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Indoor Environmental Quality

Mrs. H isn’t feeling too well… Here is another story on the importance of safe renovations

By | Indoor Air Quality, Indoor Environmental Quality, Mold | No Comments

The early 21st century home was in immaculate shape, nothing seemed wrong from the looks of it as I walked up to the front door and knocked on it. I was greeted by Mr. H and he explained to me that Mrs. H hasn’t been feeling the best. I asked if she was doing anything out of the ordinary. He replied with no, she works from her new home office which is next to the newly remodeled and installed bathroom.

We proceeded to the basement where the remodel had taken place and as I walked down the hallway I started to smell a musty odor as we got closer to the bathroom and office. As we went into the bathroom the odor got worse and I asked if it has always smelled like that, he replied with no and we started investigating.

The ceiling was made up of a grid with 2×4 ceiling tiles and one had a vent to vent out moisture. As I pulled up one of the tiles I felt it was really soft and somewhat mushy on the corners, I was told it was completely out of the track and it was covered with mold on the other side. I peeked my head through the rest of the drop ceiling and 75% of the ceiling tiles in the bathroom and the adjacent office were covered in mold, along with the top 12-16 inches for the backside of the drywall that separated the two rooms. He asked me why this happened, I replied with a lack of ventilation and moisture building on the tile. He said that they use the exhaust fan every time they shower and he didn’t understand why it would build up if the fan is on.

After further investigation, we found out the duct the fan was connected to wasn’t coupled correctly causing a leak which is pushing hot moisture-filled air out of the bathroom and above the drop ceiling causing the issue.

What I take away from this experience, and what I want you to take away from this story, is to never underestimate the unseen. There are so many things behind walls and under floors and tiles that it is not always easily apparent when there is an issue.

If you suspect that something is causing sickness, it is worth it to allow us to assess your situation thoroughly and use our experience to remediate the area and protect your family once and for all.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY ebook.

Know these simple principles for maintaining a healthy home or building:

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Know these simple principles for maintaining a healthy home or building:

  • Keep it dry: Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, prevent rainwater from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.
  • Keep it clean: Control the source of dust and contaminants, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.
  • Keep it safe: Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. Secure loose rugs and keep children’s play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.
  • Keep it well ventilated: Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole-house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.
  • Keep it pest-free: All pests look for food, water, and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least-toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.
  • Keep it contaminant-free: Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using a wet-cleaning approach. Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation cracks. Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action level are detected.
  • Keep it well maintained: Inspect, clean, and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems.
  • Keep it thermally controlled: Houses that do not maintain adequate temperatures may place the safety of residents at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold or heat.

For more detail, visit https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5675/healthy-housing-toolkit-for-housing-counselors/

Or

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

#breathehealthyinitiative

PROTECT YOUR BUILDING OCCUPANTS and FAMILY

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

“A healthy home is a home that is maintained to avoid illness and injury.  Health hazards in the home can affect anyone, but children are particularly vulnerable.  Concerns include air quality, mold and moisture, lead hazard control, pest management, and injury prevention.” – US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Which hazards are at the top of the list?

  • Lead-based paint and lead hazards
  • Mold and moisture
  • Radon
  • Pests
  • Home safety and injury prevention
  • Carbon monoxide.

For more detail, visit https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5675/healthy-housing-toolkit-for-housing-counselors/

Or

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

Don’t let your Home and Building Maintenance catch you off guard! Don’t let it get off-track!

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

It’s Spring!  What are some of the items a building owner should be checking?

  • Deck/patio for mold and mildew.
  • Deck/patio slant so that water drains away from the house.
  • Hoses and outdoor facets to confirm they are working properly.
  • Gutters and downspouts for repairs or clogs.
  • Sprinklers for leaks or necessary adjustments.
  • All air filters. Replace where needed.
  • Windows and screens for damage.
  • Air conditioners and/or HVAC systems for proper performance.
  • Dryer vents and hoses for debris or obstructions.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for proper performance.
  • Kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans for debris, clogs and proper performance.
  • Caulking in showers, tubs, and sinks.
  • Roofs for leaks, cracks, broken shingles. Don’t forget to check the flashings.

