Legend Technical Services

Hazardous Materials


The extent of hazardous materials needs to be determined when evaluating a building for either renovation or demolition.  Failure to identify materials needing special remediation can lead to an extended project schedule with unplanned costs and potential for hazardous exposure to building occupants. 

Lead-based paint (LBP) and asbestos-containing materials (ACM) have detailed regulatory requirements.  Other materials are deemed hazardous for exposure or disposal reasons and need to be identified prior to renovation or demolition per current State and Federal regulations.    


Our capabilities include:

·         Comprehensive building investigation and sampling. 

·         Destructive work in buildings slated for demolition to identify concealed ACM including pipe insulations, construction adhesives, vermiculite, etc.

·         Clear, concise documentation of extent of hazardous/regulated materials on drawings for future use in renovation planning, etc.

·         Remediation planning including to the point of a complete set of plans and text specifications that are to the point and tailored to the specific materials and renovation.

·         Consulting services including bidding, award, construction meetings, and full-time air monitoring professional to verify containment integrity and exposure control to building occupants.


LEGEND personnel undergo extensive training with senior staff in the field to understand the many materials to investigate and the data detail needed to achieve a comprehensive building survey beyond the initial regulatory mandated training and certifications.  LEGEND asbestos air monitoring personnel participate in a PCM air sample quality assurance program and are members of the AIHA Asbestos registry as PCM analysts. 


LEGEND has a NIST NVLAP accredited laboratory to expedite asbestos bulk sample analysis and an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory for other analytical needs.


Asbestos is a naturally occurring heat resistant mineral used in a variety of building materials in the past as a binding agent.  There are six different asbestos minerals that are regulated by the U.S. including Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Tremolite, Anthophyllite, and Actinolite.

Of the regulated asbestos, the most common are Chrysotile and Amosite.  Crocidolite is occasionally encountered.  Tremolite, Actinolite and Anthophyllite are more common as contaminants in other minerals such as vermiculite. 


Breathing asbestos fibers is hazardous to the health. Asbestos exposure has been linked to lung cancer, restrictive lung diseases, and mesothelioma.  Asbestos materials are only a hazard when the asbestos gets into the air.  The fibers are very tiny, not visible, and stay in the air for days. 

Materials containing asbestos are regulated on a state level basis with most states using greater than 1% asbestos as their determination of an asbestos-containing material (ACM).  Removal of ACM requires special precautions and special certifications by the companies and their employees. 

Use of asbestos in building materials generally stopped in the 1980s when regulations were implemented, however, imported materials and some materials produced in the U.S. still contain asbestos. 

Most common materials that contain ACM asbestos from a residential perspective are: popcorn ceilings, old thermal system insulations, GWB taping compound, floor tile/adhesive, and sheet vinyl, vermiculite insulation adhesive and hardboards.

In order to determine asbestos content of a material, a sample needs to be collected and sent to a certified laboratory for polarized light microscopy (PLM) analysis.  The laboratory will tell you the percentage and type of asbestos in your materials.


Lead-based paint is paint that contains lead.  Lead is a naturally occurring metal that was mined where deposits existed.  Northern Illinois is noted for having lead deposits and lead mines. Lead was added to paint to accelerate drying, increase durability, maintain a fresh appearance and to resist moisture.  Lead paint was phased out in residential construction in 1978.  Prior to 1978, a residence could have lead-based paint.  Most common locations were on exterior siding and trim, windows, and interior trim and cabinetry. 

Data identifies 87% of houses constructed pre-1940 as having lead-based paint.  24% of houses built between 1960 and 1978 have lead-based paint.

Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are considered particularly problematic for children under 6 years of age.  Children can be exposed to lead if they chew lead paint surfaces or eat flaking paint chips or eat or breathe lead dust. 

Paints can have low levels of lead even now.  Lead-paint is defined as paint that contains 0.5%/5,000ppm lead by weight using chemical analysis or 1.0 mg/cm2 by non-destructive XRF technology. 

Lead paint can contain into the 20 or 30 percent by weight but this is unusual and generally restricted to very old pre-1900 or pre-1940 buildings.  The chemical analysis is the most conclusive method but requires collecting paint chips which is destructive to finishes.  The XRF does not require damaging finishes but detected levels around 1.0 can be false with the possibility of higher or lower levels of lead in the paint depending on substrate factors. 

Lead is most dangerous to young children and is regulated for removal in residences.  Lead paint removal can create secondary toxic conditions and the best method is to remove components with lead-based paint intact.  Sanding of lead paint is to be avoided as it creates lead dust and heating lead can volatize it into the air as it has a relatively low melting point for a metal. 

