What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a heat-resistant, fibrous, silicate-based material that can be woven into fabrics. It was also used in ceiling tiles, floor tiles, insulation, cabinets, shingles, siding, clothes, and more. Though the use of building materials containing asbestos ended in the 1980’s, they can still be found in homes across the country.
Why is it Dangerous?
Materials that contain asbestos aren’t usually dangerous unless they release dust or are damaged and then release fibers into the air. Once fibers or particles pass into the body’s systems, they can begin to cause problems. Since the human body can’t properly process asbestos, it can become lodged in the lungs and body tissue which can cause disease and infection. Some common diseases from Asbestos are: Asbestosis, Lung Cancer, and Mesothelioma.
Handling & Removal of Asbestos
The handling and removal of asbestos must be done with great care, due to its toxic and carcinogenic properties. It’s important to know if something in your house is made of asbestos and if it’s damaged or not. Some things that contain asbestos are: ceiling tiles, floor tiles, insulation, shingles, siding, clothes, ductwork connectors, cement, and more. Homeowners should never attempt to handle or remove asbestos-containing materials themselves. If you suspect something in your home contains asbestos, you should contact an asbestos professional to have it removed. These professionals know how to safely remove asbestos and have the ability to properly dispose of it.
What Exactly are These Diseases?
Asbestosis is a very serious respiratory disease. Asbestos fibers aggravate lung tissue and cause the tissue to scar. In the long-term, the effects of the disease can cause cardiac failure and can be permanently disabling or fatal.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that can be caused by asbestos exposure. Nearly every case of mesothelioma is linked to asbestos exposure. It occurs most in the lung lining, chest, abdomen, and even the heart. 200 cases are diagnosed in the US each year. The younger the person exposed to asbestos is, the more likely they are to develop mesothelioma.
For more information on the causes and effects of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, go to Mesothelioma.net
It can be tedious trying to repair property that has been damaged by flooding. Living in the wetlands of any area can make flooding a higher possibility, but in areas with high moisture and heat, it makes it even more daunting. Flood damage has to be repaired quickly, as mold can begin to grow in as little as 48 hours with the right environment. Floors, rugs, and wooden furniture should be removed as soon as possible to mitigate mold growth.
Mold is sneaky, and oftentimes you may not even know it is there. After experiencing water damage, you may clean up the area and feel as if everything is fine. But, mold hides! It can be under carpeting, in the walls, and in small crevices of the home. If there is a surface to attach to, mold will grow. It penetrates the surface of what it is growing on and shows small green or black patches. It is fuzzy or slimy in texture and can make those in the homesick!
Mold has been known to cause awful damage to the structures of homes. It also makes those in the home feeling terrible. They may experience health problems that seem like allergic reactions. Mold also causes respiratory issues and mental issues in more severe situations. There are thousands of different types of mold that can take up residence in your home after water damage has occurred, and the effects that it has depends on the type it is.
After cleaning up damage caused by flooding, it is important to contact a professional to investigate the home and check all areas for mold. It will save you costly repairs and health issues by taking care of it before it progresses and becomes worse. Even if you don’t think there is mold after flooding, get the home looked at.
If you can actually see mold after experiencing flooding, contact a professional right away. Because there are so many different types of mold, the professional can determine what kind it is and combat it in the correct way. It may be as simple as telling you what product to use to get rid of it. Or, in severe cases, such as black mold instances, the professionals will wear protective suits and use special chemicals to rid the home of it. Black mold is very dangerous and causes many health issues- including death if left untreated.
Untreated mold continues to multiply and attach to different surfaces, essentially taking over the home. It is different than your regular home maintenance in the sense that it is a serious condition that can not only affect the home itself but your family as well. Even if it is typical household mold and not a severe version, it is wise to have a professional come and look at it before taking on the task yourself. They can give you tips for doing it yourself, or get rid of it for you. Having them get rid of it for you is the better option, as they know where mold likes to hide. They know just where to look and treat in order to make your home mold free.
Living in an area that is prone to flooding and humidity is stressful enough. You don’t need the added stresses of mold and health issues. There are ways to prevent mold from growing in certain areas that the professionals would be happy to share with you after taking care of the issue. This will help in future situations, whether you expect them to occur or not. It is better to be prepared. After all, no one wants a repeat occurrence!
Being exposed to mold is always unhealthy, but some strains are more toxic than others. If you have a mold problem or suspect you may have a mold problem the issue will always stem from an unchecked moisture issue. This is why the best way to deal with mold is by preventing it from happening in the first place by checking for common areas of moisture build-up. If mold has already begun to take root, or worse, then you should still look for what caused the mold. Such areas may include faulty pipes, or areas of unchecked condensation, such as found in a bathroom. A recent flooding may have also been the cause of your mold growth. The following article will deal with whether you should test your home for mold.
If you’re able to see visible traces of mold in your home, skip the inspection all-together and work on not only removing the mold but getting rid of what caused it in the first place.
You may not be able to see mold but you can smell it. This is a situation where carrying out a mold inspection may be appropriate because it will help you test for whether there is too much mold in an area and also help you locate where the mold is. One of the most common sources of mold growth is where there are water leaks due to plumbing issues. This is particularly problematic for pipes that are behind walls.
Another factor to consider is if you have a health issue that your doctor has trouble explaining—a condition known as sick building syndrome. You may experience headaches, sneeze, cough, etc. that are all symptoms of being exposed to mold. A mold inspection for your home may provide you some proof of what may be causing your health problem.
