All Posts in Category: Lifestyle

Bathroom Mold: How Do You Remove It?

Is bathroom mold becoming a nuisance in your home? You are not alone. Mold thrives in moist places, so it is no wonder that places in the home with increased usage of water, such as the bathroom, often become hosts to this unwanted guest. Areas with increased usage, such as the sink, shower and bathtub, are common areas where mold grows since these areas tend to be moist. Apart from being unsightly and giving off an unpleasant odor, prolonged contact with mold may also pose risks to one’s health. Here are some ways you can remove these pesky visitors from your bathroom and keep them at bay.

Clean Your Bathroom Regularly

Keeping your bathroom clean is a must for keeping mold at bay. Try to clean your bathroom at least once a week to discourage the growth of mold. This includes the bathroom floor, as well as surfaces that commonly tend to be wet such as the shower, sink, toilet and bathtub. Wiping away excess water from surfaces after usage will also go a long way in helping to reduce the moisture levels in the bathroom and prevent mold from growing.

Check Your Drain

The bathroom drain is a favorite breeding ground for mold. Mold growing in bathroom drains is usually easily detectable from its distinctive odor. One way of getting rid of this mold involves a household item you probably already have in your pantry: vinegar. Simply pour vinegar into the bathroom drains and leave it for 20 minutes, flushing the drain with water thereafter. Bleach is also an effective cleaning agent against mold.

Sometimes, the problem of mold growth can be compounded if your bathroom drain is blocked. This is because a blocked drain means that water is not being drained properly, causing more moisture buildup and thus making it an ideal breeding ground for mold. You can solve this problem by finding products specifically formulated to dissolve substances clogging the drain. Cleaning mold from the drain may be more difficult than cleaning it from surfaces, since the drain can be hard to reach. If you are finding it difficult to clean mold from your drain, you can consider calling for professional help to do so.

Clean Bathroom Items

Most people tend to keep a lot of things in their bathroom, but these items can become potential breeding grounds for mold if not cleaned regularly. Shampoo bottles, towels, soap cases and other items can have moisture on their surfaces, which can encourage the growth of mold on them. Hence, it is important to ensure that these items are cleaned regularly and kept as free of moisture as possible.

Proper Ventilation

Bathrooms tend to be more humid compared to other areas in the house. This is because water evaporates to become moisture in the air, and since bathrooms tend to have higher water usage than the rest of the house, they tend to also have more moisture in the air. This increased humidity level in the bathroom makes it a conducive area for mold to grow. If the bathroom is not ventilated properly, then the excess moisture gets trapped on surrounding surfaces such as the walls, encouraging mold to grow. Installing a good ventilation system in the bathroom can reduce the level of moisture buildup in the air, slowing down mold growth.

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Common Diseases Associated With Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a group of six different minerals that naturally occur in the environment. Due to their heat-resistant nature, asbestos has been widely used for industrial purposes. More specifically, asbestos was often used in building materials and for insulation purposes. As it ages, asbestos can become loose and crumbly. Hence, it can easily get dispersed into the air and inhaled by humans. The risk of this increases around old pipe fittings, ceilings and walls. While asbestos exposure normally occurs via inhalation, it can also be swallowed.

When this happens, it can be extremely harmful for the body, and especially for the lungs. This is because asbestos fibers are microscopic enough to bypass the lung’s defense mechanisms, and can enter and stay in lung tissue forever. This increases the risk for lung cancer, and sometimes even cancers of the throat, esophagus and gastrointestinal system. Apart from cancer, asbestos can also scar lung tissue and impede the lung’s ability to get oxygen into the bloodstream. This can then lead to further complications. Let’s look at some of the common diseases associated with asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen. So far, asbestos is the only known cause of this cancer.  When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they penetrate the lung walls and cause cancer in the lining of the lung, known as pleura. The asbestos fibers can also cause cancer in the abdomen lining if swallowed.  Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer that has no cure, and usually causes death within 6 to 18 months after diagnosis.

