&noscript=1 />
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
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
Asbestos Healthy Home Lead

Renovate Right: Top 3 Tips for DIYers

Renovation Advice: Top 3 Tips for DIYers

Eager to get moving on home improvements? 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 what potential toxins you will disturb before you begin. Test.

pre-renovation testingMold 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 an independent inspector test for lead and asbestos. 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 – the year lead paint was banned. 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.

asbestos hazard

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 women, 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 filters 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.

asbestos demolitionClean 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.

asbestos testing near meWhen 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 cause 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 Dust Lead

Are Toxins Hiding In Your Dust? Find Out With a Dust Characterization

Are Toxins Hiding In Your Dust? Find Out With a Dust Characterization

lead dustNearby new construction can certainly be a nuisance, what with all the noise and disruption. But there is a much larger issue that should concern you: the dust.

Dust from construction can be downright toxic. It can easily seep into your apartment, workplace or home, polluting your indoor air and covering your belongings. A simple test can tell you what’s contained in that dust and whether it can cause health damage.

In New York City alone, where the construction sector added 45,300 new jobs between 2010 and 2018, an increase of 40 percent, and construction spending set a record of $61.5 billion in 2018, there’s plenty of dust to go around.

Is dust really an issue?

asbestos dustConstruction dust often contains a host of contaminants, including lead and asbestos. Older buildings are very likely to contain these dangerous materials, which, when they are disturbed, become part of the stream of ordinary dust.

Dust generally falls into three categories: workplace, industrial, and home. With the rise of construction in New York City, it is most certainly an issue to be aware of. According to the Hayward Score, which identifies major issues in your home that can impact your health, your dust often contains a complex combination of particulates, dander, pollen, fibers, heavy metals, chemicals, mold spores, and more.

Dangerous lead and asbestos are often found in dust in cities, especially when there is nearby construction. Gabriel Filippelli, a professor of earth sciences and director of the Center for Urban Health at Indiana University-Purdue University, furthers states in the Washington Post that lead-contaminated soils, and dust generated from them, are tightly linked to the lead poisoning of children.

These substances can also cause:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Neurological issues
  • Reproductive problems
  • Impairing a child’s development
  • Cognitive damage
  • Other health issues

dust characterization testA dust characterization can help you to identify these and other unknown particles, including cellulose fibers, dander and dust mites, biologicals, minerals, fungal allergens, synthetics, and MMVF (manmade vitreous fibers). RTK’s dust characterizations, performed by licensed environmental inspectors, can usually determine—or rule out— whatever mysterious matter is plaguing your home or workplace.

When should I have a dust characterization?

dust transferIf you live or work in a construction area, or if your neighbor is doing renovation work or remodeling and you notice an increased amount of dust on your premises, you should definitely consider a dust characterization. You may be at risk, as you don’t know what substances are being carried through the air. Other reasons to have a dust test are:

  • If you have small children who crawl on the floor, they are more likely to ingest dust from hand to mouth contact;
  • If you are experiencing unexplained health symptoms;
  • If you work outdoors or live in a city.

If you are concerned about dust in your home or apartment, call us at (800) 392.6468 to discuss your situation. We’ll tailor our test to your specific needs and environment.

Protect your health!

Categories
Asbestos Healthy Home Lead Mold

National Kitchen and Bath Month: Unknown Hazards Underneath Your Nose

National Kitchen and Bath Month: Unknown Hazards Underneath Your Nose

While renovating your home may not be top of mind as fall and winter roll around, there are still plenty of updates you may be thinking about. Whether it’s replacing your cabinets, updating the paint in the bathroom, or something smaller like changing the backsplash, there are a lot of factors to consider before starting your next indoor project. After all, you’ll likely be stuck inside while you make some changes to your home; it’s essential to think about those unknown hazards that could be lying underneath that wallpaper.

kitchen moldMold

No matter how clean you may keep your home, mold can still be present. This is one of the leading causes of respiratory issues. Exposure to mold leads to allergies, postnasal drip, and rashes, and the longer you are exposed, the worse these symptoms can get. The most common form that has to be removed is black mold, but mold will present itself in other forms that can hide from your normal cleaning routine.

