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Envision3 Group, Inc. is a full service Phoenix, Arizona Environmental Firm providing a broad range of environmental consulting including but not limited to mold testing, mold inspections, asbestos inspection, asbestos testing, asbestos management, site assessments, indoor air quality assessments, mold testing, remediation design and implementation, lead based paint inspections and field services to a wide variety of clients. Our personnel are committed to providing prompt and professional environmental services. We pride ourselves on the increasing number of private, corporate, and government clients who exclusively use Envision's services to solve their complex environmental and regulatory concerns.
Asbestos Bulk Sampling
Asbestos Final Clearance Air Sampling
Pre-Remediation Mold Testing
Post-Remediation Air Testing
Environmental Design and Project Management
Certified Mold Inspectors
Expert Witness/Litigation Support
Mobile PCM Laboratory
Indoor Air Quality Investigations
We are a full service Arizona environmental consulting firm founded to enable our clients to respond to their environmental concerns. To achieve this, we have brought together a team of professionals to address our clients individualized issues precisely, responsively, and comprehensively.
To utilize a high degree of professionalism, confidentiality, and integrity toward environmental problem solving and create a successful company with a rewarding work environment that attracts extraordinary environmental professionals, while maintaining a business philosophy that focuses on long-term client relationships based on trust, respect, and efficiency.
By instituting a positive and empowering work atmosphere, we encourage individual and team development. We support team members to contribute to our industry and our community through professional and civic organizations. We believe these are essential elements for responsible and long-term growth.
Integrity is the base from which all our services are carried out. Integrity fosters our pledge to give our clients quality work and cost-effective value. These principles direct our decisions as we build a profitable corporation which reinvests in its future and that of its employees.
MOLD IN THE NEWS
Remove source of mold as soon as possible.
Special for The Arizona Republic
Mold is all around us. Some (mushrooms) you can eat, others (penicillin) make you better, but some can make you sick. Although the verdict is still out on some research, there's something we know for sure: Get rid of mold when you find it.
Are all molds dangerous to your health?
No. The human body can tolerate small amounts of mold; high doses are a concern. For the majority of molds, the most common side effects are allergic reactions due to indoor air- quality problems. Reactions range from sneezing or eye irritation to asthma attacks, and can occur in people with or without allergies. Children, elderly and those with impaired immune systems are more susceptible. Symptoms that are non-allergic or -irritant are not commonly reported, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, research is ongoing.
Although most molds produce allergens, under certain conditions some can release mycotoxins. In high doses, these can be toxic. In most cases, the amount produced is extremely small.
What else does mold do?
Mold causes damage, even in dry climates like Arizona. This can include an unsightly cosmetic stain or permanent damage to your home. The longer the mold is there, the more damage it will cause.
Where should you look for mold?
Mold is a natural fungus found all over the earth. All types of mold have one thing in common: They need moisture to survive. Some of the most common places to find mold in the home include bathroom (moisture from baths or showers), kitchen (steam from cooking), windows (condensation or bad flashing), attics (from roof leaks), roofs (weather), basements (underground), vents and ductwork (can have condensation and transfers airborne mold spores to other areas of the home) and crawl spaces.
Are there precautions that need to be taken while cleaning mold?
Especially if you have allergies or asthma, it is recommended to stay on the safe side and wear rubber gloves and goggles. A respirator also can be worn while cleaning. If you're working with drywall or wood, remember to treat the area with a proper water sealant after the moisture problem is fixed and the area is clean and mold-free. If the area is over 10 square feet, or if you're concerned with certain health problems, a professional can do the job.
There are concerns that even dead mold spores may be allergenic. Whenever possible, mold must be removed and not just cleaned.
How can you prevent mold?
Many people think that Arizona is immune to mold because of the dry climate, but mold can grow on a wet surface in 48 hours. The sooner the area is cleaned, the better. You must eliminate the moisture source. If you don't, mold will keep reappearing.
Take preventive measures at home.
