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Don’t Let High Pressure Cleaning Turn into a High Stakes Health Gamble

As nagging nor’easters and blustering bomb cyclones make way for warmer weather, homeowners throughout the New York Metropolitan area might actually get to tackle spring- cleaning before summer vacation.

Power washing a patio, deck or home exterior is an effective means of removing dirt, grime and unsightly moss that’s built-up over the winter. But if it’s not done correctly, high pressure cleaning can turn into a high stakes gamble; it can unearth and spread lead paint chips and hazardous lead dust, potentially dangerous toxins and volatile organic compounds, says Robert Weitz, a principal with the environmental testing firm RTK Environmental Group, headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.

So too can it set the stage for more costly problems down the road, such as water buildup, mold and mildew, Weitz added, especially if water finds hidden cracks in any walls or surfaces.

None of these scenarios are good for your health.

Garden furniture being pressure washed.

“Pressure washing can be an effective way of blasting away buildup and dirt,” Weitz says, “but it can lead to far more expensive disasters if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Take, for example, the fact that lead paint chips or contaminants from vinyl siding can be blown around a yard and end up being mixed into garden soil or playground surfaces where children and pets are active. Another thing to consider is that whenever mildew, algae, or mold are removed from a structure, spores are released into the air, which can create a health risk for people, especially anyone with allergies or asthma.

“It’s important to know what you’re cleaning and whether or not there is mold, lead, or other dangerous substances on the building’s exterior,” warns Weitz. “It’s also important to understand the power of a pressure washer being used and the potency of any cleaning chemicals applied to the surface. Pressure washers can be as dangerous as they are effective.”

Bottom line: do your homework before starting any project. It may be wise to consult a professional first.

Read more about spring-cleaning tips here.

To talk to a professional at RTK Environmental or to schedule a test today, call (800) 392-6468 or visit RTK Environmental online.

Water should be tested once each year for total coliform bacteria. (CDC)

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