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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.

Categories
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.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold Mold Testing

Signs of Mold After a Storm

Signs of Mold After a Storm

Storms can bring on drenching rains, flooding (both indoors and outdoors), and high winds causing leaks and other issues that contribute to mold growth and poor indoor air quality. Problem is, we often don’t realize the extent of the damage until days or weeks after the storm, and a musty order usually signals the problem. That’s when you know that mold growth has really kicked in. The problem with mold is that it can cause structural damage, poor indoor air quality, and health issues.

Look for these signs of mold after a storm.

Visible Mold

water stain moldIf you see mold, then you clearly have a mold issue. If you see water stains, you probably have a mold issue as well. The question then becomes how big is the problem? Because mold is often hidden, growing on the back sides of walls and sheetrock, and under carpets and floorboards, the only way to be sure is to have a mold inspection performed by a certified professional.

Mold Creates a Musty Odor

But what about the mold you cannot see? Musty odors usually point to mold, and mold causes poor indoor air quality. RTK can test to see where the odor is coming from so that you can remediate with confidence, and don’t miss any hidden sources or spots. Summer months are particularly prone to mold growth as high humidity and heat accelerate the proliferation of this fungus.

Health Symptoms from Mold and Poor IAQ

If you are having physical symptoms such as itchy eyes, cough or wheezing that occur in one location of the premises that clear up when you are elsewhere, it’s a sure bet that the location is harboring mold. If you have any of the following unexplained symptoms, they may be caused by MOLD EXPOSURE and poor indoor air quality. In that case, you should have a mold and indoor air quality test.

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Watery eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Rash

Structural Damage Can Cause Mold

If a storm caused a leak from your foundation walls or your roof into your basement, mold is sure to follow. A mold colony can grow within 24 – 48 hours. So, it’s important to test for mold because when the next storm hits, the structural issue that allowed water intrusion will likely occur again if it is not repaired. Mold can eat away at wood structure, floorboards, and sheetrock, leaving them susceptible to decay.

Avoid Mold Removal Scams

Never hire a company that does both mold testing and mold remediation. Why? It is a clear conflict of interest. Often, unscrupulous companies will embellish a mold problem or offer testing on the cheap in hopes of making money on the remediation to follow. But at RTK, we only test for mold and do not remediate, so there is no conflict of interest. Once we have tested your premises, we provide you with a blueprint for mold removal, and you can hire the remediation company of your choice.

If you had flooding or a water intrusion from a storm and think you may have mold, call and schedule a test today at 800.392.6468.

 

Categories
Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead

Scented Candles: Are They Dangerous?

Scented Candles: Are They Dangerous?

What’s not to love about a good scented candle? They fill our homes with lovely aromas. A coconut breeze brings you to a beach in Bali or a breath of lavender vanilla makes your stress melt away. But reviews are mixed about the impact of burning these candles on our health.

The fact is, many scented candles are mass-produced with sub-standard ingredients, and can lead to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). The wick, wax, and perfume they’re made from can emit harmful chemicals.

Chemicals Abound in Fragrances

chemical fragranceAccording to the American Lung Association, for people who suffer from asthma, just the scents alone can cause problems with breathing. The candles emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), some of which are irritants; others can cause cancer. In addition, they can react with other gases and form additional air pollutants even after they are airborne.

What’s in all those fragrances and scents? Formaldehyde, alcohol, esters, and petroleum distillates, all of which can cause health issues. Headaches, dizziness, and trouble breathing are among some of the symptoms that have been reported from the inhalation of these VOCs.

And there are other hazards

cored wickDo you ever wonder how a candlewick is able to stand up? Many wicks are “cored,” meaning they are made out of metal wrapped in cotton to give them strength. When the wicks burn, trace amounts of heavy metals are released into the air. In the past, lead also was used in candlewicks, but in 2003, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned using more than .06% lead in a wick. Lead has since been replaced by zinc and tin. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that candles are any safer; they still may be releasing trace amounts of lead and other toxins into your environment.

