Monday, May 13, 2019

Lead Poisoning and Its Effects on Child Development

When a person absorbs too much lead, either through the skin or by breathing, eating, or drinking, serious damage can occur. This is especially true when it comes to infants and younger children, who are more sensitive to lead than teens or adults. Here's a look at how children are exposed to lead and how it affects their development.

Sources of Lead 
A child drawing in a classroom

Luckily, since lead-based paint is no longer a major problem in Americans' daily lives since being banned for use in housing since 1978, lead poisoning is much less common than it was in the past. However, there are still several potential sources of lead that pose a threat to everyone, especially children. Lead can still be found in older homes and communities in household dust, contaminated soil, and in water that flows from lead-based pipes. Toys, jewelry, sporting equipment, and other household items like blinds and dishes can also sometimes contain lead, especially if these items are older or have been imported from countries without strict regulations.

Is There Any Safe Level of Lead?

While teens and adults can generally handle small amounts of lead exposure, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. According to studies found in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, lasting cognition problems resulting from lead poisoning can occur in children with as little as five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Home lead inspections can help to prevent lead exposure in children, and seeking medical attention for the slightest symptoms of lead poisoning is critical.

Signs of Lead Poisoning in Children

Lead poisoning is especially insidious because it's often asymptomatic, even at high levels. If symptoms are present, they most commonly include headaches, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and constipation. If lead poisoning has affected a child's central nervous system, he or she may become disoriented, clumsy, agitated, or excessively lethargic. Any signs of lead poisoning should always be treated as an emergency.

Damaging Effects of Lead in Children

Lead poisoning harms the body's ability to produce vital blood cells and to absorb calcium, both of which are necessary for muscle function, strong bones and teeth, and healthy nerves and blood vessels. Lead can also affect the basic functions of the nervous system. When a child is still developing, especially in the time between birth and age two, lead exposure can severely impact brain development, permanently altering its volume and microstructure.

ASAP Environmental, Inc. has been a leader in Boston-area lead and mold inspection for over 25 years. For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact us online or call 800-349-7779 today.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Four Steps to Take After a Flood to Prevent Mold Growth

Mold doesn't need much moisture to grow, and even a bit of water seeping from a leaking pipe can create the perfect environment for mold. Mold thrives in dark, humid places, especially those lined with porous materials like carpet and wall insulation. Homeowners should take these steps immediately after a flood to stop mold growth before it starts.

Step 1: Remove Water ASAP 
A building with water in front of the door

The longer water sits, the more likely it is to promote mold growth. Standing water needs to be removed as quickly as possible, using a wet/dry vacuum cleaner if one's available. However, people should be careful not to plug machinery into an outlet or use extension cords near water. If a wet/dry vacuum isn’t an option, mops, towels, and buckets can be used to soak up water, which can be dumped onto the yard or down a drain.

Step 2: Speed Up the Drying Process

The drying process can take several days or longer, but fans can help speed things up. They usually need to be left running for at least a week to remove moisture from carpets. Humidifiers can also help remove excess moisture to speed up drying time and limit mold growth. High-power fans can often be rented from a local home improvement store or professional cleaning company.

Step 3: The Cleaning Process

The cleaning process has several different steps of its own, beginning with steam cleaning carpets and flooring. While carpet padding usually needs to be replaced, carpet itself can often be steam cleaned to sanitize the material and remove odors. Anything else that came into contact with floodwater should also be cleaned and sanitized, including walls, hard floors, and other household surfaces. In some cases, furniture damaged by flood water can be cleaned and salvaged, but it's often best to discard tainted furniture, especially pieces that are upholstered.

Step 4: Schedule an Inspection

After experiencing a flood, it’s not safe to assume that there’s no mold just because it's not visible. If left untreated, mold can cause health problems that can affect your family, ranging from respiratory infections to asthma attacks. When cleanup is complete, let ASAP Environmental, Inc. check your space for mold using our mold detection services. Our mold specialists will conduct a laboratory analysis of the air and surfaces in your property to determine whether mold is present. Schedule a mold inspection today by calling us at 800-349-7779 or filling out our online form.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Is Mold Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?

