Curren Environmental Blog

Mold Testing & Mold Inspections

Posted by david sulock on Oct 3, 2019 10:19:27 AM

Mold is truly a four letter word and also a very misunderstood term.  You've heard of "Black Mold" (not a real mold term) or "Toxic Mold" (no such thing)? In the mold testing and mold inspection industry "black toxic mold" should not be used.  Misinformation abounds, so here are some important facts about mold, mold remediation and mold testing

when do you test mold?

Growing mold off-gases, causing that musty odor you smell, and if you think your basements smells that way because it is a basement, you're wrong,  it's not supposed to smell musty.  Mold growth stains surfaces and is visible if you understand where and what to identify as mold.  If you see mold growing inside a building, something is wrong, it is not normal or typical, even at the shore/beach.  Curren knows because we have inspected thousands of properties and, no, they all do not have mold growing.

Pertaining to mold testing, when obvious mold is present the EPA agrees testing is not necessary.

If you have discolored building materials and are not 100% if its mold, surface sampling can be performed for verification of questionable staining indicative of mold.

mold testing

Mold Testing can verify if a stained or discolored surface is impacted with mold growth, such as  surface sampling and/or air testing (non viable spore trap sampling). These mold tests quantify both mold spore count in a room and also evaluates for hidden mold in a complaint room where no visible mold is present.

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Pro Tip:  Buying a house that is being flipped and the basement is finished, get a mold inspection with mold testing.

Pro Tip:  Buying a home that was bank owned and rehabbed?  Get a mold inspection with mold testing.

mold air testing

Our ratio of finding hidden mold in both situations is around 90%, but 70% of the time we get called in AFTER someone has bought one of these types homes, in cases such as these, mold is found after you own the property.

Proper mold remediation is the removal of an unwanted condition, such as mold. This follows a multi-step process which typically entails containment of work area, followed by physical removal, cleaning and encapsulation of remaining organic surfaces and air scrubbing, all of which are appropriate and proposed for the subject site.

Curren Environmental has over 20 years’ experience in the environmental field and we provide Certified Education (CE) classes on environmental topics, including mold, so we know what we are talking about. There are only 11 states in the country that have mold regulations and licensing  programs and New Jersey is not one of them. Curren nor any other company in New Jersey holds a New Jersey license for mold remediation as the license does not exist. Generally speaking, mold remediation follows asbestos abatement guidelines to contain a workspace, establish air filtration and remove (remediate) mold. Curren has personnel that hold asbestos licensing and our personnel follow these procedures from independent training schools as well as in-house training program.

Expert advice from mold experts

888-301-1050

 

Tags: mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold consultant

Does the Soil of a Previously Removed Oil Tank Need to be Tested?

Posted by david sulock on Sep 23, 2019 10:51:00 AM

The story goes, you have a property where an underground oil tank was removed by the previous owner. You as the current owner, didn’t question any environmental issues with the tank removal when you bought it, now you are selling the property and your buyer is asking for testing in the area where the tank was removed.

The previous owner supplied you, the current homeowner, with the following:

  1. Tank removal contract sating it was paid in full.
  2. A copy of the permit for removal from the town
  3. Approval sticker from the construction office

Why are the items above not enough for information regarding an underground oil tank removal to sell the house? In today's real estate market home buyers are more informed and they want iron clad data proving that the oil tank did not leak.

Those three pieces of information (contract, permit and approval sticker) does not prove the tank did or did not leak. The data set you have are just pieces of information, not a cohesive report with a narrative that ends with the conclusion that the tank did not leak. Environmental reports show the proper paperwork as appendices, but the actual report  details the work completed including  the evaluation and testing performed to confirm the tank did not leak. If you are an uninformed buyer, which 15-20 years ago is true, you assumed the tank didn’t leak. But again, in todays market buyers are assuming it did leak as you, the homeowner, have nothing saying to prove otherwise.

Example photos of soil sampling in a previously removed underground oil tank area.

Allow me to elaborate in greater detail - while the tank had a permit for removal and inspection, the construction official is not inspecting for leaks, they inspect if the tank was removed, as per the permit. I have had inspectors BOTH pass and fail removed tanks that did leak. A soil test for soil contamination is around $120.00, (Before 2005 the cost would have been $75.00), not performing soil testing is basically saying the owner does not want to find a problem, it’s not due to cost. 

