Can Living With Mold Affect Your Health
The topic on health hazards from mold exposure is a gray area. It is believed that living with high levels of mold can cause some minor and/or serious health affects. However, there is very little evidence to confirm all instances at this time.
What most can agree on is living with mold should not be ignored. Not only due to the beliefs of the health risks accompanied but the affects it may cause to the value of your home. Any new buyer or renter will not want to walk into another person's mold issue.
Mold comes in thousands of different strains but only a few of those produce toxins. The most well known being stachybotrys chartarum also known as "black mold". Did you know the term we hear often as "toxic black mold" is not actually a scientific term. It was created by news reporters that carried the term around to create the myth that "toxic black mold" is deadly which in reality that has not been proven.
Now lets discuss what types of symptoms are reported due to mold exposure. People who spend time in these environments report respiratory issues such as shortness of breath, development of asthma, coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, nasal congestion and throat irritation. It is believed that those with weakened immune systems or a history of allergies or asthma are more prone to adverse reactions from mold. There are also some people that are more sensitive to particular strains of mold that can vary from person to person.
The CDC suggested a link between mold and a medical condition called acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage (AIPH) or pulmonary hemosiderosis. Others state that mold causes more serious conditions as well like lung disease, upper respiratory infections or even cancer. These claims have yet to be proven with any substantial evidence.
Although the research is limited on proving many of these claims it should still not keep someone from treating and removing any mold growth in their home. Hopefully future research can provide more insight so that federal laws can help regulate mold in homes.
What is Not Covered?
Here are a few key areas that are typically not covered by your standard insurance policy. Also keep in mind of a deductible that may need to be met or coverage limits.
1. Damages resulting from unresolved maintenance issues or neglecting to repair source. For instance, you have a leak coming from your toilet supply line that you have just been ignoring for almost a year. It caused some water damage to the ceiling below which typically would be covered by your policy initially but waiting too long to fix the problem will likely cause your insurance to reject coverage.
2. Flood. Any source of water that enters your home from a flood regardless of the cause is not covered under a standard insurance policy. Yet you may purchase flood insurance which would be recommended for those living in a flood prone area.
3. Law or Ordinance Upgrades. This type of scenario can come into play for something like a fire that causes the electrical wiring in your home to need to be removed and replaced. Yet, your town has new building codes that require a more expensive upgrade to new wiring being installed. In this case your insurance will only cover the costs of the original old wiring and the difference in charges for the new upgrade will be your responsibility.
4. Sewer or drain back up from OUTSIDE. You will typically not be coverage for water that backs up into your home from an outside source. There are endorsements that can be added on to your policy to cover backs up occurring within your property line. If the source is coming outside of your property line your city may be responsible.
5. Costs to repair and/or replace source. Most insurance companies will cover the damages associated however the costs to repair the cause falls under the homeowner. For example a pipe bursts in your home causing damages to your hardwood floors. Your insurance company will take care of fixing the floors yet the plumber you hired to replace the pipe will come out of your pocket.
Emergency Ready Profile
The Best Way to Reduce Business Interruption Following a Disaster is to Plan For it NOW.
As many as 50% of businesses may never recover following a disaster, according to the latest industry research.
SERVPRO of Paramus offers a FREE assessment of your property and develops a plan in the event of a disaster.
Why the SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile?
Here are just a few reasons why your business will benefit from having an emergency ready profile in place.
- A no cost assessment of your facility. – This means there is no need to allocate funds, giving you a great value at no cost.
- A concise Profile Document that contains only the critical information needed in the event of an emergency. – It will only take a little time to complete and will not take you away from current projects. But it will save a lot of time if ever needed.
- A guide to help you get back into your building following a disaster. – This can help minimize the amount of time your business is inactive by having an immediate plan of action.
- Establishes your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professional as your disaster mitigation and restoration provider. – You have a provider that is recognized as an industry leader and close by.
- Identification of the line of command for authorizing work to begin. – This saves time so we can begin the work of mitigating the damage which can save you time and money.
