1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

September 24, 2008

:268 Prescriptions for a Healthy House

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:268 EcoTip: When building, remodeling, or reconstructing after a disaster consider using the least toxic products available. Prescriptions for a Healthy House, A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders, and Homeowners has specification language, construction tips and advice as well as lists of resources and non-toxic products that can help accomplish this goal during construction.

 

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September 17, 2008

:261 Physically Removing Mold

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:261 EcoTip: There has been a lot of confusion about using biocide to kill mold after it has grown in buildings. In part this is because there are many chemicals being marketed for mold. The key consideration is the material on which the mold has grown. If you have mold in the bathroom tile grout or other hard non-porous surfaces – then mold cleaners can be effective (although frequently quite toxic). If mold has grown on gypsum wall board, insulation or other porous surfaces – the use of biocide is a waste of time and money, and may make things worse by providing a false sense of security and making the environment more toxic.

For cleaning hard non-porous surfaces with mold – I like H2 Orange2 cleaner. It is hydrogen peroxide based and has a Green Seal certification as an environmentally responsible cleaning product. 

For porous materials they should be physically removed. The IICRC(see EcoTip :259) has published the S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remedaition. This is the standard of care for the mold remediation industry.

EPA also has excellent information at www.epa.gov/iaq/molds

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Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259, :260

This is the sixth in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

According to the EPA in Mold Remedaition in Schools and Commercial Buildings

The purpose of mold remediation is to remove the mold to prevent human exposure and damage to building materials and furnishings. It is necessary to clean up mold contamination, not just to kill the mold. Dead mold is still allergenic, and some dead molds are potentially toxic. The use of a biocide, such as chlorine bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice during mold remediation

 

 

 

 

So why do the Red Cross and FEMA advocate the use of chlorine bleach after flood losses? Its for the bacteria – and that is perfectly appropriate. The problem is people assume it will help with the mold -but as stated above the goal with mold isn’t killing it – its physical removal.

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September 11, 2008

:255 Central Vacuums

Filed under: :255 Central Vacuums — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 5:42 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:255 EcoTip: Central vacuums are a good way to remove fine dusts including those that are created during remodeling. In order for a central vacuum cleaner to be effective in removing fine dusts it must be exhausted outside the building. If the unit is not properly exhausted the dust will be recirculated in the home.

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Central vacuums are permanently installed vacuum cleaner systems. They are easiest to install during new construction. The system is usually mounted in the garage or basement and exhausted outside, but I’ve seen many that aren’t exhausted out so that fine dust makes it back into the living area. I’ve also run into these systems mounted under stairwells and in closets where the dust ends up right back in the home.

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September 10, 2008

:254 HEPA-Less Dust Control

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:254 EcoTip: If you don’t have a HEPA vacuum cleaner – as an alternative – you can still control fine dust indoors by setting your vacuum cleaner outside and bringing only the hose inside. This technique can be very effective when you are using the vacuum for remodeling or trying to remove fine dust – provided the hose is long enough and the vacuum has enough suction. The dust that escapes from the vacuum cleaner will be exhausted outside. Make sure that wind and air currents aren’t blowing it right back in.

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Suggested Review: :247, :253

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September 8, 2008

:252 Lead and Remodeling

Filed under: :252 Lead and Remodeling — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 5:23 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:252 EcoTip: Homes built before 1980 may have lead in paint. The older the home the more likely the presence of lead. The greatest risk is when the lead is released by deterioration, scraping and sanding and is most dangerous for children. Based on personal experience lead poisoning is no fun for adults either. 1:5:10:365 Ecotip :033 discussed lead in toys and do-it-yourself test kits.

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Suggested Review: :033

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September 7, 2008

:251 Asbestos and Remodeling

Filed under: :251 Asbestos and Remodeling — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 7:47 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:251 EcoTip: When remodeling a home you should always consider the possibility of disturbing asbestos containing building materials. EPA makes a number of recommendations regarding asbestos in homes. One of the most important is that if a material contains asbestos – Don’t disturb it. Asbestos is a problem if it gets into the air and is inhaled – which can lead to lung and other types of cancer.

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Suggested Review:

EPA’s Asbestos Do’s And Don’ts For The Homeowner
 

  • Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos.
  • Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos material.
  • Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by asbestos professionals.
  • Don’t dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
  • Don’t saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials.
  • Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
  • Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor covering over it, if possible.
  • Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area, or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional.

Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos. 

Minor repairs should also be done by professionals since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed. 

Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended since improper handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where none existed.

Removal is usually the most expensive method and, unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material. Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by a contractor with special training. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family. 

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September 5, 2008

:249 Remodeling Air Flow Control

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:2489 EcoTip: Controlling air flow by creating a negative air pressure in the remodeling zone can help prevent dust from traveling to other clean parts of the home – especially when used in combination with a dust curtain in doorways and other openings (:248).

Caution when you create a negative pressure you may cause back drafting of combustion appliances – so read tips :113 and :114 to learn how to safeguard against accidentally causing this very dangerous situation when following this 1:5:10:365 Ecotip.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :039, :040, :113, :114, :248

A simple way to create a negative pressure in the remodeling area is to seal a box fan into a window so that it will blow outside. Use quick release tape and polyethylene plastic (if necessary) to seal the fan to the window so the air flow must go through the fan and not around it. Allow a cross ventilation to bring fresh air into the work area from the opposite side of the room. This make up air should be enough to allow good ventilation but not so much that the negative pressure is lost. You can check negative air flow and pressure visually by using the techniques discussed in :039 and :040. In this case you want an air flow from the outside of the building into the work area. A puff of test smoke placed at the dust curtain should not travel into the clean parts of the home, but should be pulled into the remodeling area. As noted above in the caution – you don’t want the negative pressure in the construction area to create a back drafting of you hot water heater, fire place, furnace or other combustion appliances.

This is serious stuff. If you don’t understand how to use air flow controls with a dust curtain safely – don’t do it because it could cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if done improperly.

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September 4, 2008

:248 Dust Curtain

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:248 EcoTip: A dust curtain is another name for a containment barrier that can be used during remodeling and construction to help isolate dust and debris to the work area so that it is less likely to travel throughout the rest of a home. A dust curtain is simply a sheet of polyethylene plastic that is sealed at doorways to prevent the construction dusts from passing. Ideally you will enter and exit the construction area directly from the outside to help avoid tracking dust and debris through the home. Dust curtains work best with air flow controls – which is the topic for tomorrow.

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Suggested Review: :0247

Taping polyethylene plastic directly to painted and other sensitive surfaces with duct tape can damage them when the tape is removed. Affixing the plastic with quick release tape (the special blue or green tapes) typically doesn’t have the strength to hold up by itself. To keep the plastic in place – afix 2″ or 3″ quick release tape to the wall around the door then use duct tape to adhere the plastic to the quick release tape. This will provide a stronger attachment for the dust curtain without causing the same degree of damage. You can frequently send the plastic to a recycling center when your done.

If there is a door present you can use the quick release tape to seal the seams and skip the plastic.

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September 3, 2008

:247 Remodeling Dust

Filed under: :247 Remodeling Dust — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 7:27 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:247 EcoTip: During remodeling and construction activities dust and debris can travel throughout the rest of a home making quite a mess. These dusts can also have adverse health impacts – especially for people with allergies, asthma and other respiratory difficulties. Regardless of health – its still a mess and takes a lot of time to clean up. Over the next several days my 1:5:10:365 EcoTips will show you ways to help reduce and control this dust.

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