You have no data from the day of removal that the tank did not leak, for example, a professional opinion from the tank removal company saying the tank did not leak. Don’t you think if it didn’t leak there would be something in writing? If it did leak, there is a high probability that they did receive the appropriate data from the removal company, but that piece of paper or email has been "lost".

There are laws regarding reporting an environmental leak from an oil tank when that leak is found. Prior to August of 2018, this law stated that a knowledgeable party was to report the leak, so a tank removal company telling a homeowner that the tank leaked and providing the NJDEP them the phone number to call, was very common. The question is if the homeowner actually reported the leak? Since August of 2018, the regulation requires the property owner to report the leak, but again, can you trust someone to report on themselves?

Call Curren TodayWe had a call recently from a home buyer on the same street and town where Curren Environmental previously removed an underground oil tank. The house the buyers found had an underground oil tank removed in 1995, the current homeowners had the removal permit and contract, but no soil testing data and no environmental report of removal, proving the tank did not leak. We provided compliance sampling for new buyer and found soil contamination. Thankfully for the buyers the property did not need remediation, but there was NJDEP reporting and further testing to close the environmental issue (about $4,500.00 in costs, also adding about two months to the settlement date). The tank did indeed leak, but no one reported it. If the buyer didn’t hire Curren they would have been sitting on a property with soil contamination they had neither created nor knew about but would have owned none the less, and no doubt a future buyer would have found.

Tags: tank leak, underground oil tanks

Oil Tank Removal New Jersey

Posted by David C Sulock on Sep 17, 2019 9:08:46 AM

You recently had your oil tank removed and there were holes in the tank. However, there are no indications of soil contamination but the company that removed the oil tank filed a report to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). You are unaware that you may have been naïve in choosing your oil tank removal company due to the fact that removing an oil tank hopefully would be a once in a lifetime event. At this point, you understand that clearly your tank removal contract should have included soil sampling, but it did not. You are also unaware that soil sampling must be completed, then the report is sent to NJDEP to close out the case number (assuming that it meets the state parameters for acceptable oil levels) and rescind the remedial action. 

residential oil tank removal

Regarding what soil sampling is and how it is performed, there are permissible levels of oil that can remain in the ground and conversely there are levels that would require remediation. New Jersey regulations require that upon removal of an oil tank that has evidence of a leak, you are to obtain a minimum of 5 soil samples from the tank excavation (5 for a 500 gallon tank and 6 for a 1000 gallon tank). This is relative to your contract for tank removal. If the contract did not reference soil sampling, you can’t guarantee soil samples would be obtained. Soil samples are critical to assess the tank excavation for petroleum levels. The testing is meant to inform the property owner if indeed oil levels are present and remediation is warranted or that levels are within permissible limits and can be left in place. Now, you, as the owner of the oil tank that leaks can make an informed decision regarding remediation. 

If your tank removal contract does not include costs for soil sampling or discusses the possibility of finding a tank leak, it is pretty safe to assume that the tank removal company is looking to find a leaking tank and remediation.

In a situation where a tank is removed, found to be leaking and no soil sampling was performed, you should be concerned as to whether the soil needs remediation. All discharges are required to be reported to the NJDEP (If your tank contract doesn’t inform you that a tank leak is reportable, think again about who you are hiring).

oil tank removal New Jersey
Example of soil testing by soil borings


The only way you would know if your tank leak has petroleum contamination in the soil above or below NJDEP permissible limits is to have soil sampling performed. If all your samples are in compliance with NJDEP regulations you will receive a No Further Action (NFA) letter that will close out the NJDEP case number. This can be performed without having to perform actual remediation, which is typically soil removal.

Again, the tank removal contract should have addressed obtaining soil samples and what to do if a leak was noted. Remember, holes are never good in an oil tank and you rarely will see physical evidence of an oil discharge in a tank excavation, meaning you are not going to see oil or stained soils.

Expert advice with over two decades of tank removal experience. Curren Environmental, Inc.

