Friday, August 18, 2017

How to Protect Against Lead-Contaminated Garden Soil

Growing one's own vegetables is fun, healthy, and even financially rewarding. However, there's a potential ingredient in some garden soils that represents none of the above. It's lead, and it's a threat to everyone's health. Here are some ways to deal with lead-contaminated garden soil.

Understand the Origins of Lead in Soil 
A bunch of carrots kept on a table

The presence of lead in garden soil is usually due to discarded gasoline or the remnants of lead-based paint. To a lesser extent, pesticides, lead-acid batteries, coal-based furnaces, and smelters are also culprits.

Recognize At-Risk Foods

A person affected by lead in garden soil has usually eaten vegetables contaminated in the garden or inhaled the soil through its dust. Lead is most easily absorbed and retained in root vegetables. Carrots and sweet potatoes are the most vulnerable, with leafy vegetables like lettuce and Swiss Chard also at risk. Fruiting vegetables like tomatoes are the least likely to be affected.

Compost to Dilute Lead's Presence

Adding an organic matter like compost dilutes the overall concentration of lead in garden soil, reducing the amount of lead that might be absorbed by vegetables. The iron oxides and phosphorus in compost also help retain the lead in soils and reduce its availability to plants.

Wash Vegetables to Remove Soil

The accidental ingestion of lead-contaminated garden soil can be avoided by vigorously washing all vegetables in pure, clean water. When a vegetable is hard to clean, get rid of its exposed areas, including the lower and outer leaves of leafy vegetables. Do note, however, that this is most effective for removing the soil. If the vegetable itself contains lead, washing will not make it safer to eat.

Choose the Garden Location Wisely

Confronting lead contamination can be as easy as choosing the place to plant a garden. If it's an old home, schedule a lead inspection. If it tests positive, don't plant vegetables near the house, where flakes of lead paint may have fallen.

Improve pH Levels

Soil pH is the measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, and it can affect how much lead is retained in the soil. Gardeners can adjust the pH level by adding sulfur or peat to make the soil more acidic, and adding lime to make the soil more alkaline (basic). Neutral and alkaline soils hold slightly more lead, which may help prevent the lead from spreading to the vegetables.

ASAP Environmental, Inc. is here to perform any lead paint inspection, risk assessment, dust testing, or clearance inspection that may be necessary. Call 800-349-7779 or fill out the online contact form today.

Friday, May 19, 2017

5 Steps for Ensuring a New Home Is Mold-Free

Image of a happy family after mold inspection of their houseWhen buying a new home, mold can be a dealbreaker. This hidden health hazard compromises the home's air quality and can make residents ill. Here are the steps homeowners should take to ensure that the property is mold-free before settlement, including a mold inspection by a qualified professional.

1. Be Aware of Risky Areas

Mold spores begin to grow in areas with moisture. Therefore, it is common to find mold in homes
that have leaking pipes and faucets, damp basements, spaces that have flooded and never dried completely, walls that are tightly sealed and trap moisture, and rooms with poor ventilation.

2. Look for Telltale Signs

When shopping for a home, buyers should be aware of the factors that create optimal conditions for mold to grow. In any home under consideration, conduct a cursory mold inspection by checking for water stains or marks on the walls or ceiling, standing water in the basement, and musty smells, especially in areas with plumbing. Homes built with synthetic stucco require additional diligence since mold can grow within the walls if improperly installed.

3. Schedule a Home Inspection

After making an offer, buyers are entitled to a thorough home inspection, which should include a basic mold inspection. Ask the inspector to include information about noted water damage or potential mold in his or her report.

4. Ask for Disclosure

While sellers in Massachusetts don't need to disclose information about mold in the home, buyers can still ask the seller and his or her agent for this information. In addition, it is prudent to ask whether the home has ever flooded or had other water issues.

5. Add a Contingency

A buyer who wishes to make an offer on a house but is concerned about the potential presence of mold should add a contingency that allows them to back out of the deal if mold is found during a professional mold inspection.

Taking these five steps will help buyers ensure that they'll be happy and healthy in their new, mold-free abode.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Qualifying for a Lead Paint Removal Tax Credit

In the state of Massachusetts, property owners who paid for lead paint removal from their residential dwelling may claim the Lead Paint Removal Tax Credit. Homeowners can use the following four points to find out if they qualify for the credit.

Full Compliance or Interim Control

Full compliance means that all dangerous levels of lead are removed, while interim control indicates that lead has been effectively controlled. Homeowners can get credit for $1,500 for full compliance, or $500 for interim control.

Type of Property

Any residential property, either tenant occupied or owner occupied.

Licensed Workers

The property must have been inspected by a licensed expert and found to have lead paint. A licensed de-leader must complete the lead paint removal, and the property must be inspected afterward to confirm lead removal.

