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Environment Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold Mold Testing VOCs

From “Sneeze City” to “Breathe Easy Boulevard”: Your Guide to Conquering IAQ and Mold Issues by World Asthma Day

May 2 marks World Asthma Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about asthma, a chronic respiratory condition affecting millions worldwide. This day emphasizes the importance of understanding and mitigating factors that exacerbate asthma symptoms, such as poor indoor air quality (IAQ), mold and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Here’s our best advice to transform “Sneeze City” into “Breathe Easy Boulevard.”

Understanding the connection between Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and asthma
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is defined by the condition of air within and in surrounding buildings, particularly concerning the health and comfort of building occupants. Poor IAQ can emerge from factors such as insufficient ventilation, contamination by mold, VOCs, and various particulate matter.

What are Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs?
VOCs are gases emitted from certain man-made materials that can have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Sources of VOCs in homes include paints, varnishes, cleaning supplies, and building materials. VOCs can be very dangerous to your health and can be toxic, so finding the source of VOC pollution is critical.

Beware the Mold Menace
Mold is more than just an unsightly annoyance; it can pose serious health risks, especially to individuals with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Molds reproduce by creating spores that float through the air, that when inhaled, can trigger wheezing, sneezing, and asthma attacks. Addressing mold issues is not just about cleaning up visible growth; it’s about ensuring these spores – and VOC emissions – are not circulating throughout your indoor environment.

Key Steps to Enhance IAQ and Manage Mold

  • Identify the Problem: The first step in solving any IAQ problem is identifying the sources of pollutants, which might include mold growth and VOCs from household products or construction materials. These can often be hidden in walls, behind ceiling tiles, or in other out-of-sight areas.
  • Get Professional Testing: Engage a professional from a reputable company like RTK Environmental to test your indoor environment. This will provide a clear picture of your air quality and the presence of any mold, VOCs or other allergens.
  • Address Humidity Levels: Mold thrives in moist environments. Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to maintain humidity levels between 30-50% to help prevent mold growth. Simultaneously, consider reducing sources of VOCs by choosing low-emission products for your home.
  • Improve ventilation in your home. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens and ensure that ventilation systems are directing air outside of your home to minimize the recirculation of pollutants, including VOCs.
  • Schedule Regular Cleaning and Maintenance: Dust and vacuum your home regularly using vacuums equipped with HEPA filters to capture fine particles and prevent them from being redistributed around your home. Also, consider using natural cleaning products that emit fewer VOCs.
  • Begin Mold Remediation: If mold is discovered, it’s important to follow proper remediation protocols to ensure the mold – and any VOCs from damp building materials – are removed effectively and safely. RTK Environmental stresses the importance of professional remediation followed by post-remediation clearance testing to ensure that all mold and VOCs have been removed.

You can take definitive steps towards improving your indoor air quality and managing mold and VOCs. Not only will this make your home healthier, but it will also provide relief to asthma sufferers and others affected by poor air quality. Remember, controlling your environment is a crucial step in controlling asthma and allergies. Let’s move from Sneeze City to Breathe Easy Boulevard together!

For more detailed information and professional guidance, contact RTK Environmental at rtkenvironmental.com specialists in environmental testing and consulting, who can provide further insights and services to ensure your indoor environment is safe and healthy.

Categories
Asbestos Construction Environment Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Insurance Mold Mold Testing Renovation

Don’t Skip the First Step When Renovating a Home: Comprehensive Environmental Testing

Don’t Skip the First Step When Renovating a Home: Comprehensive Environmental Testing

Renovating a home can dramatically improve its comfort and aesthetics, but people often don’t think about what might be lurking behind the walls, ceilings or under the floors. So, it’s crucial to find out if any environmental issues or hazards exist, then address them before renovating begins. Hidden dangers such as the presence of lead, asbestos, and mold can pose significant health risks if disturbed or improperly managed while renovating and after.

The Hidden Dangers of Asbestos in Renovations

Asbestos, a once-common building material known for its durability and fire resistance, can still be found in many homes built before 1980. Commonly used in insulation, walls, floor and ceiling tiles, and fireproofing materials, asbestos is hazardous when disturbed.

