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.
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.
Have you ever felt fatigue, coughing and sneezing, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, or increased asthma problems in your work place? Normally one would not think that all these problems could be caused by a building…well they can. It is known as “Sick Building Syndrome”. Sick Building Syndrome is considered by some in the medical field to be an illness in people who have been exposed to undefined chemical, biological, or physical agents that are thought to be found in buildings. Indoor air quality testing is crucial in buildings and properties to determine if the structure is “sick” or healthy.
In the 1970s a movement was set in motion by builders and authorities to seal up buildings the best they could to save on fuels for air conditioning and heating. Many buildings became air tight which left no room for clean air to filter in (inadequate ventilation), which in return set the building up for pollution. Examples of pollution that occurred: carbon monoxide build-ups, possibility of indoor combustion (heaters, ranges and smokers), and the release of inhalable particles (Volatile Organic Compounds, airborne allergens, and pathogens). As a way for buildings to have better Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and minimize energy consumption, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) revised the standards of ventilation from 5 cfm(cubic feet per minute) per occupant to a minimum of 15 cfm provided of outdoor air per person (20 cfm/person in office spaces). ("Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) - Indoor Air Pollution Testing." Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) - Indoor Air Pollution Testing. N.p.)
There can be many factors that cause Sick Building Syndrome and one is biological contaminants (bacteria, molds, pollen and viruses). Biological pollutants can cause illness through three different methods-: 1. Infection, 2. Allergy/Hypersensitivity, and 3.Toxicosis. A contaminant’s source could be from water(water is a breeding ground for mold) that has accummulated in places such as humidifers, a/c ducts, drain pans; or where water has been collected on carpeting, ceiling tiles or insulation. Outside elements have an effect on biological contaminants such as temperature , humidity or lighting. Another factor could be a source that is already in the building like carpeting, upholstery, wood products, cleaning agents and copy machines. Certain factors emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which research has shown can cause very serious health issues when at high concentrations. VOCs that may be emitted from items like flooring, varnishes, and gasoline can contain: formaldehyde, acetone, ethylene glycol, benzene and tolune.
How does one know that their building is “sick”? For the most part, it is from complaints of the buildings occupants. Building occupants may have symptoms including: headaches, throat, nose, and eye irritation, dry cough, dry or itchy skin, dizziness, nausea; or more serious symptoms like fatigue, sensitivity to odors, and development of respiratory illness. The source that is causing the occupants symptoms is unknown; however occupants have said to have felt relief once they exited the building. A good way to know that your building should be inspected is when a group of occupants have or show the same symptoms. Air Quality Assessors will walk through the suspected Sick Building and do a thorough inspection to try and locate the source that has been causing sickness. Testing will be done to see whether the indoor air quality levels reach the standard of safety or not. Once again is it not always known what causes Sick Building Syndrome and sometimes the source cannot be found. What can be done is an IAQ test to ensure that the occupants of the building are safe or to find out whether the building is actually sick.
Managing a full household can be a challenge from keeping up with cleanliness, to making sure all of the errands get done, to caring for children and pets. It can be overwhelming. What makes things even more difficult, is when a problem that is not so easy to fix, arises. For example, when a window breaks. This issue must be solved in a timely manner because it can endanger children and pets living in the home. So what happens when there is a problem that is not so obvious and just won’t get solved with a band aid?
Building damage is frequently overlooked because it occurs on the inside of a building structure. It is basically out of sight, out of mind. But, when you begin to see signs of damage, more destruction than you expected could have already occurred. What exactly are we referring to? Mold. Mold is a hidden danger that can affect the health of everyone living around it especially pets. Pets feel the negative effects of mold exposure more than people because their immune system is smaller and more sensitive than ours.
Mold sickness was first discovered in animals in the 1930’s in Russia when farm animals became ill from sleeping on and eating damp hay where mold formed. These days, black mold information is readily available therefore mold is thankfully more controllable. The signs of mold sickness can be difficult to spot, especially because they are very similar to those of a cold. If your pet shows any signs of a cold or similar illness, mold should be considered a cause. Symptoms of mold exposure in pets is very similar to those of people including:
While not an overwhelming amount of stories are in the current media about pets and mold exposure, there have been multiple reports since 2000 of situations where pets have been affected. In this particular story, two cats were living in a home where there was flood and water damage in the direct area where the cats dwelled. Although no one likes hearing sad stories with animals (we don’t like anything short of funny cat videos on the internet) this unfortunate situation helped raise awareness and probably saved many pet lives. If you have an ill pet and have had water damage in your home, it’s best to let your veterinarian know if your home has been exposed to water damage whether it’s from a flood, roof leak, or a common household leak.
The best action to take when you find your pet is suffering from any of the above symptoms related to mold is to relocate them. Take them somewhere where they can be comfortable and away from the effected home. Taking them to the vet is always a good precaution to take as well. The veterinarian should run routine tests to make sure the health of your pet is not declining. As petful.com states, “treatment may involve a blood transfusion (if the pet bleeds unduly) and antibiotics to fight secondary infections. Your vet will repeat blood tests to monitor liver function.” As you can see, mold and pets is very serious and for the sake of your little loved ones, should not be taken lightly.