While you may find this hazard in your bathroom due to condensation on the walls or leaky plumbing, indoor mold can actually be brought in from the outside; your shoes, the air flowing through the windows, and rain through a small crack in the ceiling can all be ways toxic molds show up in your house.

You may consider replacing plumbing fixtures to avoid some molds, but remember to check other damp spaces, like around your HVAC or air conditioning unit, areas near your windows and roofs, along with the attic and basement.

If you find mold anywhere in your home when starting your next DIY project, make sure to get it tested by a mold expert. Knowing exactly what type of mold is in your home will help guide how you choose to remove the material and prevent it in the future. Since any type of mold is caused by moisture, it would be a good idea to insulate windows and doors before the winter and even place dehumidifiers in areas where moisture is common.

Asbestos

Even though asbestos isn’t widely used today, it  can still be found in quite a few places in your home, specifically in areas like your kitchen and bath. Before starting any renovation,, it’s important to check any areas that may still house asbestos.. Older homes built before the 1980s usually have more character, but their age will also come with more hazards, including asbestos.

asbestos popcorn ceiling
Popcorn Ceiling

Used in popcorn ceilings, vinyl tiling in bathrooms and kitchens, and even exteriors like shingles and siding, asbestos is and was used as a fire-resistant material. However, once it deteriorates, it can affect the lungs, causing health issues like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other long-term respiratory issues. The signs that you have mesothelioma, however, look like that of normal health issues. Coughing, sneezing, and fatigue may be signs of plenty of other diagnoses, and because this form of cancer takes a long time to develop, up to 50 years – it can be hard to receive a diagnosis before it is too late.

A lot of these older homes also don’t have to necessarily disclose asbestos if there’s no sign of deterioration. However, if you plan on renovations or foresee them taking place in the future, it’s best to do some asbestos testing to make sure you and your family stay safe, especially if walls, floors, or other major areas are being taken apart.

Lead

Unlike asbestos, lead does have to be disclosed when selling a home. That being said, often the dangers of lead are similar – they don’t show themselves until deterioration. Home repair activities are where you can start to see health concerns take place. The EPA has an entire page of resources on lead exposure, and in most cases, the best thing to do is to clean regularly to avoid any unnecessary exposure. In more detrimental cases, leaving the home is the best-case scenario.

causes of lead poisoningBelieve it or not, lead-based paint can still be found in about 80% of homes today. Because of this, checking for lead in the home can be a key step in starting any project. While the hazards are much more known compared to asbestos and the array of toxic molds, it’s important to still check for dangers that seem elementary. You never know when items like lead paint on walls will start to deteriorate, and even if you decide to cover this up, the disruption of pain on the wall can cause health issues down the line.

If you found that you have lead paint in your home, it would be a good idea to have your household tested for lead poisoning at a regional treatment center. You can never be too safe when it comes to household toxins, especially lead paint.

There are plenty of hazards you’ll find as you start to take a look at your kitchen and bathroom. That being said, there are also plenty of ways to mediate these potential hazards before they go too far. Working with an inspector to test for items like lead and mold can save you money down the line, without putting too much work in before it’s too late. After all, finding out with floors ripped up that mold has to be removed, or that you have to close a room off for asbestos abatement is an obstacle no one wants to face in the middle of a project.

 

Categories
Asbestos Healthy Home Lead Mold Testing vs. Remediation

Why You Should Get Residential Environmental Testing (and What to Do After)

Why You Should Get Residential Environmental Testing (and What to Do After)

Introduction

Home is where we spend a large portion of our lives. It’s important to make sure that our homes are not only comfortable, but also free from threats to our families’ health and safety. Residential environmental testing, or environmental inspection, is an important component to ensuring the absence of these threats.

What is Residential Environmental Testing?

Residential environmental testing is a series of inspections conducted at your home. It commonly includes testing for things such as mold, lead, asbestos, and the air quality of your home. There are also specialty inspections and testing that check for allergens, the quality of your water and soil, or look for dangerous gasses.

xrf lead testing new york

Why Should You Get Environmental Testing of Your Home Done?

