Mold and Radon

RADON

Radon, the silent killer in the Nation

Click here to see the Surgeon General Announcement on Radon.

1. Radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and invisible radioactive gas that is formed by the decay of the naturally occurring, radioactive element, uranium, in the soils and rocks of the earth. When uranium decays, it forms radium, which decays further to form radon gas. Radon is known as the Silent Killer.

2. Since radon is a naturally occurring gas, it is everywhere. When there is not a building trapping the natural upward flow of radon, it disperses through air and causes little harm. However. It moves into homes through cracks in walls, floors and vents, around slab penetrations, floor/wall junctures, block walls, sump pumps, well water supplies, and other openings. All homes and structures are susceptible to radon. It is a myth that only basements or newer homes and buildings are at risk. The type of construction, design, use, and/or age of the structure does not determine radon levels.

3. It is a silent killer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States , second only to cigarette smoking. Radon does not cause headaches, shortness of breath, coughing, or fever. Inhalation of radon gas causes mutations in healthy lung cells and causes cancer with prolonged exposure. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer from exposure to radon since smoking exacerbates the mutation of lung cells and deteriorates lung function.

4. The EPA recommends that all homes be tested for radon regardless of zone designation or geographic location. There is no zone that has no risk factor for radon.

Percent of tests below 4 pCi/l 66%
Percent of tests between 4 and 10 pCi/l 23%
Percent of tests between 10 and 20 pCi/l 8%
Percent of tests between 20 and 50 pCi/l 2.5%
Percent of tests between 50 and 100 pCi/l 0.4%
Percent of tests over 100 pCi/l 0.1%

Click here for an EPA Map of Radon Zones

MOLD

Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

How do I tell if I have a mold problem? Investigate. If you see mold or if there is an earthy or musty smell, you should assume a mold problem exists. Other clues are signs of excess moisture or the worsening of allergy-like symptoms.

Mold may be hidden in places such as the back side of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).  If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. An Air Quality test conducted by CertiPro Environmental Inspection Nashville TN will assist in determining if there is a problem. 615.531.3145

Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).  In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people

The EPA states: “Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results.” Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.

There is wide variability in how different people are affected by indoor mold. However, the long term presence of indoor mold growth may eventually become unhealthy for anyone. The following types of people may be affected more severely and sooner than others: Infants, children and even pets Elderly people Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and asthma Persons having weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients) Those with special health concerns should consult a medical professional if they feel their health is affected by indoor mold.

  • Moisture control is the key to mold control, so when water leaks or spills occur indoors – ACT QUICKLY.  If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
  • Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
  • Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
  • Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
  • Keep indoor humidity low.  If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity.  Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores.
  • If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source.  Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

Common indoor moisture sources include: Flooding Condensation (caused by indoor humidity that is too high or surfaces that are too cold) Movement through basement walls and slab Roof leaks Plumbing leaks Overflow from tubs, sinks, or toilets Firewood stored indoors Humidifier use Inadequate venting of kitchen and bath humidity Improper venting of combustion appliances Failure to vent clothes dryer exhaust outdoors (including electric dryers) Line drying laundry indoors House plants – watering them can generate large amounts of moisture

A NOTE FROM THE EPA:

You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation.

For more information on mold inspection call CertiPro 850-312-8640