The Truth about Mold: Preventing Summertime Risks and Beyond

Mold is a common household nuisance and is found both inside and outside in varying amounts. For some people, mold and its spores cause very few problems, while for others it can be devastating—even life threatening. In the U.S., there are over two million children with chronic and other serious conditions that are at higher risk for the dangers that mold in their homes and schools can cause. This is due to their weakened immune systems that leave them more susceptible to infection and allow mold to have a more harmful impact. As many as one-third of the children in the U.S., including those who are considered to be “healthy,” are at risk for allergic reactions to mold. Babies that have been exposed to mold, even without incident, may be at a higher risk for developing allergies and even asthma as they get older, which is why mold exposure can be damaging even if no negative symptoms are immediately detected.

Symptoms of mold allergies are typically similar to those of other allergies, which can make it harder to determine the cause. These include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, and coughing. However, symptoms can escalate to more serious problems such as respiratory and circulatory issues. Mold flourishes in warm, damp environments, which is why warm summer temperatures frequently stir up mold allergies. Make sure to stock the medicine cabinet with the appropriate tools and treatments for babies and small children in order to be prepared to treat any symptoms.

t is important for local health departments to take steps to educate families in their area on this issue to prevent easily avoidable dangers. The remainder of this blog include valuable tips and resources on mitigating health risks related to mold exposure.

Stopping Mold Before It Grows

Prevention is always easier than treatment, especially with mold. Once it gets started, some molds are more difficult to control and may require additional treatments and work. Local health departments should educate their community members on taking the following preventative measures to reduce health risks associated with mold exposure.

Reduce humidity in the home:

  • Because mold thrives in warm and wet conditions, try to keep dampness to a minimum. Install a dehumidifier if necessary. Open windows for ventilation, but close them when there are reports of higher humidity levels.

Household plants:

  • Keep houseplants to a minimum in rooms that may be at higher risk of mold growth, such as rooms with high moisture levels and low ventilation.
  • This is especially important in rooms that do not get visited often, such as the basement, where signs of mold growth can go undetected for longer periods of time.

Bathroom:

  • Do not use carpeting in the bathroom, especially with children. Use washable mats or a towel on the floor instead. Dry the floor as soon as possible.
  • Bathrooms are particularly vulnerable to mold growth, because they often do not have windows, which makes ventilating the damp area more difficult. If there is a window, open it often to dry out the bathroom.
  • If there is an exhaust fan in the bathroom, turn it on as soon as the bath is done so that the room gets dried up quickly.
  • Other common areas for mold growth include the shower curtain and around the bathtub and the sinks.

Kitchen:

  • Any appliances that require water are common places for leaks and mold growth. Be sure to inspect under refrigerators, icemakers, dishwashers, coffee makers, etc.

Pipes/ Drainage:

  • Repair any leaking pipes. Clean up any water immediately and use a fan to make sure that any moisture is dried.
  • Increase the drainage away from the house to protect against leaks.

Summer Toys: The Perfect Hiding Spot for Mold

Pool, bath, and teething toys are breeding grounds for mold, because they can hold a lot of moisture and harbor mold growth undetected for long periods of time. Local health departments should provide the following prevention and treatment tips to limit mold exposure for children engaging in summertime activities and during bath time.

Pool toys:

  • During summer months, kids are playing with many moisture-laden toys to keep cool such as pool noodles, water guns, absorbent animals and balls, and all sorts of inflatable pool toys. Make sure these and other water-friendly toys are squeezed out and left out to dry before storing them after use.
  • Eliminate the risk by using alternative toys such as measuring cups, stacking blocks, and other items without places for water to hide. The advantage of these toys is the ability to toss them directly in the dishwasher after swimming or a bath.

Pool garments:

  • Swimsuits and towels are also used and re-used frequently in the summertime. Do not leave either of these sitting in a ball somewhere. It is important to pick them up and spread them out in a ventilated or breeze spot so they can completely dry out before use.
  • Be sure to regularly wash suits, towels, and any other damp clothing.

Bath toys:

  • For regular bath toys, one option is to plug the small holes with water-resistant glue. This keeps them from squeaking and/or shooting water but keeps them mold free.
  • Boil bath toys about once a week, and allow them to air dry completely.
  • Soak toys in white vinegar overnight to clean them. The vinegar odor will dissipate as it dries.

Teething toys:

  • Teething toys can also harbor moisture for mold to grow. Squeeze all of the water or drool out of rubber or mesh teething toys and clean them using a damp cloth.
  • Teething and bath toys can be run through the sanitize cycle on the dishwasher and then allowed to air dry.