Environmental inspection can identify improvements that need to be made to your home. Testing is the only way to alert you to the presence of hazards that can be harmful to you and your family, as well as costly to rectify if left untouched for a long period of time.

In addition to the cost of fixing environmental issues themselves, they can also lead to large amounts of medical debt if you allow the hazards to remain untreated. For example, asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma and, depending on your medical coverage, mesothelioma treatment costs can range from $10,000-50,000 per month. The CDC reports that health issues related to mold can include lung inflammation and asthma. For people with severe allergies, specialty testing of dust and allergens within the home can provide peace of mind and a path toward symptom relief.

When Should You Conduct an Environmental Inspection?

when to get environmental testingIf you’re shopping for a new home, it’s a great idea to have an environmental home inspection in addition to a traditional inspection. On the other hand, if you’re selling your home, it’s also a great time to have these inspections completed because it makes for a great selling point and can help you close faster. In addition, if your home is older, you should have inspections for lead and asbestos done as soon as possible. The U.S. government banned the use of lead paint in 1978 and asbestos in the 1980s, but both are often still present in older buildings. If your home isn’t a newer build, then it’s important to find out if these hazards are present in your home.

It’s also easy to end up with mold in your home and professional removal is important in situations where cleaning won’t fix the problem. There are many reasons and times to test for mold. For example, if your home has had any water damage or you’ve experienced flooding, you should have a mold inspection completed. Homes that have been unoccupied for a while (such as vacation homes) should also be inspected. If you’ve recently had mold remediation, then a follow up inspection is necessary to ensure the issue has been resolved. Of course, if you believe you’ve seen mold, you should also schedule an inspection. And finally, if you have symptoms of mold exposure it’s necessary to test for mold in your home. There are many illnesses you can get from exposure to mold and the symptoms vary; but in general, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, headaches, body aches, and nose bleeds without other explanation are a good indicator that you should inspect for mold.

best NYC mold testing

What Should You Do After Testing?

Hopefully, you received good news after your testing. If nothing harmful was found, then continue to keep an eye on your home and arrange for further testing should other concerns arise. On the other hand, if something was found, the course of action for hazards discovered depends on the specific issue.

If asbestos was found in your home, the next steps largely depend on the condition of the items containing asbestos. For example, if the item is undamaged, then asbestos exposure is unlikely. In this situation, continue to monitor the area because wear and tear can lead to exposure and may require repair. These repairs should always be handled by a professional, not done yourself, because disturbing asbestos creates risk of exposure to the fibers and improper handling can create a hazard where none existed before. Removal is sometimes required by state or local law, but it’s the most expensive option and comes with the greatest risk of exposure to fiber, so it should be avoided if possible.

westchester asbestos testingLead paint is often handled by painting over it and it’s important to take precautions when doing so. You never want to try to sand or scrape off lead paint. Instead, use an encapsulant and then paint over it with new paint. You should dispose of materials, such as drop cloths used while painting over lead paint, and immediately wash the clothing you wore during the project when you finish. Keep the area clean and make sure not to spread dust from the area which may contain lead. After you’re finished, you should regularly monitor the area to make sure the original paint remains covered and keep children and pets away from the area as they are more likely to chip and ingest the paint.

If mold was detected, it’s important to remove the mold. Most mold comes from issues such as leaks, and these problems need to be fixed first so that the mold doesn’t return. The best option is to have a professional come in and handle the remediation. Once you have completed testing and have blueprint for mold removal, you can choose a reputable remediation company to implement the plan. Ask about their certifications, insurance and licensing, as well as how long they’ve been in business. You may even want to ask for references. The process of mold recemdiation itself is detailed here.

What is the Cost of Fixing Residential Environmental Issues?

cost of environmental testingThe price of fixing these issues depends on a lot of factors and can climb quickly. Though location impacts the price, the average mold removal cost is $2,347. Asbestos, on the other hand, can range anywhere from $1,120 for a small space to $30,000 to remediate an entire house. Unfortunately, many insurance policies and home warranties won’t cover the abatement of these hazards, leaving homeowners responsible for the cost. If you have emergency savings, this is always the best option for financing your repairs. However, if you don’t have the necessary funds on hand, you can apply for an equity loan based on the amount of equity you’ve currently paid into your house. The funds can be used for anything and often have a lower interest rate than other personal loans. In the cases of some home improvements, the interest paid on these loans can also be deducted when you file your taxes.