Health Effects of Asbestos
If asbestos fibers are released into the air during renovations, they can lead to severe health issues, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. And while the latency period for these diseases can be extensive, often taking 15–40 years to manifest, it is still crucially important to protect against it.

Conduct an Asbestos Survey
Before any renovation or demolition, conduct an asbestos survey. This survey will determine if materials containing asbestos are present. If so, plan for their safe removal to prevent airborne contamination. Even minor renovations, such as installing a ceiling fan or updating a bathroom, can disturb asbestos and that can have serious implications.

Mold Contamination: A Pervasive Issue

Mold spores are ubiquitous in the environment but become a problem when they find moist conditions conducive for growth. Areas under sinks, behind walls, or beneath floorboards commonly host mold spores. Anywhere there’s moisture the opportunity for mold exists. During renovations, disturbing these areas can spread the spores through HVAC systems, potentially contaminating the entire house.

If you notice musty odors or suspect water damage, it’s critically important to test for mold before proceeding with renovations. Discovering mold early can start the process for professional remediation or DIY removal following strict EPA guidelines, which involve specialized equipment and safety measures to prevent cross-contamination.

The Perils of Lead Found in Older Paint

In homes built before 1978, the presence of lead paint is a common concern. Sanding or cutting into painted surfaces can release lead dust, which is harmful if inhaled or ingested, leading to lead poisoning, causing severe neurological damage, among other health issues.

A speck of lead dust the size of a grain of sand can poison a child. Improper renovations can spread lead dust throughout a home and even outdoors, contaminating the soil near your home as well, which can also leach into your water supply.

Before starting any work, whether it’s a major remodel or a simpler task like hanging a fan, test for lead. If lead is present, follow the EPA Lead Safe work practices as outlined in the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (RRP). These practices are crucial to protect your health and prevent the spread of lead dust during renovations.

Expert Insights on Environmental Testing

Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental, emphasizes the importance of environmental inspections before renovations. “We’ve seen so many renovation projects go awry because the homeowner didn’t start with an environmental inspection,” says Weitz. Identifying hazards like mold, lead, and asbestos upfront can prevent costly remediation and help ensure safe indoor air quality throughout the renovation process.

For homeowners planning renovations, taking the time to conduct thorough environmental testing is not just about compliance—it’s about ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved. By identifying and mitigating these risks before they become a problem, you can save on future costs and safeguard your home against potential disasters.

 

Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon Asbestos Dust Environment Healthy Home Mold VOCs

Top Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Top Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality & Pollution

Did you know inside air may be 25-100 times more polluted than outside air? Up to 80% of indoor air quality issues are caused by high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and unhealthy levels of mold spores. Other pollutants include dander, asbestos, radon, smoke, formaldehyde, particulate matter, and pesticides.Causes of VOCsVOCs and other toxic fumes can be found in hundreds of household and workplace materials, including:

  • New carpeting
  • Composite wood products, like furniture and cabinets
  • Bedding and pillows
  • Detergents
  • Paint
  • Copiers and printers
  • Adhesives
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Vinyl, such as shower curtains or tile
  • Sealing caulk
  • Scented candles
  • Fabrics
  • Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals
  • Air fresheners
  • Moth balls
  • Dry cleaning and laundry detergents
  • Wood burning stoves

Symptoms of Poor IAQ

Poor IAQ symptomsPoor indoor air quality can cause a host of health symptoms, including:

  • Asthma
  • Cold & allergy like symptoms
  • Persistent cough
  • Depression
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Eye irritation
  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea

If you have been feeling off without any known cause, it could be an indoor air quality issue. Have RTK test your home for common VOCs and mold – protect your health!

Categories
Lead Inspector's Notebook Local Law 122 Local Law 123 New York City Local Law 31

New York City’s Local Law 31 & Lead Testing Laws: A Simplified Guide for Property Owners

Local Law 31: What You Need To Knowlocal law 31

Lead paint poses significant health risks, especially to young children. Recognizing this, New York City has enacted stringent laws, complete with hefty fines for non-compliance. For owners of multifamily properties, it’s crucial to prioritize lead testing and remediation, especially in light of recent regulatory updates. To help you navigate these complex requirements, we have prepared a concise guide which outlines complex legislation into key actions and critical deadlines. This guide is tailored to ensure you remain compliant and safeguard the health of your tenants.

