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Air Quality Assessors Blog


Mold Awareness Month
Mold Awareness Month


September is Mold Awareness Month! This month of awareness aims to educate and raise awareness about the different effects that mold can have on your health and home. Exposure to mold and the subsequent mycotoxins produced can wreak havoc on your families health. The more knowledge that you have, the less chance you have of suffering from mold in your home.


Why Does Mold Grow?

In order to understand mold, it's important to know how and why it grows. Mold occurs naturally and can grow pretty much anywhere where there is moisture present. In fact, mold loves damp, warm environments, and this is where it thrives. Mold spores are carried through the air, and when they find a suitable surface, they reproduce rapidly. There can be mold present even if there is no visual evidence. Make sure you are vigilant if you've recently had excess moisture in your home.

Types of Mold

It's true that some types of mold are a lot more dangerous than others. This is why you don't need a hazmat suit to take care of moldy leftovers in your fridge! Some of the most common types of mold found within a household include aspergillus, stachybotrys atra (or black mold), and cladosporium. Aspergillus is most often found on food and within systems of the house like air ducts and HVAC systems. Cladosporium is usually green or dark brown with a pepper like appearance commonly found in bathroom areas. Black mold is the most harmful type of mold to have in your home. This type of mold often occurs after a household has experienced heavy flooding or water damage that was not taken care of in a timely manner.


Health Risks

Some of the most common health symptoms experienced from mold exposure are respiratory irritation and flu-like symptoms. Yet, the symptoms experienced can vary from one individual to the next. One person may experience a strange rash, while another can experience chronic fatigue and brain fog. Health risks can be as serious as nervous system damage or extreme asthma symptoms. This is why it is important to act fast when you have found mold in your household.


When Mold Is Spotted

Don't be alarmed! Be aware of the conditions that mold likes to grow in, and keep an eye out for any changes in the appearance and smell of your home, as well as the health of your family. If you find mold in your home, the best thing you can do is hire a professional mold remediation company as soon as possible. Attempting to clean the mold yourself could make matters worse by spreading the spores and exposing yourself to harmful mycotoxins. A professional company can take care of any mold issues you run into in the best way possible. The longer mold isn't taken care of, the more potential it has to wreak havoc on your house and health.


Could Where You Live Be Making You Sick?
Could Where You Live Be Making You Sick?
When you're sick for any amount of time, you naturally want to narrow down the cause of your illness. Yet, not everyone knows that where you're living could be making you sick and contribute to long-term illnesses. For many, it's hard to fathom that the place they call home could cause harm to their health. There are many environmental factors that affect our well being, and some locations are better than others when it comes to air quality. If you're somebody who experiences chemical sensitivity or chronic illness, it's very important to know what is going on around you. Otherwise, you could continue to get ill from breathing in the air that's around you, even if you're doing everything else right!


Your Location

Each state in the US has its own level of air quality, and it varies wildly from one place to the next. States like California and New York have some of the highest levels of air pollution, due to large populations. Some localities have strict regulations on pollution, and others do not. Did you know that more than 4 out of 10 Americans live in a place that has air which is considered unhealthy? 

That's almost half of the entire country, which is alarming! Air pollution is especially common in cities where a lot of traffic and corporate entities emit pollutants into the air. That pollution has to go somewhere, and most times it's right into the air that you breathe. 


Climate change is another factor that contributes to pollution. The American Lung Institute has said that warmer temperatures can worsen the air quality and makes ozone damage harder to clean up. You can find air quality reports of your exact zip code by doing some research online.


Consequences of City Life

Living in a city, it can be hard to avoid pollution, even while you're in your own home. If you live in a building that is close in proximity to a business such as a nail salon, huge corporation with billowing smokestacks, or any entity that uses a lot of chemicals, your health could very well suffer. These chemicals can make their way into the air in your home and wreak havoc on your health! This is especially true if they're in the same building as you. Mixed-use buildings are extremely common in large city areas. If you are moving into one of these units, be sure to verify what type of businesses also occupy the structure.


Environmental Impacts

If you live in a place that is subject to forest fires such as California or Colorado, you have the potential to incur even more damage to your lungs. This is because wildfires produce microscopic particles that are unhealthy for your respiratory system, and can cause both short term and long term damage by lodging deep into your lungs. This can cause asthma symptoms, lung cancer, and even heart attacks and strokes.

