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Mold-Causing Problems In Your House and What to Do About Them

Posted by MikaB on July 12, 2017

mold growth in home

Mold can have deleterious effects to the structure of your home and your health. Preventing mold growth is the best way to prevent any ill-effects from occurring. Once mold sets in, its spores will quickly spread and elimination can be difficult and expensive.

We want to help homeowners prevent this situation from happening by showing you how and where mold grows, and what homeowners can do to stop it.

How Mold Grows

Mold needs one thing to grow: moisture. There are many types of mold which can grow in both warm or cold temperatures. However, it all needs water or moisture to grow. So if there is a mold problem in the home, you must take steps towards mold cleanup and fixing the source of moisture.

Moisture Culprits in Your Home

One of the most common places for mold to grow is in the bathroom. The surfaces of the bathroom, like the tub and walls, are usually damp. Make sure you are checking your bathroom’s surfaces every few weeks, particularly if you notice any odd smells. Areas like behind toilets, underneath sinks, and around any tile near the shower are usual culprits.

However, there are also other moist places in your home, many of which are hidden. These places include the HVAC system, unit ventilator, and the roof, wall, and water pipes where water leaks can happen. Many of these areas can be hard to reach and require a professional inspection.

Control the Moisture

Controlling moisture requires preventing water leaks, controlling humidity, and preventing condensation.

Preventing Water Leaks In the case of water leaks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) homeowner’s guidelines recommend cleaning up the leak as soon as possible, ideally within 24-to-48 hours. Typically, mold will not grow if the moisture dries out within this time. You must also fix the source of the leaks.

Being proactive is the best way to ward off any mold growth from water leaks! Do the following EPA-sanctioned steps to make sure your home is always protected from an emergency:

  • Repair roofs and clean gutters
  • Make sure water does not pool around your property’s foundation; make sure the ground slopes away from the building
  • Clean and repair air conditioning drip pans and drain lines

Controlling Humidity

In controlling indoor humidity, ventilation is key. Opening windows, running bathroom exhaust fans, and using de-humidifiers will help protect your home. Remember that the ideal indoor humidity environment is between 30% to 50% humidity. Pro tip: you can measure this using an inexpensive humidity monitor!

Preventing Condensation

Condensation can accumulate on windows, walls, or pipes. It usually occurs when the indoor environment is very humid, or when there is a difference between surface and air temperature. For example, a hot steamy shower will cause condensation on (colder) mirrors. Cold water pipes may also accumulate condensation if the air around it is warmer. Once condensation accumulates, wipe and dry surfaces as soon as possible. Afterwards, prevent condensation by increasing ventilation, increasing air temperature, and covering cold surfaces with insulation.

Now that you know where moisture hides in your home, and what you can do to prevent it, your home will be significantly more mold-free!

Need assistance preventing mold in your home? Titan Environmental Services stands ready to assist you with sound, results-oriented solutions. We serve customers throughout the Midwest region and beyond. Contact us today at (913)-325-4328.

What are VOCs and Why It’s Important to Eliminate Them from Your Home

Posted by MikaB on June 16, 2017

volatile organic compounts

Starting in the 1970s, we began building homes and businesses with greater energy efficiency. While this was good for the environment as a whole because it decreased the use of polluting fossil fuels, in some cases it has led to worse indoor air quality because harmful emissions are trapped inside our well-insulated buildings. One contributor to poor indoor air quality is the prevalence of products containing volatile organic compounds or VOCs.

Defining Volatile Organic Compounds

All substances that contain carbon molecules are organic. Some are volatile in the sense that they easily emit gasses into the air. There are thousands of products that qualify as VOCs. Some of the most common are cleaning products and building materials.

Scientists are just beginning to study these compounds and it is not clear how many of them are dangerous, but some, for example benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and perchloroethylene, are clearly harmful to human health.

What the chemical is, the amount and length of exposure to it, all combine to determine the health danger. Individuals who are chemically sensitive, allergic, or asthmatic will also react stronger than the typical person.

Where Are VOCs Found?

We spend 90% of our time indoors. With so much time spent inside, it follows we should be conscious about what’s in our indoor environment, especially in the spaces we frequent, like our homes, offices, and schools.

Of particular concern are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are gases emitted at room temperature as a byproduct of certain materials, many of which are common household items and office supplies. There exist a number of VOCs, with the most-known ones including formaldehyde, pesticides, cleaning supplies, and solvents.