Asbestosis

Another disease that can be caused by asbestos exposure is Asbestosis, which is the scarring and thickening of lung tissue due to exposure to asbestos dust. This is also known as Fibrosis. The scars caused by the asbestos dust will continue to grow and hinder the transfer of oxygen to the lung, resulting in breathing difficulties. This disease typically manifests 10 to 20 years following exposure to asbestos, and is exacerbated by smoking. Asbestosis can have a dire impact on one’s health, causing problems like reduction in lung volume, shortness of breath, lung infections and massive stress on the heart muscle. It eventually causes heart failure resulting in death. Asbestosis is a progressive disease, which means it cannot be reversed.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a very common disease affecting people who have had high levels of exposure to asbestos. In fact, close to 50% of people dying from asbestosis have been found to have lung cancer at post mortem. Lung cancer tends to develop in people who have had prolonged asbestos exposure because the asbestos fibers are capable of entering the lungs and altering the cells. While lung cancer can be removed surgically, this has to be done early to avoid spreading via blood and lymph, which eventually results in early death. Since smoking in itself is a major risk factor for lung disease, it greatly increases the risk of lung cancer in people with asbestos exposure. Lung cancer from asbestos exposure may take anywhere from 20 to 25 years to develop, and almost always results in death.

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How To Keep Children Safe From Asbestos In School

Asbestos refers to a group of minerals that are naturally occurring and carcinogenic. They pose extremely harmful effects on the human body, and it is extremely important to protect yourself and others from being exposed to asbestos. Sadly, this substance is not banned in the United States, and continue to thrive in our living environment, our neighbourhood, daily commute, schools and workplaces. As children spend a lot of time in their schools, asbestos in schools should not be taken lightly.

A school that is built to provide a safe space for children to learn and grow with their peers can become a life-threatening cancer breeding ground for its students. Hence it is widely encouraged to conduct asbestos inspection and mediation in schools and other spaces we spend a lot of time in.

Understand the Danger

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that about 170,000 primary and secondary schools are contaminated with asbestos containing substances and more than one-third of American students are studying in schools containing asbestos. As school buildings age, exposure to asbestos increases. As it is not banned in the United States, toys and crayons containing asbestos for young children to play are everywhere. Keep a mindful eye on every stationery, toy, and every other product your children come into close contact with, including those used in school.

Know The Rules and Your Rights

According to the federal law and the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), non-profit and public schools are required to protect all students and employees from the exposure of asbestos. However, as a result of lack of awareness and ineffective enforcement, students, teachers, and staff still fall victim to the exposure of asbestos, putting their health at risk. A research conducted by Edward Markey to find out how each state has been controlling the exposure to asbestos in schools was deeply disappointing and worrying – a vast majority of states are not doing what they are supposed to do to protect the people.

As a parent, guardian or relative, you have the right to ensure your child’s learning environment is safe. Snoop around and ask the school what they have been doing to tackle the presence of asbestos, and do not stop or give up till you get concrete information. As this threatens the life of your child and so many others, it is important to get a clear answer on the current asbestos situation of the school.

Spread The Word and Take Action

After awareness comes action. “The ABCs Of Asbestos In Schools” was issued by the EPA to help parents and teachers understand and control asbestos effectively. If your child’s school has a parent support group, consider raising this particular issue with them. There is nothing stronger than like-minded parents working to protect their children together.

As the common saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining”, asbestos-caused illnesses are completely preventable. With the help of a professional service company, your children will be able to study in an asbestos-free environment. Contact Iris Environmental Laboratories for a consultation with our asbestos experts for assistance.

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How To Tackle VOCs In your Living Space

If you are reading this article, chances are you know that VOCs can be extremely harmful to our health. They can cause health problems such as eye irritation and respiratory issues. In some people, they might experience headaches, short term memory loss and even visual disorders immediately after they have been exposed to VOCs. However, VOCs might be even more harmful to people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma and sensitivity to certain chemical. In fact, studies have shown that VOCs are linked to an increased risk of developing cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.

What Exactly are VOCs?

VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, refer to the chemicals that are emitted as gases from some solid materials and liquids. Some of these VOCs might be naturally occurring but many of them exist because of human activity instead. VOCs can be very dangerous because it is very often that people get these compounds confused for safe ones. Take benzene for example. Although it is known that this chemical is extremely harmful to our bodies, it emits a sweet smell. Furthermore, this sweet smell can only be detectable when VOCs are found in certain amounts. Some examples of VOCs that might be common in our everyday lives include compounds such as ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, tetrachloroethylene and xylene. These might be found in our everyday products that are present in our home.

How Can You Avoid Exposure to VOCs?

For the case of VOCs, prevention is truly better than cure. It is widely known that it is better to remove the sources of the compounds rather than to deal with the effects of it after exposure. For example, it is much more effective to throw out a carpet that emits formaldehyde rather than to use an air filter to filter out these dangerous chemicals.