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Tags: oil tank removal new jersey, NJDEP HOTS, underground oil tanks

Should you test oil tanks?

Posted by david sulock on Sep 10, 2019 8:00:30 AM

If an oil tank has been removed and showed no visible signs of leaking, should soil samples still be taken? An oil tank was removed and showed no visible signs of leaking, the tank removal contractor did a pressure test and passed. As the buyer of the property, I am concerned that the tank area has not been tested.

testing removed oil tanks

To test or not to test an oil tank at time of removal? We get that question almost daily from both owners of tanks and purchasers of a property where a tank will be or was removed. Should you test an oil tank?

Does your dentist test your teeth via x-ray to look for problems? Does a doctor perform testing on patients? Can you determine cholesterol from just the physical appearance of a patient? My point being throughout life you have professionals performing testing to evaluate your health, testing a removed oil tank is the same principal.

The most important question about an oil tank is if it leaked. Owners of tank don’t want to test because they don’t want to find a problem. Buyers want oil tank testing performed because they don’t want to buy a property where an oil tank leaked.

The cost for testing most tanks at time of removal is a couple hundred dollars. Not a budget breaker for sure but finding even a small leak can cost thousands of dollars to address and the party responsible for cleaning up any tank leak is the property owner. So, buying a property with a tank leak (even if the buyer didn’t know if the tank leaked at time of purchase) is the responsibility of the property owner.


Common scenario, buyer want to purchase a home that had prior oil heat. The oil tank was removed previously (tank removed years ago). Sometime the tank was removed by the current property owner, sometime the tank was removed by a previously owner and the current owner was not aware of the liability from oil tanks and didn’t question the lack of testing. Buyer is concerned about buying a home where a tank was removed. So, in addition to performing a home inspection, the buyer wants soil testing completed from the removed oil tank grave. Post removal testing involves drilling and obtaining soil samples from the former tank location. Do we find some level of oil when we test removed tank location, yes. Do we find remediation is required from this testing, sometimes yes. Is the owner shocked when wee find contamination from removed tank areas? Sometimes owners are surprised as they bought the home prior to removal and didn’t view the oil tank as a liability. But there are definitely times where the owner has a hint that oil would be found and was hoping no one would look.


Testing removed tank locations is not as easy as you would expect. As time passes the restored ground returns to normal and little evidence of the tank grave is visible. Owners have selective memory of where the tank was and often point to absurd locations where the tank was removed. This requires sleuthing on our part and performing rows of soil boring to attempt to find the proverbial oil tank in the haystack. Any detection of oil found from a tank area is reported to the state as a spill clearly occurred.

Photo with boring info on it

Know before you buy a property that had oil heating. Testing is always advised by tank removal companies (The good ones at least). If testing was not performed, you have to ask, why? Buy a home with an oil tank leak and you just purchased an oil tank cleanup.


Over 20 years’ experience with oil tanks. Want expert advice? Call the experts’ 888-301-1050.

Tags: oil tank removal nj, tank removal, oil tank, underground oil tanks

Good vs. Bad Underground Oil Tanks. Which Tank do you have?

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on Aug 22, 2019 11:29:00 AM

Questions that are quite often asked “Do I have a good underground oil tank or a bad one?”, or “What is the difference between a good or bad underground oil tank?”. Answering questions regarding underground oil tanks is an easy one, if your tank has been under ground since tanks started being buried (late 1940’s to early 1950’s), then there is no good or bad tank – you need to remove that oil tank. The tank has exceeded any functional and reasonable life expectancy.

In situations when the underground oil tank is still in use and older , the oil tank should be removed and replaced with an aboveground oil tank. Ask yourself a simple question, “Would you buy the house with an oil tank that old in the ground?”.

Tank Removal Question

Underground Oil Tank with holes

Anything subject to corrosion such as a metal tank deposited in the ground has a finite life span, time will cause any underground oil tank to leak. There are no warrant

ies for oil tanks that were placed into the ground over 40/20 years ago. Warranties on oil tanks that are bought today have only a 1 to 10-year warranty. Also, you most likely do not even have insurance that would cover an oil tank leak at this point. Insurance companies started to negotiate covering oil tanks and began removing coverage when the carriers suffered huge claims from underground oil tanks leaking years ago.

