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Asbestos Healthy Home Lead

Renovate Right: Top 3 Tips for DIYers

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!

environmental testing nyc

Mold that you cannot see may be lurking behind your walls. Pipe insulation may contain asbestos 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.

Protect Children

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, pregnantwomen, 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.

mold inspection nyc

– Dress for the occasion. Look for a mask or respirator with an N95 rating or higher, whichfilters 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.Healthy Family

Lead poisoning is shown to cause autism-like symptoms, 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.

Health Lead

Does Your Pediatrician Screen for Lead Poisoning?

Does Your Pediatrician Screen for Lead Poisoning?

We recently heard from a mom in the Long Island area, who lives in a home with deteriorating paint built in the 1950’s, questioning the necessity of testing her two young children for lead poisoning. She thought doctors did it automatically, but was concerned and confused when her pediatrician said that she didn’t have to worry about lead poisoning “unless her children were allergic to lead” – even though he knew she lived in an older home that was not in good condition. Yes, we are serious. The doctor actually said this!

EVERYONE CAN BE HARMED BY LEAD PAINT! Clearly, not every doctor knows the dangers of lead paint, therefore it is up to us to make sure parents, neighbors, and friends understand the serious consequences of lead poisoning, and how to prevent it.

Not Every Pediatrician Screens for Lead

In some states, lead screening for children under the age of three is mandatory. But in most, it is left at the discretion of the pediatrician. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, testing for lead poisoning often depends on where you live. Check out these statistics:

• 53% of pediatricians attempt to screen ALL of their patients under the age of 36 months with a blood test for lead toxicity, 38% attempt to screen SOME of their patients, while 9% screen NONE of their patients in this age group.

• Screening practices vary by practice location: 83% of inner city pediatricians screen ALL of their patients under the age of 36 months for lead poisoning, compared to 39% of suburban and 43% of rural pediatricians.

• Overall, pediatricians report screening an average of 52% of their patients ages 9-12 months, 48% of their patients that are 13-14 months old, and 37% of their patients that are 25-36 months old.

• 98% of pediatricians who selectively screen patients under the age of 36 months report do so at the parents’ request.

The best way for you to know if your child has been tested for lead poisoning is to ask your pediatrician. If your doctor does not automatically test for lead, ask that it be done. It’s a simple blood test and could save your child’s life. More importantly, have your home tested to prevent the risks early. For more information about lead dust, click here.

Gardening Soil and Water

Gardening 101: Start With Clean Soil

Garden TomatoNow that the weather is warming up, the garden beckons. Thoughts of luscious vegetables and gorgeous flowers bloom. But before you start turning over the garden, get your soil tested. What you may not realize is that the soil around your house may be hosting a variety of contaminants, including lead, pesticides, bacteria, and heavy metals. And the impact on your family’s health from these unseen dangers may be great.

Lead in soil is a very common problem, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home or in garden soil contaminationa neighborhood of older homes. How does lead get into your soil? Sanding during the prep period, prior to painting the exterior of an older home, can spew lead dust through the air. (Up until 1978, most paint contained lead.) Flaking paint chips can also find their way into the soil. Lead dust can also be released through open windows when sanding home’s interior walls.

tainted compostAnother possible source of contamination is tainted compost. If you use public compost, you may be exposed to dangerous levels of lead and other toxins. Here’s why: When municipalities pick up lawn clippings and organic debris for composting, they don’t test first to see if the clippings and debris are free from contamination.

The damaging effects of ingesting these toxins — chromium, lead and other metals, contaminated soil connecticutpetroleum, solvents, and many pesticide and herbicide formulations – are many. These contaminants can be carcinogenic, cause congenital disorders or other chronic health conditions. Pregnant women and children are at the highest risk. In fact, more than 500,000 children are poisoned each year by lead.

The only way to protect your family is to have your soil tested by an environmental testing company. They can tell you if your soil is safe, and if there is a problem, can inform you of how to correct it. Click here for more information or to schedule a soil test today.