For a more detailed HEALTHY BUILDINGS CHECKLIST, email a request to jm@baxtergroupinc.com.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

What are the benefits to a Healthy Building Check-Up?

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Regular Healthy Building Check-Ups are inspections that ensure a building and all its systems function properly to keep the building healthy and safe.

  • Inspections help identify existing hazards in a building.
  • Inspections help identify potential hazards before they become a crisis.
  • Inspections help identify underlying causes of unhealthy buildings or safety risks.
  • Inspections reveal corrective actions needed to avoid compliance issues.
  • Inspections help monitor risks or hazards.

A Healthy Building Checklist can be requested by emailing jm@baxtergroupinc.com.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

The Dangers of Deferred Maintenance!

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Preventative maintenance saves building owners thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a building.  Maintenance is a big part of making sure that equipment and building systems remain safe and functional.  With limited budgets it is tempting to forgo regular maintenance and healthy building check-ups.

Here are the dangers of deferring a Healthy Building Check-Up and preventative maintenance:

  • Costly equipment failure
  • High costs of reactive maintenance
  • Unhealthy or unsafe environments for occupants
  • Decreased occupant satisfaction with the property
  • Long lists of unexpected work orders or repairs
  • Fines from regulatory agencies
  • Shorter equipment life cycles
  • Hampered productivity
  • Negative impact of the store-front image
  • An overworked team experiencing burnout and stress

Preventative maintenance programs are designed to help a maintenance teams get ahead of maintenance issues, ensure properly functioning equipment, and save money over time.

How to Overcome Deferred Maintenance Issues?

  • Audit current maintenances processes, systems, and projects.
  • Employ a system of logging all maintenance activities in each particular building.
  • Employ a centralized work order system.
  • Prioritize maintenance issues.
  • Employ annual or bi-annual Healthy Building Check-Ups.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

 

Time for a HEALTHY BUILDING checkup!

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Time for a HEALTHY BUILDING checkup!

Spring and Fall are great times to schedule your building(s) for a checkup.  In doing so, areas of concern can be identified and addressed prior to them becoming large, expensive cleanup or repair projects.  Here are just a view items that should be inspected inside your buildings:

  • Signs of roof leaks
  • Signs of plumbing leaks
  • Evidence of rodents, bats, roaches, termite and other pests
  • Paint intact
  • Dryer vents clear
  • Exhaust ducts clear
  • Gutters and downspouts intact and clear
  • No wet surfaces or puddles in crawlspaces and basement
  • Sump pump working
  • Radon system active and working
  • Insulation in place
  • Fans exhaust outdoors and are clear
  • Electrical wiring in good condition
  • Smoke and CO alarms are working
  • Refrigerator and icemaker drip pans are clean
  • Traps and drains are not leaking
  • Dehumidifiers operation properly
  • All filters are clean

For a more extensive check-up, join Baxter Environmental Group’s BREATHE HEALTHY INITIATIVE at baxtergroupinc.com.

WHERE ARE THE GERMS HIDING?

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Bacteria, biologicals, and germs are everywhere. With over 60,000 different types of germs and each occupant having their own personal susceptibility to different germs, it’s important to know where these germs hide so that we can eliminate or reduce exposure to them.

Prevention is the best practice. Limiting contact with germs, cleaning regularly, and the practice of washing our hands prevents much of the potential for exposure. But, knowing where these germs hide help us determine our cleaning practices.

LAUNDRY MACHINES are a great collector of an immense amount of germs. Think of the germs we collect on our clothes every day, from dust and dirt on our outer clothing to E.coli on our undergarments. It’s important to wash clothing in hot water and to dry clothing for a minimum of 45 minutes.