What To Do After a Flood
What To Do After a Flood

 

Your home is a major investment, and as a homeowner, you naturally want to protect it from damage. This is why it can be very upsetting to deal with a flood in your home. Your house isn't just an investment, it's a major part of your daily life. Flooding can happen anywhere, it isn't only a regional issue. The potential for damage to your possessions and health is enough to become informed on how to deal with this issue if it arises. Flooding can damage your sentimental belongings and even create health issues for your family in the future if not taken care of in an efficient manner.

First Steps  

There are initial steps you can take if you notice signs of water intrusion in your home. Essentially, you'll want to dry the area as soon as possible. But before you do that, take pictures to fully document the issue for your insurance purposes, and turn off the electrical source to the room. Be sure to check over your insurance policy to ensure you're aware of the coverage that you have. Depending on your policy, certain items like the essential systems in the home and appliances could be the only things covered. Each policy is different, don't be surprised about what is and isn't covered when it is too late.

Don't Forget to Document 

Documentation is important before and after a flood! Always keep copies of your policies on hand along with contact information for the insurance company to review when needed. If you experience flooding, contact them as soon as possible. The longer the water stands, there is greater potential for property damage and mold growth, especially within the first 48 hours. This is why it is important to remove the water and ventilate the area to dry!

Avoid These Mistakes 

Besides the top mistake of waiting too long to remove water after a flood, there are other common mistakes to avoid. Many people decide to wade into the waters without thinking about what might be lurking underfoot. Depending on the severity and location of the flood, you could unknowingly walk into an electrical hazard, contaminated sewer water, unstable foundations, or sharp metal and glass objects. It is best to let a professional with the tools and experience to begin remediation. You might think your shop vac and household fans can resolve the issue, but this could actually make things worse. The peace of mind of knowing that mold isn't lurking and growing in unseen areas of a house is reason enough to call in the professionals.

Call the Professionals 

Begin your search for professional remediation immediately after experiencing flooding in your home. Ideally, look for a company that is licensed and insured for your protection. The issue is time sensitive, so they should have a flexible schedule to accommodate those with emergencies. If they aren't available within the next 24-48 hours to assess and begin remediation of the issues, it's wise to look for another company.


How To Know If Your Air Quality Is Safe
How To Know If Your Air Quality Is Safe


June is National Healthy Homes Month. This serves as a reminder of the importance of air quality in your home. Did you know that American spend nearly ninety percent of their time indoors on average? To thrive and stay healthy, it's vital to begin with adequate household air quality. 

 

The Risks of Poor Air Quality

If there are harmful substances in the house, like mold or any other organic or chemical pollutants (VOC's), health conditions can arise. Your symptoms could be as simple as nagging, persistent respiratory irritation. With repeated exposure, it can be as serious as cancer or cardiovascular issues. If there are children or immune compromised individuals in the household, it becomes that much more of a pressing issue. These groups are more likely to become negatively affected by poor air quality.


Know the Signs

There are some signs you can look out for to give you a better idea if you need to get the quality of your air tested. Is anybody in the home experiencing unexplained allergies or a sudden change in health? It could be a reaction to a pollutant in the house. Perhaps you've recently dealt with a flood or household leak and smell a musty odor, but you're not sure where it's coming from. There could be a mold issue lurking in an unseen spot such as behind the walls or underneath floorboards. Simply being curious about the overall safety of your home is reason enough to get your air tested!


Steps to Take

If you're concerned about the quality of your air and want to get it tested, there are options to consider. There are home testing kits available online which offer a convenient starting point. The most common kits test for mold, radon, and other VOCs. If your test results show poor indoor air quality, don't panic! There are different steps you can take immediately. You can ventilate the area, balance the humidity level with a dehumidifier, and change the filters on your furnace and air conditioner.


Why Call a Professional

Regardless of how bad your air quality issue is, it's always the best idea to get in touch with a professional as soon as you can. Air quality test kits can give you a general idea of the issue. However, you won't truly know the severity of the damage until an expert evaluates the problem at hand. Plus, if you don't understand the kit completely, you could get false results. From dust mites to tobacco smoke and pesticides, there are a lot of potential sources of pollutants in a home. This can make it hard to narrow down the source of the issue. 


Professional air quality assessors can accurately diagnose the problem and give you the best plan of action to fix the issue as soon as possible. You will feel great peace of mind when you're completely informed about the quality of the air in your home! Get in touch with a professional, such as Air Quality Assessors,  today for steps you can take to make sure the air is the best it can be for the health of your family.


