Do you have a mold allergy?

Mold Allergies are hard to diagnose, particularly since the signs and symptoms that are experienced also occur with other respiratory allergies. Allergic reactions to mold work in the same manner as any other allergens invading your system, it sets off an immune response in your body, causing coughing, itching, sneezing and other common allergic reaction symptoms. So, how do you find out if its mold that is causing the symptoms?

It’s important to find out if you have a mold allergy, because with mold, it can go from allergy to illness, or skip allergy and go straight to illness/infection. If you think you may have a mold allergy, or are being exposed to mold, it’s important for you to visit your doctor right away.

Some factors can make you more likely to have a mold allergy such as:

  • Family history of asthma or allergies
  • Being exposed to mold in the workplace
  • Areas in the home of high humidity
  • Poor ventilation in bathrooms

Once you see a doctor, you will have a better idea of what you’re dealing with. Write down a list of symptoms, where and when you experience them as well as any questions you may have before your appointment. Doctors can order a blood test to better determine what is causing your allergic reaction and recommend treatment as well as preventative measures that you can use to avoid mold.

If you have mold in your home, visible or not, it could be triggering your symptoms. If you see visible mold, call in an expert to investigate the issue and make sure it isn’t larger than it seems. A mold inspection is critical to discovering areas of mold you may not be able to attend, and abatement can remove the problem completely, leaving you allergy free! For more information on mold allergies, visit the Mayo Clinic’s website here.

 

Decrease your exposure to mold

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mold is found in virtually every environment, both indoors and outdoors. Knowing that mold exposure can increase the development of diseases such as asthma and allergies, people are left wondering how they can decrease their exposure.

To begin, people who are sensitive to allergens or mold should try to avoid or limit their time in areas that are more likely to have mold. These areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Shady damp areas outside
  • Basements
  • Antique shops
  • Greenhouses
  • Saunas
  • Farms
  • Mills
  • Construction areas
  • Flower shops
  • Cottages

These areas have something in common, humidity. Any place that humidity is high (over 50%) throughout the day, can be a breeding ground for mold. For more information on the health concerns of mold, click here.  If there is visible mold growth in your home or in a place that you frequent, don’t let it continue! Contact HNST Mold Inspections today and schedule your mold inspection.

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Mold Research Study: HEAL

Currently, a research study is underway in regards to the health related effects of mold and other indoor allergens as they relate to children in post-Katrina New Orleans. The project is called Head-off Environmental Asthma in Louisiana (HEAL). HEAL is also using this project to look at different responses in children to mold and other indoor allergens.

As the prevalence of childhood asthma keeps rising in the United states it has become a growing concern, especially when some of the highest numbers are related to areas that have flooded such as New Orleans. The study suggests that the increasing rates of asthma are related to increases in allergens, mold and moisture in the air following the water events. The goal of this study is to figure out a better way to manage these children medically and to provide a safe environment that will improve the health of the children affected. HEAL is currently in its second phase of research.

Why is this study so important? This study is a macro way to show the direct correlation between moisture, in this case flooding, as it relates to increased mold growth, allergens and moisture in the air. As the climate changes and these catastrophic events continue to happen, year after year, more spotlight is being shown on this topic. We hope that this research helps us to determine how we can reduce exposure to these elements and protect our children from its harmful effects.

Although this study is being done on the post-Katrina area of New Orleans, it pertains to everyone. Hoboken, NJ was ravaged by hurricane sandy just a few years ago. Just recently hurricane Joaquin led to historic rainfall and flooding in the Carolinas. It is important for the future that we keep doing studies like this HEAL study so that we are better prepared when disasters like this strike, and that we are better equipped after the event to deal with the increased health effects that it causes as well as provide safe and healthy spaces for our children to grow up in.

For more information on the HEAL study, visit http://heal.niehs.nih.gov/.

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Top Ten List: What you should know about Mold

There is so much information on the internet about mold, many suggestions for how to get rid of it in the home, and even more information about companies that will inspect and abate your mold problem. If you’re looking for just the facts in your search, you came to the right place. Below is our top ten list of what you should know about mold.

  1. There are many potential adverse health effects as well as symptoms that can be associated with exposure to mold. These include, but are not limited to asthma, allergic reactions, upper respiratory complaints and coughing.
  2. Mold lives as spores, which get released into the air, and circulate in their environment.
  3. In order to control or prevent mold growth, sources of moisture must be eliminated
  4. Controlling humidity can prevent mold from growing. Increase the ventilation in your home, especially in the bathroom or any other area prone to moisture.
  5. There is no limit to where mold can grow. Don’t assume that certain materials can’t grow mold. As long as there is moisture on a surface, there can be mold.
  6. Rugs or carpets should not be installed in places like the bathroom or the basement if there is ability for moisture in the area.
  7. Insulating your home can help to prevent condensation on pipes, windows etc.
  8. Cleaning mold off of a hard surface that is non-porous may be obtainable. Yet, if there is a porous surface, it is better off being replaced.
  9. Timing is everything, if you have had a flood or water event in your home or business, it is important to dry the materials within 48 hours to prevent mold from growing.
  10. Let the experts do their job. If mold is a problem in the home, it is important to get someone that has knowledge and experience in the field in order to investigate and possibly abate the problem.

