We provide residential and commercial professional services in the following areas:

  • Indoor Air Quality Problems in Fairbanks, Alaska
    The interior Alaskan climate presents many challenges related to indoor air quality. Creating working and living spaces that are comfortable, efficient to heat and healthy, requires attention to many details. One often overlooked aspect of indoor air quality is ventilation. Often, in the course of our investigations, we find that the home or building we are inspecting has inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the ventilation is being improperly used or not used at all, and sometimes it has been poorly designed. There are many ways that indoor air may become contaminated. Building materials may contribute to indoor air pollution by off gassing. Many products we bring into the home such as cleaning products, air fresheners, cosmetics, just to name a few, put VOC's (volatile organic compounds) into our living spaces. A seldom used sink or floor drain can be a source of sewer gas if the "trap" dries out allowing fumes to be pulled into the living space due to the general "stack effect" of the building. A home built on or near bedrock may have unhealthy levels of radon. This is very common in interior Alaska, especially in the hills. Mold is another common source of indoor air pollution. Something as simple as a slice of bread or pizza behind the couch can pollute an entire room with mold spores. More often, the extreme temperature differences between indoors and outdoors causes condensation on surfaces that results in mold growth. This usually occurs around windows and doors where cold tends to penetrate more easily and in bathrooms and kitchens where humidity may be high. Crawl spaces and attached garages are high on the list of indoor air polluters. Even a seemingly dry crawl space will wick mold spores, moisture, and soil gasses like radon into the crawl space air. This polluted air can then be drawn into the living space through plumbing, electrical and other floor penetrations. A heavy duty well sealed vapor barrier covering the entire crawl space floor is very important. Garages often become storage for not only the family vehicles but other fuel driven tools like lawn mowers and recreation vehicles. We don't usually consider the garage to be living space but if attached to the home, like the crawl space, pollutants will tend to be pulled into the living space due to "stack effect" and other negative pressures created in the living space. When garages are attached to living spaces it is very important to seal all penetrations between the garage and the living space. CO (carbon monoxide) levels can reach very unhealthy levels in a garage in the short time it takes to move a vehicle in or out. This CO can then be drawn into the living space at lower (but still unhealthy) levels where it can remain for long periods of time if not properly ventilated. And that brings us back to ventilation.
    Outdoor air in interior Alaska is generally clean and dry. Of course, forest fires in the summer and temperature inversions in the winter can create intermittent outdoor air quality problems. Most of the time, though, outdoor air will be cleaner and dryer than indoor air. So, the first line of defense against indoor air pollution is to replace the polluted air with cleaner dryer outdoor air. Sometimes this can be as simple as opening doors and windows and letting that clean air flow through the building. Unfortunately, this is not always possible or practical. A basic mechanical ventilation system usually consists of several bathroom fans and/or a central vent fan combined with several strategically located fresh air inlets. This type of system, especially when controlled with programmable switches, can provide adequate ventilation for most homes and small buildings. Two drawbacks to this type of system are very cold outdoor air or polluted outdoor air. The solutions to these problems are HRV (heat recovery ventilation) and filters.
    An HRV system is designed to provide balanced ventilation for your home and reduce the cost of heating the makeup air by as much as 80%. Such a system combined with a filtration package can not only provide adequate ventilation but can filter out smoke, pollen, mold, dust and other common outdoor pollutants.
    Awareness and understanding of the many challenges, combined with new technology, make it imminently possible to create and maintain clean healthy indoor air quality in interior Alaskan homes and buildings. The environmental extremes make it necessary to design and maintain working and living spaces as dynamic operating systems. We need tight well insulated structures with efficient heating systems and proper ventilation.
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  • Indoor Air Quality Inspections
    This inspection is for home buyers, renters and people who are concerned with the indoor air quality of their homes. The inspection includes an investigation to uncover existing or potential indoor air quality problems which includes visual inspections for mold, moisture issues, particulates and volatile organic compounds(VOCs). After a thorough on-site visit and investigation, we will communicate the findings to you and provide you with a confidential Summary of Findings report. An excellent way to ensure that your largest lifetime investment is safe and sound for long term living!
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  • Mold Inspection and Sampling
    Tightening homes to improve energy efficiency can easily lead to ventilation deficiencies. This tends to increase indoor humidity leading to mold growth. It may also tend to attract and concentrate air pollutants in the indoor environment.
    To help detect the possibility of mold, do you notice any of the following?
    • Discoloration or black mold on baseboards, wallboards, or wallpaper.
    • Cracks in shower tile, lack of caulking, loose toilet seal, leaks under sink
    • Carpet and padding in direct contact with concrete slab
    • Poorly maintained or dirty air conditioning/heating vents and filters
    • Damp basement or crawl space
    • Water penetration (water marks on walls, mold spots on walls)
    • Musty/ moldy odor

