Archive for October 2020

How To Know If I Have Mold Allergy?

Mold can be found everywhere—they can be outdoors, in your home, and in places you visit. The fungus likes damp environments and produces spores that can become airborne. It needs four things to grow: air, water, food, and appropriate temperature. If you have a mold allergy, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores. A mold allergy can make you cough, make your eyes itch and cause other symptoms that make you miserable. In some people, mold allergy is linked to asthma and exposure causes restricted breathing and other airway symptoms.

If you have a mold allergy, the best defense is to reduce your exposure to the types of mold that cause your reaction. Medications can help keep mold allergy reactions under control.

Causes of Mold Allergy

Like any allergy, mold allergy symptoms are triggered by an overly sensitive immune system response. When you inhale tiny, airborne mold spores, your body recognizes them as foreign invaders and develops allergy-causing antibodies to fight them.

After the exposure has passed, you still produce antibodies that “remember” this invader so that any later contact with the mold causes your immune system to react. This reaction triggers the release of substances such as histamine, which cause itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and other mold allergy symptoms.

Molds are very common both inside and outside. There are many types of mold, but not all kinds of mold cause allergies. Being allergic to one type of mold doesn’t necessarily mean you are allergic to another. Some of the most common molds that cause allergies include alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium.

Mold Allergy Symptoms

People with a mold allergy will experience symptoms similar to those caused by other airborne allergens like pollen and dust. If you are allergic to mold, your immune system will be overly sensitive to specific spores and in turn will trigger symptoms. High mold levels can also exacerbate asthma symptoms in asthmatics sensitive to mold.

Common mold allergy symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes, nose, mouth, and lips

Is Mold the Cause for Your Symptoms?

Molds are fungi whose spores float through the air we all breathe. However, only some people will react when exposed to specific mold spores. The most common allergy-causing molds include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium. The best way to know if mold is causing your symptoms is with an allergy skin test.

When Are Mold Levels High

Mold spores are microscopic and cannot be seen except under a microscope. They can be found in soil, piles of cut grass and leaves, and decomposing wood. Because mold grows year-round, mold allergies are not as seasonal as other allergens. However, when the weather is warm and moist. In southern climates like here in Georgia, mold spores are present year-round.

Looking for a mold inspection for your property? Look no further as Iris Environmental Laboratories provides professional mold inspection services. Inspectors from our company are trained and certified in finding asbestos-containing materials in your business or household. Our laboratories are also certified laboratory facilities under the Environmental Standard criteria. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to find out more on our asbestos inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.

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Why You Should Test Children Makeup Products For Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to a group of 6 natural and fibrous materials that are made out of extremely thin fibers. It is a material that can be very useful for strengthening other materials and for fire-proofing. Asbestos is not as far from us as you think it is – it can be found in daily makeup products that children and young women use. However, due to the adverse effects it can have on our health, asbestos is banned in many countries. Do take note that asbestos is currently not banned in the United States, so do be aware and careful about asbestos exposure. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we provide the most professional asbestos inspection services in the country for extremely affordable prices.

Why is Asbestos Found in Makeup?

The most common reason why asbestos ends up in makeup is due to poor regulations involving cosmetic-grade talc, also known as talcum powder. Asbestos and talc are minerals that form together, which means talc mined for commercial uses can be contaminated with asbestos which is a known cause of mesothelioma and lung cancer.

When talc is added to makeup, it results in a soft, silky texture, and it dilutes pigmented products and acts as a filler. Talc is commonly found in powder compacts, finishing powders, eye shadows, blushes, foundations and creams. Talc is famously known for its ability to absorb moisture and reduce the appearance of oily skin. For example, talc-based face powders are commonly used on top of cream foundations to “set” the foundation so that it stays in place and looks naturally dry instead of oily and shiny.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is important to select talc mining sites carefully and take steps to purify talc to prevent asbestos contamination in cosmetic products. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

Asbestos in Children’s Makeup

In December 2017, a lab confirmed it found asbestos in makeup products sold by Claire’s, an accessory and jewelry retailer that is popular among young women and girls. Five months later, the same lab identified asbestos in Just Shine Shimmer Powder sold by Justice, a retailer that sells clothing, accessories and cosmetics to girls and teens.

