Are Toxins Hiding In Your Dust? Find Out With a Dust Characterization
Nearby new construction can certainly be a nuisance, what with all the noise and disruption. But there is a much larger issue that should concern you: the dust.
Dust from construction can be downright toxic. It can easily seep into your apartment, workplace or home, polluting your indoor air and covering your belongings. A simple test can tell you what’s contained in that dust and whether it can cause health damage.
In New York City alone, where the construction sector added 45,300 new jobs between 2010 and 2018, an increase of 40 percent, and construction spending set a record of $61.5 billion in 2018, there’s plenty of dust to go around.
Is dust really an issue?
Construction dust often contains a host of contaminants, including lead and asbestos. Older buildings are very likely to contain these dangerous materials, which, when they are disturbed, become part of the stream of ordinary dust.
Dust generally falls into three categories: workplace, industrial, and home. With the rise of construction in New York City, it is most certainly an issue to be aware of. According to the Hayward Score, which identifies major issues in your home that can impact your health, your dust often contains a complex combination of particulates, dander, pollen, fibers, heavy metals, chemicals, mold spores, and more.
Dangerous lead and asbestos are often found in dust in cities, especially when there is nearby construction. Gabriel Filippelli, a professor of earth sciences and director of the Center for Urban Health at Indiana University-Purdue University, furthers states in the Washington Post that lead-contaminated soils, and dust generated from them, are tightly linked to the lead poisoning of children.
These substances can also cause:
Impairing a child’s development
Other health issues
A dust characterization can help you to identify these and other unknown particles, including cellulose fibers, dander and dust mites, biologicals, minerals, fungal allergens, synthetics, and MMVF (manmade vitreous fibers). RTK’s dust characterizations, performed by licensed environmental inspectors, can usually determine—or rule out— whatever mysterious matter is plaguing your home or workplace.
When should I have a dust characterization?
If you live or work in a construction area, or if your neighbor is doing renovation work or remodeling and you notice an increased amount of dust on your premises, you should definitely consider a dust characterization. You may be at risk, as you don’t know what substances are being carried through the air. Other reasons to have a dust test are:
If you have small children who crawl on the floor, they are more likely to ingest dust from hand to mouth contact;
If you are experiencing unexplained health symptoms;
If you work outdoors or live in a city.
If you are concerned about dust in your home or apartment, call us at (800) 392.6468 to discuss your situation. We’ll tailor our test to your specific needs and environment.
Lead Paint Warning: Most Homes in NY Metro Area Built Before 1978
Risks from Lead Paint And Contaminated Lead Dust Abound
Approximately 80 percent of homes in the New York Metropolitan area were built before 1978, according to U.S. Census figures. This means that you should be aware that particles from lead paint, which was commonly used in homes before 1978, still pose a health risk throughout the region.
Are you familiar with the current HPD laws and regulations?
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) works to maintain the safety and health of residents by establishing standards for the physical condition of buildings. They do this by developing regulations that property owners must follow.
When a building fails to meet these standards, HPD may issue a violation, which can result in fines and other penalties. In recent years, HPD has updated its policies and regulations to protect tenants from hazards like lead and mold.
Whether you’re a property owner or a tenant, understanding HPD regulations is essential for maintaining safe and healthy living conditions in New York City. It can be tough to keep track of, so we’ve compiled all the latest information here so you can stay up to date.
Lead is a serious concern for tenants, particularly young children, who can suffer from cognitive and developmental problems from exposure. HPD Lead Regulations are important measures to protect the well-being of tenants. Here are some of the key provisions of New York City’s lead laws:
Landlords must conduct lead-based paint inspections for all apartments in buildings constructed before 1960. For buildings constructed between 1960 and 1978, landlords must conduct inspections if a child under the age of six lives in the apartment.
If lead-based paint is found in an apartment, landlords must take steps to address the hazard. This can include removing the paint or covering it with an encapsulating coating.
Landlords must provide tenants with notice about the presence of lead-based paint in the apartment, as well as information about the health risks associated with lead poisoning.
