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Indoor Air Quality & Radon Health Healthy Home Mold

9 Tips for Better Indoor Air Quality

9 Tips for Better Indoor Air Quality

 

 

good indoor air qualityWe’re all looking for simple ways to be healthier, especially in light of the COVID pandemic. Good health starts with a clean home environment. If we breath air that is unhealthy, our bodies eventually let us know. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to potential issues like mold, mildew, and other causes of poor indoor air quality.

 

Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental Group, warns that if you see mildew on any surfaces, mold is often not far away. “Mildew is a form of mold, so if you detect a musty odor or see mildew, there is likely a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.” Mold and mildew are common causes of poor indoor air quality. Testing for mold is the first step in restoring the health of your home.

 

Mr. Weitz offers many tips to improve your indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality can cause health issues, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

 

Here are some of his top suggestions:

  1. Be aware of common indoor pollutants. Around 80% of indoor air quality issues are caused by mold or volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
  2. Keep a tidy house. Be sure to remove household dust, as it contains all types of particulate matter – from dead insects to skin cells. Gross!
  3. hepa vacuumAdd a certified HEPA vacuum to your cleaning arsenal to prevent smaller particles from being reintroduced into your environment.
  4. Install a whole home air purification system. They can be put directly into your HVAC equipment and can filter out harmful particles.
  5. Buy cleaning products that contain both disinfectant and surfactant to disinfect while removing contaminating particles from surfaces. Low-VOC cleaning products are recommended.
  6. Be proactive against water damage events. If you have a leak or flood, act fast as mold can start to grow within 24 hours. Also, keep an eye on humidity levels in your home; they should remain below 50%.
  7. dirty filterChange the filters on your HVAC system at least every six months and clean all ductwork.
  8. If you have water damage, test for mold, and then have remediation performed based on the results. When remediation is completed, you should conduct clearance testing to ensure the mold was properly removed.
  9. Allow new furniture and carpeting to off-gas and release VOCs and other toxins before moving it into your home. This can be done outdoors or in a dry garage.

 

Be aware of your home’s indoor air quality, and always get an independent company to test when any suspicious odors, spots, or stains are present. Remember, when in doubt, check it out!

 

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Health Healthy Home

Essential Oils: Nature’s Surprising Air Cleanser

Essential Oils: Nature’s Surprising Air Cleanser

Essential Oil

You may have heard about essential oils, but do you really know what they are, or how they can cleanse your home and your body? Lisa Zawrotny, a Wellness Advocate, known as the Ultimate Oil Mom, gave us some excellent insight on the therapeutic benefits of using essential oils for fighting off seasonal discomfort and indoor air quality issues.

What is an Essential Oil?

“It’s the essence of a plant. It is found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants, like the zest from a citrus fruit – it’s a fragrant oil, not greasy,” says Zawrotny. She explains the aroma gives plants their distinctive fragrance and also protects plants from natural enemies, like mold and insects. Essential oils have long been used for beauty treatments, health care practices, and food preparation.

How Do You Extract An Essential Oil?

AromatherapyEssential oils are extracted through one of two processes: cold pressing or steam distilling, Zawrotny explains. There are four levels of oil purity, which determines what you can use the oil for: smell, flavor, aromatherapy, or natural health. The highest level of purity is certified therapeutic grade, a quality protocol to which essential oils are carefully and thoroughly tested against.

How Do You Use An Essential Oil?

The benefits of essential oils are obtained in three ways: aromatically through diffusion, topically applied to the skin after being diluted with a carrier oil (like coconut oil), or internally through ingestion. All three approaches work well to support the body, but new research is showing an even greater impact with diffusing oils than previously thought. We weren’t surprised to learn that only therapeutic grade oils can be used for health purposes, but we were surprised that it seems the body can benefit from the aroma even when it is not delivered through the nose. Scientists are finding odor receptors throughout the body, where they play a pivotal role in a host of physiological functions. You can read The New York Times article here.

Essential Oils Can Help Protect Against Seasonal & Environmental Elements

Lemon Oil“There are several oils that can help you to combat seasonal discomfort naturally,” Zawrotny says. A few of her favorites include Peppermint, Lavender, and Lemon. “These are cleansing oils, and can be diffused in your home to help cleanse the air, and promote clear breathing and healthy respiratory functions,” she explains. Eucalyptus supports the respiratory system, and helps to maintain clear airways. Whether used alone or in combination, these oils have been known for thousands of years to promote healthy inflammatory response, as well as help bolster the immune system, creating calming and balancing effects, internally and externally.Eucalyptus Tub

TIP: Add a few drops of Eucalyptus or Peppermint oil to a hot bath or on a washcloth under your feet in the shower – the aromatic properties will blend with the steam to open airways and help quickly relieve seasonal symptoms.