KITCHEN FAUCETS, the handles and the aeration screen, should be disinfected regularly. Germs from our hands and contaminated food can reside on both. The moisture around the faucet and sink allow for the collection of biologicals and bacteria as well as providing both with the nutrients they need to grow.

CAR DASHBOARDS have numerous touch points, including the steering wheel, audio and thermostat controllers, and vents. Germs from our hands are passed to these touch points. The air coming from the outdoors through the windows and vents carry with them biologicals and bacteria that stick to the dashboard. Wiping down the dashboard regularly will reduce the number of contaminants we are exposed to.

CELL PHONES are constantly being set down in places where we would never think to put our mouth. Yet, we move the phone from those surfaces to our mouth without a thought. Both the surfaces of the phone and the crevices of the phone are perfect hiding places for germs. Cell phones should be disinfected daily.

VACUUM CLEANERS should always be emptied outdoors. We’ve worked on getting them air-tight or made sure that they were equipped with HEPA filters to remove particulates as small as 2 microns. The last thing we want to do is open the vacuum and release their contents into our indoor environment.

GYM EQUIPMENT, workout gloves, and their polyester fabric gather germs from all who touch them. Wiping down the equipment before and after use can reduce potential exposures. Using hand sanitizers is a wise move as well.

MONEY is the root of all evil. Not sure about that … but it is a strong hoarder of germs.  Coins, dollars, and plastic money pass through hundreds of dirty hands daily.

Regular cleaning and disinfecting protect us from these hidden sources of germs. Identifying hidden sources of germ retainers allows us to know where we need to focus our cleaning energy. Good and regular cleaning routines will limit exposure to germs and will keep our indoor environment healthy.

For a copy of Baxter Group, Inc.’s e-book BREATHE HEALTHY, our HEALTHY BUILDINGS CHECK UP or more information on Baxter Group, Inc.’s Breathe Healthy Initiative visit baxtergroupinc.com.

COVERING UP THOSE NASTY ODORS?

By | Indoor Air Quality, Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments

Growing up, that was the solution.  Something smelt bad, we were taught to spray it with a fragrance.  Then the fragrance market got smart and added disinfectants.  So, we bought fragrant disinfectants and sprayed the nasty smell till it went away.  And, when it returned, we knew it was time to spray it again.

Indoor Environmental Professionals are spreading the word:  Don’t ignore that odor or cover it up.  Odors are our best indicator of a real problem.  Mold, bacteria, the wrong mix of products or chemicals, smoke, gas leaks, sewer leaks, rodent infestations, improper air circulation . . . are just a few of the culprits behind odors.  The odors indicate a deeper issue.  Rather than covering up the odor, eliminate the source.  Ultimately, eliminating the source yields a healthier environment.

A simple example:  Mrs. K complained of an intermittent foul odor that gave her headaches while she worked in her shop.  Upon investigation, we removed all the chemicals from under her utility sink and placed them on the back porch.  She stopped having headaches.  She was unaware that the product containers release vapors.  The use of equipment in her shop circulated the air releasing the vapors into her work area, causing the odor and the headaches.

BEST RESOLUTION TO ODORS:  Eliminate the source!

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.

HIDDEN SOURCES OF HOUSEHOLD ALLERGENS

By | Indoor Environmental Quality | No Comments
  • Mattresses and bed pillows that are not washed regularly.
  • Carpeting that contains an accumulation of particulate.
  • Damp basements.
  • Dog beds.
  • Fish tank covers.
  • Bird feathers that escape the cage.
  • Jar candles that produce soot particles.
  • Laundry areas.
  • Front-loading washing machines.
  • Refrigerator drip pans.
  • Kitchen cabinet kick spaces.
  • Damp bathrooms.
  • Sink cabinets.

To learn more or to join our BREATHE HEALTHY Initiative, visit baxtergroupinc.com.  Request a copy of our BREATHE HEALTHY e-book.