VOCs can have an adverse affect on human health, much like microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), which are gasses produced by mold. Like with MVOCs, symptoms of overexposure to VOCs can include dizziness, headaches, and/or irritation to the eyes or respiratory system.

However, certain VOCs, like formaldehyde and pesticides, are known carcinogens (i.e. cancer causing). Also, unlike MVOCs, VOCs are industrially produced and are not emitted from living organisms. As such, identifying the source of VOCs and their elimination entails different processes.

Possible Sources of VOCs

There are literally thousands of products that produce VOCs. Common household products include cleaning sprays, paint, finishers, moth balls, bug spray, and air fresheners. Common workplace products include printers, copiers, permanent markers, and adhesives. Even with caps tightened and items put away, VOCs can still escape from bottles and cabinets. Here are some other examples of sources of VOCs:

  • paints
  • varnishes
  • waxes
  • cleaning and disinfecting products
  • air fresheners
  • fuels
  • degreasers
  • glues
  • markers
  • photography chemicals
  • dry cleaning solvents (commercial and home use)
  • carpet, vinyl and composite flooring
  • upholstery and foams

While we can eliminate the source of these VOCs by using these products more responsibly or throwing them away, such is not necessarily the case with building materials. Exposure to VOCs may be of particular concern in newly-constructed or remodeled buildings, as formaldehyde-based resins are commonly used in compressed wood, plywood, paneling, and subflooring. In other words, VOCs may be entirely surrounding you, as they emit from the walls, floors, and furniture of your home or office.

What Can You Do?

ventilation covers

If you suspect you have been affected by the presence of VOCs, or if you would like to limit the amount of VOCs in a new construction project or renovation, consulting a professional is a sure way to identify and mitigate your exposure.

Professionals are well-equipped to identify sources of VOCs, suggest proper venting and other solutions for your particular space, as well as distinguish the presence of VOCs from other possibly harmful air pollutants, like MVOCs.

  • Limit direct exposure: Check the products you buy to reduce that amount of VOC emitting products in your home or business. The less VOCs you live with in the form of building materials, and the less you use in the form of cleaning and craft supplies, the better.
  • Avoid leaks: Some of these chemicals can leak out, at lower levels, when stored. So don’t stockpile solvents, paints or other products. And what you do store, store in a basement or garage where you aren’t exposed every day, all day.
  • Ventilate: Swap out the indoor and outdoor air by opening doors and using fans in doorways and windows.

How Important Is It To Eliminate the Presence of VOCs?

Quite important. Due to their health risks, VOCs are on the radar of various agencies that seek to limit our everyday exposure, like the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association, the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Possible Symptoms of Short-Term Exposure

  • eye, skin or respiratory irritation
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • memory or vision difficulties
  • nausea
  • lack of coordination
  • asthma attacks

Possible Long-Term Health Consequences

  • damage to liver, kidneys or central nervous system
  • cancer

Want more information on VOCs? Need a consult on what remedial measures you can take? Contact us at Titan Environmental Services. We’re always happy to lend our expertise and lead our customers towards results-oriented solutions.TYP-CTA-Link-to-Download-Mold-101-Guide

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Mold

Posted by MikaB on May 11, 2017

checking mold on ceiling

Mold growth in your home or business can cause unpleasant odors, allergic reactions, and even serious medical issues. The good news is, you can usually remove surface mold by wiping it away with a wet cloth and detergent.

But if mold is growing inside the walls of your home or business, getting rid of it poses more of a challenge. You might have to open up the wall to assess the extent of the damage and remove the mold. Titan Environmental Services has put together this fact sheet about mold to help you know what to do when you find it.

10 Mold Facts Worth Noting:

Because mold can cause health problems, it’s good to know its causes, proper treatment, and removal methods.

  1. Moisture, condensation, and water leaks are the main causes of mold growth. By staying on top of these issues, you reduce the chances of a mold problem developing in your home or business.
  2. You can reduce indoor moisture by venting bathrooms, installing dehumidifiers, and using fans during any activity that generates humidity.
  3. It is vital to clean up water spills and leaks within 24 to 48 hours so that you don’t give mold a chance to grow.
  4. Prevent condensation by adding insulation to all potentially cold surfaces, such as floors, windows, and exterior walls.
  5. Avoid carpeting areas where moisture is prevalent, such as below sinks or drinking fountains. Carpet traps water and creates an atmosphere where mold is likely to fester.
  6. As soon as you spot surface mold, immediately wipe it away using a wet towel or wipe and detergent. If mold is present on a porous surface, have a professional from Titan Environmental Services inspect the area to ensure mold isn’t growing inside the material. If it is, you will need to remove the section containing mold.
  7. After cleaning up mold, identify its root cause (e.g., moisture, a water leak, condensation) and eliminate it. Otherwise, the mold will grow back in short order.
  8. You can never completely eliminate mold in your home or business unless you completely eliminate moisture. Therefore, aim for as little humidity as possible.
  9. Mold can grow almost anywhere with moisture. If you leave a sheet of paper on your desk in a high-humidity environment, you might return to find it covered in mold.
  10. Prolonged exposure to indoor mold can cause allergic reactions and respiratory ailments.

