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Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

Storm Cleanup: After a Storm, Don’t let Mold or Toxins Take up Residence in Your Home

As massive cleanup efforts and power restoration continue throughout the region after a lightning-fast-moving storm, homeowners should be aware of the potential that flooding and water damage are causing.

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Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon

Home Office Health Hazards

According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, approximately 43% of employees work remotely with some frequency. And with the current Coronavirus situation, these numbers are temporarily much higher. While there may be benefits to working in your pajamas, you may unknowingly be subjecting yourself to some health hazards.

For starters, the only exercise you might be getting is walking from your desk to your fridge. (Take a walk outside instead!) And you may be missing the daily cleaning service you once enjoyed at the corporate office. (A University of Arizona study found that the average office desk has about 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat!) If your office is located in your home or basement, environmental toxins such as mold, asbestos, radon, and poor indoor air quality also are a concern. The truth is, home offices can be, well, downright unhealthy, and could be making you sick.

Not to worry. RTK Environmental has five tips to help you keep your home office from becoming a mini-microbial metropolis:

1. Check for mold

This is a biggie! If you find you are wheezing, sneezing, or coughing every time you work in your basement office, there may be unseen mold growing, a problem not uncommon in spaces that are partially or fully underground or have poor humidity control, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Use dehumidifiers, increase ventilation, use fans, and insulate cold pipes. If your basement has ever been flooded, replace carpets as they might contain mold or mildew. Mold feeds on moisture, so keep your office dry.

2. Test your indoor air quality

Here’s another hazard that you can’t see, and often can’t smell: poor indoor air quality. Even worse, if there’s radon in your home, you may be at risk of developing lung cancer. According to the Harvard Business Review, not only is poor air quality dangerous, but can make you less productive. Office equipment, furniture, cleaning products, drapes, and other everyday items can be creating a caustic and unhealthy environment. A professional indoor air quality test can identify mold, formaldehyde, PCBs, and many other toxic elements.

3. Be aware of asbestos-containing materials

Be aware of asbestos-containing materials in your home, such as insulation, floor materials, ceiling tiles, wallboards and pipes. Any damaged or decomposed materials which contain asbestos, can pose health problems.

4. Disinfect your desk

Are you eating at your desk? Multi-tasking might be making you more productive, but if you aren’t disinfecting your desk as you would your kitchen counter or other surface for eating, you could be creating a health hazard. Germs that make us sick can live on these surfaces – some for more than 48 hours! Eating at your desk gives germs an easy ride into your body on your food and hands, increasing your chances of getting sick. And if you think that critters, from rodents to bugs, are not enjoying the crumbs and leftover food reside on your desk, you can think again.

5. Clean and maintain HVAC systems

Dust that accumulates in hard to clean or neglected areas can cause chronic coughs and scratchy throats, itchy eyes, and even headaches. Take time regularly to clean computers, mice, phones, plugs, window blinds, baseboards, window wells, and other hard-to-reach areas. Maintain HVAC systems and change filters regularly to avoid dust build-up.

To be absolutely sure your home office is free of environmental toxins, call in a professional services company to test. RTK Environmental Group provides a full complement of environmental testing for mold, lead, asbestos, radon and indoor air quality. Because RTK does not provide remediation services, you can rest assured that the test results will be accurate and unbiased, as there is no conflict of interest.

RTK uses state-of-the-art equipment, and offers expertise and education to its clients. Experienced, knowledgeable investigators identify environmental hazards and identify solutions for cleanup and remediation. Follow-up testing can also be done after remediation, to ensure the toxins were addressed.

To schedule an inspection with RTK Environmental Group or for more information, call us at 800.392.6468.

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Asbestos

What You Need to Know about Renovation Work and Asbestos

What You Need to Know about Renovation Work and Asbestos

Do-it-yourself renovations have become commonplace. Unfortunately, many DIYers are unaware of the danger that lurks if asbestos is present and disturbed. Asbestos has been used in the construction of walls, ceilings and floors (mostly for fireproofing), and often serves as insulation for pipes.

test-before -you-renovate-asbestos

If asbestos is left undisturbed, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that it is generally safe. But when it is disturbed during renovation or if it is crumbling from age, dangerous particles are released into the air, breathed in, and can settle into your respiratory system. Exposure to this dangerous material can cause serious respiratory diseases and cancer, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

Because of these health risks, federal and state agencies have developed very strict rules for asbestos removal. Construction workers must receive specialized training to learn safe asbestos removal techniques. If they find deteriorating asbestos that needs to be removed, then you’ll need to hire a reputable contractor who has the appropriate qualifications and licensing for asbestos removal.  So your first step, when considering renovation work, should be to hire an independent testing company to test for asbestos.

