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Indoor Air Quality & Radon Healthy Home Mold

Spending More Time Indoors? Poor Indoor Air Quality Could Be Exacerbating Health Symptoms

Spending More Time Indoors? Poor Indoor Air Quality Could Be Exacerbating Health Symptoms

There’s nothing like fresh air, but with the winter here and pandemic measures hampering mobility, you’re apt to be spending more time indoors. And because of that, the air you are breathing may be a problem. Why? Because mold spores, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), lead dust, radon, and other sources of indoor air pollution may be present. If they are, your health may be affected.

A Word About VOCs

Volatile organic compounds, which are in the form of a gas, are toxic vapors that emanate from man-made materials and everyday household (and workplace) items. A multitude of different chemicals fall under the umbrella of VOCs, including formaldehyde, benzene, plasticizers, and by-products produced by chlorination in water treatment, such as chloroform.

volatile organic compoundsProblem is, VOCs are found in thousands of different household and office products, from electronics to paint to carpeting to furniture, and are off-gassed over time. That means your home’s indoor air quality is likely to become polluted. Now, especially during flu season and the coronavirus pandemic, when these diseases affect the lungs even more, we need to be extra vigilant about keeping indoor air as clean as possible. Otherwise, the impact of VOCs on your health can be pretty steep.

VOCs and Your Health

Short-term exposure to and inhaling air containing elevated levels of VOCs can cause throat and eye irritation, nausea, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and headaches. Long-term exposure, however, is linked to cancer, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

Top Sources of VOCs

formaldehyde sourcesOne of the biggest sources of formaldehyde, in particular, are new building materials, according to an article in the New York Times, that points out that new plywood, particleboard, adhesives, varnishes, paints, and carpeting are all common offenders. Even if your home isn’t brand new, you can still be exposed to VOCs through painting, renovations, new furniture or bedding, household cleaners, disinfectants, cosmetics, and more.

Other Common Sources of VOCs

  • Electronics, such as copiers and printers
  • Scented candles
  • Fabrics
  • Adhesives
  • Toiletries
  • Composite wood products, like furniture and cabinets
  • Vinyl, such as shower curtains or tile
  • Air fresheners
  • Moth balls
  • Dry cleaning and laundry detergents
  • Caulk
  • Wood burning stoves

According to the New York Times, one of the best defenses is to keep levels low in the first place by looking for “low- or no-V.O.C.” or “low formaldehyde” labels when shopping for paint, couches, mattresses and wood products. If you do purchase an item that has that “new car smell” or some other chemical odor, you should let it off-gas in a garage or an outdoor area before bringing it indoors.

What Can I Do?

The best defense against elevated levels of VOCs is fresh air and proper ventilation. This can be a challenge during colder months, of course, but there are additional steps you can take.

  • prevent poor indoor air qualityOpen your windows – even for just a few minutes a day – to circulate fresh air.
  • Make sure your HVAC system is in tip top shape. Mold and dust can easily build up in HVAC systems if you don’t maintain them properly, and pollutants will spread throughout your home, compounding the indoor air quality and VOC issues.
  • Test your indoor air quality. Mold and VOCs are responsible for approximately 80% of indoor air quality issues. Once you have identified a problem and the source, you can take steps to mitigate the issue.
  • If you have a newer, air-tight home, you may want to consider a whole-house ventilation system, as your house is less likely to “breathe” and release the build-up of toxins on its own. These systems can be costly, however, and don’t work in all homes.

indoor air quality testing

With us spending more time at home during COVID, it’s more important than ever to ensure your indoor air quality is healthy. If you think you may have an indoor air quality issue, contact RTK Environmental today to find out more about your options.

Live well!

 

Categories
Inspector's Notebook Asbestos Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold

Landlord Responsibilities for Environmental Hazards in Rental Units

Rental Properties Often Harbor Environmental Hazards: Here’s What Landlords Should Know

Most buildings, whether residential or commercial, may contain one or more environmental or health hazards, often hidden from view. Hazards such as mold, asbestos, lead, radon, and even pests can pose serious risks to tenants who occupy these spaces. To protect your tenants and properties, it’s smart to familiarize yourself with the local laws, rules or ordinances to which you are subject. The laws governing landlord and tenant obligations vary from state to state, locality to locality. The following, found in Local Law 55-2018 in New York City, will give you a good idea about what you need to do to avoid issues stemming from environmental hazards and pests.

