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Gardening Health Lead

Prevent Lead Poisoning: Get Your Home Tested, Get Your Child Tested

Protect Your Children By Following These Preventive Do’s and Don’ts

Spread the Word – National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 20th – 26th 

Although lead poisoning is the #1 preventable disease in U.S. children, every year, over 500,000 children under the age of six are diagnosed with lead poisoning. Incredibly, this figure does not include the number of children between the ages of six and eighteen that already suffer from lead poisoning. In addition, many other children have not yet been diagnosed.

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Gardening Health Soil and Water

How to Get the Healthiest Crop From Your Garden

 

How to Get the Healthiest Crop From Your Garden

Organic gardening is a wonderful way to bring fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables straight from your garden to your table. To ensure that your produce is perfect, start with a soil test to make sure you are not planting in a toxic terrain.

After taking the necessary painstaking measures to ensure that your garden contains non-GMO seeds, no chemicals and pesticides, and organic compost to enrich and fertilize the soil, your hard work may be fruitless. If you plant your produce in soil that contains lead, arsenic, petroleum, pesticides, these and other toxins will make their way into your harvest – and into your mouth.

Sources of Soil Contamination:

Lead in soil is a very common problem, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home or in a neighborhood of older homes. How does lead get into your soil? Sanding, prior to painting the exterior of an older home, can spew lead dust through the air. Flaking paint chips can also infiltrate into the soil. Lead dust can also be released through open windows when sanding a home’s interior walls. Even more disturbing, simply opening and closing windowsills that contain lead paint can release lead dust into your home and yard on a daily basis.

Another possible source of contamination is tainted compost. If you use public compost, you may be exposed to dangerous levels of lead and other toxins. Here’s why: When municipalities pick up lawn clippings and organic debris for composting, they don’t test first to see if the clippings and debris are free from contamination.

Flooding may also contaminate soil. Storm surges and flooding from storms and hurricanes, like Sandy and Irene, can spread industrial toxic contaminants to residential areas miles away. The floodwaters from Sandy carried an unthinkable mixture of wastewater, sludge, and toxins into people’s pristine yards, where many of the pollutants remain today.

Effects of Toxic Soil:

The damaging effects of ingesting these toxins – chromium, lead, petroleum, solvents, and many pesticide and herbicide formulations, among others – are extensive. According to Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), these contaminants can be carcinogenic, and cause disease or other chronic health conditions.

What Can You Do?

The first line of protection for you and your family is to have your soil tested. A certified environmental testing company, like RTK, can tell you if your soil is safe. If the test reveals the levels of lead or other toxins in your soil are too high, several options exist to fix the problem – including soil removal, raising pH levels and adding organic matter, or mixing in new soil. A certified inspector can tell you which may be the best option for your situation.

Click here for more information or to schedule a soil test today.

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Gardening Health Healthy Home Soil and Water Weitz Advice

This Summer Make Sure Your Water, Air and Soil Are Safe

Home inspections 101

After a long, looooooong winter – one that felt like it would end sometime in 2020 – summer is finally within sight. And thank goodness for that.

But before you dive into the pool, crank up the air conditioner, or start that victory garden, you’ll want to make sure that your water, air, and soil are clean and safe. Let’s face it; the frigid temperatures, wild winter weather, and common wear and tear that are typically noticeable this time of year are all indicators of potential contamination.

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Gardening Healthy Home Lead Mold

The Dark Side of Pressure Washing


Don’t Let High Pressure Cleaning Turn into a High Stakes Health Gamble

As nagging nor’easters and blustering bomb cyclones make way for warmer weather, homeowners throughout the New York Metropolitan area might actually get to tackle spring- cleaning before summer vacation.

Power washing a patio, deck or home exterior is an effective means of removing dirt, grime and unsightly moss that’s built-up over the winter. But if it’s not done correctly, high pressure cleaning can turn into a high stakes gamble; it can unearth and spread lead paint chips and hazardous lead dust, potentially dangerous toxins and volatile organic compounds, says Robert Weitz, a principal with the environmental testing firm RTK Environmental Group, headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.

So too can it set the stage for more costly problems down the road, such as water buildup, mold and mildew, Weitz added, especially if water finds hidden cracks in any walls or surfaces.

None of these scenarios are good for your health.

Garden furniture being pressure washed.

“Pressure washing can be an effective way of blasting away buildup and dirt,” Weitz says, “but it can lead to far more expensive disasters if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Take, for example, the fact that lead paint chips or contaminants from vinyl siding can be blown around a yard and end up being mixed into garden soil or playground surfaces where children and pets are active. Another thing to consider is that whenever mildew, algae, or mold are removed from a structure, spores are released into the air, which can create a health risk for people, especially anyone with allergies or asthma.

“It’s important to know what you’re cleaning and whether or not there is mold, lead, or other dangerous substances on the building’s exterior,” warns Weitz. “It’s also important to understand the power of a pressure washer being used and the potency of any cleaning chemicals applied to the surface. Pressure washers can be as dangerous as they are effective.”

