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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.

Categories
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

Categories
Dust Environment Health Healthy Home Lead

Protecting Your Family: Understanding and Preventing Lead Poisoning

Protecting Your Family: Understanding and Preventing Lead Poisoning

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

The Threat of Lead Poisoning

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

Identifying Lead Exposure Sources

Where is lead harbored?

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

Taking Action to Stay Safe

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

Test and Screen

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

Awareness and Acknowledgment

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

Check National Poison Prevention Week Resources

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
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.

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Healthy Home Environment Health Mold senior Senior Living

Home Hunting: What Every Senior Should Look For

Home Hunting: What Every Senior Should Look For

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

Emphasizing Single-Level Living

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

Securing Peace with a Home Warranty

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

Prioritizing a Healthy Environment

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

Proximity to Quality Senior Care

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

Accessibility with Wide Doorways

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

Illuminating with Ample Lighting

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

Embracing Low-Maintenance Exteriors

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

Ensuring Access with Wheelchair Ramps

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

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

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Healthy Home Health

Seven Steps to Make Your Home Healthier for the Holidays: The Ultimate Checklist

Seven Steps to Make Your Home Healthier for the Holidays: The Ultimate Checklist

At this time of year, our homes become the heart of holiday celebrations. But before decking the halls, make sure your festive spaces are not just merry but also healthy. Here’s our ultimate checklist for holiday home health:

healthy home

Musty Odors:

While you may be accustomed to a subtle lingering musty scent, your guests will undoubtedly notice it as soon as they step through the door. And if they happen to have allergies, that scent might signal a mold issue, so you might want to seat your guests far from the turkey and equip them with a box of tissues as you prepare for a symphony of sneezes. Mold can trigger allergies, asthma, and various respiratory issues. Since mold’s presence can be elusive, it’s advisable to enlist the help of an independent mold inspection expert to thoroughly examine your home and eliminate this hidden hazard as soon as possible.

Evaluate Indoor Air Quality:

You’ve scrubbed the floors, touched up the paint, and banished that old, musty rug for a fresh, new carpet. While these home improvements might seem like the path to a healthier home, they might be doing more harm than good. The truth is many everyday household items release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. These odorless chemicals, found in detergents, furniture, cleaning products, and even candles, can trigger headaches, fatigue, and even more severe health problems.

In fact, studies have shown that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, making it no surprise that we tend to get sicker during the winter months when we’re spending more time indoors, with windows closed. Mold, another major culprit of poor indoor air quality, can thrive in damp, poorly ventilated areas, causing a host of respiratory issues.

An indoor air quality test can help you identify and address these hidden hazards, ensuring that you and your family are breathing clean healthy air.

musty odorProperly Ventilate Bathrooms:

Holiday house guests’ post-bathroom visits may require a well-functioning fan to mitigate any lingering odors. A clean, functional bathroom fan is your best defense, which also works against excess moisture and mold. It’s a simple fix with big benefits for air quality.

Decorate Safely:

Before you embark on your festive decorating frenzy, pause to consider potential hidden hazards lurking beneath the cheerful façade. Homes built before 1978 may harbor lead paint, a deadly menace when the painted surfaces are disturbed. If you suspect your home might be harboring this insidious threat, don’t delay – get it tested promptly.

Aside from lead, even the seemingly innocent twinkling lights, artificial trees, and ornaments can conceal hidden dangers. Read labels carefully to avoid bringing toxic substances into your home and jeopardizing your family’s health.

hanukkah safetyProtect Your Guests from Hidden Bathroom Hazards:

Don’t let a dirty shower curtain or bathmat put a damper on your festivities. Your shower space, curtain and bathmat might seem harmless, but they can harbor mold spores, bacteria, and other unpleasant surprises. Wash them with baking soda and tea tree oil to eradicate mold and bacteria.

Fix Leaking Sinks:

Leaking sinks aren’t just water wasters, they’re also health hazards. The damp conditions beneath a sink can quickly foster mold growth, which in turn can trigger asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues. Mold spores are always present in the environment, so the key to prevention is eliminating moisture sources.

Keep the Chill Out:

Avoid a holiday catastrophe by keeping your thermostat temperature higher this winter, especially if you’re traveling. Unless they are insulated properly, pipes can freeze and burst during your absence, causing extensive damage. The cost of repairing a burst pipe can far exceed the savings you achieve by keeping your house cooler. Protect your home and your holiday spirit by keeping your pipes warm.

mold testWhen prepping for the holidays, these steps will ensure that the atmosphere in your home is not only joyous but also healthy. Embrace the season with health in mind, and you’ll gift yourself and your loved ones the comfort of a home that’s not only decked with boughs of holly but also maintained according to the highest standards of health and safety.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help to make your home a healthy haven. Happy Holidays!

