Asbestos found in some crayons, consumer group finds

Parents buying school supplies for grammar schoolers would be wise to avoid Playskool crayons. The brand, sold at Dollar Tree, was found to have trace elements of asbestos.

“The good news is that when we were testing three years ago, all sorts of brands came back with asbestos,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director at U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which conducts annual tests of toys and school supplies. “Now it’s just this one.”

Indeed, in tests run in 2015, many major brands, including Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons and Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crayons, contained trace amounts of asbestos fibers — a substance that can cause breathing difficulties and cancer if inhaled. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission acknowledged that it was unclear whether the asbestos trapped in crayon wax posed a danger, it noted that kids sometimes eat crayons and recommended that parents avoid asbestos-containing brands as a precaution. Since then, most brands have revamped their crayon manufacturing process to eliminate even trace elements of asbestos fibers.

However, in tests run this year on green Playskool crayons, U.S. PIRG found tremolite fibers — a type of asbestos. A handful of other products that U.S. PIRG tested also contained dangerous chemicals, according to the organization’s just released back-to-school report.

  • Blue three-ring binders made by Jot and sold at Dollar Tree tested positive for phthalates, a substance linked with asthma, obesity and lower-IQ scores, for instance.
  • Dry erase markers made by Expo and The Board Dudes tested positive for carcinogenic BTEX chemicals, such as benzene, xylene, and toluene.
  • Additionally, two types of children’s water bottles were previously recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for containing lead — Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends water bottle, sold at Costco and Amazon, and GSI Outdoors Children’s Water Bottles, sold at L.L. Bean. Despite the recall, a CBS New reporter was able to order the Hydro Pro Furry Friends product from Costco online. A Costco spokesman failed to return a reporter’s phone calls.

Retailers and manufacturers of these products said they were scrambling Monday to evaluate the PIRG data, which some said conflicted with their own laboratory tests.

A spokesman for Dollar Tree said all of its children’s products are independently tested and meet all legal and safety standards.

Julie Duffy, a spokeswoman for Hasbro, which owns the Playskool brand, said the company would investigate the US PIRG claims thoroughly, “including working with Leap Year, the licensee of the product.”

“We are aware of a report of trace amounts of asbestos being detected in a small amount of product testing conducted by a private group and are reviewing our own certified lab testing, which to our knowledge, passes all regulatory requirements and had no detectable asbestos,” added a spokesman for LeapYear.  “We will issue a formal statement upon the completion of our review.  Consumer safety is most important to Leap Year and we take these matters very seriously.”

The bright side: The vast majority of products tested by U. S. PIRG this year were found to be devoid of toxic chemicals. U.S. PIRG also tested glue, lunch boxes, spiral notebooks and rulers, as well as multiple other types of crayons and pens. Indeed, Cook-Schultz said the Art and Creative Materials Institute has also begun testing and labeling products and all of the ACMI-labeled items proved safe.

“I think there’s good news here for parents,” said Cook-Schultz. “You can look for these labels and buy safe products.”

— This story has been corrected to exclude Crayola and Rose Art crayons from those found to have trace amounts of asbestos in 2015. Both brands tested negative for asbestos that year.

Cooperative Purchasing Makes Indoor Air Quality & HVAC Services Immediately Available

IAQ Cooperative purchasing

What is cooperative purchasing and how does it work?

What is one hurdle every company must jump when selling to a governmental agency? Price. You could have the best bid package and offer the best service or product but there is always concerns on the side of the purchasing agent.  That is where cooperative (co-op) purchasing agreements help ease deal. Co-op purchasing helps public agencies to have a little more flexibility in procuring goods and services, and greatly reduces administrative time and expenses. Essentially, it’s a bridge for the member agency to get the best price or value and delivery from a pre-bid vendor. Co-op purchasing vehicles also provide a vetting process of the vendor and compliance to give an extra layer of trust for the procuring agency. Think of it as a pre-bid or piggybacking contract rather than no bid contract. Cooperative purchasing offers the ability to save time, money, and frustration by the sharing of contract resources within the co-op member base.

