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OUR SERVICES

Built Environments offers a wide variety of services. Servicing all of Saskatchewan for your indoor air quality, mold, asbestos and health safety needs. Contact today for more information. 

Project Management

When dealing with hazardous materials or situations that present a risk to health or safety management of the hazard is of the utmost importance.  Built Environments Canada understands these risks better than anyone and has the experience to ensure high risk procedures or building upgrades are completed correctly the first time in a manner that is safe saving you money and limiting liability.

Air Sampling

Air sampling is a tool that may be used to check levels of airborne hazards.  Airborne hazards may present themselves in several forms.

The most common indoor hazard is microbial contamination (mould, bacteria, viruses, etc.).  Mould contamination typically occurs when organic materials (paper, wood, textiles, etc.) are being affected by a moisture issue over a period of time.  If the source of the moisture is dirty water such as ground water or sewage, harmful bacteria may also be a significant concern indoors.

Another common air quality concern is particulate matter (dust, fumes, mist, asbestos fibres, mould spores, metals, silica, grain, etc.).  Particulate matter is especially a concern in industrial applications where fine dust and particles may be generated.  It is very important that that particulate matter is controlled in indoor environments to prevent adverse health effects among occupants.  Particulate matter is typically controlled through the ventilation of a space (the exhausting of pollutants from indoors coupled with the injection of fresh outdoor air to a space) to meet the need of the occupancy.

Another category of hazard is in the form of odours and vapours (volatile organic compounds, inorganic vapours, etc.). These are chemicals that are gas at or near room temperature.  Chemical vapour exposure must be controlled in the same way at particulate matter to prevent adverse health affects among occupants.  Depending on the environment and the use of space different hazards will be present and the strategy for sampling and managing risk must be modified accordingly.

At Built Environments Canada our main goal is to ensure the safe occupancy of homes and buildings.  When a hazard affects an occupied space we have the ability to gauge and manage the associated risk.  Using our unique experience in the industry, state of the art equipment and a network of professionals throughout North America we are the clear choice for all your air sampling needs.

Chemical Off Gassing

It’s not just old buildings that have pollutants present. In fact, new buildings or renovations tend to have elevated chemical off gassing from glues, textiles, construction materials and furniture. Items like scented candles, cleaning products and personal care products may cause environmental sensitivity in certain individuals.  There is currently a strong movement towards scent free environments to limit chemical off gassing such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) often found in these common products and new construction materials.  Harmful chemical compounds in older building include lead, mercury and PCBs.  Depending on the age your building was constructed and the materials used different chemical hazards may be present.

In industrial application chemicals are often of concern when exposure levels may be exceeded or potential reactions may occur.  Through air sampling we may determine exposure levels and determine potential reactions that may occur in an environment.  In this way we can determine if the space and its ventilation is adequate for its use or if upgrades should be made in order to maintain safe conditions.  Air sampling may also be used to ensure a building has met the desired LEED benchmarks for certification or check measurements against various other performance standards.  At Built Environments Canada we have the knowledge, tools and experience to answer all of your airborne chemical concerns.

Environmental Sensitivities

Environmental sensitivities may be physical or psychological reactions to an environmental pollutant. The effects range greatly from skin and eye irritations to headaches, nausea and severe respiratory problems.

Environmental sensitivities are very similar to allergies in that certain individuals are far more susceptible to the effects of a pollutant than others. In general, people who are most at risk of suffering from environmental sensitivities brought on by airborne pollutants such as mould, dust or vapours include:

  • those with a history of respiratory ailments,

  • young children,

  • pregnant women,

  • the elderly and

  • immunocompromised individuals.

Prolonged or repeated exposure to a pollutant may trigger lifelong environmental sensitivities like asthma or migraines in otherwise healthy people.

It is a common misconception that exposure to a pollutant may build up an individual's immune system to deal with that same pollutant in the future.  In reality, the more we are exposed to harmful compounds the more the effects tend to build up in our systems and the greater the risk we run of damage to our bodies.

Controlling our built environments is key in limiting harmful exposure to pollutants.  Built Environments Canada specializes in the investigation and resolution of environmental sensitivity issues in buildings.

Material Bulk Sample Testing

Material bulk sample testing is used in buildings to identify hazardous materials prior to demolition, restoration or construction projects. Hazardous building materials are far more common than most people think.  In fact, the majority of all buildings in Canada, especially those constructed prior to 1990, will have unidentified hazardous materials present that should always be identified before the start of an construction.  The most common hazards are mould, asbestos and lead paint but there are many more potential material hazards that may be present depending on the building and the intended use of the space when it was constructed.

