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Healthy Home Mold

What Should I Do If My Summer House Has Mold?

What Should I Do If My Summer House Has Mold?

So, you’re heading to the beach as summer season begins. The thought is delicious! But don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by a musty odor after you walk into what you had hoped would be your home away from home. Mildew! Mold! Whether you are at the Jersey Shore or the Hamptons, there’s an excellent chance that the home you’re renting or own has been flooded during a hurricane, been exposed to excess moisture and humidity, or has had a leak. Now, your nose is getting a strong whiff of the result. So what can you do?

“The first thing to do is open the windows and get air to circulate,” advises Robert Weitz, Certified Microbial Investigator and principal of RTK Environmental Group. Weitz says this is a common problem, as many vacation homes sit empty and closed up over the winter months, collecting moisture, especially since air conditioning or heat has been turned off for the season. “Mold is not picky – it only needs moisture and a food source, such as wood, ceiling tiles, carpet or sheet rock, to begin growing. The house next door may be fine, and yours may be a serious health hazard.” The important thing is to have your home tested right away so the problem can be fixed,  your health is not compromised, and your summer is not ruined.

Whether you hire a mold inspector or put up with it will probably depend on whether you are the owner or renter, how long you will be there, and whether you or your vacationers have allergy or breathing issues.

Short-Term Solutions to Summer House Mold:

–      Keep the windows open as much as possible if the weather is dry;

–      Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture;

–      Change the filter in the air conditioner before you turn it on;

–      Wipe off any visible mold on walls, floors and tiles with a bleach/water mixture;

–      Use allergy medication to help lessen symptoms;

–      Let the landlord know there’s a mold problem.

The Best Solution:

–      Get an independent mold inspection to identify the source;

–      Ask that the inspector pinpoint if the mold is toxic or not;

–      Have the mold properly remediated.

Remember, if you own the house or plan to be there for an extended stay, mold could affect your health, causing wheezing, asthma, and allergy symptoms. The home should be tested by a certified microbial investigator, who can then advise you as to the next steps depending on the outcome of the mold testing. In New York, it is illegal for the same company to test and remediate on the same job. Whatever the case, mold can become a big issue quickly, so don’t ignore it!

 

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Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Mold

Top Causes: Why Mold is so Common in Apartment Buildings

Top Causes: Why Mold is so Common in Apartment Buildings

Living in an apartment building comes with perks. But with so many people living in one place, accidents can happen that lead to mold contamination. For example, a rooftop pool can spring a slow leak that trickles down many stories, causing a major indoor mold infestation. Or a toilet or bathtub overflow in one apartment, and the apartments below wind up with water damage, especially if the flood is not quickly contained. Wet walls, ceilings and floors attract mold. And mold can cause serious structural damage, as well as health issues and allergies.

“The main issue in apartment buildings is that water travels downward,” says Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental. “It will travel down through the floors to the ceilings and walls below. When that happens, you are at risk of developing a mold problem,” he explains.

All mold needs to grow is moisture, warmth, and any organic surface (like drywall and floors). Under these conditions, mold begins to grow within 24 -48 hours. Not only is mold destructive, but it is also bad for your health.

We’ve compiled a list of the top causes of mold infestation in apartment buildings:

1. Defective Kitchen Appliances

Defective kitchen appliances are one of the most common causes of mold in apartment buildings. Slow leaks from ice makers, refrigerators, and dishwashers tend to go unnoticed because the water supply lines are usually hidden. By the time you realize there is an issue, usually manifested by an odor or a stain, it’s probably a big problem.

2. Burst Pipes & Defective Plumbing

appliance leak

Pipe breaks are an apartment building’s nightmare. Hundreds, or even thousands of gallons of water can cascade through the halls and stairwells, not to mention walls, floors, and ceilings. One pipe break or plumbing leak can affect dozens of apartments and common areas. Fast action is needed to remove drywall and dry structure and remaining floors as quickly as possible. It’s recommended to treat water like a fire – quick action helps prevent further damage.

3. Basement Laundry Areas

In many buildings, there is a common laundry room in the basement–all well and good. But, what’s also common, are storage areas in the basement that contain boxes and other items comprised of cellulose, which mold loves to grow on. The humidity created from the laundry can cause mold growth in any basement.

4. HVAC Systems

condensation moldHVAC systems often cause mold outbreaks in buildings, especially during the summer months, when the air conditioning systems create condensation. Where there’s moisture, there’s mold. And since mold spores can travel throughout the building through the HVAC system, you can expect that mold colonies are sure to develop.

5. Steam Pipes

In older buildings especially, steam pipes and old radiators typically spring leaks inside the walls or ceilings, which go unnoticed. The steam leaks are usually hidden, so damage and mold growth can go unnoticed for weeks or even months. But a musty odor signals that there is mold in the vicinity.

