The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is the primary agency responsible for writing and enforcing major environmental regulations. The U.S. EPA is broken up into ten regions with offices. If you live in the United States, you live in one of these regions. Most of the contaminated sites that are present in neighborhoods around the U.S. are regulated by state agencies, which maintain records on these sites. EPA maintains links to various State’s Environmental Agencies on its website:
INVESTIGATING AND IDENTIFYING AN ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD IN YOUR AREA
U.S. EPA maintains an interactive website for Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO), which can be used to search for facilities in your community, assess environmental compliance, investigate pollution sources, examine and create maps, and perform some other reviews:
This tool, like many others, works by using your city and/or zip code to search for information in your community and examine specific companies. This type of search tool is useful for exploring compliance information about existing facilities but will not include information on historical or legacy sites.
The EPA maintains another mapper called MyEnvironment that provides some useful features for exploring environmental conditions in your area:
This website contains several features that can be used to map and explore contaminated sites, air quality, and other information. To use this mapper you simply need to input your city/state location and explore the website.
A feature called MyMaps allows the user to find contaminated sites in their neighborhood, including Superfund and other cleanup sites.
Many State Environmental Agencies also maintain their own interactive mapping sites and databases with information about contaminated sites. Once you have determined which agencies are responsible for your state you can start investigating information about sites in your specific location. These case files can often be identified online and electronic documents may be available through some state websites. Otherwise, documents can be obtained through a public records request.
ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING SERVICES – THAT COME TO YOU
Environmental companies that can conduct environmental sampling at a residential property can be organized into two general categories:
- Full service environmental consulting and engineering firms,
- Companies that conduct residential and commercial testing for mold, lead and asbestos. If you want to hire a company to perform services for you then you need to search for a company nearby that can perform sampling correctly.
The EPA maintains a registry of Certified Lead Abatement Firms:
The EPA locator may be searched by state, except for 14 states across the county that have state-run certification programs. This EPA website also provides links to the 14 state programs. Firms that do business with residents to identify lead, asbestos, etc. could also conduct other types of testing.
ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING SERVICES – DO IT YOURSELF
Because environmental sampling involves following protocols, including specific equipment and supplies, sampling collection methods, sample handling methods, documentation, and experience working with laboratory services, it is easier to hire a company to perform sampling for you rather than to embark on a do it yourself project. However, any person can contact an environmental laboratory and request information and supplies to collect samples on their own.
In the event that a homeowner or occupant of a home wishes to collect samples themselves, the first step in this process should be to understand process involved in collecting a sample and where and how to send a sample once collected. There are a large number of environmental laboratories in the U.S. Finding a laboratory to test for a certain type of chemical or other substance in a sample can be difficult. The NELAC Institute maintains environmental laboratory standards and maintains a database of accredited laboratories, at:
States also maintain standards and certification programs for environmental laboratories, as well as databases of listings of laboratories certified to perform various types of analyses (e.g.,
drinking water). Because of the large number of programs for the many states, a listing is not provided here. However, a listing of environmental laboratories in your state is easy to come by through internet searches “environmental laboratories” or “certified laboratories.”
Once you find a laboratory, the next step will be to determine the types of tests that you want to perform. The laboratory will typically provide sampling containers for you free of charge. They also will likely be willing to explain some of the details relating to sample collection, handling of containers, and completing paperwork.
Generally, the steps involved are not overly complicated.
Lastly, you could try searching on the internet for testers in your area, using such keywords as:
“Environmental & Ecological Consultants”
“Lead Paint Detection & Removal”
“Asbestos Consulting & Testing”