A Surprising Source of Mold

One of the most surprising sources of mold problems can be found in children’s sippy cups/water bottles, used increasingly often during summer months as a source of hydration. Many people do not completely disassemble sippy cups when they are cleaning them, greatly increasing the potential for mold growth. Local health departments should provide the following cleaning steps for sippy cups/ water bottles to minimize and eliminate mold growth:

Sippy cups:

  • If there is a rubber or plastic ring on the lid of the sippy cup, make sure to pull it out and rinse under it carefully.
  • Look for sippy cups with solid, one-piece lids, but make sure to clean the spout or drinking straw as well.
  • All of the cups and parts can be washed in the dishwasher. Make sure that everything is completely dry before reassembling them.

Water bottles:

  • Disposable water bottles should not be reused, not only because of the risk of mold but because the plastic can leach into the water and can be harmful to a child’s health.
  • Metal water bottles are good because they keep drinks cooler and are easy to sanitize in the dishwasher.
  • Whenever in doubt over whether mold was completely cleaned from a toy, it is best to be safe and throw it out.

The Critical Role of Local Health Departments

Families with young children should be able to enjoy cooling off in the summer heat risk-free. Unfortunately, many parents and guardians are unaware of the hidden dangers that lurk in the nooks and crannies of their child’s toys. As a result, it is vital that local health departments provide ongoing and visible guidance to highlight the various health risks associated with mold and how to protect their child from exposure. For example, local health officials can disseminate the facts and tips included in this blog via their websites and social media pages, or by engaging in traditional community outreach (e.g., distributing pamphlets, one-pagers).

Deadly E. coli outbreak tied to romaine spreads

The CDC also reported 28 additional cases of illness, bringing the total to 149 since the outbreak began in March. Symptoms of the most recent illnesses reported began April 25. However, the CDC warned that due to a lag in reporting, any illness that occurred in the past two to three weeks may not have been counted in this update.
Last week, the CDC announced that one person had died; the death, in California, was the first known fatality. Previously, the CDC warned that the strain of E. coli identified, O157:H7, is particularly virulent and known to be associated with higher hospitalization and complication rates.
E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce turns deadly
Sixty-four people have been hospitalized, the CDC said, and 17 of those have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure that can be life-threatening, although most people recover in a few weeks.
Symptoms of E. coli begin on average three to four days after the bacteria are consumed. They include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people recover in five to seven days with supportive treatment.
The CDC cautions against the use of antibiotics when dealing with this strain of E. coli because studies have connected antibiotic use with an increased risk for hemolytic uremic syndrome in both children and adults.
“Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli O157 infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli O157 infection is ruled out,” the CDC said.
The US Food and Drug Administration said it received confirmation from the Arizona Department of Agriculture that romaine lettuce is no longer being grown or shipped from the Yuma area. But there is a 21-day shelf life for romaine, the agency says, so there might still be lettuce in the supply chain.
However, the agency confirmed that no other types of lettuce or any other growing region for romaine are involved in the outbreak.
To explain the diverse geographical spread of this outbreak, the FDA said it is still investigating multiple points of origin and distribution. Last week, it identified Harrison Farms as the source of a single outbreak at a correctional facility in Nome, Alaska, that sickened eight inmates.
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The growing season at that farm has ended, and the shelf life of the lettuce from there has passed. Therefore, it is not being sold or served anymore.
Because labels on romaine lettuce do not often list growing regions, it can be difficult for a consumer to tell whether the lettuce they are purchasing is part of the outbreak. The CDC warns consumers not to buy romaine unless they can verify the region of production.
“This advice includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce,” the CDC said. “If you do not know if the lettuce in a salad mix is romaine, do not eat it.”

There’s a Second Flu Wave Coming — and It’s Especially Bad News for Parents with Little Kids!

Here’s what you need to know:

second wave flu

It seems as if this year’s long, widespread flu season should be coming to an end, but parents—especially those with younger children—should stay diligent when it comes to spotting influenza symptoms. There could be a second wave of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the CDC’s most recent weekly report, the organization says that though the overall percentage of influenza activity is decreasing, the proportion of influenza B viruses is increasing, and there were more reports of the influenza B than influenza A during week 11 of this year. For the majority of the flu season, which began in October 2017, most cases reported were influenza A, but in the past week, 59 percent of all confirmed cases were influenza B.

What does all that mean? Parents should be aware that even if their kids were diagnosed with influenza A, they could still get sick with the influenza B virus. “We know that illness associated with influenza B can be just as severe as illness associated with influenza A,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told CNN. “We also know that influenza B tends to be more severe for younger children.”