6. Terrace Drains

terrace moldLeaves and all kinds of debris clog drains. When that happens water has nowhere to go but into a nearby apartment. Water will travel to the weakest point of entry, which could be just about anywhere. Without proper testing, it is difficult to determine. If you have a terrace, be sure to keep your drains clean.

7. Pointing & Building Exteriors

Pointing, or the concrete mortar around bricks and windows, commonly found in older apartment buildings, is another way water seeps through. Rainwater can enter laterally through compromised building materials, and get caught in the exterior walls. Mold then grows, and by the time you see something on your apartment wall, it usually means that there is a lot more on the other side of that wall.

8. Flat Roofs & Silos

roof leak nycA flat roof can often spell trouble. Many apartment buildings are built with flat roofs, which can deteriorate and sag. And, if they are not engineered properly they won’t shed water, as they should. Water then goes through the roof and into the apartments below. We have also seen water silos (water storage tanks) on a rooftop leak or burst, causing massive flooding in the apartments below.

What Can You Do About Mold in Your Apartment?

If you suspect you have mold in your apartment, the smart thing to do is have it tested. If you do notice an odor or staining, call in an independent professional who has the technology to detect water behind walls and under floorboards. They can ascertain where the mold is and what needs to be done to remove it.

Conflict of Interest

nyc mold testingIt is important to get two different companies to do the testing and remediation. Why? When the same company does both it is a clear conflict of interest, and could cost you extra for repairs that are unnecessary. An independent testing company will tell you exactly where the problem is, and provide you with a blueprint for remediation. The remediation company will then do only the work that is necessary, minimizing disruption and cost. In New York State, it is illegal for the same company to do both testing and remediation on the same job.

Who Covers the Cost?

Insurance often covers the cost for mold testing and remediation, especially as it relates to issues with an apartment building. If you rent and are concerned about possible mold, speak with your landlord or the building management. The most important thing is to take care of the potential problem quickly. Live well! Be healthy!

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

 

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:

  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.

 

Categories
Health Mold

Seasonal Allergies? A Cold? COVID? Something Else?

Seasonal Allergies? A Cold? COVID? Something Else?

This is going to be another nerve-wracking allergy season, as every sneeze, sniffle and cough will spark concern. Our best advice is to try not to panic. There can be several explanations for a cough that might have nothing to do with the coronavirus at all.

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

Here are a few things to consider about your symptoms.

Check for a Fever

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

Seasonal Allergies or Cold

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

Is it a Mold Allergy?

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

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

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

About Coronavirus

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

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

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

Categories
Mold Mold Testing

Four Things Insurers Need to Know About Environmental Testing

Four Things Insurers Need to Know About Environmental Testing

 

With insurance standards constantly being changed and updated, it’s hard to get a handle on what’s important right now. So, we’ve compiled a list of the top things’ insurers should know about environmental testing.

  1. To help avoid liability issues, test for asbestos prior to mold remediation.

test for asbestos before removing moldThe most experienced adjusters and agents know that a claim can become a lot larger if mold remediation is not conducted properly. This even includes accidentally contaminating a home because walls, tiles, or ceilings containing asbestos or lead were ripped out without proper precautions being taken, contaminating a much larger area. Aside from that, testing for asbestos prior to mold remediation is a good idea in general to protect the health of the insured and the workers on the job. (It can also shield you from further liability.)

 

  1. “Cleaning” mold is not an alternative to remediation.

mold remediationA recent article in PropertyCausalty360 states that killing mold is not enough for an insurance claim. The current standard of care uniformly emphasizes physical removal as the primary means of mold remediation. Since most home and business policies have caps on the amount paid out to deal with mold remediation, smart adjusters won’t waste time and money with ineffective solutions.

The best solution to the problem is remediation. According to the article, because there are no federal mold remediation rules in place, the industry was left to establish its own standards for dealing with mold contamination. Numerous government agencies, industry associations, and private organizations agree that the best practice is to pinpoint the mold through independent testing, then hire a different contractor to physically remove the mold following the blueprint provided by the testing company.

mold claimSome states, including New York, require accreditation and licensing for the companies or individuals who do mold inspections and removal. The rules also do not allow the same company to conduct testing and renovation on the same job. In other unregulated states, like Connecticut and New Jersey, many testing and remediation companies don’t have the requisite training and knowledge. These consultants and contractors often opt for alternate methods of removal such as using sprays, mists, and fogs to treat and remediate mold. Low standards can create potential problems for insurers. An adjuster who unwittingly recommends a contractor whose work is outside of what is determined as “acceptable industry practice” can be liable for more than the covered loss.