 

By collecting and analyzing representative bulk samples we can determine what, if any, special handling considerations should be made for hazardous materials on site that may be affected by planned changes to a building.  In this way we can perform the work safely, protecting occupants, workers and the building from undue risk or contamination as a result of incorrect handling of hazardous material.

If an unknown material is discovered in a building and you are not sure how to handle it safely, bulk sampling should be conducted and submitted for laboratory analysis.  The experts at Built Environments Canada specialize in building surveys for hazardous materials and we can quickly and safely conduct bulk sampling to ensure you do not have to put yourself or your space at any undue risk.

Building Science

Building Science is the study of physical phenomena (temperature, winds, precipitation, soils, ground water, etc.) affecting buildings and the intended use of space.  This is done in an effort to maximize efficiency while meeting all construction, health and safety requirements.  As we move towards greener buildings and reducing our carbon footprint the correct application of building science is becoming more and more important.  When one system in a building is changed, often that change affects other building systems.  As building science specialists we are experts at determining what systems will be affected by planned changes.  We may then determine what other changes must be made so that the building can continue to provide a safe and healthy occupancy.

By truly understanding how buildings are constructed, the systems they are comprised of and the minimum codes to be implemented the professional consultants at Built Environments Canada can help you resolve concerns and optimize efficiency through the application of building science.  If you are looking to resolve a moisture issue, reduce your heating bill, select healthy materials or assess your ventilation the experts at Built Environment Canada are here to help. 

Ventilation & Furnaces

One of the most common defects we find is a lack of adequate ventilation for the intended occupancy of a space.  This is a particular problem in older buildings that have had the chimney vented furnaces replaced with modern, high-efficiency units. These modern furnaces use direct venting of the combustion chamber to the outdoors which both improves performance and eliminated the risk of carbon monoxide.  The previous furnace intake was drawing combustion air from the building and exhausting fumes out the chimney.  This meant there was a risk of carbon monoxide present but the building would get regular air exchanges.

By getting rid of the combustion intake inside the building, fresh air would no longer be drawn in around windows and doors to replenish the air being sucked into the combustion chamber of the chimney vented furnace. Instead air comes into the high-efficiency combustion chamber directly from outdoors through an intake pipe and the fumes are exhausted out an exhaust pipe.  So the high-efficiency furnace is no longer providing the mechanical air changes to the building that were previously provided by the chimney vented unit.  When high-efficiency furnaces are installed, especially in tightly built homes, an alternative means of ventilating the building must also be provided in order to maintain a healthy occupancy.

Listed below are some common building science services that may be performed by Built Environments Canada.

  • Condition assessment of buildings to determine losses following a disaster or defects requiring attention.

  • Thermal imaging to identify deficiencies in the thermal break at the exterior of a building.

  • Thermal imaging to identify leaks in processes.

  • Ventilation testing to determine percent outdoor air, carbon dioxide levels, temperature, relative humidity and air flow.

  • Clean room & filter testing using advanced particulate monitoring and generation equipment.

  • LEED testing for building certification

If you are interested in maximizing the efficiency of your building, conducting LEED performance testing, identifying underlying deficiencies or just providing a healthier space for occupants, Built Environments Canada is your local building science specialist.

VOCs & Chemicals

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) contain one or more carbon atoms and high vapour pressures allowing them to rapidly evaporate to the atmosphere. In building most VOCs come from materials present or processes taking place. There are exposure recommendations set throughout the world for total VOCs.

  • Several VOCs have short term exposure limits and time weighted average exposure limits associated with them.

  • Certain construction materials, furnishings and equipment release high amounts of VOCs.

  • We have the ability to monitor total VOC levels on site or via remote data logging.

  • Through our industry leading chemical analysis laboratory we are able to conduct highly specific analytical sampling.

  • Formaldehyde and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are found in many construction materials and in some new buildings and industrial settings levels can be significantly elevated.

  • Hydrocarbons can be gases, liquids, waxes or low melting solids or polymers.  Hydrocarbon issues indoor are typically related to combustion processes or fuel sources.

  • Carbon Monoxide is a product of combustion and is a common indoor air quality concern which we may monitor.

Asbestos & Controlled Materials

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was used in a variety of construction materials with peak use through the 1960s and 1970s until it was banned in Canada in 1984. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that has been linked with lung cancer. Airborne asbestos fibres must be controlled to limit occupant exposure.