For more information about mold inspection, please visit our Mold Inspection page. Remember, it is important to act right away if mold is suspected in the home. Contact us today and get your inspection underway.

Rainwater Damage

There is a multitude of different ways that homes and businesses can be affected by moisture. One of the prime ways that this happens is from rainwater. Think about the amount of water that sometimes falls at once! When water comes down quickly and in quantity, we see more damage. Roof leaks, leaks in doors and windows and water intruding through siding all become a problem.

Even if your home has never had a previous issue, when a lot of water comes down in a short amount of time, the system put in place to aim the water away from your home or to drain it can become overwhelmed! If a small problem is already happening, don’t wait until the next storm to do something about it, it may be too late.

Water damage to the house is the first step to mold growing, mold requires moisture to develop! This is why it’s important not to ignore poor drainage around the home, which aims rainwater away, as well as any small roof, window or door leaks you may see.

To protect your home from rainwater there are a few things you can do.

  1. Check to see if the ground slopes away from the foundation of your home. You don’t want the ground close to the outside of the home to slope toward your house, or you will have to cut into a trench to drain it
  2. Add extensions to the gutter downspouts, this way you can direct the water away from the foundation.
  3. Create openings on the border of flowerbeds to help the soil drain away from the house
  4. Keep roofs and gutters clear of debris
  5. Dig a Trench that extends to the lowest point of your property. Line the high end of this trench with some filter fabric and then fill with gravel or rock. This way the water will get filtered before clogging the drain.
  6. Build a Dry Well in the ground and fill with gravel or crushed stone. If you have a home that puddles or has a big pool of water after rainfall, this is a great idea to act as a makeshift drain to return the water to the ground without flooding or pooling.

These are some beginner tips to prevent moisture from getting into the home. If you already have a small leak or a problem that has been on your list to fix, make it your priority. Dealing with mold due to moisture in your home is a much larger and more hazardous problem in the long run. Call us today for a water damage assessment.

Cutting back Exposure to VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds)

VOC’s are gases emitted from solid and liquids which include a variety of chemicals. These chemicals have been recognized to have both short and long term adverse health effects. When emitted indoors, concentrations may increase and cause a health risk for you and your loved ones. One of our specialties at HNST Mold Inspections, is to test air quality for levels of VOC’s.  We see high levels in homes where everyday products like paints, paint strippers, solvents, aerosol sprays, cleansers, and air fresheners are used.

Follow these tips to reduce your exposure to smog:

  1. Follow the directions on the label. If the product says to use it in a well-ventilated area then get outside! Unless you have an exhaust fan and plenty of open windows, use of these products can cause VOC build up in the air.
  2. Don’t hang on to old partially full containers. These gases can leak from even closed containers! Contact your local government agency to find out when and where toxic household wastes can be disposed of.
  3. Buy only what you absolutely need. Although many want to purchase in bulk for things they know they’ll use year after year like paint, paint stripper, gasoline and kerosene, these things should only be purchased in limited quantities. Exposure to these products can happen even when the container is sealed. These products carry the compound methylene chloride which has been recognized to induce cancer in animals. This compound is also converted to carbon monoxide in the body and we know that toxic substance is no good.
  4. Avoid exposure to environmental toxins like benzene. Benzene is a carcinogenic product found in tobacco smoke, paint supplies and car emissions. To trim down on the exposure, smoke outside, provide a great deal of ventilation in attached garages and run a fan when painting.
  5. Avoid Dry-Cleaning. Some Dry Cleaners use a compound called perchloroethylene, which has been recognized to cause cancer to animals in studies. Low grades of this chemical have been found in homes where dry-cleaned clothes are stacked away. Minimize your exposure by removing the plastic immediately and allowing to hang in a ventilated area.

Now you are prepared to reduce your exposure to VOC’s in your home. Use these easy tips to put yourself at the lowest risk for inhaling these harmful compounds and to keep your family healthy and safe!

HNST Mold Inspections checks for VOC’s and performs other mold testing services in the New York and New Jersey Tristate area. If you are in this area and would like your home tested contact us today!

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Basement Mold

While mold doesn’t discriminate where it originates, and largely spreads fast, the cellar is one of the most common areas where mold grows. For some, the basement is a place they rarely go. Perhaps you run down and throw in a load of wash, or put a box of old clothes down for storage, but do you spend any actual time downstairs? Do you turn on the light and look around when you go into the basement? Do you see mold and figure it can’t be that bad? It would be worth it for you to look twice next time you’re down there.

Because the basement is an area that is dark, unventilated, and prone to moisture, mold grows happily. Basements flood, pipes leak, humidity is uncontrolled and air flow is halted. All of these things lead to only more mold growth. If you see mold on the walls, carpet or on anything stored in the cellar, you can bet there is more to be found. For all of the health risks that mold can cause, you want to make sure that mold growth is not happening if your basement, compromising the health of your family.

