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Wendy Stackhouse

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by Wendy Stackhouse · December 10, 2014

Risks of Lead Poisoning at the Holidays

Lead was banned for use in house paint, products for children, and dishes and cookware in 1978. But every year children are still found to have dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstream. And every year toys are recalled for excessive lead. Do you check the list before you buy your holiday gifts?

Dangers of Lead Poisoning

Because they put everything in their mouths, children are most at risk from lead poisoning. Lead can cause problems with: coordination, speech, IQ, ADHD and high exposure can cause death. Pediatricians check children for lead with a blood test periodically at medical checkups, but it is also good to avoid the risk of exposure to lead.

Where Can You Find Lead Today?

Lead is still used in other countries and imported products can contain high amounts of lead. It is used to soften plastics, but when exposed to sunlight and detergents, the plastic can break down and release lead dust.

Lead can be found in plastic and metal toys, jewelry and even lunch bags and books!

Lead Poisoning Risk at the Holidays

The holidays bring special risks as we get our traditional decorations out of storage for this time of year:

Trees: Artificial Christmas trees made of PVC contain lead, as well asphthalates, another dangerous substance.

Lights: The Ecology Center in Michigan found lead at higher levels than is allowed in children’s products on the cords of 4 out of 5 sets of holiday lights. Keep the cords out of reach and avoid using lights on banisters and other places where people will touch the cords regularly. Wash your hands after putting lights up indoors and out!

Holiday Gifts and Lead Poisoning

In 2011, at least 7 children’s products were recalled due to high lead content, including lapel pins from Build-A-Bear Workshop and an American Girl jewelry kit. The complete list can be found HERE. Lead was found in jewelry, candy, school supplies and Halloween costumes in 2012.

A toddler book, “Little Hands Love,” also designed for teething, and a toy called Whirly Wheel were found to have excessively high lead levels by the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, which conducts studies on toy safety every year.

It’s a good idea to check for recalls before starting your holiday gift shopping for the little ones. And remember to wash your hands thoroughly after putting up an artificial Christmas tree and/or holiday lights—you wouldn’t want to get lead poisoning for Christmas!

Download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

Alliance Environmental Group is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency to provide lead remediation and removal services. We also have extensive information about the impact of lead-based paints on our website. If you are planning a renovation, be sure to use an LRRP-certified contractor. This certification has been required since April of 2010. Certification includes training in safe practices for lead dust, indoor and outdoor painting, holes in walls and floorboards, replacement of doors and windows and other renovation elements.

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by Wendy Stackhouse · December 05, 2014

Preventing Mold During a Wet Winter

It's too early to know whether this winter will be a wet one, but we can hope, rigth? But as every 5th grader in California learns, there are many different climates in California.

Northern California and the coast are often damp and foggy.

Southern California, at least away from the coast, is mostly dry but “when it rains, it pours” isn’t just an old saying!

Anywhere you live on the West Coast, you are at risk for developing mold at one time or another and since we are going into the "rainy season" (we hope), here are some tips for preventing mold growth and the spores that can trigger asthma and allergies:

Where do you find mold?

Mold is everywhere. In the air. In household dust. In workplace dust. On any nonliving organic matter. They are not microbes, but tiny, single-celled fungi which grow in a network, or colony, that is thought of as a single organism.

Mold spores can remain airborne indefinitely and stay alive but dormant in a large range of temperatures. Mold will generally not grow at temperatures below 39°.

If humidity and temperature are high enough, mold will grow pretty much anywhere.

Is All Mold Bad?

Not at all! In fact, some forms of mold are incredibly important!

Drugs derived from mold:

* Penicillin
* Lovastatin and other cholesterol-lowering medications
* Cyclosporine, a drug for organ transplant patients

Mold is also used in food production:

* Sourdough bread
* Soybean paste and Soy Sauce
* Salami
* Sake

Molds play an important role in our ecosystem, enabling the decomposition and recycling of nutrients from organic material.