Lead-safe work practices: If a landlord needs to do work that may disturb lead-based paint, they must follow lead-safe work practices to prevent the spread of lead dust.
Landlords who fail to comply with the lead laws can be fined and may face legal action.
There are a few recent updates to these HPD lead laws which are designed to further protect residents from lead hazards and ensure that building owners take appropriate steps to address lead in their properties.
These updates include:
As of February 2021, Local Law 1 of 2004, which previously applied to only residential buildings with three or more units, now includes tenant-occupied one and two-unit buildings. This means that in a building older than 1960, the property owner must either maintain records of lead testing or presume that there is lead-based paint and follow the requirements.
Under Local Law 66 of 2019, certain standards for lead were lowered.
Lead-Based Paint is now defined as paint with a lead content of 0.5 mg/cm².
When testing for lead-based paint, an XRF instrument with an approved Performance Characteristic Sheet must be used. The instrument is used to measure the amount of lead present on a surface, and the testing must be done when the level of lead on the surface reaches 0.5 mg/cm² or higher
Lead dust standards for floors, windowsills, and window wells were lowered to 5, 40, and 100 mcg/ft² respectively
By August 2025, Local Law 31 requires lead-based paint testing to be conducted in all residential units and documented by property owners.
The penalties for non-compliance will increase from $500 per day to $2,000 per violation per day.
The new laws will also establish a Lead Task Force, which will be responsible for developing recommended practices to address lead hazards in NYC.
WHY TEST FOR LEAD NOW?
As 2025 gets closer, it will become harder and more expensive to find a certified lead inspector with the approved equipment. Building owners and managers who want to avoid high fees and long wait times should consider hiring a certified lead inspector as soon as possible. Here at RTK, we offer comprehensive lead testing services that comply with the HPD laws.
The latest mold violation updates were issued in 2021. Mold violations are a serious matter as exposure to mold can lead to respiratory problems, allergies, eye, nose and throat irritation, fatigue, and neurological issues. Here are some of the main provisions of HPD’s mold laws:
Landlords must inspect their buildings for mold at least once every five years.
If mold is found, landlords must remediate the mold within 30 days of receiving a violation.
Landlords must ensure that their buildings are free from conditions that promote mold growth, such as excess moisture or leaks.
Landlords must provide tenants with a notice explaining their rights and responsibilities regarding mold.
Landlords must post information about mold in common areas of the building.
Landlords must hire a licensed mold assessor to conduct a visual inspection and air sampling if mold is identified or suspected in a building.
The mold assessor must be licensed by the New York State Department of Labor and must follow industry standards for mold assessment and remediation.
It is illegal to hire the same company to do testing and remediation on the same job in New York, as it is a clear conflict of interest.
BOOK AN INSPECTION WITH RTK
How do you ensure that your property is following these HPD guidelines? Make sure to book a licensed inspector to assess your premises to guarantee that appropriate mold and lead precautions are being taken for your property.
RTK is very experienced in helping building owners and landlords resolve HPD violations. With fast scheduling, comprehensive reports, licensed and highly-trained inspectors, and expedited laboratory results – we can turn a problem into a problem solved. Contact RTK at 800.392.6468.
With winter in full swing, we tend to focus on conserving heat in our homes and tightly latch storm windows, secure the doors from drafts, and check the attic insulation. But we should be thinking about keeping our homes healthy as well. Unfortunately, many homes, especially newer ones, are built so airtight that they cannot breathe – literally! So, a warm and cozy house becomes a “sick home”.
Top Causes of Sick Home Syndrome
Inadequate ventilation is a top cause of sick home syndrome. The newer “air-tight” homes are sealed so well that hardly any fresh air enters. Moisture builds up but can’t escape and that makes a perfect breeding ground for mold. Without fresh air circulating through your rooms, indoor pollutants including chemicals from paint or rugs, mold, radon, and other airborne particles, have nowhere to escape.
