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Flooding & Water Damage Asbestos Healthy Home Lead

Post-Hurricane Cleanup Guide

Post-Hurricane Cleanup Guide

Flooding and water damage from storms and hurricanes can be devastating. Knowing what to do in the event that you’ve experienced an indoor water intrusion is critical in preventing and stopping mold growth. Additionally, there are several things to know about rebuilding, which you may not be aware of. Whatever phase of the post-storm cleanup you are in, these tips can help you get your life back to normal.

Get a Plan Together

Hurricane Flooding DamageDon’t rush repairs after water damage occurs. Improper demolition or renovation may not only cost you thousands more in unnecessary repairs, it can also send a host of toxins into parts of your home that were not affected, including mold spores, lead dust, and asbestos. The first step is to get an independent environmental inspection from a company like RTK Environmental Group. The independent inspection can protect your financial interests by pinpointing exactly what needs to be removed, what’s salvageable, and which environmental hazards are present.

Why is “independent” important?Have damage, but haven’t done anything yet? Here’s what you need to do first.

  • Inspect the damage. Be sure to take video and photos of everything for insurance purposes.
  • If more than 24 – 48 hours has passed, contact an independent inspection company like RTK Environmental to do a mold assessment, as mold has likely grown during that time.
  • Contact FEMA and your insurance company to find out what benefits and help may be available to you.
  • Call 800.392.6468 and have RTK pinpoint the extent of the repairs needed, and identify any health hazards like moldleadasbestos, and bacteria from sewage.
  • Check for roof and window damage, which may have caused leaks and mold.

Decide Whether to Hire a Remediation Firm or Do the Work Yourself

Mold remediationWhether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a contractor will depend on the size and scope of the damage, and the potential environmental hazards involved. Once you have the results of independent mold, lead, and/or asbestos testing, you will have a good idea as to whether you can handle it or not. Remember: Beware of any contractor who both tests for environmental hazards and performs the repairs. It’s a conflict of interest, and they stand to make money remediating any “problems” they find. 

If you decide to do the work yourself, here’s what to know first:

  • If the area is more than a 3’x3’ area, the EPA does not recommend you remove the mold yourself. Anything larger should be handled by a professional.
  • Please be aware that contaminants, from sewage to bacteria, reside in floodwater. These are serious health hazards, and can cause severe illness.
  • Know that if your house was built before 1980, it may contain asbestos and lead, which when disturbed are serious, even deadly, health hazards. Be sure to test for lead and asbestos before doing any demolition that may cause the fibers and dust to become airborne so you know how to prepare.
  • asbestos warningHave an RTK certified microbial investigator test the area after you’ve completed the work to ensure that you haven’t missed anything during the repair process.
  • Keep the RTK inspection report in a safe place so you have proof of proper repair should you decide to sell your home.
  • Call RTK Environmental Group at 800.392.6486 if you have any questions. We’re happy to help.

Following any removal and remediation, here are some things to consider:

Test Before and After You Rebuild

If you rebuild before the area is completely dried out, you will be sealing mold into your walls. The mold will grow back and cause major damage. This happened quite often during Sandy, and RTK saw hundreds of mold regrowth cases over the next several years. Walls that were rebuilt had to be taken down, mold remediation was performed again, and homes were rebuilt a second time. And, it has been determined that potentially thousands of demolition projects occurred without proper testing for asbestos or lead paint.

Test your home for mold before you rebuild to make sure you know where the problem is. Test your home after you rebuild to be sure the job was done correctly, the mold was cleaned up properly, and there are no remaining lead or asbestos hazards present.

Protect Yourself with Proper Documentation

test before you rebuildAn independent environmental testing company will provide you with a detailed report, documenting that your home is safe or is cleared to be rebuilt and has a safe environmental toxin level (mold, lead, asbestos, radon, bacteria, and other toxins). This documentation will be critical when you sell your home or for insurance claims. To ensure that your document will hold up in possible legal situations or in court, make sure the company that performs the testing is certified, licensed, insured, and does not perform remediation, which could result in a conflict-of-interest claim.