NYC lead lawImmediate Actions for Testing with Children Involved

Children Under the Age of Six: Dwellings with children under six must be inspected within one year of their residency under Local Law 31. Additionally, units in buildings constructed before 1960 that host children for over 10 hours weekly require testing, regardless of residency status.

Local law 122Deadlines to Note

Local Law 31 and Local Law 122 – Lead Testing Requirements

  • By August 2025, all pre-1960 buildings must undergo comprehensive X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) testing for lead paint in dwelling units and common areas by an EPA-certified lead inspector.
  • Annual Reporting: Beginning August 2025, you’ll need to provide records of any lead hazard violations and investigations to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) upon request. The threshold for defining lead-based paint has also been lowered to 0.5 mg/cm², from the previous 1.0 mg/cm², as of December 1, 2021.
  • Exemption: HPD encourages owners to apply for an exemption for spaces that test negative or have had lead-based paint surfaces abated.

NYC lead lawFuture Responsibilities

Local Law 123 – Lead Paint Abatement

For units suspected of containing lead paint and housing a child under six:

  • By July 2027, door and window friction surfaces must be abated. Lead paint hazards must be remediated, including making all floors smooth and cleanable.
  • Post-January 1, 2025: Units that are newly occupied by children under six after this date must meet the above mentioned abatement and remediation requirements within three years of move-in.

Tenant Communication

  • Annual Notices: Each year, between January 1 and 16, tenants must be provided with annual notifications in both English and Spanish regarding lead paint hazards. Failure to receive a response from tenants by February 15, necessitates a follow-up investigation by owner between February 16 and March 1 to confirm the required information.
  • Leasing Requirements: Inquire about the presence of children under six during the time of leasing or renewal; certify the completion of required lead-related work; and provide the appropriate occupancy notice regarding lead-based paint hazards.

Compliance and Penalties

Non-compliance with these regulations can result in significant penalties. Be sure to keep thorough records of all compliance activities. Resources are available to assist you, including sample forms for annual notice delivery, investigation compliance, and more.

Navigating New York City’s lead laws is vital for property owners, not just for legal compliance, but for the health and safety of tenants. By adhering to these guidelines, conducting necessary testing and remediation, and communicating effectively with tenants, property owners can create safer living environments and avoid potential penalties. Stay informed and proactive to protect your investment.

If you need lead testing contact RTK Environmental at 800.392.6468.

For your convenience, here are links to key documents:

Categories
Environment Flooding & Water Damage Health Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation

Spring Mold: What to Watch For After A Wet Winter

Spring Mold: What to Watch For After A Wet Winter

After such a wet winter, now that it’s warming up, we’re seeing the effects of those flooded basements and roof leaks – mold issues.

Mold can start growing in as little as 24 – 48 hours, and may stay dormant during colder weather, so you often don’t even realize it’s there until the temperatures start to rise. Once this happens, the mold starts to grow and spread.

Here are warning signs that mold may be a growing problem, and advice to help you deal with it:

Musty Odor

Although mold begins growing fairly quickly after water enters your home, it takes a while before you can actually detect the musty odor that means mold. Be sure to keep your senses on alert for a musty smell developing in your home or business.

 

I smell mold, but can’t see it.

Mold plays hide-and-seek, which is why testing is so important. Typical hiding places include:

  • the back side of drywall, wallpaper or paneling;
  • the top side of ceiling tiles;
  • the underside of carpets and pads;
  • around pipes – inside and outside your walls;
  • the surface of walls behind furniture;
  • inside ductwork;
  • in roof materials.

What should I do about that musty smell?

It’s important to test for mold to determine where it lurks, as well as its root cause. Do-it-yourself testing kits are generally unreliable. Qualified, trained mold inspection professionals like RTK offer the best protection, as they can provide you with a blueprint of where the mold is.

I can see mold. What should I do?

If you can see the mold on hard surfaces in a small area, try to clean it off with detergent and water. But be aware that there may be more mold hiding on the backside of that wall or floor. Also, be sure to dry the surface completely. If the problem is too large (more than a 3’ x3’ area), a commercial cleaning or remediation company is your best bet.