 

 

Categories
Lead Health

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: A Valuable Guide to Keeping Your Family Safe

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: A Valuable Guide to Keeping Your Family Safe 

 

lead poisoning prevention week 2023Here’s a shocking statistic: 1 in 40 children aged 1-5 years in the United States has unsafe levels of lead in their blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  That means approximately 3.3 million American households with children under six live in homes containing lead exposure hazards.  And over 500,000 children, under the age of six, are being diagnosed with lead poisoning annually – a statistic that doesn’t even include the number of older children affected. Clearly, lead poisoning is a serious health issue – and it is one that affects families living in suburbia and rural areas as much as it does for those living in cities.  

 

Lead poisoning can result in a range of serious health problems, including autism-like symptoms, brain damage, lower IQ, ADD, violent tendencies, and behavior and learning problems. It’s imperative that parents take action to protect their children from the permanent and irreversible damage caused by lead poisoning. 

 

lead paint hazardEven low levels of lead exposure can impair a child’s cognitive development, emphasizing the critical need for prevention. Early action, especially testing the home for the presence of lead paint and lead dust — will help to prevent serious health problems and save lives, since even small levels of lead exposure can irreversibly influence children’s development. 

 

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), observed from October 22-28, 2023, serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting our children and communities from the dangers of lead exposure. It’s a good time to heed NLPPW’s theme: “Together, we can prevent lead exposure.”  

 

Do’s for Lead Poisoning Prevention 

The good news is that lead poisoning is preventable. Here are eight valuable do’s and don’ts from Robert Weitz, a licensed lead consultant and principal of RTK Environmental Group, to help protect you and your family from the devastating effects of lead poisoning. 

lead window sill

1. Understand the facts about lead paint.  

Lead was commonly added to paint used in residences until 1978. And while that was over 40 years ago, it is safe to assume that most older homes contain lead paint. When disturbed, as during renovation work or prep prior to applying new paint, dangerous paint chips and dust containing lead are generated. When they’re inhaled or consumed, they can lead to serious health problems. 

2. Have your home tested for lead paint.

If your home was constructed before 1978, it’s crucial to have it tested for lead paint, especially before renovating. Hire an independent, certified testing company that doesn’t conduct abatement, as this is a major conflict of interest.  

3. Know the sources of lead poisoning.

Lead dust is the primary cause of lead poisoning. It’s released from any interior or exterior component which gets into the air, water, soil, and onto the floor. Lead dust can also be found on playground equipment, pools, and toys. Other sources of lead are older pipes and plumbing fixtures, stained glass, toys, pottery glazes, leaded crystal, jewelry, antiques, folk remedies, food cans, artificial turf, and more. 

4. Take proper precautions when renovating.

Before any renovation, test your home for lead paint, especially if your home was constructed before 1978. Failure to do so can unknowingly release toxic lead dust into the air. And unless you know where the lead is lurking, you or your contractor can unknowingly release toxic lead dust into the air. Once the test is conducted, if lead is found, consult a professional for a cleanup plan.    

 

Don’ts for Lead Poisoning Prevention: 

lead paint removal

1. Don’t assume lead poisoning cannot happen to you.

In reality, 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 more modern apartment, if lead paint is present, you and your loved ones are at risk of lead poisoning.  

 

2. Never allow an unlicensed contractor to undertake any work on your home.

It is imperative that the company responsible for your project, whether it’s a straightforward painting task or a comprehensive whole-house renovation, holds certification in lead-safe work practices issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Do not be swayed by any tradesperson claiming that certification is unnecessary; it is, without a doubt, a vital requirement. 

 

In accordance with the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP), any work performed on painted surfaces within a home built before 1978 must adhere to a rigorous protocol. Certified tradespeople are obligated to meticulously document the work they carry out. Furthermore, after the work has been completed, a crucial next step is to engage an environmental testing firm to conduct a secondary lead test, to ensure that your home is safe from lead contamination.  

 

3. Don’t assume your pediatrician tests your child for lead.   

pediatrician lead testWhile some states mandate lead screening for children under the age of three, in most states, it is up to the discretion of the pediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that the decision to test for lead poisoning often depends on your geographic location. The best way for you to know if your child has been tested for lead poisoning is to ask your pediatrician. If your doctor does not automatically test for lead, ask that it be done. It’s a simple blood test and could save your child’s life. 

 

In sum, lead poisoning is a pervasive issue that affects a significant number of children and families. It is crucial to raise awareness and take proactive steps to prevent lead exposure. By understanding the risks, testing your home for lead, and advocating for your child’s health, you can play a vital role in safeguarding your family from lead poisoning’s devastating effects. During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and beyond, let’s work together to eliminate this preventable childhood disease. 

 

Categories
Mold Health Indoor Air Quality & Radon

Parents: Is There Mold In Your Child’s School?

Is There Mold In Your Child’s School?

Mold in school is becoming a more common problem. The damage to classrooms from the heat and humidity from the summer months have many parents concerned about the indoor air quality in schools. And worse, mold has proliferated in dozens of schools in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, with the latest reports of mold in classrooms coming from the Hartford area.