What is Toxic Mold?

Generally referred to as Toxic Mold or Black Mold, the scientific name is Stachybotrys chartarum. This type of mold typically grows on paper, fiberboard, gypsum board, and drywall that has constant moisture. This can be from humidity, leaks, water damage, flooding or condensation. It’s not the mold itself that is “toxic,” it’s the mycotoxins they secrete to stop other organisms from growing.

How Can I Prevent Mold?

Remember, mold is everywhere. The best we can do is inhibit its growth into large networks and get rid of it when we see it!

The Centers for Disease Control recommends these steps to prevent the growth of mold in your home:

* Use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level between 40% and 60%
* Make sure you are providing proper ventilation, especially in the kitchen and bathroom
* Add mold inhibitors to paint in rooms that will become damp
* Clean your bathroom with mold-killing products—but not bleach or ammonia! Bleach will only hide the mold and, combined with ammonia, creates a toxic gas that can kill!
* Never carpet a bathroom
* If you have had a flood, replace your carpets

If you have a problem with mold in your home in California, give Alliance Environmental Group a call or contact us on our website. Mold can be a serious health hazard when left untreated.

In an emergency situation, after a severe flood or similar circumstances, Alliance can come right away to remove the wet material and provide the ventilation needed to dry out the area. If your building needs serious mold removal, we use ThermaPureHeat to kill it all in one treatment of high heat which eliminates all mold and spores in the structure, leaving it ready for restoration.

Mold is everywhere and you can’t avoid it altogether. Keep your home dry and clean, treat any mold you see right away and, if you have a mold problem, call in a professional!

Download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

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by Wendy Stackhouse · December 03, 2014

A Little Mold for Your Coffee?

I admit it. I am a coffee addict. How about you? Whether you like Pumpkin Spice Lattes or pure Italian espresso, you may be getting something extra with your morning pick-me-up: mold.

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by Wendy Stackhouse · December 01, 2014

Ten Days Left in Our Toy Drive!

There are only ten days left to donate to our Toy Drive in support of We Care East LA--did you do some shopping over the long Thanksgiving weekend?

We are accepting donations at our corporate offices, 990 West Tenth Street in Azusa, but we can also arrange for your donations to be picked up! Just call us at 877-858-6213!

We Care East L.A. provides toys for children who might not otherwise receive any holiday gifts, as well as boxes of food to help families prepare nourishing meals during the holiday season.

Since we started participating in the We Care East L.A. Toy Drive in 2010, the need has only grown. The economy has improved, but times are still hard for many families.

The We Care East L.A. holiday community event for 2014 will be held on Saturday, December 13th. There will be free food, free toys for children and free groceries for families in need, but they can only serve everyone if we work together.

Won't you help? Only 10 days left!!

Thank you!

 

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by Wendy Stackhouse · November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

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by Wendy Stackhouse · November 24, 2014

Bed Bugs Can Carry Disease After All

The saving grace of bed bugs has always been that--unlike mosquitos, for example--they did not carry any diseases along with their nasty bites. Apparently, that is not so.

What Diseases are Carried by Bugs?

Mosquitos carry Malaria, a scourge to this day in tropical climates. There is easy treatment for malaria, but it is not widely available in third world countries. Sleeping with a mosquito net over your bed in those areas is also very good for preventing malaria.

Mosquitos can also carry:

Chikungunya
Dog Heartworm
Dengue
Yellow Fever
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
St. Louis Encephalitis
LaCrosse Encephalitis
Western Equine Encephalitis
West Nile Virus

Fleas can carry the Plague. You're thinking "there's no plague anymore!" but there is. They can also carry Typhus and Cat Scratch Fever (did you know that was a real thing?)

Cockroaches don't bite, but they do spread salmonella and gastroenteritis. Heat treatment can eliminate the most stubborn cockroach infestation.