Letters Filed

To receive the tax credit, the owner must file a letter with the department of revenue for each deleaded property once the work is complete. They must also submit the letter of full compliance or interim control.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Mold Myths Debunked

Mold testing is one of the most important tasks to undertake if one suspects there are any spores in the home. However, there are many misconceptions about this fungus. Here are several myths about mold.

Myth 1: All Mold Is Dangerous

There is the thought that all mold is dangerous to humans, but humans benefit from this growth more often than they may be aware. Penicillin was created from mold. Cheese is also made using different types of mold.

Myth 2: To Be Healthy, the Home Must Be Completely Mold Free

There is no way to make an interior room completely mold-free. Mold spores in the air are natural. The only way to avoid them is to live in a plastic bubble. Mold testing can determine how badly the air is infected.

Myth 3: Bleach Kills All Mold

Bleach is known for killing viruses and bacteria. As a result, most people believe it will kill mold as well. In fact, chlorine bleach is not an approved sanitation method. Bleach only reaches the upper layer of the surface. In order to kill mold, the roots must be destroyed. On porous surfaces such as walls, carpets, roofing material, or insulation, the roots run deep and are unaffected by bleach.

Myth 4: If Some Mold Isn’t Dangerous, Then There Is No Need to Worry

There are those who know not all mold is dangerous, so they conclude that no mold is. Unfortunately, that is simply untrue. Several types of mold are harmful, and they should be addressed due to the health risks they pose.

Myth 5: A Little Mold Is Okay

A little might not seem like a huge problem. However, it is just the tip of the iceberg in most cases. Mold testing will determine the infestation.

Myth 6: Anyone Can Clean It Up

Many think that cleaning up an infestation is simple. However, to ensure the job is done properly, it is best to leave the clean-up to an experienced technician, especially in areas with strict rental laws.

Other Common Misunderstandings

While toxic mold can cause serious health problems, some conditions leave little evidence that can be easily linked back to spores. - Skin Rash: no clear evidence contributed to dermatitis - Sinusitis: no clear evidence to link the two - Asthma: outdoor mold has more of an adverse effect - Allergies: outdoor mold has an adverse effect If a residence has been flooded, it is best to call in an expert to perform mold testing and properly clean the area.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mold: What You Need to Know

The US Census Bureau reports that approximately 35 percent of American homes will experience water damage each year, and that damage creates the potential for mold growth. Here are some facts about mold that every homeowner should know.

The Risks

Mold can be hazardous to your health. There are many varieties of mold, and not all are dangerous, but some can cause allergic reactions, asthma, neurological problems, and other serious health symptoms. If symptoms associated with these conditions worsen while at home, the residence may have mold. Mold testing can help you determine if the property has an infestation and the severity of any mold growth.

The Signs

Don’t ignore the signs of mold. Mold is often difficult to detect, but it may be present if there's a musty smell or small patches of a dirt-like substance in moisture-rich places like the bathroom or basement. Mold appears in a variety of colors, including black, brown, green, and white.

Reduce the Risk

Keeping moisture at a minimum can reduce the chances of a mold infestation. Keep an eye on increases in the water bill for overages because this may be a sign of leaking pipes. Address any water leaks as soon as possible to prevent mold growth.

Mold can grow at an exponential rate, so professional mold testing should be performed at the first signs of infestation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Massachusetts Lead Law and Rental Properties

The Massachusetts Lead Inspection Law gives children six years old and younger the right to live in a lead-free home. Homes, rental and private, built before 1978 must be free of lead hazards including lead paint that is loose, uncovered, or present on windows or any other surface accessible to children.

The Law

The homeowner must employ a licensed lead inspector to test the home for lead, cite all lead hazards, and then explain how to bring the home into compliance with the law. Landlords are responsible for removing all lead hazards in a timely fashion.

Interim Control

Any remaining hazards must be addressed by "interim control," during which the homeowner is given up to two years to cover up or remove all existing lead hazards from the home. Upon completion of these actions, the homeowner is sent a Letter of Full Compliance.

Moving into a Rental

Even if the tenant moving into a rental property built before 1978 does not have children, the landlord must provide the Tenant Lead Law Notification and Certification Form, a copy of the most recent lead inspection report, and a copy of the Letter of Compliance or Letter of Interim Control. If hazardous conditions are not corrected in a timely fashion, the landlord can be held legally responsible for injuries caused by the lead paint. A landlord cannot evict a tenant or refuse to rent to a family with a child under the age of six because of lead threats. This is considered discrimination and is not tolerated under the law. 

Complying with the Massachusetts Lead Law is the best way to protect both the landlord and tenant from legal and health repercussions.