Summer vacations are when mold comes out to play

 

 

Summertime traditionally brings family trips, school vacations, as well as plenty of hot uncomfortable weather. Those sunny days, however, often come with high humidity and afternoon thundershowers — ideal conditions for annoying and potentially toxic mold.

It’s a pervasive menace that is poised each summer to grow and thrive in your house. Left unattended, fast-growing mold can cause damage that will cost in the thousands of dollars to eradicate or, worse, pose a dangerous threat to the health of your entire family.

“No one knows how many homes have mold behind the walls, but the best estimate is about 70 percent,” said Richard E. Gots, a doctor and founder of the International Center for Toxicology and Medicine, a biomedical consulting firm.

Gots’s estimate refers to mold that is at an “elevated level” and therefore should be addressed if the conditions exist for the mold to take hold and grow.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets levels for acceptable radon levels as well as a threshold for lead in the house or water supply, and states regulate termite inspections and control compliance. Yet there are no federal or state regulations that dictate a safe level of mold for a residential property.

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) has been campaigning for several years to pass legislation that would require residential property owners, including landlords, to disclose the presence of mold in their apartment, condo or house. This legislation is still pending.

 According to the District’s housing code, the Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) inspectors cannot cite a homeowner for mold because the city considers mold to be “an environmental problem,” rather than a housing or safety issue. Mold, of course, is notoriously difficult to detect, and what may look like dangerous mold can only be legitimately determined under a microscope by a competent inspector or lab. Additionally, most homeowner insurance policies will not cover damage from mold — they consider it a “preventable” condition.

In reality, mold is a fungus that can grow anywhere moisture is present. Mold spores thrive in warm temperatures (77 to 86 degree Fahrenheit) and wherever there are damp conditions. Mold spores are in the air we breathe, and they can grow on any surface. In a house, mold can be found in ceilings and walls, under sinks, in drywall, hidden behind wallpaper or baseboards, in the ductwork or even on furniture and clothes. It can also grow outdoors under wood piles or mulch, gutters or abandoned trash.

Mold in a house can lay dormant until it gets the needed heat and humidity to grow and multiply. Additionally, it needs a food source, such as dust, dirt or some other organic debris.

While not everyone will react to this growth in the same way, those sensitive to allergic or toxic mold can develop alarming symptoms upon merely entering a contaminated room. The result can be a serious — even life-threatening — illness if not treated in time.

 If you suspect that you’ve been exposed to mold — or begin to experience dizziness, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath or other symptoms of illness — contact a mold specialist and have your property inspected as soon as possible. Licensed professionals will test the air quality of your house and take samples of the visual mold, which will be sent to a qualified lab for evaluation.

The EPA provides helpful information in its publication “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home” at www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html . And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focuses on the health hazards of mold exposure and provides recommendations for removing mold exposure at www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm#note .

In addition to the traditional methods for eradicating mold (such as using chemicals or chlorine bleach and physically removing infected surfaces), there is a new, enzyme-based alternative. Previously used as a protective spray for fruits and vegetables, it is now available for home use.

Jenn Sherwood, manager of Green Home Solutions of Maryland, says that the enzyme spray is a cost-effective, time-saving and environmentally responsible way for homeowners to eradicate mold. The process uses a “fogger,” which emits a fine spray that is able to penetrate most porous surfaces (such as drywall) or even non-visible areas — behind walls or inside insulation. This method of eradicating mold often eliminates the need to remove and replace the existing material.

The EPA regards this spray as nontoxic to humans or pets and harmless to both surfaces and belongings in the home. The enzyme works by creating a bond with the mold spore, and then breaking it down from the inside. As a result, the mold is chemically altered into a particle that is no longer allergenic, toxigenic, or able to reproduce other spores. This treatment can cost from one-third to one-tenth less than the cost of traditional methods.

Given that your insurance company may not cover mold damage, it’s important to take immediate action.

Here are three easy steps to help prevent mold when you go on vacation:

●Check for areas where water could accumulate — such as around windows, doors, bathroom leaks, kitchen sinks and washing machines.

●Clean surfaces of oil, soap, dust and dirt. Those materials are a feeding ground for mold when moisture is present.

●Set the temperature inside the house in the low 70s, if possible. If you suspect humidity, set a dehumidifier to keep the moisture level below 60 percent. In your closet, place a hanging moisture absorber (such as Damp Rid) that will trap excess humidity and eliminate musty odors.

Sandy Gadow, a freelance writer and author of “The Complete Guide to Your Real Estate Closing,”

Debunking some toxic mold myths

In 2000, a new “toxic mold” panic swept the country, and after 16 years of untold lawsuits and billions of dollars spent, major myths still plague and unnecessarily panic association boards, managers and homeowners. The myths all too often cause exaggerated repairs, unduly frightened residents, and conflict. In this and the next column, I will address thirteen pervasive toxic mold myths.

1. Mold is new. Mold, one of the earliest and simplest life forms, has existed for thousands of years. Almost 100 years ago, mold was the basis of the discovery of penicillin. Mold is ever-present, as is dust or pollen.