Who should test for mold and when?

Consumers should have a certified professional test for mold, and make sure that the mold inspector doesn’t perform the remediation services because this is a conflict of interest. A certified microbial investigator will discover mold’s root causes and provide a detailed report with recommendations on how to remove the mold.

You should test for mold before you hire a remediation company, and again after work is complete to make sure the mold has been properly removed and that the moisture that caused the mold is resolved and will not grow back and resurface a few weeks or months later.

What is the health impact of mold?

Mold can cause a host of health issues. It has been known to trigger allergies that cause headaches and coughing, as well as irritate the nose, skin, and eyes. For people with asthma, mold can make breathing particularly difficult. In addition, mold can get into the bloodstream and cause long term effects that may be difficult to remedy. Read more in depth about the health risks of mold.

For more information on mold, click here. For accurate and professional testing by licensed inspectors contact RTK Environmental at rtkenvironmental.com or call our experts at our office at 800.392.6468.

Categories
Environment Gardening Health Healthy Home Soil and Water

Five Things to Do To Make Sure Your Yard Is Eco-Friendly

Five Things to Do To Make Sure Your Yard Is Eco-Friendly

Becoming an eco-friendly homeowner is a trend that’s on the rise, with more homeowners adopting eco-friendly interior design trends and beyond. That being said, it’s not uncommon for some homeowners to struggle with figuring out exactly where to get started. One excellent place to begin your eco-friendly journey is your yard. Whether you’re just now becoming more environmentally focused or you’ve moved into a new home and you want to immediately focus on making it one that’s kind to the Earth, here are five things to do to make sure your yard is eco-friendly.

Why Is It Important to Maintain an Eco-Friendly Yard?

Isn’t a yard automatically eco-friendly if it has grass? It’s easy to equate greenery with being eco-friendly, but there are numerous issues caused by modern yards. Some major issues include the use of pesticides and other chemicals that can affect drinking water and personal crops, the use of plants or turf that take up too much water and eliminate biodiversity, and practices like turning or mixing soil that can contribute to air pollution. Maintaining an eco-friendly yard is important to counteract many of the negative effects we’ve had on the environment thus far with common yard practices.

Five Ways to Get Started

1. Focus on Native Plants and Ones That Attract Pollinators

Most yards try to eliminate any plants that are considered undesirable and incorporate plants that are extremely hard to grow in an environment they’re not accustomed to. Being more eco-friendly is as simple as doing the opposite of this. Find native plants that thrive in your area to make your yard look great and help you save water. You should also focus on looking for plants that attract pollinators to support biodiversity and your local ecosystem.

2. Upcycle Old Materials for New Yard Decor

Outdoor furniture isn’t the most eco-friendly, especially if you’re trying to spruce up your yard on a budget. The good news? You don’t have to settle for cheap plastic furniture. If you’re savvy enough, you can upcycle old items that you either own or find for free locally into new yard decor. For example, a few shelves and a ladder can easily become a planter for some of your favorite flowers, fruits, or vegetables. More complex projects may include turning old barrels into patio chairs or using old chair seats and backs to create a hanging porch swing. Upcycling is the best way to reduce waste and breathe life into old things that will have a purpose in your yard. Just be sure not to disturb anything with toxic lead paint.

3. Ensure You’re Using Clean Soil

Clean soil is crucial to the health and well-being of not only you but the community as a whole. Many believe they’re using clean soil because they’ve sourced their own soil for their yard. However, what few realize is that soil can be contaminated by chemicals that are introduced during flooding, tainted compost, or even home renovations that introduce compounds like lead into the surrounding soil and vegetation. The best way to make sure your yard isn’t poisonous to you and to wildlife is to test your soil for lead and take the necessary course of action if you find that it is toxic.

4. Turn to Organic Mulch for Yard Support

Mulch is something that homeowners either love or want out of their yards. But while mulch doesn’t contribute to that fully green look that some are going for, it is an eco-friendly addition you should consider incorporating more of into your space. Organic mulch serves to regulate temperature, retain moisture in the soil, and add nutrients to the soil over time. You can keep adding it instead of having to mix your soil regularly, reducing overall air pollution as well. If you don’t have mulch in your yard, see how it might fit into your space and what look you’ll want to go for when you do make mulch a highlight of your yard.