The benefits of using cooperative purchasing

Cooperative purchasing eliminates the need to write bids over and over. This saves time by removing the request for proposal process, which can normally be a lengthy process. Sometimes 60-90 days! It reduces the paper work and layers of review that can take months to complete. This will have a direct positive effect on cost savings for the procuring agency. A co-op removes the stress of the job being completed in a timely manner while guaranteeing it’s done by a capable and trustworthy approved vendor. This provides greater efficiency for acquiring services. If there is an immediate indoor air quality (IAQ) issue, for example, it can be addressed without the need to go through an arduous bid and review process.

Another benefit is that there is no or little cost to participating members, depending on the specific cooperative agency. A co-op also enables members to use the professional service that is highly specific or proprietary to their needs. Pure Air Control Services offers PURE-Steam coil cleaning, and HVAC New Life Restoration which are state-of-the-art IAQ and energy saving services that are readily available to those agency members in the cooperative purchasing group.

Cooperative Contracts with Pure Air Control Services Inc.

Higher Education and K-12
E and I LogoPure Air Control Services has teamed up with Educational & Institutional Cooperative Purchasing (E&I) Contract no. CNR01446
Educational & Institutional Cooperative Services (E&I) is a not-for-profit buying cooperative established by members of the National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP). The cooperative is owned by its membership of more than 1,800 colleges, universities, and K-12 educational institutions throughout the United States.

K-12
PAEC LogoPanhandle Area Education Consortium (PAEC) and their Florida Buy Program contract no. 18-05
PAEC partners with the Association of Educational Purchasing Agencies (AEPA) to leverage the purchasing power of schools in more than half the country ease the procurement of our IAQ testing and remediation services. This agency features contracts that are available to all Florida schools, municipalities, country government, colleges, and universities, and non-profit organizations.

City, County and State Governments
TIPS LogoThe Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS) contract no. 170602 and 170702
The Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS) contracts simplify the purchasing process for governmental agencies to procure our IAQ Consultation and remediation services. TIPS has over a decade of experience providing effective and economical purchasing activity for any government entities.

Pure Air Control Services, Inc. can provide IAQ services through our contracts with these agencies to assist city, county, state and federal governments, along with schools and universities with identifying baseline IAQ/Energy conditions and providing specific, definitive remedial recommendations to improve building health and efficiency.

Article Original Source: http://pureaircontrols.com/cooperative-purchasing-indoor-air-quality-services-immediately/

Asbestos In The FNPF-Owned Building In Suva Poses No Threat

The Fiji National Provident Fund advises that asbestos-containing material has been identified at the Kwong Tiy Plaza building in Marks Street, Suva.

The asbestos-containing material was found in the fascia board and roofing insulation by the National Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Service of the Ministry of Employment.

The asbestos identified in the Plaza is well-contained in the building and does not pose any threat to the health and safety of occupants, surrounding stakeholders and the general public.

The Fund acquired the Kwong Tiy Plaza Building in 1994. Built in the early 1980’s, it was common for asbestos to be used in most buildings constructed or renovated at that time.

FNPF acknowledges its obligations as the property owner and is working closely with nominated consultants, asbestos removal contractor and the Ministry of Employment, in line with the Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos and international best practices to safely remove the asbestos-containing material.

Monitoring

Air monitoring will be conducted regularly throughout the removal process to ensure that there are no airborne threats to the general public, workplace and the surrounding environment.

The FNPF sees its role as vital in dealing with the matter responsibly and requests the understanding and cooperation of our stakeholders in regards to this matter.

Source: Fiji National Provident Fund

Ashley parents meet with district, elected officials for information on air quality

20180225w_nws_ashley

As students, parents and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools prepare for summer break, discussions continue about the indoor air quality of an East Winston elementary school.