In Saskatchewan, most public buildings constructed prior to 1990 are required to have an asbestos survey conducted by a competent individual and an asbestos containing material registry is to be kept on site. For each asbestos containing material a management plan must be created and implemented.

In most jurisdictions throughout the province including, Regina and Saskatoon, the owners are now required to have a competent individual sign off on asbestos and other hazardous materials before a renovation or demolition permit will be issued in buildings and homes constructed before 1984.  Additionally, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is now requiring abatement and air testing if asbestos is identified in the pre-sale home inspection.  Therefore, it is very important that those individuals conducting pre-sale home inspections are well informed and thorough with their hazardous material assessment so there are no costly surprises after an offer has been made.

The public, occupants and workers must be made aware of asbestos containing materials so they may take reasonable precautions.  It is especially important that those working with asbestos are trained on the risks, its safe handling and the correct use of any PPE that may be required.

The good news is Built Environments Canada specializes in hazardous material consulting with a focus on providing these much needed services at an affordable cost.  We specialize in hazardous materials and asbestos surveys including bulk and air sampling services.

  • Asbestos was a common construction material used in Canada until it was banned from construction products in 1984.

  • If your home or building was constructed before 1990 a survey for asbestos containing material should be conducted prior to any demolition or renovation to the property.

  • Public buildings in Saskatchewan built prior to 1990 are required by law to have a survey for asbestos containing materials conducted by a competent individual and a register of asbestos containing materials is to be kept on site.

  • Materials should be considered asbestos containing unless they have been tested to confirm otherwise or the material was determined not to contain asbestos by a competent individual.

  • Results for bulk samples may be received as early as the next day for a fraction of the cost of the competitors.

  • Air sampling may be conducted for countable asbestos fibres (PCM analysis) and actual asbestos fibres (TEM analysis) present.

  • Air sampling may be conducted to determine if an environment is contaminated or an abatement has been conducted successfully.

Built Environments Canada strongly believes in the identification of asbestos containing materials in all buildings constructed prior to 1990 before any restoration, demolition, or renovation projects begin.  The safe handling, transportation and disposal of asbestos containing materials is important to us all in order to prevent on-going health concerns with this dangerous substance.  In British Columbia asbestos related illness is the number one cause of worker deaths and in most instances the onset of health problems is 10 to 15 year after exposure.  We need to know what materials contain asbestos in our buildings so that they are handled appropriately and we are all kept safe.  If you occupy a building constructed prior to 1990, contact Built Environments Canada for  information about a consultation.  Lets keep everyone’s lungs healthy!

 

Controlled Materials

PCBs

  • PCBs were used extensively in Canada between 1929 and 1977 when it was banned in all but existing electrical application which are closely regulated today.

  • PCBs may be released in fires and at high temperature turn to more harmful dioxins and furans.

  • Building constructed between 1929 and 1980 that have experience a fire loss should have PCB sampling conducted.

Lead Paint

  • In Canada lead paint may be found in buildings constructed or renovated between 1976 and 1990.

  • If you have a building that falls in this category samples of paint should be collected, especially if the paint is dilapidated.

Dust and Allergens

Airborne particulate matter includes dust and allergens found everywhere on Earth. Exposure to dust and allergens relates to an increased occurrence of sensitivity to a particular particle or risk of illness.

  • Our respiratory systems help to filter particulate matter through our nose hair, lips, thorax, and our lungs.

  • Inhalable and respirable particles are so small that they may enter into the deepest parts of our lungs.

  • Ensuring facilities and ventilation systems are adequate to control particulate matter is important for a healthy environment.

  • It is also important we make informed decisions when selecting appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) or upgrades for a facility.

Built Environments Canada has the testing equipment to determine the particle counts throughout the inhalable and respirable particle size ranges.

  • This allows us to conduct clean room and occupancy testing in accordance with accepted standards.

  • Using this technology in conjunction with particle generators we are able to conduct filter performance testing and DOP certification for HEPA equipment.

  • Using dust collection cassettes we can determine the presence and relative amounts of common allergens against accepted standards

  • We have the ability to collect and analyze for all manner of organic and inorganic dust samples.

  • Built Environments Canada specializes in the sampling and control of dust and allergens within buildings.

Microbials (Mould and Bacteria)

Mould and bacteria are all around us and play an important role in breaking down dead organic matter amongst other functions on Earth.

  • An environment may become mould or bacteria contaminated when a moisture issue has allowed for the decay of organic matter or has brought in contaminants such as ground water and sewage.