- Provides facility details such as shut-off valve locations, priority areas and priority contact information. – Having a quick reference of what to do, how to do it and who to call provides solutions in a disaster.
- A concise Profile Document that contains only the critical information needed in the event of an emergency.
Developing your Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) will only take a little time to complete and will not take you away from your current projects.
The SERVPRO Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) could be a valuable tool to help restore your business in the shortest amount of time possible.
To set up this free service, call Tony D'Arco @ SERVPRO of Paramus.
Top Sources of Mold
We will be discussing the primary sources of mold that are commonly found in homes. As we all know mold needs moisture and food (porous materials) to grow. Mold also likes dark humid environments. Some key causes to look out for mold are:
1. Leaky Appliances
Daily wear and tear to your appliances can cause leaks or splits that can allow moisture to escape. Unfortunately most appliances have the pipes and hoses hidden out of sight running inside walls or cabinets. So it may take some digging around to find any leaks. We recommend checking regularly for loose washers or leaky hoses.
2. Air Conditioning Units
The condensation from an air conditioning unit creates moisture for mold. On top of that it also sucks in air from the outside that contains dirt and pollen which are attractive materials for mold. You can help minimize mold growth by running it everyday for at least 10 minutes. When it sits for long periods of time it is more likely to grow mold. When not in use like during winter season you should remove it and store in a dry place.
3. Water Intrusion
It is beneficial to check your ceilings and cracks of your windows for any water getting in. This can be a sign of poor building construction so you may need a professional to diagnose and treat the issue.
4. Window Sills
This area is subject to higher levels of moisture and humidity along with dirt that is a valuable source for mold.
Next, we will discuss some locations in your home that have a higher chance for mold to grow.
Being that most basements are located on a sub-level, moisture is constantly part of its environment. The humidity level is much higher and typically not well ventilated leaving humidity to linger longer. Any cracks in foundation can also add to the issue.
If wallpaper is peeling it is likely that it has mold growing behind it.
The attic of a home is home to many air flow sources like dryer vents, plumbing vents, and kitchen/bathroom. All of these constantly pump moist air into the attic accompanied with all the inevitable dust found there makes a perfect environment for mold.
Like a basement the crawlspace also has a higher relative humidity. The soil in the crawlspace will absorb and lock in moisture and when it dries it will evaporate adding moisture to the air.
What To Do Until SERVPRO Arrives
When you experience a water damage the quicker you tackle it the better the outcome. First and foremost, finding out the source and stopping it should be your main priority.
If there are no safety hazards begin by shutting off the water source at the shut off valve. If applicable contact a plumber to fix the source to keep further damage from re-occurring.
If the water did not come from a clean source and likely contaminated avoid all wet areas.
- Contact your homeowners insurance company
- Contact a professional restoration company (SERVPRO of Paramus @ 201-445-5588)
- If safe, turn off electricity to affected areas at circuit breaker
- Try to mop or blot up water with towels
- Place furniture legs on foil on wooden blocks
- Use safety pins or clothespins to keep furniture skirts and drapery off wet floors
- Remove oriental rugs and place in a dry area
- Remove all moisture sensitive items to a dry place
- Prop up any wet upholstery cushions to dry
- Remove books, magazines, paper to a dry place where they will not transfer and stain
- Wipe excess moisture from furniture
- Use a household vacuum to remove water
- Use any electronics in a room with wet flooring
- Use ceiling fans where a wet ceiling is present
- Open windows in temperatures higher than 70 degrees. AC may be used if water is not contaminated.
A generator being used after a house fire in Rutherford, NJ.
When a storm hits and your home loses power many people turn to a portable generator. Although generators may seem simple enough to use many people do not know the risks of operating one.
Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes. The primary hazard is the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust. Carbon monoxide does not produce an odor and is invisible to the eye. That is why it is important to practice safe handling.