District administrators and a handful of Board of Education members sat down Monday with parents at Ashley Academy for Cultural and Global Studies to discuss air-quality concerns and what school officials plan to do about them.

Steps have been taken by the board to help improve the school building’s air quality before the new school year, but some in the community have publicly called for further action in the form of a new school building they feel is overdue.

The purpose of Monday’s meetings was to sit down with parents and answer any questions or address concerns they had about the subject.

“They have a plan in place I think that will bring the school up to where it needs to be come August,” said Renee Hairston, who has a grandson at Ashley.

Earlier this semester, concerns about the indoor air quality at the school were expressed to administration and the board.

Two air-quality reports prior to that showed low levels of indoor mold spores.

But a new report released in April showed evidence of mold growth in some HVAC units, and recommended replacing or cleaning the units.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, mold can cause allergy and respiratory infections, and worsen conditions such as asthma, for those sensitive to it.

The board voted in early May to go ahead with replacing units during the summer months at a total cost of $1.585 million.

School board member Elisabeth Motsinger said the meeting Monday was positive. “I think it was good to hear directly from parents what their concerns were and to be able to answer their questions with reliable, good and accurate information,” she said.

Hairston said that if she didn’t think the school and the district were taking the right steps, she would not have her grandson return to Ashley next fall.

“But I think they’re taking the right steps,” she said. “They’re doing as much as they can until they get the funds on the referendum to replace the school. So I think they’re doing OK.”

At the May 22 board meeting, a group of concerned citizens under the name #Action4Ashley had a large presence and spoke during public comment, saying they felt not enough attention has been given to Ashley and the air quality. Many asked that funds be moved around in the 2016 bond to speed up the process of designing and building a new Ashley school building.

Article Source: https://www.journalnow.com/news/local/ashley-parents-meet-with-district-elected-officials-for-information-on/article_56f1b024-0ab0-52d7-8863-3401e79a10b7.html

OnTrack fined after employees exposed to asbestos

The Oregon Occupational and Safety and Health Division has fined OnTrack $19,350 after employees of the drug addiction recovery organization improperly handled asbestos at an apartment in west Medford.

OSHA inspected the building at 514 Hamilton St. on various dates in May and determined that OnTrack failed to follow proper procedures, provide protective equipment and communicate about the proper handling of asbestos with employees.

The 10 citations issued June 1 resulted from scraping acoustic ceiling without wetting it first and workers not wearing protective gear or disposing of the asbestos properly, including not placing it in air-tight containers.

“While OnTrack workers were renovating a property on Hamilton Street recently, part of the ceiling was mistakenly scraped, which contained asbestos materials,” said Eddie Wallace, OnTrack’s communications director, who responded by email to a request for comment from the Mail Tribune. “OnTrack immediately reported this episode to the DEQ (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality) and engaged in the cleaning and repair of the area according to strict DEQ guidelines.”

Wallace said OnTrack followed all the rules set by DEQ, though he didn’t address questions raised by the OSHA citations.

He said OnTrack employees have received updated training.

Wallace said the email statement would be the only response from his organization related to the OSHA citations.

According to OSHA documents, OnTrack employee Andy Scott filed the complaint, which led to the investigation and four different inspections May 8, May 9, May 11 and May 18.

Scott, a maintenance worker who started working for OnTrack last year, said his supervisors were dismissive when he questioned whether there might be asbestos in the “popcorn” ceiling that was being scraped off by other workers.

“I knew there was a risk there,” said Scott, who said he is seeking whistleblower protection from the Bureau of Labor and Industries. “They were minimizing that there are known carcinogens in there.”

He said he saw two piles of material on the ground, and a section of the ceiling had been scraped off. At this point, Scott said, he didn’t want to go into the apartment because the dust would likely have asbestos in it.

After being dismissed on other occasions, Scott said he contacted OSHA.