5. Consider Groundcover or Other Options If Turf Isn’t for You

Not all environments are going to be the right fit for what you might think a yard is supposed to look like. Fortunately, you can choose another direction, one that’s likely more eco-friendly. If you live in a dry, hot climate, you may wish to use rocks for decor and plant cacti and other plants that won’t perish in your yard. If you have a very shady yard that receives little sun or has massive trees that need more water and nourishment, you can replace traditional turf with groundcover. When there’s a will to have a yard, there’s an eco-friendly way!

An eco-friendly lifestyle is one that involves every area of your life, including the way you go about decorating your home and tending to its surroundings. If you want to get started, the tips above will help you focus on developing an eco-friendly yard that will continue to serve you and the environment for years to come.

By: Katherine Robinson, a writer for Microbial Insights

Categories
Environment Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Inspector's Notebook Mold Mold Testing

Don’t Let Spring Allergies Fool You: Is Your Basement Hiding a Mold Problem?

Don’t Let Spring Allergies Fool You: Is Your Basement Hiding a Mold Problem?

With spring finally here, many of us are sniffling and sneezing, blaming it on seasonal allergies. But what if the culprit is lurking right beneath your feet, in your finished basement? According to the National Association of Home Builders, over 60% of basements in the Northeast are finished living spaces. Unfortunately, mold grows very easily in basements, which can cause allergy-like symptoms and pose serious health risks.

Mold thrives in damp environments, and basements are notorious for being cool and humid. Spring’s melted snow and increased rainfall can further exacerbate moisture issues, creating a breeding ground for mold spores. These spores can easily become airborne, causing respiratory problems, skin irritation, and even fatigue in healthy individuals. Mold can be very dangerous for people with asthma or allergies and can trigger severe reactions including breathing difficulties, skin rashes, headaches, cough, and wheezing.

The Covert Threats Luring in Your Basement Oasis

Oftentimes, mold growth is stealthy, particularly with certain basement flooring choices:

  • Raised Wood Floors and Carpets: Installing raised wood floor, carpets or padding over concrete traps moisture underneath, creating an ideal environment for mold to grow because the flooring has no way to dry out. In fact, even just covering the concrete with carpet and padding creates a haven for mold to grow because concrete holds moisture and doesn’t have any way to breathe.
  • Wood Framing and Drywall: Covering concrete walls with drywall and wood framing can lead to mold growth under these concealed, moist conditions, especially if the installation lacks proper ventilation. Mold grows from condensation and thrives in dark spaces.   Plus, recent heavy rainfalls can lead to water intrusions, where the bottom of the concrete wall where it meets the floor (path of least resistance!) can make the bottom of the drywall and the wood framing damp in seconds, leading mold to grow in as little as 24-48 hours.
  • Water Intrusions: Relying solely on a sump pump or French drain can be risky. Without regular inspections and maintenance, these systems can fail, leading to moisture accumulation and, consequently, mold growth.
  • Basement Mechanics: Your basement will always be your basement. Toilet overflow, pipe break, refrigerator ice maker leak on the floors above the basement? Water always seeks the lowest point- your basement. Make sure you have water sensors on the floor in several areas so you know the first sign of water in your basement and can get it cleaned up asap.
  • Materials Matter: Choosing Mold-Resistant Options: Be certain to hire a builder who’s a pro at building in a basement. It’s crucial to opt for non-cellulose materials and proper ventilation in basement constructions to prevent mold. Ensuring that humidity levels are maintained at or below 50-60% year-round can significantly reduce mold risk.

Hidden Dangers in Your Basement Paradise

Many popular basement flooring choices can harbor mold growth without you even realizing it:

Carpeting: Carpeting traps moisture and dust, creating a perfect environment for mold growth. Spills and leaks can go unnoticed beneath the surface, allowing mold to colonize undetected. Imagine your child playing on a mold-infested carpet – the spores easily become airborne and can be inhaled, leading to respiratory problems.