Mold presents a significant threat to your home or business, particularly if you live in a humid climate. By understanding what makes mold grow and how to deal with it, you can create a safer and healthier environment to live and work.

If you suspect mold that you can’t see or have battled a mold problem just to have it return, give the professionals at Titan Environmental Services a call at (913) 325-4328 or contact us to fix your mold problem today.

mold-101-homeowners-guide-titan-environmental

Is Exposure to Lead Paint Causing Your Children Developmental Issues

Posted by MikaB on August 25, 2015

The answer, in many cases is, YES! If you have young kids, it’s important to find out whether there’s any risk that they might be exposed to lead, especially if you live in an older home.

Long-term exposure to lead, a naturally occurring metal used in everything from construction materials to batteries, can cause serious health problems, particularly in young kids. Lead is toxic to all of us, but unborn babies and young children are at greatest risk for health problems from lead poisoning — their little, growing bodies make them more predisposed to absorbing and retaining lead.

Each year in the United States 310,000 1- to 5-year-old kids are found to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood, which can lead to a wide range of symptoms, from headaches and stomach pain to behavioral problems and anemia (not enough healthy red blood cells). Lead can also affect a child’s developing brain.

The good news is that you can protect your family from lead poisoning. Talk to your doctor or contact us about potential lead sources in your house or anywhere your kids spend long periods of time, especially if they are under 3 years of age.

And it’s important for kids to get tested to determine their blood lead levels if they’re at risk of exposure — many people with lead poisoning show only mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all.

Why Is Lead Dangerous?

When the body is exposed to lead — by being inhaled, swallowed, or in a small number of cases, absorbed through the skin — it can act as a poison. Exposure to high lead levels in a short period of time is called acute toxicity. Exposure to small amounts of lead over a long period of time is called chronic toxicity.

Lead is especially dangerous because once it gets into a person’s system, it is distributed throughout the body just like helpful minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc. And lead can cause harm wherever it settles in the body.

Most lead ends up in the bone, where it causes even more problems. Lead can interfere with the production of blood cells and the absorption of calcium that bones need to grow healthy and strong.

Effects of Long-Term Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning can lead to a plethora of health problems in kids, including:

  • decreased bone and muscle growth
  • poor muscle coordination
  • damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and/or hearing
  • speech and language problems
  • developmental delay
  • seizures and unconsciousness (in cases of extremely high lead levels)

Treatment

Treatment for lead poisoning varies depending on how much lead is in the blood. Small amounts often can be treated rather easily; the most important part of therapy is reduction of lead exposure. Gradually, as the body naturally eliminates the lead, the level of lead in the blood will fall.

All siblings of a child found to have lead poisoning also should be tested. Doctors will report cases of lead poisoning to the public health department.

The Titan Environmental Solution

We here at Titan pride ourselves on ensuring you and your entire family’s safety. Lead remediation is a service we provide all year round to make sure we are available to you when you need our help most. We work mostly within the mid-west region:

  • Missouri
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Arkansas
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin

Here are some helpful links to all of these, and many more, states’ Environmental Health Departments.

Protecting Your Family

Have your kids tested for lead exposure, particularly when they’re between 6 months and 3 years old. Kids this age spend a lot of time on the floor and trying to put things in their mouths.

If you suspect that you might have lead-based paint on your walls, use a wet cloth to wipe windowsills and walls. Watch out for water damage that can make paint peel. Don’t sand or heat lead-based paint because doing so increases the risk that lead will be inhaled. If the paint doesn’t have many chips, a new layer of paint, paneling, or drywall will probably reduce the risk. It’s best to consult a professional, especially because other precautions might be needed to contain the lead in the paint.

The children are our future, so the quicker we can completely eliminate their threat from lead, the brighter our future will be! For more info contact us today for an inspection before you and your family fall victim to this unforgiving poison!