Reselling Your Home

home sale adviceFuture homebuyers may be asking tough questions about whether your home was flooded or struck by falling trees during any of the noteworthy northeast storms so you’ll want to be able to prove via documentation that your home was properly repaired afterwards. Otherwise, doubtful purchasers might cause you to have to lower the sale price, and you might run the risk of a potential lawsuit from the new owner who could claim that you knowingly sold them a home with post-hurricane environmental contamination like mold, lead, asbestos, and bacteria from sewage.

Future Insurance Hassles

Mold InsuranceIf your home floods again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was caused by the new event and not from Henri. Without proof that your home was deemed mold-free after repairs were made, the insurance company might take the position that a new claim is not justified or that you have met your policy limit. 

Independent Testing Companies vs. One-Stop Shops

Free Mold TestingSome companies offer mold testing on the cheap and then conveniently offer their own remediation services to fix the problem. This is a clear conflict-of-interest, with the result that the problem is not often remediated – if it exists at all. The consumer may be paying thousands of dollars for bloated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation. Contact RTK for an independent, unbiased test.

Why Choose RTK?

– Leading Independent Environmental Testing Company

– No Conflict-of-Interest Policy

– Accurate and Unbiased

– Certified Microbial Investigators

– Over 25 Years’ Experience

– Building and Construction Backgrounds

– Results in as little as 24-hours

– In-Depth Report Returned in 2-4 Days

– State-of-the-Art Equipment and Technology

– Extensive, Multi-Room Testing to Ensure Accuracy

Call us at 800.392.6468.

 

 

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Healthy Home Asbestos Dust Lead Mold

Brand New Life: How to Remodel Your Old House

Brand New Life: How to Remodel Your Old House

By Jennifer Monroe

Breathing fresh air into your old house can sometimes be accomplished simply with a fresh coat of paint, but at others, it requires a remodel. At some point, every house requires a remodel, no matter how much TLC it was given over the years. The difficulty is knowing where and how to begin the process. There are so many different options for changing aspects of your old house, so it largely depends on what you want out of the remodel. In this article, there will be five tips to get you started on the process of remodeling your old house.

Plan it All Out

remodeling adviceBefore beginning your remodel, it is best to plan out what you want to be done and how you want the final product to look. This is because when you begin, you can get bogged down and lose sight of what you actually want, and change your mind halfway through. It is also advisable to consider why you are doing the remodel, if it is for you then you can really change it to suit all of your needs, however, if it is for an investment then it is better to look into popular trends before starting your project.

Have a Budget

remodeling budgetDeciding how much money you have available to you for the remodel will definitely influence what you want to be done and how you’ll do it. Knowing your budget before you start is one of the best things you can do, otherwise, you could end up spending a lot more than you have available to you. Your budget will determine how much you can do, whether you will need to do the remodel in stages, and what materials you will have at your disposal.

Test for Hazardous Materials

When remodeling an older home, toxins will be lurking where you least expect them. Before you start tearing into walls and removing flooring or tiles, have your home tested for asbestos and lead, both dangerous health hazards. If you unknowingly disturb these materials during the remodel process, you could also be looking at a hefty price tag for the clean-up. Lead causes permanent cognitive damage, violent behavior, autism-like symptoms, loss of IQ and more. Asbestos causes lung-related disease like mesothelioma. Best to have a blueprint of where hazardous materials are so you can take proper precautions.

Do Your Research

When planning to remodel your home it is important that you delve into research; ask those around you who you trust and have done something like this previously for advice and look at the prices and different styles that could potentially be what you want your house to look like at the end. By researching there is a higher chance that you won’t have the wool pulled over your eyes and will feel more confident in your choices. It also helps in the sense that you will have others to tell you what will work and what won’t before it is built instead of going ahead with your vision then realizing it doesn’t have the impact you would want it to.

Think About What Needs to Stay

renovation adviceWhen remodeling your home, it is wise to investigate what can’t be moved from where it currently is. This is particularly true for things like a load-bearing wall because you will be unable to knock this down even if it is the main thing that you want to accomplish. It is also good to keep your small devices so you don’t have to spend extra money on buying new ones. Sometimes there will be ways around it, which is another way your research will come in handy, but otherwise, some things won’t be able to be adapted as you may want them to, so you’ll need to work the remodeling around this.