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Asbestos Healthy Home Lead

Renovate Right: Top 3 Tips for DIYers

This is the time of year many of us DIYers are eager to get moving on home improvements. But before you start sanding and swinging that hammer, there are a few important things to think about:

What type of surfaces and materials will you be disturbing? Is there chipping paint? Crumbling pipe insulation? Smell of mildew?

If any or all of the above, 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, renovate the right way. Here’s how:

Tip #1: Know the composition of the materials you disturb before you even begin – have your home tested!

Mold that you cannot see may be lurking behind your walls. Pipe insulation may contain environmental testing nycasbestos fibers. Layers of old paint beneath more recent paint may contain lead. When you disturb these materials, dust and spores from these toxic materials may be released in the air. Then, they may travel through your home’s HVAC system. Once that happens, you’ve contaminated your indoor environment. So, BEFORE you start the project, have a certified microbial inspector do some tests. 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 real health hazards.

So, Step One: call in an environmental testing company to have your home tested, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home. If the test reveals toxic lead remnants, 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: Take proper precautions.

If a test confirms environmental hazards, take appropriate steps to keep yourself and your family safe. Follow these precautions:

– Evacuate vulnerable family members. While you are working, be sure children, pregnant Protect Childrenwomen, 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. Even a speck of lead dust can cause irreversible damage to one’s health.

– 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 duct work, doors leading out, and windows with the sheeting. Your goal is to prevent toxins from contaminating the rest of the house.

– Dress for the occasion. Look for a mask or respirator with an N95 rating or higher, which mold inspection nycfilters 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.

– Avoid sanding. Lead dust accounts for most of the 500,000 pediatric lead-poisoning cases a year. Sanding releases fine lead dust particles, which fly through your air, infiltrating the entire house. Unfortunately, these particles remain in the home for a long time. Therefore, sand as little as possible.home renovation tips ny

– 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.

Tip #3: Protect your family from unnecessary health risks.

When the work is done, be sure to have a second environmental inspection performed by a certified testing company to be sure your home has been properly cleaned from lead, asbestos, mold, and other toxins. Otherwise, the health affects can be devastating.

Lead poisoning is shown to causHealthy Familye autism, ADHD, brain damage, lower IQ, and a host of other physical and mental issues. Mold causes asthma, allergies, and other serious respiratory ailments. Asbestos is a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other serious respiratory ailments. Most asbestos-related diseases don’t arise until years after exposure.

Make sure your home is safe for you and your family. Test today.

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Asbestos Healthy Home

Asbestos Testing: Information & FAQs

asbestos testing connecticutMany people worry about asbestos – especially when purchasing a new home, before or during renovations, or if they live near a commercial construction site or properties that are undergoing demolition. But what do you really know about asbestos? The mere presence of asbestos is not usually a problem. Over time, however, asbestos may become damaged. When it does, it can release dangerous asbestos fibers into the air you breathe. The removal of asbestos, if not done correctly, can also pose a health threat.

Here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Q. What is asbestos?asbestos removal new york

A. Asbestos is a very strong mineral fiber that was once added to many different products to strengthen them. It was also used to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. There are several types of asbestos fibers.

 

Q. Where is asbestos found?asbestos abatement

A. Asbestos can be found in roofing materials, siding shingles, insulation (homes built between 1930 – 1950), textured paint (pre-1977), patching compounds (pre-1977), walls and floors around wood-burning stoves, vinyl floor tiles and adhesives, insulation for hot water and steam pipes in older homes, and oil and coal furnaces.

 

Q. How do I know if there is asbestos in my home?

A. The only way to be sure whether a material contains asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. The EPA recommends testing suspect materials if they are damaged (fraying, crumbling) or if you are planning a renovation that would disturb the suspect material. A properly trained and accredited asbestos inspector should take the samples.

 

Q. How can asbestos affect my health?asbestos health affect

A. Exposure to asbestos, especially airborne asbestos fibers, increases your risk of developing lung disease and cancer. Disease symptoms generally take several years – even decades – to develop following exposure. Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers that remain in the lung. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.

 

Q. We are going to be renovating, and I’m not sure if there is asbestos in my home. Should I be concerned?

A. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for you to tell whether a material in your home contains Asbestos Renovationasbestos simply by looking at it. The EPA suggests that if you suspect a material within your home might contain asbestos (for example floor tile, ceiling tile or old pipe wrap) and the material is damaged (fraying or falling apart) or if you are planning on performing a renovation that would disturb the material, have it sampled by a properly trained and accredited asbestos professional like RTK Environmental.