Why remove your underground oil tank? You may not see the tank or use the tank but the longer it sits underground the more time it has to rust and for holes to occur, causing oil or residual oil to seep into the ground. Many oil tanks that Curren Environmental remove were in use and found to be leaking and showed no evidence of leakage to the owner prior to removal.

What if you decided to sell your property? Today with that oil tank in the ground, the “buyer” would have a difficult time getting a mortgage and homeowners insurance. You underground oil tank is not “good” sitting underground waiting to for removal. Again, consider if you would buy the home again knowing what you know now about oil tanks.

How would yooil tank delineationu know if you had a “bad” oil tank? You won’t know anything about that oil tank until its removed and soil samples are provided. Soil samples are grabbed directly beneath the oil tank once it has been removed. Those soil samples are taken to an independent lab, analyzed and a report is provided to the client discussing if those soil samples are Non-Detect (ND) or above standards. More information can be found here regarding sampling. Each state has different regulations regarding how much oil is allowed in the soils. NJ is one of the strictest states regarding oil tank removal and contaminated soils.

If you know the age of your oil tank, there were differences between the 1950’s tanks as opposed to the 1970’s tanks. The steel from the 1950’s was stronger and thicker, meaning if the tank was built and put in the ground during that era, the steel may last longer. But remember, if it was put under ground that was over 60-70 years ago! Even if that tank is no longer in use, why keep it in the ground? Nothing is meant to last forever – well maybe plastic water bottles.

There are no good or bad underground oil tanks, just underground oil tanks that need to be removed. To learn more on the removal of your underground tank, soil sampling and costs contact Curren Environmental today by filling out the Form to the right or by calling us now.

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Tags: tank removal, oil tank, underground oil tanks

The Truth! Mold in Basements.

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on Jul 29, 2019 10:16:00 AM

One of the most inspected areas for Mold Inspections are basements. Basements are subterranean, meaning basements are under the earth’s surface. It is cooler under the earth’s surface and the soils under the surface holds moisture. Mold growth occurs on organic surfaces such as wood, furniture, and porous items. Mold does not grow on steel or metal unless there are dirt and dust particles, mold can grow on those organic materials.

Moisture can get out of control when not properly managed in subterranean areas, causing mold growth over time on organic surfaces. There are also some one time-events that can happen such as water rising from the ground and into the sub flooring, or leaking through windows, foundations, vents and doorways. Other events such as a pipe bursting and plumbing leaks (hot water heather leak when they fail), if not fixed will cause mold growth.

First and foremost, in any subterranean space a dehumidifier should be running continuously year round. A dehumidifier will reduce and maintain the level of humidity in the air surrounding it. The dehumidifier works by grabbing the moisture in the air and then dumping it into the “tray”. Instead of emptying this tray every day or every other day or never…run a hose from the dehumidifier to an area where the water can be delivered such as sump pump or sink.

Mold needs moisture and organic materials to grow, such as in the basement photo below. This basement had water intrusion, no lid on the sump pump and no working dehumidifier. Water was also coming from all four corners of the basement and was not corrected.

Mold Growth on basement Rafter

Because the water issue was not resolved and there was no dehumidifier, mold growth occurred. Mold growth does not happen overnight, it takes a while for it grow and when it grabs a toehold on organic materials, it will grow in the right conditions fast.

Sump Pump No Lid leads to Mold-1

There are other instances where mold growth occurs because there are no dehumidifiers running.For example, in the picture below, if you look closely, you will see a film on the wood paneling, these are colonies of mold growth. There was no water entry into this basement, mold growth occurred overtime due to the moisture in the air and the organic materials (wood paneling) for mold to grow on.

Mold growth on panneling walls

Mold growth was found on the wood paneling. The basement above was inspected during the summer, which is hot but cooler below the earth’s surface. There was no dehumidifier running and the basement was very humid. In situations such as above, if mold growth is on one side it will be on the other side of the paneling.

Last – don’t do this! All this does is hide the problem, not take care of the problem – it may even cause more!