How To Prepare Your Home For Hurricane Season
How To Prepare Your Home For Hurricane Season


Living in a climate like Florida where severe weather is common creates challenges for homeowners. It's important to know how to prepare your home for the 2018 hurricane season! Any effort that you put into storm-proofing your house will help when it comes to the safety of your family and structural integrity of the home.

 

Hurricane Aftermath

There are plenty of issues that can occur with the damage storms bring. Even the best drainage systems and foundations can get overwhelmed with the amount of water brought in with a hurricane. Water getting into the home can weaken drywall, soak insulation and carpet. This creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow. The longer you have standing water in a home, the more potential there is for long-term damage. Furniture, electrical systems, and appliances can get ruined with any amount of water exposure. If you don't have one already, consider buying a generator for when the electricity gets knocked out. Make sure you know how to use beforehand too!

 

How To Prepare

Preparing a home for hurricane season should be a top priority for homeowners in Florida. First, be sure to review any insurance policies that are in place so you're not left in the dark. Does your policy cover damage from a flood that follows a big storm? Storm guard your home by cleaning gutters and placing storm shutters on windows. Re-caulking windows and doors add another layer of protection against water damage. You can also install bolts on entry doors to protect against high wind. Since your roof is the biggest opening within the home, you want to make sure it's secure as possible. It's worth it to spend the extra money to seal your roof deck and fasten hurricane clips to the roof and walls. Remember, any lawn decorations or patio furniture can become airborne during a storm, so place them in a secure spot before the winds pick up.

 

What Lies Ahead

The Atlantic hurricane season begins with the first of June and lasts until November 30. Several forecasts are predicting that there will be anywhere from 13 to 18 tropical storms coming through this year. They're reporting ten of those have the potential to become hurricanes. The average number is around eight named storms per-year, so we are already looking at a potentially busier than average Florida hurricane season in 2018. Some areas are still recovering from the 2017 season, so you can see the importance of preparing your home.

 

Post-Hurricane Steps

The most important thing to do when you're dealing with damage from a hurricane is to get in touch with a professional as soon as possible. There are some simple measures you can take to alleviating a problem such as removing excess water and airing out the area. But, nothing replaces the skill and expertise of professionals. You can learn more about how to detect damage and steps to take by reviewing some information we've written on the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.


The Dangers of DIY Mold Remediation
The Dangers of DIY Mold Remediation


The presence of mold in your home can have lasting negative effects. Not only is it damaging to the structural quality of your home, but also to your health. A lot of homeowners want to fix problems themselves to save time, money, and effort. If you're a motivated self-starter, you might have the instinct to clean the mold yourself. Before you pick up the cleaning products, do a bit of research. Always leave the mold remediation to professionals, or you can create more issues!


Know When There's a Problem 

There are countless situations that can lead to the presence of mold in your home. You could have had a household leak or weather damage that let dampness accumulate. No matter the cause, it's important to remove the mold as soon as possible. You also want to address what brought on the mold issue, to begin with. Given the serious health risks that mold can trigger, it should not be a DIY job. Without the proper equipment, training, and experience, you could end up causing more problems in the long run.

 

Don't Make the Issue Worse

If you don't know what you're doing when it comes to mold removal, you can exacerbate the issue at hand. Mold spores are microscopic, and you can easily spread the infestation where it wasn't present before. You might think that you're saving yourself money by tackling this project yourself, but that's rarely the case. If you aren't careful, you can double the costs by spreading spores to different areas. This will make the job more intensive when you eventually have to call a professional.

 

The Experts Know Best

Mold remediation experts have the latest and greatest equipment and cleaning agents. They know how to tackle every stage of mold situations. Sure, vinegar might take care of a mildew smell lurking in your laundry room, but it would never kill a large colony. Powerful chemicals are extremely dangerous when they're in inexperienced hands. Professionals know how to shield themselves with respirators, goggles, and other articles of protective clothing. A simple dust mask and long sleeve clothing aren't enough to protect your health!

 

There are different types of mold, and some are more dangerous than others. The reality is that you don't have years of experience diagnosing and testing for mold issues. This means you can't make a distinction between different types of mold by looking up pictures and information online. Without a mold removal expert, you won't know what you're dealing with. Not only can you misdiagnose, but you can miss hidden mold completely if you aren't experienced. If you disturb black mold and release spores, you could experience symptoms like vomiting, nausea, fatigue, and even bleeding in extreme cases.