 

Q. I suspect there is asbestos in my home. What should I do?

A. First and foremost, do not disturb the asbestos. It is generally not harmful until it is asbestos demolitiondisturbed and fibers are released into the air. Next, have a professional testing company come in to test for asbestos. It may be that the asbestos in your home is in good shape and does not need removal. If not, a certified, independent asbestos testing company can provide an asbestos remediation plan for you so that you and your family are safe.

 

Q. We are going to be doing demolition on our home and know we only have asbestos in one place that won’t be touched. Is it safe to go ahead with the demolition without having the house tested for asbestos?

A. Not really. A demolition could expose an asbestos problem you weren’t aware of. Also, look for signs of wear and tear in areas you know contain asbestos. But whatever you do, don’t touch it. Consider having the asbestos encapsulated to insure that the fibers will not become airborne.

Asbestos can be very dangerous, but is easily managed. Take the necessary steps to make sure you and your family is not harmed by asbestos.

 

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Asbestos Healthy Home

Asbestos: How to detect and remove it in your home or business

 

How to detect and remove asbestos in your home or business

RTK’s Robert Weitz recently spoke with Expert Beacon about how to detect and remove asbestos in your home or business.  Asbestos is deadly, and may be lurking in your home, school, or office. The most dangerous fibers are too small to be visible. Once inhaled, they lodge in the lungs forever. Find out what you need to know about asbestos detection, monitoring, and removal to protect your family, employees, and yourself. He shared some very important Do’s and Don’ts.

Do

asbestos testing connecticut

  • know what asbestos is and where it is found
  • understand how it can affect your health
  • have your home tested for asbestos before renovation or demolition
  • take proper precautions when renovating or removing asbestos
  • know your liability exposure
Don’t

asbestos testing

  • disturb asbestos without proper safety precautions
  • do any removal without having an abatement plan
  • remove asbestos without following proper federal, state and local rules
  • ignore asbestos
  • forget to have the property inspected after renovations

If you think you may haves an asbestos problem in your home or business, call us at (800) 392-6468 or CLICK HERE.

 

 

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Health Healthy Home

The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Baby – A Healthy Home

You’ve registered for the best stroller, crib, and car seat available because nothing is too good for keeping your baby safe. While many families are creating their little one’s gift registry by adding clothes, diapers, and essentials for the nursery, there is an even more important way to prepare for your baby’s arrival – a Healthy Baby, Healthy Home Environmental Inspection.

This unique gift option from RTK provides tests for environmental hazards in your home, like toxic mold and poisonous lead dust. Because 80% of homes contain at least one environmental hazard, it is important for pregnant moms and new parents to make sure their home is safe to bring their new baby into.

mold testing dc asthma healthy homeAs parents, we often become fixated on safety – from installing the car seat to measuring the rails on the crib. But we often overlook our home’s indoor environment. Mold, lead, radon, asbestos, and contaminated water or soil affect your vulnerable newborn and can cause a lifetime of health issues – from autism and ADHD to asthma and cancer.

Whether you are looking for a special baby shower gift or adding to your own baby registry, RTK offers an array of packages to suit your family’s individual needs. You can add a Healthy Baby, Healthy Home Inspection to your baby shower registry through MyRegistry.com, or visit us directly at Healthy Baby Healthy  Home .

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Asbestos

The NY Islanders Found Asbestos at Home – Can It Happen to You?

In 2012, the New York Islanders found out they may be moving to a new home the next season because of lingering asbestos problems at the aging Nassau Coliseum – their home for the past 40 years. Does the age of a structure make asbestos more likely? Sure – but it’s the condition that the asbestos is in that can be dangerous.

commercial asbestos testingAsbestos exposure has been linked to the development of serious respiratory diseases and cancers, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Unfortunately, for nearly 100 years, asbestos was one of the most commonly used materials in construction, shipbuilding and manufacturing, both commercially and residentially.

So, old sports arenas are not the only places to struggle with asbestos issues. Many schools, buildings, and homes also contain asbestos. It is commonly found in insulation, cement, pipes, composites, floor tile, fireproofing material, gaskets, and coatings. If asbestos is left undisturbed, the EPA says that it is generally safe. When it is disturbed during renovation or if it is crumbling from age, dangerous particles are released into the air and can settle into your respiratory system.