Occasionally, check areas that are more susceptible to mold growth and get things fixed before much damage occurs. Make sure no sprinklers are hitting the house when they come on, don't use your air-conditioning system if you suspect mold contamination, etc. Additional insulation can prevent condensation on cold surfaces, such as windows, flooring and piping.
Following is an excerptfrom the EPA Mold Website:
Why is mold growing in my home?
Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the non-microscope eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
Can mold cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. This brochure provides a brief overview; it does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
How do I get rid of mold?
It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - "Molds in the Environment"
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - "Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds"
Environmental Protection Agency - "Information regarding mold"
Planet Mold (http://www.planetmold.com)
New York City Mold Guidelines
OSHA Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
Environmental Protection Agency / Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
USA Weekend Article (7 21-02) - When Mold Takes Hold
CBS News: An Insidious Mold - The Melinda Ballard Story
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: Toxic Effects of Indoor Molds
Indoor Toxic Molds and their Symptoms By Nachman Brautbar, M.D.
TOXIC MOLD & TORT NEWS
The following is an Excerpt from:
If you have an allergy that never ends when seasons change, you may be allergic to the spores of molds or other fungi. Molds live everywhere, and disturbing a mold source can disperse the spores into the air.
What Is Mold Allergy?
Mold and mildew are fungi. They differ from plants or animals in how they reproduce and grow. The "seeds," called spores, are spread by the wind outdoors and by air indoors. Some spores are released in dry, windy weather. Others are released with the fog or dew when humidity is high.
Inhaling the spores causes allergic reactions in some people. Allergic symptoms from fungus spores are most common from July to late summer. But with fungi growing in so many places, allergic reactions can occur year round.
Although there are many types of molds, only a few dozen cause allergic reactions. Alternaria, Cladosporium (Hormodendrum), Aspergillus, Penicillium, Helmin thosporium, Epicoccum, Fusarium, Mucor, Rhizopus and Aureobasidium (Pullularia) are the major culprits. Some common spores can be identified when viewed under a microscope. Some form recognizable growth or colonies.
Many molds grow on rotting logs and fallen leaves, in compost piles and on grasses and grains. Unlike pollens, molds do not die with the first killing frost. Most outdoor molds become dormant during the winter. In the spring they grow on plants killed by the cold.
Indoors, fungi grow in damp areas, particularly in the bathroom, kitchen or basement.
Who Gets the Allergy?
It is common for people to get mold allergy if they or other family members are allergic to substances such as pollen or animal dander. People may become allergic to only mold or fungi, or they may also have problems with dust mites, pollens and other spores. If you are allergic to only fungi, it is unlikely that you would be bothered by all fungi. The different types of fungi spores have only limited similarities.
People in some occupations have more exposure to mold and are at greater risk of developing allergies. Farmers, dairymen, loggers, bakers, mill workers, carpenters, greenhouse employees, wine makers and furniture repairers are at increased risk.
There is only weak evidence that allergic symptoms are caused by food fungi (e.g., mushrooms, dried fruit, foods containing yeast, vinegar or soy sauce). It is more likely that reactions to food fungi are caused by the food's direct effect on blood vessels. For example, histamine may be present because of the fermentation of red wines.
Fungi on house plants can cause an allergic reaction, but this is only likely to happen if the soil is disturbed.
Fungi can even grow in the human body. If not properly treated, intense inflammation can recur often. It can permanently damage airway walls. This is not common, though.
What Are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of mold allergy are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies, such as sneezing, itching, nasal discharge, congestion and dry, scaling skin. Some people with mold allergies may have allergy symptoms the entire summer because of outdoor molds or year-round if symptoms are due to indoor molds.
Mold spores can deposit on the lining of the nose and cause hay fever symptoms. They also can reach the lungs, to cause asthma or another serious illness called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
Sometimes the reaction is immediate, and sometimes the reaction is delayed. Symptoms often worsen in a damp or moldy room such as a basement; this may suggest mold allergy.
How Is Mold Allergy Diagnosed?