  

There are countless reasons why you should hire a mold removal expert. While there are many DIY resources available nowadays, mold removal shouldn't be one of these DIY jobs. Leave the job to the experts who know how to contain and remediate the mold issues in your home. It's the smartest thing for your home, budget, and health.


How Mold Affects Children
How Mold Affects Children

The dangerous effects of mold aren't created equal. Mold has the potential to affect everybody in a negative way regardless of age. Children are especially susceptible to the harmful effects. The toxic substances mold emits, mycotoxins, affect children more than adults due to their developing bodies. When mold grows indoors, tiny spores travel everywhere. These spores have the potential to collect and reproduce in places you can't see. This compromises the overall quality of the air inside of your home.

You definitely don't want to neglect mold remediation if you have children in the home. The health and well being of your child is vital, and every parent should have a concern about long-term effects of mold. Children have the potential to be affected by mold more than adults since their immune system and bodies are still developing. In some cases, mycotoxins cause illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, which has the potential to last throughout their life.


Impaired Development

From birth to adolescence, a child's immune system is developing as it is exposed to different substances. When a young immune system encounters harmful substances like mold, development is often affected. Typical reactions to mold might include respiratory irritation and allergic reactions such as coughing and itchy eyes. However, these issues aren't the only harmful effects that mold can trigger. The presence of mycotoxins has been linked to neurotoxicity in some brains of young people. This can have a negative effect on a child's emotions and behavior, even their performance in school.


Long-Term Effects

Another serious condition called chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis can occur when a child is exposed to mold over a period of time. This is a condition that is similar to pneumonia. Yet, unlike pneumonia, it is not cured with antibiotics. The symptoms of this include muscle aches, night sweats, fever, shortness of breath and cough. Children who already have asthma can easily have an attack triggered by being in the same general area as mold. It is estimated that over 20% of asthma illness in the United States is due to mold exposure or damp conditions in the home. Black mold is especially unsafe for infants and children to be around. The mycotoxins produced by this kind of mold have the ability to impair brain function and cause nervous system disorders. Chronic exposure to black mold increases the risk for hemorrhagic pneumonia in infants, and it is known to be fatal.


Steps to Take

Is your child exhibiting signs of persisting respiratory issues, fatigue, or poor performance in school? Has there been an unexplained rash or skin lesions? You could have mold lurking somewhere in your home, even if the adults in the home aren't exhibiting any unusual symptoms. If you have reason to believe mold is present in your home, mold inspection and remediation is vital to the health of your family. Get in touch with a local mold remediation company to ensure the safety of the children in your home.

Hurricane Irma: The Aftermath
Hurricane Irma: The Aftermath

 

Recovering from the damages of a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma has been devastating! Homeowners in Florida and the surrounding areas are no stranger to these issues. Mold has the potential to leave lasting effects on your possessions and well being. This is true even months after a storm passes. You can see why it's important to think about mold damage in your home. 

 

The Cost

Researchers estimate that Irma has brought property damage around $42 to $65 billion dollars. Residential flood damage is at $25 to $28 billion dollars alone. Irma was only one of the strong storms that brought in flooding and strong wings in this season. No matter the level of damage your home, it's wise to be extra cautious about the signs of mold in your home.

 

 

Mold Illness

The residual moisture, humidity, and loss of power after a storm offer the perfect conditions for mold to grow. Even the smallest amount of mold exposure can bring symptoms of respiratory issues and skin irritation. For those who have a mold allergy or chronic lung issues, it can bring severe reactions. This is especially true for the elderly. The longer the mold goes unnoticed, the stronger the physical reaction can be. Even healthy people can develop asthma from exposure to these damp environments. Here are some signs you can look out for when it comes to mold exposure in your home and what you can do about it.

 

How To Detect Mold

One of the easiest ways to detect mold in your home is by the smell. If you're noticing a musty, dirty smell in your home, it's a good sign that you have mold somewhere, even if it isn't visible. Are you noticing general respiratory irritation at home but not when you're out of the house? Moisture problems can manifest as water stains on walls and floors, peeling and bubbling of surfaces, or even bowing of walls. You might even notice things like extra condensation on walls, windows, and pipes. These are all sure-fire signs of moisture damage and high humidity, which allows mold to flourish. Mold will grow faster in places where flood water remained stagnant, such as in your basement. Floods are notorious for creating mold in unseen spaces like underneath floorboards and behind walls.