Does not Prevent Mold Growth-1

Check your basement for any leaks, water intrusions and provide a dehumidification system.If you do not, mold growth will occur, you may not see it now, but trust me, you will soon

Tags: mold inspections, mold assessments

Don't Get Eaten Alive by Mosquitoes!

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on Jun 24, 2019 8:40:00 AM

Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance, they can carry & spread diseases to pets and humans. Some mosquitoes can fly up to a mile or two or some fly only 100- 200 yards (Asian tiger mosquito). You should be aware of your surroundings and what water is on your property, especially after the heavy rain storms this past week.

The good news is that as a homeowner you can help reduce the mosquito infestation in your own backyard. Curren Environmental’s Mosquito Control & Remediation recommends that you follow the steps below so that you, your friends and family may enjoy your backyard.

  • Corrugated drainpipes off downspouts. Each trough is a potential breeding ground. If you have many feet of drainpipe, consider replacing it with smooth PVC piping. If you can’t do that, just replace them.Corrugated downspout

  • Children’s toys, especially plastic toys that have small areas where water can pool. Keep in mind that the toy itself may be very big, like a bike or a playhouse, but if it has handles or any indentation where water can pool in small amounts, it’s a breeding ground.

  • All containers, such as buckets, pails, water bottles, trash cans (including lids), storage totes, recycling containers, etc. Even if these items are kept upside down, water can often pool in the handles or lips of the container.

  • Tarps that hold water, even just a little, flip and empty them. Dry the tarps before replacing.

  • Plastic chairs, tables and all outside furniture, especially if it is upside down

  • Flowerpots, especially those with a saucer underneath it to catch water.

  • Wheel barrels stored improperly.

  • Anything that can hold small amounts of water. Even large things that hold water, like bird baths, usually have calm areas around the edges where mosquitoes can breed.

If you follow the steps above and remove the breeding grounds to best of your ability you may be able to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard.

For more information on Curren Environmental’s Mosquito Control & Remediation please call 856-858-9509 or email at tiffany@currenenvironmental.com.

Tags: mosquito control service, mosquito removal companies

Is There Lead in Your Home?

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on May 15, 2019 11:07:00 AM

Lead is a naturally occurring element that many elementary students learn about in school. Lead became popular in the early 1940’s because it simply made products better. Lead was used to seal jars; lead gave roofs waterproof linings and lead was used in sewer and water pipes so that the pipes would not easily crack. Lead was most popular in paint, as it would quicken the drying process to resist moisture and increase the durability of the paint.

Later, lead was found to be toxic to humans and animals, causing health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that even though there are no known identified safe blood lead level, exposure can seriously harm a child’s health. Exposure in children can lead to damage to the brain, nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning & behavior problems as well as hearing and speech problems. The human bodies simply cannot process metals.

The most common source of lead exposure in children is lead paint. Lead paint was banned in 1978 in the United States.If your house was built prior to 1978 it is highly likely that there is lead paint somewhere, especially on any old cracked, peeling paint windows and door frames. Lead on doors, wood trim and around windows are more prone to deterioration and chipping especially if the wood surface is exposed to direct sunlight. Lead can be dangerous if it is not properly contained. Maintaining painted surfaces with fresh coats of paint will help prevent lead from separating from the painted surface.There are a number of low cost DIY test kits for lead paint .  If you are not sure if you have lead paint, visit Home Depot for a lead paint test kit.

 Lead Paint on Door

How can you avoid lead exposure in your drinking water?

If your home was constructed before 1986 than your water pipes may contain lead. The longer lead sits in your water pipes the more time it has time to accumulate. If you have not used your water for several hours, it is important to flush your pipes in the morning, after school or after work for one to two minutes before drinking or cooking. Never use warm water immediately from the tap for consumption as the heat can help leach the lead from the water piles in the pipes. For more information on lead in drinking water visit the EPA.

If your water has not been tested or treated, look into a test, or they have tests at Home depot as well.

For more information check government websites such as the EPA an CDC or call your local township and government offices and see what assistance they can provide.

The SuperMoon will bring outside brightness on the first day of Spring...more time for outside "Spring" cleaning!

