Frequently Asked Questions

MOLD QUESTIONS

Q:   When should I test for mold in my house?

A:   Mold testing may be useful in the following situations:

  • A water intrusion event occurs, such as a plumbing leak or flood.

  • A musty odor is present.

  • Visible mold or water damage is detected or suspected.

  • A mold remediation contractor or insurance company requests a remediation protocol from an industrial hygienist prior to remediation.

  • A mold remediation contractor, insurance company, or property owner requests a clearance letter following mold remediation.

 

Q:   How does mold get into my house?

A:   As mold is naturally occurring in the outside environment, mold spores are everywhere in the outside air.  They inevitably enter buildings and homes through doors, windows, air intakes, and other pathways.  The unavoidable truth is that mold spores are found in every building or home.  What is avoidable, however, is mold growth in the indoor environment.

 

Q:   Why is mold growing in my house, and what can I do to stop it?

A:   Any mold growth problem is first and foremost a moisture problem.  Plumbing leaks, cracks in the building foundation, roof or gutter leaks, poor landscaping, or even high humidity can all lead to mold growth if left unaddressed.  Before mold can be properly remediated, the moisture problem must be fixed.  Otherwise, mold growth will reoccur.  Mold remediation is ultimately pointless unless the moisture problem has been remedied.

 

Q:   What types of things can I do to prevent mold from growing in my home or building?

A:   The following may be helpful in your home:

  • Keep the humidity level in your home or building between 40% and 60%.

  • Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months and in damp spaces, like basements.

  • Be sure your home or building has enough ventilation. 

  • Use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms that vent to the outside.

  • Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.

  • Fix any roof, foundation, or plumbing leaks so mold does not have moisture to grow.

  • Clean up and dry out wet areas thoroughly and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after flooding. Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting.

  • Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.

  • Remove or replace carpet and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. 

  • Avoid using carpet in areas where there is a lot of moisture, like bathrooms.

 

Q:   How does Heaton Environmental perform a mold assessment?

A:   Heaton may use several techniques to thoroughly assess every mold situation:

  • Visual interior/exterior inspection

  • Moisture detection

  • Humidity measurement

  • Thermal scan

  • Sampling (air and surface)

 

Q:   What is the difference between air samples and surface samples?

A:   Air samples identify the type and quantity of airborne mold spores in a given location, measured in spores per cubic meter (m3) of air.  The runtime for air samples is 10 minutes, during which time approximately 150 liters of air is extracted from the sample location and passed through a spore trap, which captures the spores.  The spore traps are then sent to an AIHA and NVLAP accredited lab for analysis.  While air samples do not identify the location of the mold source(s), multiple air samples taken throughout a structure can help pinpoint the general vicinity of the source and determine the extent of the airborne contamination.

Surface samples are typically obtained using a tape-lift or swab.  An area of suspected mold growth is identified, and a sample of the suspected growth is obtained and sent to an AIHA and NVLAP accredited lab for analysis.  The lab confirms whether or not the substance sampled is or contains mold.  The type of mold is identified, and a qualitative description of its level of growth is provided.  Surface samples do not determine the extent of mold growth or the amount of airborne mold contamination.

RADON QUESTIONS

Q:   What is radon?

A:   Radon is a radioactive gas resulting from the decay of the elements radium and uranium.  These elements are present in almost all rock, soil, and water, so radon can be found just about anywhere.  You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it, so testing for it is the only way to know if it is a problem.  Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the US today.

 

Q:   Should I be worried about radon getting into my home or workplace?

A:   Radon can get into any type of building.  This includes homes, schools, workplaces, and childcare facilities.  It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into the home or building through cracks and other holes in the foundation.  It then gets trapped inside, where it can build up. Any home or building may have a radon problem. This means new or old, well-sealed or drafty, with or without basements. Radon can enter into a structure through any of the following:

  • Cracks in solid floors

  • Construction joints

  • Cracks in walls

  • Gaps in suspended floors

  • Gaps around service pipes

  • Cavities inside walls

  • The water supply

 

Q:   How do you test for radon?

A:   There are two main ways to test for radon – short-term and long-term.  Short-term testing is typically 2-90 days.  Radon levels vary from day to day, so short-term testing may not give you an accurate year-round radon level.  Short-term tests are typically performed using one of the following methods:

  • Charcoal canisters

  • Alpha track

  • Electret ion chamber

  • Continuous monitors

  • Charcoal liquid scintillation detectors

Long-term testing is more than 90 days.  “Alpha track” and “electret” detectors are typically used for this type of testing.  Long-term testing will typically provide a more accurate year-round radon level.

ASBESTOS QUESTIONS

Q:   What is asbestos?

A:   Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring heat-resistant fibrous silicate minerals: chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Among these, chrysotile and amosite are the most common.

 

Q:   Why is asbestos harmful?

A:   Asbestos fibers are very fine and can become airborne when disturbed.  Exposure to airborne friable asbestos may result in the fibers entering into and remaining in the lungs. Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers that remain in the lungs. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.  These risks are made worse by smoking.  Disease symptoms may take several years to develop following exposure. If you are concerned about possible exposure, you should consult a pulmonologist.

 

Q:   What materials contain asbestos, and when should I be worried about it?

A:   If you are considering remodeling a home or building that was constructed before 1980, there is a good chance you will be dealing with asbestos.  Even after 1980, many building supplies still had asbestos-containing material (ACM).  You may want to consider testing for asbestos if your remodeling project involves any of the following:

  • Stippled walls or ceilings

  • Drywall

  • Joint compound

  • Plaster

  • Roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles

  • Popcorn ceilings

  • Caulk

  • Vinyl floor tile

  • Vinyl sheet flooring

  • Window putty

  • Mastic

  • Cement board

  • Furnace tape

  • Stucco

  • Duct tape

  • Thermal pipe insulation

Disturbance of asbestos-containing material without proper remediation could result in serious health problems in the future.  Do your due diligence now before the remodel, and have the materials tested for asbestos.

 

Q:   What if I have asbestos in my home?

A:   The best thing to do is leave asbestos-containing material that is in good condition alone.  If asbestos-containing material is damaged (i.e., unraveling, frayed, or breaking apart), you should immediately isolate the area and refrain from disturbing the material.  Asbestos-containing material does not necessarily need to be removed, but may rather be enclosed or encapsulated by an asbestos professional.

2019 by Heaton Environmental, Inc.