Bear in mind that you should also refrain from purchasing products that might contain VOCs. It is much better to buy furniture and home products that are made from organic wood or metals instead of boards that are pressed. Additionally, you can remove the current products in your home that might emit VOCs. This includes open cans of paint, sealants and varnish. Ensure that you never leave them open to protect your loved ones and yourself. If you are unsure what kind of products or materials might contain VOCs, you should hire a professional to help you do an inspection.

Buying Green Plants for Your Home

Utilizing plants to combat the ill-effects of VOCs is also incredibly useful. They can help to filter out dangerous chemicals and also facilitate the production of oxygen in your home, which is helpful to our health. It has been studied that plants such as the spider plant and the philodendron are extremely helpful in filtering out the dangerous formaldehyde molecules in the air. Needless to say, buying a couple of plants might not completely eradicate your problem. If you want to remove the sources of VOS, you will always benefit from professional remediation.

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Protect Yourself From Volatile Organic Compounds With This Guide

Many people are familiar with impurities such as pollen, dust, smoke and dander, but one class of impurity that is commonly unheard of is volatile organic compounds (VOC). However, though VOC are the least familiar compounds, they are one of the most dangerous impurities and it is essential to know how to protect yourself. Before you learn about the protective measures against VOCs, you need to know what VOCs are. This blog post will help you better understand VOCs and how you can tackle them in your commercial property.

What are VOCs?

VOCs refer to any carbon-based compound that evaporates and becomes airborne at room temperature. Gases such as carbon dioxide and monoxide do not belong to the family of VOCs, but complicated organic compounds with low boiling points are. One scary part about VOCs is that you may unknowingly be completely surrounded by them.

Examples of VOCs

After knowing what exactly are VOCs, it is important to identify some of the common ones. Formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene, are one of the most popular examples of VOCs. The scary thing about VOCs is not just what they are, but also where they are found. There are many objects and products that have volatile organic compounds, such as paints, composite wood boards mainly used in furniture, upholstery, and air fresheners.

As seen from the above, products that give out VOCs are incredibly common. Now you may be wondering why VOCs are found in all these different products. One answer is that although volatile organic compounds are not special and rare chemicals, they are ones that can be found in many different manufacturing processes. As VOCs accumulate in the area you are working or living in, they will lead to several health problems and issues.

What makes VOCs Dangerous?

Similar to other home air contaminant, volatile organic compounds enter your body system through your respiratory system. When this happens, a variety of health problems such as coughing and irritation may develop. In cases where VOCs are concentrated enough, you may also suffer from severe headaches. If you suffer from any existing health problems such as asthma or chronic conditions, your existing symptoms may be aggravated. In severe cases, VOCs may lead to a higher risk of cancer as well, but these cases are quite rare.

How to Protect Yourself?

One of the best ways to eliminate or reduce the amount of VOCs in your area is to use an air purifier that has carbon filtration. Carbon filters prevent VOCs from circulating by capturing gases and VOCs. If you are unsure whether your commercial building has a VOC problem, you can also make use of an air quality monitor to measure the VOC levels in the air you are breathing. One way to reduce VOC is to reduce asbestos and radon as well.

Iris Environmental Laboratories conduct both asbestos testing and inspection to help improve the air quality in commercial properties. You can contact us at 1800-908-6679 to find out more on our asbestos testing services.

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Useful Methods To Eliminate Sick Building Syndrome Within Your Home

Have you heard of sick building syndrome (SBS)? SBS is a term that is used to describe situations whereby the building occupants experienced acute health and comfort effects that may be linked to the amount of time spent in a building. The precise cause of this condition is unknown, however many believed that it is attributed to the poor air quality indoors. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings’ indoor air quality is found to be poor.

Diagnosing SBS can be hard due to the wide range of symptoms. The usual symptoms of SBS include unexplained headaches, dizziness, nausea, skin irritation, fatigue and irritations of the eyes, nose and throat. If you noticed that these symptoms only appear whenever you are at home, you may consider investigating SBS as the cause.

Good news is that it is not hard to eliminate SBS within your home. We have compiled a list of useful methods you can adopt to eliminate SBS within your home.

Make Sure there is Natural Light Seeping Into the House

Natural lighting can reduce the production of harmful bacteria and organisms that grows a home. Moreover, research have shown that natural sun provides multiple health benefits. Among the many health benefits are an improvement in blood circulation, increase in your red blood cells and also boost your immune system.

If your home has very little windows, the windows are small and sealed up, or even covered up with thick curtains, there is a higher chance that you will suffer from SBS. The lack of sunlight has been proven to link to negative feelings in residents. So, make sure to keep your windows large and opened, and your curtains light in colour.

