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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.

Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon

Radon: The Silent Killer

Radon: The Silent Killer

Most of us have heard of radon, and if we have bought or sold a house recently, the terms of the sale probably depended on a radon test. But that does not mean we have any idea of what radon is or the harm it can cause.

What is Radon?

Radon is an invisible and odorless radioactive gas produced when uranium naturally decays in soil and water. The Environmental Protection Agency confirms that radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. The EPA estimates that more than six million homes in the United States have a radon problem, and the toxic gas claims the lives of more than 21,000 Americans annually.

In fact, radon caused more American fatalities in 2018 than drunk driving, carbon monoxide poisoning, house fires and choking combined.

Both the EPA and the Surgeon General urge every homeowner to test their homes at least every two years for radon. Radon testing should be part of a thorough indoor air quality test. Paints, solvents, cleansers, disinfectants, air fresheners, pesticides, nicotine, glue, home furnishings and building materials — the list of chemicals in our homes goes on and on – poisons the air we breathe. Even low concentrations of these chemicals can irritate your eyes, nose and throat; cause headaches, loss of coordination and nausea; and can damage the liver, kidneys and the central nervous system.

Indoor air quality tests should check for radon, mold, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particles from furnaces and wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, and common allergens.

To schedule a test, call RTK Environmental Group at 800.392.6468, or click here.

 

Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon

Facts on IAQ: I’m Breathing in WHAT?!

indoor air westchester new yorkIndoor air quality and pollution are a hot topic, and for good reason. The air inside of our homes and offices can be up to 90% more polluted than the air outside. VOCs, toxic cleaners and chemicals can all pollute your indoor air, which is why air quality testing has become important part of keeping us healthy. This is the time of year when we have to be extra careful, as many of us are living with the air conditioning on 24/7, and have little fresh air circulating.

Air Pollution New York New JerseyPaints, solvents, cleansers, disinfectants, air fresheners, pesticides, nicotine, glue…the list of chemicals in our homes goes on and on. These all contribute to poor indoor air quality. Even low concentrations of these can irritate your eyes, nose and throat; cause headaches, loss of coordination and nausea; and can damage the liver, kidneys and the central nervous system. Children and older people are particularly vulnerable. So are pets. In fact, they are often the ones who show signs of illness first.

air quality connecticut

Indoor air quality testing can determine if there are dangerous levels of chemicals in your home, including radon, carbon monoxide, nicotine and particles from furnaces and wood-burning fireplaces or stoves. You can also test for common asthma triggers such as dust mites and insects cells. Once you have the results, we can tell you how to eliminate them, and how to keep future household chemical contamination under control. For information on when you may want to conduct an indoor air quality test, visit our IAQ and Radon page.

It’s a matter of health – yours and your family’s.


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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 .

Categories
Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead Mold

How to Prevent Having a “Sick Home” This Winter

Sick Home

With winter just weeks away, we usually focus on conserving heat in our homes and tightly latch storm windows, secure the doors from drafts, and check the attic insulation. But we should be thinking about keeping our homes healthy as well. Unfortunately, many homes, especially newer ones, are built so airtight that they cannot breathe – literally! So, a warm and cozy house becomes a “sick home”.

Inadequate ventilation is a top cause of sick home syndrome. The newer  “air-tight” homes are sealed so well that hardly any fresh air enters. Moisture builds up but can’t escape and that makes a perfect breeding ground for mold. Without fresh air circulating through your rooms, indoor pollutants including chemicals from paint or rugs, mold, radon, and other airborne particles, have nowhere to escape.

This can cause an array of health problems, from breathing issues to allergies to headaches.  Besides airing your home from time to time, you can take other preventative measures to reduce indoor pollutants:

Mold grows on water-damaged materials and can cause allergies.  To prevent it:

  • Clean humidifier and air conditioning drain pans
  • Run your bathroom vent fan when showering and for 30 minutes following
  • Repair cracks in basement walls and floor
  • Keep your (outdoor) gutters clean, so ice does not build up.

Radon is an odorless, invisible gas that can over time increase the risk of lung cancer. It seeps into houses from the earth below.  Get your house tested this fall before winter sets in.  Testing for radon is recommended once every 5 years, as your foundation can settle and crack, possibly releasing a new source of radon into your home.

Lead paint was used in homes built before 1978, after which it was outlawed. But many people merely covered the old paint with new. So, when sanding during renovation work or opening or closing windows, the dust may contain lead. Lead dust and paint chips can cause lead poisoning, which is especially dangerous for children. Lead poisoning has been linked to a host of issues, including autism and ADHD.  If you have an older house, get it tested for lead before you close up your house this winter.

Your health and safety are paramount. If suspect you may have a “sick home”, have an environmental inspector come in to test your indoor air quality. It can make all the difference between a sick home and a healthy family!