How can you tell if there is lead in the wick? Try this simple test. Rub the wick of an un-burnt candle onto a piece of white paper. If the wick leaves a gray pencil-like mark there’s probably lead in it; if there’s no gray, you’re probably safe.

Danger from candles: it’s more than fire

scented candleUnless you buy a soy- or vegetable-based candle, the wax in a waxed candle is usually made out of paraffin, which is a petroleum byproduct. When paraffin is burned, it can release acetone, benzene, and toluene into the air, all known VOCs that are carcinogenic. They are the same chemicals released in diesel fuel emissions!

According to a study from South Carolina State University, paraffin wax can cause long-term harm. “The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air. For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies, and even asthma,” said Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi, a chemistry professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences. “None of the vegetable-based candles produced toxic chemicals.”

Burning a scented candle also can produce particulate matter and soot that can remain suspended in the air for hours. The smallest particles can elude our bodies’ natural defense systems and pass right into our lungs, causing coughing and wheezing, and even acute health issues like heart attacks or stroke.

What Can I Do?

soy candlesLimit the time you burn candles in order to reduce any negative impacts on your health. Try vegetable and soy based candles, which are much healthier options. You also should consider using electric candles: they’re high on ambiance and low on health hazards.

While lighting candles isn’t going to kill you overnight, they can contribute to overall poor air quality in your home. If you are concerned about the quality of your indoor air, schedule an Indoor Air Quality test to find out if there are unacceptable levels of VOCs or mold, or any other toxic substances that you might be breathing in.

Categories
Environment Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Mold Mold Testing

The Importance of Timing in Mold Testing: Why Premature Testing Can Lead You Astray

The Importance of Timing in Mold Testing: Why Premature Testing Can Lead You Astray

Mold is a silent yet potent presence in many homes and buildings. Its detection and eradication are crucial for maintaining a healthy living environment. It can cause a variety of health problems, so it’s important to detect and eradicate it as soon as possible. However, testing for mold prematurely can sometimes yield inaccurate results. So, it’s essential to understand something about the intricacies of mold testing, which will offer precious insight about the correct timing and methodology for achieving an accurate and effective mold assessment.

 

The Rush to Test

Jumping the gun on mold testing after a water intrusion or flood can often lead to inaccurate results. While the urge to confirm or rule out mold growth is understandable, remember that mold takes time to become detectable. Aim for at least two to three days after the initial moisture event before initiating testing. This timeframe allows enough time for spores to germinate and grow, ensuring your test results are reliable and reflect the true picture of potential mold issues.

Mold growth is highly dependent on specific environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature, and surface materials. Testing too early might not give a true representation of the mold situation in your home.

When to Test for Mold

If you suspect you have mold, it’s best to wait at least 72 hours after a water intrusion or flood before testing. This will give the mold time to grow to detectable levels. You should also consider the following factors when deciding when to test:

  • Visible signs of mold: Mold may manifest as visible growths in various colors but, it’s not always detectable visually. That’s why it’s critical to allow 72 hours for existing mold spores to grow to a measurable level so it can be detected in air or moisture samples. Even if you don’t see any obvious mold, testing can still be helpful to identify hidden mold growth.
  • Health symptoms: If you or other occupants of your home are experiencing allergy or respiratory problems, it could be a sign of mold exposure. Testing can help you confirm this and identify the source of the problem.
  • Unusual odors: A musty odor is a common indicator of mold growth. If you notice a musty odor in your home, it’s a good idea to get a mold test.

The Right Approach to Mold Testing

If you suspect you have mold, the first thing you should do is call an independent mold testing company as they will know how and when to test. Be sure the company is one that does not conduct mold removal. Why is this important? Because you want an honest answer.

Avoid One-Stop-Shops

‘One-stop shops’ that do both mold testing and remediation may seem like an easy solution, but there’s an inherent conflict of interest — they stand to gain more business if they find mold. And often, they magnify the problem in hopes of charging larger fees for the remediation to follow, which may or may not be necessary. In New York, it is illegal for the same company to test and remediate on the same mold job.