This can cause an array of health problems, from breathing issues to allergies to headaches. Besides airing your home from time to time, you can take other preventative measures to reduce indoor pollutants:
Mold grows on water-damaged materials and can cause allergies. To prevent it:
Clean humidifier, HVAC and air conditioning drain pans
Run your bathroom vent fan when showering and for 30 minutes following
Repair cracks in basement walls and floor
Keep your (outdoor) gutters clean, so ice does not build up.
Radon is an odorless, invisible gas that can over time increase the risk of lung cancer. It seeps into houses from the earth below. Get your house tested this fall before winter sets in. Testing for radon is recommended once every 5 years, as your foundation can settle and crack, possibly releasing a new source of radon into your home.
Lead paint was used in homes built before 1978, after which it was banned. But many people merely covered the old paint with new. So, when sanding during renovation work or opening or closing windows, the dust may contain lead. Lead dust and paint chips can cause lead poisoning, which is especially dangerous for children. Lead poisoning has been linked to a host of issues, including autism-like symptoms and ADHD. If you have an older house, get it tested for lead before you close up your house this winter.
VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials and everyday household items. When homes are closed and air-tight during the winter, VOCs tend to build up in the air, causing poor indoor air quality. This can cause headaches, dizziness, coughing, and other issues. Try to limit use of and exposure to cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, candles, new furniture, carpeting or flooring, non-VOC paint, air fresheners, and other items that contain VOCs.
Your health and safety are paramount. If suspect you may have a “sick home”, have an environmental inspector come in to test your indoor air quality. It can make all the difference between a sick home and a healthy family!
Childhood Lead Poisoning: What You Need To Know Now
When my daughter turned one, we received a lovely card from the County Department of Health that said:
“Happy Birthday! Exposure to lead is harmful to your child and can cause learning problems, physical problems, behavioral problems, and organ and brain damage. GET YOUR CHILD TESTED FOR LEAD! Every child should be tested at 1 and 2 years of age.”
I stopped and thought about that for a second. Sure, I was very happy to see that they are educating parents about the dangers of lead poisoning, which causes autism-like symptoms, ADHD, violent tendencies, and other serious issues. But something was still bothering me…
That’s when it hit me – they were telling me to get my child tested, but not my home! I mean, wouldn’t it make more sense for me to have my home tested for lead paint and lead dust? Shouldn’t we be preventing our children from becoming lead poisoned in the first place, rather than testing the level of lead in their blood?
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is next week, yet we, as a society, remain ignorant about the dangers of lead. Even after the Flint, MI water crisis, and the ongoing issues of lead in water across the US. I have heard from parents, doctors, teachers, and even contractors who just didn’t realize the severity of lead poisoning, and what needs to be done to prevent it — before the damage is done.
I wish someone had educated me. I learned my lesson too late.
A Neighbor’s Renovation Poisoned My Family
When I was pregnant with my son, I was completely naive about the dangers of lead poisoning, and how easily it can happen.
We were living in a 100-year-old landmarked building in Greenwich Village. The building across the courtyard was being demolished, and simultaneously, the apartment above us was being renovated. Dust came in through the windows and fell down the chimney, covering our apartment daily. The neighbor sent a cleaning person in a few times a week to clean it up. At the time, I was irritated, and thought that was the least he could do. What I did not realize until a year later was that he should have done a lot more. He was poisoning my family.
The construction dust was full of lead, asbestos, and other toxins. When my son and I were tested a year and a half later, we found out our blood lead levels more abnormally high. But by then it was too late. My eldest child is now 12, and he struggles with ADHD and poor concentration every day. Children with elevated levels of lead in their blood are likely to exhibit more developmental issues as they mature. Every day, I beat myself up because I could have prevented this. If only I had known! And who knows what damage it did to me, which may have been passed on to my other two children.
The more parents know about lead poisoning early on, the less likely their children will be harmed. As a mom, and as an advocate to protect our children from the completely preventable disease of lead poisoning, I’m asking you to educate yourself. Educate a friend. Educate your physician.