To diagnose an allergy to mold or fungi, the doctor will take a complete medical history. If mold allergy is suspected, the doctor often will do skin tests. Extracts of different types of fungi will be used to scratch or prick the skin. If there is no reaction, allergy is not suggested. In some people with allergy, irritation alone can cause a reaction. Therefore the doctor uses the patient's medical history, the skin testing results, and the physical examination combined to diagnose mold allergy.
How Is Mold Allergy Treated?
As with most allergies, patients should
- Avoid contact with the spores . Wear a dust mask when cutting grass, digging around plants, picking up leaves and disturbing other plant materials. Reduce the humidity indoors to prevent fungi from growing. These measures will reduce symptoms.
- Take medications for nasal or other allergic symptoms. Antihistamines and decongestants are available over the counter—without a prescription. Because these antihistamines can cause drowsiness, they are best taken at bedtime. If drowsiness continues to be a problem, talk to your doctor about taking non-sedating antihistamines, which require a prescription. For moderate and severe allergy symptoms, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid nasal sprays.
- If these medications are inadequate, talk to your doctor or allergist about taking allergy shots (immunotherapy). This works for some carefully selected patients.
How Can I Prevent a Reaction to Mold?
Allergies cannot be cured. But the symptoms of the allergy can be reduced by avoiding contact with the spores. Several measures will help:
- Stay indoors during periods when the published mold count is high. This will lessen the amount you inhale. Mold spores are "counted" by collecting a sample of particulates in the air then identifying and counting the mold spores in the sample.
The amount of airborne spores are likely to change quickly, depending on the weather. The counts reported are always for a past time period and may not reflect what is currently in the air. The mold that causes your allergic reaction may not be counted separately. This means that allergy symptoms may not relate closely to the published count. But knowing the count can help you decide when to stay indoors.
- Use central air conditioning with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter attachment. It will help trap spores before they reach you. Air conditioning with a HEPA filter attached works better than electrostatic air-cleaning devices and much better than freestanding air cleaners. Devices that treat air with heat, ions or ozone are not recommended.
No air cleaners will help if excess moisture remains. If indoor humidity is above 50 percent, risks of fungus growth rise steeply. Hygrometers can be used to measure humidity accurately. The goal is to keep humidity below 45 percent, and preferably about 35 percent.
If humidifiers are necessary, scrub the fluid reservoirs at least twice a week to prevent mold growth. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can also be a source of mold and should be cleaned.
- To prevent mold and mildew build up inside the home , especially in bathrooms, basements and laundry areas, be aggressive about reducing dampness:
- Put an exhaust fan or open a window in the bathroom.
- Quickly repair any plumbing leaks.
- Remove bathroom carpeting where moisture is a concern.
- Scour sinks and tubs at least monthly . Fungi thrive on soap and other films that coat tiles and grout. For problem areas, use ordinary laundry bleach (1 ounce diluted in a quart of water). Fungicides (chemicals that kill fungus) are less important than a good scrubbing. Fungicides may be added to paint, primer or wallpaper paste to slow fungus growth on treated areas. But this will have little effect if excess moisture remains.
- Clean garbage pails frequently.
- Clean refrigerator door gaskets and drip pans.
- Repair basement plumbing leaks , blocked drains, poorly vented clothes dryers and water seepage through walls.
- Use an electric dehumidifier to remove moisture from the basement. Be sure to drain the dehumidifier regularly and clean the condensation coils and collection bucket.
- Raise the temperature in the basement to help lower humidity levels. Small space heaters or a low-wattage light bulb may be useful in damp closets. Be careful where they are placed, though, to avoid creating a fire hazard.
- Polyurethane and rubber foams seem especially prone to fungus invasion. If bedding is made with these foams, it should be covered in plastic.
- Throw away or recycle old books, newspapers, clothing or bedding.
- Promote ground water drainage away from a house. Remove leaves and dead vegetation near the foundation and in the rain gutters. Completely shaded homes dry out slowly, and dense bushes and other plants around the foundation often promote dampness. In the winter, condensation on cold walls encourages mold growth, but even thick insulation can be invaded if vapor barriers in exterior walls are not effective.
SOURCE: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care. First created 1995; fully updated 1998; most recently updated 2005.© Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) Editorial Board
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