The EPA reports that most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, raising concerns regarding indoor air quality, interior environmental risk factors and their effect on general health.
Indoor pollution caused by gases or toxic mold, particles in the air, inadequate ventilation, and increased concentrations of some pollutants due to high temperature and humidity levels have proven to be unsafe, causing serious health problems that may not be reversible.
Hazardous emissions causing indoor air pollution come from toxic mold, asbestos, outdoor pollution seeping in, combustion sources, building materials, household products and lack of proper ventilation.
Hazards can be found in varying forms:
- Biological Contaminants such as toxic mold and dust mites caused by moisture and lack of circulation.
- Radon Gases caused by breakdown in uranium in the surrounding soil or rock.
- Combustion Gases caused by leaks from improperly installed and/or maintained heaters or stoves.
- Household Products containing harmful chemicals.
- Formaldehyde found in building products.
- Pesticides distributed inside and outside of the building.
- Asbestos caused by construction materials.
- Lead releases caused by paint and other air pollutants
Certified Mold Solutions provides highly specialized indoor air quality services to mitigate and repair the problem. From indoor air quality testing, environmental testing to toxic mold remediation and removal, CMS provides qualified technicians, guarantee of services, and timely project management.
Some molds can cause respiratory infection when the spores are ingested deep into the lungs or respiratory tract. This usually does not affect most healthy people. This can be a greater danger for individuals with severely weakened immune systems, young children/infants and the elderly.
Toxicity & Mycotoxins
Very large doses of certain molds, whether inhaled or ingested, can result in poisoning caused by toxins (called mycotoxins) in the mold cells. It is not clear whether an individual can receive a high enough exposure to mold growing indoors to experience these toxic effects
Health effects from exposure to toxic mold can include any of the following symptoms:
Headaches – memory loss – problems focusing or concentrating – chronic fatigue – nose and throat irritation – persistent cold-like symptoms – burning, itching or watering eyes – dizziness – nausea – tremors – heart palpitations – shortness of breath (during mild exertion) – exhaustion- after routine activity – serious swelling in legs, ankles, feet – serious swelling in torso or stomach – prolonged muscle cramps and joint pain – sensitivity to – odors – cancer – women who are pregnant could experience multiple problems, even miscarriages.
If you or you or your family members show signs of unexplained chronic fatigue, daily headaches, persistent cold-like or flu-like symptoms, you could be suffering from exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and should see a physician. Mold health effects are nothing to ignore. The health effects of breathing mycotoxins are not well understood, but we do know that most molds can present some health risks, such as allergic reactions. Therefore, any mold growth in a building should be cleaned up, regardless of the type of mold.
High Risk Groups of People:
Infants and children – elderly – people with asthma or allergies, and other respiratory (breathing) conditions like bronchitis or emphysema – people with weakened immune systems (such as people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and people who have received an organ transplant)
Any person that has any of the above mentioned risks should not be in an area that is likely to be contaminated with mold!
Mold inspection has become a standard of the pre-purchase due-diligence for both buyers and sellers. It is critical that such an inspection is conducted thoroughly and by a trained professional with experience in the identification of water entry problems and indoor air quality issues. The key points that the inspection should address include:
Is the house or business currently impacted by mold ?
Do hidden mold concerns exist within the house ?
If mold or hidden mold concerns exist, what is the cause and origin of the moisture problem ?
What steps must be taken to correct the source of the water/moisture entry problem and to address removal (remediation) of the mold ?
Finally, the inspection must be to provide a cost to fix the problem and cost for remediation so that the buyer and seller can make an informed decision as to proceed with the transaction or cancel the purchase.
The inspection should include the conducting of ambient air testing of all rooms within the house. As part of our inspections, air sampling is performed in every major room, including bathrooms and utility rooms to serve as a hidden mold concern diagnostic tool. If an elevated level of water damage indicator fungal species are identified in a specific room, it is commonly an indication of a hidden problem. In such cases, in the absence of visual indicators, more invasive testing (wall cavity or cores) may be necessary as a follow-up.
