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Environment Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold Mold Testing

Summer Mold Hotspots: What to Look For

Summer Mold Hotspots: What to Look For

As summer rolls in, so does the potential for mold growth in our homes and workplaces. Mold thrives in warm, humid conditions, making the hot, sticky months of summer a prime time for it to flourish. Whether you’re heading to your summer home or just trying to keep your primary residence mold-free, it’s essential to know the common hotspots for mold and the signs to watch out for.

Top Summer Mold Hotspots

Kitchens and Bathrooms

These areas are constantly exposed to moisture from cooking, washing dishes, and taking showers. Common mold-prone spots include behind sinks, under dishwashers, around toilets, and in shower stalls. Don’t forget to check less obvious places like behind the refrigerator and under the microwave where condensation can build up.

Basements and Crawl Spaces

Basements and crawl spaces are notorious for dampness. Moisture seepage, flooding, or poor ventilation can create ideal conditions for mold growth. Look for signs of mold on walls, floors, and insulation materials.

Attics and Roofs

Poor ventilation and roof leaks can lead to mold growth in attics. Inspect the insulation and wood beams for any signs of mold, especially if there have been roof leaks or ventilation issues.

Air Conditioners

While air conditioners help keep your home cool, they can also harbor mold if not properly maintained. Check the condensate drain and evaporator coils regularly to ensure they are clean and free of mold.

Laundry Rooms

Laundry rooms often have high humidity levels due to washing machines and dryers. Mold can grow inside washing machines, particularly front loaders, if they are not regularly cleaned and dried. Also, inspect the area around the machines and under any laundry sinks.

Flooring and Carpeting

Moisture can get trapped under carpeting and wood floors, especially in basements. Check for any musty odors or discoloration in these areas, as they can indicate hidden mold.

Signs of Mold

  • Visible Mold

The most obvious sign is seeing mold itself. Mold can appear in various colors, including black, green, white, yellow – even pink. It often grows in clusters and can have a fuzzy texture.

  • Musty Odors

A persistent musty smell is a strong indicator of mold, even if you can’t see it. This smell is caused by microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) released by mold.

  • Health Symptoms

Unexplained health issues like itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, or respiratory problems that improve when you leave the house can indicate mold. Mold exposure can exacerbate allergies and asthma.

Keeping an eye on these hot spots and recognizing the signs of mold early can help you maintain a healthy, mold-free home this summer. If you suspect a mold problem, it’s best to have a professional inspection to identify and address the issue promptly.

For more information on mold testing and remediation, visit RTK Environmental Group.

 

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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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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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Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead

Scented Candles: Are They Dangerous?

Scented Candles: Are They Dangerous?

What’s not to love about a good scented candle? They fill our homes with lovely aromas. A coconut breeze brings you to a beach in Bali or a breath of lavender vanilla makes your stress melt away. But reviews are mixed about the impact of burning these candles on our health.

The fact is, many scented candles are mass-produced with sub-standard ingredients, and can lead to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). The wick, wax, and perfume they’re made from can emit harmful chemicals.

Chemicals Abound in Fragrances

chemical fragranceAccording to the American Lung Association, for people who suffer from asthma, just the scents alone can cause problems with breathing. The candles emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), some of which are irritants; others can cause cancer. In addition, they can react with other gases and form additional air pollutants even after they are airborne.

What’s in all those fragrances and scents? Formaldehyde, alcohol, esters, and petroleum distillates, all of which can cause health issues. Headaches, dizziness, and trouble breathing are among some of the symptoms that have been reported from the inhalation of these VOCs.

And there are other hazards

cored wickDo you ever wonder how a candlewick is able to stand up? Many wicks are “cored,” meaning they are made out of metal wrapped in cotton to give them strength. When the wicks burn, trace amounts of heavy metals are released into the air. In the past, lead also was used in candlewicks, but in 2003, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned using more than .06% lead in a wick. Lead has since been replaced by zinc and tin. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that candles are any safer; they still may be releasing trace amounts of lead and other toxins into your environment.

