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!

Follow ERC on Facebook and LinkedIn for more news and updates!

 

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

Benzene – What You Should Know

From the Deer Park Texas Website

On Sunday, March 17, 2019 at approximately 10AM, a storage tank caught fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) Deer Park facility, located at 1943 Independence Parkway.

Industry neighbors and multiple local agencies actively fought the fire to prevent it from spreading and to extinguish it as quickly as possible.

As of early Wednesday morning, March 20, the fire had been extinguished.”

During the early morning hours of Thursday, March 21, 2019, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a statement…

Early this morning, certain air quality readings were found to be above our very conservative air quality standards. The cities of Deer Park and Galena Park issued shelter-in-place orders.

At this time, air quality readings that we are monitoring are at lower levels, and the city of Deer Park has lifted its shelter-in-place order. Galena Park’s shelter-in-place order is still in effect.

We know these events are concerning, and we are continuing to monitor benzene levels. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms related to benzene exposure, please call a  healthcare professional.”

ERC Teams were called into action early Thursday morning to assist clients with assessing indoor air quality (IAQ) in facilities within the shelter-in-place borders. ERC’s long background with assessing IAQ gives clients confidence that we can help them manage this critical situation.

What are we testing for? Benzene and Toluene. Both of these chemicals were released into the air after the fire was extinguished and clients are looking to make sure their workers/students are safe to return to work/school.

About Benzene: It is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities. It is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States.

The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene is a known carcinogen (can cause cancer). Both the International Agency for Cancer Research and the EPA have determined that benzene is carcinogenic to humans. Exposure to benzene may be harmful to the reproductive organs.

About Toluene:  It is an aromatic hydrocarbon. It is a colorless, water-insoluble liquid with the smell associated with paint thinners. It is a mono-substituted benzene derivative, consisting of a CH3 group attached to a phenyl group. The effects of toluene on animals are similar to those seen in humans. The main effect of toluene is on the brain and nervous system, but animals exposed to moderate or high levels of toluene also show harmful effects in their liver, kidneys, and lungs and impaired immune function.

What Can You Do?

  • Do not touch any substance, residue, or particles from the plume (smoke).
  • Wash your hands and exposed skin with soap and water thoroughly for 3-5 minutes if you have come in contact with residue/particles.
  • Bathe your pet while, wearing gloves, if they have come in contact with reside/particles from the fire.
  • Move your pet indoors to reduce contact with any substance, residue, or particles from the plume.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you feel you or a loved one are experiencing any related symptoms.
  • Check on elderly neighbors or those who you are concerned about.

(This information and more can be found at ReadyHarris.org – Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.)

If you are a business owner/manager and want to have your facility assessed for these chemicals, please call ERC at 713-290-9444 or through our website Contact Us