Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Dangers of Mold Exposure for Pets

The presence of mold in the home can create health problems for both human and animal members of the family. When experiencing unexplained symptoms, a mold inspection can determine whether exposure to fungi could be a potential cause of illness. Here are the most common signs that a pet has come in contact with mold and how this could impact its health.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure in Pets


A pug puppy sitting on a bed wrapped in a blanket
Like humans, animals can experience respiratory distress associated with mold. Pet owners may notice their pets struggling to breathe or breathing more quickly than usual. Coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and nasal discharge are common. Dogs and cats may seem exhausted or depleted of energy. In severe cases, they may experience bleeding from the mouth or nose.

When an animal consumes mold, stool changes, vomiting, and loss of appetite typically result. Pet owners should also be aware of skin issues caused by mold allergies. This can result in chronic licking, chewing, and scratching that can cause painful sores and bald patches.

Health Impact of Mold for Dogs and Cats


Although these short-term symptoms are troublesome for animals and their humans alike, exposure is also linked to long-term health implications. Pets may experience:
  • Digestive issues
  • Damage to the gastrointestinal system
  • Respiratory issues
  • Organ damage
  • Tremors, seizures, and other neurological effects
In addition, pets exposed to mold may develop a chronic fungal infection called aspergillosis. This condition causes loss of appetite, sneezing, nasal pain, swelling, and bleeding. Over time, bone inflammation, spinal problems, and weight loss may develop.

Help for Pet Mold Exposure


When an animal displays these symptoms, the owner should seek immediate veterinary care. However, if mold is the culprit, these health problems will not resolve until the property is cleared of these toxins.

The presence of visible mold is the most obvious sign that a home needs remediation. However, hidden mold spores can enter the air undetected, which is why a professional mold inspection is so critical when health problems arise.

Act quickly when loved ones, including pets, experience unexplained medical concerns. ASAP Environmental, Inc. provides comprehensive mold inspections for homeowners in the Dorchester area, and we also service rental properties. Complete our online form or call 800-349-7779 to schedule a visit from a certified inspector.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Lead Inspection: The Renter's Guide to Requirements

Before 1978, the majority of the paint used on the interior of homes and apartment buildings was lead-based. Although lead has been banned in the majority of household products for over 40 years, lead paint is still present in old residences. Exposure is especially harmful to children and pregnant women, as it can have serious effects on fetal and child development. As a result, strict Massachusetts lead inspection requirements are in place to protect tenants and help them learn how to keep themselves safe.

Massachusetts Law Regarding Lead in Rental Homes

A light blue wooden door
According to MassLegalHelp.org, it’s a renter's right to have information regarding existing or possible lead-based substances on the property provided by the landlord. Even before moving into a rental property built before 1978, renters are entitled to the following:
  • Any information about the potential for lead paint on the property
  • Tenant Lead Law Notification forms (required by law to be signed by both parties)
  • Tenant Certification form with the owner's disclosure of lead-based hazards (required by law to be signed by both parties)
  • A copy of the most recent lead inspection (if available)
  • Copy of compliance (if the property was deleaded)

Next Steps If Lead Hazard Is Suspected


If a renter notices peeling or loose paint chips, he or she should immediately notify the landlord of their concern in writing and ask for a lead inspection. If the landlord does not comply, tenants with children under age six should contact the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) to arrange a free inspection. Renters who do not qualify for a free inspection may instead hire a professional inspector to determine the presence of lead-based paint. If lead is found, the landlord is required by law to fix it.

Discrimination and Eviction Concerns


The Massachusetts Department of Public Health emphasizes that discrimination based on the presence of lead paint is illegal. If a renter is refused a lease or evicted from an apartment due to lead hazards on the property, particularly if they are pregnant or have young children, the CLPPP should be contacted immediately.

If a rental unit that you own or lease was built before 1978, ensure that lead-based paint isn't present to prevent a safety hazard. ASAP Environmental, Inc. has been providing residents throughout the Boston, MA area with professional lead inspections since 1993. Schedule your inspection today if you suspect that lead may be present in your home.

Friday, August 30, 2019

How Massachusetts' RRP Rule Affects Renovations

The Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule was established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 2010 to limit exposure to lead paint during home and business renovations. The same year, Massachusetts received approval to administer its own lead-safe guidelines in lieu of the federal program. Here's what homeowners and contractors should know about the Massachusetts RRP Rule.

What Projects Does the RRP Rule Affect?


A man wearing a tool belt working on home renovations
These guidelines apply to homes constructed before 1978 and facilities such as schools and daycare centers where children frequently spend time. When more than six square feet of an interior painted surface or more than 20 square feet of an exterior painted surface will be disturbed by repairs or renovations, the project must be completed by a lead-safe renovation (LSR) contractor with a certified LSR supervisor on site. When a home or business owner is completing this type of project independently, he or she must obtain a state Contractor Licensing Waiver.

What Is Considered Renovation Work?


For the purpose of these guidelines, renovation work is any project completed for a fee. This includes only work done to upgrade, fix, or improve the property, not projects specifically conducted for lead abatement.

What Does the LSR Contractor Do?


The certified LSR supervisor on site must provide the homeowner a copy of "Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools," a publication released by the EPA. The supervisor tests each surface that will be disturbed by the renovations to detect the presence of lead. If lead is present, contaminated items remaining in the area will be sealed with plastic sheets and duct tape to prevent further lead contamination. He or she will also visually inspect the work site after the project is over to ensure that paint debris, dust, and chips are completely removed from the area.

ASAP Environmental, Inc. has been providing lead paint inspection services for clients in the New England area since 1993. Our certified, experienced inspectors use the latest technology to detect the presence of lead paint throughout the home. Before beginning a renovation project, contact us today at 800-349-7779 or schedule your appointment online.

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.