Essential Oils Can Improve Air Quality

Aromatherapy DiffuserNot only do essential oils smell good, but also some have strong air purification properties. Remember, these oils were inside the plant to help protect it from mold, so it has powerful properties to cleanse your air. Cinnamon, Melaleuca (tea tree), Oregano, Clove, Thyme, Grapefruit extract, and Rosemary oils can be diffused into the air, providing additional support to soothe potential symptoms. However, it can’t be used to rid your home of mold. If you think you have a mold problem, have your home tested by an independent inspector to make sure you and your family is not in danger. If the problem is serious, the inspector may recommend professional remediation.

Bonus: When oils are diffused into the air, they are also absorbed into your body through your nose and skin and can help build immunity and have a healing impact, including cell renewal.

467249269Clean Green

Essential oils make great cleaning agents. You can use the oils directly on surfaces to clean naturally. Certain oils work very well for cleaning, including Clove, Lemon, Wild Orange, Cinnamon, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus. Fill a small spray bottle with vinegar and add 10-20 drops of your favorite oil – it makes a great natural cleaner! You can diffuse it in the home, or add a few drops to a pot of boiling water to purify and freshen the air.

Essential Oil ApplicationEssential oils have many potential benefits, but Zawrotny suggests doing your own research. A great place to start is www.aromaticscience.com. If your home has an environmental issue, like mold, lead, or poor indoor air quality, oils alone will not solve the problem, and your health could be in danger. The only way to know if you and your family are in a safe environment is to have your home tested. Once you know what you may be dealing with, you can then determine the best way to proceed.

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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 25th – 31th

lead poisoning prevention week 2020Although lead poisoning is the #1 preventable disease in U.S. children, every year, over 500,000 children between the ages of 1 -5 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. About 3.6 million American households have children under 6
years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards.

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

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

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

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

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Health Indoor Air Quality & Radon

VOCs and Your Car

VOCs and Your Car

Climbing into your car during the heat of summer is not always the most pleasant experience. Besides the heat, there’s that stale air and an odor that’s pretty off-putting. There’s a reason for that: it’s called VOCs or volatile organic compounds that are often contained in the car’s materials and structure.

What are VOCs?

car air qualityVOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials. VOCs cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as “indoor air pollution.” That “new car smell” is actually a combination of chemicals emitted from plastics, leather, and other parts that make up the interior of your vehicle. During the summer months, these chemicals are heated to extreme temperatures, and when confined in such a small space, make them more dangerous than usual when inhaled.

VOCs and Your Health

VOCs can cause a host of health issues. The most common are headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Other symptoms of VOC exposure are nausea, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating. Long-term exposure to VOCs can be far more serious, though, as they can cause cancer, and damage to the kidneys, central nervous system, and liver.

Steps to Minimize Vehicle VOCs

Volatile organic compounds carThe good news is that there are some steps you can take to minimize your exposure to the VOCs that are contained in your car. If you can open the car’s windows remotely, do so. If not, open the door, reach into your car, turn it on, open the windows, and wait a minute before you get in so that the air has time to circulate. When parking your car, you may want to consider keeping the windows cracked while you are away as well.

VOCs in the Environment

VOCs also can be a problem in your home or workplace. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms with no known cause, there may be poor indoor air quality.

RTK can test for many VOCs, including formaldehyde and benzene, which are very common. We can help you determine whether the cause of your illness is your environment, and help you to feel better so that you can live well.

Call us today at 800.392.6468.

 

 

 

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Health Lead

Does Your Pediatrician Screen for Lead Poisoning?

Does Your Pediatrician Screen for Lead Poisoning?

We recently heard from a mom in the Long Island area, who lives in a home with deteriorating paint built in the 1950’s, questioning the necessity of testing her two young children for lead poisoning. She thought doctors did it automatically, but was concerned and confused when her pediatrician said that she didn’t have to worry about lead poisoning “unless her children were allergic to lead” – even though he knew she lived in an older home that was not in good condition. Yes, we are serious. The doctor actually said this!

EVERYONE CAN BE HARMED BY LEAD PAINT! Clearly, not every doctor knows the dangers of lead paint, therefore it is up to us to make sure parents, neighbors, and friends understand the serious consequences of lead poisoning, and how to prevent it.