How can you tell if there is lead in the wick? Try this simple test. Rub the wick of an un-burnt candle onto a piece of white paper. If the wick leaves a gray pencil-like mark there’s probably lead in it; if there’s no gray, you’re probably safe.

Danger from candles: it’s more than fire

scented candleUnless you buy a soy- or vegetable-based candle, the wax in a waxed candle is usually made out of paraffin, which is a petroleum byproduct. When paraffin is burned, it can release acetone, benzene, and toluene into the air, all known VOCs that are carcinogenic. They are the same chemicals released in diesel fuel emissions!

According to a study from South Carolina State University, paraffin wax can cause long-term harm. “The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air. For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies, and even asthma,” said Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi, a chemistry professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences. “None of the vegetable-based candles produced toxic chemicals.”

Burning a scented candle also can produce particulate matter and soot that can remain suspended in the air for hours. The smallest particles can elude our bodies’ natural defense systems and pass right into our lungs, causing coughing and wheezing, and even acute health issues like heart attacks or stroke.

What Can I Do?

soy candlesLimit the time you burn candles in order to reduce any negative impacts on your health. Try vegetable and soy based candles, which are much healthier options. You also should consider using electric candles: they’re high on ambiance and low on health hazards.

While lighting candles isn’t going to kill you overnight, they can contribute to overall poor air quality in your home. If you are concerned about the quality of your indoor air, schedule an Indoor Air Quality test to find out if there are unacceptable levels of VOCs or mold, or any other toxic substances that you might be breathing in.

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Indoor Air Quality & Radon Healthy Home

Dangerous Chemicals and VOCs: Here’s How to Protect Your Health

Dangerous Chemicals and VOCs: Here’s How to Protect Your Health  

Let’s face it – we live in a world full of chemicals. From cleaning products to paints to furniture and carpeting, volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) permeate the air we breathe, and many endanger our health. Get educated about VOCs, their health implications, and effect on indoor air quality so you can take steps to lessen their presence and harm in your everyday life.

PART 1: 

volatile organic compound

What Are VOCs?

VOCs are toxic vapors that are off gassed from synthetic materials and everyday items. VOCs cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as “indoor air pollution.” VOCs can be extremely dangerous to health, especially those compounds that have toxic elements.

Cancer & VOCs

Cancer is on the rise, and one of the causes is right before our eyes. Most new, manufactured products contain VOCs, many of which contain known toxic carcinogens. They have been proven to cause cancer, yet manufacturers still use VOCs because of their cost-effectiveness in the manufacturing process.

indoor air quality

Where are VOCs found?

  • Paint
  • Adhesives
  • Clothing
  • Carpeting
  • Composite wood products, like furniture and cabinets
  • Bedding and pillows
  • Copiers, printers, and toners
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Vinyl, such as shower curtains or tile
  • Sealing caulk
  • Certain scented candles
  • Fabrics
  • Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals
  • Air fresheners
  • Moth balls
  • Dry cleaning and laundry detergents
  • Wood burning stoves
  • Yes, even that new car smell!

VOCs and Your Health

Whether we are exposed to VOCs for an extended or brief period they can still affect our health. The key is recognizing symptoms of exposure and finding the culprit(s).

voc headacheCommon Symptoms of VOC Exposure Include:

  • Headaches
  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue and listlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty concentrating

Long-Term Effects of VOC Exposure Include:

  • Cancer
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Central Nervous System damage

There are steps you can take to minimize VOCs in your home. RTK will tell you how throughout this multi-part series. If you are concerned about VOCs in your home or workplace, contact RTK for testing and more information at 800.392.6468 or click here.

Part 2: VOCs and Clothing

Part 3: Identifying and Reducing VOCs in the Home

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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.

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Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon

Indoor Air Quality and Your HVAC System: Steps to Take Now

Indoor Air Quality and Your HVAC System: Steps to Take Now

Winter is here. But have you checked the condition of your HVAC system? If it is not clean, you may wind up with poor indoor air quality, and that can open a can of worms. If the air we are breathing is not healthy and contains toxins, we are more susceptible to getting sick.

dust in hvacOver time, dust and debris collect in HVAC and heating units, which means when you turn on the heat, you may get a dirty surprise. Worse, the system may also be harboring mold.