How to Avoid Asbestos in Makeup

Simply looking for “all natural” or organic cosmetics isn’t enough to avoid asbestos-contaminated talc. That’s because talc is an all-natural substance. There’s no surefire way to know if the talc in a product is truly asbestos-free without extensive testing of the individual product. You have got to look at the product label to see if it contains talc and avoid it if it does.

Talc might be labelled under several different terms, including Talcum, Talcum powder Cosmetic talc, and Magnesium silicate.

It’s probably wise to avoid talc in general because some scientific research indicates that it may increase the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer in women and lung cancer among miners. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against the use of baby powder, which is predominately made of talc, because infants can easily breathe in the powder.

Parents can protect their children from asbestos in makeup by buying only cosmetics free of talc. Unfortunately, because the government isn’t doing enough to regulate asbestos, it is up to consumers to protect themselves and their children from this risk.

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When Do Asbestos Fibers Become Toxic?

A lot of materials in homes and workplaces contain asbestos fibers which can be easily inhaled or ingested. When such materials get inside the body, they can be difficult to remove, and that is how they lead to health problems. However, scientists say that these materials are not dangerous as long as the fibers are not loose enough to fill the air. If you are wondering whether you are safe, you may want to know that the various forms of asbestos affect the body in different ways. In addition to that, people react differently when they are exposed to the fibers.

Materials that Contain Asbestos

Before the 1980s, most building materials were laced with asbestos to make them more durable and stringer. That is the reason ceiling boards, floor tiles, laboratory countertops, fire doors, and shingles contained a significant amount of this mineral. However, as people became more aware of their health and safety, this practice was changed. The problem is that most of the houses that were constructed during that time still contain the mineral, and therefore, the problem was not eliminated. According to scientists, these asbestos-containing materials cannot be harmful as long as the fibers are not friable. The threat sets in when they become lose and start filling the air around with tiny fibers.

Health Effects of Asbestos

The asbestos threat affects people from all over the works and leads to numerous health problems. The biggest one is asbestosis, a condition that is non-cancerous but chronic. The disease affects the respiratory system. Another condition associated with this substance is mesothelioma. Although this is a rare condition, it affects the membranes of the lungs, chest, and other body parts. It is cancerous and can lead to further complications including difficulty in breathing. In addition to these diseases, asbestos has been known to cause lung cancer. These conditions underline the need of prospecting everyone from exposure to the minerals.

Factors Affecting the Severity of the Effects

Different types of people react to asbestos exposure in different ways. However, some groups have proved to be more vulnerable. For example, those who are too old are likely to be hard-hit by such fibers. Children who are still too young are at greater risk too. If you are exposed to the fibers for too long, the effects are likely to be direr. However, you can use special gear such as face masks to stay safe from such effects. Other conditions include lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive drinking.

If you use a building that has materials containing asbestos, you may want to avoid too much physical action on them. For example, vibrations, water damage, and similar actions are likely to increase their friability. Unless the fibers are loose enough to start coming off the materials, you are safe using that building. However, if you choose to remove asbestos materials, look for a professional who is licensed and who uses the safest methods to get rid of them.

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Is It Hard To Detect Asbestos?

Did you know that Asbestos is responsible for the deaths of 20 tradesmen a week, according to the HSE. If you’re not familiar with asbestos, it is essentially the collective name for a naturally occurring group of minerals that was widely used in the construction sector before it was banned in 1999. Asbestos fibers are long, tough and fireproof. While this makes them incredibly useful from a construction point of view, it also makes them particularly threatening to human health.