And most importantly, have your home tested for lead!
Here’s What Every Parent Needs To Know About Lead Poisoning
Lead dust is the most common cause of lead poisoning – not eating paint chips.
Lead was an additive in residential paint until 1978. When disturbed, it is highly toxic and dangerous to your health. Lead paint and lead dust, which forms when lead paint is chipped away or sanded, both cause lead poisoning. Contrary to what most people think, a child doesn’t have to eat paint chips to get lead poisoning. Lead dust is invisible, travels through the air, and is very harmful when inhaled.
Know the sources of lead poisoning.
Paint – If you live in a home built before 1978, have your home tested for lead paint to see if you and your family are at risk. Hire a professional with an XRF gun to go room to room, as there may be lead in one room, and not another.
Dust – Everything from opening and closing a window to renovations can send lead dust flying through your home. Lead dust also can be found on floors, playground equipment, pools, and toys.
Soil – Past renovations may have contaminated the soil in which your child plays. Be sure to have your soil tested.
Water – It is important to test the water, because there may be lead in your pipes. This is essential if you are bringing home a newborn or infant, who will be drinking and bathing in that water.
Other sources of lead are plumbing fixtures, clawfoot and porcelain coated bath tubs, stained glass, toys, pottery glazes, leaded crystal, jewelry, antiques, folk remedies, food cans, artificial turf, and more.
Don’t assume your pediatrician tests your child for lead.
In some states, lead screening for children under the age of three is mandatory. But in most states, lead testing is done only at the discretion of the 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.
Take proper precautions when renovating.
Before you start any renovation, whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself, have your home tested to see if and where you have lead paint. If your home was built before 1978, chances are that there is lead somewhere. And unless you know where the lead is located, you or your contractor can unknowingly release toxic lead dust into the air. Make sure whoever does the work follows the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP) protocol.
If you have a neighbor that is renovating an older property and is not following lead safe work practices, say something! Ask them if they tested for lead, and if they say they did and it’s fine, ask for proof. Don’t trust that someone will give you an honest answer. Lead dust can easily contaminate a chunk of the neighborhood, including your home and soil.
National Kitchen and Bath Month: Unknown Hazards Underneath Your Nose
While renovating your home may not be top of mind as fall and winter roll around, there are still plenty of updates you may be thinking about. Whether it’s replacing your cabinets, updating the paint in the bathroom, or something smaller like changing the backsplash, there are a lot of factors to consider before starting your next indoor project. After all, you’ll likely be stuck inside while you make some changes to your home; it’s essential to think about those unknown hazards that could be lying underneath that wallpaper.
No matter how clean you may keep your home, mold can still be present. This is one of the leading causes of respiratory issues. Exposure to mold leads to allergies, postnasal drip, and rashes, and the longer you are exposed, the worse these symptoms can get. The most common form that has to be removed is black mold, but mold will present itself in other forms that can hide from your normal cleaning routine.
While you may find this hazard in your bathroom due to condensation on the walls or leaky plumbing, indoor mold can actually be brought in from the outside; your shoes, the air flowing through the windows, and rain through a small crack in the ceiling can all be ways toxic molds show up in your house.
You may consider replacing plumbing fixtures to avoid some molds, but remember to check other damp spaces, like around your HVAC or air conditioning unit, areas near your windows and roofs, along with the attic and basement.
If you find mold anywhere in your home when starting your next DIY project, make sure to get it tested by a mold expert. Knowing exactly what type of mold is in your home will help guide how you choose to remove the material and prevent it in the future. Since any type of mold is caused by moisture, it would be a good idea to insulate windows and doors before the winter and even place dehumidifiers in areas where moisture is common.
Even though asbestos isn’t widely used today, it can still be found in quite a few places in your home, specifically in areas like your kitchen and bath. Before starting any renovation,, it’s important to check any areas that may still house asbestos.. Older homes built before the 1980s usually have more character, but their age will also come with more hazards, including asbestos.
