Mold and Sick House Syndrome

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Mold and Sick House Syndrome

People spend the majority of their time inside, especially in Upstate New York and yet they are unaware of the dangers of Sick House Syndrome. It occurs in homes and buildings that are tightly sealed to prevent cold air from entering and noise. Homeowners would think that this would be a good thing, however unfortunately this also prevents harmful fumes from paints, cleaning products, burning wood and deodorizers from escaping. Sick House Syndrome refers to a number of ailments that occur as a result of long periods of exposure to harmful chemical toxins at a home or work building. Some of the main conditions associated with Sick House Syndrome occur as a result of homes or building being well-sealed, errors in heating and air conditioning, along with poor ventilation systems that contain indoor air toxins. Chemicals from the outdoors, such as exhaust from vehicles can be sucked indoors through HVAC systems and can mix with indoor chemicals such as cleaning products.

It is defined as an illness characterized by skin irritations, headache, and respiratory problems that are caused by indoor pollutants, inadequate ventilation, and microorganisms, which include mold. Some of the toxins that may be present in "sick" buildings include synthetic fibers in furniture and often formaldehyde used in manufacturing, pet dander, dust mitesmold and mildewcigarette smoke, VOCs, carpet and gasses released from fabric.

Several studies show that the air in our homes should be changed ten times per day, if it is any less than it causes build-up of dangerous pollutants.
Here are some tips to help prevent Sick-House Syndrome
·         Make sure to have the proper ventilation – Open the windows whenever possible (even if you are only able to crack it open, that will suffice). Make sure that all vents are not blocked.
Another problem that lack of ventilation can cause is mold and mildew growth. This is found to be a danger not only to your health, but it can also damage the structure of your home.
Areas of your home such as kitchens and bathrooms with humidity need to have the proper ventilation. Also, check areas such as the attic, and underneath floors for proper air circulation. If you have a humidity problem upstairs, it probably means that the attic or roof space does not have enough ventilation.
·         Limit the use of Artificial Scents/Pleasant Odors
Everybody wants for their home to smell nice, and a home that is well ventilated will smell pleasant. However, you will have unpleasant odors once in a while and you need to make sure to not become overenthusiastic in using perfumes and artificial scents that add more pollutants to the air.
Aerosols, in particular, are not eco-friendly and often contain nasty additives such as formaldehyde. Do not try and mask a bad odor with a “fresh” smell that is actually a chemical which will further pollute the air. A diffuser with a pleasant essential oil* added such as peppermint or lavender, is a great way to make your home smell better and naturally. In addition, peppermint and lavender help with allergies, with peppermint helping you to breathe and lavender aids with inflammation of your sinus cavities. Also, brighten up your home with some fresh flowers, they not only liven up your décor, but also make a room smell lovely. Try to keep chemical-laced cleaners, and perfumed products to a minimum, and use natural products as much as possible.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not tended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. 

Control Indoor Mold Growth During Spring Cleaning

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Control Indoor Mold Growth During Spring Cleaning


The “lingering winter” seems to finally be letting up, however as the snow and ice dams melt and the spring rain begins it can potentially cause basement flooding and leaks in other areas of your home. Homeowners need to be aware that with the additional moisture inside of their homes, this makes them more susceptible to mold growth. Indoor mold can cause property damage, musty and unpleasant odors as well as possible health problems. If the issue is not addressed properly by a mold professional, it could lead to toxic mold growth. Many times people do not even realize they have a mold problem until the problem is more extensive or they are showing health problems associated with mold exposure. Some of these symptoms include allergy and respiratory issues such as sneezing, coughing, skin and eye irritation as well as other flu-like symptoms.

People have begun their spring cleaning with the weather beginning to warm up. While cleaning out your basement and other areas of your home, be mindful of boxes or water soluble materials such as pillows that may have mold. If you find items with mold, do not move them or disturb them, instead we recommend you contact a mold removal specialist. This will prevent the mold from cross contaminating/spreading throughout your home. In the process of cleaning their home, you should check for excess moisture in your home that could lead to mold growth and take the necessary steps to prevent the mold from becoming a problem. If the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed, not only can the damage from mold growth be costly, but it can affect your home’s indoor air quality and the health of people sensitive to mold.

Here are some spring cleaning tips to help prevent mold growth:
·         Reduce relative humidity to below 45% to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside. Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers to increase ventilation whenever possible. Whenever cooking, dishwashing or cleaning use exhaust fans.
·         Clean and dry damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
·         Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
·         Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
·         Identify and fix plumbing leaks and other water problems immediately.
·         Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces such as windows, piping, exterior walls etc. by adding insulation.
·         Scrub any visible mold off hard surfaces with borox and water and dry the area completely. Mix 1 cup of Borox to 1 gallon of hot water.

·         Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.