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Indoor Air Quality & Mold

31Dec 2013

It is basic, common knowledge that breathing in mold is not great for us. Living in a moldy home or working in an office or location that is infested can take a toll on even the best of us. The question is, why? What is it about mold growth that makes it so hazardous to our health? This week, we hope to provide you with a little bit of insight into what makes mold a dangerous in-home infestation.

First, it is important to address the fact that mold related illness is often not as serious as the media makes it seem. Yes, there are real health problems that are associated with mold growth and there are other illnesses that can be exacerbated by its presence, but the extreme danger that has been hyped up is not quite the truth. That being said, mold is still something that you should be concerned about, though it may not be as pressing as you previously thought.

So what makes mold so bad? Well, some types of mold emit substances called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are most famously known for being the substance that was used to create the world’s first antibiotic, penicillin. Now, most antibiotics are made of mycotoxins, or made of materials that mimic the properties of mycotoxins. What is fascinating about the antibiotics industry is that other than fighting bacteria, we are not exactly sure what these mycotoxins actually do to our bodies.

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Combine these substances that we are not exactly sure of the effects of with the other indoor air pollutants that we have and you can create a serious situation, especially for those of us who suffer from allergies or asthma. Homes one hundred years ago were built much differently than modern day homes. The dwellings that we find ourselves in today have become too airtight in our attempt to be energy efficient. While mold has always been around since the days of the dinosaurs, mold getting trapped and making a home in our homes is a more recent phenomenon. With technology allowing us to control the temperature of our homes, we need to seal the openings that would allow for the outdoors to come in as well. This keeps moisture and other materials in our home, creating air that is tough for us to breathe.

The proven health risks are again, not as severe as you might believe due to the media, but they are still something that you should be concerned about. Asthma, rashes, allergies, and even in extreme cases, cancer, have all been attributed to mold in one way or another. This makes mold unwanted and in some instances dangerous.

If you suspect that you have a mold problem, you should call a mold inspector right away. A certified mold inspector can come in and not only tell you that you have mold but can also tell you what the cause of this mold is – meaning where there is an excess of moisture in your home.  Having mold in your home is inevitable, but keeping this unwanted pest can do you more harm than good. Learn where the mold is coming from and how you can get rid of it to improve your quality of life.

17Dec 2013

In California, a family was suffering from respiratory problems, nose bleeds, and violent rashes. The only factor that these people could find that was a possible cause of all this suffering was the mold in their home. So what did they do? They decided to burn their house down, because to this suffering family, the cost of removing the mold was not worth the trouble.
Now, of course, burning your house down because you have mold is not a practical solution by any means, especially because there are affordable mold removal options out there, but, it is clear from this story that the health effects of mold are very real.

So if you do have mold in your home, what health problems can you potentially face?

mold growthIt is important to keep in mind that the majority of issues that are sensationalized on the internet do not happen to the general population. Most people are pretty hearty and are able to deal with the effects of mold in their homes much better than these stories let on. Those who suffer from allergies are susceptible to effects from the mold, and they can have allergic reactions.  If someone is asthmatic or has respiratory issues, exposure can aggravate their symptoms. Those with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or any other type of lung disease will also have some serious trouble dealing with home mold growth.  And if you are immune suppressed in anyway or have young children in the home, the health effects of mold could be very serious and maybe even life threatening.  But just because these instances may not apply to you, doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer from some symptoms of mold growth in your home, and it does not mean that the problem should be ignored.

Most people who feel the effects of mold in their homes suffer from similar symptoms. There are skin problems, including itchy, red, and irritated rashes that make life generally miserable. Others suffer from flu-like symptoms including the typical respiratory issues that come along with the seasonal illness as well as fever and headaches. There are also of reports of nose bleeds, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, and in extreme cases, liver damage.

As scary as some of these afflictions sound, the good news is that the majority of these issues will go away once the mold has been removed from the home and properly cleaned. In the case of liver damage, or other related problems, these problems can be permanent.

