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A Year in Review: Excellent Questions Asked in 2023

A Year in Review: Excellent Questions Asked in 2023

January 2, 2024

In the past year, we've received a lot of thought-provoking questions that have captured our attention and paved the way for insightful discussions. Our homes are meant to be havens of comfort, but now and then, concerns arise. Have you ever caught a whiff of a strange odor, like a dirty sock, lingering in your house? It might be the mysterious 'dirty sock syndrome,' caused by issues like a neglected air filter or mold growth in HVAC components. Or maybe you have faced sudden respiratory problems, especially when heading to bed or vacuuming. Airborne allergens like dust mites may be the cause, hiding in bedding or getting stirred up during cleaning. Sweating windows, mold on furniture, and clothes present another layer of complexity, often linked to factors like humidity and temperature. Are you curious about painting over mold or using fogging for indoor air quality? We'll dive into these topics, tackling concerns about lead paint, asbestos on HVAC ductwork, and mycotoxins in your body.

"My house sometimes smells like a Dirty Sock. Why is that?"

It is called "Dirty Sock Syndrome". There are several potential causes for this. First, it could be caused by debris on an air filter; there could be organic material on it and mold can grow on the filter. Second, there could be stagnant water in the drain pan under the condensation coil. Both mold and bacteria can grow in the pan. Third, the HVAC ductwork could be dirty, especially the return air duct and mold could be present. Fourth, mold and bacteria could be growing on the evaporator coil itself. Items one and two can be handled by a homeowner with soap and water or by replacing the filter. Items three and four must be addressed by a contractor with special equipment and training.

"I don't have respiratory issues until I go to bed, and in 5 minutes, I am experiencing severe coughing. It also happens when I vacuum the carpets. What could be causing this?"

This is commonly caused by an allergen that becomes airborne and you inhale the material. When you go to bed and disturb the "dust" in the bed and lie down, you come in close contact with allergenic material that is in the bedding material. When you vacuum, most people do not use a HEPA-filtered piece of equipment and a large amount of debris can become airborne. The most common source is dust mites. You are not allergic to the mites themselves, but the fecal pellets that they excrete. There are proteins in the pellets that sensitive people can react to.

You can buy enclosures that have 300 threads per square inch which will prevent particles from passing through but allow the air to escape. You can use enclosures on pillows or mattresses. When buying a vacuum, make sure the manufacturer clearly states that there is a HEPA filter that can be replaced. I do not suggest using water as filtration.

"I have sweating on my windows in the winter and there is mold on my furniture and clothes. What is causing this?"

Sweating on windows can be caused by too much humidity in the air in the home, the temperature too low, poor quality windows, or poor ventilation in the attic. You can monitor the humidity with a meter and be sure it does not go above 65% at 70 degrees; there are several ways to reduce the humidity in a home, one is to run a dehumidifier. A low temperature in a home may be an issue because it does not allow for a large enough temperature differential for the heat and moisture to penetrate the ceiling to carry the water into the attic for exhaust. That will allow for too much humidity in the home and mold will grow particularly on varnished surfaces or leather. Besides replacing poor-quality windows, all you can do is install a window treatment (plastic sheet over the window) or raise the temperature in the home a few degrees. The lack of attic ventilation may require a professional to look at it. There should be intake through the soffits and exhaust through a ridge vent. We have posted several clips on this topic to help people understand attic ventilation.

"Can I just paint over mold?"

If the state you live in does not have any laws governing mold removal, then I would hesitantly say no. Just remember, that something may not be illegal, but it is not defendable in court. There are three national remediation standards and all of them require removal and do not allow encapsulation only.

"What is fogging and what is it used for?"

Fogging comes from the water damage restoration industry. It is used to take a liquid and create a mist to spread an enzyme over a sewage backup issue. The enzyme eliminates the bacteria. Unfortunately, this has been adopted in the mold remediation industry as a way of "treating indoor air quality" in a home. The chemicals used are normally disinfectants. There have been several papers published that describe that fogging cannot be used in "treating mold contamination. Fogging gives a homeowner a false sense of security that is removing allergenic particulates in the air. This may be true simply by flocculation, but it does nothing to relieve the occupant from the allergenic debris when the liquid evaporates and the material becomes airborne again.

"My home was built in 1950 and I have peeling paint on my home. I have several small children and I would like to repaint both the inside and outside of my home. Could there be an issue with lead paint?"

YES. Any home built before 1978 could have lead-based paint on surfaces. In 1950, that type of paint was all that was manufactured. i would recommend reading a book called "Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair, and Painting" which is published by EPA/HUD. The student manual is EPA-740-R-09-002. You can also take an 8-hour online class. It will explain the potential issues of creating an airborne contaminant, the approach (do's and don'ts) on how to prevent the spread of lead containing dust,  remove loose paint, and apply a new coat. and how to clean the area after you are done.

"I went to a doctor and I have been diagnosed with mycotoxins in my body. What are mycotoxins, where are they found, and what is the risk?"

Mycotoxins are a class of compounds that are naturally produced by some molds. They are the chemicals on the surface of the spores and inside the growth structure (hyphae) that you react to when eating certain foods such as peanut butter, corn, cereals, soybeans, and sorghum.

"I have asbestos wrap up on my HVAC ductwork. Can I leave it or do I need to have it removed?"

Not unless the wrap is breaking down and becoming friable. Asbestos contractors cover the material with a product called Wet Lag and then paint over it with a product called Lag Coat.

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Our Commitment

At Farsight Management we understand that not all indoor air quality companies are created equal.

We feel that it is imperative to educate ourselves, our employees, and our customers. You can trust that we follow all the national standards in regards to indoor air quality. This includes mold remediation, lead abatement, asbestos removal, and everything that we do.