1. NEVER use a generator indoors including a garage (even with an open door). The best and only place you should place an operating generator is outdoors. Allow 5 feet of clearance around the generator. Be sure the generator exhaust fumes are away from all windows and doors to prevent travel indoors.
2. Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Follow the manufacturers guidelines for correct placement and mounting height.
3. Avoid electric shock or electrocution by keeping the generator dry. Do not use in rain or wet conditions.
4. When refueling be sure to turn off the generator and allow to cool. Spilled gasoline on the hot engine parts can ignite causing an explosion. Do not overfill tank! Leave room of fuel expansion.
5. Never smoke near a generator.
6. Know the output rating of your generator. To prevent overloading select the right sized generator to handle the power requirements of your appliances you wish to use. Overloading can destroy not only the generator but also your electronics and/or appliances.
7. Never plug directly to your homes wiring or household outlets. Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty outdoor extension cord with the correct outage to handle your appliances. Never use a cord with exposed wiring.
Storage of fuel safely is just as important as operation of the generator. Store fuel outside living areas, such as a locked shed, in a properly labeled approved safety can. Use the fuel recommended in instructions for your generator. Some areas restrict the amount of fuel you may store so be sure to verify with your local fire dept. Do not store fuel near a fuel burning appliance like a natural gas water heater.
Practice proper generator handling to keep your home & family safe!
Why Bleach Is Not Recommended for Mold
Mold Growth on Sheetrock
Did you know that bleach does not actually get rid of your mold problem? The old school thought of spraying bleach whenever you see mold is nothing but a myth. The reason people believe this works is because to the naked eye the visible mold is gone, yes, but that is because the bleach has removed the color of mold not its roots.
The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) stopped recommending the use of bleach for dealing with mold problems. The ESA (Environmental Site Assessment) also updated their guide similarly as well.
The problem with bleach is that it is has too many variables that affect how it can treat mold. Bleach only works on killing mold on non-porous materials. If you read our previous blog on how mold growth occurs you will know that mold typically grows on porous materials like drywall and wood. So the chances your mold growth will be on a hard surface is unlikely anyways.
Using bleach to clean areas like wood can actually promote mold growth and can leave you with a bigger problem than when you originally started. This is because mold spreads its roots deep into porous surfaces. When you use bleach it creates excessive moisture which then creates a better environment for the mold to return and thrive. Bleach will also negatively affect materials like wood by breaking down its fibers. It can also cause corrosion to metals.
Bleach contains an ingredient called Sodium Hypochlorite which in high concentrations can be registered as an antimicrobial pesticide that will kill mold under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. However Sodium Hypochlorite can also be sold as a household cleaner without being registered as a pesticide due to this type of item only containing small amounts of Sodium Hypochlorite. This means it is not guaranteed to kill mold nor is it sold for that purpose.
We want to steer you away from thinking bleach is the best route to dealing with your mold. Not only is it not effective but the dangerous fumes are toxic to your health. Plus, there are many anti-microbial alternatives readily available that will get the job done and are safer to use.
If you are dealing with mold in your home it is recommended to contact a professional. We are available to answer your mold questions. Contact us today @ 201-445-5588.
Minimize Business Interruption
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency 40% of businesses that experience a disaster never re-open. In order to protect your business from any type of interruption, it is adamant that you have a plan in place.
Every business owner should be familiar with the location they are in and what types of natural disasters the location is historically known for. Knowing what type of natural disaster is common in your area will help you develop an accurate emergency preparedness plan. Some examples of natural disasters can be flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.
Once you have figured out what may be inevitable in your area you should then understand your insurance coverage. Business property insurance pays to repair or replace property damage but does not protect against consequential damage like the downtime of a business while repairs are going on. This type of damage would be picked up by a business interruption coverage. It is important to also understand this type of coverage as it can differ significantly with possible exclusions, coverage limits and waiting periods.
When preventing hazards from arising you should ask yourself if these areas are up to standard/code:
1. HVAC system
2. Electrical system
3. Telecommunications system
4. Fire protection systems
5. Sprinkler system
These areas should be regularly inspected and maintained for proper functioning.