An independent mold inspection company like RTK will give you a clear, unbiased report that you can then bring to the mold remediation company of your choice. We provide a blueprint for the mold removal work that needs to be done so you won’t be charged extra for unnecessary remediation.

While the eagerness to address a potential mold issue is understandable, premature testing can lead to inaccurate conclusions and misguided actions. It’s essential to approach mold testing with patience and informed strategies. By understanding the right timing and methods for mold testing, you can ensure a safe and healthy living environment. It’s equally important not to wait too long either because mold spores will start to generate so much that the air becomes a really issues, with bad health effects.

Contact RTK to schedule a test today.

Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon Healthy Home

Dangerous Chemicals and VOCs: Here’s How to Protect Your Health

Dangerous Chemicals and VOCs: Here’s How to Protect Your Health  

Let’s face it – we live in a world full of chemicals. From cleaning products to paints to furniture and carpeting, volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) permeate the air we breathe, and many endanger our health. Get educated about VOCs, their health implications, and effect on indoor air quality so you can take steps to lessen their presence and harm in your everyday life.

PART 1: 

volatile organic compound

What Are VOCs?

VOCs are toxic vapors that are off gassed from synthetic materials and everyday items. VOCs cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as “indoor air pollution.” VOCs can be extremely dangerous to health, especially those compounds that have toxic elements.

Cancer & VOCs

Cancer is on the rise, and one of the causes is right before our eyes. Most new, manufactured products contain VOCs, many of which contain known toxic carcinogens. They have been proven to cause cancer, yet manufacturers still use VOCs because of their cost-effectiveness in the manufacturing process.

indoor air quality

Where are VOCs found?

  • Paint
  • Adhesives
  • Clothing
  • Carpeting
  • Composite wood products, like furniture and cabinets
  • Bedding and pillows
  • Copiers, printers, and toners
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Vinyl, such as shower curtains or tile
  • Sealing caulk
  • Certain scented candles
  • Fabrics
  • Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals
  • Air fresheners
  • Moth balls
  • Dry cleaning and laundry detergents
  • Wood burning stoves
  • Yes, even that new car smell!

VOCs and Your Health

Whether we are exposed to VOCs for an extended or brief period they can still affect our health. The key is recognizing symptoms of exposure and finding the culprit(s).

voc headacheCommon Symptoms of VOC Exposure Include:

  • Headaches
  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue and listlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty concentrating

Long-Term Effects of VOC Exposure Include:

  • Cancer
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Central Nervous System damage

There are steps you can take to minimize VOCs in your home. RTK will tell you how throughout this multi-part series. If you are concerned about VOCs in your home or workplace, contact RTK for testing and more information at 800.392.6468 or click here.

Part 2: VOCs and Clothing

Part 3: Identifying and Reducing VOCs in the Home

Categories
Environment Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Mold Mold Testing

MOLD ALERT! Navigating the Challenges of Flat Roofs and Water Damming in New York City

MOLD ALERT! Navigating the Challenges of Flat Roofs and Water Damming in New York City

In the bustling urban landscape of New York City, the skyline is dotted with an architectural feature as common as it is practical: flat roofs. Common, because they appear on residential as well as commercial buildings; practical because they are more durable, cost-effective, and offer additional space for amenities like rooftop gardens and HVAC systems than alternative styles.

To clarify, flat roofs are not entirely flat; there’s a slight pitch to facilitate drainage. That said, while the style offers various advantages, their flat surfaces also bring a unique set of challenges, especially now, when NYC is experiencing record rainfall and other harsh weather conditions wrought by climate change.

The Problem of Water Damming

One of the most significant issues with flat roof construction is that it often leads to water damming, a condition that occurs when water pools on the roof and is unable to drain properly. This is particularly problematic in NYC, where heavy rains are accelerating, and snowfall is common. Factors like clogged drainage and inadequate slope contribute to the problem, all of which leads to excess water accumulating on the roof surface.