There are many DIY Mold killers out there, some suggest vinegar, and others bleach. What is important to know is that there are different types of mold and they cannot all be treated the same! Bleach can reduce spreading of mold, but does not effectively kill it. Boric Acid is recommended by some, but this is a powerful caustic material, if you get it on your skin you can be burned, not to mention the lack of ventilation in the basement can harm you.

Our recommendation is that you trust a professional to deal with the problem. Our mold inspection team will locate the cause or causes of the mold development and will advise on how to best mitigate and whom to call to remove it. Mold also grows in different places, so we check the whole basement top to bottom to make sure there are not multiple signs of mold growth, water damage or compromised areas.

Don’t attempt to take on your basement mold by yourself, employ a professional to test and locate the mold. Don’t wait any longer to determine out what is genuinely in your basement, call us today for a quote.

Allergen Testing Services

Mold Inspection is not the only matter we manage! HNST Mold Inspections offers a variety of related services that help keep your home mold free but safe in other ways as well. With many years of experience in the mold remediation and inspection business, we’ve found that there are other problems involved that can be often overlooked, leading to health problems down the line. That’s why we’re proud to offer Allergen Testing for our clients for a full spectrum approach to testing in the home.

Clients with allergy symptoms that correlate with time spent indoors puts up a red flag for us. There could be possible mold in the home, and generally this is the most common cause of air quality issues. However, we never overlook other allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, bacteria, ozone, chemicals, and numerous other air pollutants and stimulants which can affect your quality of living.

Using a mold sample, air sample or dust sample, we can test for allergens such as pollens, wood, plant, synthetic and fiberglass fibers, insects, soot and silica among a broad assortment of other allergens. Although we primarily want to get rid of any potentially hazardous mold, we also want to make certain there are no other allergens lurking in your home causing potential health hazards.

Particulate Matter, or small particles found in the air can get suspended for long periods of time. They can be directly emitted into the air or created through chemical reactions. Particulate matter comes in many sizes, anything less than 10 micrometers can pose risks to your health by being inhaled into the respiratory system.

If you experience allergy symptoms that seem to be interrelated to your indoor space, call us for an inspection and consultation. Let us figure out what the problem is and remediate it quickly so that you get come back to breathing clean air.

 

The Attic can be a Scary Place

Ask most children what is the scariest place in the home and chances are you’ll hear the Attic. It’s ironic because the attic actually is a scary place, but for adults there’s a different reason. Mold.
Moisture problems can start building up in the attic for years before anyone notices, and before you know it there is a mold problem. Condensation in the attic is caused by the interaction of different temperatures between the air and solid surfaces. Proper attic ventilation reduces the occurrence of condensation and therefore the likelihood of mold growth. Your attic must have vents in the eaves or exhaust fan that promotes air circulation. Making sure that insulation doesn’t block any vents is key.
First, it’s important to seal the attic from any air emanating from the living quarters of the home that are underneath the attic. Here are a few of the most common troubles:
• Improper air ventilation into the attic of exhaust fans or clothes dryer
• Lack of sealant around wire passage ways
• Lack of sealant around plumbing vents
• Lack of sealant around furnace vents
• Recessed lighting
• Transitions between existing house and new addition
• Attic ventilation fans
• Stairways
If these passages are not properly sealed, air leaks into the attic, causing moisture to collect and if the moisture isn’t released… mold will grow. While sealing off all of the air that leaks into the attic is almost impossible, you can take measures to address the most obvious ones and reduce humidity significantly.
If you already have mold in the attic, then remediation is recommended. Call us today and don’t waste another day letting mold accumulate, risking hazards to your health. It is also not a bad idea, whether new build or old home, to have a mold inspection done. If mold is growing unbeknownst to you, then it is better to find the problem now, and fix it before it becomes worse.

Steps for Summer Mold Prevention

Summer weather came in like a bang, with its heat, humidity and inevitably thunderstorms will come rolling in. Mold loves this type of weather so it’s smart to prepare yourself now in order to prevent damage to your home and health.
If you’ve read our previous blog about asthma, you know that toxic or not, mold can cause some serious health issues. If you haven’t read up about how mold can affect your health, I suggest you do that now and come back to this one… we’ll wait.
Ok, good, you’re back! Now that you know how mold affects your health, it’s important for you to know that mold can also affect your home. Mold can infiltrate carpet, furniture, dry wall and flooring. There is no limit to where it can grow. In some cases, the mold is behind the walls or under the floor boards and homeowners may not see the problem. Controlling moisture levels in your home is the key to prevention in these cases.
Step 1. Set humidifier to below 50% to prevent moisture.
Rain and severe thunderstorms can also be a worry, this time of year. It is important that if any flooding does happen that you take steps to remove it IMMEDIATELY! Anything that got wet, carpets, flooring, furniture etc. can be a breeding ground and needs to be dried.
Step 2. After a flooding event, take action immediately to prevent mold invasion
Step 3. Get your home tested for mold after a water event
Lastly, check outside to make sure water isn’t being funneled towards your home. Ensure all gutters and downspouts are free and clear of debris. Check to make sure connections to downspouts are intact and that they are aimed away from the house and foundation.
Step 4. Check the perimeter
Use these four steps and keep your summer mold free!