Ensure Proper ventilation

Having proper interior ventilation can help your home rid itself of moisture, smoke, cooking odors, and indoor pollutants. Proper ventilation is a key component to maintain proper indoor air quality. If you use the air-conditioners at home, make sure that you service them and replace their filters regularly. All ventilation or exhaust fan should be equipped with a HEPA filter to keep out external pollutants. Do not smoke indoors as this can lead to serious indoor pollution.

Clean out damp areas

Dampness and wetness can expedit the growth of mold, mildew and other germs that can cause irritations to the lungs and skin. To prevent such problems, make sure that there is no area within your home that is constantly damp. Dust and vacuum your home regularly, which can minimize the chances of biological contaminants in the building, such as dust mites. If you have a water feature in your home, always make sure to keep it clean and change the water regularly.

If you are unsure on how you can start, Iris Environmental Laboratories is here to help! At IRIS Environmental Laboratories, we are committed to deliver quality environmental laboratory testing and consulting services. Our team of highly experienced field experts are certified, and our laboratory is nationally accredited by NVLAP, and NY-ELAP/NJ-DEP. Our numerous customers testimonials are proof why we are the best in the industry. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to find out more on our mold inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.

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What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Not many people know what sick building syndrome is but the fact is that it causes respiratory illness in millions of people in America. It is also important to note that where you live or work could be the cause of your respiratory problems. The EPA, or the United States Environmental Protection Agency states that sick building syndrome is a problem that manifests in situations that are characterized by occupants of a building experiencing acute health effects that are linked to staying in the building. However, these situations might not always be attributed to a single cause. Sick building syndrome might not always affect the entire building. It might originate from a particular room or space in the building. The reason why this problem is such a huge issue for so many working adults because most corporate workers might spend more than 8 hours every day in their workplace.

Causes of Sick Building Syndrome

Despite the fact that sick building syndrome is not attributed to a particular cause, studies have shown that this could be a result of a variety of factors. Some of these factors include the following:

  • The absence of good ventilation: It is common knowledge that without proper ventilation, there might not be enough air from the outdoors being circulated in the building. This could mean that there might be a higher concentration of contaminants like asbestos and mold spores that are harmful to out health. Therefore, it is important to carry out regular testing by hiring the right professionals for the job.
  • Dangerous chemicals: Staying in your workplace might result in detrimental problems for your health because of emissions from equipment and appliances in the office. The harmful chemicals that are used as cleaning agents might also emit toxic fumes that can cause serious health problems such as lung cancer and respiratory problems in the long run.
  • Bio-hazards: Studies have shown that airborne pathogens, viruses and even things like lizard feces can be poisonous to our bodies if they are ciculated in the air within your home or workplace. In fact, researchers have found that mold can easily become airborne and infect you with mycotoxins that can get lodged in our lungs. Mycotoxins are the reason why mold is so dangerous. They can weaken our immune systems and cause respiratory problems especially if you already have breathing problems like asthma.

Some Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome

There are many possible symptoms of sick building syndrome that can become worse in the long run. Some of these symptoms include but might not be limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Unexplained nausea
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Loss of focus

It is also important to bear in mind that these symptoms can only be linked to sick building syndrome if they stop after an individual has left the building. Comprehending the causes and symptoms of sick building syndrome can enable landlords and property owners to take good corrective action so that the quality of indoor air quality is improved in the long run for the health of all its occupants.

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Two Brothers

THE STORY OF THE IRIS OWNERS – The struggles and the climb to success

To understand Iris Environmental is to understand the history of the Eustaquio family. Rod, the tenacious elder brother by a decade and Rick, the outspoken younger brother grew up in Minas Gerais, a state in southeastern Brazil….. the beautiful environment betrayed a hard childhood…

 

 

Success is a rough road, you will feel pain, you will want to give up prematurely, you will doubt yourself and people will discourage you. This is the story of two brothers who came from another country with a dream for a better life and ended up in the asbestos and mold business as a franchise company.

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Consequences of Violating Clean Air Act

Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Violating Clean Air Act

When it comes to keeping people safe from environmental hazards as outlined in the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency does not take policy violations lightly. Recently, a man was charged with three counts of violating the Clean Air Act for his unlawful involvement in an asbestos inspection and removal scheme within the Pillsbury Mills plant in Springfield, Illinois.