Gym Mats: Those sweaty workouts can create a lot of moisture in the air. If not properly ventilated, this moisture can get trapped under gym mats, creating a prime spot for mold to grow. Inhaling mold spores while exercising can worsen respiratory issues like asthma.

Floating Wood Floors: While aesthetically pleasing, these floors can be susceptible to water damage, especially around the edges. Mold can grow unseen beneath the planks, posing a health risk. Even small leaks under the flooring can create a hidden mold problem.

Basement Laundry Areas: Heat and humidity build up in laundry areas making them mold hotspots. Your washing machine may also be a health hazard if not properly cleaned, as mold tends to grow inside of front loaders.

Don’t Gamble with Your Health:  Hire an Environmental Professional for Peace of Mind

While some allergy symptoms may seem mild, it’s important to identify the true cause.  Ignoring potential mold growth in your basement can have serious consequences for your health and the structural integrity of your home. That’s why it’s crucial to hire a professional, independent mold testing company to assess your basement for hidden dangers.

A professional can not only identify mold growth but also determine the source of the problem and recommend solutions to prevent future recurrence. They have the expertise to identify mold and provide a blueprint for remediation to help get you on your way to a healthy environment for your family. Also, be sure to hire a mold inspector that does not conduct remediation so there is no conflict of interest.

Don’t let your finished basement become a breeding ground for mold. Take action now and breathe easy this spring! Click here to book a test.

Categories
Asbestos

Top Questions on Asbestos Answered

Top Questions on Asbestos Answered

Global Asbestos Awareness Week is April 1 – 7, 2024

Many homeowners are concerned by the idea that their home could contain asbestos. Asbestos is a hazardous substance that can reside in building materials and has been linked to many health complications. Most often, people want to know where asbestos is found, and the potential risks of having asbestos in the home, in order to avoid the possibility of them or a loved one becoming ill. Here’s what you need to know about asbestos if you are a home buyer, seller, or remodeler.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that is mined from the earth. It has natural properties that make it an outstanding and low-cost fire retardant. It was added to many building products between the 1940s through the 1980s. The EPA outlawed asbestos in 1989, but the 5th circuit court of appeals overturned that ruling in 1991. While less common than it once was, the use of asbestos is still technically legal in the United States.

What Makes Asbestos So Bad?

what does asbestos look likeWhen the tiny coarse fibers of asbestos are inhaled into the lungs they can cause damage to the lung tissue. Over time, asbestos inhalation can lead to asbestosis (a lung disease), cancer, and mesothelioma – an aggressive form of cancer that affects the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Construction workers and manufacturers are among those most affected, as they have historically worked in close proximity to asbestos-containing materials. According to the Department of Labor, there is no safe level of asbestos.

It’s important to understand a few basic concepts about asbestos-containing materials in your home. If the building material in question is not damaged or “friable,” then the asbestos fibers will not likely be able to become air-borne particulate. The asbestos will be encapsulated in the building material and will not likely create a health hazard. For this reason, most old homes may not pose an asbestos-related health hazard to the occupants living there. If the asbestos fibers are not likely to become airborne, then the area is likely considered safe.

Where is Asbestos Found?

Some common building materials that contain asbestos include, but are not limited to:

  • asbestos removalInsulation
  • Shingles
  • Cement siding
  • 9”x9” floor tiles
  • Acoustic ceiling tiles
  • White tape on heating ducts
  • Insulation on boiler pipes and boilers
  • Popcorn ceiling
  • Glues used under flooring

Vermiculite insulation has been deemed one of the more dangerous types of materials. This loose insulation, which is often found in your attic, looks like small rocks or bits of mica. Much of this insulation came from a mine in Libby Montana and the vermiculite was contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite can aerosolize easily, exposing occupants or workers to its unsafe effects. In addition, tests to verify the presence of asbestos in vermiculite have proven unreliable. It is best to assume this product contains asbestos and consider having it remediated by a professional to reduce risks of exposure.