Leaks, floods, humidity, burst pipes, water overflow—there are a number of reasons why mold could strike in a home. But once an inspector has discovered mold damage, is it possible that homeowners insurance will cover it? Luckily, in certain cases, homeowners insurance does cover mold damage.

When Homeowners Insurance Will Likely Cover Mold 
A surface covered in mold

Once mold has been detected, it's important to find out exactly what caused it in the first place. Not only will this make it easier to prevent more mold in the future, but it will also determine whether the damage will be covered under homeowners insurance policies. Insurance usually covers mold if the original cause of it was "covered peril," which is any sort of home-damaging event that is already covered under the insurance policy.

"Covered peril" situations include fires, lightning strikes, objects falling onto the home, icy pipes, and, perhaps most importantly, accidental water overflow from plumbing, air conditioning, or appliances. So, for example, if a pipe gives out while the homeowners are away and douses a wall with water, then any ensuing mold should be covered. The key to "covered peril" situations is that they are sudden and unavoidable, not long-term and preventable.

When Homeowners Insurance Won't Likely Cover Mold

In cases where regular maintenance or scheduled mold inspections could have prevented the mold problem, it is far less likely that homeowners insurance will help. For example, if a homeowner neglects broken shingles on an old roof for several years, and ensuing rain leakages cause a slow-growing mold problem in the attic, then homeowners insurance likely won't cover the damage. Additionally, standard homeowners insurance policy probably won't cover mold as a result of flooding—a separate flood policy will be needed for such protection.

ASAP Environmental, Inc. has been serving homeowners in the Boston area for 25 years. Our team performs mold and lead inspections and risk assessments, as well as other health, safety, and environmental services. Schedule an inspection with us today or call 800-349-7779 to receive a free estimate.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Reduce Indoor Moisture With Our 5-Step Plan

A moist environment can lead to mold growth in the home, potentially resulting in costly property damage and health concerns for residents. When humidity levels are high, as they sometimes are in the New England region, mold can begin to multiply within 48 hours. Fortunately, these five simple steps can help area homeowners reduce moisture in their homes and limit opportunities for mildew and mold spores to spread.

Use a Dehumidifier With a Humidistat 
Mold in the corner of a ceiling

Ideally, indoor humidity should fall between 40 and 60 percent relative humidity (RH), so it's useful to have a humidistat to verify that the air levels in your home are within the recommended window. An RH level above 70 percent provides optimal conditions for mold growth, and using a dehumidifier is the easiest way to reduce high humidity levels in the home.

Ventilate Well

This may sound like a basic step, but it really is crucial to keep your home well-ventilated by opening windows and running vent fans whenever possible. This is especially important in rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom, common culprits when it comes to mold growth. When using the air conditioner—a tactic that can also reduce moisture—ensure the fan is on to improve ventilation throughout the house.

Consider Making Minor Lifestyle Changes

Even when the dryer is vented to the outdoors, using it excessively can increase home moisture levels. In nice weather, hang clothes outside to dry. Don't use an indoor clothesline, since wet clothes also add moisture to the air. Avoid long, hot showers, as they create steam that increases humidity. Take cooler or shorter showers instead, especially in hot weather.

Service the HVAC

Replacing air filters in the air conditioner and furnace, as recommended by the manufacturer, will maximize the airflow offered by these systems. When air is blocked, the chances of mold development and growth will only increase.

Seal Air Leaks

Homes that are drafty are more susceptible to high moisture levels. If air is leaking from windows, ducts, or doors, sealing these areas can help lower moisture in the air and improve energy efficiency. Replacing old windows with Energy Star-rated models also makes a big difference.

In the Dorchester area, ASAP Environmental, Inc. offers mold inspections to homeowners who are concerned about the presence of mold in their home. Our qualified technicians analyze the quality of the indoor air and perform other diagnostic tests that even detect invisible mold, allowing remediation of small issues before they get worse. Call us at 800-349-7779 to receive a free estimate or fill out our form to schedule an inspection.

