Mold in Your Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. Home Attic

In order to prevent mold from growing, well ventilated attic spaces are critical. Without proper venting (air movement and exchange) many bad things can occur, especially involving mold growth on wooden structures such as roof sheathing or truss members. The following are some of the reasons why mold may begin to grow in an attic:

  • Too much humidity from the HVAC system humidifier
  • Insufficient soffit venting (from the eaves)
  • No ridge venting (at the roof peak)
  • Inadequate gable venting (side vents)
  • Not enough insulation (poor thermal envelop)
  • Clothes dryer venting into the attic (source for high humidity)
  • No bathroom vents, so humidity builds in attic (source for high humidity)
  • Bathroom vents into attic (not above the roof line) (source for high humidity)

These are important items to look for in a mold/moisture inspection involving an attic. We look for these potential problems especially as a means to prevent mold prone environments and educate you on the best approach to prevention as well.

Contact Information
RTS Environmental Services, Inc.
Tel: 1-800-722-5589
301-607-6276 Maryland Line
Fax: 301-831-6235
Email: info@rtsenviro.com

Forms of Asbestos Commonly Found in Homes

Asbestos materials were used in many building materials starting at the turn of the 20th century (1900’s) when industry became available to mine it as a mineral and refine it as a fiber to be used in hundreds of applications.

An asbestos inspection is meant to identify those materials in a household and determine if there is a risk associated with the content and form of asbestos. As you know, asbestos is linked with causing cancers and disease with a strong correlation to occupational exposure (exposure through mining, refining, or installation activities). There is no good data regarding incidental exposure of asbestos fibers in a residential setting, but we do know that identifying and limiting exposure through prevention is the best course of action.

The following are common building materials which may contain asbestos and their characteristics relative to exposure:

Floor tile: Installed from 1930’s to1960’s vinyl floor tile is the most common form found in housing. It usually is identified as a 9 inch square tile with a low concentration of asbestos bound up in a matrix of vinyl (some larger tiles are also suspect). The mastic or glue which was used also typically contains asbestos. This is a relatively low risk material given the form and durability and can be left in place if it’s in good condition.

Pipe Wrap Insulation: Installed mainly in the 1920’s through 1950’s. This is a thermal system insulation usually found on heating system pipes associated with boilers. Often older boilers are also insulated with an asbestos jacketing material. The asbestos content in these materials is usually high with a typical content of 40% to 60%. This material is also easily disturbed and will produce airborne fibers with hand pressure. When in poor condition, this material is usually removed with abatement methods.

Duct Connectors: This is a textile form of asbestos often overlooked or unrecognized as an asbestos material. It is found as part of a duct manifold system which connects an HVAC unit to the rest of the duct work. It is literally part of the duct where the air stream flows across it. It was meant to allow of connecting and isolating vibration. The risk is difficult to define although the fibers are usually tightly bound in the textile fabrication and not often considered to be high risk.

Structural Blown-on insulation: This is the worst kind of material to encounter given it is loose and easily disturbed. It is often found in commercial buildings or larger apartment buildings (the World Trade Center in NY City had this insulation on the structural steel). It is usually of very high concentration of fibers 50% to 80% and goes airborne by simple contact. This material is rare to find in single family households. Larger apartment buildings built in the 60′ and 70’s often have this applied to the structural steel.

Other forms to consider — here is a list of other forms of asbestos commonly found in households:

Transite board – A hard cementious board often installed on walls surrounding boilers
Duct Canvass – A paper-like covering used to cover metal ductwork.
Exterior Shingles – Hard cementious siding found on many neighborhoods in northern states.
Asbestos Duct Pipe- Found embedded in concrete slabs, this material gas a textile core impregnated with cement and is was used to duct air through slabs of concrete.
Let us know if you are interested in knowing what you have in your home. The time to know is especially important prior to major renovations or changes to older heating and HVAC systems.

Please contact RTS Environmental Services at 1-800-722-5589 – www.rtsenvironmental.com

Is Mold Dangerous?

We get that question a lot, as well as… “Is that the toxic black mold?” or “is that the dangerous mold”. Here is a common sense response to this often asked question.

After much research and literally thousands of mold inspections, ultimately the answer depends on your own personal susceptibility:

Generally when mold of any kind is actively growing in small surface area (less than a few sq. ft.) it does not cause a significant health issue (Air Quality issue) to most of us.

However, those who are otherwise highly sensitive, allergic, or prone to be bothered by mold of any kind will demonstrate a side effect right away and more often than not, it has nothing to do with what type of mold it is. In fact a mold group called Penicillium / Aspergillus tends to be the mold which irritates most people first. Why…….

It’s the first mold to grow (Penicillium / Aspergillus is very opportunistic) and it can grow under many conditions needing less moisture and grows on many material types like leather and vinyl.

“Black Mold” is a mold species called “Stachybotrys” (pronounced Stacki-bot-tris) which tends to grow on paper and processed wood fibers easily such as found with drywall. There is a potential for this mold to have what is called a “Mycotoxic” affect although it is rare and not well substantiated scientifically.

Generally many mold types tend to grow in conditions where moisture, wood based materials, and sustained high relative humidity work together to produce an Air Quality issue. Whether or not the mold type is Stachybotrys or Chaetomium or Cladosporium or Penicillium / Aspergillus or dozens of other mold types which are seen in both indoor and outdoor environments, it doesn’t necessarily matter because ultimately your reaction to mold is based on your own personal sensitivity to it.

Molds such as Stachybotrys may be potentially “Mycotoxic”, but there is a lack of real evidence that there is a direct relationship to exposure to it and a known toxic affect in most people.

What’s the lesson here….Know what your conditions are for mold growth and prevent the growth. If you have uncertainties, RTS can help you better understand air quality and mold in the indoor environment with an inspection and consultation. An inspection is especially important for those who are sensitive to molds.

Please contact RTS Environmental Services at 1-800-722-5589 – www.rtsenvironmental.com