How Do I Know if I Have Asbestos in My Home?

asbestos sampleIf you are buying a house older than 1980 (and in some cases even newer), you can assume it probably contains at least some asbestos. If you are planning on remodeling or making renovations to your home it would be a good idea to test for asbestos. You may want to perform an inspection to look for damaged materials which may contain asbestos and have these remediated or encapsulated – especially if you have some reasons for concern like visibly damaged pipe insulation or old building materials.

If you are remodeling an old house, the risk of exposure is much greater. Prior to construction, you should have a full evaluation done by a professional. You can hire an industrial hygienist or an environmental testing company to perform an evaluation of the house. These contractors follow a comprehensive testing protocol and will often take more than a dozen samples from the building. Once you have the results you should know what materials in your home contain asbestos as well as how to safely remove them from your home.

Is Asbestos Identification Included in a Home Inspection?

asbestos inspectionHome inspectors are not able to identify the presence of asbestos in your home due to the fact that the inspection is often visual and non-invasive. Many home inspectors will report the presence of building materials that are likely to contain asbestos. If your inspector reports the possibility of asbestos in your home building materials it may be wise to have a comprehensive asbestos identification inspection done.

A complete asbestos evaluation often involves destructive testing where samples are drilled, scraped or pried from the building. If you were to get this evaluation done before purchasing the home, you would need to get permission from the homeowners, which is not always approved. Home inspectors are prohibited from damaging the buildings they are inspecting, making it particularly difficult to inspect for asbestos-containing materials in a comprehensive way as a part of a pre-purchase home inspection. This is another reason why asbestos evaluation is generally not completed as part of the pre-purchase due diligence.

Does a Home Seller have to Disclose Asbestos?

asbestos abatementMost states don’t require that single-family homeowners test for asbestos prior to selling their home. However, if you knowingly sell a home with asbestos without revealing that information to the buyer, you could be held liable for health-related damages in the future. It is best to check your local regulations as these laws vary by state.

Is it Legal to Remodel a Home with Asbestos?

The biggest risk posed by asbestos is during a remodel or renovation to an old house. When the building materials that contain asbestos get damaged and are made airborne, the people working on the home, and living in it, become susceptible to exposure.

Laws regarding asbestos will vary by state but many states will require:

  • Homeowners to test for asbestos prior to any construction or renovation project
  • Asbestos remediation to be done by licensed abatement contractors prior to starting demolition work
  • Contractors to obtain a written asbestos report from a building owner prior to work
  • Asbestos-containing materials be disposed of in special containers for hazardous waste

asbestos warningIf you are planning to renovate your home, consider testing for lead and asbestos. If you have time to do this evaluation before buying the house, that is great. In hot markets, home buyers often have very limited time to complete their inspections so many buyers proceed with the logical assumption that the building contains asbestos and they will need to tackle it prior to renovation.

Many homes built in the 20th century contain some level of asbestos. If you discover asbestos in your home don’t panic, it is normally safe to live in if you are not planning renovations. If you are planning on making changes to your home, you will need to check your local laws and hire the right professionals to assess the home and dispose of the waste correctly. Knowing the facts about asbestos is very important and can help keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way.

 

Author bio: Jennifer Karami is a writer at Redfin, a technology-enabled real estate brokerage whose mission is to redefine real estate in the customer’s favor.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Quick Guide to Clean Up a Flooded Basement

Quick Guide to Clean Up a Flooded Basement

More heavy rain is causing problems for home and business owners throughout the Tri-State area. Flooded basements are everywhere.

With the torrential rains, flooding is rampant because the ground cannot handle the volume of water due to a high water table. The pools of water in your yard and close to your home’s foundation could indicate that water may be seeping into your basement. Once your basement gets wet, it becomes a prime area for mold growth, which can emerge within 24 – 48 hours, and even spread throughout your home.

Mold causes serious health issues, including asthma, allergies, headaches, fatigue, and coughing. Exposure to toxic black mold causes more severe health consequences, including chronic bronchitis, heart problems, learning disabilities, mental deficiencies, and multiple sclerosis. Here are steps you can take to prevent mold growth.

Top 4 tips to prevent mold growth in your flooded basement:

1. Make sure the drain in your basement floor is free from debris and the sump pump is working.

This will help the water drain properly. Also, make sure your sump pump is working, if you have one. Sometimes after the power goes out, your sump pump may need to be reset before it kicks on.