Lead is regulated for worker exposure through OSHA.  The EPA and HUD regulated lead in residential buildings and the removal of lead via certified firms with certified workers.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are highly carcinogenic chemical compounds, banned by TSCA in 1976 but formerly used in industrial and consumer products.  PCBs were once widely used in carbonless copy paper, as heat transfer fluids and dielectric and coolant fluids for electrical equipment.  PCBs were present in the tar of the fluorescent light ballasts which sometimes failed releasing oils to surfaces; present in transformers and capacitors particularly the large ones located on pads and in vaults; and in some building caulks.   The advantage of PCBs is the ability to withstand high temperatures and not breakdown.  The disadvantage to PCBs in the environment is they do not break down and their fat solubility means they tend to accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals.  They are non-volatile and their low water solubility means they don’t migrate in soils.  They also do not break down easily in the environment.

PCBs are carcinogenic and endocrine disrupters for human health.  The primary exposure is through eating animals from areas that are known to have high levels of PCBs in the food chain.  For example, eating excessive amounts of fish that come from PCB contaminated areas.

Fluorescent light ballasts containing PCBs are becoming rarer with time and phase out.  Ballasts generally have an identification on them that say “NO PCBs”.  This can be in very tiny print on the ballast and requires reading all the information on the ballast.  If the ballast does not say “NO PCBs”, the ballast should be assumed to contain PCBs.  These will be limited to very old ballasts.   Otherwise, caulks can be tested for PCBs and electrical equipment will generally identify “NO PCBs” on the exterior if they do not contain PCBs.  Anything unlabeled should be assumed to be PCB containing until proven otherwise. 


The landfill disposal of fluorescent light tubes has been a significant source of mercury to the environment.  Mercury was released into the air from coal fired power plants in the past but the emissions are now captured.  Mercury is a silvery metal that is liquid at room temperature.  It is mined as cinnabar (mercuric sulfide) and purified into metallic mercury.  Mercury is used in thermometers, barometers, manometers, float valves, mercury switches, mercury relays, fluorescent light tubes, and other things as mercury amalgams such as tooth fillings.  Do to the toxicity of mercury in the environment, the “term mad as a hatter” came from the effects of mercury on people in the hat making industry, it is being phased out of most of these uses. 

Mercury is primarily an exposure hazard from breathing in its vapor.  Mercury slowly vaporizes especially if heated in any way.  Single dose exposure to high levels of mercury can acutely poison an individual.  Exposure over long term to lower levels of mercury can cause neurological symptoms.  Treatment of mercury poisoning is through chelation of the mercury in the body.

Items containing mercury are inventoried.  If the building is slated for demolition, the items are removed intact, and the mercury recycled to avoid dispersing into the environment.  If the building is to be renovated, mercury-containing items in the renovation area at the end of their service life are removed and recycled.  Recycling as a mercury-containing material is the method of disposal for mercury once items in a building are identified as containing mercury.

Laboratory areas and dental clinic sink traps are frequently screened for mercury as breakage of thermometers or use of mercury amalgams can lead to contamination of the sink traps and waste pipes in these facilities.


A refrigerant is a working fluid using used in the refrigeration cycle that undergoes a phase transition from liquid to gas and back again.  Refrigerants can carry 10x more energy per weight unit than water and 50x more than air.

Early refrigerants were very toxic and/or flammable but were replaced with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the late 1920s.  In the early 1980s, CFCs were identified as causing major damage to the ozone layer leading to the Montreal 1987 protocol phasing out CFCs in favor of HCFCs which also damage the ozone layer but to a lesser extent than CFCs.  Many refrigeration systems have low/slow leaks which gradually necessitate a re-charge and are always detected via indoor air quality testing.  When refrigeration systems are taken out of service, the refrigeration is reclaimed rather than being discharged into the environment.  This work is done by specialized personnel with the equipment and skill to do this work.  The items having or are suspected of having refrigerants are identified during an investigation to be addressed during the construction work.


Industrial facilities have unique things materials depending on what is done in the facility.  Medical facilities and laboratories also have unique things materials/items. 

 Stored Chemicals – A variety of chemicals are used in buildings ranging from cleaning products, solvents, resins, oils, boiler treatment chemicals, gases, etc.  Whenever it is possible to put chemicals into service elsewhere (recycle) that is the preference.  Some chemicals are beyond their shelf life or there is no ability to recycle and require determination of waste streams based on waste characteristics for disposal.

 Residual in Piping Systems – Piping systems carrying chemicals within a facility require draining and verification draining is effective prior to cutting into piping where there is a potential for a fire or explosion.

 Other – Radioactive sources, Xray tubes, biohazard waste, drugs, oil/water separator systems, etc. can exist in buildings depending their use.  All of these items need to be inventoried and a plan of action developed.

 Rural areas have farm considerations such as pesticides, septic systems, fuel storage, wells, underground tanks, etc. that needs consideration.

Contact us

St Paul, MN office – Keith Giorgi – [email protected]  651-238-0543 (cell)

Eau Claire, WI office – Lucas Sokol – [email protected] 715-828-1324 (cell)

Fargo, ND office – Mike Molstre – [email protected] 701-541-0477 (cell)