April Showers Bring May Flowers to Texas

Spring brings warm weather and blossoming plants and flowers! Most Texans are more than happy to welcome the sun after the February winter storm, but with spring comes airborne allergens and molds. ERC is in full swing of conducting Indoor Air Quality testing after frozen pipes burst leading to flooding and potential mold growth in damp areas. Health effects from exposure to mold can vary greatly depending on the person and the amount of mold in the building. Symptoms that may occur include coughing, wheezing, runny nose, and sore throat. IAQ assessments are a proactive way of maintaining the health of your business and the people in the building. It’s never too late for an IAQ assessment!

The new season also inspires days outside at the park enjoying the warm weather. ERC is proud to help improve local parks, including dog parks, with our construction division. ERC recently constructed and installed concrete and gravel pads with stone bench seating areas for a DFW area dog park. ERC’s Project Manager, Will Springer, was challenged with the task of making the new seating areas exactly the same as the previously installed seating areas. Our team was able to not only complete the entire project within 23 calendar days, but also with no issues and a beautiful outcome! We are grateful for the tail waggin’ experience at the dog park and look forward to future ways of improving our local communities. Let’s build together!

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Source: Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR)

For more information about molds, visit these sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Consumer Mold Information Sheet

Know Your Molds!

What is mold and what causes it? Mold is a type of fungus that is present in our natural environment. Mold spores, which are tiny microscopic ‘seeds’, can be found everywhere, including inside buildings, and are a part of the general dust found in buildings and offices. These spores can start growing on building materials and furnishings if they get wet or stay moist. Mold growth should not be allowed in buildings and offices. Eventually, the mold will damage what it is growing on, which may include both the building and personal belongings. The key to preventing mold growth is to prevent moisture problems and quickly fix and dry any water leaks or spills that might occur.

What is the difference between mold and mildew? Mildew is a type of mold or fungus. A lot of people use this name to describe small black spots of fungus that can start to grow on damp surfaces. If mildew appears, that means there is a moisture problem.

What are the health concerns about mold? Health effects from exposure to mold can vary greatly depending on the person, and the amount of mold in the building. Symptoms that may occur include coughing, wheezing, runny nose and sore throat. People with asthma or mold allergies may notice their asthma or allergy symptoms worsen. Individuals with a severely weakened immune system who are exposed to moldy environments are at risk of developing serious fungal respiratory infections. TDLR recommends that people consult a health care provider if they are concerned about the effects of a moldy environment on their health.

What can be done about indoor mold? Investigate and correct moisture problems and remove mold growth. If mold can be seen or if a musty odor is present, a careful inspection of the building should be conducted. Pay attention to hidden areas, such as plumbing access areas, crawlspaces, behind mirrors and furniture, attics, closets and cupboards.

Correcting a mold problem requires fixing the underlying moisture problem, removing the mold, and keeping the building clean and dry in the future. Mold, generally, can be cleaned from non-porous surfaces such as concrete, metal, glass, tile, and solid wood. However, absorbent (porous) surfaces such as drywall, carpet, fleecy furnishings and insulation are more difficult to clean and often require removal.

Merely applying a chemical such as bleach to drywall, without removing the mold source, is not an effective, permanent solution. Painting over mold is also not effective, even Kilz doesn’t remove mold, it just hides it and often only temporarily. Personal belongings can be kept if there is no mold growth on them. These items may need a deep cleaning to remove mold particles (spores) that have settled in the fabric.

The building owner may want to hire a licensed Mold Consultant company, such as ERC, to determine the extent of a mold problem and to develop a remediation protocol to address it. Under TDLR rules, the remediation of 25 contiguous square feet or more of visible mold in properties with 10 or more units must be conducted by a licensed Mold Remediation Contractor. Small areas of mold growth (less than 25 contiguous square feet) can be cleaned/removed by an owner or by maintenance staff. Please note that testing to determine what kind of mold is present is not required prior to remediation or cleaning. However, to properly measure the effectiveness of a remediation project, testing before and after is highly recommended.

Source: Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR)

For more information about molds, visit these sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Consumer Mold Information Sheet

In the Swing of the 2020 Storm Season

The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs June 1st through November 30th. Researchers have estimated 6-10 hurricanes predicted during the 2020 season – up to 6 major; with 13 total named storms. Ever wonder where the names for tropical storms and hurricanes come from? And why are they even named in the first place?