2. Remove anything from the floor that is wet.

Boxes, toys, carpeting, and any other cellulose materials are very susceptible to mold growth. Get them out of the water and to an area that they can dry out in. If they can’t be dried within 24 hours, they may become infested with mold and need to be discarded.

3. Pump or vacuum the water from the area quickly.

You can also mop it out. Remember, the soil outside is already saturated, so be careful not to pump out the area too fast. The water still has nowhere to go, and the pressure of the water on the outside of your home could damage your basement wall, or even collapse it.

4. Use fans, a dehumidifier, and ventilate the area well.

After the flooding has stopped and the bulk of the water has been removed, you need to dry the rest of the area with fans, including concrete floors, drywall, wood, and more. Then, use a dehumidifier, set to no higher than 50%, to combat residual moisture, which causes higher humidity, and provides an idea environment for mold to grow. Mold in your home can cause health issues and make asthma symptoms worse.

If you are unable to take these steps quickly or are unsure as to whether you already have a mold problem, the best thing to do for the health of your family and your home is to call in a professional, like RTK, to conduct a mold test.

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Dust Environment Health Healthy Home Lead

Protecting Your Family: Understanding and Preventing Lead Poisoning

Protecting Your Family: Understanding and Preventing Lead Poisoning

March 18th marks the beginning of National Poison Prevention Week, a time to shine a light on the hidden dangers of lead poisoning and take proactive steps to safeguard your family.

The Threat of Lead Poisoning

Lead exposure poses significant risk, especially for young children. Shockingly, 1 in 40 children in the United States, aged 1-5 years old, has unsafe levels of lead in their blood, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means that approximately 3.3 million American households with children under six live in homes containing lead-exposure hazards, a devastating statistic because the effects of lead poisoning can be severe and long-lasting. It can impact brain development and cause a range of health problems, including autism-like symptoms, brain damage, lower IQ, ADD, tendencies towards violence, and behavioral and learning problems.

Identifying Lead Exposure Sources

Where is lead harbored?

  • Older Homes and structures built before 1978 often contain lead-based paint and other materials like asbestos. When disturbed (during renovations and sanding, for example), dangerous lead paint chips and lead dust can be released. Even opening and closing an old window can release dangerous amounts of this toxic dust.
  • The soil in our surroundings often contains harmful remnants from past industrial practices or the use of leaded gasoline. If ingested or breathed in, it can cause serious health problems.
  • Water supply: In older homes, lead pipes or solder within plumbing systems can contaminate drinking water.
  • Imported Goods: Some products from countries without the same safety standards as the U.S., may unknowingly contain lead.

Taking Action to Stay Safe

Protect your family, especially children, by following these steps:

Test and Screen

  • Get a Professional Home Inspection: If you suspect risks to your home, have it professionally inspected for lead. Children should also undergo regular screenings by their doctor to check for any signs of lead exposure.
  • Take Precautions during Renovation: Before any renovation, test your home for lead paint, especially if it was constructed before 1978.
  • Hire Certified Professionals: It is imperative that the company responsible for your project holds certification in lead-safe work practices issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Practice Awareness and Cleanup: Be mindful of the presence of lead during renovations and consult a professional for a cleanup plan if lead is found.

Awareness and Acknowledgment

Be Aware of the Risks: Many individuals fail to recognize the potential hazards of lead paint lurking within their residences. Whether you reside in a historic 1800s Victorian house or a modern apartment, if lead paint is present, you and your loved ones are at risk of lead poisoning.

Check National Poison Prevention Week Resources

To find out more about lead poisoning prevention, you can visit the following resources: 

CDC Website: The CDC provides comprehensive information on lead poisoning, including sources of exposure, health effects, and testing children for lead poisoning.

EPA’s Website: The Environmental Protection Agency offers valuable insights and resources on lead exposure and prevention.

HUD’s Website: The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides essential information and support for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, including steps to create localized outreach and educational materials.

National Poison Prevention Week serves as a crucial reminder to understand the risks and take proactive measures to protect the health and well-being of our children. By being informed and proactive, we can mitigate the dangers of lead poisoning and create safer environments for our families.