Final Thoughts

Environmental hazards in your home can be frightening and overwhelming to address, but it’s important for the health and safety of yourself and your family to routinely test for them. Regularly monitoring your house, getting testing as needed, and having a plan to handle any problems can make things easier on both your health and peace of mind.

Categories
Healthy Home Asbestos Lead Mold

Clearing a NYC Mold Violation

Clearing a NYC Mold Violation

 

When mold growth is discovered in an apartment building consisting of three or more dwellings, the building owner or landlord may incur a mold violation from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD). This is because mold, along with other indoor allergens, can trigger asthma, allergy reactions, and other health issues.

According to Local Law 55 of 2018, building owners and landlords in the New York City five boroughs are required to take the appropriate steps to keep their tenants’ homes free of indoor mold growth. This law also applies to owners of housing units, such as co-ops, condos, shelters and public housing where a tenant has asthma. Property owners must follow specific steps to identify mold growth and remove it safely.

To avoid fines and clear mold violations, building owners should comply with Local Law 55 and follow the steps below.

get rid of NYC mold violations

Correct HPD Mold Violations & Obtain Proper Certification

Understanding Owner Responsibilities

  • Annually inspect apartments for indoor allergen hazards such as mold growth. Vacant apartments should be clear of mold and other allergens before a new tenant moves in.
  • Make sure your tenants are aware of their responsibilities. Provide all tenants with a copy of the Local Law 55 fact sheet, which explains that tenants should alert building owners when they notice signs of indoor allergens.

Remediate Mold Conditions

  • For a building with 10 or more residential units, owners are required to hire a mold assessor and a mold remediator who are licensed by the New York State Department of Labor. These contractors must be independent of one another, so that these services are completely unbiased.
  • If more than 10 square feet of mold growth is found, the first step is to hire a licensed mold assessor who can design a protocol for mold remediation. After mold remediation has been completed, the mold assessor should be contracted again to perform a mold clearance inspection.
  • In a building with fewer than 10 residential units, the building owner is not required to hire a professional mold assessor or remediator, but is required to follow the safe work practices outlined in the law.

nyc mold violation

Certifying the Project

  • After the completion of professional mold remediation and once clearance has been achieved, the mold assessor and mold remediator will file the required documentation under Local Law 61 of 2018.

 

RTK is very experienced in helping building owners and landlords resolve HPD mold violations. With fast scheduling, comprehensive reports, highly-trained inspectors, and expedited lab results, we can help to turn a problem into a problem solved. Contact RTK at 800-392-6468.

Review Local Law 55 on the HPD website here: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/services-and-information/indoor-allergen-hazards-mold-and-pests.page

 

 

Categories
Asbestos Healthy Home Lead

Important Safety Tips For Renovating Older Homes

Important Safety Tips For Renovating Older Homes

The season for renovations has arrived. DIYers are eager to get moving on home improvements, but if you live in a house built before 1978, there are a few important safety tips to think about before you start sanding walls and swinging that hammer.

  • Does your home contain lead paint?
  • What type of surfaces and materials will you disturb?
  • Is there chipping paint?
  • Do you have crumbling pipe insulation or tiles that may contain asbestos?
  • Will you disrupt any pipes that may leach lead into your water?

If any or all of the above apply, 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, take the proper precautions and renovate the right way. Here’s how:

Tip #1: Test for Lead Paint.

lead paint dangersIf your home was build prior to the ban of lead paint in 1978, you are likely to have it somewhere. When lead paint is kept in good condition, it does not pose a significant risk. If it is disturbed, however, it releases dangerous lead dust into the air, which is the leading cause of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is shown to cause autism-like symptoms, ADHD, brain damage, lower IQ, and a host of other physical and mental issues.