If you decide to get the air in your home tested for mold, be careful about using do it yourself mold test kits. More often than not these kits will provide you with inaccurate information or provide difficult to interpret results without the eye of a professional. This is why the U.S Government EPA recommends sampling for mold to be conducted with professionals experienced in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, sample analysis, and interpretation of results.
Qualified mold inspectors are engineers with expert training to ensure accuracy, along with possessing wherewithal for where to test for mold and knowledge for determining which kind of mold may be growing in your home.
Consider testing for mold if you experience any of the following conditions…
• You smell a musty odor (this is more often than not caused by mold)
• You have moisture issues, such as by frequently leaking pipes, condensation build-up, or recently flooded homes.
• People in the house have symptoms related to exposure to mold
• You think there is hidden mold in your house you can’t locate
• One of the members of your household has a condition that is exacerbated by the presence of mold, such as severe allergies, immune system disorders, respiratory problems, and asthma.
Indoor pollution can stem from a variety of sources. These sources may originate from the air outside of the house, but they can also originate from inside the house. Indoor sources of pollutions may become particularly problematic during colder seasons when we seal up our homes to conserve heat.
Let’s review three of the most common sources of indoor air pollution. We’ll cover how these pollutants can be detected as well as what to do about them if you do detect them.
Gases from combustion
Combustion devices such as cookstoves, heating stoves, fireplaces, and space heaters, can release deadly pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) into the atmosphere. CO can lead to a variety of symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and even death. Around 500 people in the U.S die from exposure to CO every year. Because it is odorless and without color, the best way to detect the gas is by installing CO detectors near bedrooms and near combustion appliances. NO2 can lead to shortness of breath, and long-term exposure can lead to more serious complications such as infection or emphysema.
Unlike CO, NO2 is easier to detect because it has a reddish-brown color and produces an acrid odor. NO2 detectors are useful for detecting the gas when low levels are being emitted and are otherwise difficult to detect through sight or smell.
Radon is another gas difficult to detect because it has no color and it is odorless. Unfortunately, it is also very dangerous, causing lung cancer and responsible for the deaths of around 20 thousand Americans every year. Soil usually contains trace amounts of decaying uranium, which emits radon. Usually, it dissipates in the air, harmlessly, but it can also flow into buildings through gaps and can reach dangerous levels in the lower floors of a building.
Much like radon, asbestos can be found naturally in soil. It was also commonly used as a building material prior to around 1980. This is why if you’re living in an old building it may be a good idea to test for asbestos. Along with causing lung cancer, it can lead to long-term lung scarring and mesothelioma. Because the risks are so high, when you’re checking for asbestos it’s advised that you contact a professional to do the testing for you.
Mold grows in damp, humid conditions and grows across a wide range of organic material such as wood, carpet, upholstery. Mold infestation can also take root in places you’re not able to see, such as behind walls, or beneath floors. Symptoms of exposure to mold can vary from coughing, wheezing, headache, and skin irritation. It can also exacerbate underlying respiratory issues such as for people who suffer from asthma. Be wary of areas in your home that are quick to accumulate moisture, such as around pipes or in bathrooms. Also note that while you may not be able to see mold, you may be able to smell it. If you suspect you have a growth of mold somewhere in your home, contacting a professional is usually your best bet. Be careful of using do it yourself mold testing kits, as they are often inaccurate and are particularly difficult to interpret.
Society has become increasingly more environmentally conscious. Few people, however, pay attention to the air quality in their own homes. This is problematic if the air is polluted with toxins and other irritants. If the goal is to improve the quality of the air we breathe, why not start at home?
If you’re not sure whether you should have your home’s air quality tested consider some of the factors below.
Listen to your body
One of the ways you can test for air-quality is by paying attention to your own body. For instance, ask yourself, do you frequently suffer from allergies or find yourself experiencing nausea, fatigue, headaches, or irritated sinuses? These may be symptoms that originate from the air in your home being over-filled with irritants such as dust and debris. These irritants may be comprised of dirt, air from outside, cleaning supply particles, dead skin, and mold—to name just a few.
Another way to gauge whether the air in your home is of poor quality is by checking your air vents. Do you notice clumps of dirt building up on the outside of the vent? When you open up the grate and see the ventilation filter, is the filter overfilled?
Sometimes people notice headaches after turning on their heaters. This is often a sign that the ventilation is over-filled with dust and debris. Kerosene heaters are also potential health risks depending on where they are placed. Studies show that if heating occurs in areas with poor ventilation there are a multitude of potential health problems that this can lead to. It’s well-advised to become familiar with the heat source keeping your home warm. Depending on the kind of heating your home uses, it’s often a good idea to install carbon monoxide and radon detectors in your home, as these gases are lethal and impossible to detect otherwise.
Pay attention to the moisture levels in your home. It’s important to recognize any areas in your home where moisture frequently builds up and to keep them as dry as possible. Areas such as bathrooms, pipes, confined spaces, areas of condensation etc. are the usual suspects. If moisture is allowed to linger in any area for too long it’s an invitation for mold and mildew to take root. Not only is mold unpleasant to look at, it can also pose a significant health risk. If you do happen to find mold in your home it’s highly recommended to perform an air quality test as soon as possible.
The Age of Your Home
Another factor to consider is how old your home is. Homes built before around 1980 used harmful materials such as lead-based paint, or asbestos. If you’re living in an older home consider having an air-quality test performed for your peace of mind.