Contact a Professional

If you want something done in a specific way, or you feel that a job is beyond your skill set, it is best to call in a general contractor. Contacting a professional early on in the process can be handy as well because they can advise you of any pitfalls that may occur in both the planning and building stages. This is where doing research by talking to others who have already been there can come in handy, as they will either have recommendations or be able to tell you who to avoid, which is important as you will need to be able to trust the people who will be spending that much time in your home.

Final Thoughts

So, before you even begin any work, it is important that you look into the different points above. There is no reason that you won’t be able to accomplish the plans you want, but you need to be aware of all the work that is needed in the process of remodeling so that you aren’t caught off guard by anything.

Categories
Healthy Home Asbestos Dust Flooding & Water Damage Lead Mold

Environmental Issues: Is Your Home Trying to Tell You Something?

Is Your Home Trying to Tell You Something?

environmental home issues

We are attuned to listening to the steady messages of our loved ones, our coworkers, and even our bodies. The question is, do you pay attention to the subtle signs your home may be telling you about an issue? Probably not. Often, many unhealthy environmental toxins in the home come with warning signs – you just have to know what they are.

Here are the Top 5 Signs of a Potential Environmental Issue:

  1. Musty Odor

musty odor moldIf you smell something afoul, don’t ignore it. A musty odor may indicate a mold or mildew problem, which can cause serious health issues. In addition to allergy like symptoms, trouble breathing, and rashes, mold can also cause headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

If you catch a whiff of that musty odor, you should schedule a mold test. An independent mold test (from a company that does not also remediate) can help you to find hidden mold and pinpoint the problem. This will enable you to hire a reputable contractor to remove the mold precisely, and save you thousands of dollars on unnecessary repairs.

  1. Chipping Paint & Dust Window Panes

leaded window

If you see dust around your window sills or chipping paint in your home that was built before 1978 (the year lead paint was banned), it should be a red flag. Chipping lead paint is a big source of lead poisoning, which is extremely dangerous, especially for children, older adults, and pets. Lead poisoning can cause a serious host of issues including neurological and cognitive deficits, autism-like symptoms, mood swings, and even violent behavior.

The most common cause of lead poisoning is lead dust, which is created every time you open or close a lead painted window, or through improper renovations. Lead dust can spread throughout a home and even into the soil surrounding your home. Unfortunately, most of the time you cannot see lead particles in dust or soil, so unless you test for it, you may not even know that this hazard exists.

  1. Smelly or Discolored Water

polluted waterIf your water is not running clear or smells funny, you likely have a problem, either with your well or older pipes. Bacteria, heavy metals, and other contaminants can cause your water to be less than fresh, and sometimes dangerous.

You may mistakenly believe that because drinking water comes from a well, it’s pure and safer than water from reservoirs or city supplies. However, well water can contain a host of contaminants, including coliform bacteria, uranium, lead, arsenic, E. coli, nitrates, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) radon, pesticides, and MtBE (a gasoline compound), which can cause a wide variety of health problems, including skin problems; damage to the brain, kidneys, and neurological system; gastro-intestinal illness; hair loss; and immune deficiencies.

If you have town or city water and you still notice something off, it may be your pipes. Older pipes can leach lead or other heavy metals into your water supply, causing discoloration, odors, and even a fine grit. If something is off with your water, have it tested. Most of these issues are easily fixed.

  1. Leaky Roof

leaky roof moldIf you go running for a bucket and towels every time it rains, your problem is likely larger than a leaky roof. When water intrusion occurs, like a leaky roof, mold can grow within 24 – 48 hours. And, if you let it go, it can literally grow. And grow. And grow. Mold colonies can be hidden under roof tiles, behind ceilings, sheetrock, and inside walls. And every time it rains, spores will grow larger. If that’s the case, by not addressing the issue, you could be causing structural damage, not to mention the many adverse health effects mentioned earlier.

  1. Chemical Smells

vocOften, that “new car smell” is caused by off-gassing from volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials and everyday household (and workplace) items. VOCs cause poor indoor air quality, which can cause headaches, dizziness, listlessness, depression, and much more. Common causes of poor IAQ are cleaners and disinfectants, new furniture or carpeting, candles, electronics, and paints. If your indoor air isn’t quite right, or if you are experiencing unexplained symptoms, have an indoor air quality test. This can pinpoint or rule out mold and VOCs, and help you breathe easier.