What should you do if you think you have asbestos in your home or workplace?

asbestos warningFirst and foremost, do not disturb it. Immediately contact a professional testing company to come in to test for asbestos. It may be that the asbestos in your home is in good shape and does not need removal. In that event, consider having the asbestos encapsulated to insure that the fibers will not become airborne. However, if the asbestos is deteriorating, a testing company can provide you with an asbestos remediation plan to keep you and your family from harm.

Asbestos exposure has been linked to the development of serious respiratory diseases and cancers, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

Here’s the good news: Asbestos can be very dangerous, but it is easily managed. Take the necessary steps and do a test. You’ll breathe a whole lot easier!

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Asbestos Lead

9/11’s toxic dust

Sept. 11, 2001 has been memorialized by unforgettable images, among which were the buildings collapsing in a blanket of dust and smoke, and people rushing from the scene, covered in a white dust that we now know was toxic.

The numbers of Ground Zero workers with serious medical issues keep growing. Many are claiming the toxic dust they inhaled have caused a myriad of health issues, including cancer, asthma, persistent coughs (known among those afflicted as WTC cough), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

At the time, workers and volunteers were assured by Christie Whitman, then administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, that the air was safe to breathe. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey asked Paul Lioy, director of exposure science at Rutgers University and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, to collect and test samples of the dust. It turned out that the dust was a toxic cocktail of asbestos; metallic particles including lead; cement; gypsum; calcium carbonate; and glass fibers. The dust pH was highly alkaline and extremely caustic, and according to experts, caused severe medical problems for first responders and those who spent months cleaning the site.

This weekend, as we all remember and pay homage to those who lost their lives, it is also a good time to be reminded to pay more attention to the air we breathe daily. Lead dust – present in many pre-1978 built homes (the year lead paint was banned) – is poisonous to everyone, but especially children, pregnant women and pets. The list of health problems it causes is long and troublesome, including brain damage, loss of IQ, learning disability, hearing loss, nervous system and kidney damage.

Asbestos is a human carcinogen, and is linked to lung cancer, laryngeal cancers and malignant mesothelioma. Since these cancers develop 10 to 30 years after exposure, many of the 9/11 workers might be still symptom free.

If you suspect an environmental hazard might be lurking in your home, your first stop should be to have your home tested by certified inspectors. Once testing is complete and a remediation plan established, hire only contractors who are certified to remove the specific hazard.

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Asbestos

The 411 on Asbestos

Many people worry about asbestos -especially when purchasing a new home. But what do you really know about asbestos? The mere presence of asbestos is not usually a problem. Over time, however, asbestos may become damaged. When it does, it can release dangerous asbestos fibers into the air you breathe. The removal of asbestos, if not done correctly, can also pose a health threat. Here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Q. What is asbestos?

A. Asbestos is a very strong mineral fiber that was once added to many different products to strengthen them. It was also used to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. There are several types of asbestos fibers.

Q. Where is asbestos found?

A. Asbestos can be found in roofing materials, siding shingles, insulation (homes built between 1930 – 1950), textured paint (pre-1977), patching compounds (pre-1977), walls and floors around wood-burning stoves, vinyl floor tiles and adhesives, insulation for hot water and steam pipes in older homes, and oil and coal furnaces.

Q. How Can Asbestos affect my health?

A. Exposure to asbestos, especially airborne asbestos fibers, increases your risk of developing lung disease. Disease symptoms may take several years to develop following exposure. Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers that remain in the lung. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.

Q. I suspect there is asbestos in my home. What should I do?

A. First and foremost, do not disturb the asbestos. It is generally not harmful until it is disturbed and fibers are released into the air. Next, have a professional testing company come in to test for asbestos. It may be that the asbestos in your home is in good shape and does not need removal. If not, they can provide an asbestos remediation plan for you so that you and your family are safe.

Q. I am planning on renovating my home and I know there is asbestos there. Are there any precautions I can take?

A. Once you have tested for asbestos and confirmed that it will be a problem, have any removal and repairs done by certified professionals who are specially trained in handling asbestos.

Q. We are going to be doing demolition on our home and know we only have asbestos in one place that won’t be touched asbestos. Is it safe to go ahead with the demolition without having the house tested for asbestos?

A. A demolition could expose an asbestos problem you weren’t aware of. Also, look for signs of wear and tear in areas you know contain asbestos. But whatever you do, don’t touch it. Consider having the asbestos encapsulated to insure that the fibers will not become airborne.

Asbestos can be very dangerous, but is easily managed. Take the necessary steps to make sure you and your family is not harmed by asbestos.