Monday, April 30, 2018

How Does Lead Find Its Way into Drinking Water?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no known level of lead in a child's bloodstream that's considered safe. Lead is especially harmful to children and dangerous for adults as well. Repeated exposure can lead to health issues, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.

Lead in Drinking Water 
A glass of water

Lead is a heavy metal and a chemical element that, in the past, was included in mixtures of paint and gasoline. Today, it can end up in drinking water due to the following causes:
  • Deteriorating Lead-based Paint: Particularly in homes built before 1976, particles from disintegrating lead-based paint can contaminate the water that household members are drinking.
  • Water Pipes: Old lead-based pipes, either inside the home or connecting from the house to the neighborhood's main water supply pipe, can corrode and cause lead to end up in drinking water.
  • Fixtures: In older homes that haven't been updated, the faucets themselves may contain lead, and traces may be ending up in the tap water.
Water that has either a high level of acidity or a low mineral content can be especially corrosive to fixtures and pipes. Even brass or chrome-plated faucets can be problematic. That's because these fixtures may contain lead solder that's contaminating the household's water.

Exactly how much lead ends up in drinking water depends on several factors. These include the water's acidity and alkalinity, the amount of lead the water contacts, how long the water stays in the lead pipes or fixtures, and the types of minerals present in the water. A way that utility companies can minimize how much lead ends up in water used by consumers is to treat the water to make it less corrosive.

Addressing the Problem

The first step to take if you suspect lead in your home's drinking water is to request a water quality report from the water utility company. In addition, it's important to get the water tested since the source of lead contaminants, if present, may be the home's pipes or fixtures. A home lead inspection can determine if there's lead in the water or elsewhere. A water filter that's certified to remove lead can also be helpful.

ASAP Environmental, Inc. offers home lead inspections to keep residents safe from the hazards of lead. We can check to see if lead is present in drinking water or other areas of the home. We also can inspect for signs of mold. Call us at 800-349-7779, or schedule a home lead inspection online.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

ASAPEnvironmental BMANov17 Web

If you watch Building Massachusetts December 2nd at 1pm you will get to see our owner John MacIsaac and if you cant tune in Saturday here is the clip!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Brief History of Lead Paint Used in Art

Lead is a toxic element that can be extremely harmful to human health. The medical effects of lead weren't well understood until the early 20th Century, and it wasn't until 1978 that the Federal Government banned the use of lead in all consumer paint products. For hundreds of years before, lead white was used in commercially-produced house paint. But the history of lead paint in art stretches back thousands of years, at least to the 4th Century BC. Some of the greatest painters in history used lead paint.

Why Was Lead Used in Paint? 
The ends of a bunch of lightly used paint brushes in Dorchester, MA

Lead is a heavy element that is highly opaque. In paints, a small amount of lead can cover a large area. Lead white is especially effective at coating darker surfaces without the underlying color bleeding through. Further, lead is insoluble in water, meaning lead paint is highly resistant to rain and moisture.

What Artists Worked With Lead Paint?

Before the mid-1800s, it's easier to ask which artists did not use lead paint. Because the substance is so capable of covering large areas, it was especially popular with fresco and mural painters. It is widely believed that Michelangelo suffered from lead poisoning. Vincent Van Gogh and Francisco Goya are two others suspected to have been afflicted with (and, some say, inspired by) the delusional effects of lead poisoning.

When Did the Use of Lead Paint Decline?

In the 19th Century, lead white, vivid yellow lead chromate, and other pigments in artists' paints were phased out in favor of compounds using zinc, titanium, and other elements. Commercial use of lead paint peaked in the late 1920s when the medical consensus against the substance could no longer be ignored. The paint industry undertook a voluntary phase out in the 1950s, and by 1978 the material was completely banned. In 2010, the Federal Government passed the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule, or RRP Rule. Under this rule, anyone at risk of coming into contact with lead paint (through work on pre-1978 housing) must follow a number of regulations designed to protect human health.

Though it is no longer used by artists, lead paint can still pose a threat to homeowners and workers. If you're concerned about lead in paint, soil, or water, contact the experts at ASAP Environmental, Inc. to schedule a lead inspection today.