Analysis of debris from the apartment showed it contained up to 10 percent chrysotile asbestos.

The apartment on Hamilton was undergoing renovation, though it was locked up Friday and the interior was empty.

In the same building is another apartment, with an OnTrack family living inside.

The OSHA documents describe employees working in the apartment without whole-body clothing, head coverings or gloves. Protective clothing wasn’t required by OnTrack for the employees.

Once a common building material, asbestos was phased out in the 1970s and 1980s after health officials determined the fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses, such as lung cancer and other diseases.

Article Source: http://mailtribune.com/news/top-stories/ontrack-fined-after-employees-exposed-to-asbestos

Your Kitchen and Mold

Kitchen Mold Removal

Are you concerned that black mold could be lurking in your kitchen, perhaps hiding in the cupboards? Not only is it unattractive, it can also cause respiratory problems for your family. The following guide can help you locate, prevent and destroy any black mold that has taken up residence in your kitchen.

Where to find black mold in the kitchen?

Black mold tends to grow in dark, damp areas, which means it could be festering in a kitchen cabinet or cupboard for a long time before you uncover it. For this reason, it’s vital that you identify the areas in your kitchen that are going to be most prone to mold growth. This will give you the necessary knowledge so that you can find the problem before it gets too bad. Places to check include the following:

    • Underneath the kitchen sink. Check the cabinet bottom and the back wall where the sink pipes enter for dampness or past signs of water damage, such as bubbling or peeling surfaces. Even if black mold isn’t visible, it could be growing on the underside of the sink cabinet or behind the wallboard.
  • Under the refrigerator. A leak from a water line to the icemaker or simple condensation collection underneath the fridge could create the optimum environment for fungal growth. If your kitchen flooring looks like it has suffered water damage or if there is standing water and mildew present, black mold could also be growing under the floorboards. Also, check any cupboards near the fridge to make sure there is no moisture damage.
  • Cabinets above or next to wall mounted microwaves or oven hoods. Another common trouble spot is behind the cabinets that border microwaves and hoods. This is because moisture and condensation from cooking can accumulate in these cupboard areas, especially if ventilation is insufficient.

Kitchen mold prevention

Since prevention is key to black mold management in the home, now that you know your kitchen’s trouble spots you are better able to stop it from growing in the first place.

Begin by checking underneath the sink on a regular basis and fixing leaks immediately. Keep the sink cupboard area clean and neat so you can empty it out for a quick leak check regularly. If you are like many people and use this cupboard area for cleaning supplies, place the supplies in a handled carrier so you can quickly pull everything out. A good time to check is after you have been using the sink, such as after dishwashing. If there is a leak, it is likely going to be damp if you just drained the sink.

As for the fridge, it’s good practice to pull it out and dust the rear coils every one to two months, anyway. Simply pencil this chore into your home maintenance calendar. You can then use this opportunity to check beneath the fridge for leaks and to make sure water lines are attached and not leaking.

Finally, inspect the area around and under the cabinets, microwave, and hood after you use the oven or microwave. If you find a lot of moisture or condensation, chances are that you need to add a stronger fan or better ventilation to the kitchen.

Kitchen mold removal

Black mold can be tenacious when it comes to removal. Although you can often remove the visible black mold by yourself, there is likely hidden mold that you cannot find for removal as easily. The basic removal process is as follows:

Step 1: Testing Testing is done if there is signs of moisture but no obvious visual signs of fungal growth. Testing may also be done if there is light visible growth, since the remediation firm will need to determine the extent of the growth.
Step 2: Seal the infested area The home is sealed. This means that the area that has mold, in this case the kitchen, is sealed off from the rest of the house so that black mold removal doesn’t send spores into other areas.
Step 3: Identification and replacement The cause of moisture is identified and fixed. Otherwise, the mold will simply return if there is still a moisture source. This may mean the removal and replacement of cabinets and wallboard so they cleaning can occur under them.
Last step: Removal and cleaning The actual removal and remediation begins. The crew will use a disinfecting and cleaning solution that removes and kills the fungus. Stains from the black mold may be present on cabinets, but these can usually be painted over and repaired.