Landlord Responsibilities (NYC)

mold apartment landlordMold

  • Every year, landlords should inspect units for indoor allergen hazards such as mold, and respond to any complaints received directly from tenants.
  • Make sure vacant apartments are thoroughly cleaned and free of mold and pests before a new tenant moves in.
  • Provide the What Tenants and Landlords Should Know About Indoor Allergens and Local Law 55 fact sheet and a Notice with each tenant’s lease that clearly states the property owner’s responsibilities to keep the building free of indoor allergens.
  • A landlord has a responsibility to remediate mold in a tenant’s unit, just as they would with any other hazard. If the mold arises because of the tenant’s actions, however, the landlord may not be obligated to address it, and it may become the tenant’s responsibility. This would include things like accidentally overflowing bathtubs or trying to do plumbing work yourself.
  • Owners of residential properties with 3 or more units are required to hire a New York State Department of Labor-licensed mold assessor, like RTK Environmental, to assess conditions whenever there are more than 10 square feet of mold. After the assessment, landlords are responsible for hiring a separate remediation contractor. These two contractors must be completely independent of each other, as doing both the testing and remediation on the same job is a violation of the 2016 New York State mold law and would be a clear conflict of interest. A licensed mold contractor must also comply with New York City Administrative Code section 24-154 and New York State Labor Law Article 32. There may be penalties to a property owner for failure to comply with New York City requirements.
  • Safe work practices are required for mold removal, whether you hire a contractor or you do the work yourself or with your own staff. These practices include:
    • Hire a NYS certified microbial investigator, like RTK, to test for mold before and after remediation to identify the problem and ensure it was properly remediated.
    • Removing any standing water, and fix leaks or moisture conditions.
    • Isolating the work area with plastic sheeting and covering egress pathways.
    • Limiting the spread of dust. Use methods such as sealing off openings (e.g. doorways, ventilation ducts, etc.) and gently misting the molding area with soap and water before cleaning.
    • Cleaning mold with soap or detergent and water. Dry the cleaned area completely. If these areas are not dried completely, mold will likely return.
    • Removing and discarding materials that cannot be cleaned properly.
    • Throwing away all cleaning-related waste in heavy-duty plastic bags.
    • Cleaning any visible dust from the work area with wet mops or HEPA vacuums.
    • Leaving the work area dry and visibly free from mold, dust, and debris. 

Asbestos

popcorn ceiling landlordThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires owners of buildings constructed before 1981 to place warning labels, train staff, and notify employees or outside contractors who are working in areas that might contain asbestos.

  • To establish that there is no asbestos on your property, you must have a licensed inspector, like RTK, test for it. You have a duty to take reasonable precautions to protect tenants from asbestos as this material has been linked to an elevated risk of lung cancer and other health issues.
  • If the landlord is planning a renovation or repair in a pre-1981 building that will disturb suspect asbestos containing material, they need to test for asbestos and remove it prior to any work being performed.

Lead

lead paint landlordA federal regulation now requires landlords of “target housing” (most housing built before 1978) to disclose any known lead paint hazards to prospective tenants. New York City landlords and residents also must follow Local Law 31 to avoid costly fines and penalties. Here’s the breakdown of Local Law 31:

  • X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) inspections are now required for all surfaces in every rental unit for “multiple dwelling” buildings built prior to 1960 (as well as for buildings built between 1960 and 1978 with known lead-based paint).
  • XRF lead inspections must take place within 5 years of the effective date of the law (by August 9, 2025) or within one year if a child under the age of 6 resides in or moves into the unit.
  • Inspections must be conducted by a third-party, EPA-certified lead inspector or risk assessor, independent of the owner or any firm hired to perform lead-based paint remediation.
  • Home improvement contractors must show evidence that they are EPA-certified and follow RRP lead-based safety standards.
  • On December 1, 2021, the definition of lead-based paint changed from paint that has a lead content measured at 1.0 mg/cm2 or greater as determined by laboratory analysis or by an instrument called an X-ray florescence analyzer (XRF) to be defined as paint that has a lead content measured at 0.5 mg/cm2 or greater as determined by laboratory analysis or an XRF instrument with an approved PCS and programmed at a testing action level of 0.5 mg/cm2.
  • Federal regulations also require that prospective tenants be given a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, about residential lead poisoning hazards.

The older the housing, the more likely it is that it contains lead paint, that can cause lead poisoning, especially when the paint is disturbed.