    What is Mold and Where Is It Found?
    Mold are microscopic organisms that produce spores and are found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves, and other organic material. Also susceptible to mold growth are cellulose materials, such as, cardboard, paper, ceiling tiles, and sheet rock. Mold spores are easily detached and made airborne by vacuuming, walking on a carpet or sitting on a couch. In indoor environments, mold can grow in air conditioning ducts, carpets, pots of houseplants, etc.
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  • Radon Sampling
    Radon is an invisible and odorless radioactive gas which occurs naturally from decaying uranium underneath the earth's suface. Though you cannot see,smell, or taste radon, it is there and may be a problem in your home or office. Radon gas rises through the soil and seeps through cracks, holes, and drain pipes in the foundation or basements of buildings. Radon gas can be found all over the United States, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States has high levels of radon gas.
    Radon gas contains radioactive particles which get trapped in your lungs every time you take a breath. As these particles break down, they release bursts of radiation that damage or destroy lung tissue and cause lung cancer, and long-term exposure may even cause death.

    Do you have any of the following in your home?
    • Cinder-block, brick or rock wall
    • Exposed soil in the basement or foundation
    • Cracks in the basement wall or foundation
    • An open sump pump hole or floor drain
    • Spaces between walls and floors
    • Exposed pipes or loose pipe fittings

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  • Carbon Monoxide
    Carbon Monoxide is a lethal gas produced in normal amounts whenever you use an appliance which burns a combustible fuel. Combustible fuels include gas, oil, kerosene, charcoal and wood. When proper ventilation of appliances becomes blocked, carbon monoxide concentrations build up inside your home and become deadly. Because carbon monoxide is invisible, tasteless and odorless, its victims may never know there is something wrong until it’s too late. It often takes the lives of whole families. Children and the elderly are the first to be overcome along with pets. Over 2,500* people in the United States will die each year of carbon monoxide poisoning and over 10,000 will be hospitalized.
    Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas which is caused by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and can be emitted by:
    • Automobiles, gas powered implements/accessories
    • Fire places
    • Gas, oil, wood, coal heaters
    • Gas stoves - propane or natural gas
    • Gas or oil water heaters
    • Gas or oil furnaces
    • Wood, coal or gas dryers
    • Gas barbeques
    Carbon Monoxide quickly replaces vital oxygen in the blood which results in suffocation from the inside out. It could take as little as 3 minutes, depending on the level of concentration. Since you cannot see, hear, taste or smell carbon monoxide, the only way to protect your family is to recognize the symptoms and install a carbon monoxide detector.
    Symptoms to watch for:
    • headaches, drowsiness, dizziness or confusion
    • nausea, vomiting and rapid heartbeat
    • unconsciousness, coma and death
    • everyone in the house is feeling ill at the same time
    • it feels as though you have the flu
    Common Causes of In-Home Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
    • Malfunctioning or improperly vented heaters and furnaces
    • Blocked passageways in chimneys and flues
    • Paint removers which contain methylene chloride and which the body absorbs and converts to carbon monoxide
    • Depressurization in the house (“backdraft”).
    People feeling sick should get medical care immediately.
    Often the local emergency department is the best place for a medical evaluation after CO exposures.

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  • Lead Paint
    Recent Federal mandates require led testing before most renovating, remodeling or retrofitting on homes built before 1978. Ingesting lead paint and breathing in lead dust is the #1 contributor to lead poisoning, which causes brain damage and affects over 200,000 children each year.
    More than 200,000 children in the United States contract lead poisoning every year. Lead poisoning limits a child’s ability to learn, even after a short term exposure. It is estimated that a child’s I.Q. drops 3 points for every 10 micrograms per deciliter of lead in their blood. If the child receives prompt medical attention, chances for recovery are very good. However, if the exposure goes undetected, it can bring about permanent damage, causing anything from learning disabilities to severe mental retardation and even death. Children under the age of 7 are much more susceptible to lead poisoning because their developing bodies absorb the lead at 4 times the rate of an adult.

