Ellis Environmental Management Inc.

News and Information

Asbestos Clearance Monitoring


Because of the conflict of interest that can arise when a testing agency works directly for an abatement contractor, California law - Business and Professions Code 7187 -  specifically prohibits such an arrangement. 

In 2007/2008, Ellis was called to an 11-story apartment complex in Beverly Hills.  That project included the gutting of interior walls and the complete removalof all beige-colored asbestos fireproofing from every floor of the building. 

Complication #1:  The abatement contractor performing the removal, for a very small additional cost, offered to ALSO retain a testing agency (not Ellis) to run “clearance sampling” on each floor.  The Owner agreed to this, probably not knowing it was in violation of state law. 

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Ellis Celebrates 20 Years of Continuous Service

Ellis began providing hazardous materials testing services in August 1994.  The company was incorporated in 1996 and has been in continuous operation since that time.  Ellis maintains a constant core of 5 degreed industrial hygienists.  Paired with Duane Behrens' 20 years of construction management experience, the combination insures that every hazmat sampling project, every IAQ investigation, every abatement and demolition project is planned and performed professionally and well. 

Ellis works almost exclusively with the region's major universities, colleges, studios, property managers and K-12 schools.  We rely on repeat business from valued clients, we value each relationship tremendously, and will do all we can to maintain the level of service you've come to expect from us.

Thank you for helping to make the last 20 years so productive and enjoyable!

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Performance Update - Lead, Asbestos, Indoor Air

It has been Ellis' busiest summer ever.  We're currently nearing completion on a number of summer projects:

1.  LEAD - SAND-BLASTING.  Ellis administered, monitored, inspected and cleared a media-blasting project at an historical church building in Westchester.  The project removed decades of built-up paint, revealing the beautiful concrete architectural detail underneath. 

2.  ASBESTOS AND MOLD ABATEMENT.  Ellis monitored, inspected and cleared 98 student housing units at a regional University following asbestos removal in each unit.  The work was completed on time and ahead of schedule.  During subsequent interior demolition, water- and mold-impacted wallboard were discovered.  Ellis remained at the site to identify and mark out the extent of the damage, then administered the removal of impacted wallboard.

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Ellis is Hiring

A former Ellis employee writes: "It's amazing how valuable working at Ellis has been for my environmental career experience. Thanks!" . . . and we're hiring - field personnel and project managers. We require a 4-year degree in environmental or health-and-safety, and at least a 3 year commitment to Ellis. In turn, we'll provide you with on-the-job training, a competitive salary, health, vacation and other benefits, occasional evening and weekend work, a friendly work environment and the support you'll need from a small staff of professional colleagues.  Salary Range = $30K - $50K depending on education and experience. 

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Asbestos Removal, OSHA, South Coast AQMD

Twice in the past year – and perhaps 4 times in the last 6 years - we've seen building owners merely give contractors a set of drawings and an existing asbestos survey report . . . and then entrusted them to identify, quantify, bid on and remove all impacted asbestos materials properly, without inviting participation by the entity that had provided the inspection and report.      

In each of the above cases and whether intentional or not, identified asbestos materials were removed and disposed of as construction waste by the awarded contractor, without proper engineering controls or packaging.  Ellis was brought in to assist only after the AQMD had investigated and had cited both the Owner and the Contractor.   

 This is probably why Cal OSHA defines asbestos-related contract management as a “health-and-safety” service, requiring the participation of a California Certified Asbestos Consultant (CAC).   Most owners know enough to have a CAC or CSST monitoring the abatement.  But a CAC’s participation is sometimes overlooked (but probably most important) during the bid phase of the project.  CAC participation in the planning and bid phase helps to insure that all bidding contractors have been made aware of the presence and location of asbestos materials . . . and that related questions are answered before the project begins. 

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Photo Processing Contaminants

For most photographers, digital photography has become the medium of choice and convenience.  Still, traditional photography offers a range of special effects and other advantages not yet available with digital.  Traditional darkroom techniques are thus still taught and used at most universities and high schools. Ellis was recently retained to conduct an environmental assessment of an operating photo processing lab at a major university in LA County.  Existing material safety data was first reviewed.  Air and surface samples were then collected and analyzed for the following contaminants:


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)Carbon Dioxide, Carbon MonoxideUltra-Fine Dust ParticlesParticulates (PM10) and nuisance dustMold and Fungal Spores

 Surface Dust

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Lead Risk Assessments

lead abatement - 100_1918.jpg

"Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead also can be emitted into the air from motor vehicles and industrial sources, and lead can enter drinking water from plumbing materials. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk." - US Environmental Protection Agency

Lead was common in household paints prior to 1977 when it was banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It can be found in lead plumbing and the solder used on newer copper pipes.  And until it was banned in the late 1970s, lead dust was a primary constituent of auto and truck exhaust. 