  • Lead poisoning can occur from lead dust the size of a grain of sand (dust from lead paint can be released when a painted surface is disturbed). Lead poisoning can lead to serious, irreversible brain damage, neurological reproductive and behavioral issues, autism-like symptoms, and more.
  • Test for lead to be sure you are protected.

Radon

radon landlordNo laws actually require landlords to identify radon or remove it from their property, despite radon’s association with lung cancer. Radon has been detected everywhere in the United States, so it is a hazard that should be on a landlord’s radar for testing.

  • When radon is trapped in homes that have poor or inadequate insulation or ventilation, it can become a severe health hazard.
  • In areas where there is rocky terrain, like the Northeast, there are substantial amounts of radon, caused by the high concentrations of uranium in the soil and rock.

In the end, the goal of both tenants and landlords is the same – to keep everyone healthy and protected. The best way to prevent further issues and potential contamination is to have the property tested for environmental toxins. This way, there is a clear path to what needs to be done to ensure everyone’s safety. And be sure to test after the remediation or abatement is complete to ensure the work was properly completed. Call RTK at 800.392.6468 to schedule an environmental inspection today.

To learn more about tenant responsibilities, click here.

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Health Mold

Is All Black Mold Toxic?

Is All Black Mold Toxic?

You may see signs of black mold on your walls, near sinks and toilets, along floorboards and on ceilings. Black mold may look frightening – it is pretty unsightly – but it’s not always toxic. However, that does not mean mold or even mildew are not dangerous to your health. And what are the health symptoms of black mold?

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Healthy Home Mold

The Link Between Christmas Trees, Mold & Asthma

 

The Link Between Christmas Trees, Mold & Asthma

Every wonder why your asthma and allergies get worse around the holidays? It could be your Christmas tree, which can be filled with mold spores and allergens.

According to Dr. Alison Stallings, a dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology of Westchester, it’s more common than you think. “Patients come in with a rash that started on their arms, and it turns out they’ve been wrestling with putting up the tree,” she explains. Rashes can be the result of a mold allergy or sensitivity, she says, noting that other symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, throat and eye irritations, wheezing, and many respiratory problems including asthma.

Symptoms increase when the tree begins to decay and mold spores are released into the air. Indoor mold counts can rise rapidly within two weeks of bringing a live tree into a home. Research done at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University found that 70% of the molds found in live Christmas trees can set off reactions like severe asthma attacks, fatigue, and sinus congestion.

For people with a mold sensitivity or allergy, limit the time you keep a live Christmas tree in your home to no more than seven days. If tossing the tree so quickly isn’t for you, you can seek relief by taking over the counter allergy medicine.

Here are a few additional tips to help you enjoy a fresh tree:

  • Protect yourself. Wear gloves and long sleeves to bring the tree into your home, and again when you decorate. This will protect your arms from touching the sap, needles, and mold spores.
  • Wash allergens away. Spray the tree down with water before you bring it inside to remove some of the mold and pollen.
  • Dry it out. Allow the tree to stand in a bucket of water and let it dry outside for a few days, which can help prevent mold from growing.
  • Purify your air. Put a household air purifier in the same room as the tree to help remove allergens that are airborne.
  • Toss the tree. Get rid of the tree ASAP. Mold spores may accumulate the longer your tree is in the house.

Once the tree is discarded, make sure you vacuum and dust the room thoroughly. If you want to be certain that you’ve removed all possible mold spores and that they did not contaminate other areas of your home, call an environmental inspection company to test your home for mold and other environmental hazards. This way, you can start the New Year with a clean bill of health for your home.

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Healthy Home Mold

7 Tips To Ensure Your Home is Healthy and Holiday Ready

7 Tips To Ensure Your Home is Healthy and Holiday Ready

Before the guests arrive, make sure your home is in tip-top shape with these often overlooked household checks. After all, healthy guests make for much happier holidays!

1. Musty Odors

You may think that musty odor is barely noticeable, but that’s likely because you’re used to it. Your guests will notice right away, and if they have allergies, sit them as far away from the turkey as possible, get them a box of tissues, and watch out for the sneezing that will ensue! A musty odor means that your home may have a mold problem, which causes allergies, asthma, and other health issues. You probably can’t see the source of mold, so hire an independent mold inspection expert and check this off your list!

