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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Underground oil tanks (also known as UST’s) usually are never thought about until it is too late. They will eventually corrode, but one can not predict when this will happen.   Most home heating tanks are made out of metal with an average life of around 30 years. We have seen a tank last longer however, tanks as young as 15 years can leak. Furthermore, leaks can go undetected for years, therefore causing fuel oil to migrate away from your home, contaminating nearby soil and nearby drinking wells and eventually the underground aquifer, which supplies everyone’s drinking water. The longer a tank leaks the more the soil becomes contaminated at which point the EPA becomes involved. A leaking tank, in many cases is not covered by your homeowner’s policy and can quickly become the most expensive problem you may ever encounter. We can help before this becomes a problem for you.

Underground tank testing is not part of a normal home inspection unless requested. If the home you are buying or just purchased has an in-ground oil tank, many lawyers and some mortgage companies will advise/require you to have the tank tested. This will not only protect the purchaser, but also the seller in the event a leak occurs in the future and causes substantial contamination.

At API we take tank testing seriously! We use state of the art vacuum testing equipment that can determine if there is a leak at that time in the system. The equipment cannot in any way cause damage to the tank. It is only a vacuum test to see if there is a current leak present. Some companies use soil testing in the area around the tank instead of vacuum testing, but this will only tell if a large-scale leak has occurred and not if the tank has just started leaking or if the feed line is leaking. We can also take a soil sample in addition to the vacuum test, if a leak is detected.

If the tank is old, but not currently leaking you may choose to abandon the tank for safety reasons.


What is radon? Radon is a cancer causing, radioactive gas. You can’t see, smell or taste it, but it may be a problem in your home. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks or other holes in the foundation, where your home traps the radon inside and it builds up. Each and every home is different and it may be present in a neighbor’s home, but not in yours. New or old homes with or without a basement. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is estimated to contribute to between 7,000 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths each year. It has also been linked to stomach cancer from well water contaminated by radon. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels.

If you have radon in your home there are simple ways to fix the problem that are not too costly. Even high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season you may want to consider a short-term test first followed by a long-term test. (3 or more months to get a better average of your radon level)

Radon in water in most homes is not a problem because the water comes from public sources, (lakes, rivers and reservoirs called surface water) and from here the radon is released into the air. Radon can easily get into your home through the water if you have a well. Radon gas can dissolve and accumulate in water from underground sources such as wells. Most of the radon comes out of the water when you go to use it and into the air in your home and some of it stays in the water you drink.  If you have a well it is highly recommended you have your water as well as the air in your home tested for radon. If radon is found in the well water it can be removed from the water before it enters your home.

The only way to know if you have radon in your home is to test for it.  Call an environmental specialist like API today to get proper testing done.


What is asbestos?  Asbestos is the generic name given to a group of minerals that tend to break down into a dust of microscopic size fibers. Asbestos has been used since early roman times and nearly 30 million tons have been used in the United States since the turn of the century. Its superior durability and resistance to heat have made it a main component in literally thousands of building materials.

The use of asbestos was extremely common in homes built before 1970.  Today many asbestos materials are no longer allowed for indoor construction use. Some of the items that may contain asbestos in your home include older floor tile, acoustic ceiling tiles or coverings, roofing materials, exterior siding, insulation, joint compound, textured paint, door gaskets, fireproof boards and pipe insulation. (The material around pipes that is white or gray in color resembling plaster used in casts to protect broken bones and found in older homes with insulation dates between 1930-and 1972). Additionally, flues around wood burning stoves, wall and ceiling insulation, and loose blown-in and batt insulation have been known to contain asbestos, especially in homes built or remodeled between 1930 and 1950.

Asbestos is so dangerous because inhaled microscopic fibers remain in the body forever and are impossible to remove. It is unknown the exact amount, but if inhaled there is the possibility of developing lung cancer, mesotheilioma or asbestestosis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration there is no safe level of exposure known. The size of asbestos fibers are too small to be seen with the human eye. The human hair is approximately 1200 times thicker than an asbestos fiber and symptoms from asbestosis generally do not appear for 10 to 30 years.

As a homeowner you should know that generally asbestos does not become a problem until the surface is damaged and the fibers are released. If you are having renovation work done on an older home you should first call in a professionally licensed asbestos inspector like API to determine if there is possible asbestos containing material in the area you want to renovate. The fact is most contractors are not licensed asbestos inspectors and you may leave yourself and your family open to serious health dangers. The contractor may create an asbestos hazard where none existed in the past.