If you suspect that your home is trying to tell you something, please don’t wait. Your health, and that of everyone in your home, may be at risk. Call RTK today to schedule an environmental inspection at 800.392.6468.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Healthy Home Asbestos Health Lead Mold Soil and Water

First Time Homebuyers: What You Need to Know About Environmental Toxins

First Time Homebuyers: What You Need to Know About Environmental Toxins

 

The coronavirus pandemic has urbanites fleeing the city in droves and moving into their first house. Many are snatching them up at a quick glance, not realizing that the house comes with more than just additional space and fresh air. Environmental hazards like mold, asbestos, lead and radon may be lurking in your new home, and without a proper environmental inspection, you may not know until health symptoms develop.

Homes, anywhere and at any time, can harbor mold, asbestos, lead, or radon, and contain poor indoor air quality, polluted water, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), any one of which can threaten one’s health. That is why investing in environmental testing services prior to purchase or once you’ve made the investment is a good idea.

5 Environmental Hazards to Watch Out For:

Mold

mold behind cabinetsMold can be visible or hidden behind walls, ceilings, or floors, under carpets, and even in HVAC systems. Mold can cause serious health issues including trouble breathing, allergies, headaches and dizziness. Mold can also be present and affecting your health even if no symptoms present themselves – everyone if affected differently. Testing for mold can pinpoint the source of the problem so that proper steps can be taken to remediate the issue.

Lead

lead soilLead is found in most homes built prior to 1978, the year lead paint was banned for residential use. Lead dust is the most common cause of lead poisoning, as lead dust can spread throughout a home and even into the soil surrounding your home. Unfortunately, most of the time you cannot see lead in dust or soil, so unless you test for it, you may not even know that this hazard is present. Lead poisoning can cause serious host of issues including neurological and cognitive deficits, autism-like symptoms, mood swings, and violent behavior.

Asbestos

Asbestos is commonly found in older homes in pipe insulation, tile, and attic or wall insulation, among dozens of other places. Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause serious health implications. At the least, asbestos is a breathing irritant. At worst, asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a serious cancerous condition that can lead to debilitating health problems and usually death.

Radon

radon testingRadon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is extremely hazardous to your health. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. It is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced when uranium naturally decays in soil and water. Since 90 percent of the land in the Northeast is likely to have elevated radon levels, every home should be tested for radon.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

indoor air quality testingVolatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and mold make up almost 90% of indoor air quality issues. VOCs are toxic fumes that are off gassed from many building and everyday materials including new flooring or carpeting, paint, cleaners and detergents. Poor indoor air quality can cause headaches, nausea, allergies, difficulty breathing, and rashes, just to name a few.

A Traditional Home Inspection Isn’t Enough

Home inspections are obviously necessary for the sale or purchase of a home. But what many buyers are realizing is that these inspections usually do not take into consideration mold infestation, lead, asbestos, and water quality. Most home inspectors lack the knowledge and certifications necessary to test for potentially toxic substances.

What Is an Environmental Home Inspection?

renovation adviceMold testing, lead inspection, asbestos testing, water testing, and indoor air quality testing may all be performed during an environmental inspection. Environmental home inspections can vary depending on the age and condition of the home. Such inspections should be scheduled with a certified, independent testing company – even before your sign a contract. It’s important that the company you hire doesn’t perform both testing and remediation, as that is a conflict of interest.

Not all environmental hazards are obvious, and they can cause serious health issues. To detect them requires expertise, licensure, technology, and experience. If you would like more information on what types of environmental inspections may be right for you, please feel free to call us at 800.392.6468. Live well!

 

Categories
Asbestos Healthy Home Lead

Renovate Right: Top 3 Tips for DIYers

Renovate Right: Top 3 Tips for DIYers

This is the time of year many of us DIYers are eager to get moving on home improvements. But before you start sanding and swinging that hammer, there are a few important things to think about:

What type of surfaces and materials will you be disturbing? Is there chipping paint? Crumbling pipe insulation? Smell of mildew?