Not Every Pediatrician Screens for Lead

In some states, lead screening for children under the age of three is mandatory. But in most, it is left at the discretion of the pediatrician. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, testing for lead poisoning often depends on where you live. Check out these statistics:

• 53% of pediatricians attempt to screen ALL of their patients under the age of 36 months with a blood test for lead toxicity, 38% attempt to screen SOME of their patients, while 9% screen NONE of their patients in this age group.

• Screening practices vary by practice location: 83% of inner city pediatricians screen ALL of their patients under the age of 36 months for lead poisoning, compared to 39% of suburban and 43% of rural pediatricians.

• Overall, pediatricians report screening an average of 52% of their patients ages 9-12 months, 48% of their patients that are 13-14 months old, and 37% of their patients that are 25-36 months old.

• 98% of pediatricians who selectively screen patients under the age of 36 months report do so at the parents’ request.

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. More importantly, have your home tested to prevent the risks early. For more information about lead dust, click here.

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Health Mold

Seasonal Allergies? A Cold? COVID-19? Something Else?

Seasonal Allergies? A Cold? COVID-19? Something Else?

This is going to be an allergy season like no other, as every sneeze, sniffle and cough will spark concern. Our best advice is to try not to panic. There can be several explanations for a cough that might have nothing to do with the coronavirus outbreak at all.

During this time of the year, flu, the common cold, and seasonal allergies cause respiratory distress. And now, with us spending so much time indoors, there can be allergens – like mold – that can be causing runny noses and coughs.

Here are a few things to consider about your symptoms.

Check for a Fever

Check for feverIf you are running a fever, this pretty much rules out allergies. But the fever might be caused by the flu, a virus, a cold or something else.

 

Seasonal Allergies or Cold

itchy eyesDoctors note that cold is not usually associated with itchy eyes, so if your eyes are red and irritated, you may be allergic to pollen or an allergen like mold. If you have a cough with no fever, it likely doesn’t mean that you’ve contracted the coronavirus. Check with your physician if in doubt.

 

Is it a Mold Allergy?

If you are having respiratory issues and other symptoms when you are in one location that clear up when you move elsewhere, it’s a good sign that you have a mold allergy. 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

If your allergy symptoms do occur in one place more than another, you may want to have the location tested for mold. RTK safely performs mold testing, as it is regarded as an essential service. Call us at 800.392.6468 to schedule a test or if you have any questions.

 

About Coronavirus

coronavirusThe World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report on coronavirus symptoms. It found that almost 90% of COVID-19 patients had a fever, and nearly 70% had a dry cough. Additional symptoms of coronavirus have included:

  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

The bottom line is, when in doubt, check with your physician. If you believe you have a mold problem, call RTK at 800.392.6468.

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Health Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon

During Stressful Times, Try to Protect Your Health and Boost Your Immunity

During Stressful Times, Try to Protect Your Health and Boost Your Immunity     

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, we seem to be much more aware of our physical spaces – not just maintaining distance between people, but our homes and our workspaces. As we struggle to adjust to the new normal, it’s more important than ever to ensure that our homes and workplaces are “healthy” so that we can protect our health and boost our immune systems.

Besides all the stress, there are other factors that can impact your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness: mold, poor indoor air quality, and even contaminated water.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

VOCWhile we’re all trying to prevent the virus from spreading, we should also be aware that some of the very household products we’re using to scrub surfaces are off-gassing Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. These are toxic vapors given off by bleach and aerosol sprays.

VOCs can come from the chemicals in air fresheners, detergents, furniture, carpeting, and other products. If concentrated enough, they can be potent, causing headaches, dizziness, and nausea in the short-term and more serious problems long term. VOCs can cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as “indoor air pollution.” Today, about 80% of indoor air pollution is caused by either mold or VOCs.

So, when you’re attempting to disinfect your home, remember to open your windows to allow fresh air to circulate. You may also want to order an indoor air quality test that will help you to identify or rule out any air quality issues.

Mold

moldNow that you’re spending more time at home, you may notice that you have a mold problem. If so, there’s no better time than the present to deal with it. Mold can exacerbate breathing issues, and also cause headaches, rashes, depression, listlessness, and allergies, let alone flu-like symptoms, especially in those who are immunosuppressed.

And mold can hide just about anywhere – behind walls, under carpeting or floorboards, or in air ducts. If you smell a musty odor, you probably have mold. In order to pinpoint the source of a mold issue, testing is a good option.