The possibility of another round of the flu isn’t good news, but it’s also not that surprising. “We often see a wave of influenza B during seasons when influenza A H3N2 was the predominant virus earlier in the season,” Nordlund told the network. “Unfortunately, we don’t know what the influenza B wave will look like.”

The CDC reports that there have been 133 pediatric deaths as a result of this year’s flu season, with five deaths reported in the past week alone. Young children—as well as older adults and pregnant women—are at a higher risk for contracting the flu. According to the CDC’s website, annual vaccinations are the best way to prevent the flu and the “potentially severe complications” the virus causes in children.

Stinky Building Syndrome – Is it a mold problem?

Mold problems can be detected by offensive and mildew odors

Mold Problems

Every now and then, we might have a situation where we have to deal with suspicious odors at home. These odors can be a result of building products, new furniture, carpeting, paint or even mold and water damage problem.  There are many reasons why mold or other smells may appear in your home. When there is water damage,  you may notice that the house stinks of an offensive odor that is similar to mold. At this stage the water soaks into the buildings materials and begins to create a really offensive odor similar to mold.  Sometimes you may notice that the problem is localized to one room or one cabinet.  Thus, it is important to reassess these areas and notice when and how often you see the problem.

Stinky building syndrome

is a common term referred to by Fun Guy Inspections.  As certified mold inspectors we have noticed when water damage is left unattended, the building begins to develop a distinct odor.  The odor is very similar to mold and may represent a future mold problem.  The smell can be quite offensive to some people and unrecognized by others. Stinky building syndrome is likely explained by the mold inspector as a combination of building products, such as drywall, wood, insulation, paint, glues, etc. that are once wetted, still wet, and now emitting odors. How to prevent stinky building syndrome?

The best way to combat this problem is by drying the materials as soon as possible.  Whether you use a certified mold inspector or restoration company, these professionals can help determine the areas that are wet and the best way to dry or dehumidify those building products. When water is released from a pipe or spill, the areas should be cleaned within 24-48 hours in order to prevent mold growth.  Immediately begin to pick up the water with towels or mops.

Depending on the amount of water you may want to consider drying of the walls or flooring with a fan.  If too much water is believed to be released, it is best to call a mold inspector or certified water damage company to dry the building materials properly before mold problems begin. Molds tend to destroy the things that they grow on. And therefore, you can prevent damage to your home and other important furnishings, and also save money and avoid health problems by eliminating moisture and mold growth.

Mold is a part of the natural environment. When outdoors, mold plays an important part in nature by breaking down the dead organic matter such as dead trees. Indoors though, mold growth should be avoided at all costs. The main way through which mold grows and reproduces is by the means of tiny spores. Mold is not just bad for your home but there are other important health effects that they bring. Mold spores can be hazardous to humans and cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions. To check if your home is plagued by mold, you can check for the following symptoms: You will start to experience:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Persistent sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Skin irritation
  • Throat irritation
  • Cough
  • Respiratory issues

There are certain tips that can be followed to clean your home off mold. These include:

Get Rid Of The Water

One way to get rid of mold is to get rid of water. Try to use old towels, buckets and mops to clean the water and clear the ground off water. Drying out the area is the best thing that you can do in order to prevent mold growth.

Dry Out Affected Area

You can also prevent mold growth by drying out the affected area. Once you have cleaned the area, you can use fans and dehumidifiers to clean the area and dry it out. Since mold prevails on water, drying out the area can do wonders for your home.

Disconnect Any Electronics

Moreover, when there is seepage, it is important to clean off the area against water and it is also important to disconnect any electronics. You should try your best to keep the electronics away from the affected area. On the other hand, if you have suspected mold growth, you can also hire professional services to clean the mold. If you are looking for such services, funguyinspections is a good choice. The company is well known for clearing mold off areas and can help in reinstating your house to its original self. Mold growth is harmful and it is better to hire professional help to clean the area off such growth. Funguyinspections works to do just that. They are professionals at cleaning homes with mold and they ensure that your house is restored to its maximum potential and free from all damage. Funguyinspections will work to come in and perform an in-depth inspection and then look for mold, water damage and others to rule out odors that make you uncomfortable and sick. To get a quote from funguyinspections or learn more about how they can help in preventing water damage problem and cleaning your house off water damage, get a quote from their website right away.

