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Frequently Asked Questions: Mold - Bat Guano- Raccoon Feces

What is mold?
Mold is a fungus which grows on plants and fibers wherever it can get what it needs- moisture. It travels in spores, feeding and living off of moisture and dampness. Mold can grow just about anywhere in your home where there is enough moisture, your bathroom or kitchen are the perfect place for mold to inhabit.

What is toxic mold?
Toxic mold is actually a misleading term, as mold itself is not necessarily toxic. It is actually the mycotoxins found in some molds that are harmful to your health. What people call “toxic mold” is actually a black mold that can grow in your walls not always noticeably, and eventually be bad for your health.

What causes mold?
Mold is caused by large amounts of moisture in fibers or the air. For example, any leak left untreated in your wall, or any flooded carpet that is not properly dried, could case mold to grow.
      
How can mold growth be prevented?
By performing routine checks of your home, especially rooms with a lot of water pipes, for leaks you’re already half way to preventing water damage. Also make sure to check your attic spaces, basement, and outside the home on a yearly basis for leaks as well.

What health problems can mold exposure cause?
Very short exposure to mold is pretty much harmless besides some mild allergy-like irritation. Eventually, mold exposure can lead to more serious health problems like bleeding in the lungs, so immediate attention to mold cleanup is essential.

What symptoms point to mold-induced health problems?
Allergy-like symptoms are the first sign of a sickness caused by mold. Sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes are all recognizable this way. Also, people with asthma will be much more prone to asthma attacks when around dangerous mold spores for too long.

How do you tell if you have a mold problem?
You should be able to smell, see, or feel mold. Sporadic, uncommon allergy symptoms could be one sign of mold. Mold has a very distinguishable musty smell, which should be strongest right at the source. If your hallway smells musty all the time and you don’t know why, you may want to call a specialist.

How do I get rid of mold?
Removing small amounts of mold on your own is fine with some hot water and soap. However a professional should deal with serious mold problems, because you may not get it all, and the remaining spores could grow and affect your health.
 
How do I qualify for federal emergency money regarding mold contamination?
Please refer to http://www.fema.gov/government/grant/pa/9580_100.shtm.

 

Frequently Asked Questions: Asbestos

What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral that can only be identified under a microscope. Asbestos is found n the ground and is mined all over the world. In the past, asbestos was added to different products as insulation and for fire resistance. When asbestos fibers are taken into the body it can cause ailments like mesothelioma and other problems. Extended exposure to asbestos is usually needed to develop into a serious problem.

Asbestos is the most dangerous when it is airborne. The lightness of the asbestos fibers allows them to stay airborne for long periods of time and to travel a far distance. There are professional abatement services that will remove asbestos if you need to have it removed from your home or workplace. Attempting to remove the asbestos without professionals is not safe and should not be considered.
The three most common types of asbestos are:

  • chrysotile
  • amosite
  • crocidolite
  • Tremolite

Where is Asbestos Found?
Asbestos is found in more than 3,000 products that are in use today. To make sure your products do not contain asbestos you can call the manufacturer. A list of products that may contain asbestos include:-

  • pipe and duct insulation
  • building insulation
  • carpet underlays
  • roofing materials
  • wall and ceiling panels
  • artificial fireplaces and materials
  • toasters and other household appliances
  • furnaces and other furnace door gaskets
  • patching and spackling compounds
  • electrical wires
  • textured paints
  • brake pads and linings
  • pot holders and ironing board pads
  • hair dryers
  • floor tiles
  • cements

Does vermiculite insulation contain asbestos?
According to the EPA website (www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/verm.html) all vermiculite should be assumed positive.  Vermiculite insulation can be found in:

  • Attics
  • Block Walls
  • 2x4 Wood Framing Walls

Over the years asbestos labs and on-site inspectors have tested vermiculite insulation as negative for asbestos.  On site inspectors have used inadequate sampling methods and labs have different analytical procedures resulting in false negatives.  This has caused the EPA to recommend all vermiculite be assumed positive.

 

Frequently Asked Questions: Bat Guano

Is bat guano dangerous?
Ask nearly anyone, and you'll hear that bats (although beneficial in insect control) can be dangerous because they carry rabies. But a lesser known danger, and one that is not as easy to avoid, is histoplasmosis.

What is histoplasmosis?
It is an infectious disease caught by inhaling the spores of the histoplasmosis capsulation fungus. While it is not contagious, the disease can affect a wide variety of the population who may not even be aware they are at risk.

Should I be concerned about getting histoplasmosis?
Anyone can get histoplasmosis. There are, however, certain people whose occupations make the risk of exposure greater than others. Included in that group are chimney cleaners, construction workers, gardeners, HVAC installers or repair people, roofers, and, of course spelunkers (cave explorers). In reality, however, anyone who comes across the fungus can get histoplasmosis.  90% of peopole with bats in their home have histoplasmosis and may have not been diagnosed properly.  

I have bats in my attic, walls or eaves. How did they get there?
A half-inch of space or less is all a bat colony needs to get into the attic of your home or business. Bats feel most safe when they have to squeeze into their home, since they know most of their predators can’t follow behind.

 

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