Lead, Asbestos, Mercury & Mold
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
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 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 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:
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.
- Identify potential asbestos containing materials.
- Take proper samples for testing to determine with certainty if materials contain asbestos.
- Provide technical advice about what is the best thing to do.
For more information about asbestos please refer to the following links:
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
Check out California Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) brochure on Mercury in the Environment
with excellent informational pamphlet on mercury containing products,
proper disposal, and how to protect your family from mercury exposure.
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
Last updated: Wednesday, 06/15/2016
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