Definitions & Glossary

CDC: An acronym for the government organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is headed by the Department of Health and Human Services and is the leading national public health institution in the United States. It is headquartered just outside Atlanta, Georgia. It focuses on directing national attention toward developing disease control and prevention methods.

Crawlspace:  an area constructed between the ground and the bottom of a house, creating a permanent foundation and used in place of a basement. It does not have the depth of a regular basement, making it difficult for a person to be able to stand up when inside the small space.

This space is constructed with block walls for the home to sit on. It may also have concrete flooring, although some have gravel instead. The area can be accessed either from the outside or the inside of the home, similar to a basement, depending on what the home owner chooses when building the home. Double-wide manufactured homes, modular homes, and stick built homes can all have crawl spaces as a permanent foundation.

There are advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into consideration before deciding on a crawl space instead of a regular basement when building a home. One of the advantages is having the house off the ground, as opposed to a concrete slab foundation. This is necessary when the house is being built in a damp area or an area that may be prone to the infestation of termites. A basement keeps the house off the ground as well, but a crawl space is much more inexpensive. It also makes it more convenient to service plumbing and duct work because it is more accessible than a house with a finished basement.

Deductible: In an insurance policy, this is the amount of expenses that must be paid out of pocket before an insurer will pay any expenses.[1] In general usage, the term deductible may be used to describe one of several types of clauses (see below) that are used by insurance companies as a threshold for policy payments.

Deductibles are typically used to deter the large number of trivial claims that a consumer can be reasonably expected to bear the cost of. By restricting its coverage to events that are significant enough to incur large costs, the insurance firm expects to pay out slightly smaller amounts much less frequently, incurring much higher savings. As a result, insurance premiums are typically cheaper when they involve higher deductibles. For example, phone companies offer replacement plans, with the deductible set at the level of the wholesale price of the phone. As added benefit to them, the customer does not switch to different company as they often do with a new phone purchase.

EPA: An acronym for the government organization, Environmental Protection Agency. They work in conjunction with organizations like OSHA, the CDC, and other to conduct research and create policy to accomplish their stated mission of “protecting human health and the environment.”

Extraction: The process of removing something from a source.

Gas: A form of matter in which a substance is considered fluid and may expand freely to fill any space available, irrespective of its quantity. It has no length or height but is measured in units of volume.

HEPA: an acronym for “High Efficiency Particulate Air” or “High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance.” This acronym refers to a filter that is manufactured, tested, certified, and labeled in accordance with current HEPA filter standards.  Filters meeting the HEPA standard have many applications, including use in medical facilities, automobiles, aircraft and homes. The filter must satisfy certain standards of efficiency such as those set by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). To qualify as HEPA by US government standards, an air filter must remove (from the air that passes through) 99.97% of particles that have a size of 0.3 µm.[3] A filter that is qualified as HEPA is also subject to interior classifications.

Mitigation: The action of reducting the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something. According to FEMA, “…mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impace of disasters. Mitigation is taking action now-before the next disaster-to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, insuring against risk). Effective mitigation requires that we all understand local risks, address the hard choices and invest in long-term community well-being. Without mitigation actions, we jeopardize our safety, financial security and self-reliance.”

Mold: one type of fungus, is different from plants, animals and bacteria. Molds are eukaryotic micro-organisms that are decomposers of dead organic material such as leaves, wood and plants. The spores and hair-like bodies of individual mold colonies are too small for us to see without a microscope. When a lot of mold is growing on a surface, it often appears black, blue or green. The color of the mold is determined by the type and is influenced by the nutrient source, surface substrate and the age of the colony.

According to the CDC, “exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.”

Radon: a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. It is often found in buildings where it can cause health issues to those exposed to it for long periods of time. For more please view this page.

Radioactive: Radioactive decay, also known as nuclear decay or radioactivity, is the process by which a nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionized particles (radiation). A material that spontaneously emits this kind of radiation — which includes the emission of alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and conversion electrons — is considered radioactive. – This radiation is dangerous because those microscopic ionized particles have enough energy that when they radiate outward they can actually remove electrons from the atoms of other molecules that they come in contact with, including the molecules that make up human tissues. Long or intense exposure to radiation can cause these irregularities in the molecules to multiply in the body and can lead to health problems like cancer.

Remediation: The removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water. This would mean that once requested by the government or a land remediation authority, immediate action should be taken as this can impact negatively on human health and the environment.

Remediation is generally subject to an array of regulatory requirements, and also can be based on assessments of human health and ecological risks where no legislated standards exist or where standards are advisory.

pCi/L: short for picocuries per liter. A Picocurie is one trillionth of a curie. A curie is a unit of radioactivity, equal to the amount of a radioactive isotope that decays at the rate of 3.7 × 1010 disintegrations per second. The curie was named after a Polish-born French chemist, Marie Curie (1867-1934). She shared a 1903 Nobel Prize with her husband, Pierre Curie (1859-1906), and Henri Becquerel (1852-1908) for fundamental research on radioactivity. In 1911 she won a second Nobel Prize for her discovery and study of the elements radium and polonium.