During summer months, condensation, which can cause mold growth, often occurs in HVAC units and associated ducting. Once the heat is turned on, microscopic mold spores can easily spread through ductwork. The spores can contaminate clean spaces anywhere in a home or office.

Signs of Mold In Air Ducts:

  1. There is a musty smell in the home or office.
  2. You are experiencing allergic symptoms, which may include a runny nose, trouble breathing, rash, or watering eyes.
  3. When you turn on the heat, your nose, throat, and eyes feel irritated.
  4. You suffer from unexplained headaches that go away when you leave the premises.
  5. You feel nausea, fatigue, and dizziness only when you are home or at the office.
  6. You see mold growing in the intake vents and around the air ducts and drip pans.
  7. There is staining around the vents.

hvac moldIf you think you may have mold in your HVAC system, the best course of action is to have the system tested. An independent company, like RTK, can assess whether you will be spreading mold spores when you turn on the heat. If you’ve already turned on the heat and weren’t aware that you had an issue, you may opt for a mold and IAQ test to ensure mold didn’t spread when it was initially turned on, as this can cause further problems.

Meanwhile, be sure to have your HVAC unit cleaned prior to turning on the heat to prevent indoor air pollution. Also, be sure to change your filters and clean the drip pans.

Mold and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are the most common causes of indoor air pollution, and can easily be tested for and treated. Call RTK to schedule a test today. We follow strict health protocols for COVID, and wear our masks and protective equipment properly.

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Indoor Air Quality & Radon

October is National Indoor Air Quality Month

It’s National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month: Here’s How to Protect Yourself from Hidden Dangers in Your Home 

What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy; the Experts Weigh In 

air purifier for moldOctober is National Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Awareness Month, and there’s no better time to learn about the importance of clean indoor air and how to protect yourself from pollutants and allergens.   

 According to the EPA, indoor air pollution has been classified as one of the top five environmental health hazards today. And in the United States, where it is estimated that we spend close to 90% of our time indoors, the quality of the air we breathe – indoors – can have a significant impact on our health.   

IAQ tipsThe EPA goes on to say that poor indoor air quality poses a significant threat to well-being. Short-term symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, dry cough, skin irritations, irritated eyes, nose and throat issues, as well as fatigue. However, long-term exposure to poor IAQ can cause heart disease, respiratory diseases, and cancer.  

“There are a number of contributing factors that lead to poor IAQ,” explains Robert Weitz, a certified microbial investigator and principal of RTK Environmental Group.” He says they include building materials, cleaning agents, air fresheners, adhesives, paints, pesticides and biological contaminants stemming from poor ventilation systems. “There may also be dust from construction or renovation work that may contain multiple chemical compounds and particulate from demolition to construction materials including adhesives, wall and ceiling materials, and many others.” He also points out that often people aren’t aware of any of this. 

 

What else causes poor IAQ?  

  • Mold and mildew 
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) 
  • Dust and dust mites 
  • Pet dander 
  • Pollen 
  • Smoke 
  • Carbon monoxide 

Mold air conditioner iaqWhat can you do about poor IAQ?  

There’s lots you can do to improve IAQ in your home and workplace including: 

  • Test your indoor air quality to help identify common IAQ pollutants.  
  • Reduce mold growth. Mold can grow in any damp or moist area, including bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and any other areas where pipe breaks or water intrusion from outside occur. To reduce mold growth, keep your home dry and well-ventilated. Clean up any water spills immediately and fix any leaks. 
  • Reduce VOCs. VOCs are found in most manmade products, including furnishings, paints, cleaning products, air fresheners and personal care products to name but a few. To reduce your exposure to VOCs, choose low-VOC or VOC-free products whenever possible. 
  • Increase ventilation. Open windows and doors regularly to bring in fresh air. You may also want to consider using a HEPA air purifier with carbon filtration. 
  • Dust and clean regularly with a HEPA filtered vacuum to remove mold spores, dust mites, pet dander, and pollen. Clean dehumidifiers once a month.  Also, bathroom exhaust fans are another source of mold but less than 20% are reportedly cleaned every few months as recommended. 