  • Continuous or repeated exposure to mould and bacteria contaminated environments significantly increases the risk of sensitivity and health concerns, especially in young children, pregnant women and immune compromised individuals.

  • There is a strong link between damp environments capable of supporting mould growth and frequency of asthma and other respiratory issues developing in children.

  • Certain individuals, often those with respiratory ailments, are significantly health affected by exposure to microbial contamination.

  • Mould and bacteria sampling come into effect when moisture issues have allowed for microbial contamination.

  • Depending on the type of moisture issue, the environment and the organic materials present different microbial growths may occur.

Knowing how to recognize concerns, gauge the risk and develop a strategy to address issues is our specialty.

  • We use the most proficient laboratories in Canada, certified by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), for the analysis of all microbial samples.

  • Spore traps, swabs, tape lifts, or bulk samples for genus identification have a standard turn-around time of 4-5 business days with 2 day, next day, and even weekend turn-around times available for results.

  • The turn-around-time for viable air samples and physical samples that require species identification is dependent on the growth rate during culturing and may take as long as 3 weeks.

Mould, Bacteria and Other Organic Pollutants

Mould and bacteria are microbial life forms found in nearly every environment on earth.  Moulds reproduce by releasing spores into the air which then travel along air currents seeking a damp food source that may support its growth.  As damp, mould contaminated materials dry they produce spores and the drier the materials get the more prone the mould spores are to becoming airborne.  Disturbing a dry mould growth without taking proper precautions can quickly cause an indoor air quality concern.

Inside buildings the food source for mould may be damp lumber, wallboard, carpeting, underlay and various other organic containing materials.  When small amounts of mould (typically under 3 meters square) are discovered the removal and disposal of the contaminated material may typically be carried out and cleaned up with some simple precautionary measures.  The bigger issue in those cases is the identification and resolution of the underlying issue that has allowed for the mould growth to occur.  If a mould growth greater than 3 meters square is discovered or if you are unsure of what is causing the mould growth you are just a phone call or click away from affordable, professional help!  The experts at Built Environments Canada specialize in the resolution of construction defects to prevent recurring mould growth or leaking issues.

Indoor air quality issue may also arise from factors such as common allergens like dusts, pollen and animal dander. The use of the building, the ventilation of the spaces, and other variables such as general housekeeping may also have drastic effects on indoor air quality.  Ventilation is particularly important as it works to draw out all pollutants generated in occupied spaces and replenish the exhausted air with fresh air from outdoors. In under-ventilated spaces issues such as increased carbon dioxide levels, radon, mould spores, dust and odour become a greater concern. The ventilation system in a building also works to control the relative humidity which reduces the potential for mould growth.

Approximately half of all calls into Built Environments Canada are related to mould or other microbial concerns within buildings.  Having consulted on thousands of buildings from sterile fertility laboratories to agricultural microbe production facilities we are Saskatchewan’s premiere experts on all microbial related issues.  Contact us now and see how we can help you!

Microbial Contaminated Materials

  • When water activity affects organic materials mould and bacteria may develop over time.

  • Water activity is most commonly from groundwater seepage, roof leaks, pipe leaks or excessive humidity.

  • To correct microbial issues from reoccurring the underlying moisture issue must be identified and resolved.

Building Surveys

Building surveys are used to identify health, safety and construction concerns.

Health and safety concerns in a building may be related to problems with the building construction, the presence of hazardous materials or a combination of both.  Common hazardous materials include mould, bacteria, asbestos, lead, PCB, chemicals and dust.  By understanding the building, the intended use of the space and the hazards present our experts are able help you manage risk while improving both the building performance and productivity of occupants.

Ventilation and Productivity

One of the most common construction problem is inadequate ventilation for the occupants of a building.  As people inside the building use up the oxygen in an under-ventilated space they are replacing it with carbon dioxide.  Over the course of a workday these people inside the building often begin to feel tired.  This may be most notable as a drop in productivity and an increase in irritability as the day goes on.  Inadequate ventilation may also be associated with a build up of humidity and odors in an occupied space generally making them less comfortable for most people to occupy.  By simply improving ventilation we can not only vastly improve the air quality but also the productivity.

Work with Built Environments Canada

Built Environments Canada specializes in the identification, classification and management of risks associated with human occupancy.  Whether the concern be a moisture that has allowed for a mould or bacterial concern, construction completed prior to the 1984 ban of asbestos containing materials, or chemical concerns related to substances or materials present, we have the information, technology, and experience to provide you with the information you need to ensure the health and safety of individuals.

TESTING SERVICES