No one wants to suffer from the symptoms described above, if you have mold growth in your home, it is crucial that you invest in a mold inspection or at least some investigation into whether or not you need one. A certified mold inspector can tell you exactly what you need to do in order to get rid of the mold that is thriving in your living space, as well as tell you just how severe the problem is. Living life less than 100% is not worth delaying an inspection, and risking permanent damage to your body is not worth saving the money. Don’t let the mold in your home create these issues for you, and get a mold inspection as soon as possible.

11Dec 2013

Mold Removal: Do It Yourself – Advanced Mold Diagnostics

As we have already stated, almost all homes are susceptible to mold if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Mold was put on the planet to decompose dead organic materials. We build our homes out of dead organic materials like wood, plywood and paper faced gypsum so the recipe is missing just one ingredient, moisture. Mold is a biological contaminate in our homes that feeds off of the materials that are used to make all of the things that we use for building. And because of the way that we generally like to keep our homes, it is very easy for mold to grow. Some mold infestations are bigger than others, and some require more work for removal. While there are most certainly scenarios where a professional mold removal or remediation is needed, there are others that can be handled without the help of someone in the industry. If you are dealing with a small amount of mold growth in your home, here are four materials that you can use to take care of the issue on your own.

Soap and Water: Yes, simple soap and water will do the trick. Soap is a very effective biocide. This method is best used for areas of mold growth that are affecting the surface of materials in your home, and not coming through it to the surface. Scrubbing using a brush and soap and water can effectively remove the mold and will also keep it from reappearing as long as the area stays dry.

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Chlorine Bleach: Although not the best option, chlorine bleach can also help you remove the mold on non-porous surfaces you may have growing in your home. It contains sodium hypochlorite, a strong antibacterial, and has sterilizing and disinfecting properties. This combination makes it an effective way to remove mold growth. In order to use chlorine bleach for mold removal, mix about a cup of it into a gallon of water, making sure that it is all distributed evenly. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray it directly onto the mold. Again, make sure that you are using this only on surfaces that are non-porous, as porous materials will absorb the bleach and often react poorly.

Hydrogen Peroxide: This material is very effective on some porous surfaces. Before you reach into the medicine cabinet and grab the bottle that you may have there, be aware that you need a concentration of at least 15%. There are boosters (chemicals that create a reaction) that can increase the concentrate percentage up to 30%, but that’s best left to the professionals.

Tea Tree Oil: A more expensive, and uncommon way to remove mold, tea tree oil is often a very effective way to take care of the job yourself. Tea tree oil is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and an antiseptic, which makes it a very strong substance. Using tea tree oil in your home should be done with caution as if it is ingested; it can cause internal damage if it is in its pure form. To use, mix a teaspoon of the tea tree oil into two cups of water. Shake the ingredients together well. Spray the solution directly to the mold and let it dry out. Unlike bleach, tea tree oil is great for all surfaces.

White Distilled Vinegar: Vinegar is a great ingredient to remove the smell of mold and mildew from your home. It can also kill 82% of the mold growing in your home, which makes it an effective mold remedy solution. All you have to do is pour the vinegar directly onto the mold and let it sit and dry. The acidic odor from the vinegar will disappear over time as will the smell of the mold and mildew after a few hours.

These are just some of the ways that you can effectively remove mold from your home yourself. Keep in mind though that you may not be removing all of the mold that you have in your home by treating just the mold that you see. Mold removal can be a time consuming process, and one that is a lot larger than you realize, so if you suspect that your mold problem is larger than you might be able to see, call a mold removal professional.

05Dec 2013

Mold Remediation – Common Causes of Household Mold – Advanced Mold Diagnostics

Mold remediation is a process that no one wants to be a part of. It is an evasive, time-consuming, and embarrassing procedure that will also put a dent in a bank account. So how do you avoid having to have your home remediated? Well, because mold is so common in homes, there are some cases where it simply cannot be avoided, but a good place to start when discussing mold remediation are the common causes. Here are just a few of the common problems that we see with homes that often lead to a full mold remediation.

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When we have to go into a home and remediate any part of it, we often find that the cause of the initial problem is that the home is holding in too much moisture. The humidity in your home might be something that you don’t often consider, but it might be something that you want to pay more attention to. Generally, the areas that suffer from serious mold growth tend to be the damper, darker areas that on their own create the perfect conditions for microbial infestation, such as your basement. In homes with mold remediation needs, we often find the humidity to be over 60%, which is too high for your home. Aiming for 50%-55% humidity is ideal for any home, and is achievable by using AC and dehumidifiers.

