Hazardous Materials Hazardous Materials
Lead, Asbestos, Mercury & Mold

Introduction

Lead and Asbestos are found in many construction materials, homes, and other buildings that were built before the late 1970’s. Mercury is found in various items including thermometers, thermostats, electric switches, fluorescent lights and ballasts, and novelty items such as flashing tennis shoes. Mold commonly grows in damp environments and can be associated with leaks, roofs in disrepair, and faulty plumbing.  All of these materials can be hazardous to your health if they are not managed properly.

Listed below are a number of governmental and private organizations that address asbestos and lead activities. The City of Santa Monica does not regulate these activities, nor do we provide testing services.

Lead

Lead is a metallic element that occurs naturally in soil, rocks, and water and is therefore present through natural processes, but also through industrial and commercial processes and activities.

Lead was a significant additive to paints until the late 1970s. For buildings, houses, and other structures that were built prior to the late 1970s, it is very likely that painted surfaces will have lead levels that can be hazardous, especially to young children. Scraping, sanding or otherwise disturbing such materials that have elevated lead levels require special training and procedures.

If you intend to sandblast the walls in your home you must obtain a sandblasting permit from the City of Santa Monica Building and Safety Division and ensure that the paint does not contain dangerous levels of lead. The following links have information about how to obtaining sand-blasting permits.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral fiber found in rocks. There are several kinds of asbestos fibers, all of which are fire resistant and not easily destroyed or degraded by natural processes.

Some asbestos materials can break into small fibers which can float in the air, and these fibers can be inhaled. You cannot see these tiny fibers, and they are so small that they pass through the filters of normal vacuum cleaners and get back into the air. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can become lodged in tissue for a long time. After many years, cancer or mesothelioma can develop.

A health risk exists only when asbestos fibers are released from the material or product. Soft, easily crumbled asbestos-containing material has the greatest potential for asbestos release and therefore has the greatest potential to create health risk. Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos do not develop any related health problems.

Asbestos has been used in a wide variety of products, including household and building materials, such as appliances, ceilings, wall and pipe coverings, floor tiles, and some roofing materials.

If you suspect that your home contains asbestos you may hire a qualified professional who is trained and experienced in working with asbestos to survey your home. A professional will be able to help you:
  1. Identify potential asbestos containing materials.
  2. Take proper samples for testing to determine with certainty if materials contain asbestos.
  3. Provide technical advice about what is the best thing to do.
It is very important that only licensed and certified contractors be hired to provide asbestos and lead services. Please contact the California State Contractor’s License Board at (800) 321-2752.

For more information about asbestos please refer to the following links:

Mercury

Mercury is an extremely toxic substance that can be found in numerous consumer products and services. The City of Santa Monica and other health agencies can provide information about the health effects of mercury and how to protect you, your family and the community from exposure.  Call (310) 458-2255 for assistance and to request information.
Check out California Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) brochure on Mercury in the Environmentpdf symbol with excellent informational pamphlet on mercury containing products, proper disposal, and how to protect your family from mercury exposure. (800) 728-6942.

Mold

The City of Santa Monica offers general information about mold, but does not regulate, or conduct inspections for mold. If you would like general information on the causes and health impacts of mold, contact the following:
 
Last updated: Wednesday, 06/15/2016

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