As a parent, this is disturbing news. There are few things more important than the safety of our children in schools or daycare programs. We’ve created this guide to inform you what you need to know about mold, and alert you to the symptoms and signs of mold in schools or any other buildings.

Where is mold in schools found?

Classrooms, hallways, offices, and building corridors often harbor mold spores and dust mites, as do ventilation systems.

If your child has allergies, especially to mold, you should find out how often the school cleans its building vents, and if it uses high-efficiency air filters to remove mold, pollen, and other particles from the air. This may help to alleviate some of a child’s mold allergy symptoms.

Libraries, art rooms, and gym locker rooms are also very common areas for mold to grow because they harbor moisture.

Mold and children

All mold, toxic or not, is a health hazard. While toxic mold is the most harmful to a child’s health, all mold and mildew can cause health issues—especially for those who suffer from allergies. The younger a child is, the less developed his or her lungs and other organs are; this puts the child at special risk, whether at school or home. Although children are particularly vulnerable to mold contaminants, there is no law requiring schools to protect students (or staff) from mold contamination.

Is it a cold or a mold allergy?

How do you know if your child has a cold, the flu, seasonal allergies, or a mold allergy? It’s not always easy to determine, as many of the symptoms are the same. Signs of a mold allergy and symptoms of mold exposure include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Watery eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Brain Fog

If you child is fine in the morning, but returns from school with any of these symptoms, there is a good chance that there’s an irritant at the school, especially if the symptoms subside when the child is at home.

Symptoms of Toxic Mold Exposure

Toxic mold exposure can also cause:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A tingling or numbing sensation on skin
  • Headaches and sensitivity to light
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Poor memory or difficulty finding words
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity, which causes varying symptoms due to low-level exposures to commonly used chemicals

Mold and asthma

If your child is allergic to mold and also has asthma, his or her asthma symptoms may be triggered by exposure to mold spores and can sometimes be severe. In addition to the usual symptoms, your child may experience acute coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

To reduce asthma attacks caused by mold, ask your school to test for mold and air quality to see if the school’s indoor environment is the cause. Also, speak with your doctor about managing your child’s condition.

What else can you do?

  • Ask other parents or the PTA if they have noticed any signs of mold at the school or symptoms in their children.
  • Ask if they are aware of any unusual or musty odors in the school.
  • If the answers are in the affirmative, and if your child is experiencing health issues, request that mold testing be done.
  • If mold is discovered, there are remediation protocols that should be followed. Those include post-remediation clearance testing to ensure the remediation was done properly and there is no longer a health hazard.

If you have questions about mold in schools, please feel free to call us at 800.392.6468. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Categories
Health Mold

Mold Allergy? Don’t Eat That!

Mold Allergy? Don’t Eat That!

If you have a mold allergy, removing mold from your walls might not be enough. You also have to take it off your plate (literally) as you may be ingesting the mold directly. Many common foods contain some amount of mold, which can exacerbate a mold allergy.

Try to avoid these big offenders:

Dairy Products

mold foodMost dairy products, like cheese, sour cream and buttermilk, contain mold because they’ve undergone fermentation. Baked goods may also contain dairy products that underwent fermentation. Check labels before you eat.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms, a fungus, contain mold. Whether cooked or raw, in a soup or on a salad, they can trigger sneezing, wheezing and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Meat and Fish

Any type of meat or fish that has been smoked, pickled or cured has a good chance of containing mold. Meat and fish that is more than 24-hours-old may also have mold growth on it, including lunch meat, hot dogs, sausage, and pre-packaged meat.

Alcohol & Fermented Foods

foods with moldBeer, wine and many types of liquor that have been fermented or contain yeast may aggravate a mold allergy. Sour breads, such as pumpernickel and sourdough, can also be irritants.

Condiments & Dressings

Foods containing vinegar, such as salad dressing, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, commercial salsa, and pickles often contain mold. Also watch out for soy sauce, sauerkraut, olives, miso, and tofu.

Fruit

dried fruit moldDried fruits such as dates, prunes, figs and raisins are known to contain mold. Melons can also cause a mold-induced reaction, especially when they are overripe.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, you can reduce your risk of a reaction by choosing your foods carefully. They suggest checking all foods for signs of mold before eating it, and avoiding foods that are more likely to contain fungi or mold.

If you have a mold allergy, be aware that these foods could make it worse. If you change your diet and are still plagued by a mold allergy, consider that your home or office may not be as mold-free as you thought. Mold can grow under carpets and inside walls. The only way to be sure is to have a certified microbial investigator test your surroundings. Contact RTK at 800.392.6468 or click here to learn more.

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Gardening Health Healthy Home Soil and Water

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

Home inspections 101

Summer is almost here, so now’s the time to make sure your season is safe and healthy.

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.