If asbestos fibers are inhaled, the human body is unable to break them down, which can lead to deadly diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Obviously, this all makes it incredibly important to spot asbestos early on, but even this can present problems.

Why is Asbestos So Hard to Detect?

In its regular form, asbestos comes in blue, brown and white varieties, and back when it was freely used in construction, it was often mixed with other materials like cement. It has no distinctive visual characteristics, so it’s difficult to conclusively determine whether a material contains asbestos from visual inspection. It’s true that the packaging of some asbestos products contain identification marks – but on the other hand, many others don’t, and unless the original packaging is close to hand it’s a moot point regardless.

As well as having no distinctive visual characteristics, it has no smell either, and there’s no immediate consequence to the act of inhaling it. Only much later do the symptoms of diseases like asbestosis start to become apparent, and by that stage it’s often too late to do anything about them.
Even the location of asbestos can be difficult to predict. It’s been used in all sorts of buildings, both private and public, and according to some experts, some construction workers had a habit of completing the final stages of jobs with whatever materials they had lying around, leading to asbestos being found in the most unlikely of places.

How to Look for Asbestos

It’s only when they become disturbed and therefore airborne that they become a threat to human health. To avoid this, whenever you’re thinking of undertaking any sort of building work on your property, including extensions, you should always have an expert check conducted for asbestos. We’d strongly advise against trying to conduct this sort of check yourself. Best case scenario, you might not realise what you’ve found even if you do stumble across it, and in the worst case you could actually inhale some of those deadly fibers.

Instead, suspected asbestos fibers should only be investigated by a trained specialist. It’s worth noting that due to the combination of factors we mentioned above, even experts can have difficulty conclusively identifying unknown materials as asbestos – a scenario which usually entails sending the material in question to a specialist lab, so it can be definitively identified.

If you suspect there is asbestos in your home, contact Iris Environmental Laboratories today! We provide asbestos inspection services to help our clients in remediating their asbestos problems. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to find out more on our asbestos inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.

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Is Asbestos Usage Still A Common Option Across The Globe?

Asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring fibrous materials that are useful due to their tensile strength, poor heat conduction, and resistance to chemical attacks. It is a useful component in materials and asbestos usage includes insulation in buildings, roofing materials, water supply lines, clutches, brakelinings, gaskets, and automobile pads. Today, chrysotile is the only commercial asbestos still in use, which is mostly used in fiber cement boards.

However, studies have shown that asbestos exposure can actually lead to mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer which can affect the lungs and abdomen, as well as a variety of other health problems. Despite all these known facts, asbestos is not banned in the United States.

Is Asbestos Banned in the United States?

Certain uses of asbestos was originally banned in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1973 and most products containing asbestos were banned in 1989. However, this was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991. Today, asbestos fibers in the United States are mostly used in the diaphragm of chlor-alkali plants for the electrolysis of Sodium Chloride. In 2016, the EPA announced it would evaluate ten chemicals for risk to human health and the environment under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform. The EPA says asbestos exposure is associated with lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

Is Asbestos Banned in Other Parts of the World?

Asbestos is banned in over 55 countries across the globe, which includes Japan, Australia, and all countries in the European region. Iceland was the first to ban asbestos imports due to health concerns in 1983, followed soon after by Sweden. Germany banned asbestos in 1992 followed by the United Kingdom in 1999. However, asbestos continues to be used in Asia, Russia, and some parts of the United States.

Health Effects of Asbestos

Asbestos can cause cancers of the lung, ovaries, and larynx and is suspected to cause gastrointestinal cancer. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers may stay in the body and cause asbestosis, which is a progressive inflammatory disease that scars the lungs. Smoking is known to increase the risks of lung cancer with asbestos exposure.

What You Can Do

It is wise to carry out asbestos inspection and mediation if you suspect that there are asbestos-containing materials in your home. We understand this and provide the best asbestos testing services in the country here at Iris Environmental Laboratories.