Why It Doesn’t Pay to Be Caught up in an Asbestos Scheme

Joseph J. Chernis IV was ordered to spend a total of 37 months in federal prison because he knowingly hired an untrained person to illegally inspect and remove asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) from the Pillsbury Mills factory. As a direct result of his actions, asbestos-containing dry insulation was improperly and unsafely removed from four buildings within the Springfield facility, putting countless people at risk of asbestos exposure. Clean-up efforts that are estimated to cost the U.S. EPA millions of dollars will now need to be carried out to ensure the safety of factory workers.

Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure

What is particularly troubling about Mr. Chernis’ actions is the fact that they did not just put him at risk. Asbestos removal workers, factory workers, and anyone else in the vicinity could have been exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers, which can cause a deadly form of lung cancer called mesothelioma. For this reason, asbestos testing and removal need to be performed by a trained and certified professional who will abide by all EPA standards and policies to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

EPA Regulations for Asbestos Removal

Asbestos is included as a type of hazardous pollutant outlined in the Clean Air Act. As such, business owners, contractors, or anyone else overseeing a demolition or renovation project needs to be aware of the EPA’s rules and regulations for identifying and properly removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials.

In the long run, it simply doesn’t pay to try to save a few bucks by illegally hiring an unqualified individual to remove ACMs. Before beginning a demo or renovation project, make sure you’re compliant with EPA regulations.

How to Know If You’re Hiring a Legal Asbestos Testing Company

The first step in getting rid of ACMs safely is to call in a professional to inspect the property for asbestos and have samples tested. To make sure you’re working with a reputable company, don’t be shy about asking for things like certifications, accreditations, and whether or not they are compliant with all federal rules and regulations regarding the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.

At IRIS Environmental Laboratories, a trained professional will always conduct a thorough asbestos inspection and have any possible ACMs tested for the presence of potentially deadly asbestos fibers. Once any detected asbestos is properly removed by a professional asbestos remediation company, IRIS Environmental Laboratories will then conduct an air quality test to ensure that there are no longer dangerous asbestos particles in the air.

If you still have questions about how to properly test for and remove asbestos before starting a demolition or renovation project, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-908-6679 or contact us online.

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Chrysotile Asbestos 2

Chrysotile Asbestos Threatens Schools, and Businesses

Contrary to popular belief, Chrysotile asbestos is far from being a thing of the past. Although regulations are now in place that prohibits the use of some asbestos-containing materials (although not all) in new construction, any home, school, business, or other structure that was built before 1980 is likely to still contain ACM’s.

If disturbed, ACM’s can release microscopic particles into the air, leading to serious health concerns. Chrysotile and other types of asbestos have been linked to a form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma, as well as a serious non-cancerous lung disease called asbestosis.

What Is Chrysotile?

Chrysotile also called “white asbestos” or “serpentine asbestos” is the most common type of asbestos that is still found in homes, schools, businesses, and even ships. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 95% of all asbestos found today is chrysotile. Like other types of asbestos, which include actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, and tremolite, chrysotile poses a serious health risk if its tiny fibers are released into the air and inhaled through your lungs.

Thus, asbestos-containing materials on their own are not necessarily a hazard to your health, but if you are planning a demolition or renovation project that could disturb these ACM’s, you’ll need to have the area inspected and tested for asbestos first. If found, a professional asbestos remediation company should come in and safely remove the materials before your project moves forward.

How to Tell If There Is Asbestos In Your Home, School, or Business

One of the most common questions people ask about asbestos detection is, “Can’t I just look around for asbestos in my home or business?” Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just look for asbestos, because it is impossible to tell with the naked eye whether or not a material contains asbestos fibers.

Asbestos is considered to be a hazardous material, so any school, business owner (among other occupations that may expose you to asbestos)  or overseer of a demolition or renovation project needs to have the space-tested by a trained professional and properly remediated if asbestos is found. Once ACM’s are professionally removed, an environmental laboratory can provide a final air quality test to ensure that all traces of asbestos particles are, indeed, removed from the space.

About IRIS Environmental Laboratories

IRIS Environmental Laboratories is a fully accredited lab with certified experts in the field of asbestos testing, mold testing, air quality testing, and other environmental testing services. We are committed to providing each and every client with the highest-quality environmental testing available and at an affordable price. IRIS Environmental Laboratories understands that the health and safety of you and your family mean everything to you, so we go out of our way to ensure the best possible testing and consulting services to keep your family safe.

If you’d like more information about IRIS Environmental Laboratories or how to take the first step to have your home, school, or business tested for asbestos, please feel free to contact us online or give us a call at 1-800-908-6679.

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