HVAC systems are a major source for mold related indoor air quality problems. Duct-work and moisture air handler units are a haven for dust and dirt accumulation that can be the breeding ground for hidden mold growth. Our inspections routinely include the conducting of comparison testing with the A/C system on and off to provide an assessment of the sanitary condition of the hidden portions of the duct-work and air handler unit. Surface samples and/or swabs are taken from the inside surfaces of the duct-work as a direct measure of both mold and dust and dirt build-up.
The inspection should also include the conducting of wall cavity testing to evaluate for hidden fungal concerns in exterior and/or plumbing wall cavities. Wall cavity tests are performed in areas where water concerns are indicated or suspected.
Building material moisture testing is performed with both infrared cameras (infrared thermography) and moisture meters which allows the assessment of all building materials even those that are not accessible.
Indoor Air Quality Services
- Preliminary Consultation
- Baseline Testing
- Cause of Loss Investigations
- Structural Evaluations
- Remediation Protocols
- Remediation Oversight
- Post-Remediation Clearance Testing
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Survey in Response to Water Entry Incident Water that has infiltrated a home can support mold and mildew growth if left un-abated. Mold growth can occur within 24 to 48 hours of water entry under the right conditions. Visible growth may not be evident and more often than not, the first indications that a homeowner will get is the presence of a musty odor within the air. The mustiness is an indication that microbial growth is occurring. If left un-abated, the fungus will actively spread through the release of spores (amplification) into the air. The airborne spores can be transported throughout a house and will settle-out on various surfaces. If the spores come into contact with the right moisture conditions and food source, they will begin the growing process all over. Without the right moisture and food source, the spores will remain dormant.
Exposure to occupants occurs when the spores are inhaled or when the by-products of the fungal metabolism (mVOCs, microtoxins, etc.) are inhaled. Many of the fungal spores and their metabolites are toxic or can induce allergic reactions in sensitive persons.
In houses where mold growth is identified or mustiness is present, CMS recommends that an inspection be performed by a trained professional. The purpose of the inspection is to assess the extent of hazard that the mold and mildew presents and to recommend the appropriate level of response action to safely abate the problem. Air monitoring or other testing should be performed to document exposure levels and worker protection requirements.
Inspections Related to Homeowner Health Problems Indoor air quality (IAQ) surveys performed in response to health complaints are primarily targeted at identifying the source of the problem in a homeowners environment. Simple, relatively inexpensive Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) investigations performed in the home of the patients can go a long way in assisting in the identification of the specific fungus, bacteria or allergens that are present in a patient’s home environment. Armed with that information, doctors can provide specifically targeted medical treatment. The testing will provide an evaluation of the bio-aerosol concentrations and indicate if remedial responses are required. Without such responses, on-going exposures are going to continue and the medical problems will persist.
The Health Complaint IAQ Survey includes the conducting of an in-depth interview of the person experiencing the problems to try and identify environmental and/or ergonomic factors that influence the on-set of symptoms. Doctors may also be included in the background information gathering process. Upon completion of the interview, the inspection can develop a testing plan that is designed to identify the source of the problem. The testing protocols can range from very simple testing to complex multi-media procedures for total unknowns.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that occurs everywhere in the environment as a by-product of the natural decay of uranium that is within the earth. It is present in varying quantities in the atmosphere and the soils throughout the United States. About one out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have elevated levels of radon. The EPA estimates that exposure to radon is responsible for 5,000 to 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. The surgeon general has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
The harmful effects of radon result due to exposures to radioactive radon decay products when air containing radon gas is inhaled. In the lungs the radioactive decay products can attach to lung tissue resulting in scaring and in the case of prolonged exposure, development of tumors and cancer.
Exposure to elevated levels of radon commonly occurs when radon enters and is trapped in a home. Other sources of radon include drinking water, from private wells, and building materials that may contain uranium ore (stone fire places, etc.). In today’s energy efficient tight homes, radon can actually be influenced to enter and build-up in a home as a result of negative pressures that exist within the home. Mechanical systems such as A/C systems, range and bathroom fans, when operated, result in a negative pressure vacuum effect which actually draws air containing radon through the foundation and into the home. Once in the home, the radon is trapped due to the high efficiency sealing of the structure. The problem is compounded due to climatic issues which result in little or no ventilation during winter months or in the summer time in the southern portions of the United States. The health risk is compounded due to the fact that people spend up to 92 percent of their time in the home where the exposure is occurring. Finally, because radon is a colorless, odorless gas, people have no way of knowing that they are being exposed unless testing is performed.