Prior to the 1950s, hurricanes and tropical storms were tracked by using the year and the storm’s order in that year. For example, the third tropical storm in 1920 would simply be referred to as “1920 Storm 3”. During the 1950s, meteorologists were having difficulty tracking storms in this fashion and started using names for the storms.

Today, the World Meteorological Organization is responsible for developing the names for both Northern Pacific and Atlantic storms. They use six lists of names for each, rotating them each year. Names of storms which have done tremendous damage such as Katrina, Michael, Sandy, and Harvey, have been retired from the lists and replaced with another name starting with the same letter. More than 80 names have been retired. Not all letters of the alphabet are created equal! Q, U, X, Y and Z have been omitted, leaving only 21 names on each list. And if there are more than 21 storms? Additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.

2020 so far:

  • Arthur – Tropical Storm, May 18th, North Carolina
  • Bertha – Tropical Storm, May 27th, South Carolina
  • Cristobal – Tropical Storm, June 7th, Louisiana
  • Dolly – Tropical Storm, June 23rd, NE US Coast (never landed)
  • Edouard – Tropical Storm, July 6, New Foundland
  • Fay – Tropical Storm, July 10th, New Jersey

Next 5 names:

  • Gonzalo
  • Hanna
  • Isaias
  • Josephine
  • Kyle

For the full list, visit the National Hurricane Center. While there, revisit some of the preparations you should take during this hurricane season.

 

AFTER SURVIVING THE STORM… THE BATTLE MAY NOT BE OVER.

MOLD

Mold can cause serious health problems. The key to mold control is moisture control. After the flood, remove standing water and dry indoor areas. Remove and discard anything that has been wet for more than 24-48 hours.

The EPA guide for building managers, custodians, and others who are responsible for building maintenance:  EPA-Mold

RENOVATION AND REBUILDING

Once the mold is remediated, it’s time to rebuild! But wait, there are regulations related to build back activities. Two to keep in mind:

Lead-safe work: By law, contractors need to use lead-safe work practices on emergency renovations on homes or buildings built before 1978. Activities such as sanding, cutting, and demolition can create lead-based paint hazards. Lead-contaminated dust is harmful to adults, particularly pregnant women, and children.

Asbestos: Anyone working on demolition, removal, and cleanup of building debris needs be aware of any asbestos and to handle asbestos materials properly. People exposed to asbestos dust can develop serious lung health problems including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Although the use of asbestos has dramatically decreased in recent years, it is still found in many residential and commercial buildings and can pose a serious health risk.

 

If your organization is affected by a storm and you do not know where to start… CALL ERC!

We offer turnkey services that can get you back up and running as quickly as possible. For those participating in TIPS or Choice Partners cooperatives, ERC holds disaster mitigation contracts designed specifically for this type of recovery.

 

Our First Harvey Project with the City of Houston

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey devastated the City of Houston. The city government worked hard to get city services back up and running. With so much work to do, priorities were set. Obviously, critical services, such as water and power, had to come first – get the citizens back to work. In the mix, six (6) Neighborhood Libraries were closed due to damage incurred by the storm. The McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library was one of these affected.

During the summer of 2018, ERC responded to a Request for Proposal (RFP) for this library, one of the first put out by the City of Houston for a project that would be funded through FEMA after Hurrican

Grand Reopening Twitter Post

e Harvey devastated the city. The project included flooring, mill work, minor repairs, and electrical. ERC was low bidder and the process began.

In addition to the renovations for flood damage, ERC was able to coordinate some minor changes unrelated to Harvey and complete them while onsite. This included some wallpaper removal and additional painting – namely to spruce up the place a bit more.

A benefit of ERC’s combined resume of environmental and construction is the ability to see things other contractors don’t. Our project manager noticed mold growth in the back office area and notified the library staff. Since the building sat vacant from August 2017 through January 2019, when renovations started, this was to be expected. Remediation was complete and ERC was able to complete the build back as part of the original contract.

This is a beautiful library on the edge of Bellaire. Thanks to Harvey, it has a fresh coat of paint, new carpet, and refinished woodwork. If you live or work in the area, we encourage you to check it out! The staff are very friendly and more than willing to help. Mostly – they’re glad to be back at work and open to the public.

To see a summary of our work: http://erc-tx.com/portfolio/mcgovern-stella-link-library/

For more information about the library: http://houstonlibrary.org/location/mcgovern-stella-link-neighborhood-library