Consequences of Water Damming

The impact of water damming can range from minor inconveniences to severe structural damage. But even more important, the water can leak into the interior of the building and lead to mold growth, which can grow within 24-48 hours, and can lead to health problems for building occupants, roof material deterioration, and in extreme cases, roof collapse.

Mold exposure can lead to a spectrum of issues, particularly for those with allergies or compromised immune systems. Symptoms can range from mild allergic reactions, like sneezing and skin irritation, to more severe respiratory problems, such as asthma exacerbation and lung infections. Structurally, mold damages buildings by weakening materials like wood and drywall, leading to costly repairs. It thrives in damp conditions, causing decay and surface damage such as peeling paint.

Prevention and Solutions

Preventing water damming primarily involves regular roof maintenance. This includes cleaning gutters and drains, removing debris, and ensuring the roof’s pitch is adequate for water runoff. Technological advancements have also introduced solutions like improved drainage systems and innovative materials that reduce the likelihood of water accumulation. Regular professional inspections are crucial in identifying potential risks and addressing them in a timely fashion.

Legal and Insurance Implications

In NYC, building codes mandate regular maintenance and inspection of roofs. Failing to adhere to these regulations can result in legal liabilities, especially if neglect leads to damage or accidents. Furthermore, insurance policies may not cover damages caused by negligence, making regular maintenance not just a legal requirement but also a financial imperative.

Conclusion

Flat roofs in NYC, while functional and aesthetic, require a keen eye for maintenance, especially concerning water damming. Understanding the issue, its potential consequences, and the measures to prevent it are essential for every building owner and manager. Proactive measures, rather than reactive responses, are key in navigating these challenges.

If you think you might have water damage and mold, schedule a test with RTK.

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

Indoor Air Quality: How What You Breathe Can Impact Your Health and Comfort

Indoor Air Quality: How What You Breathe Can Impact Your Health and Comfort

During the winter months, coughs and runny noses are pretty typical. Often, these ailments stem from invisible enemies within our homes and offices – poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Surprisingly, more than 80% of IAQ problems are due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or mold, which can be harmful to your health, causing symptoms from headaches and fatigue to sneezing and runny nose.

IAQ is the measure of the air quality within and around buildings, especially in relation to the health and comfort of its occupants. Controlling indoor pollutants like mold and VOCs is crucial. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outside air, making it a pressing concern during the winter when we spend most of our time indoors.

The Impact of Mold and VOCS

Mold and VOCs are prevalent sources of indoor air pollution. Mold can trigger respiratory issues and allergies, while VOCs—found in everyday items like paint, furniture, personal care and cleaning products and air fresheners—can lead to severe health conditions. Short-term exposure to these pollutants can cause symptoms like eye irritation and dizziness, while long-term exposure may lead to chronic diseases or cancer.

How can you reduce your exposure to Mold & VOCs

  • Test for Mold and VOCs: It’s essential to identify the presence of these pollutants in your home. Professional IAQ assessments can reveal hidden mold and analyze over 70 common VOCs, offering a clear picture of your indoor air quality.
  • Choose Low-VOC Products: Opt for safer cleaning and personal care products that don’t emit harmful chemicals.
  • Control Moisture: Keep indoor humidity levels between 30-50% to prevent mold growth. Fix leaks and address condensation issues promptly.
  • Improve Ventilation: Regularly open windows to allow fresh air in and reduce VOC concentrations, especially on days when outdoor pollution levels are low.
  • Be Mindful During Renovations: Postpone activities like painting or installing new carpets to warmer months when you can ventilate your space more effectively.
  • Use Air Purifiers: Air purifiers with carbon and HEPA filters can reduce the levels of particulate matter, including mold spores and VOCs.
  • Maintain Your HVAC System: Ensure that your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are regularly serviced to filter and circulate air efficiently.

Indoor Air Quality Testing

Maintaining good IAQ is not a seasonal concern but a year-round commitment. By emphasizing the importance of regular testing and recognizing the considerable effects of mold and VOCs, you are taking an important step in IAQ management. This proactive approach is key to enhancing the health and comfort of your living or working spaces. Enlisting the expertise of independent professionals such as RTK can be instrumental. They offer comprehensive mold and VOC evaluations that identify specific issues, leading you toward a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment.