If any or all of the above, you’ll need to take some precautions. Why? You may be subjecting yourself and your family to possible health risks, caused by the very particles you’ve disturbed. So, renovate the right way. Here’s how:

Tip #1: Know the composition of the materials you disturb before you even begin – have your home tested!

environmental testing nyc

Mold that you cannot see may be lurking behind your walls. Pipe insulation may contain asbestos fibers. Layers of old paint beneath more recent paint may contain lead. When you disturb these materials, dust and spores from these toxic materials may be released in the air. Then, they may travel through your home’s HVAC system. Once that happens, you’ve contaminated your indoor environment. So, BEFORE you start the project, have a certified microbial inspector do some tests. If you wait until after you’ve disturbed these materials and discover that you have released toxins in the process, the clean up can be very expensive. Worst of all, you may have subjected yourself and your family to real health hazards.

So, Step One: call in an environmental testing company to have your home tested, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home. If the test reveals toxic lead remnants, be sure you follow lead safe work practices, or hire a contractor certified in lead-safe work practices under the Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP).

Tip #2: Take proper precautions.

If a test confirms environmental hazards, take appropriate steps to keep yourself and your family safe. Follow these precautions:

– Evacuate vulnerable family members. While you are working, be sure children, pregnant Protect Childrenwomen, and pets leave the premises for the day. They can return to the house after the work has stopped and the area is thoroughly cleaned. Even a speck of lead dust can cause irreversible damage to one’s health.

– Contain the offending area. Close doors leading to the work area. Then use 4-6 mil plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to seal off the work area. Seal all duct work, doors leading out, and windows with the sheeting. Your goal is to prevent toxins from contaminating the rest of the house.

– Dress for the occasion. Look for a mask or respirator with an N95 rating or higher, which mold inspection nycfilters out very fine particles. And be sure you wear it for the entire time you are working and cleaning. Also, buy a Tyvek suit to protect your clothes. If the work takes more than a day, leave the Tyvek suit in the contained area. Be sure to cover your feet with booties, which also should never leave the contained area. Once you remove the Tyvek suit and the booties, head to your washing machine, strip, and wash your clothes.

– Avoid sanding. Lead dust accounts for most of the 500,000 pediatric lead-poisoning cases a year. Sanding releases fine lead dust particles, which fly through your air, infiltrating the entire house. Unfortunately, these particles remain in the home for a long time. Therefore, sand as little as possible.home renovation tips ny

– Clean up well. First, sweep up as much of the dust and debris as you can and put it into a plastic bag, which you then should seal with painter’s tape. Use a HEPA vacuum to remove any remaining lead dust particles. Then use warm water and clean rags to wash all surfaces. Every exposed surface must be cleaned well.

Tip #3: Protect your family from unnecessary health risks.

When the work is done, be sure to have a second environmental inspection performed by a certified testing company to be sure your home has been properly cleaned from lead, asbestos, mold, and other toxins. Otherwise, the health affects can be devastating.

Lead poisoning is shown to causHealthy Familye autism-like symptoms, ADHD, brain damage, lower IQ, and a host of other physical and mental issues. Mold causes asthma, allergies, and other serious respiratory ailments. Asbestos is a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other serious respiratory ailments. Most asbestos-related diseases don’t arise until years after exposure.

Make sure your home is safe for you and your family. Test today.

Categories
Asbestos Gardening Health Healthy Home Lead Soil and Water

Is Your Garden Soil Safe?

Is Your Garden Soil Safe?

A home garden is a unique and hands-on way to connect with your food. But it’s not just which vegetables and herbs you’re planting, it’s what you’re planting it in that counts, too. The fact is that contaminants lurk in your soil, and can greatly affect what you eat, and ultimately your health. Soil can be polluted by harmful contaminants such as lead, asbestos, pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals; so it’s important to test your soil before you even start your garden.