Bed Bugs and Disease

Bed Bugs have been thought not to carry disease, but a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania has used bed bugs to spread Chagas Disease between mice.

Haven't Heard of Chagas Disease?

We hadn't either. Here's some information from Newsweek:

"Chagas disease is caused by a parasitic protozoan called Trypanosoma cruzi that slowly attacks internal organs like the heart. At first, it has very few outward signs. Then, about 20 years after infection, some 20 percent of infected people develop very serious problems, including arrhythmias and even sudden death from cardiac arrest..."

Because of the length of time between infection and effects, Chagas disease has been described as a "silent epidemic." Would you think a heart attack was due to a bug you encountered on a Latin American vacation 20 years ago?

Chagas Disease is usually spread by the "kissing" or "assassin" bug, which is not prevalent in the US. But bed bug infestations have grown hugely in the US in recent years with no end in sight. If those US bed bugs started spreading protozoa, it would be a serious public health disaster, but we wouldn't even know it for 20 years.

So if you needed another reason to take your bed bug infestation seriously, this is it. Don't panic, but do take action. Contact Alliance for help!

Download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

 

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by Wendy Stackhouse · November 21, 2014

Health Problems from Mold: Memory and Anxiety

We are used to hearing about lung and allergy problems from mold spores. And they make sense to us: breathe in mold spores and they will affect your respiratory and immune systems. QED.

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by Wendy Stackhouse · November 17, 2014

Bed Bug Remedies to Avoid

There is no question in our minds--the best bed bug remedy available today is heat. High temperatures kill bed bugs and their eggs in one treatment without any pesticide or chemical residue. But what did people do before heat? And what kinds of things do people try when they get panicky?

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by Wendy Stackhouse · November 14, 2014

Asbestos Myths

We came across an article about asbestos removal at a US college this morning and it was more interesting than it should have been--it had some misinformation in it. Let's see if you know whether these asbestos myths are true or false.

Asbestos Myth or Truth?

Asbestos is a chemical.

Myth!

Asbestos is a group of minerals--a type of rock which breaks up into fibers when disturbed. There are six types of asbestos: Chrisotile (curly fibers), Amosite (brown), Crocidolite (blue), Tremolite, Actinolite, and Anthophyllite.

Asbestos Myth or Truth?

It takes a lot of inhaled asbestos to make you sick, over a long period of time.

Myth!

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. One poorly planned DIY removal project and years from now you could be sitting in an oncologist's office. We don't want to scare you. Well, maybe we do! Into being careful. It doesn't take a lot and it doesn't take a long time to breathe in enough asbestos to make you sick. What takes a long time--maybe even decades--is for that disease to become symptomatic.

Asbestos Myth or Truth?

A building which contains asbestos materials is completely safe.

Myth!

It is true that undisturbed asbestos is not dangerous. But it's not hard to disturb it. Want to replace that old floor tile? It could contain asbestos. How about the popcorn ceiling in that old fixer-upper you just bought? It could contain asbestos. And then there are natural disasters like earthquakes. Asbestos that has been left in place can become dangerous due to unforeseen circumstances.

Asbestos Myth or Truth?

Asbestos removal is not a DIY project.

Truth!

If you are renovating an old building or fixing up one that has been damaged, you should never remove asbestos or potentially asbestos-containing materials yourself. To remove it safely takes special training and equipment, as well as knowledge of and access to safe disposal.

Think you might have asbestos you would like to be out of your residence or commercial building? Call Alliance Environmental for help!

Download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

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by Wendy Stackhouse · November 12, 2014

Asbestos Violations Risk Huge Fines and Workers' Health

Demolition projects that involve older buildings often also involve asbestos building materials. There is no doubt that proper demolition and disposal of asbestos material costs more than just knocking down a building and carting off the debris to the nearest landfill, but the costs of not doing it properly are even greater--to the pocketbook and to the health of construction workers and community members. Asbestos violations are expensive in every way.

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