 

  1. Clearance testing is critical to prevent future claims.

clearance testingOnce mold remediation has been completed, it is vitally important to do follow-up clearance testing to ensure the mold was removed properly. This way, if there is a new claim for mold from the same claimant, you can be sure that the new problem was not caused by the initial problem, which could open you up to liability. Additionally, if the insured comes back to you complaining of health symptoms and demanding additional payment, you’ll have proof that it wasn’t caused by the remediation.

 

  1. Working with a qualified, unbiased testing company which does not do remediation can save you money.

Not every mold testing company is the same. There are those that do both testing and remediation, which is a clear conflict of interest. For, the more mold they say they find, the more they stand to make in the remediation to follow.

RTK Environmental only does testing and never remediation, so you can rest assured our results are unbiased and accurate. Additionally, RTK provides you with a blueprint for remediation. By removing mold only in the specific areas designated, you can potentially save thousands of dollars son unnecessary remediation costs. And with our fast turnaround times, you can reduce the cost of ALE.

Contact RTK to schedule an inspection for your claim today. Click here or call 800.392.6468.

 

Categories
Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold

What Should I Expect From An Indoor Air Quality Test?

What Should I Expect From An Indoor Air Quality Test?

Maybe you haven’t been feeling well and neither you nor your physician can figure out why. Or maybe you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and simply want to know if the level of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in your home or workplace is acceptable.

Categories
Healthy Home Asbestos Lead Mold

4 Renovations to Make the Home Safer

4 Renovations to Make the Home Safer

 

The new year provides a perfect opportunity to start making sure that your house is in tip-top shape for the upcoming seasons. As the weather starts to get warmer, it’s important to make sure you don’t just cover the basics, but check that those out-of-sight, out-of-mind areas are on that to-do list too. Here are a few renovations for the home that will not only help make it safer but will also create a refresh for the new year.

1.   Repainting the House

lead paint hazard

A quick way to refresh any room is a quick repaint. It’s important to note that before starting this project, testing for lead paint is key to making sure this project doesn’t become something massive. If your home was built before the 1978, it’s more likely than not that the home was decorated with lead paint. Before you sand down and prime your walls, scheduling a lead inspection can help you pinpoint problem areas before starting.

Additionally, a new coat of paint will provide an extra layer of protection from moisture. By preventing this moisture, you’re less likely to experience mold and mildew, which will cause more damage later on. If you’re considering a repaint, make sure to sand and prime, in order to create a layer that is both appealing and protective.

 

2.   Update Leaky Sinks

update leaky sinkLeaky sinks and tubs are a moisture haven if not treated properly. Similar to wall moisture, dampness that accumulates from underneath sinks can cause mold growth, which can, in turn, cause asthma, allergies, and other health issues. While bleach can be a useful short-term fix, it’s best to get to the root of the problem and treat mold with a permanent solution.

Update your bathroom with new sinks to not only match your current interior but also provide a clean slate to curb future repairs. Replacing your bathroom vanity with a model that provides aeration for your sink pipes will help you avoid the potential for loose plumbing joints, condensation, and leaks. You can also make sure your shower and bathtub are updated with new pipes to help decrease the chance of repair later.

 

3.   Lighting and Electrical Changes

updated lighting Keeping your house well-lit is a great way to ensure that your home feels like it’s received a refresh without doing too much work. If the lights are flickering, or you feel as though you’ve used your circuit breaker one too many times, updating light fixtures and adding extra outlets can keep your home up-to-date and safe. Adding these updates to your fixtures and your outlets, not only will potentially increase your home’s value but will also save you money on your electricity bills going forward – a win-win heading into the new year!

 

4.   Refresh your Floors

refresh floorsThere are two options when it comes to updating the floors in your home: refinishing them, if they’re not currently scratched up from years of wear and tear, or replacing them with something newer. If you currently have carpet, updating to hardwood could be a great solution to the health of your home, as well as the people you live with.

Health conditions like allergies and asthma can be triggered by dust that accumulates in old carpets, so updating with hardwood flooring can get rid of grime, allergens, dust particles, etc., that can exist, giving your home a more breathable “fresh” start. This renovation may take the longest, but when finished will provide a great advantage to you in the new year. It improves the functionality of space and will offer you the ability to adjust rooms as your lifestyle changes. Once you have installed new floors, you may want to consider an indoor air quality test to ensure they are not emitting volatile organic compounds, which can cause negative repercussions on your health.

Whatever adjustments you’re making as the winter season takes full effect, it’s important that you’re making sure to stay safe, not just trying to revamp your home design.

 

 

 

 

Categories
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.

Categories
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?