    Compounding this medical danger is the fact that one of the most common places for children to become exposed to lead is in the home. The major sources of in-home contamination are lead-based paints, tap water, colorful ceramic dishes, soil and airborne lead particles. Because you can’t see, taste or smell lead, everyone is potentially at risk. This brochure was developed by PRO-LAB Inc. to provide you with a primary knowledge about the risk of lead contamination. The people at PRO-LAB encourage you to thoroughly educate yourself on in-home environmental dangers and learn how to protect yourself and your family.
    People feeling sick should get medical care immediately.
    Often the local emergency department is the best place for a medical evaluation after lead exposures.

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  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
    Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can be found in many places: indoor environments, outdoors, inside automobiles, heavy equipment, industrial machinery, commercial and industrial buildings, residential homes and apartment buildings. VOCs can contaminate the ground soil, air, water, under ground and most porous materials found in buildings, clothing, machinery, etc. Their detection is difficult but their effects on people and biological world is usually heavy.
    Detection, identification and correct remedial procedures are critical for dealing with VOCs. If you suspect or detect using your senses of touch, smell and sight that you may have VOCs contaminating your environment, consider the following signs:
    • the air has a distinct odor or smell
    • the water tastes different than normal
    • the ground oozes aromas not usually found at that time of the year
    • there is a breeze of foul smelling air
    • you become noxious and/or feel you can't breathe easily
    • you feel itchy or get skin rashes
    • the above symptoms are repeating themselves over time
    The longer the exposure to VOCs, the higher the toll. Please have it checked as soon as possible.
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  • Particulate Matter
    Particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles that are suspended in air. These particles typically consist of a mixture of inorganic and organic chemicals, including carbon, sulfates, nitrates, metals, acids, and semi-volatile compounds.

    The size of PM in air ranges from approximately 0.005 to 100 micrometers (µm) in diameter -- the size of just a few atoms to about the thickness of a human hair. Researchers have defined size categories for these particles differently. For the purposes of this fact sheet, PM is defined by three general categories commonly used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA): coarse (10 to 2.5 µm), fine (2.5 µm or smaller), and ultra fine (0.1 µm or smaller).

    Research suggests that particle size is an important factor that influences how particles deposit in the respiratory tract and affect human health. Coarse particles are deposited almost exclusively in the nose and throat; whereas, fine and ultra fine particles generally are able to penetrate to deep areas of the lung. Fine and ultra fine particles are present in greater numbers and have greater surface area than larger particles of the same mass, and they are generally considered to be more toxic.

    How can particulate matter affect my health?
    Over the past fifteen years an increasing number of studies have reported associations between the levels of PM in the air and adverse respiratory and cardiovascular effects in people (e.g., increases in daily mortality, illness, hospital admissions and emergency room visits). Scientists have observed these associations even at relatively low ambient levels that are prevalent in the U.S. and Western Europe. Research is currently underway to better understand the nature of the relationship between PM and disease - especially how PM affects human health.
    The health effects of PM are likely to depend on several factors, including the size and composition of the particles, the level and duration of exposure, and age and sensitivity of the exposed person. Symptoms of exposure may include a sore throat, persistent cough, burning eyes, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness of chest, and chest pain. PM may also trigger asthma or may lead to premature death, particularly in the elderly who have preexisting cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
    Because the symptoms associated with exposure to PM also may be caused by several other factors (e.g., exposure to allergens, molds, ozone, and other air pollutants), it is often difficult to determine whether PM or some other factor is responsible for an individual's symptom(s). Additional research is needed to better understand the relationship between these factors and disease, and to determine how specific characteristics of PM cause adverse health effects.

    Are some people more sensitive to the effects of particulate matter?
    Some people, such as the elderly and people with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, are more susceptible than others to the effects of PM. Susceptible groups include children and adults with asthma, bronchitis, and respiratory infections. Researchers are working to better understand the factors leading to increased susceptibility to PM health effects.

    Children may be especially vulnerable to exposure to PM and other air contaminants because they breathe more air per pound of body weight relative to adults. In 2001, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 4.2 million children had at least one asthma attack in the previous year. These children are more likely to experience asthma attacks triggered by PM and other air pollutants, such as ground-level ozone.
    In addition, people of all ages who are active outdoors may be at increased risk because during physical activity greater amounts of PM may penetrate into deep parts of the lung that are vulnerable to injury. For example, children and adults who play on outdoor sports teams and participate in other outdoor physical activities may be at increased risk.
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