Applied research is the bridge between science and business. The goal of HSA's forensic science division is to strike the optimal balance between applied research and the needs of our clients. Our team of engineers and scientists has become widely recognized in the insurance and legal communities for their advancements in investigative methodologies and remedial technologies.
HSA’s research experts work across all disciplines to offer an unparalleled level of technical knowledge and experience. HSA fosters individual creativity and initiative among its experts, encouraging engineers and scientists to pursue research opportunities in addition to working toward the company's goals of providing excellent client service and accurate assessment. As a result, our experts have consistently published papers in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and secured patents. Overall the experience, diversity and dedication of our researchers assure that HSA will continue to play a significant role in the advancement of the field of forensics investigations.
Below you'll find published articles authored by HSA's experts. Simply click on the author's name to get additional information regarding the featured topic.
Fungal Growth Succession on Gypsum Board Wall Assemblies
Ralph E. Moon, Ph.D., CIAQP, CHMM, Michael Bass, LEEP, AP and Chin S. Yang, Ph.D.
A 4-month (117 days) test simulated conditions favorable for fungal growth on 6 finished wall assemblies exposed to continuous moisture. The fungal species present on wet gypsum board wall assemblies showed a sequence of fungal succession. Under conditions of constant moisture source, elevated relative humidity and stable temperature, fungal identification can support opinions of the duration of a water loss for periods ranging from several days to several months.
Drip, Drip, Drip
Ralph E. Moon, Ph.D., CIAQP, CHMM, Brett Davis, and Don Rondy CIAQP
Damage patterns inside cabinets can give pretty definitive clues about water losses. Long-standing leaks leave a different mark than abrupt incidents. The behavior of water released onto faced and unfaced cabinet bases is different, so the type of cabinet facing has to be considered in the assessment. Two new experiments conducted by HSA scientists tested faced and unfaced cabinetry under various conditions.
Swept Under the Rug
The duration and extent of a water loss can be established by studying the lowly carpet tack strip.
Ralph E. Moon, Ph.D., CIAQP, CHMM and Don Nehrig, CIAQP, EI, CIEC
Carpet tack strips are among the most humble of building products, yet they offer one of the most effective tools for determining the duration and extent of a water loss. Research using carpet tack strips that were exposed to either continuous or cyclical wet-dry periods of moisture exposure revealed visual and microbial clues that prove effective in differentiating the duration of a loss and establishing whether the loss originated from a single event or repeated ones. A study of carpet tack strips will tell the water-release history of a damaged structure and guide adjusters to more precise and defensible evaluations of water-related claims.
Feeling the Heat
Hot water can warp an adjuster's perspective on water-damaged wood composite materials.
Water losses lead personal property claims in the U.S., but are they as well understood as they are widely prevalent? A recent study shows that when medium density fiberboard (MDF), non-faced particleboard and Melamine (faced particleboard) are exposed to water, dramatic dimensional changes occur at water temperatures above 85°F. The swollen appearance of these wood composite materials was consistent with long-term exposure to moisture, although the exposure period was only 30 minutes. The test results underscore the importance of understanding the effects of elevated water temperatures on composite wood materials used in cabinetry, furniture and trim when supporting decisions of duration of loss.
The Re-birth of the ASTM E 1903 Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Standard
Nicholas Albergo, PE, DEE and Brian Moore, PE
ASTM International (ASTM) is in the process of finalizing its revised E 1903 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Process (Phase II). Although this Standard has been in publication since 1997, it has never gained the mass appeal of its counterpart, the E 1527 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process (Phase I). That is about to change.
Continuing Obligations: Beyond All Appropriate Inquiries
Nicholas Albergo, PE, DEE and Steven Folsom, PE, BCEE
This article focuses on the so-called “continuing obligations” that are contemplated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), and by the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Brownfield Amendments), 42 U.S.C. §9601 et seq. After offering a brief overview of CERCLA liability and its defenses, and the most recent landowner liability protections (LLPs) additions, we discuss continuing obligations that, generally speaking, must be performed in order to remain eligible for certain landowner liability protections under CERCLA.
Diffuse Anthropogenic Pollution and Its Potential Effect on Brownfields Development and the Landowner Liability Protections to CERCLA
Nicholas Albergo, PE, DEE and Roxanne Gause, PE
Diffuse anthropogenic pollution (DAP) is derived from human activities, as opposed to those occurring in natural environments without human influences. The term is often used in the context of environmental externalities in the form of chemical or biological wastes that are produced as by-products of otherwise purposeful human activities. For instance, some believe that the production of carbon dioxide is the primary factor driving anthropogenic climate change. DAP becomes even more complicated when considering the legal framework and liability scheme established through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund (enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980), and its negative effects to Brownfields redevelopment.
AAI and the Necessity for an Opinion
Nicholas Albergo, PE, DEE and Alex Chatham, PE
On November 1, 2005, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Final Rule pertaining to the Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI). Shortly thereafter, ASTM International (ASTM) published its updated E 1527-05 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process. Much has been written about the new requirements and latest landowner liability protections (LLP’s) that evolved as a result of the actions of Congress actions and the new EPA Rule (i.e., the addition of the contiguous property owner (CPO) and bona fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) defenses to CERCLA liability).
2010 World's Worst Pollution Problems Report
Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland
Nicholas Albergo, PE, DEE, member of the Blacksmith Institute Technical Advisory Board
The 2010 report follows a series of annual reports released by Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland. In 2006 and 2007, the organizations released reports highlighting the world’s worst polluted places. A report from 2008 described the top ten worst pollution problems, and in 2009, the organizations released a report highlighting case studies of successful cleanup projects. The 2010 report revisits the subject of pollution problems, but draws upon the substantial volume of research the organizations have conducted on polluted sites over the last two years to identify the specific pollutants that are causing the most harm.