Lead is the most common pollutant, especially if your home (or surroundings) were constructed prior to 1978. Before that date, paint contained lead. So, every time the old paint is disturbed (whether renovating or sanding to repaint), lead dust is released. And that dust winds up in the soil and the air you breathe. Lead is highly toxic and can cause severe health problems, including damage to the brain and nervous system. Pregnant women and children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that was commonly used in construction before the 1980s. Again, if those fibers are disturbed and released into the air, you can be affected. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to severely increasing your chances of developing mesothelioma and other cancers.

There are other poisons that can be found in soil – the very solvents, pesticides, and herbicides that are available to the general public and can cause damage to plants, can also affect the soil surrounding your home, and can contaminate water runoff. Pesticides and herbicides can cause neurological poisoning and affect memory, coordination, and response times—especially in children.

Polluted water runoff poses a risk to soil conditions, local water sources, and residential wells. Polluted runoff can result in a variety of health problems and waterborne infectious diseases, especially when water remains stagnant.

So, plant those gardens, but be aware of the noxious elements that can spoil your soil! And remember to have your soil tested by a non-biased environmental company, like RTK Environmental Group, prior to starting any landscaping or gardening projects.

 

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Asbestos

Top Questions on Asbestos Answered

Top Questions on Asbestos Answered

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
Healthy Home Asbestos Lead Mold

Planning Pandemic Renovations? Environmental Testing Should be the First Step. Here’s Why:

Planning Pandemic Renovations? Environmental Testing Should be the First Step. Here’s Why:

In recent months, there’s been a surge in people fleeing the city for a home in the ‘burbs. With housing stock fairly limited due to the pandemic, the house you get may get you plenty of fresh air, but it may need a little work.

kitchen renovationNow that you’re spending a good amount of time at home, improvement projects are getting your attention. The big question is, what do you do first?

Typically, renovation work uncovers hidden environmental hazards, such as asbestos, mold, and other toxic substances, all of which can negatively impact your indoor air quality. So, the first step when contemplating any renovation work should be to order an environmental inspection. This will enable you to plan for the potential hazards you may encounter and, ultimately, will protect your family’s health.

Here’s what to be aware of:

Dangerous asbestos fibers can be released into the air when disturbed

hidden asbestos

Before any renovation or demolition, you need to know if you are about to disturb any materials containing asbestos. Typically, asbestos is contained in walls, fireproofing materials, insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, among others.

Although banned in many forms because of its toxicity, asbestos still can be found in the home, especially one that was built prior to 1980. So, if you’re about to tear down your walls and ceilings, remove tile, flooring material or pipe insulation, for example, have an asbestos survey performed prior to your renovation project. An asbestos survey will determine if there are any materials containing this toxic substance. Something as simple as installing a ceiling fan, removing a boiler, or updating your bathroom could have serious implications.

Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Experts state that even a few hours’ exposure to the toxic fibers can be enough to trigger illness, which generally occurs 15–40 years down the road.

Mold can contaminate the whole house

black mold bathroomMold spores are everywhere, but once they take hold, mold growth can cause serious health problems for you and your family. When embarking on renovation projects, be mindful of mold hidden under sinks, behind walls, and under carpets or floorboards. Mold is easily spread through HVAC systems, which can cause cross-contamination, spreading mold spores throughout your home.

If you suspect there has been water damage or a leak in your home, have it tested for mold. Musty odors can be a tell-tale sign. If mold is discovered during the test, you can choose to have it professionally removed by a remediation company, or you can do-it-yourself following strict EPA mold remediation guidelines. DIY mold removal requires specialized equipment, air filtration, negative air pressure, protective personal wear, and more. Angie’s List shares information on the possible hazards of DIY mold removal.

Watch out for lead when sanding or disrupting painted surfaces

lead paint testingIf you live in a home built prior to 1978, there may be layers of paint containing lead. Before starting any renovation project – large or small – test for lead paint. Once disturbed, the dust that results can be extremely dangerous. Even a speck can cause lead poisoning, which leads to neurological issues, brain damage, and other serious, irreversible health consequences.

Whether you are remodeling your kitchen, sanding and staining the deck, or doing something as minuscule as hanging a picture on a wall, if that wall contains lead paint, proper EPA Lead Safe work practices, outlined in the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (RRP), should be followed. Although following RRP work practices is not required for DIYers, it is the best way to safeguard your health and the health of those around you. For more information on Lead Safe work practices for DIYers, click here.