If you have concerns about your IAQ, talk to qualified, independent professionals like RTK. They can help you identify and address any specific problems. IAQ assessments, which scrutinize in depth mold and VOCs, encompass thousands of mold varieties and over 70 prevalent VOCs. The tests, which typically take a few hours, can also test for radon and asbestos.  

By following these tips, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from the health risks associated with poor IAQ. 

 

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Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon

What You Should Know About Spray Foam Insulation

What You Should Know About Spray Foam Insulation

spray foam insulation hazardsSpray foam insulation has gained popularity in recent years because of its ability to reduce energy costs and to help seal the cracks and crevices in your home that let air, bugs, and moisture in.

But the reality is spray foam insulation is comprised of a mix of toxic chemicals, which can release VOCs and create poor indoor air quality into your home, especially if the chemicals are not combined properly, if it’s not applied at the right temperature, or if it’s not properly installed. So before you opt for this type of insulation, know the facts and potential risks.

What is Spray Foam Insulation?

spray foam insulation toxicPolyurethane and isocyanate are two substances that are contained in spray foam insulation. Isocyanates are powerful eye irritants, and can adversely affect gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts if inhaled. If they come into contact with skin, inflammation and rash can occur. As for polyurethane, typically found in household furnishings, it generally gets higher marks, provided that certain stabilizers are added in the manufacturing process.

That said, there is toxicity associated with these materials: installers are required to wear a Hazmat suit and respirator while spraying the foam; homeowners are cautioned to stay out of their homes for 24-48 hours after the insulation is applied to allow the foam to fully cure and the vapors to evaporate. Even after 48 hours, there will likely still be a noticeable odor, which can last a lot longer if the insulation was applied incorrectly. The chemicals can off gas for a year or more, creating an unhealthy, toxic environment.

Can Spray Foam Insulation Affect My Health?

Considering what we’ve just described, it makes sense to avoid spray foam insulation if you can; it isn’t worth the risk to your health.

Exposure to VOCs can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and listlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Asthma
  • Eye and skin irritation

Long-term exposure to VOCs can cause:

  • Liver damage
  • Cancer
  • Kidney damage
  • Central Nervous System damage

What Can I Do if Spray Foam Insulation Already Exists in my Home?

causes of VOCsIf you opted to have spray foam insulation installed, you should have your indoor air quality checked. RTK can test for VOCs and let you know if the levels are considered safe. If these chemicals are not handled properly, they can be harmful.

Can Spray Foam Insulation Cause Mold?

Having an airtight home may seem like a great thing, but it has downsides. A major problem is that if any moisture builds up in an airtight environment, it can become trapped in your home. Moisture can cause mold and serious damage to your home and health.

Is Spray Foam Insulation Permanent or Can It Be Removed?

spray foam applicationHere’s the good news and the bad news. Sure, your investment in this type of insulation can lead to years of energy savings and efficiency. But since it is almost impossible to completely remove it, the downsides can far outweigh the benefits, especially if it is defective, improperly installed, off-gassing toxins, or if it cracks because it did not cure properly.

Is Spray Foam Insulation Right For Me?

Knowing the benefits and risks of spray foam insulation is the first step. Consider your options – and there are other options such as fiberglass and cellulose insulation, which are much safer. If you do opt for spray foam insulation, be sure to have your home tested for indoor air quality, including VOCs and mold after installation. Also, make sure you have adequate ventilation in place to remove some of the toxins from the air. Experts recommend an energy recovery ventilation system (ERV) to mitigate some of the damaging side effects of spray foam, which allows for adequate airflow.

If you have questions or concerns about spray foam insulation and your indoor air quality, call RTK at 800.392.6468. We’re happy to answer your questions.