Categories
Healthy Home Environment Health Mold senior Senior Living

Home Hunting: What Every Senior Should Look For

Home Hunting: What Every Senior Should Look For

Entering your golden years signifies a pivotal chapter where comfort, safety, and accessibility in your living space become paramount. The quest for a forever home that caters to the evolving needs of senior living can be both exciting and challenging. This comprehensive guide aims to simplify this journey by highlighting eight critical features aging homebuyers should prioritize. These considerations promise to transform a house into a nurturing haven, offering both functionality and peace of mind.

Emphasizing Single-Level Living

The allure of a single-story home is undeniable for aging individuals. Stairs can become a significant hindrance as mobility changes, so a one-level layout is a smart choice. It offers ease of movement, reduces the risk of falls, and enhances the overall comfort of daily living. Furthermore, this design facilitates the installation of mobility aids, if necessary, making it a future-proof investment for your senior years.

Securing Peace with a Home Warranty

A robust home warranty can be a game-changer, offering protection against unforeseen repair costs. This investment covers crucial home systems like heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing, alongside appliance repairs. The assurance of financial coverage for potential breakdowns can provide significant relief, allowing you to enjoy your retirement without the worry of unexpected repair expenses. For more insights, continue reading about how a home warranty can safeguard your peace of mind.

Prioritizing a Healthy Environment

Environmental testing is a crucial step in ensuring your new home is safe and free from hazards like mold, asbestos, and lead.  When it comes to mold, seniors are more susceptible to its effects because they often have weaker immune systems, poorer lung function, and take medications for other health problems that can make them more vulnerable.  Identifying and addressing these hazards is not just about immediate safety, but also about long-term health. Taking proactive measures to test and remediate any environmental hazards reflects a commitment to a healthy, worry-free living environment in your later years. Looking for expert mold testing or indoor air quality services? Schedule an appointment with RTK Environmental and ensure your home is safe and healthy.

Proximity to Quality Senior Care

Location matters, especially when it involves easy access to reputable senior care facilities. In the event of health changes, having quality care options nearby is invaluable. Conduct thorough online research to understand facility offerings, pricing, and reviews from other families. This proactive approach ensures that you are well-prepared and informed, making your home choice not just about comfort, but also about practical access to essential health services.

Accessibility with Wide Doorways

Wide doorways are more than a design choice; they are a nod to future-proofing your home. Ensuring doorways can accommodate mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers is crucial. This feature enhances accessibility and ensures that your home remains a comfortable and functional space, regardless of mobility changes that might occur with age.

Illuminating with Ample Lighting

Good lighting is essential, particularly as vision changes with age. A well-lit home, combining natural and artificial light sources, minimizes the risk of accidents and improves overall well-being. This feature is not just about brightness; it’s about creating a warm, inviting atmosphere that is both safe and visually appealing.

Embracing Low-Maintenance Exteriors

As one ages, home maintenance can become a daunting task. Opting for a home with low-maintenance exteriors like durable siding and simple landscaping can significantly reduce the burden. This choice allows more time to enjoy retirement activities rather than worrying about extensive home upkeep.

Ensuring Access with Wheelchair Ramps

If mobility is or becomes a concern, planning for wheelchair ramps is essential. These modifications ensure that your home remains accessible and welcoming, regardless of mobility levels. It’s about creating an inclusive environment that adapts to your needs over time.

Choosing a home for your golden years is a decision that extends beyond aesthetic appeal. It’s about creating a space that embodies comfort, safety, and convenience. By focusing on strategies like purchasing a home warranty and making senior-friendly updates, you’re not just buying a house; you’re investing in a home that will support and enhance your quality of life as you age. This guide is your compass to finding a haven that meets your needs today and anticipates those of tomorrow, allowing you to age gracefully and with dignity.