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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Steps to Enhance IAQ and Manage Mold

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

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

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

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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.

 

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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!

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

Spring Mold: What to Watch For After A Wet Winter

Spring Mold: What to Watch For After A Wet Winter

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

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

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

Musty Odor

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

 

I smell mold, but can’t see it.

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

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

What should I do about that musty smell?

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

I can see mold. What should I do?

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

Who should test for mold and when?

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

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

What is the health impact of mold?

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

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

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Environment Gardening Health Healthy Home Soil and Water

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

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

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

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

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

Five Ways to Get Started

1. Focus on Native Plants and Ones That Attract Pollinators

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

2. Upcycle Old Materials for New Yard Decor

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

3. Ensure You’re Using Clean Soil

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

4. Turn to Organic Mulch for Yard Support

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

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

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

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

By: Katherine Robinson, a writer for Microbial Insights

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

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

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

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

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

The Covert Threats Luring in Your Basement Oasis

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

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

Hidden Dangers in Your Basement Paradise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dust Environment Health Healthy Home Lead

Protecting Your Family: Understanding and Preventing Lead Poisoning

Protecting Your Family: Understanding and Preventing Lead Poisoning

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

The Threat of Lead Poisoning

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

Identifying Lead Exposure Sources

Where is lead harbored?

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

Taking Action to Stay Safe

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

Test and Screen

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

Awareness and Acknowledgment

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

Check National Poison Prevention Week Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.