2. The scientific and medical communities confirm mold’s many dangers. In 2004, the National Institute of Medicine published its comprehensive study on indoor mold exposure, called “Damp Indoor Spaces and Health.” A central finding was: “Scientific evidence links mold … in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some people with the chronic disorder, as well as to coughing, wheezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people… However, the available evidence does not support an association between … mold and the wide range of other health complaints that have been ascribed.”

 That sounds like mold is as dangerous as dust or pollen to people with severe asthma. The announcement containing this finding is easily located by a web search, but it did not receive much press play – stories of frightened people living in tents are more interesting.

3. One must determine the kind of mold present. Mold consultants and plaintiff attorneys often describe some molds as worse than others. The most famous mold is stachybotrys chartarum, a mold producing infinitesimal quantities of a substance similar to botulism poison. However, the amount is so small they call it a “mycotoxin.” It sounds frightening, but the scientific community long ago debunked the myth that this or any mold was somehow poisonous to breathe. For example, read the National Institute of Health Fact Sheet on Mold, found at www.niehs.nih.gov.

4. California is protected by the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001. The act instructed the Department of Public Health to develop permissible exposure limits of the various mold strains. However, in 2005, and again in 2008, the DPH reported the task could not be completed with the scientific information available. Consequently, there is presently no official standard as to how many mold spores of any given variety are “unhealthy.”

5. Always start with a mold test. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends against mold testing. There is no standard as to how many mold spores are “unhealthy,” and indoor air sampling tests are extremely vulnerable to events in the home, which can change the results. A recent shower, window opening or carpet cleaning are some of the many factors that can completely change test outcomes.

Mold tests, to put it bluntly, primarily frighten the occupants and create a “need” for the expense of a mold consultant, and a second test after the area is cleaned. Since the health authorities have not confirmed any particular strain is more dangerous, and since there is no official standard as to how many airborne spores are unhealthy, there is rarely a good reason to spend the money on such a test.

 

Air quality issues of mold and asbestos temporarily closes Indiana Avenue Elementary school, second time this month

Air quality issues of mold and asbestos temporarily closes Indiana Avenue Elementary school, second time this month

Schools Superintendent Robert Zega said school officials are working with environmental consultants to determine the best course of action for remediation after air quality issues of mold and asbestos have resulted in the closure, reopening and again re-closure of the elementary school on Indiana Avenue in the Iselin section of the township.

Students had been attending split sessions at Iselin Middle School since March 5.

 The elementary school reopened on March 19 after test results of mold had been resolved; however, on March 28, the students were back at Iselin Middle School.

“Recent test results have caused us to temporarily close the school, out of an abundance of caution,” Zega said in a statement on March 28. “The health of our students and staff is, and always will be, our top priority. Therefore, the students will be attending Iselin Middle School on split sessions until we are able to re-open. We appreciate the patience of our entire school community throughout this difficult process.”

As of March 29, asbestos was found in a classroom on desks, according to a test report posted on the school district’s website.

School officials did not give a time frame on how long Indiana School will be closed.

On Jan. 27, RAMM Environmental Services, Inc., of Fairlawn, Bergen County, conducted an indoor air/surface quality assessment report for the school’s principal’s office, main office and a classroom, which found levels of mold exceeding outdoor concentrations in the tested areas.

The elementary school was temporarily closed on Feb. 23 and the students were off from school for a week.

On March 1, Zega sent a letter to parents and guardians of students at Indiana School to explain the temporary closure of the school and the decision to hold split sessions at Iselin Middle School.

Zega said in the letter Iselin Middle was a reasonable choice because it is relatively close and it has the capacity for the 600 students from School No. 18.

The Woodbridge Township Education Association (WTEA) had McCabe Environmental Services, LLC, of Lyndhurst, Bergen County, collect various types of asbestos samples from within the school.

 Asbestos contamination was found in a debris sample that was collected from atop of a suspended ceiling tile system.

“Based on the data we have collected we can conclude that the locations tested are not considered an asbestos hazard for occupancy at this time,” John H. Chiaviello, vice president at McCabe Environmental Services, said in a letter to Brian Geoffroy, president of the WTEA, on March 16.

However, he said any disturbance of the ceiling system could pose a potential health hazard if the debris is not addressed.

“Based on our observations, there is no evidence of remnant ceiling plaster, fireproofing, pipe or other insulation above the drop ceiling that could be the source of the asbestos detected in the sample,” Chiaviello said. “Since the school is a one-story building, along with recent solar panel modifications to the roof deck, we suspect the source to be the roofing materials that have been disturbed and penetrated through to the ceiling system below.”

Article Source: http://www.centraljersey.com/news/sentinel_edison_metuchen/stories/air-quality-issues-of-mold-and-asbestos-temporarily-closes-indiana/article_9a4cbd57-dd5e-5ed3-af8a-525891765f0f.html

The Tricky Case Of A Mold Allergy And How Fun Guy Inspections Can Help With It

Think of these situations: you might get a runny nose from time to time. You are having a relaxing evening on the couch with your loved one and, out of the blue, you start sneezing, and your eyes get watery. If you know to have allergies, then you probably have already taken care of allergens around your house. But did you?