Other potential risks may be occurring from indirect sources such as other occupants if in a multi-occupancy building. It is beneficial to know what hazards might be going on nearby. For instance, if the neighboring occupant to your property is a business that manufactures acetone products, which is extremely flammable, you would want to take note of this and customize your plan accordingly.
To prevent inventory damages, store contents based on level of sensitivity. Any water sensitive products should be removed from flood prone areas and placed above 100 year flood level. Vital records that are necessary for the survival of the business should be given maximum protection from any disaster. If possible establish electronic back up copies.
To expedite repairs in the event of an emergency, companies should develop contacts with contractors in the area. By establishing prior contacts in advance will help to initiate return to operation quickly and efficiently. This will also prevent any time wasted by auditioning different contractors to pick the best one.
We, at SERVPRO of Paramus, offer an Emergency Ready Profile (ERP) for businesses who would like to develop not just a plan but a relationship they can trust to help them be prepared for any size disaster. Contact us today to learn more!
Natural Disasters- Prepare Your Home
You are home watching the local news when the reporter says the next big hurricane is coming through your area within the next couple of days. You may think running out to fill up your gas tank and grabbing the last carton of milk and loaf of bread at the store means you are prepared. However, what about your home? Is it protected and prepared for the storm?
Here are some last minute tips on what you can do to get your home ready in the event of a natural disaster:
- Close all windows, doors, and shutters
- Bring in anything outdoors that can be picked up by wind.
- Keep trees trimmed, remove any compromised limbs
- Turn your fridge and freezer on to the coldest setting & keep it closed as much as possible so food will last longer in case of a power outage
- Turn off propane tank
- Unplug any small appliances
- Make sure your sump pump is working
To keep your home prepared all year round you must first identify any vulnerable areas in your home.
- Check for cracks or small holes in the foundation where water can seep in.
- Check for any loose or missing shingles on your roof. Secure soffits that may weaken over time. You can reinforce them by adding stainless steel screws.
- Touch up areas with caulking that have worn away like windowsills and door jambs. You can easily fix these cracked areas on your own by simply getting a caulking gun and a waterproof sealant
- Keep gutters free of debris and make sure water flows several feet away from your home
- Make sure the septic tank and sewer are inspected and cleaned before the start of every season
If your home is affected by a major storm or disaster, an emergency restoration company can help you with cleanup. You should also contact your insurance company to report the damage and file a claim. Our team at SERVPRO of Paramus can handle any size disaster you may face. Call us for more info. 201-445-5588
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in the ground typically found in North America. It was frequently used in the past as a flame-resistant insulation. It is a durable material made of layers of fibers that together virtually create an indestructible material. It was widely used up until the 70's when it was discovered to be a carcinogen.
Asbestos is found to be the sole cause of a deadly and rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma. After being exposed to asbestos mesothelioma can take 20-50 years before symptoms can appear. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. Despite asbestos being known as a carcinogen it is still not banned. However, most manufactures have phased out the use of the material to switch to safer alternatives.
The EPA classifies six different materials as asbestos. All six being human carcinogens.
Only amosite which is the brown colored asbestos and crocidolite (blue) are mainly used.
Now that we know what asbestos is and the negative side effects lets talk about what to do when you come across asbestos. When finding asbestos in your home or building you don't necessarily need to go remove it immediately. It is actually best to leave it untouched if it is intact. Generally asbestos containing material that is in good condition and not disturbed will not release asbestos fibers. In the case the material is not in good condition or is in the vicinity of a renovation it should only be removed by a trained professional.
If you suspect the material contains asbestos but are not completely sure you can have testing done to confirm. Air testing can also be performed to confirm the air quality is safe after removal.
The most common scenario we come across is asbestos containing tile found hidden under layers of flooring. In the event our technicians suspect asbestos we will have testing performed to verify and then plan on the best route of execution.