Contaminated Water

With all of the hand-washing going on, you are in constant contact with your water supply. Every time you wash your hands, clean a dish, prepare a baby’s bottle, or draw a warm bath, you are exposing yourself to whatever is in your water supply. In many cases, what’s in the supply can be nasty: we’re talking lead, bacteria, heavy metals from pipes, arsenic that naturally occurs in groundwater, radon, pesticides, and more.

Whether you drink from well water or water that comes from a reservoir, consider ordering a water test from an independent source to determine the water quality.

So, even though the focus now is on Coronavirus, you can take steps to improve the quality of the environment of your immediate surroundings. Have your home tested by an independent, unbiased environmental testing service that performs testing only. (Leave remediation to other firms to avoid a potential conflict of interest.)

Schedule a test today and make sure your home and workplace are the safest places they can be. Call RTK at 800.392.6468 or click here.

 

 

 

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Health Healthy Home

Unexplained Health Issues: When a Doctor Can’t Find Anything Wrong…

Unexplained Health Issues: When a Doctor Can’t Find Anything Wrong…

When a patient is not feeling well, chances are you look for the presence of disease. But if the symptoms persist and don’t appear to be caused by disease, they may be caused by an environmental hazard such as mold, lead, radon, asbestos, or even poor indoor air quality. So, it often makes sense to turn to a certified microbial inspector to test the patient’s home or workplace.

Categories
Health Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Humidifier Health Hazards: The Dirty Details

Humidifier Health Hazards: The Dirty Details

Humidifiers and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems can make life a lot more comfortable, but can also make us sick, according to several institutions, including the Mayo Clinic and Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), who report that if humidifiers aren’t maintained properly or if humidity levels are kept too high, can grow and spread mold and bacteria that causes lung and respiratory illnesses, including Legionnaires’ disease.

Humidifier with ionic air purifier isolated on white

Humidifiers, whether portable or built into a central heating and cooling system, can ease a slew of problems caused by dry air, from dry sinuses to cracked lips. But without regular maintenance, bacteria, mold, and fungi often grow in tanks and on the filters of portable room humidifiers, or in reservoir-type HVAC systems. These toxins can be released in the mist that the machines emit. Breathing in harmful particles carried by the mist can lead to respiratory problems, including flu-like symptoms, asthma, allergies, and serious infection – even humidifier fever, a respiratory illness caused by exposure to toxins from microorganisms found in wet or moist areas in humidifiers and air conditioners – especially for those of us who already suffer from allergies.

To prevent your humidifier from becoming a health hazard, follow these tips:

Change the water daily. Empty the tank, wipe all the surfaces, and refill the water daily to reduce the growth of microorganisms. Using water with a low mineral content, such as distilled or demineralized water, will help reduce build-up of mineral scale and the dispersal of minerals and bacteria released into the air.

Keep your humidifier clean. A humidifier should be cleaned every three days, at least! Be sure to unplug it, and wipe down any deposits or film from the tank with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, disinfectant, or chlorine bleach and water mixture. (Follow guidelines recommended by the manufacturer for your particular humidifier.) Be sure to rinse the tank and surface areas after cleaning it.

Change humidifier filters regularly. People tend to wait until they can see signs of mold on the filter before they change it, which can be too late. Be sure to change your filter as often as the manufacturer recommends, or sooner if usage has been high.

Don’t try to keep your home too damp. An ideal humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent. If you see condensation on surfaces, walls, or floors near your humidifier, you run the risk of breeding mold, bacteria, and dust mites. You can use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. It is not recommended that you run your humidifier round-the-clock.

Fully clean and dry your humidifier at the end of the season before you put it away. This will help to prevent mold and bacteria growth while in storage.

 

To keep your HVAC system and your family healthy, follow these tips:

Read the instruction manual or ask your HVAC specialist about proper maintenance for your unit. There are four main types of whole house units that have a variety of maintenance schedules and operations.

• Be sure the humidistat, which controls humidity, is set between 30 – 45 percent. Anything higher than 45% and you risk mold and bacteria growth through condensation and particles settling in the bottom of ducts, which can spread spores through your entire house quickly.

• Reservoir (drum) style humidifiers require monthly maintenance. This includes cleaning the foam evaporator pad, which should also be replaced annually. Clean the foam pad using a 1:3 solution of water to vinegar, or use a commercial calcium removing fluid. Soak the foam pad until the deposits dissolve. Rinse the pad generously with clean water. If the pad is ripped or does not come fully clean, replace the foam pad.

With a little humidifier TLC, the air in your home or office can make it a happier and healthier place to live or work!