Other than hiring our professionals to conduct testing and inspection, you can do more to protect yourself and others from this dangerous product. You can start by simply writing to officials to urge them to push for a ban in asbestos-containing products and also to channel more funds for mesothelioma research. Now that people are starting to voice their concerns regarding asbestos exposure, there is much more progress toward a ban. Together, we can reduce the usage of asbestos across the globe and fight to live asbestos-free lives.

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How To Detect Asbestos In Homes

Although Asbestos has not been used in construction over the past few decades, its usage for many years means that it is still present in buildings. This mineral was popular because it is resistant to chemicals and heat. Because of that, there is a significant amount that is still stored in various buildings. That is the reason everyone has to know the importance of detecting asbestos in homes and other structures. Let us look at a few facts you may want to know about it and how to detect it in a building.

Various Types of Asbestos

There isn’t much difference between white, brown, and blue asbestos. However, the white type has curly fibers that are not easy to separate. The white to grey colored fibers intertwine to form a complex structure. The brown type is mostly found in sprayed insulation materials while the blue type is considered the most dangerous and carcinogenic of the three.

Exposure to these materials affects the body in various ways too. For example, the various types of asbestos can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Because of that, it is important to protect yourself from these materials, and that is the reason you should start by knowing how to identify them.

How to Identify Asbestos

Houses that were constructed before the 1980s are more likely to have asbestos than those that were built more recently. If a house has a steel frame or is installed with boilers with thermal insulation, the risk is higher too. Although it may be difficult to identify the real location of this mineral, you can always contact a certified professional analyst to do it. The analyst must be approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities too. However, you need to know that asbestos can only be dangerous when it emits fibers. If it is intact, you may want to leave it in place.

Where to Look for It

Corrugated cement roofs and exterior cement cladding that were constructed before the 1980s are the main sources of asbestos in homes. The insulation used in heaters and stoves have also been tested and proven to contain high amounts of this substance. Loosely-bound asbestos can also be found in carpet underlay products and ceiling insulations. If you are not sure about the safety in your building, call a professional immediately to carry out tests. You may also want to check the date of manufacture of some of the appliances that you use at home to be sure that they contain no asbestos.

Removing or maintaining asbestos cement from your house is one of the immediate solutions to this problem. If you notice that it is getting lose and the fibers are likely to be blown into the air, it is time to act immediately. However, it is a good thing that regardless of where you live, finding a professional to help you identify and remove asbestos is not a difficult task. Be sure to contact a professional who is licensed by the relevant authorities in your state to carry out such duties.

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How To Alleviate Mold Allergies

Mold allergies are just like any other allergy – a nightmare to live with. However, as all allergies, there are many ways we can take to reduce mold allergies, or even prevent them from happening to us. In the case of a mold allergy, you will start coughing and sneezing, eyes itching, and a runny or stuffy nose that makes you feel sick. Mold allergies are also linked to asthma and range from mild to severe. If you have a mold allergy, here are ten ways what you can use to protect yourself.

Track The Numbers

Mold is everywhere, indoors and outdoors. When you are outside, pay more attention to the outdoor spore levels. If the numbers are high, do not spend so much time hanging outside. If you need help with monitoring the spore levels, The National Allergy Bureau sends email notifications regularly if you subscribe to them.

Think Before You Enter

Before you step into stores such as flower shops, farms, greenhouses, construction areas and antique shops, either take your medication or wear a mask specially to protect you from the dust.

Know What You Need To Avoid

Things like uncut and damp leaves, especially when they are in a pile, are breeding places for mold to grow. Avoid such areas but if you have to do gardening such as mowing the lawn, digging up plants and sweeping leaves, wear a dust mask. Once you are done, go for a bath to wash away any possible mole spore on your hair and skin.

Get Rid of Any Moisture

The last thing you want your house to be is being mold-friendly. To achieve that, you have to remove any moisture as much as possible. Applicants like dehumidifiers and air conditioners, and the ideal humidity level should be below 60% or even better, between 35% and 50%. To measure the humidity levels of your house, you can purchase a meter, which is affordable, at a hardware shop.