Wall texture with scratches and rust Free Photo

If you have an apparently spotless house, and still get allergy symptoms than it is most likely that you have mold in your house. With mold comes the common mold allergy. It is that simple. Only it is not that simple to see all mold spots around your house.

It might not seem that big of a deal at first, but a mold allergy can lead to nasty complications. A simple allergy can turn into mold-induced asthma or even hypersensitivity pneumonitis. We recommend you call a specialist to at least give your house a thorough inspection. That is where Fun Guy Inspections come into play!

But I have already cleaned my house of mold! There were some ugly spots, and I have cleaned them with vinegar.” That is fine and all, but in the case of mold infections, vinegar is not enough. The main risk factors that cause a mold allergy are high humidity in your house, mold hidden behind the paint on the walls, and general mold exposure. These factors are hard to detect without a unique tool. At Fun Guy Inspections we have all it needs for your house to become mold free.

We can inspect, track and remove all the mold that you might not even know you have. Once every room and corner in your house will be clean, you can expect improvements in your health. A mold allergy has no chance of developing in a mold-free environment. And we make sure that you have such an environment.

Surface texture with scratches Free Photo

The most important thing you need to know about the mold allergy is this: if you get long-term exposure to mold, you might get allergic to it, among other health risks. As we said earlier, mold found under the paint, and even in walls, so you cannot know for sure if you have it around your house. Our certified inspectors from Fun Guy Inspections have the necessary equipment to find where mold is hiding in your household. They come to you, take the steps required to identify mold spots and then talk to you about what you need to do.

You will feel improvements in the mold allergy almost immediately. When your body comes into a mold-free environment, you will be sure about the problem you had. To keep your house in a pristine condition, we recommend having proper ventilation around the house. Poor airflow in a building makes mold easier to form and infest your home.

You know the risks, and you know the people to get rid of them. If you want to know if mold is the culprit of your allergy, call for the Fun Guy Inspections mold removing services.

Lights, mold, cleaners can cause ‘sick building syndrome’

 – A day at the office could be making some people sick. And when businesses have a problem, many call Francisco Aguirre’s company PureAir Control Services in Clearwater to fix it.

Think of them as sick building sleuths.

“‘Sick building syndrome’ is a term used to describe a combination of non-specific ailments that are temporarily associated with the workplace,” Francisco said. “I have seen buildings that are brand new, and they have not even been finished for occupancy and they are already experiencing indoor air quality problems.”

Discomfort can be caused by bacteria, fungi, dust, and believe it or not, lights.

“Lights can also give you headaches, watery eyes and things like that,” Aguirre explained.

But there could be something more to some people’s symptoms.

Dr. Richard Lockey, an indoor air quality expert and director of allergy and immunology at the University of South Florida, believes there are other contributing factors.

“We have found that buildings are much cleaner in which people work than their own homes,” Lockey told us. “Some homes are so filthy that we can’t believe it when we go in and test what’s in the home. Yet people don’t complain about their homes, they complain about the building. So there’s a disconnect there.”

According to the World Health Organization, a third of all buildings have air quality concerns. But Dr. Lockey has a word of caution.

“It’s important for physicians and other healthcare professionals to properly evaluate these patients so you don’t inappropriately accuse a builder or owner of a building of something that doesn’t exist,” he said.

In the end, whatever you think is making you sick at work could be real or imagined, but both experts agree that poor air filtration in the workplace and at home can lead to some allergy-like symptoms.

Be sure to replace filters regularly, and make sure all ventilation systems are working properly.

Article Source: http://www.fox13news.com/news/local-news/lights-mold-cleaners-can-cause-sick-building-syndrome

Mold contamination prompts New Jersey district to close all 6 of its schools for at least a week

WPVI-TV reports that the schools—one high, one middle and four elementary—will be closed so inspections can be completed. The district has about 6,200 students.

The announcement of the closings comes just hours before an emergency school board meeting is to be held regarding the situation.

The situation began with the discovery of mold inside Holly Glen Elementary School. The district closed that campus last Friday and was preparing to split the student body among the three remaining elementary schools.

In light of the additional school closings, plans to have teachers prepare replacement classrooms have been postponed, and an open house for students and parents at their temporary schools also has been canceled.

Last week, the district closed Holly Glen after a consultant, TTI Environmental Inc., found dangerous mold growing throughout the school on doors, desks, book cases, lockers, ceiling tiles and other areas. The consultant recommended that Holly Glen be closed and thoroughly cleaned.

“Based on the information provided and the results of our visual investigation and sampling, TTI recommends that the school be closed until cleaning and additional evaluation be conducted to insure the safety of the children and staff,” the consultant’s report stated.

Article Source: http://www.asumag.com/indoor-air-quality-iaq/mold-contamination-prompts-new-jersey-district-close-all-6-its-schools-least