry conditions, as well. Every year, new mold species are discovered. Today, scientists estimate the number of mold species range from tens of thousands to 300 thousand.

What are some of the common indoor molds?

  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium
  • Alternaria

How do molds affect people?

Mold is an allergen and some people are sensitive to it.  For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. If a person is seriously allergic to molds, he or she may have a more severe reaction such as fever and difficulty breathing. These severe reactions are common among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings. Additionally, a person with chronic lung illnesses could also develop and infection in his or her lungs.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mold.

Where are molds found?

Molds are found in virtually every environment. Outdoors, they are often found in shady, damp areas and in decomposing leaf litter and vegetation. Indoors they are often found in basements, showers where moisture levels are high, or anywhere that recently experienced a water event.

I found mold growing in my home. How do I test the mold?

Generally, a homeowner cannot accurately test for mold on their own.  Home test kits are available in home improvement stores; however, these kits only show that mold is present in the environment. This is not helpful because mold is always present indoors, even in very clean environments. Accurate testing relies upon proper sampling techniques along with analysis by a certified laboratory. LEW Environmental has extensive experience in sampling methodologies and all of our samples are analyzed by accredited laboratories.

What is the best method for mold removal?

There is not one best method. Numerous mold remediation techniques exist and the best one depends on each situation. LEW Environmental’s skilled team will survey each project and determine the most effective method for removal and cleaning of the mold growth.


Why should I consider replacing my underground tank?

Many underground storage tanks are similar to the bare steel tanks in basements or garages and were not designed to be buried. If left underground, there is the chance that it will eventually rust and leak, leaving you to deal with the cleanup. Even tanks that were designed for underground use can also leak if they are not monitored and protected from rusting.

As your tank gets older, the chance of a leak increases. If concealed, even small, slow leaks can pose a serious threat to your family, your neighbors and the environment. There is a chance your tank may be leaking if you notice an unreasonable increase in your heating oil use. That information alone does not necessarily mean your tank is leaking, however, because other factors such as water leaking into the tank may also create increased consumption.

An old tank can be replaced with a modern double-walled underground tank or basement tank. Contact LEW Environmental to ensure that the tank is installed with overfill alarms, vents and other vital equipment items.

Can I test my tank for leaks instead of digging it up?

Yes. Your tank and piping can be tested for tightness.

Can I just empty the oil from my tank and leave it underground?

Yes, provided certain other measures are taken. Local government can only approve the abandonment if there is written proof provided that the tank has been properly abandoned.

Often, it is still advisable to remove the tank, thus allowing you to check for soil contamination.

In addition, should you decide to sell your home, you may be required to remove the tank or have testing conducted by the bank or the buyer.

How will I know if my tank has leaked?

Soil may be discolored and give off strong oil odors, an oily sheen may be visible, or environmental test results may indicate your tank is leaking. Sampling and analysis is recommended if any of these indicators appear or if the tank is located near any wells, drinking water supplies, wetlands, ponds or streams.  The best way to know is to contact LEW Environmental and have a tightness test conducted.

What if contamination is found?

The problem could be minor and relatively easy to correct, if actions are taken to address the problem quickly. LEW Environmental will advise you on the best remediation method and help walk you through the entire process.

Lead-Based Paint

What is lead poisoning? How do children become lead poisoned?

Lead poisoning is a disease and is most dangerous for children under six years old.  An excess of lead in the body can cause permanent damage to the brain, kidneys and nervous system in young children. At low levels, lead can reduce normal growth and cause learning and behavioral difficulties.

Children often become lead poisoned by swallowing microscopic amounts of lead paint dust. Often, a child’s normal behavior of putting their hands and toys in their mouths can cause poisoning if these things have touched lead dust or contain lead paint. If children play in leaded soil, drink contaminated water, eat vegetables or fruit grown in contaminated soil, or if leaded soil is tracked into the home, elevated levels of lead may occur in the child’s body.

Are children under six years old the only ones at risk of lead poisoning?

No. Young children can be more easily and seriously poisoned than older children or adults, but lead exposure poses a health risk for everyone. Most lead poisoning in adults is caused by work-related exposure or renovation of an older home (pre-1978). Stained glass, bullets and fishing sinkers, also often contain lead. In adults, lead exposure can cause high blood pressure, reproductive difficulties, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory loss, and muscle and joint pain. Adults who have any of these symptoms and who have been exposed to lead should consider being screened for lead. Additionally, a pregnant woman can expose her baby to lead before birth if she becomes poisoned.

What are the dangers of lead paint in homes, and when was it used?

Household paint with poisonous levels of lead was in use in the U.S. from the 1960s until it was banned by the federal government in 1978. Some municipalities, like New York City, outlawed the use of lead paint earlier, in 1960. Lead can be found in all types of pre-1978 homes: urban, suburban, and rural; private, public, state or federal housing; single-family and multi-family homes. The older the house, the more likely it is to contain lead paint.

Lead paint found in a child’s residence is often the source of childhood lead poisoning. Even a microscopic amount of fine lead dust is enough to poison a child. When lead paint is found on moving surfaces, such as windows and doors, lead dust can be released through normal use. This dust settles, where it can be easily picked up on children’s toys and fingers. Even if lead paint has been covered by layers of nonleaded paint this danger still exists, especially when the paint is disturbed.

How do I know if my house has lead-based paint?

Older homes, child care facilities, and schools are more likely to contain lead-based paint.  If you or your child lives in this type of residence of frequent these types or older buildings, you can assume there may be lead paint exposure. 87% of homes built before 1940 have some lead-based paint, while 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1978 have some lead-based paint. Hire LEW Environmental to check for lead-based paint. Our certified inspectors and risk assessors can conduct an inspection to determine whether your home or a portion of your home has lead-based paint and where it is located. This will tell you the areas in your home where lead-safe work practices should be used for renovation, repair, or painting jobs. Our certified risk assessor can conduct a risk assessment telling you whether your home currently has any lead hazards from lead in paint, dust, or soil. We can also tell you what actions to take to address any hazards.

What does the EPA’s RRP Rule require?

The RRP Rule requires that renovators are trained in the use of lead safe work practices, that renovators and firms be certified, that providers of renovation training be accredited, and that renovators follow specific work practice standards.

Who is covered by the RRP Rule?

The rule applies to all firms and individuals who are paid to perform renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb paint in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities. This includes home improvement contractors, maintenance workers, painters and other specialty trades.

Where can I get certified for RRP?

LEW Environmental has trained tens of thousands of contractors since the inception of the RRP Rule.  Sign up for a class now on our training page.