Before You Buy A Home, Test for Lead

lead testing home rentalWe get a lot of inquiries from people in the market to purchase a new home about whether or not they should have the home tested for lead. Our answer? Absolutely. Then we are hit with the follow-up question – “But the seller says there is no lead. Should we still have it tested?” The answer is still yes.

Here’s why:

Lead lawsThe way the EPA rules are written, sellers and landlords must disclose known lead-based paint hazards. “Known” being the key word here. Conveniently, if they have never done a lead test, then they can say that they didn’t know that there was lead in the home, and are covered from a legal standpoint. Quite simply, there are loopholes because of the language. Yes – it’s sneaky, but it happens all too often.

If, on the other hand, a landlord or seller does know about pre-existing lead-paint hazards, there are specific rules they need to follow:

  • Provide any available written reports to buyers or renters on the lead hazards that Lead Disclosure Home Buyerexist, including lead testing reports and lead abatement information.
  • Buyers and renters must be given a pamphlet from the EPA, HUD and CSPC titled “Protect Your Family from Lead Paint in Your Home,” from the seller, landlord, or agent.
  • The sales contracts and leasing agreements must contain notification and disclosure language for the existence of lead paint hazards.
  • Sellers, lessors, and real estate agents share the responsibility of ensuring Lead Testing real estatecompliance, and they are all potentially liable. You may be able to negotiate the cost of lead testing into the price of the home, depending on the market in your area. Buyers generally have a 10-day period (unless otherwise agreed upon) to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment.

Regardless of who pays for it, the most important thing is that you have your potential future home tested for lead. Don’t risk the safety and health of your family to save a few bucks. An independent lead inspector, like RTK Environmental Group, will perform the tests and provide you with an unbiased report, making sure that you have all the facts before you make such a huge purchasing decision.


Lead Dust in Your Pool? Not Cool.

On a hot August day, one of the best ways to cool off is to dive head first into a swimming pool. But before you do, know what you’re jumping into: the pool  might be contaminated with lead dust.

While the pool in your yard may seem like a very controlled and safe place for your family to play, it’s not always the case. More and more, we are seeing cases of lead dust contamination in pools.

What causes this?

The primary cause is improperly renovating any home built pre-1978, the year lead paint was banned. If a contractor doesn’t take proper precautions, lead dust from layers of old paint will escape when sanded. Even if your home was constructed more recently, lead dust can travel when a neighbor’s home is renovated.

That’s how lead dust can land in your pool and on your soil.

Lead dust is dangerous. Even small levels of lead exposure can irreversibly influence children’s development, from ADHD and autism-like symptoms to brain damage and lower IQ.

A pool should be a fun place to play and cool off during the summer, so make sure your water is clean and lead-free. If you think there is a chance that your pool may be contaminated, call a professional to test the water. You can never be too careful when it comes to your and your family’s safety.

Gardening Soil and Water

Could Your Compost Be Contaminated?

You may want to think twice before biting into that home grown tomato! Sure homegrown produce tastes better, but using public compost could expose your veggies—and you—to damaging levels of lead. Here’s why: Many municipalities pick up lawn clippings and organic debris for composting to later be shared with the community. Unfortunately, as they recently found out in Boston, if the materials coming from homes are tainted with lead or other contaminants, consequently so is the compost.

Environmental officials recommend that compost containing lead concentrations of more than 150 parts per million not be used in gardens. Last year, Boston’s mean concentration of lead in compost was 299 parts per million, with a high of 480 parts per million (far exceeding limits). As a result of severely elevated concentrations of lead, thousands of tons of compost were ruled to be off limits to Boston residents who were hoping to take advantage of the free fertilizer. This lead-riddled compost, predominantly used to grow fruits and vegetables, is extremely hazardous to your health as the contaminants from the soil spread to the produce you later consume.

But Boston isn’t the only city with older homes, which typically have old lead paint. In the New York Tri-State area, more than 80% of homes were built prior to 1978, the year that lead paint was banned. If not properly cared for, simply opening a door or window in one of these homes could spread of toxic lead dust, not only in the house, but throughout the yard and neighborhood as well.