Used in popcorn ceilings, vinyl tiling in bathrooms and kitchens, and even exteriors like shingles and siding, asbestos is and was used as a fire-resistant material. However, once it deteriorates, it can affect the lungs, causing health issues like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other long-term respiratory issues. The signs that you have mesothelioma, however, look like that of normal health issues. Coughing, sneezing, and fatigue may be signs of plenty of other diagnoses, and because this form of cancer takes a long time to develop, up to 50 years – it can be hard to receive a diagnosis before it is too late.
A lot of these older homes also don’t have to necessarily disclose asbestos if there’s no sign of deterioration. However, if you plan on renovations or foresee them taking place in the future, it’s best to do some asbestos testing to make sure you and your family stay safe, especially if walls, floors, or other major areas are being taken apart.
Unlike asbestos, lead does have to be disclosed when selling a home. That being said, often the dangers of lead are similar – they don’t show themselves until deterioration. Home repair activities are where you can start to see health concerns take place. The EPA has an entire page of resources on lead exposure, and in most cases, the best thing to do is to clean regularly to avoid any unnecessary exposure. In more detrimental cases, leaving the home is the best-case scenario.
Believe it or not, lead-based paint can still be found in about 80% of homes today. Because of this, checking for lead in the home can be a key step in starting any project. While the hazards are much more known compared to asbestos and the array of toxic molds, it’s important to still check for dangers that seem elementary. You never know when items like lead paint on walls will start to deteriorate, and even if you decide to cover this up, the disruption of pain on the wall can cause health issues down the line.
There are plenty of hazards you’ll find as you start to take a look at your kitchen and bathroom. That being said, there are also plenty of ways to mediate these potential hazards before they go too far. Working with an inspector to test for items like lead and mold can save you money down the line, without putting too much work in before it’s too late. After all, finding out with floors ripped up that mold has to be removed, or that you have to close a room off for asbestos abatement is an obstacle no one wants to face in the middle of a project.
Why You Should Get Residential Environmental Testing (and What to Do After)
Home is where we spend a large portion of our lives. It’s important to make sure that our homes are not only comfortable, but also free from threats to our families’ health and safety. Residential environmental testing, or environmental inspection, is an important component to ensuring the absence of these threats.
What is Residential Environmental Testing?
Residential environmental testing is a series of inspections conducted at your home. It commonly includes testing for things such as mold, lead, asbestos, and the air quality of your home. There are also specialty inspections and testing that check for allergens, the quality of your water and soil, or look for dangerous gasses.
Why Should You Get Environmental Testing of Your Home Done?
Environmental inspection can identify improvements that need to be made to your home. Testing is the only way to alert you to the presence of hazards that can be harmful to you and your family, as well as costly to rectify if left untouched for a long period of time.
In addition to the cost of fixing environmental issues themselves, they can also lead to large amounts of medical debt if you allow the hazards to remain untreated. For example, asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma and, depending on your medical coverage, mesothelioma treatment costs can range from $10,000-50,000 per month. The CDC reports that health issues related to mold can include lung inflammation and asthma. For people with severe allergies, specialty testing of dust and allergens within the home can provide peace of mind and a path toward symptom relief.
When Should You Conduct an Environmental Inspection?
If you’re shopping for a new home, it’s a great idea to have an environmental home inspection in addition to a traditional inspection. On the other hand, if you’re selling your home, it’s also a great time to have these inspections completed because it makes for a great selling point and can help you close faster. In addition, if your home is older, you should have inspections for lead and asbestos done as soon as possible. The U.S. government banned the use of lead paint in 1978 and asbestos in the 1980s, but both are often still present in older buildings. If your home isn’t a newer build, then it’s important to find out if these hazards are present in your home.