Bottom line: do your homework before starting any project. It may be wise to consult a professional first.

Read more about spring-cleaning tips here.

To talk to a professional at RTK Environmental or to schedule a test today, call (800) 392-6468 or visit RTK Environmental online.

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Asbestos Gardening Health Healthy Home Lead Soil and Water

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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Gardening Health Mold

5 Most Overlooked Home Improvement Tips to Save Money

Spring has finally arrived, and we are eager to get our homes and yards back in shape. But these 5 things are often overlooked, and can lead to major damage to your home, costly repairs, and serious health issues. From renovations to organic gardening, following these tips can help to ensure your home or business is a safe and healthy environment. Be sure to add these important items to your to-do list!

1. HAD AN ICE DAM LEAK? TEST FOR MOLD. 

IMG_0598It seems like everyone had a drip, leak, or flooding this winter from ice and snow on the roof. Towels and buckets were a fine temporary fix, but as the temperature rises, the wet drywall and insulation behind your walls and ceilings could start growing mold. If you had a water intrusion this winter, now is the time to test for mold to avoid a full-blown mold infestation. Check out this video to see how much damage a tiny water leak can do.

 

 

2. DON’T GET HOSED! WATCH FOR BURST OUTDOOR PIPES.

water leak garageWhen turning on your outdoor faucets, be sure to watch carefully for water leakage along the wall and floor. Pipes may have frozen and burst over the winter, and you may not know until you turn the water back on. So stay alert, and be prepared to shut off your main water supply quickly!

 

 

3. PLANTING A GARDEN? TEST YOUR SOIL.

Organic GardenNow that the weather is warmer, the garden beckons. Thoughts of luscious vegetables and gorgeous flowers make us eager to plant. But before you start turning over the garden, get your soil tested. The soil around your house may be hosting a variety of contaminants, including lead, pesticides, and heavy metals. And the impact on your family’s health from these unseen dangers may be great. Toxins and tomatoes don’t mix.

 

4. SPRING ALLERGIES OR MOLD PROBLEM?

mold inspection dcWhen the flowers bloom and we start sneezing, we assume pollen is to blame. But if you are having problems with allergies, and medication doesn’t seem to clear it up, have your home tested by an independent professional to see if mold may be the culprit. Another sign that it may be mold: You notice that your allergies are more severe in your home or work environment than anywhere else. If that’s the case, there may be mold in that location.

 

5. STARTING A RENOVATION? KNOW WHAT MATERIALS YOU ARE DISTURBING.

renovation asbestos leadBefore you start swinging the hammer or sanding the paint off the deck, find out what materials you will disturb. If you live in a home built before 1978, you may be releasing toxic lead paint dust or asbestos fibers, which can cause brain damage, cancer, and other serious illnesses. RTK can help you assess potential risks before you renovate, so you don’t contaminate your entire home, property, and even neighborhood. If a problem exists, we will devise a plan so that you can renovate safely and avoid serious health hazards for you and your family.

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Gardening Soil and Water

Gardening 101: Start With Clean Soil

Garden TomatoNow that the weather is warming up, the garden beckons. Thoughts of luscious vegetables and gorgeous flowers bloom. But before you start turning over the garden, get your soil tested. What you may not realize is that the soil around your house may be hosting a variety of contaminants, including lead, pesticides, bacteria, and heavy metals. And the impact on your family’s health from these unseen dangers may be great.

Lead in soil is a very common problem, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home or in garden soil contaminationa neighborhood of older homes. How does lead get into your soil? Sanding during the prep period, prior to painting the exterior of an older home, can spew lead dust through the air. (Up until 1978, most paint contained lead.) Flaking paint chips can also find their way into the soil. Lead dust can also be released through open windows when sanding home’s interior walls.

tainted compostAnother possible source of contamination is tainted compost. If you use public compost, you may be exposed to dangerous levels of lead and other toxins. Here’s why: When municipalities pick up lawn clippings and organic debris for composting, they don’t test first to see if the clippings and debris are free from contamination.

The damaging effects of ingesting these toxins — chromium, lead and other metals, contaminated soil connecticutpetroleum, solvents, and many pesticide and herbicide formulations – are many. These contaminants can be carcinogenic, cause congenital disorders or other chronic health conditions. Pregnant women and children are at the highest risk. In fact, more than 500,000 children are poisoned each year by lead.

The only way to protect your family is to have your soil tested by an environmental testing company. They can tell you if your soil is safe, and if there is a problem, can inform you of how to correct it. Click here for more information or to schedule a soil test today.

 

Categories
Gardening Soil and Water

Could Your Compost Be Contaminated?

You may want to think twice before biting into that home grown tomato! Sure homegrown produce tastes better, but using public compost could expose your veggies—and you—to damaging levels of lead. Here’s why: Many municipalities pick up lawn clippings and organic debris for composting to later be shared with the community. Unfortunately, as they recently found out in Boston, if the materials coming from homes are tainted with lead or other contaminants, consequently so is the compost.