 2. Indoor Air Quality Check

You’ve cleaned, touched up the paint, put in new air fresheners, and even replaced that old rug in the living room with brand new carpeting. You may think all these steps make for a healthier home, but each of these ordinary activities can actually cause poor indoor air quality. Dangerous VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are released into the air from many man-made materials, like detergents, furniture, cleaning products, and candles can cause headaches, fatigue, and other health issues. Studies have shown that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. It’s no wonder we tend to be sicker in the wintertime, when we’re sealed up indoors. Mold is also a major cause of poor indoor air quality. An indoor air quality test can assure that you and your guests are breathing clean air.

3. Clean the Bathroom Fan

This is a given, especially around Thanksgiving. Not only will a properly functioning bathroom fan help dispatch the stench from Grandpa Joe’s reading session, it will also quickly remove humidity from the air, preventing costly mold remediation after too many long showers and inadequate ventilation.

4. Holiday Decoration Hazards

Before you start swinging the hammer and staple gun to get those Christmas decorations up, find out if you are going to disturb possible toxins, such as lead paint or asbestos. If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead paint, which is extremely dangerous when disturbed. If you are not sure, have your home tested. Also, many Christmas lights, artificial trees, and ornaments contain lead, so read the label carefully, and don’t put your family at risk for permanent neurological damage by purchasing products that contain toxins. Real trees can also be a problem, as they can release mold spores, as well as create mold on wood floors and carpets if you accidentally spill when watering them. Come January, you’ve got a moldy mess.

5. Check the Shower Curtain & Bath Mat

When was the last time you changed your shower curtain or bath mat? If you’re thinking to yourself, “never,” you’re not alone. But these two items are conduits for unhealthy mold spores, bacteria, and other nasty things. And if you have a guest bathroom that hasn’t been used in ages, you may assume it’s clean because it is not used that often. Do your guests a favor and look under the mat before you throw them to the spores!

TIP: An effective way to clean your bath mats and tub liners is to toss them into your washing machine on a gentle cycle with a few light-colored towels, laundry detergent, a cup of baking soda, and 10 or so drops of tea tree oil, which can kill mold. This should have them fresh and clean in no time!

6. Fix that Leaky Sink

In addition to wasting water, leaky sinks can cause big problems in your home. Moisture under a sink can immediately cause mold growth, which causes asthma, allergies, or other serious ailments. Since mold spores occur naturally in the environment, the best way to prevent mold growth is to curtail the moisture source.

7. Turn Up the Thermostat!

A frozen pipe that bursts during your festive dinner can be a disaster! To prevent a burst pipe, turn up the thermostat. This is even more important if you are going away for the holidays, because a quick drop in temperature may cause a pipe to freeze and burst, and you won’t know until you return – a week later – which can be catastrophic! Remember: It can cost more to repair damage from a frozen pipe than it does to keep the thermostat up a few degrees this winter.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season, and call us today to get ready for a healthy home for family and fun!

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Asbestos Healthy Home Lead Mold Mold Testing

6 Mistakes People Make When Rebuilding After a Storm

6 Mistakes People Make When Rebuilding After a Storm

 

Recent storms have caused a great deal of damage and mold. 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:

  1. 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.

wet sheetrock

  1. Wet Sheetrock

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.

wet fiberglass

  1. 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.

lead and asbestos hazards

  1. 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.

mold testing after a storm

  1. 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.

wet carpet mold

  1. 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.

 

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Flooding & Water Damage Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

Fall Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

Fall Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

With autumn in full swing, take advantage of the crisp days and sunshine to prepare your home for winter. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, complete these tasks and you won’t spend a fortune on home repairs this winter.


gutters mold
Clean your gutters.

It’s a hassle, but you should clean your gutters before the temperature drops to help prevent ice dams, which form when melted snow pools and refreezes at roof edges and eaves. This ridge of ice then prevents water caused by melting snow from draining from the roof. Since it has nowhere to go, the water can leak into your home and damage walls, ceilings, and insulation. Water damage will soon be followed by mold. No matter what the season, gutters filled with heavy leaves can pull away from your house and cause leaks that damage your home and lead to mold growth. Also be sure your downspouts are angled away from your home to prevent leaks in the basement.

Check your roof for leaks.

You certainly don’t want to start your winter with a leaky roof. Check your ceilings for water spots, mold, or stains. If you spot them, before you call in a roofer, have a mold inspector test your home for mold. That way you’ll know exactly what needs to be replaced so the mold doesn’t come back. You may have small stains or dark spots now, but once the heavy snow sets in, the problem could get much worse, and you could wind up with a full blown mold infestation. You should also check your attic for moisture, as mold can easily grow there if it is not properly ventilated.

Clean your HVAC units, fireplace, furnace, and wood-burning stove.

