Detecting levels of and removing mold, formaldehyde, other nasty chemicals in your home’s air.

Mold from moisture, formaldehyde from furniture and other sources, to other chemicals from things such as improper application of insulation methods like spray foam, methane build up from methane gas leaks in piping and more. Of course, giving clarification on moving was one thing, but I feel as though these things deserve their own page dedicated towards it.

Mold

Mold is a tricky thing to solve…the difficulty depends on where the mold is localized and how much the mold has spread out. If your mold is and only is seen on the inside of your house such as on the surfaces of your walls, bath tub and so on, you’re greatly in luck! You simply need to purchase a spray that kills mold or use other methods such as vinegar to kill the mold and remove it. But we could only dream for it to always be that easy. Undoubtedly, the problem is often inside of these walls for example. Which makes detecting the issue extremely difficult as testing methods aren’t necessarily always telling you a localized spot, but simply detect mold in the air and to what concentration. You will have to deface your wall by destroying it if you do not have a means to get inside your walls and navigate through them. This is what makes removing mold so expensive, from thousands to even over 10 thousand in total costs of repairs and detection/removal via professional.

First off, detecting the mold. Do not cheap out here. Restaurants are closed for having mold because it is indeed a very big health risk. Black mold for example, as a common mold, can cause vision loss, foggy head symptoms (and other potentially long-term mental effects), lung damage and so on, black mold spore concentration in air is not something you want to mess with. Be thorough and do not burn yourself on non-effective detection OR treatment.

You can get help from your local health departments depending on where you live, where they will come to your house and test for mold if you have a doctor’s written concern that your house may be infected; for free. This isn’t always the case, and your doctor giving you that note can be complicated as the symptoms of mold are vague and you cannot test for mold exposure without knowing which mold to test for, or at least doctors will often tell you they need to know which mold in order to test; as these tests are done by a case by case basis of different molds and their types. Because of this, tell your doctor what you’re smelling, that your symptoms seem like mold symptoms, and that he should write a letter that says he thinks you may have mold issues so your health departments can help with testing. But the sad thing is…there is no financial help for removal of mold anywhere that I can find. It simply is too expensive and no one is funding a program for it. This absolutely needs to change as it is not affordable but the health risks of mold are insanely acute depending.

For your safety, I will not recommend any do-it-yourself treatment, as mold is such a VERY hard to accurately assess across the board, even professionals sometimes do bad jobs, but they are professionals and in a case like that definitely get a refund/hound them. After you’ve detected the mold, and you’re ready to spray such as if it’s in visually seen areas, there are products such as RMR-86 Instant Mold Stain & Mildew Stain Remover and Tilex Mold amp; Mildew Remover, 16oz Smart Tube Spray, 12/Carton, there are natural methods such as white distilled vinegar and pour it into a spray bottle without watering it down. After you kill the mold, you should remove it and put it into a designated bag that’s sealed afterwords for example. Again, it is best to have a professional to do this so they can thoroughly detect whether it is inside walls and so on/where said mold is if multiple locations and stopping the moisture source that caused the mold to grow such as leaking pipes which are a common cause of mold inside walls as water pipes are cycled through them. As mentioned before in another post, newer houses are highly insulated and have much less air flow, which means these houses are a breeding ground for high concentrations leading to potentially very bad danger. It is always good to implement ventilation systems to compensate for this. The process of detecting this mold, though, is strenuous. Usually collector kits are sat in different rooms, and the rooms are kept from being ventilated so the air is more stagnant so spores can build up, and then after a period of time this kit is checked for example.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is common as of late years. Very common. The reason being is that formaldehyde is used to efficiently create different woods such as particle boards, hardwood plywood, Medium density fiberboard, but also many other wood and it does this by acting as a bonding agent. This adhesiveness is used to create effectively insignificantly priced furniture that aren’t always half bad. But it’s also used in MANY houses due to its effectiveness in general. This comes with a trade-off. The trade-off is your health, directly, the low price is a cop-out and the tactic is simply to push out products that have high sale volume, but are easy to produce making the lower cost effective profit wise as it’s also generally inexpensive to make this composite wood for example; and it can be mass produced due to effectiveness; also in construction. But the risks are real and they are well known in by different workers in the industry, effects can range from nose, throat, eye irritation, to cancer. Yes, workers in an environment with formaldehyde were shown to have more cases of nose/throat cancer, and formaldehyde used on mice also developed nose cancer. It is also seen to develop asthma. Asthma in general is normally triggered by agitants depending. This furniture exposes you to this chemical by off-gassing it, meaning it releases formaldehyde as a gas passively into the air over time, and this volume decreases slowly over time. But what’s even more important is…these furniture will usually off-gas for months, although it does so in very low volumes after months. But again, newer houses are less ventilated, formaldehyde will build up in stagnant air equally. If there’s enough furniture with it, it hasn’t off-gasses enough as should be standard, you could (potentially) be looking at work environment exposure relatively with PPE without said ventilation.