Risks of Mold

Risk of Mold | Los Angeles Plumbing repairs and maintenance help prevent water damage and mold growth

Risk of Mold | Los Angeles

Plumbing repairs and maintenance help prevent water damage and mold problems

Tightening the faucet and re-caulking the fixtures can help save thousands of dollars.  . Is your building at risk now?

  1.  Active Leaks – risk of mold increases
  2. Historic Leaks – risk of mold present

How does a mold inspector find plumbing leaks in your home?

By using a moisture meter or thermal infrared camera. As an important indicator, a mold inspector will use moisture content to determine if your building is at risk now.

Home/ Building Owners:

A quick weekly inspection can be conducted to determine if preventative plumbing repairs in your home need to be completed to prevent mold from growing inside your home.

Determine if your building is at risk of mold & water damage

Contact us
water damage will increase the risk of mold inside your home

Health effects | Risks of Mold

Studies have shown that people who are atopic (sensitive), already suffer from allergies, asthma, or compromised immune systems[3] and occupy damp or moldy buildings are at an increased risk of health problems such as inflammatory and toxic responses to mold spores, metabolites and other components.[4] The most common health problem is an allergic reaction. Other problems are respiratory and/or immune system responses including respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections, exacerbation of asthma, and rarely hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis and allergic fungal sinusitis. Severe reactions are rare but possible. A person’s reaction to mold depends on their sensitivity and other health conditions, the amount of mold present, length of exposure and the type of mold or mold products.

Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The term “toxic mold” refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, not to all molds.[5] Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death.[6] Prolonged exposure, e.g., daily workplace exposure, can be particularly harmful.

The five most common genera of indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria and Trichoderma.

Damp environments which allow mold to grow can also produce bacteria and help release volatile organic compounds.

Is Formaldehyde in your wood flooring?

Is Formaldehyde in your wood flooring?

Lumber Liquidators violated California’s air-quality controls by importing wood with formaldehyde

Beleaguered flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators is paying $2.5 million to settle allegations that some of its products violated California’s air-safety standards.

The penalty announced Tuesday was the latest that Lumber Liquidators has absorbed for formerly selling laminate flooring made in China.

In this case, Lumber Liquidators faced allegations that the imported flooring contained high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde that violated California’s air-quality controls. The flooring was sold at Lumber Liquidators’ California stores from September 2013 until May 2015 when the retailer suspended sales of the products made in China.

Lumber Liquidators currently operates 40 of its 375 stores in California.

The Toano, Virginia, company didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement with the California Air Resources Board. Lumber Liquidators Pays $2.5M Over formaldehyde in Flooring

Last year, Lumber Liquidators paid $13.2 million in fines and pleaded guilty to environmental crimes for importing China-made flooring that contained timber illegally logged in eastern Russia.

Lumber Liquidators still faces a variety of class-action lawsuits revolving around the formaldehyde levels of the China-made flooring.

Read More: CDC Revises Lumber Liquidators Flooring Cancer Risk

The legal fallout so far has been less costly to Lumber Liquidators than the damage done to its stock since investigation shown slightly more than a year ago “60 Minutes” raised questions about whether the retailer was selling potentially hazardous flooring.

Shares of Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. have plunged more than 70 percent since the TV program aired, a downturn that has wiped out more than $1 billion in stockholder wealth. The shares rallied Tuesday, gaining $1.74 to $13.76 in afternoon trading.

Formaldehydeinmywoodflooring

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories. Formaldehyde also occurs naturally in the environment. It is produced in small amounts by most living organisms as part of normal metabolic processes.

How is the general population exposed to formaldehyde?

According to a 1997 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, formaldehyde is normally present in both indoor and outdoor air at low levels, usually less than 0.03 parts of formaldehyde per million parts of air (ppm). Materials containing formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas or vapor into the air. One source of formaldehyde exposure in the air is automobile tailpipe emissions.

During the 1970s, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in many homes. However, few homes are now insulated with UFFI. Homes in which UFFI was installed many years ago are not likely to have high formaldehyde levels now. Pressed-wood products containing formaldehyde resins are often a significant source of formaldehyde in homes. Other potential indoor sources of formaldehyde include cigarette smoke and the use of unvented fuel-burning appliances, such as gas stoves, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene heaters.

Industrial workers who produce formaldehyde or formaldehyde-containing products, laboratory technicians, certain health care professionals, and mortuary employees may be exposed to higher levels of formaldehyde than the general public. Exposure occurs primarily by inhaling formaldehyde gas or vapor from the air or by absorbing liquids containing formaldehyde through the skin.

http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-fact-sheet

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/lumber-liquidators-pays-2-5m-over-carcinogen-flooring-n544041