100 Summer Fun Ideas for Kids and Parents

Ideas for Summer Activities for Children

However, parents, you know what they say about all work and no play, right? So don’t let the kids have all the fun. Try out a least a few of these 100 ideas for kids and parents to do together. Bookmark this page and come back throughout the summer for inspiration.

  1. Pick your own…whatever. Find a farm with blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, flowers, etc., and get picking.
  2. Play outside in the rain. Smell the rain on the pavement; splash in puddles; make mud pies.
  3. Make your own rain. Douse everyone with the hose or sprinkler.
  4. Cook out…frequently. Go beyond the burgers. Try veggies or fish. The kids might like them more if they come off the grill!
  5. Make “smores.” Chocolate + marshmallow + graham cracker = summer
  6. Camp out. First-timers, try backyard camping.
  7. Camp in. Put the sleeping bags on the floor and have a family slumber party.
  8. Stargaze. Invite friends and make a party of it.
  9. Catch lightning bugs. And then watch them flicker away into the night.
  10. Rearrange the furniture. Give the kid’s graph paper and have them draw out a plan first.
  11. Take family naps together. Parents can snooze too!
  12. Make your own pizza. Try this kid-friendly recipe.
  13. Invite friends over for a game night. Have a kids’ games table and an adult one too.
  14. Go to the demolition derby. And expect to see some major crashes
  15. See an air show. And hope for no crashes.
  16. Stop to smell the flowers. (Go to a botanical garden.)
  17. Talk to the animals. (Go to the zoo.)
  18. Get wet. (Go to a water park.)
  19. Have a puzzle race. Use 100-piece puzzles and see who finishes first.
  20. Play a card game. Maybe crazy eights, spoons or poker. Take your pick.
  21. Play a board game. Candyland, chess or Monopoly, depending on age and inclination.
  22. Make good use of nearby parks. Go to your local park’s website, print the schedule of activities and tape it to the refrigerator.
  23. Pack a picnicAnd plop down to eat it just about anywhere, at a free concert, in a state park or in your own backyard.
  24. Start the back-to-school shopping early. The farther from the start of school the more fun kids think it is.
  25. Get the summer homework doneNot exactly fun, but you’ll be happy to get it out of the way.
  26. Experiment with new hairdos. Let the kids try out not-permanent colors or braids. Or maybe a spiked look.
  27. Dig in the sand at the beach. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the ocean, lake or bay.
  28. Set a goal and complete a home project. Find ways to let the kids help.
  29. Take an early morning bird walk. 
  30. Grow vegetables. And then eat them.
  31. Grow flowers. And then arrange them.
  32. Let the kids cook dinner. In fact, make a tradition of it.
  33. Host the kids’ friends for a sleepover. And then maybe your kids will be invited next—giving you a free evening.
  34. Go to a nearby museum that you’ve never been to before.
  35. Go to your favorite local museum…again.
  36. Go to a carnival or county fair. Eat cotton candy, fried dough or something really bad once this summer.
  37. Decorate your walkways with chalk. 
  38. Take a hike. Choose a route near your house or take a drive to a more distant park.
  39. Plant a butterfly garden. Watch the butterflies flutter by.
  40. Make fresh lemonadeMaybe even sell it at a lemonade stand!
  41. Take a road trip to a nearby city. Spend the night if you can or just make it a day trip.
  42. Show the kids science is fun. Try these experiments.
  43. Go to a matinee. Find a bargain movie houses and pay less.
  44. Go to the drive-in. If there isn’t one nearby, look for one near your vacation spot. Every kid should go to the drive-in at least once!
  45. Watch family movies. Kids can’t get enough of themselves on the big screen.
  46. Read a chapter book aloud. Or even go on and read a whole series together.
  47. Listen to a classic as an audiobook. Or try these newer audiobooks.