Another common cause of serious mold issues in the homes we remediate is previous flooding. If a home has flooding issues, or has flooded in the past, it can often be difficult to dry the home out enough before mold growth begins. It’s important to completely dry a space that has been flooded within the first forty eight hours or mold will begin to grow. If you have had issues with a flood in the past, or even recently, chances are that your walls, floors, etc. never fully dried, especially if you have very high humidity where the flooding occurred. Floods are not always preventable, which is unfortunate, but make sure that when one happens, you have the proper means to dry out your home. Spend the money on fans and service if you need to in the beginning so that you do not have to spend the money on a mold remediation later.

And lastly, many of the homes that we remediate are not properly ventilated. Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas should all be ventilated to allow the moisture that the activities in these area produce escape. Ensuring that these rooms have the proper vents and fans is the only way to prevent serious mold damage from the moisture that your home will collect otherwise.

Mold remediation is a process that no one wants to have to endure during the time that they own their homes, but unfortunately, it is more common than you might think. Luckily, there are ways to prevent a full on mold remediation by keeping the mold growth at bay. If you are interested in protecting your home, check out this link for some common prevention methods: Mold Prevention.

If your home is past the point of DIY or prevention, and you are in need of a mold remediation, make sure that you call someone who knows not only what they are looking for but also how to repair it so that your mold issue will go away, and stay gone.

27Nov 2013

Indoor Air Quality: Why it Matters for Your Children – Advanced Mold Diagnostics

Childhood asthma is a problem that is becoming more and more common in the United States. It is estimated that this illness affects over 9% of children in our country which makes it the leading cause of chronic illness in kids. These numbers only seem to be getting bigger each year as well. And even more shockingly, less than 50% of these children control their symptoms. Keeping your child away from all of the potential factors that may cause him or her to have an asthma attack can be impossible, but ensuring that your home is free of some of the things that may cause suffering is easier than you think.ChildWithAsthmaInhaler.205194252_std

Childhood asthma is essentially the same condition that adults face, but because children are smaller and less hearty, the things that can cause asthma reactions are much vaster. Signs and symptoms that your child might be suffering from this chronic illness are: frequent coughing spells or a cough that he or she just can’t seem to shake, less energy during play, shortness or loss of breath, and wheezing. Most asthmatic children will display their first symptom before the age of five.

Within our homes, there are many factors that may affect the quality of life of an asthmatic child. One of those is mold. Mold is a common in-home issue seeing as it grows and feeds on the materials that we use to build our homes, clothe ourselves, and even eat.  Especially for those of us who live in hot, humid climates or in areas where basements are popular home additions, mold can be a very serious problem. While most of us will not notice if there is mold affecting us in our homes past an odor or visually, children with asthma will have serious trouble breathing and will be at greater risk for an asthma related attack.

Another is the use of chemicals in the majority of cleaning and building materials in our homes. Carpets and the materials that we use to clean the surfaces in and around our homes often contain very strong chemicals that can really take a toll on the lung function of children, especially those with asthma.

Scented candles and air fresheners can also take a toll on the indoor air quality of your home. While we all want our homes to smell good, the chemicals that are released into the air that give us that fresh scent can be dangerous for you. If you are living with someone who is an asthmatic, this can really affect the way that he or she breathes.So what do you do to keep your child safe? The indoor air quality of our homes can be simply managed in a few ways. First, stop using chemicals that irritate the lungs. Instead of using chemicals to freshen your home, try other methods. Pay attention to the labels on the products that you buy to ensure that by cleaning you aren’t doing more harm than good. And finally, call a professional if you suspect mold. A mold inspector will be able to tell you that not only is there mold present, but also where it is coming from and will recommend a course of action for removal.

20Nov 2013

Mold Removal Contractor Qualifications: IAQA Membership – Advanced Mold Diagnostics

When hiring a mold removal contractor, there are many things that you should look for in regards to their qualifications such as education, experience, and customer feedback. But, you should also pay attention to the professional memberships that he or she carries. In the mold remediation trade, one of the most reputable associations is the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA). It is a good idea to have your contractor be a member of the IAQA. Here is a little bit of information about the association as well as a few reasons why your contractor should be a member.