If you live in a home built pre-1978 or in an area with older homes, be sure to have your home and soil tested – especially if you plan to share your lawn clippings with your municipality for composting. Lead poisoning is preventable – be sure you do your part!




Health Lead

New Lead Standards Spark Confusion, Concern Among Parents

New Lead Standards Spark Confusion, Concern Among Parents

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a monumental step in protecting children from lead poisoning by cutting in half the “action level” of lead in the blood stream. Now, any child (age 1 – 5) with more than 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in the blood is considered at risk.

Although almost 400,000 more children are now considered lead poisoned in the U.S., it means that early action will help us prevent serious health problems and save lives. Even small levels of lead exposure can irreversibly influence children’s development, from ADHD and autism-like symptoms to brain damage and lower IQ.

The other part of the announcement drew harsh criticism –the federal funding for lead poisoning was slashed 94% this year by Congress. So what does that mean for parents, and how are we supposed to protect our kids with limited funding?

Unfortunately, the burden is on us and we need to take action. Here are a few important tips:

1. Prevention is the key – test the house.

Once a child has lead poisoning, it becomes expensive and dangerous. Have your home tested by a certified independent inspector for lead paint. If you find that your home contains lead paint, they will provide you with a comprehensive abatement plan to remove the lead before it becomes a health issue.

2. Have your children tested for lead.

Only about 53% of pediatricians will do a routine lead test at age one. (Read more here on pediatricians and lead testing.) As a rule of thumb, all children should be tested at age one, and again at age two. If you live in a high-risk area, it may be more often. If you are unsure if your doctor performs the blood test routinely, ask and request that it be done.

3. Know the sources of lead poisoning.

Lead paint that is ingested is the primary cause of lead poisoning. It can be in the form of lead paint chips or lead dust released from window frames and doors, which gets into the air, water, soil, and on the floor. Lead dust can also be found on playground equipment and toys. Other sources of lead are older pipes, stained glass, toys, pottery glazes, leaded crystal, jewelry, antiques, folk remedies, food cans, and more.

To download the EPA’s brochure “Lead in Your Home: A Parent’s Reference Guide” click here.

To schedule a lead inspection, click here.

Gardening Healthy Home Lead Soil and Water

Go Outside & Play – But This Time, in Clean Dirt!

How safe are your children when they are playing outside in your yard? Maybe not safe enough.

Consider this: You probably take great safety precautions like making your kids wear bike helmets and sunscreen. But have you checked your soil and pool water for lead dust?

Most people have no idea that lead dust – that is dust that usually comes from old paint that is disturbed by renovation work (sanding and scraping; opening and closing windows); the dust flies through the air and lands in the yard. Since spending time outdoors should be a healthy activity, it pays to find out if the soil is “clean” – free from lead. Soil with high lead levels can be a danger, though – especially to kids. Children can actually be poisoned from lead dust, which could lead to autism-like symptoms, ADD, violent behavior, reduced IQ and a host of other issues. Lead dust can also be tracked inside on people’s shoes.

It can also travel from your neighbors’ renovations to your property if they are not following proper Lead Safe work practices. Lead dust has also been found in high concentrations in pool water.

If you are not sure about the soil your child is playing in, have your soil and water tested for lead and other toxins by a professional. Here are some other tips to minimize risk:

– Children and adults should wash their hands before and after playing or working outside;

– Change clothing after playing or working in the yard or garden;

– Create a safe play area for your child – a sandbox with clean sand and a cover is ideal if you think you may have lead dust around your home or neighborhood;

– Wash any toys that were used in dirt that may contain lead dust with soap and water;

– Any bare soil outside your home should be covered with sod, mulch, or gravel to reduce the hazard;

– Cover your pool when it is not in use;

– If lead levels are found to be high in your yard, tainted soil may actually need to be removed and clean soil may need to be brought in;

– A floor mat inside the door can help reduce lead dust from being tracked in;

– Take your shoes off when you enter your house and leave them at the door.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors. Be sure to do it safely!




Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead

It’s Spring – Let the Hammering Begin!