There are ways you can speed this process, for some things you can’t and for some you can. Heat speeds the process of off-gassing. You could leave your furniture in your garage/outside in a really hot day and allow it to sit for days to weeks, ventilating the garage during the late ends of this process. The insides of your house, however…you could simply cake your house by not using any management of heat during a summer season and visit another place in the meantime for a couple weeks. Except you’ll still need ventilation to move that large quantity of formaldehyde that’s being trapped into the air and there are fortunately many options for just that including for attics. The easiest solution, however, is to choose a home that’s old that’s made before around 1990, however it’s likely you won’t be looking at a house that old, so it’s important to allow it to off-gas and ventilate. There are also formaldehyde detectors you can buy such as Sugoyi Air Detector, Digital Formaldehyde as this process is less strenuous. After letting things off-gas, you should use other methods of removal such as Formaldehyde Removal Solution MKeco 300 and air purifiers. Remember, though, that those two are just potential remedies.

Chemicals from improper insulation applications and other miscellaneous volatile chemicals

This, is much more broad and vague. Spray foam is extremely toxic when not properly cured and even then is innately toxic, it releases a number of different chemicals. For this, you should consult an air-quality professional to test for overall pollutants that may be associated and help determine the cause. Sadly, this generally means scraping the entire content of the spray foam off, and if it’s really bad, it can even mean removing your entire roof; as there have been people needing to wear face masks when ever inside due to severe reactions.

Methane/Carbon Dioxide

Methane buildup after backed up pipes for example are much more cost-effective to detect. If you suspect there is a methane leak, contact your local fire department immediately. The fire department tests for methane for free and even carbon dioxide, they should bring a digital tester on their visit. Additionally, natural gas detectors that include methane detection are easily accessible to you as well, such as Techamor Y201 Portable Methane Propane Combustible Natural Gas Leak Sniffer Detector and Propane / Natural Gas Detector, Home Gas Alarm; Leak Tester, Sensor; Monitor Combustible Gas Level: Methane, Butane, LPG, LNG; Voice and there are carbon dioxide testers such as First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm | Battery Operated, SCO5CN and First Alert Carbon Monoxide Detector. These are absolutely necessary for your home as methane and carbon dioxide are silent killers and are not uncommon. For appliances that utilize it, it may be released at any time, and pipes may become blocked at any time. Each detector can be left on and will continue to detect any breaches, they are essential for workplace safety as most are legally required to have and they are very necessary for your safety; just as a fire alarm is as well.

But methane is not just detected in air. It can be detected much more simply. The signs of methane in water can potentially be clear as it creates bubbles in the water. This can happen if you use well water and water is splattering from your faucet. But it is still vital to be sure, as cloudy water for example is not uncommon itself for different reasons. Have the water tested in this case, there are methods such as holding a bottle upside down over the reservoir, then filling the bottle with water and sealing it. Then remove the cap and immediately, hold a match above the opening. If you see a small rush of flame, there is methane present in the water as methane is flammable. Do this in a controlled environment that doesn’t have potential methane buildup such as in your house, though…if there is enough in the air, you will also set yourself on fire. Again, call a fire department.

The solutions for these two things includes fixing the source. For blocked pipes, they will need to be unblocked. For carbon dioxide from malfunctioning appliances, those will need to be fixed accordingly/replaced. It is best to hire a plumber/electrician and so on to properly deal with this as they are professionals in this area and carbon dioxide/methane are not something to mess with. They can potentially kill you.

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