Fact: A speck of lead dust the size of a grain of sand can cause lead poisoning, and irreversible damage to one’s health.

lead inspectionBEFORE you start the project, have a certified lead risk assessor test your home for lead paint. They can use an XRF spectrometer to look deep into pipes and the layers of paint on walls to determine if there is lead paint not only on the surface, but also underneath.

Did You Know? A lead testing swab will only tell you if lead paint is on the top layer.

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 serious health hazards.

So, Step One: call in an environmental testing company to have your home tested. If the test reveals toxic lead remnants, a lead inspector can tell you the exact locations lead was detected. 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: Check for Asbestos.

asbestos survey Before any renovation or demolition, you need to know if you are about to disturb any materials containing asbestos. Asbestos is banned in certain forms because of its toxicity. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious, even 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.

Asbestos is common in older homes, and you can be exposed to asbestos fibers through demolition of many items, most commonly:

  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Tile
  • Flooring materials
  • Roof shingles
  • Pipes
  • Insulation

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.

Tip #3: Take Proper Precautions.

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

1. Evacuate vulnerable family members.

renovation precautionsWhile you are working, be sure children, the elderly, pregnant women, 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.

 

 

 

2. 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 ductwork, doors leading out, and windows with the sheeting. Your goal is to prevent toxins from contaminating the rest of the house.

3. Dress for the occasion.

RRPLook for a mask or respirator with an N95 rating or higher, which filters 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.

4. Avoid sanding.

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

5. 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. It’s a good idea to have your home tested post-renovation to ensure all toxic materials were properly cleaned.

Make sure your home is safe for you and your family – live well!

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Asbestos Healthy Home Lead Mold Mold Testing

6 Mistakes People Make When Rebuilding After a Storm

6 Mistakes People Make When Rebuilding After a Storm

 

Many people are now realizing that Ida and Henri have caused a great deal of mold after the fact. Knowing what to do in the event that you have flooding and water damage is critical in preventing 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.

Avoid These 6 Mistakes:

  1. Don’t Rebuild Too Quickly

Many people make the mistake of ripping out wet materials right away and not letting the area dry out completely before they rebuild. This can cause major hassles down the road, as mold will grow with a vengeance.

wet sheetrock

  1. Wet Sheetrock

Mold loves to grow on sheetrock, so you want to ensure everything near the new sheetrock is clean and dry. Be sure to clean wood framing before putting sheetrock back. Also make sure concrete floors are dry. If there is any moisture still left, you run the risk of regrowing your mold problem.

wet fiberglass

  1. Don’t Leave Wet Fiberglass Insulation in Walls

Wet fiberglass insulation left in wall cavities can turn into a hidden mold nightmare. Make sure you remove and replace any wet insulation before you restore the sheetrock. This can save you thousands in unnecessary repairs.

lead and asbestos hazards

  1. Disturbing Asbestos and Lead Paint

In a rush to put things back to normal, many people don’t realize that when they are ripping out wet and damaged materials, they may be inadvertently disturbing asbestos fibers and lead paint, which are both serious health hazards. The only way to know what you are about to unleash in your home is to have the area tested for lead and asbestos, especially if your home was built prior to 1980.

mold testing after a storm

  1. Test for Mold Before and After Remediation

Why test twice? Simple. The first test is to identify where the mold is, and map out what really needs to be removed and remediated. This can save thousands in unnecessary repairs.

The second test is called a clearance test which occurs after remediation, which is important for a few reasons. Primarily, you want to ensure that the mold was removed properly, as your health is at stake. Additionally, it’s important for future insurance claims. If your home floods again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was caused by the new event. 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. Finally, if you are in an area prone to storms and flooding, when reselling your home, you may be asked to prove that your home is free from toxins.

wet carpet mold

  1. Don’t Keep Wet Flooring

Nobody wants to throw out a floor. But if water has made its way below the carpeting, tiles, or wood flooring, you may have mold growing where you can’t see it. Rebuilding the walls and ceilings above it without removing the affected area is a waste of money if you don’t fix the underlying issue. An independent mold test can tell you whether your flooring is salvageable.

An independent, certified testing company like RTK Environmental does not do remediation, and therefore, offers consumers an unbiased opinion about any contamination. If you have questions about recent water damage or restoration, call us at 800.392.6468.