Spring is here, which means the start of the home remodeling season. But if you live in a pre-1978 built home, your first call — before you call a contractor — should be to an environmental testing company to have your home tested for lead.

What’s the significance of the 1978 date? That was the year lead paint was removed from interior paints in the United States. And why should you care? Because annually, 34 years after lead paint was banned, more than 400,000 children are still being poisoned by the paint that remains. And this is not just an inner-city problem. Lead poisoning knows no economic bounds.

Unless you know where lead is lurking, your contractor can unknowingly release toxic lead dust into the air. And if a professional lead inspection firm finds lead remnants in your home, be sure your contractor is certified in lead-safe work practices.

Under a recent Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP) enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) almost two years ago, all work performed on painted surfaces in a pre-1978 built home must follow a strict protocol.

  1. The company that does your work – from a simple painting job to a full-house renovation – must be a certified in lead-safe work practices by the Environmental Protection Agency. Do not let a tradesperson tell you certification is not needed. It is. Uncertified tradespeople should not be working in an environment that contains lead paint, and if caught, face a stiff fine and will be forced to stop work in your home.
  2. The work area in a leaded environment needs to be sealed off from the remainder of the living space. At the end of the day, the contractor is required to thoroughly clean the area in accordance with EPA guidelines.
  3. Certified tradespeople have to document the work they perform and file a report at the end of the project.

Once the work is performed, the next and very important step is to have the environmental testing firm conduct a second lead test to be sure your home is 100 percent lead free.

Click here to schedule a lead test.

Tomorrow: Tips for do-it-yourself homeowners ready to tackle their own home renovations.


Gardening Soil and Water

Soil Testing: The First Step in Preparing your Spring Garden

Right about now, visions of gorgeous flowers and a bountiful crop of vegetables are dancing in gardeners’ heads.

It’s almost time to start turning over the garden soil. But have you ever thought about soil testing to be sure your soil is free of lead? Lead in soil is a very common problem, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home or in a neighborhood of older homes.

So how does lead get in your soil? When your older home’s exterior is painted, the first step is sanding, which spews lead dust through the air, landing on your property. Flaking paint chips can also be ground into the soil, or in some cases, paint can peel right off the home. Also, if the home’s interior is painted and sanded, often windows are left open to disburse the dust. And guess where that lead dust falls? In your yard.

More than 500,000 children are poisoned each year by lead.

There are steps you can take to lessen the dangers of lead poisoning. Most importantly, hire a certified lead inspector to test your garden to see if your soil contains lead. Your garden may be lead free. But then again, it might not be. Is it worth poisoning your children?

Some other steps you can take:

  • Position the garden as far away as possible from any pre-1978 built homes.
  • Consider bed gardening, which raises the garden above soil level. And then fill with clean garden soil.
  • Erect a fence or a hedge to act as a buffer against any blowing lead dust.
  • Keep children away from any lead-tainted soil. Never let children eat the soil.
  • Wear protective clothing when gardening. Remove your clothes before entering your home, and place them in a plastic bag. The next stop is your washing machine. Tracking lead dust into a home is a common way for lead to enter a home.
  • Soils high in organic matter and compost with pH levels between 6.5 and 7.0 do a better job of binding lead in the soil, preventing it from being absorbed by plants.

If the test reveals the levels of lead in your soil are just too high, you may want to consider remediation of the contaminated soil. There are several options, including soil removal, raising pH levels and adding organic matter, or mixing in new soil. A certified lead inspector can tell you which may be the best option for your situation.

Studies have shown that lead does not accumulate in the fruiting part of the vegetable or fruit such as corn, squash, beans, tomatoes, berries, peaches and apples. It’s the leafy vegetables and the surface of root crops such as carrots, beets and potatoes where the higher concentrations of lead are found. A good practice with all produce — whether you grew it yourself or bought it at the market — is to prepare and wash it well. Some tips:

  • Remove outer leaves from leafy crops.
  • Peel all root crops.
  • Wash all produce in mixture of 1 tablespoon of vinegar mixed into 1½ quarts water, which washes away most of the lead, in addition to other impurities.

Click here to schedule a lead test of your soil.