Environmental officials recommend that compost containing lead concentrations of more than 150 parts per million not be used in gardens. Last year, Boston’s mean concentration of lead in compost was 299 parts per million, with a high of 480 parts per million (far exceeding limits). As a result of severely elevated concentrations of lead, thousands of tons of compost were ruled to be off limits to Boston residents who were hoping to take advantage of the free fertilizer. This lead-riddled compost, predominantly used to grow fruits and vegetables, is extremely hazardous to your health as the contaminants from the soil spread to the produce you later consume.

But Boston isn’t the only city with older homes, which typically have old lead paint. In the New York Tri-State area, more than 80% of homes were built prior to 1978, the year that lead paint was banned. If not properly cared for, simply opening a door or window in one of these homes could spread of toxic lead dust, not only in the house, but throughout the yard and neighborhood as well.

If you live in a home built pre-1978 or in an area with older homes, be sure to have your home and soil tested – especially if you plan to share your lawn clippings with your municipality for composting. Lead poisoning is preventable – be sure you do your part!

 

 

 

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Gardening Lead Soil and Water

Are You Putting Toxic Food In Your Tummy?

The gardener’s gloves are on. The seeds are ready. But are the soil and water are safe and toxin-free? Before you plant those vegetable gardens, you need to find out. Otherwise, you could be eating a harmful harvest in the summer and fall.

Lead in soil is a very common problem, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home or in a neighborhood of older homes. So how does lead get in your soil? When your older home’s exterior is painted, the first step is sanding, which spews lead dust through the air, landing on your property. Flaking paint chips can also be ground into the soil, or in some cases, paint can peel right off the home. Also, if the home’s interior is painted and sanded, often windows are left open to disburse the dust. And guess where that lead dust falls? In your yard.

The water you use to soak the garden also may contain contaminants from a variety of sources including an aging water distribution system, age and the type of pipes in your home, soil pollution from fertilizer and nitrates, and groundwater elements. Certain chemicals can have devastating effects on our health, even in miniscule concentrations. Contaminated water can cause severe kidney damage; intestinal lesions; sensory, neurological, and respiratory damage; blue-baby syndrome; and shortness of breath.

There are steps you can take to lessen these dangers. Most importantly, hire a certified environmental inspector to test your soil and water for contaminants. You may be free of toxins. But then again, you may find that you have true health hazards.

Some other steps you can take:

  • Position the garden as far away as possible from any pre-1978 built homes.
  • Use a garden hose filter to lessen impurities.
  • Consider bed gardening, which raises the garden above soil level. And then fill with clean garden soil.
  • Erect a fence or a hedge to act as a buffer against any blowing lead dust.
  • Keep children away from any lead-tainted soil. Never let children eat the soil.
  • Wear protective clothing when gardening. Remove your clothes before entering your home, and place them in a plastic bag. The next stop is your washing machine. Tracking lead dust into a home is a common way for lead to enter a home.
  • Soils high in organic matter and compost with pH levels between 6.5 and 7.0 do a better job of binding lead in the soil, preventing it from being absorbed by plants.

If the test reveals the levels of lead in your soil are just too high, you may want to consider remediation of the contaminated soil. There are several options, including soil removal, raising pH levels and adding organic matter, or mixing in new soil. A certified lead inspector can tell you which may be the best option for your situation.

Click here to schedule a test of your soil and water.

 

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Gardening Healthy Home Lead Soil and Water

Go Outside & Play – But This Time, in Clean Dirt!

How safe are your children when they are playing outside in your yard? Maybe not safe enough.

Consider this: You probably take great safety precautions like making your kids wear bike helmets and sunscreen. But have you checked your soil and pool water for lead dust?

Most people have no idea that lead dust – that is dust that usually comes from old paint that is disturbed by renovation work (sanding and scraping; opening and closing windows); the dust flies through the air and lands in the yard. Since spending time outdoors should be a healthy activity, it pays to find out if the soil is “clean” – free from lead. Soil with high lead levels can be a danger, though – especially to kids. Children can actually be poisoned from lead dust, which could lead to autism, ADD, violent behavior, reduced IQ and a host of other issues. Lead dust can also be tracked inside on people’s shoes.

It can also travel from your neighbors’ renovations to your property if they are not following proper Lead Safe work practices. Lead dust has also been found in high concentrations in pool water.

If you are not sure about the soil your child is playing in, have your soil and water tested for lead and other toxins by a professional. Here are some other tips to minimize risk:

– Children and adults should wash their hands before and after playing or working outside;

– Change clothing after playing or working in the yard or garden;

– Create a safe play area for your child – a sandbox with clean sand and a cover is ideal if you think you may have lead dust around your home or neighborhood;

– Wash any toys that were used in dirt that may contain lead dust with soap and water;

– Any bare soil outside your home should be covered with sod, mulch, or gravel to reduce the hazard;

– Cover your pool when it is not in use;

– If lead levels are found to be high in your yard, tainted soil may actually need to be removed and clean soil may need to be brought in;

– A floor mat inside the door can help reduce lead dust from being tracked in;

– Take your shoes off when you enter your house and leave them at the door.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors. Be sure to do it safely!