It’s also easy to end up with mold in your home and professional removal is important in situations where cleaning won’t fix the problem. There are many reasons and times to test for mold. For example, if your home has had any water damage or you’ve experienced flooding, you should have a mold inspection completed. Homes that have been unoccupied for a while (such as vacation homes) should also be inspected. If you’ve recently had mold remediation, then a follow up inspection is necessary to ensure the issue has been resolved. Of course, if you believe you’ve seen mold, you should also schedule an inspection. And finally, if you have symptoms of mold exposure it’s necessary to test for mold in your home. There are many illnesses you can get from exposure to mold and the symptoms vary; but in general, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, headaches, body aches, and nose bleeds without other explanation are a good indicator that you should inspect for mold.
What Should You Do After Testing?
Hopefully, you received good news after your testing. If nothing harmful was found, then continue to keep an eye on your home and arrange for further testing should other concerns arise. On the other hand, if something was found, the course of action for hazards discovered depends on the specific issue.
If asbestos was found in your home, the next steps largely depend on the condition of the items containing asbestos. For example, if the item is undamaged, then asbestos exposure is unlikely. In this situation, continue to monitor the area because wear and tear can lead to exposure and may require repair. These repairs should always be handled by a professional, not done yourself, because disturbing asbestos creates risk of exposure to the fibers and improper handling can create a hazard where none existed before. Removal is sometimes required by state or local law, but it’s the most expensive option and comes with the greatest risk of exposure to fiber, so it should be avoided if possible.
Lead paint is often handled by painting over it and it’s important to take precautions when doing so. You never want to try to sand or scrape off lead paint. Instead, use an encapsulant and then paint over it with new paint. You should dispose of materials, such as drop cloths used while painting over lead paint, and immediately wash the clothing you wore during the project when you finish. Keep the area clean and make sure not to spread dust from the area which may contain lead. After you’re finished, you should regularly monitor the area to make sure the original paint remains covered and keep children and pets away from the area as they are more likely to chip and ingest the paint.
If mold was detected, it’s important to remove the mold. Most mold comes from issues such as leaks, and these problems need to be fixed first so that the mold doesn’t return. The best option is to have a professional come in and handle the remediation. Once you have completed testing and have blueprint for mold removal, you can choose a reputable remediation company to implement the plan. Ask about their certifications, insurance and licensing, as well as how long they’ve been in business. You may even want to ask for references. The process of mold recemdiation itself is detailed here.
What is the Cost of Fixing Residential Environmental Issues?
The price of fixing these issues depends on a lot of factors and can climb quickly. Though location impacts the price, the average mold removal cost is $2,347. Asbestos, on the other hand, can range anywhere from $1,120 for a small space to $30,000 to remediate an entire house. Unfortunately, many insurance policies and home warranties won’t cover the abatement of these hazards, leaving homeowners responsible for the cost. If you have emergency savings, this is always the best option for financing your repairs. However, if you don’t have the necessary funds on hand, you can apply for an equity loan based on the amount of equity you’ve currently paid into your house. The funds can be used for anything and often have a lower interest rate than other personal loans. In the cases of some home improvements, the interest paid on these loans can also be deducted when you file your taxes.
Environmental hazards in your home can be frightening and overwhelming to address, but it’s important for the health and safety of yourself and your family to routinely test for them. Regularly monitoring your house, getting testing as needed, and having a plan to handle any problems can make things easier on both your health and peace of mind.
When mold growth is discovered in an apartment building consisting of three or more dwellings, the building owner or landlord may incur a mold violation from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD). This is because mold, along with other indoor allergens, can trigger asthma, allergy reactions, and other health issues.
According to Local Law 55 of 2018, building owners and landlords in the New York City five boroughs are required to take the appropriate steps to keep their tenants’ homes free of indoor mold growth. This law also applies to owners of housing units, such as co-ops, condos, shelters and public housing where a tenant has asthma. Property owners must follow specific steps to identify mold growth and remove it safely.
To avoid fines and clear mold violations, building owners should comply with Local Law 55 and follow the steps below.
Annually inspect apartments for indoor allergen hazards such as mold growth. Vacant apartments should be clear of mold and other allergens before a new tenant moves in.