The radon level of natural air is approximately 1.2 pCi/L (pico-curies per liter). The EPA has established a base level of 4 pCi/L as an indication of an elevated level which may warrant some type of corrective action. The testing procedure consists of placing two (2) charcoal canisters (short term test) in the lowest portion of the home. The test is run for a period from two to seven days and the results are determined through laboratory analysis. If the results indicate a level of 4 pCi/L or greater, then a second long term confirmation test is recommended. If the second test confirms the presence of elevated levels of radon (greater than 4 pCi/L) then mitigation may be required. The mitigation techniques may range from sealing through foundation penetrations to installation of active subfoundation extraction through installation of a ventilation system.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) refer to a group of man made or formulated organic chemical compounds that are utilized in the manufacturing of many common household products. VOC’s have the common trait of volatility which can lead to the emission of hazardous airborne fumes and/or vapors. Many VOC’s are known or suspected carcinogens. Concentrations of many VOC’s are consistently higher indoors than outdoors. A study by the EPA, covering six communities in various parts of the United States, found indoor levels up to ten times higher than those outdoors – even in locations with significant outdoor air pollution sources such as petrochemical plants.
A wide array of volatile organics are emitted by products used in the home, office school, and art/crafts and hobby activities.
These products, which number in the thousands, include:
- Personal items such as scents and hair sprays.
- Household products such as varnishes, finishes, rug and oven cleaners, paints and lacquers (and their thinners), paint strippers, and pesticides.
- Dry-cleaning fluids.
- Building materials and home furnishings.
- Office equipment such as some copiers and printers.
- Office products such as correction fluids and carbon less copy paper.
- Graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions.
Some chemicals may be hazardous to your health during routine use, even though the exposure is only to small amounts in the air or on your skin. Organic solvents affect the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys. Many are flammable and many are known or suspected carcinogens. Petroleum distillates in polishes and sprays, perchlorethylene in spot removers, mineral spirits in paint thinner and p-dichlorobenzene in moth balls are all examples of organic solvents.
Strong acids or bases are corrosive to skin, eyes, and mucous membranes and can react with other household chemicals. Acids are found in tub, tile, and toilet cleaners and in rust removers. Lye in oven cleaners and hypochlorites in chlorine bleach are examples of high-pH corrosive substances.
Phenols and alcohols are poisonous and flammable chemicals that are the active ingredients in most disinfectant products.
Synthetic detergents, although not highly toxic, are the household chemicals frequently ingested by children. “Real” soaps made from animal fat or vegetable oil are an order of magnitude less toxic. Cleaners may also contain added dyes, perfumes, fillers, aerosol propellants and traces of ammonia and formaldehyde.
Many of these items carry precautionary labels specifying risks and procedures for safe use; some do not. Signs and symptoms of VOC exposure may include eye and upper respiratory irritation, rhinitis, nasal congestion, rash, pruritus, headache, nausea, vomiting, dyspnea, and in the case of formaldehyde vapor, epistaxis. The only way of reducing the risk that these chemicals may pose is to avoid their use altogether.
Certified Mold Solutions’ professionally trained inspectors will inspect and pinpoint the problem areas in your building.
Where is the mold growth? Crawlspace, attic, HVAC units or hidden in a bathroom wall? All of these are common locations for mold growth. Throughout the mold inspection sophisticated sensory equipment is used to locate probable areas of mold growth.
Our team is trained and certified in mold remediation, and your project will be handled to the exacting standards set forth by the Indoor Air Quality Association.
We lead the industry with our superior high quality remediation process. Anyone can remove mold, but it takes a mold remediation professional like Certified Mold Solutions to do it right.
Our water extraction and structural drying services are crucial, as mold will begin to grow on wet surfaces within 24 to 48 hours.
We are licensed, certified and insured to properly extract water and complete a drying protocol that will insure proper restoration of wet surfaces, and control mold growth. We’re committed to delivering fast, thorough water damage cleanup.