Posted by Tiffany Byrne on Mar 19, 2019 10:35:00 AM

This first day of spring is different than many others. On this Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 it will be a special night for the " SuperMoon". The Sun actually moves in a direct line across the sky and the noonday sun stands at a medium or average height above the southern horizon. Set your clocks at 9:43 PM EDT on March 20th, 2019. This is the third and final "SuperMoon" of 2019. Meaning, the moon's closest point to the earth.

With all the brightness and the reminder of Spring...get the garden tools out, check the lawn mower and prepare your cleaning supplies! Also, check your downspouts and make sure there is proper drainage that slopes the ground away from the foundation of your house or dwelling to ensure no water or moisture gets in to prevent against indoor mold. Mold growth can be a health concern to you and your family. Take the preventative steps and measures to stop mold growth before it can occur.

Curren Mold Remediation

Don't forget about those pesky mosquitoes! They are breeding in all the stagnant water that you have around your home. Admire the SuperMoon's brightness and walk around your property and empty buckets, plant pails and standing water on the first spring night. After the next rain storm do the same, and remember to always empty any standing water. Mosquitoes can complete their life cycle in as little as four days according to the American Mosquito Control Association.

Mosquito control dont's

For more information about Curren Environmental click here.

How much does a mold assessment cost?

Posted by david sulock on Mar 11, 2019 8:31:00 AM

Mold surveys on average can cost $300.00 to $700.00 for a residential dwelling.  Mold inspection costs are contingent on size of the area evaluated and if mold sampling (surface or air sampling) is performed. 

Thorough inspection include not only an experience mold inspector but include infrared evaluation to locate moisture

Infrared mold inspection

 

Commercial mold assessments  can start around $600.00 and go into the thousands of dollars contingent on building size and sampling performed.  Many commercial mold inspection include are sampling to assess overall air quality in the space.   Health concerns driven by employees and tenants in leased spaces dictate compliant rooms where inspection is required.  Vacant commercial spaces that are purchased or have new tenant leases often have mold assessment performed to assess mold risk and as  baseline for overall air quality relative to mold.  In short the longer a space is unoccupied, the greater the likelihood that mold growth will occur.

 

commercial mold assessments

 

When is mold sampling necessary?

Mold sampling is completed to verify that a stained surface is mold or mold air sampling is performed to assess for hidden mold or general air quality. 

The photo below shows stained wood supports and there was a question in the real estate transaction if the staining was or was not mold.   Surface tape sampling was performed.  Ultimately the staining was found to be mold, a red flag in the photo are the cobwebs, insects and mold both need moisture to thrive.

mold inpsection sampling

 

When is air sampling for mold necessary?

Many mold inspections are driven by a concern that water damage occurred in a space (either disclosed or suspected).  When mold is suspected but not visible, air sampling is typically performed.   You might have a newly renovated space, which would clearly conceal any evidence of mold either past or hidden, air sampling is very thorough way to evaluate the space.  Even infrared may have a problem if the water source has been addressed, you moisture meters and infrared cameras no matter how expensive can only find moisture when present.  Often times the water issue is repaired but the mold is not remediated.

The photo below shows air testing inside of a ceiling cavity.   The property was under contract and the buyer found permits for demolition and rebuild of the space above due to a water leak.  This portion of the dwelling which was a walk out room had been deconstructed walls and a sheetrock ceiling (newer with obvious repairs).  Air testing was warranted at s the ceiling could not be visually inspected and the space was going to be finished by the new owner.  Long story short, mold was found above the ceiling and remediation was performed at owner's experience. 

mold inspection

Experienced mold professionals know the basis of any mold growth is that for Mold  spores to grow the surface must be moist  Dry areas will not have mold growth.  Just as a room can have different temperatures so can the room have different humidity levels.   The inside of wall cavities are ideal conditions for mold growth.

mold found a finished wall

 

When do you  perform a mold inspection or mold assessment?

  • When purchasing a home
  • Unexplained musty odors (mold growth off gassing)
  • Spotting on possessions.
  • Experiencing health concerns
  • Water leak in office or home
  • Buying a bank owned home.
  • Buying a home that was flipped.

 

Mold Questions? Click Here

 

Tags: mold inspections, mold survey, mold assessments