Identifying Invisible Home Health Hazards
As the temperature drops, renters and homeowners close up their homes to protect themselves and their families against the frigid cold and the frightening bills. But while you trap in the heat, invisible health hazards in the air are stuck inside as well.
“A recent report said that people are more at risk in their own homes than outside in a big city like New York as far as pollution goes,” says Benjamin Nagel, co-owner and indoor environmental specialist for World Environmental Technologies (W.E.T.). These invisible health hazards can range from dust mites to mold, and they make their appearance in depleted immune systems and heightened problems with allergies. Extreme cases of mold even can affect the central nervous system and cause neurological problems, Nagel says.
Because of these concerns, W.E.T. offers Tri-State residents a free “W.E.T. check.” This check includes a visual inspection and a moisture inspection with specialized equipment such as a thermal imaging camera, which is like an X-ray machine for the walls to detect moisture problems.
“If there is a moisture problem, we will identify it, guaranteed,” Nagel says. And W.E.T. employees have had experience with moisture problems because the company began in New Orleans where the three owners/inspectors worked on Hurricane Katrina cleanup.
A moisture problem is the first step to detecting a mold problem because mold needs a water source to live and grow. In the Miami Valley area, there are more than 2,000 different strands of mold, Nagel says. But only a couple of the strands, including stachybotrys (commonly known as “black mold”), penicillium/aspergillus, chaetomium and cladosporium, should cause concern.
“Not words you would find in a spelling bee, but they can spell out real problems,” Nagel says. From headaches to fatigue to upper respiratory problems, symptoms can make mold a pretty rotten housemate.
If the W.E.T. check indicates a problem, the inspector will recommend testing the area and sending the samples to PRO-LAB, which is arguably the best lab in the country for this type of testing, Nagel says. Within 48 hours, W.E.T. will test the area, send the samples, receive the results and provide recommendations for the client.
During the W.E.T. check, however, the inspector may recognize other indoor environment problems besides mold and dust mites and make recommendations for the client to address the problems. For example, Nagel recently inspected the house of a couple with a newborn, and the mother was worried about mold. After inspecting the rest of the house, Nagel went into the baby’s room.
“It was a chemical cocktail,” Nagel says. Like many expectant parents, the couple had installed new carpet, had bought new furniture and had put a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
“All of those things have chemicals in them, and a baby’s developing lungs aren’t ready for that,” Nagel says. He first told the parents that they did not have a mold problem and then recommended that the parents let the baby sleep in their room while they let the nursery air out and they cleaned the new furniture thoroughly.
As indoor environmental specialists, W.E.T. inspectors strive to provide a complete diagnosis of the entire indoor environment to ensure the healthiest home possible for their clients.
“All of us [W.E.T. owners/inspectors] agree that we’re in a service industry, trying to help people in this area, and we all love doing it,” Nagel says.
For more information or to schedule an inspection, call W.E.T. at (513) 381-6653, and W.E.T. can help you enjoy the comfort of your own home without the literal headaches of mold.
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