Indoor air quality suffers in the winter because your home is closed up most of the time. Toxic fumes, including carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can be emitted from fireplace and wood burning stove smoke and may back up into the house, which can cause serious health issues. Mold and dust can also build up in HVAC units over the summer months, then spread throughout your home when the heat is turned on. To make sure your indoor air quality is at an acceptable level, schedule a test from an environmental inspector like RTK Environmental Group. They will test for VOCs, mold, particulate matter, and other chemicals. For additional tips on indoor air quality, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.

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Mold Video

Video: The Importance of Cleaning Your Gutters Each Fall

 

The Importance of Cleaning Your Gutters Each Fall

Ever wonder why you may get ice dams in the winter, which lead to leaks, flooding and mold?

Probably because you didn’t take the time to properly clean your gutters and downspouts from leaves and debris in the fall.

Robert Weitz, certified microbial investigator and principal of RTK Environmental Group, explains what you can do now to prevent ice dams and mold later.

 

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Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

How to Filter and Clean Indoor Air to Keep You Healthy

How to Filter and Clean Indoor Air to Keep You Healthy

Almost all the air pollution indoors is caused by things within the house such as your gas stove or furniture. These things release gas and other debris into the air. Day-to-day living inside the home and pets can also cause indoor issues such as mold, dander, and dust. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are also a major polluter. Here are some tips for improving indoor air quality. 

Checking the ventilation

clean HVAC systemAir exchange and ventilation within a house are key components of your HVAC or Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system. They are extremely useful for maintaining clean air inside a home. You must monitor the ventilation in your home, and be sure to check for mold. Inspect the vents outside the home. They need to be open and also keep the return air vents clean. These vents within the house are also significant for improving the air quality of your home. It is a good idea to have an exhaust fan inside the kitchen. If the kitchen doesn’t have an exhaust fan, just open a window while cooking. Using exhaust fans in the kitchen is particularly significant when you are cooking by using a gas stove. Stoves and heaters that burn fuel also release carbon monoxide which can make you sick.

It is also a good idea to open the window slightly while you are using a gas heater. Keep the fireplace flue open if you have a wood-burning fireplace. When you have a wood-burning fireplace you will have flue accumulated within your chimney. The chimney is the duct that releases gas and smoke from the fireplace outside your home. If you fail to open it, this smoke will engulf and pollute the living area of your house. Almost all the air conditioners these days have a digital thermostat for regulating the temperatures and an air filter for filtering out the debris and dust. 

Controlling the moisture

control moisture to prevent moldExcessive moisture within the house can lead to the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and bugs. They can be caused by moist vapor such as water-damaged areas, steam, and standing water. For keeping the bathroom air clean, use your bathroom exhaust fan that can eliminate the contaminants from the bathrooms. The kitchen exhaust fan can also pull out the humidity caused by cooking and washing.

When you are living in humid areas you can use a dehumidifier to get rid of excessive moisture. Your dryer vent must be vented outside for moving heat, chemicals, and moisture outside. In case your home was damaged by flood water or other water problems just fix the issues. In case the dryer is unvented or is not working properly you will have particles and moisture within your laundry area. In case the dryer is gas-fired it might even release carbon monoxide when it is not properly vented. 

Beware of VOCs

VOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials, and everyday household items. VOCs cause poor indoor air quality. Exposure to VOCs can leave you feeling sick without explanation or a known cause. They can be very dangerous to your health and can be toxic. Unfortunately, VOCs are found in many places, including new carpeting, bedding, and furniture; composite wood products, like cabinets and flooring; paint; copiers and printers; adhesives, personal care products, vinyl shower curtains or tile; scented candles; cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, air fresheners, laundry detergents – the list just goes on. Proper ventilation and the use of low- or no-VOC emitting products will help ease the potential side effects of these toxic gases.

Do not smoke indoors

Smoking and the secondary smoke caused by smoking are both hazardous for your health. Smoking cigarettes releases several harmful chemicals that are capable of making you sick. Adults and children that are exposed to this secondary smoke have greater chances of being affected by heart diseases. Even the kids are likely to receive lung infections, ear infections, aggravated allergies, and asthma. Yet, your home can have clean air even if you are a smoker. You can either quit smoking or smoke outside the home. Make it a point to smoke outside even when the weather is wet, cold, or uncomfortable. While smoking outside, ensure that all the windows and doors to the house are closed and the smoke will not make its way back inside the living area.