  48. Teach the kids a game you haven’t played since you were a kid.
  49. Meet friends at the playground. Not groundbreaking, but always popular nonetheless.
  50. Visit a historic house. Kids will be amazed at what the old-timers lived without.
  51. Make ice cream. We use this recipe with great success.
  52. Use bikes as a mode of transit. Show the kids the way to the store or a friend’s.
  53. Take bike rides for fun. Either leave from your own house or drive to biking trails.
  54. Go fishing. In many states, kids can drop a line in without a license.
  55. Paddle a kayak or a canoe. Or if you’re really adventurous try white water rafting.
  56. Jump rope. Chant these jump rope rhymes.
  57. Press summer flowers. Make a pressed flower picture.
  58. String beads. Beading for kids can be as simple or complex as you choose.
  59. Blow bubbles. Make your own!
  60. Play miniature golf. Can you make the last hole-in-one for a free game?
  61. Eat at the counter of a diner. And let the kids spin on the stools.
  62. Find a new place to play. Easy idea: Clear out the basement or garage. Complicated idea: Build a tree house.
  63. Build a Lego castle. Clear off a table and make it a family project.
  64. Master a new skill together. Learn to juggle, play harmonica, do the hula hoop, etc.
  65. Teach the grandparents to use Skype. And show off your new skill.
  66. Build a fort. Try pillows in the living room or cardboard boxes in the yard.
  67. Make fairy houses. Use moss, bark, and leaves in a dwelling fit for Thumbelina.
  68. Write/illustrate a comic book. Make it a group effort or let everyone do their own.
  69. Build your brain. These brainteaser games can help.
  70. Find a free concert near you.
  71. Fly a kite.
  72. Run in the yard. Kickball, wiffleball, Frisbee, and the tag will keep you moving.
  73. Visit a local farmers market. And feast on the fruits and veggies of the season.
  74. Create art with beach items. Check out these seashell crafts
  75. Have breakfast in bed. Take turns being the server and the served.
  76. Play with clay. Then bake your creations to make them permanent.
  77. Make play dough creations. Then rip them up and do it again.
  78. Make paper airplanes. See whose goes the farthest.
  79. Join a summer reading clubParents can list all their books read over the summer too, but I doubt you’ll get a prize.
  80. Keep a sketch diary.
  81. Write in a journal. At the end of the summer share selections with each other about the highlights of the season.
  82. Teach the kids to skip stones.
  83. Make photo gifts online. Grandma will love them.
  84. Take lessons together. Cooking, yoga, tennis, music, etc.
  85. Play croquet on the lawn. And try bocci too.
  86. Set up a badminton net. You could use it for volleyball too.
  87. Play HORSE. With little ones, set up a mini basketball net next to the real one.
  88. Create a treasure hunt for kidsDo it on your own property or around town.
  89. Erect a bird feeder. And then watch the show from your window.
  90. Join a Junior Ranger program. Both national parks and many state parks have them.
  91. See a dramatic performance together. Doesn’t matter if it’s a puppet show in the park or a touring Broadway show.
  92. Put on your own dramatic performance. Write a script, sew costumes or just do a little improv.
  93. Play charades. Turn all that drama into a game.
  94. Make music. Either make your own instruments or play traditional ones.
  95. Break out the family movies. And the popcorn too!
  96. Have a garage sale. Kids can earn spending money by selling their old stuff.
  97. Go to a flea market or garage sale. And they can spend that money they just earned. (See if the kids are better negotiators than you.)
  98. Climb trees together. Of course, only if the kids are big enough, and you are brave enough.
  99. Get a book of riddlesSee if you can stump each other, then write your own.
  100. Keep your kitchen cool. Make no-bake cookies.

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).

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