Make sure your tenants are aware of their responsibilities. Provide all tenants with a copy of the Local Law 55 fact sheet, which explains that tenants should alert building owners when they notice signs of indoor allergens.
Remediate Mold Conditions
For a building with 10 or more residential units, owners are required to hire a mold assessor and a mold remediator who are licensed by the New York State Department of Labor. These contractors must be independent of one another, so that these services are completely unbiased.
If more than 10 square feet of mold growth is found, the first step is to hire a licensed mold assessor who can design a protocol for mold remediation. After mold remediation has been completed, the mold assessor should be contracted again to perform a mold clearance inspection.
In a building with fewer than 10 residential units, the building owner is not required to hire a professional mold assessor or remediator, but is required to follow the safe work practices outlined in the law.
Certifying the Project
After the completion of professional mold remediation and once clearance has been achieved, the mold assessor and mold remediator will file the required documentation under Local Law 61 of 2018.
RTK is very experienced in helping building owners and landlords resolve HPD mold violations. With fast scheduling, comprehensive reports, highly-trained inspectors, and expedited lab results, we can help to turn a problem into a problem solved. Contact RTK at 800-392-6468.
The season for renovations has arrived. DIYers are eager to get moving on home improvements, but if you live in a house built before 1978, there are a few important safety tips to think about before you start sanding walls and swinging that hammer.
Does your home contain lead paint?
What type of surfaces and materials will you disturb?
Is there chipping paint?
Do you have crumbling pipe insulation or tiles that may contain asbestos?
Will you disrupt any pipes that may leach lead into your water?
If any or all of the above apply, you’ll need to take some precautions. Why? You may be subjecting yourself and your family to possible health risks, caused by the very particles you’ve disturbed. So, take the proper precautions and renovate the right way. Here’s how:
Tip #1: Test for Lead Paint.
If your home was build prior to the ban of lead paint in 1978, you are likely to have it somewhere. When lead paint is kept in good condition, it does not pose a significant risk. If it is disturbed, however, it releases dangerous lead dust into the air, which is the leading cause of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is shown to cause autism-like symptoms, ADHD, brain damage, lower IQ, and a host of other physical and mental issues.
Fact: A speck of lead dust the size of a grain of sand can cause lead poisoning, and irreversible damage to one’s health.
BEFORE you start the project, have a certified lead risk assessor test your home for lead paint. They can use an XRF spectrometer to look deep into pipes and the layers of paint on walls to determine if there is lead paint not only on the surface, but also underneath.
Did You Know? A lead testing swab will only tell you if lead paint is on the top layer.
If you wait until after you’ve disturbed these materials and discover that you have released toxins in the process, the clean-up can be very expensive. Worst of all, you may have subjected yourself and your family to serious health hazards.
So, Step One: call in an environmental testing company to have your home tested. If the test reveals toxic lead remnants, a lead inspector can tell you the exact locations lead was detected. Be sure you follow lead safe work practices, or hire a contractor certified in lead-safe work practices under the Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP).
Tip #2: Check for Asbestos.
Before any renovation or demolition, you need to know if you are about to disturb any materials containing asbestos. Asbestos is banned in certain forms because of its toxicity. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious, even fatal illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Experts state that even a few hours’ exposure to the toxic fibers can be enough to trigger illness from 15–40 years down the road.
Asbestos is common in older homes, and you can be exposed to asbestos fibers through demolition of many items, most commonly:
Be smart – have an asbestos survey performed prior to your renovation project. An asbestos survey will determine if there are any materials containing this toxic substance that you are about to disturb. Something as simple as installing a ceiling fan, removing a boiler, or updating your bathroom could have serious implications.
Tip #3: Take Proper Precautions.
If a test confirms environmental hazards, take appropriate steps to keep yourself and your family safe. Follow these precautions:
1. Evacuate vulnerable family members.
While you are working, be sure children, the elderly, pregnant women, and pets leave the premises for the day. They can return to the house after the work has stopped and the area is thoroughly cleaned.