Clean Your House

Mold thrive in damp, warm bathrooms and humid kitchens, as well as any surface with grease or soap scum. To solve this, adding an exhaust fan, or just an open window in the bathroom will reduce the humidity and prevent mold from breeding. For kitchens, keep an eye for mold on refrigerator drip pans, water and garbage pails.

Remove The Mold

When you notice there is mold on any part of your furniture such as glass, tile or plastic, use a bleach solution or simply just soap and water to clean it away. However, that is not enough. To tackle the problem, you need to know where the mold is coming from, i.e., the source and that requires a professional to help you with that. Iris Environment Laboratories conducts a full process of a mold inspection.

At Iris Environment Laboratories, we offer mold inspection services from start to finish. We inspect for moisture intrusion, mold growth and an air quality test to investigate the root of the problem. We will then analyse the samples collected in certified laboratory facilities under the Environmental Standard criteria. As we are a fully accredited and nationally recognized laboratory, we will take good care of you and your home.

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How Do Testing For Mold Spores Work?

Asbestos refers to a group of 6 natural and fibrous materials that are made out of extremely thin fibers. It is a material that can be very useful for strengthening other materials and for fire-proofing. However, due to the adverse effects it can have on our health, asbestos is banned in many countries. It is important to note that it is not currently banned in the United States, thus, we have to be aware and alert about asbestos exposure. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we provide the most professional mold inspection services in the country for extremely affordable prices.

Indoor Mold Air Testing

When testing for airborne mold spores, samples are taken from areas that are suspected to have mold or complaint with mold or health concerns. Typically, the testing includes a background sample obtained, additional air samples acquired from other areas of the building as a general background. Generally speaking the more testing data you have the better the base of data that can be interpreted.

When you perform mold testing on a basic level of comparison, you can also acquire a background air sample (sometimes 2) from outside. The exterior sample is the comparison sample as mold spores grow abundantly outside. You can also sample other non-complaint rooms in the building as a general background of indoor conditions.  Airborne mold spores should, at most times, be higher outside than the same mold spores on the inside of the building when tested.  If you have a very high spore outside you would expect to find that spore inside, but at a lower concentration. The caveat is when and where the outdoor sample is acquired, both for indoor and outdoor sample locations.  Indoors, room condition, possessions and other factors that can influence the sample results are factors to be considered.  Outdoor sample location, conditions outside, including weather and time of year, are factors in the equation regarding exposure pathways to the building from point of sampling.

Does everyone who tests for mold know what they are doing?

Unfortunately in the mold world, there are only a few who truly knows what they are doing or how to interpret the mold testing data. The mold sampler’s knowledge and experience is as important as the laboratory testing data because first-hand knowledge of the area tested is needed to interpret the analysis. Believe it or not, asbestos is generally non-harmful to our bodies unless it releases dust or needle-like fibers into the air, where it can then be transferred into our bodies. These fibers can easily lodge in our throats and noses. When this happens, we have to be sure to remove the fibers before it travels into our lungs. It is extremely dangerous when these fibers are trapped in our body.

All mold samples can have bias so it is the responsibility of the mold inspector to take into account the room sampled and how the contents or condition of the room could affect the sample.

Remember, there is always a likely exception to every rule or generalization, and because there is no direct relationship between the collected indoor and outdoor samples, performing a direct comparison with limited sampling can be and often is misleading. The range of expected variability when comparing limited data sets must also be considered.

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Can I Die From Black Mold?

For most people, exposure to black mold does not pose a huge threat because they will not even fall such. However various groups have reported several illnesses after such exposure. For example, very young children and seniors are likely to fall ill. In addition to that, someone with a weak immune system or one suffering from other illnesses will be affected. Experts say that even though these people may exhibit some symptoms, it does not expose them to serious risks such as death. So, how do you know that you are safe? The following information will help you.