Using chemical analysis (Flame AA, TTLC, STLC and TCLP) Ellis can assess lead concentrations in soil, paint and in surface dust.  Where lead is found to be present, Ellis provides recommendations based on the client's intended action.  For example, a building to be demolished would need peeling and flaking lead paint stabilized prior to removal.  In some cases, lead has migrated into soils.  Ellis will provide a simple work plan to identify the horizontal and vertical extent of contamination, required volume of excavated soil, clearance criteria, etc.   Ellis maintains 2 State-Certified Lead Assessors on staff. 

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Asbestos - Clearance Sampling

Q1:  Following an asbestos removal action, who can perform final clearance sampling?

A1:  In California, clearance air sampling must be performed under the direct supervision of a California-certified asbestos consultant, or "CAC."  Requirements vary in other states, but generally require a combination of training, experience, testing and licensure.

Q2:  I've hired a licensed abatement contractor to remove asbestos from my building.  Can't I just ask him to have the clearance sampling performed?

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SCAQMD, Notice to Comply, Procedure 5


The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) responds to complaints of possible asbestos disturbance lodged by building occupants, tenants and employees.  They can be reached at (909) 396-2000 or 800-CUT-SMOG (800-288-7664).

The SCAQMD is by far the most active environmental regulatory agency in California, responding to complaints 24 hours a day.  When investigating the possible disturbance of asbestos-containing materials, the AQMD inspector will first request a copy of an Asbestos Survey. By law, AQMD Rule 1403, an asbestos survey is required prior to any demolition or renovation effort).  If no survey report is produced, the agency will immediately issue a "Notice to Comply", or "NTC," requiring that a Certified Asbestos Consultant conduct an asbestos hazard assessment.  If asbestos is identified, that same CAC must prepare and submit a "Procedure 5" (P5) cleanup plan on behalf of the building owner.

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Certified Asbestos Consultant

"Certified Asbestos Consultant"

 Ellis was recently asked to respond to an asbestos-related emergency by a major southern California university.  As the first step in a large building renovation project, an abatement contractor had been hired to remove asbestos materials.  That contractor had been given a copy of the school's campus-wide asbestos survey performed by Ellis in 2007.  But for this project and for the first time, the university chose to manage the abatement project "in-house," i.e. without bid phase assistance or input from a California-certified asbestos consultant (CAC). 

With the project already underway, Ellis was finally called in . . . but only after the contractor had improperly removed eight thousand square feet of identified asbestos flooring and wallboard without proper engineering controls or notification.  When asked why they'd done it, the contractor admitted  they had received Ellis' original asbestos survey report, but had somehow "missed" the presence of these two asbestos materials.  The AQMD automatically investigated, cited the contractor, and mandated that a CAC direct all subsequent cleanup operations.  Ellis performed this service, administered remaining abatement, and the project was completed without further incident. 

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"Transite" Pipe and the AQMD


The proper name for it is "Asbestos-Cement", or simply "A-C" pipe, but it is also commonly called by its manufacturer JM's brand name - "Transite" pipe.

A-C pipe is present under most commercial and industrial sites.  Typically buried at a depth of 2 to 7 feet, A-C pipe was installed and used for a number of purposes:

Electrical and Telephone Conduit.  Typically 2"-6" O.D. (outer diameter), A-C conduit lines can typically be found embedded in large blocks of concrete, which can make excavation and disposal challenging.High Pressure Fresh Water Line.  Sizes will range from 12" O.D. (main lines) to 4" O.D. (service lines).  Tees and elbows are often embedded in concrete thrust blocks.Sewer Lines.  A-C pipe is a common way to move sewage from homes to the wastewater treatment plant, via 4" service lines connecting to a main line of 24" or more.

In southern California, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) now requires that ALL A-C pipes must be excavated and removed in accordance with an approved "Procedure 5" (or simply "P5") application.  The P5 must be prepared by a California certified asbestos consultant (CAC) and must accurately describe a plan to excavate, expose, remove, wrap and dispose of A-C pipe wherever it is found.  Typically, this process will require approximately 3 weeks to complete, including the 2-week notification period to the AQMD.

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