Environmental Services

We detect mold and radon so you and your family can be protected from harmful substances that may be lurking in your home.

Mold not only affects your home’s structure, it also puts your health and environment in jeopardy.

Anytime a homeowner finds mold, water damage, or stale, damp smells, the prognosis is generally mold. Mold should be eradicated as soon as possible. To adequately repair the damage, first you must find the water source and stop it. Then you must assess how much damage the water has done. To be safe, you should also have an environmental sample conducted to find out what type of mold is present and how extensive the damage is. Sampling is extremely important, as it’s the only way some mold issues can be discovered.

Here we discuss a few different types of mold, the diseases associated with them, and the best ways to control them.

Stachybotrys

Stachybotrys is a slow-growing mold, considered a fungus, with about 15 species known across the globe. It’s commonly found in the Western U.S., and studies found stachybotrys in 2-3% of North Americans homes. It thrives in high cellulose substances such as saw dust, straw, grass, ceiling tiles, lumber, and drywall plaster. To grow, stachybotrys needs a water source or source of moisture, and it’s common in places with humidity levels above 55% or in water-saturated substances.

Stachybotrys related Diseases

We breathe stachybotrys atra spores into our lungs, and prolonged exposure causes symptoms similar to the flu or a cold, such as sore throat, exhaustion, headaches, diarrhea, skin irritation, and sporadic hair loss. Stachybotrys can also be detrimental to your immune system. Since babies’ lungs grow very fast, they may be even more affected by this type of airborne mold.

Dealing with Stachybotrys

If this type of mold is found in your home, you’ll want to repair water damage, eradicate the moisture source, and remove all moldy substances from your space. Use dryer vents, kitchen hood vents, and bathroom vents to remove as much humidity from the air as possible. Even well sealed homes may experience increased humidity from cooking, taking showers, and doing laundry. Some other types of mold can be dealt with by thoroughly cleaning moldy materials with chlorine, but with stachybotrys, you’ll want to completely remove any substance with water damage.

Aspergillus

This type of mold is found all over the earth, but it’s especially common in the Northern hemisphere in fall and winter months. Many of us are naturally immune to this type of mold, but sometimes types of aspergillus can make humans and animals sick.

Aspergillus related Diseases

Aspergillus caused illness is called aspergillosis, and the affected person’s immune system is the most important factor in the severity of the diseases. When a person is exposed to aspergillus and isn’t naturally immune, diseases can come in the form of allergies or general infections. People with asthma may be more susceptible to a certain type of aspergillosis called Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA).

Penicillium

Even clean, well-kept environments can harbor types of penicillium, as it’s a pretty common fungi. Penicillium may be present in sub-basement areas, in auditoriums, in rooms which store lots of paper, in libraries, and in ventilation systems.

Penicillium related Diseases

People exposed to penicillium toxins may be affected by associated toxins including citrinin, patulin, and ochratoxin, which can cause illness. The mold spores contain the most potent concentrations of the toxins.

Poria

Poria differs from ordinary decay fungi in two major ways. First, regular fungi needs a water source from its structure, which poria makes its own water through connections to the soil. Second, when regular fungi normally goes dormant when deprived of water, but poria dies when there’s no water.

Because of these distinctions, detecting and dealing with poria is different from regular fungi. If an inspector misses the poria’s presence, the company may be responsible for fixing any decay within a year, and in extreme cases, the building may need to be demolished and rebuilt.

 

Radon is a radioactive gas that can cause serious health issues.

Radon naturally occurs as uranium breaks down in rock, soil, and water. It is released as a radioactive gas and enters the air, and when we breathe it in, we can potentially suffer from its health risks. Since this gas is naturally occurring, it can be found in many types of buildings in low to high levels, including offices, houses, and schools.

The soil pressure around a home’s foundation is higher than the air pressure inside a home. Because of this pressure difference, houses may act as vacuums and such radon gas in through cracks and gaps in the foundation. Sometimes radon can be found in well water, and then the radon enters the home when you shower or run water.

Understanding Radon Gas

Radon causes cancer. We can’t detect radon visually, and we can’t smell or taste the radioactive gas, though it could still be present in your home or office. Breathing radon in your air can increase your risk of lung cancer, according to the Surgeon General, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control.

Test for radon. You’ll only detect radon if you test for it. According to the Surgeon General and the EPA, you should test at least the first, second, and third story of your home or office for radon gas.

Radon levels are reducible. Even if you find evidence of radon gas in your home, there are ways to decrease its presence to non-harmful levels. If levels above 4 pCi/L are found, steps should be taken to reduce radon levels.

Test radon levels before buying a home. The EPA suggests that before buying a home, you should have your desired home tested for radon. The EPA has a great resource on this subject called The Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon on their website. For best results, find a certified or state licensed person to perform your radon test. If the tester finds high radon levels, the EPA recommends reducing them as much as possible before buying your dream home. In many situations, a professional can effectively lower radon levels to an acceptable level, or the homeowner can install a system to reduce radon levels in the home.