Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Life Cycle of Mold Growth

Mold needs moisture to grow, which means it can be a nuisance in coastal cities like Boston. Once mold starts growing in a residential or commercial building, it may be challenging to determine if the problem needs to be addressed by a professional. Since mold growth can stay dormant for years but continually repeat its growth cycle once conditions are ideal, it’s important to know the stages of the mold life cycle.


Hyphae Growth


A close up of a mold growth
It all begins with hyphae growth. Hyphae are thin, small, and stringy cells that release enzymes that basically "eat" nutrients from organic material, such as wood or plant debris. As the hyphae consume nutrients, it grows to a visible size, which is called a mycelium.

Spore Formation


Once the mycelium forms, the fungus develops spores—if the conditions are right. Like any other fungus, mold spores will only form with the right combination of light, oxygen, and temperature.

Spore Dispersal


After the spores form they disperse and release fungus into the air. They can stay dormant for years until they fall into an area with the right conditions to germinate. But this is where damp East Coast air comes into play. Mold spores grow when they fall in an area with a lot of excess moisture. The more access they have to damp cellulose material, the better they grow.

Spore Germination


When the spores land in a moist area with access to organic material, the mold growth cycle begins all over again. If the conditions are right, residents and business owners may end up with a serious mold problem quite quickly.

Do you think you have mold growing in your home? The best way to know for sure is to schedule a mold inspection. The specialists at ASAP Environmental, Inc. offer comprehensive inspections and risk assessments of mold growth in the Boston area. Contact us today to schedule your inspection.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Four Common Household Sources of Lead

Before 1978, many homes were constructed using building materials and paints that contained lead. Because lead exposure can cause serious health problems, it's critical to identify potential sources of lead and minimize contamination in residential spaces. Here are four common places that lead can be hiding in a home.


Dust
A person clapping their hands


Homes that appear spotless may still contain dangerous amounts of lead-contaminated dust, which can enter the house from several sources. Dust containing lead can be tracked in from contaminated soil on shoes or can be leftover from a home remodeling project with flaking lead-based paint. Practicing good hygiene, avoiding wearing shoes inside, and dusting windows, sills, and floors are all good ways to minimize the risk of dust that contains lead.


Soil


Lead is also often present in soil, where it comes from two primary sources:

  • Deteriorated buildings or fences that used lead-based paint or materials

  • Roadways where vehicles that used leaded gasoline were once common


Covering bare soil with grass, shrubs, mulch, or cement can minimize humans' exposure to lead in soil. For this reason, parents and caregivers should prevent children from playing in or ingesting soil.


Water


Many homes built before 1930 were constructed with lead pipes for plumbing, but even homes built as recently as 1984 might also have used pipes containing lead-based solder in their copper joints. Any amount of lead in a plumbing system can easily contaminate the water, making it dangerous to use for drinking, cooking, or bathing. During a thorough lead inspection, a professional will test a home's water to check for the presence of lead.


Paint


Until the late 1970s, lead-based paint was commonly used on many household features and furniture items. In addition to the risk of flaking paint forming lead-contaminated dust over time, children have been known to ingest chips of paint that they find on the ground or windowsills. Merely applying another layer of paint on top of peeling or chipping lead-based paint isn't sufficient; it must be safely removed before it can be painted over.


Having a thorough lead inspection is one of the best ways of checking your household's risk of lead exposure. In addition to performing comprehensive lead inspections, the team at ASAP Environmental, Inc. provides residents in the Boston area with lead paint, asbestos, and mold inspection services. Schedule an inspection today by calling 800-349-7779.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

How Does Mold Impact Your Health?

While mold is the reason blue cheese and penicillin exist, this fungus in large quantities can damage homes and buildings. Mold thrives in moist environments and usually forms around pipes, windows, or wherever leaks are. This can leave a strong odor or lingering dampness around the house or affected area. Long-term exposure to mold infestations can be detrimental to human health. Although it's a fungus, mold spores are airborne and can spread easily, causing large and pesky infestations.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure in People


A man holding a tissue to his nose
Since mold spores can grow in indoor and outdoor settings, chances are an individual has been exposed to at least some contamination from mold spores. Mold infestations can cause serious health issues for people and household pets. However, the effects of mold exposure can vary from person to person. That being said, even the healthiest of people can experience symptoms from prolonged exposure such as wheezing, congestion, or eye irritation. Mold exposure can also cause insomnia, anxiety, or intensify other mental health stressors. People with underlying health conditions such as asthma, immune suppression, or allergies are more prone to severe symptoms such as fever or nausea.

Long-Term Health Implications


Mold spores can produce and spread toxic substances in the air. According to the CDC, recent studies have found a potential link between mold infestations and young children developing asthma. While this has not been entirely proven, people with asthma can still experience irritation from prolonged exposure to mold. Severe mold infestations can also cause lung infections if left untreated. At-risks groups such as pregnant women and the elderly can experience worsening symptoms from mold infestations such as vomiting and bleeding in the lungs.

Call a Mold Inspector


Contact a mold inspection company to pinpoint the source of the infestation. Quickly identifying which mold is present in a home or office building can help mitigate long-term health effects and minimize infrastructural damage. If a person is experiencing severe reactions to mold, allergen tests can be conducted by physicians to determine if they have a mold allergy.

If you suspect there is an infestation in your home or office building in the Boston area, ASAP Environmental, Inc. is here to help. We'll provide a free estimate of your inspection cost over the phone. Call us today at 800-349-7779 or schedule an appointment online to get started.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

How Does Mold Spread in the Home?

Mold can present serious health risks if it invades your living space. Unfortunately for homeowners, many don’t realize what it takes to inhibit growth or stop its spread. If you have concerns about mold taking root in your home or business, learn more about how it spreads and thrives in certain environments.

Spore Release


Mold doesn’t propagate the way you might expect from bacteria or pathogens. It’s a fungus, so it sends spores out and away to reproduce. Those unsightly spots you see on moldy food and other infected areas are actually the bodies where spores are stored; these ultimately act as a launching pad to send their spawn throughout various areas of the house.

Mold Facilitators


All it takes are four “ingredients” for mold to take root: a sturdy surface, heat, oxygen, and moisture. When indoor moisture is elevated, such as with water leaks or high humidity, it’s far easier for mold to spread rapidly. Since most homes have circulating air in them, spores are naturally caught in the currents and settle wherever the conditions are right in other rooms or spaces. This is especially problematic when the mold originates in the basement or other low spots, since warm air rises and inevitably travels up through the house, exposing it on every level. If you, family members, or pets move around the mold at all, it can be spread by regular foot traffic.

Mold Survival


Organic materials high in cellulose are mold’s favorite substances to “eat,” meaning many households have everything it needs to survive. Matter like wood, leaves, and carbohydrate-rich foods are more than enough to help it grow. It’s also worth noting that mold can grow on non-organic materials like plastic and carpeting if there’s enough dirt or dust to provide a food source. So long as materials are plentiful and moisture levels are high, mold can easily end up thriving in your home.

If you’re concerned about a possible mold infestation, call ASAP Environmental, Inc. Our team has nearly 20 years of experience serving Boston and the New England region with certified lead, mold, and asbestos inspections. Whether your mold situation is minor or serious, we’ll give your home a comprehensive analysis so you can better protect it and also provide answers to all of your questions. Contact us today to schedule an inspection.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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.