Growing air purifying plants

air purifying plantsHouseplants are great for cleaning the air in your home. They can remove VOCs, which irritate eyes and skin or make it hard to breathe due to their build-up potential on carpets and fabrics. English ivy is a popular choice because its leaves naturally scrub away dirt from surfaces while removing these noxious molecules at the same time! When growing indoor plants, you might have to use LED grow lights as a source of light in spaces where sunlight is missing. These grow lights will help your plants grow fast and healthy.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that maintenance of your systems, vents, and filters together with the use of good practices are significant for maintaining clean air inside the house. If you suspect mold or VOCs are causing an issue, hire an independent environmental testing company – one that does not also remediate, as this is a clear conflict of interest. It is a good idea to get a licensed HVAC contractor to inspect the existing systems and ensure that you are on the right track and taking the right steps. If you are unable to fix the problems immediately, try to get rid of the damaged instruments. Allowing the damaged instruments to sit in the home can lead to bacteria and mold growth, among other things, and this can make you and your family sick.

 

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Healthy Home Mold

Mold That Cross Contaminates: A Growing Problem

Mold That Cross Contaminates: A Growing Problem

Unhealthy indoor mold spores are microscopic, and when disturbed, travel quickly and easily through the air, landing wherever the current takes them. That’s the problem with indoor mold. First, mold spores form colonies and grow quickly. Second, they spread easily and can cross contaminate “clean” spaces if not properly handled. Once mold spores spread, your problems grow – literally.

How Does Cross Contamination Occur?

Cross contamination occurs in a variety of ways:

HVAC Units

  • mold cross contaminationMold spores are microscopic, so HVAC units can easily spread clusters of spores through ductwork. Mold spores in a basement can be propelled through HVAC ducts and contaminate clean spaces, even on another floor!

Improper remediation

  • There are terrific remediation companies that do great work. And, there are some remediation companies that don’t properly train their employees, leading to sloppiness and carelessness. If your contractor did not properly contain areas where mold was being removed, they may have inadvertently released the spores into the air and contaminated other parts of your living space. Less-than-reputable contractors may look to take advantage of homeowners who want to quickly fix a mold concern following a major storm or hurricane.

Forgetting to remove contaminated clothing

  • mold contamination Mold spores are frequent travelers. Spores can adhere to your shoes or clothing, which can carry them from one room to another. It’s important to remove shoes and clothing and clean them after you’ve been in an area that is contaminated by mold.

Moving contaminated objects around

  • Moving objects and contents from a contaminated area to other parts of your home or office can also pose a threat of cross contamination. Ask an expert like RTK before removing items from a room where you can see mold. It’s a simple question that could save you thousands in additional remediation.

How Will I Know If I Have Mold Cross Contamination?

mold inspectionThe only way to know if mold has spread to other areas of your home or office is to have it tested by an independent mold testing company like RTK. A complete mold inspection involves testing in other areas where mold may not be visible. Our trained and licensed inspectors take air samples in multiple rooms to pinpoint all the mold contamination. A few extra samples at the beginning can save you a lot of money later in cleanup costs, protect your health, and document which rooms were and were not contaminated before remediation.

What Can I Do to Avoid Cross Contamination?

The first thing to do is to check for mold. During a mold inspection, additional mold samples may be taken to assess potential cross contamination into other areas of the property. Once you know where the mold problem is, it can be properly contained and removed.

An independent testing company will identify contaminated areas and provide a “blueprint” for remediation. Then, make sure you are working with an experienced, professional mold remediation company who will follow proper procedures to remove mold contamination without the risk of cross contamination.

Remember, a reputable company will only remediate and will not test for mold because that is a clear conflict of interest (and illegal in New York State). Here’s what a reputable remediation company will do:

  • proper mold remediationWear proper safety gear
  • Seal off the work area using plastic sheeting so that mold spores do not become dispersed throughout the home
  • Use HEPA vacuums, HEPA air scrubbers, air exchange and commercial-strength dehumidifiers to ensure the air is properly cleaned of airborne mold spores once the physical removal of mold is complete
  • Use an antimicrobial chemical to clean any remaining mold after remediation
  • Apply a sealer or encapsulant to make the treated areas more resistant to water damage and mold, and to minimize possible odors

Once mold remediation is complete, have a clearance test performed to ensure work was done properly and ensure that cross contamination has not occurred.

If you have a mold problem, take action to prevent cross contamination. Speak with your RTK mold inspector about your situation; the inspector will be able to assess potential hazards and keep your mold problem to a minimum.