 

What To Do If You Have Mold

The first thing you should do if you notice signs of mold damage in your home is to get in touch with a trusted professional. Crews in Florida are experiencing huge demand in the months after Irma, so the sooner you're able to call, the better. You can control the conditions where mold flourishes. Ensure humidity levels aren't higher than 50% with a dehumidifier. It's a wise idea to fix any structural damage that could further allow water into the home, such as roof leaks. Another way to combat mold is to ventilate areas that are suspect. The faster you act, the better for your home and health.


Yearly Home Inspections
Yearly Home Inspections

A yearly home inspection is vital. This reveals the integrity and safety of your surroundings. There are many instances of daily wear and tear that develop into a larger problem over time. When we ignore problems, they can get much worse in a short amount of time. When you're diligent in inspecting your home, you can stop problems before they occur.

This is true across a spectrum of issues from small wear and tear to long-term damages. Inspections help your peace of mind as a homeowner or renter. They also prevent costly damages from happening in the first place. Regular home inspections are always a worthy investment. Especially when you consider what it will cost to repair damages!


Harmful Materials

Volatile organic compounds or VOC's are present in households. They're found in materials you interact with such as furniture and vinyl flooring. This usually isn't usually an issue if they're present in small amounts. Those who are sensitive to chemicals such as the elderly and children are more apt to the affects VOC's. Inhaling/absorbing these foreign substances through your skin can lead to health problems. Mold is a VOC as it is an organic compound that vaporizes in normal room temperature. Mold is one of the issues that you can avoid with a yearly visit. The spores develop long before you can see them. This is why regular mold inspections are important.


Health Issues

There are long and short-term health issues that can arise with exposure to these substances. Irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat are the most common side effects. Next come headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Some people also experience worsening of pre-existing conditions like asthma. If you're exposed to large amounts over years, your immune system can become damaged. In the worst cases, damage to the central nervous system and even cancer can occur.


Home Inspections

With an inspector, you know what maintenance to invest in for your specific needs. If your property is old, you may even want to consider inspections more than once a year. There are many benefits! You'll have an idea of where you're at in your energy efficiency. Plus, you'll be able to better predict future expenses by keeping up with the state of wear and tear in the home. Schedule your yearly home inspection today to confirm the safety your home. Further, guarantee your families health for the year to come.

Common Household Leaks
Common Household Leaks

As a homeowner or renter, you do everything you can to ensure your surroundings are up to your standards. Everyone wants their house as clean and comfortable as possible! Of course, as your home endures normal wear, there are some issues that are out of your control. One of these issues that are very common in everyday household leaks.

One of the most common leaks that people deal with is a leaking faucet.  Often times, this issue is fixable on your own or by calling a local plumber. Depending on the specific situation at hand, you could find yourself searching for a professional to fix a leak. Leaks whether in your faucet, toilet, roof, or any other pipe in your home, create the perfect opportunity for mold to grow and thrive. You'll know that you have a problem if you notice stains appearing anywhere on your walls, ceiling, or cupboards. 

 


 

Professional maintenance is priceless. If you've ever dealt with mold or leaking roof, you'll know that there are many reasons why having the right professionals on your side is priceless. First, nobody wants to waste expensive energy or watch their water bill climb due to a leaking pipe! It's akin to watching pennies drip down the drain. Second, many people underestimate the harmful effects that mold can have their families and themselves. Breathing in these particles over time can bring about many health problems. Some are major, and some replicate a common cold, but either way, it can be dangerous. 

From harsh weather to aging homes and clogged gutters, factors that go into a roof leak are plentiful. Roof repair is an expensive investment, but when you consider factors like your electric bill, curb appeal, and infrastructure of your home, it's one that will always make sense. A professional building damage assessor is able to use modern technology such as infrared camera evaluation and moisture mapping, giving you peace of mind ensuring every square inch of your home is inspected. 

Although it can be intimidating to hire a professional for leak repair, especially if it's your first time dealing with this type of problem, you'll find that a weight lifts off of your shoulders as you make strides towards improving the quality of your home. With today's technology, you won't have to take drastic, invasive measures to test and improve your issues with excess moisture in your home.