LEAD POISONING IS THE #1 ENVIRONMENTAL DANGER FACING CHILDREN TODAY…and it’s entirely preventable. It only takes a small amount of lead to adversely affect a person. Children are especially at risk since an amount equivalent to only 3 grains of sugar a day can cause irreversible damage. Our bodies absorb lead as if it were calcium, iron or vitamins and send it directly to the vital organs. Symptoms may not be noticeable for years, but can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, brain, nerves and bones. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, and even a low level of lead exposure can cause learning disabilities, hearing loss, speech, language and behavior problems as well as other serious health effects such as:

  • Diminished I.Q
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Irritability
  • Clumsiness
  • Muscular aches
  • Behavioral changes
  • Vomiting
  • Developmental regression
  • Abdominal pain

It is estimated that 5 out of 7 homes in America have lead based paint. Most homes used lead-based paint if built prior or painted up to 1978. Lead can be found in many items including dinnerware, food cans, toys, mini-blinds, dust, soil and much more. Even brand new products may contain dangerous levels of lead although most are not manufactured in the U.S.

The only way you can be sure your home is free of lead is to have it tested! API To accomplish a lead test in accordance with the E.P.A, lead samples should be taken from all walls and ceilings and samples have to be sent to the lab. Others say they are performing a lead test in your home using a lead swipe stick not approved by the E.P.A and can only read lead in high levels on the surface of the paint not below the surface where the old lead paint most likely is.
Have your home tested for lead from API and have piece of mind for yourself and your family. 


Formaldehyde is a major source of indoor air pollution in North America, Asia and Europe. Formaldehyde is an irritant, which can produce allergic symptoms at very low levels and has been shown to be a carcinogen. Children and older people have the greatest personal health risk from exposure to formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas compound (HCHO) that can irritate eyes, mucous membranes and the upper respiratory system. It can be inhaled or absorbed by the skin. Formaldehyde is used in many different products with approximately 6 billion pounds produced each year  in products ranging from foam insulation and pressed wood products such as plywood, particle board, paneling to many floor coverings such as carpeting as well as furnishings. The only way to know if formaldehyde is in your home is to test.

Even in small amounts formaldehyde can cause serious health problems and unfortunately it takes years to finally dissipate after being used in manufactured products. In some cases exposure to formaldehyde can increase a persons sensitivity to other irritants or chemicals that were never a problem in the past, making them allergic to almost anything. For some people, past exposure to formaldehyde has permanently impaired their health and well being for the rest of their lives.

Symptoms of low level exposure include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sinus irritation
  • Headache
  • Cough 
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Frequent nausea
  • Dermatitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Decreased lung capacity
  • Sleeping & Breathing difficulties 

Symptoms of high exposure include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory problems

A major source of formaldehyde was used in the mid 1970’s in buildings for insulation.  It expanded to completely fill the space and than hardened. Unfortunately, it was found that this type of foam insulation emitted toxic formaldehyde fumes causing serious respiratory problems.

Call an environmental specialist like API today to get proper testing done.


Mold colonies, often unseen, can develop and grow inside wall cavities, crawlspaces, furnishings and plants and almost any area of a home. They release their spores into the air we breath the spores can also be absorbed into our eyes, nose, throat and lungs. It is estimated that approximately 30 % of us are allergic to mold and suffer adverse health effects because of it.
The United States environmental protection agency recommends that every home in America be tested for certain environmental pollutants, regardless of age, location or style of your home. You and your family may be exposed to hazardous levels of contaminants 10 to 20 times greater then found outdoors and without knowing why, experience systems that are often overlooked by doctors as everyday medical complaints. Even if everyone in your family feels great, it is still recommended that you test your home to prevent health problems before they occur.
Mold requires moisture and organic matter to feed upon. High relative humidities are required for germination and growth while lower humidities tend to increase the release of mold spores as a method for self-preservation. CONTAMINATED CENTRAL AIR HANDLING SYSTEMS CAN EASILY BECOME BREEDING GROUNDS FOR MOLD.
Mold exposure systems that can and are often over looked by people and physicians as common, everyday medical complaints include:

  • Depression
  • Chills
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Anger
  • Sleep disorders
  • Fear
  • Hay fever/ allergy type symptoms
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Wheezing
  • Skin rashes
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Muscular aches
  • Asthma
  • Fever
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Headaches
  • Confusion

If you suspect exposure, seek help of a qualified physician immediately and have your home or work place tested as soon as possible by an environmental specialist
Like API.


What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and highly poisonous gas. CO is a bi-product of incomplete combustion. Primary sources include furnaces, hot water heaters, gas stoves, fireplaces, wood burners, kerosene heaters, tobacco smoke and automobiles.

The health effects of CO poisoning are often very slight and overlooked as everyday medical complaints. CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. CO poisoning occurs because the hemoglobin (the part of the blood that carries oxygen) absorbs CO 200 times faster than it can absorb oxygen.  Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible. 

CO can produce many symptoms including:

  • Respiratory ailments
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unconsciousness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleep disorders
  • Lack of Judgement
  • Fainting
  • Feeling light headed
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Death

Know the symptoms of CO poisoning.  At moderate levels, you and your family could get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseous or faint.  You can even die if these levels persist for a long time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, mild headaches and may have long term effects on your health. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning or other illnesses, you may not think CO poisoning could be the cause.

MINIMIZE YOUR CHANCE OF CO EXPOSURE!  Service your combustion appliances regularly, consider buying a CO detector and have your home inspected periodically by a company like API.