What should you do if you find signs of black mold? There are many resources that can lead you in the right direction to solving your mold problem. If you are reading this blog, you probably already completed step #1 which is identifying that you have a mold problem. As indoor environmental professionals, we have multiple blog posts with advice on how to handle your mold issue. If you take away one thing from this blog, remember that mold should not be ignored, and even though you don’t see symptoms now, they can show up later. So keep you and everyone in your home safe including your pets.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Not all rooms in your home are created equal! This is definitely true when it comes to areas of the home that are highly impacted by excess moisture, leaks, and mold. So, how do you know which rooms to keep an eye on and what extra precautions to take to make sure your home is free from excess moisture? We've provided you with some helpful tips to ensure that every square inch of your home is as dry and clean as possible for you to live your healthiest life.
Living in an apartment community can prove to be a great housing decision. Landscaping, roofing issues, or maintaining your pool is never a worry. It is a relief when you can give up some responsibilities to a property management team. But what happens when there is a problem, like mold, flooding, or leaks, that is directly affecting your living space and possibly your health? Many apartment complex managers take the right actions by solving building damage issues that can affect tenants’ health immediately, but there are situations where funds are not available to solve the issue, and the tenant is left with dealing with it on their own.
A lot of times, mold that forms in apartments could be considered surface mold. It can be quite alarming, especially when tenants aren’t familiar with it. Surface mold is caused by minor issues; for example, not running the fan when showering. The relative humidity levels rise and moisture in the air is not circulated, which causes mold to form. This should not be confused with roof leaks. Roof leaks happen when there is water from the outside penetrating through roofing materials, into wall cavities, and eventually through your ceiling into your apartment. This can cause major issues if not resolved as soon as possible. When moisture comes in contact with organic materials, including wood, drywall, and other building materials, it causes mold to form and spread rapidly. Health effects from mold exposure can be severe especially when exposure is prolonged.
What should one do when faced with this issue? Here are our suggestions for the proper steps to take.
1. Tell the apartment office staff. Communicating your concerns to the proper management personnel should be the first step you take. It is in your best interest that you do this in a timely manner so the issue doesn’t worsen.
2. Document your building damage concerns. When you document your efforts to resolve the maintenance issues in your apartment, your management team is sure to be effective in resolving the problem.
3. Check up on the severity of the repairs. If the repairs are of a certain scale, you may need to vacate your apartment while they are being resolved. Every state has different guidelines regarding this, so ask if this is a possibility. If you have a baby, live with an elderly person, or with someone that has a weakened immune system, this should also be brought to your apartment management’s attention.
4. Keep an eye on time. Make sure there is consistent progress in repairing your building damage problem (especially leaks and mold). If you haven’t physically seen or heard from your apartment’s maintenance or management regarding a schedule, a quick phone call should suffice.
5. When there has been no progress. There are a few things you could do if you haven’t had any success with steps 1-4. Contact the higher-ups in property management. Find out who manages the property you live in and call or email them. They should take your call and get something done for you in the matter of a few days. Make sure you inform them you have possible health concerns and ask that they assist you in resolving the issue. Another step you can take is by consulting with a professional. Call your local building damage experts and have a conversation. They will be able to come out to your apartment and test your areas of concerns, prove that there is damage to be concerned about, and you can use those documents to bring the problem to the apartment staff.
Typically, properties take building damage issues seriously and do their best to resolve these issues immediately. You should never have to live in an establishment that has issues that could cause negative effects on your health. Be sure to take action immediately and follow the proper steps, and your building damage should be resolved in no time!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
What is Mold Awareness Month
Mold Awareness Month is a national month that recognizes the importance of getting to know and understand the impacts of mold. There are many things you want to keep in mind when you first learn about mold and that is the dangers, the signs, and how to handle it.
Mold can be very dangerous to your health and symptoms of black mold range from feeling a little stuffed up and drowsy all the way to being so sick you can’t get out of bed. Based on the severity of the mold and the length of time exposed, mold can cause liver failure, cancer, and even death.
The signs of mold (also known as mould) vary greatly, but if you follow these few guidelines, you will be able to see the obvious signs. First, use your nose. If you can smell an old, musty, thick, and dirt smell, you may be smelling mold. If you see black-ish spots or brown stains on your walls, in corners, or on your ceiling, you may have found a mold problem. Also, pay attention to how you feel. How you feel on a daily basis can say a lot about your surroundings. If you feel sick at home, you may have a “sick home”. If you feel sick at work, the building you work in could have major issues. The key is, is to be aware of your surroundings.
Colors and types of mold
Back mold is what people think of when they think of mold, but the reality is, mold comes in many different colors. The main colors you would see are green, gray, brown, and white. Mold comes in many forms, colors, and types and they're all different. White mold (like white vs black blog) is difficult to recognize as mold and is often looked over as nothing to be concerned about, but of course, this is not always the case. To determine whether or not the mold you are seeing is dangerous or not, get it tested by a professional.
Types of mold that are bad & molds to worry about
Not all “molds” should be treated the same. One major confusion is that mold and mildew are the same. Mildew is not something to be severely concerned about because it isn’t dangerous to your health in small quantities. You typically see mildew in bathrooms, particularly between shower tiles and on the ceiling. Regular cleaning with an antibacterial soap can prevent mildew from getting out of control. Food mold is also not a big deal IF you don’t eat it.
The mold removal process is a process that only a licensed professional should conduct. It requires testing, taping off affected areas, and air cleansing machinery. There are specific bags you need to dispose of affected materials, protective safety gear, and other very specific precautions that need to be taken in order to not spread mold spores and properly remove all traces of mold.