2. Contain the offending area.
Close doors leading to the work area. Then use 4-6 mil plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to seal off the work area. Seal all ductwork, doors leading out, and windows with the sheeting. Your goal is to prevent toxins from contaminating the rest of the house.
3. Dress for the occasion.
Look for a mask or respirator with an N95 rating or higher, which filters out very fine particles. And be sure you wear it for the entire time you are working and cleaning. Also, buy a Tyvek suit to protect your clothes. If the work takes more than a day, leave the Tyvek suit in the contained area. Be sure to cover your feet with booties, which also should never leave the contained area. Once you remove the Tyvek suit and the booties, head to your washing machine, strip, and wash your clothes.
4. Avoid sanding.
Lead dust accounts for most of the pediatric lead-poisoning cases a year. Sanding releases fine lead dust particles, which fly through the air, infiltrating the entire house. Unfortunately, these particles remain in the home for a long time. Therefore, sand as little as possible.
5. Clean up well.
First, sweep up as much of the dust and debris as you can and put it into a plastic bag, which you then should seal with painter’s tape. Use a HEPA vacuum to remove any remaining lead dust particles. Then use warm water and clean rags to wash all surfaces. Every exposed surface must be cleaned well. It’s a good idea to have your home tested post-renovation to ensure all toxic materials were properly cleaned.
Make sure your home is safe for you and your family – live well!
6 Mistakes People Make When Rebuilding After a Storm
Many people are now realizing that Ida and Henri have caused a great deal of mold after the fact. Knowing what to do in the event that you have flooding and water damage is critical in preventing mold growth. Additionally, there are several things to know about rebuilding, which you may not be aware of. Whatever phase of the post-storm cleanup you are in, these tips can help you get your life back to normal.
Avoid These 6 Mistakes:
Don’t Rebuild Too Quickly
Many people make the mistake of ripping out wet materials right away and not letting the area dry out completely before they rebuild. This can cause major hassles down the road, as mold will grow with a vengeance.
Mold loves to grow on sheetrock, so you want to ensure everything near the new sheetrock is clean and dry. Be sure to clean wood framing before putting sheetrock back. Also make sure concrete floors are dry. If there is any moisture still left, you run the risk of regrowing your mold problem.
Don’t Leave Wet Fiberglass Insulation in Walls
Wet fiberglass insulation left in wall cavities can turn into a hidden mold nightmare. Make sure you remove and replace any wet insulation before you restore the sheetrock. This can save you thousands in unnecessary repairs.
Disturbing Asbestos and Lead Paint
In a rush to put things back to normal, many people don’t realize that when they are ripping out wet and damaged materials, they may be inadvertently disturbing asbestos fibers and lead paint, which are both serious health hazards. The only way to know what you are about to unleash in your home is to have the area tested for lead and asbestos, especially if your home was built prior to 1980.
Test for Mold Before and After Remediation
Why test twice? Simple. The first test is to identify where the mold is, and map out what really needs to be removed and remediated. This can save thousands in unnecessary repairs.
The second test is called a clearance test which occurs after remediation, which is important for a few reasons. Primarily, you want to ensure that the mold was removed properly, as your health is at stake. Additionally, it’s important for future insurance claims. If your home floods again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was caused by the new event. Without proof that your home was deemed mold-free after repairs were made, the insurance company might take the position that a new claim is not justified or that you have met your policy limit. Finally, if you are in an area prone to storms and flooding, when reselling your home, you may be asked to prove that your home is free from toxins.
Don’t Keep Wet Flooring
Nobody wants to throw out a floor. But if water has made its way below the carpeting, tiles, or wood flooring, you may have mold growing where you can’t see it. Rebuilding the walls and ceilings above it without removing the affected area is a waste of money if you don’t fix the underlying issue. An independent mold test can tell you whether your flooring is salvageable.
An independent, certified testing company like RTK Environmental does not do remediation, and therefore, offers consumers an unbiased opinion about any contamination. If you have questions about recent water damage or restoration, call us at 800.392.6468.