“We’ve seen so many renovation projects go awry because the homeowner didn’t start with an environmental inspection,” notes Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental Group. “Even something as simple as upgrading a bathroom sink can turn into an environmental disaster. Mold, lead, and asbestos are commonly uncovered during renovation work and can cause poor indoor air quality,” he says. “But if you know they are there, you can contain them and avoid further issues, including a hefty remediation bill.”

For more information on environmental testing and tips to keep you healthy and safe, contact us.

 

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Asbestos Lead Mold

Avoid These 3 Hidden DIY Renovation Mistakes

Avoid These 3 Hidden DIY Renovation Mistakes

Longer days and extra daylight make summer an ideal time to tackle home improvement projects. Don’t allow the lazy, hazy days of summer blind you to the potential environmental hazards that turn up during do-it-yourself renovations. Whether you are painting the house, updating a kitchen, or redecorating the kids’ rooms while they are away at camp, take heed.

Here’s our “Watch Out” list with renovation tips:

1. Watch Out for Lead When Sanding or Disrupting Painted Surfaces

If you live in a home built prior to 1978, paint containing lead can be anywhere. Before starting any renovation project – big or small – test for lead paint. It can be extremely dangerous. Even a speck of dust from lead paint can cause lead poisoning, which leads to neurological issues, brain damage, and other serious, irreversible health consequences.

Whether you are remodeling your kitchen, sanding and staining the deck, or doing something as small as hanging pictures on a wall that contains lead paint, proper EPA Lead Safe work practices, outlined in the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (RRP), should be followed. Although following RRP work practices is not required for DIYers, it is the best way to safeguard your health and the health of those around you. For more information on Lead Safe work practices for DIYers, click here.

2. Watch Out That You Don’t Release Asbestos Fibers Into the Air

Before any renovation or demolition, you need to know if you are about to disturb any materials containing asbestos. Even though it is a naturally occurring mineral fiber, asbestos is banned in certain forms because of its toxicity. Once used for everything from insulation and decoration to fireproofing, asbestos now is restricted to certain products, but is still used.

Therefore, you can be exposed to asbestos fibers through demolition of walls and ceilings, tile, flooring materials, roof shingles, pipes, and many other items throughout your home. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Experts state that even a few hours’ exposure to the toxic fibers can be enough to trigger illness from 15–40 years down the road.

Be smart – have an asbestos survey performed prior to your renovation project. An asbestos survey will determine if there are any materials containing this toxic substance that you are about to disturb. Something as simple as installing a ceiling fan, removing a boiler, or updating your bathroom could have serious implications.

3. Watch Out for Mold

When conquering DIY projects, be mindful of mold hidden under sinks, behind walls, or anywhere that has cellulose material, warmth, and moisture. Mold can cause health problems.

Robert Weitz, a certified microbial investigator and founder of RTK Environmental Group, knows how prevalent mold can be. “Too often, we are called in to test for mold after a DIY project has gone wrong, or after someone tried to remediate mold on their own,” he says. “One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is ripping out wallboard, ceilings, and other building materials that are wet without mold testing or proper containment,” says Weitz, who saw this mistake repeatedly after Hurricane Sandy. “When extreme situations occur, like a hurricane, basement flooding, or a roof leak, people panic and start ripping things out with the intention of making the problem go away faster,” Weitz explains. “In doing this, they spread the mold spores throughout the home and ventilation system. Next thing they know, they have a full-blown mold infestation.”

So what should you do? First, if you know there has been water damage or a leak in the area, have it tested for mold. If mold is found, you can choose to have it professionally removed by a remediation company, or you can do-it-yourself following strict EPA mold remediation guidelines. DIY mold removal requires specialized equipment, air filtration, negative air pressure, protective personal wear, and more. Angi shares information on the possible hazards of DIY mold removal.

For more information on environmental testing and tips to keep you healthy and safe, contact us.

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Asbestos Flooding & Water Damage Health Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold Mold Testing Soil and Water Weitz Advice

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

As massive cleanup efforts and power restoration continue throughout the region after a lightning-fast-moving storm, homeowners should be aware of the potential that flooding and water damage are causing.