Paula Lee says she is right in the thick of naturally occurring asbestos in her Cameron Park neighborhood, but Rancho Cordova is where she gets things done.
Although naturally occurring asbestos in El Dorado County in past months has been at the forefront of the news, Lee's environmental consulting firm specializes in industrial asbestos.
Lee, owner and executive director of National Analytical Laboratories, recently expanded her environmental and abatement services and moved the firm from Fair Oaks to Rancho Cordova. The 13-year-old business had outgrown its office, she said. Rancho Cordova appealed to her because of its proximity to Highway 50.
N.A.L. inspects buildings and conducts samplings of industrial asbestos, lead and water. The company also addresses mold problems.
Asbestos was used as a binder in many construction materials before the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 1978 outlawed such uses, Lee said. Exposure to asbestos, whether industrial or naturally occurring, can cause lung cancer or other diseases.
Lee wants residents to be aware of the dangers of asbestos, mold and other harmful elements that might be in some homes, commercial buildings and school sites.
She has a degree in business management from the University of Phoenix. Lee, 41, started out in her trade by working for Hanlon Laboratories, eventually taking it over and changing its name.
At N.A.L., Lee has a staff of 12, including technicians, consultants, analysts and a laboratory manager.
The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency has worked with N.A.L. for more than 10 years.
"They're very professional and thorough," said James Remus, contract analyst for SHRA.
Samuel Farrington, staff services manager for Caltrans facilities, said of N.A.L. staff members, "They've always been responsive to our needs."
Anthony De Arcos, N.A.L.'s vice president and head environmental consultant, has consulted for federal, state and local agencies on asbestos, lead and mold abatement issues.
De Arcos has more than 25 years of experience, 10 of which were spent in the construction industry.
Some things he has seen in old and abandoned buildings are not for the squeamish.
He has seen walls covered in black mold, and mushrooms growing on doors because of the damp, moldy environment.
Mold can irritate allergies and asthma, Lee said.
"Don't be afraid, be wise," she said.
She cautions residents to have their homes tested for asbestos and other harmful materials before they lay carpet and turn on their air conditioner.
She extends her advice for outdoor projects as well.
She offers her mantra for homeowners intending to landscape their homes.
"Know your yard," Lee said, "and call before you dig."