Understanding Mold

No matter where you live, you must have witnessed the growth of mold on various surfaces. These tiny plants grow in damp areas with little light, and that is the reason they are mostly found inside buildings. The black type is one of the most common ones, and it appears like dark sports of a surface. It can grow on walls, fabrics, floors, decaying organic materials, and many others. Because of its color, it is easy to be detected and removed before causing a lot of damage to structures. According to medical reports, a group of eight children fell ill after being exposed to black mold in Cleveland, Ohio in 1993. That is why there has been a lot of debate about the risks associated with mold.

Black Mold Exposure Symptoms

Although black mold is generally harmless, it contains toxins that can react with the body and lead to various illnesses. People who inhale it tend to cough or develop respiratory problems. In addition to that, it can lead to an itchy nose, eyes, and throat. Various people have also reported that when they come into contact with the tiny plants, they develop a running nose and dry skin. Because of that, no matter how harmless it may seem, it is important to protect yourself from mold exposure.

Diagnosis of Black Mold Exposure

The first thing to do when you notice that you aren’t feeling well after mold exposure is to see a doctor. Even when the symptoms are mild, it is good to be checked early to avoid the risk of developing more serious complications. It gives the doctor a chance to gauge your sensitivity level and how the exposure affects your health. There will be a physical exam to find out if such exposure has put you into any danger. For instance, the doctor may want to know how your lungs sound when you inhale or exhale. An allergy test will be conducted and your medical history analyzed for further actions.

Various black mold treatments can be applied depending on the level of exposure. Most of the time, reactions come in the form of allergies. IN the case of allergies, limiting your exposure may be enough to mitigate the symptoms. However, you should also contact an expert and let them help with the removal of black mold as well as proofing the house from future infestations.

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Are Mold Problems Causing Loved Ones To Fall Ill?

Sometimes, the frequent visits by your loved ones to the doctor may be due to mold in the house. There are hundreds of species of these fungal plant, and so, you never know which ones will invade your house. However, it is a good thing that as long as you know how to handle them, keeping them away will no longer be difficult. To effectively deal with mold problems, you need to know the areas where they grow and thrive. Since these plants thrive in damp and warm areas, you may want to start by checking your house and fixing a few things.

Check Your Plumbing System for Hidden Leaks

You are trying to eliminate dampness, and so, you should beyond where your eyes can see. You may want to check below the sinks and under your storage tanks to see if there are leaks. In addition to that, you should check your pipes everywhere they pass to be sure that they are not causing any dampness on the walls. Sometimes, you may not notice the small leaks, but they will lead to an abundance of mold if you do not take care of them. You may also want to bring in a plumber to inspect the entire system and confirm that there are no leaks.

Clean the Air Conditioner

Sometimes, HVAC systems including ducts can trap moisture, and escalate the mold problem. Such systems will also rap the spores from outside and deposit them inside the house, and so, you will not even notice it when they start breeding. To be sure of eliminating this menace, you should think about installing an HVAC system that has humidity control. You should also clean regularly to remove debris and moisture that may be trapped there. If you notice that some parts are not functioning properly, you should think about replacing them.

Ventilate the Rooms

Failure to properly aerate the house could be one of the reasons mold cannot go away. When there are damp spots and you fail to allow in enough air, they form a favorable breeding ground for the fungus. Consider opting up the windows, especially on sunny days to allow fresh air. In addition to that, make sure that your insulation is working properly because you have to maintain the quality of air after aeration. However, as long as you have your HVAC system working perfectly, you should have problems with ventilation. Pay a lot of attention to laundry rooms, bathrooms, and kitchen because they bring in a lot of heat to add to the moisture.

When looking for mold removal, you should consider the fact that the spores can lay dormant for several months. They will only start growing when they find a favorable environment such as water and heat. Therefore, you should be thinking of finding an expert who will clear the house of live pores and remove the dormant ones too. After remediation, be sure to keep the house in the right condition.

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