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The IAQA was founded in 1995 in order to help create uniform standards in the Indoor Air Quality industry, which relates to indoor air quality, mold testing and removal. There are 30 chapters of the IAQA worldwide, including one right here in Philadelphia of which Advanced Mold Diagnostic’s owner, Craig Camel, is the president. These chapters hold 2-4 workshops each year where guest speakers are brought in so area members can be educated on new information as well as proper procedures for specific air quality issues. The association also holds an annual expo where members can get together and attend technical sessions as well as learn the industry’s latest news and techniques.

So why should your mold remediation contractor be a member?

For one, members learn about the proper ways in which to conduct the delicate procedures regarding indoor air quality, which again, relates to mold testing and removal. IAQA provides the proper education as well as continuing education to its members so that they are always up to date on the latest processes and procedures that are being used around the world in the mission to make the air quality of our homes better and safer.

In addition to educating its members, the IAQA also helps promote the standards for the industry, which are set by a different organization, the IICRC. These standards should be the guidelines that all mold remediation contractors are using in their work. Ensuring that your contractor is a member will in turn help ensure that he or she is using the proper standards in the mold removal work that they are doing for you.

The IAQA also is known to fund research and legislation efforts. The research and laws that are supported by the association are used in efforts to help further advance the indoor air quality industry. By hiring a member of the association to take care of your mold removal needs, you will be guaranteeing that your contractor is aware of the latest and greatest techniques in the industry to take care of your mold inspection and/or indoor air quality issues.

When searching for a mold remediation contractor to handle the job that relates to the indoor air quality of your home, remember to ask them about their IAQA membership. Having a simple “yes” as the answer to this question will ensure that you are getting the best inspection possible using the latest, up to standard techniques in the industry. For more information about the IAQA, visit their website: http://www.iaqa.org/, or contact your local chapter president. If you are in the Philadelphia area, call Advanced Mold Diagnostics’ Craig Camel at 1-610-328-4350.

14Nov 2013

Mold Growth Might Cause Parkinson’s-like Symptoms – Advanced Mold Diagnostics

Just down the road at Rutgers University, a recent study has concluded that mold growth may cause similar symptoms as Parkinson’s disease. The findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and how this team of researchers got to this conclusion regarding these shocking mold side effects is a fascinating story, and one that starts very close to home for the team leader, Joan Bennett.

Joan Bennett is Rutgers’ own resident fungus expert. Being a skeptic of “sick building syndrome,” which has been one of the main causes in the rise in mold inspections and mold remediation, she never fully supported the idea that the air inside of the places that we dwell can make us sick. Well, she was proved wrong.

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Owning a home in New Orleans, she definitely experienced one of the leading causes of severe in-home mold growth when Hurricane Katrina cause her home to flood in 2005. She did what any biologist would do, and decided to take samples of the growth in her home so she could study them in her temporary home, New Jersey. While she was collecting these samples, she noticed that she felt ill, experiencing nausea, dizziness, and headaches despite the fact that she was wearing a face mask and protective gear. This experience led to the new research discovery.

Her and her colleagues, while studying her samples discovered the fruit flies develop Parkinson’s like symptoms from a particular chemical that is emitted from the mold. Rutgers researchers exposed a crop of fruit flies to various mold types and recorded the reactions. One particular mold type, called mushroom alcohol by the Japanese scientist who discovered it had an immediate effect on the flies and all symptoms that all of the flies in the group exposed to this mold type mimicked Parkinson’s disease. Another chemical that these flies were exposed to showed the ability to block dopamine, the chemical that allows our nerves to function properly. This research is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what these mold related chemicals can do to us.

Because of these findings, her and her team is now examining the mold that was left behind in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Thus far, in her research, Bennett says that the different mold species that she has found amongst the growth in Sandy damaged homes have been different than those collected during Katrina. This is mainly due to the fact that the water conditions were different between the two storms, which created two completely different environments for mold to grow.

Bennett says that just because mold has these effects on people, it does not mean that you should panic over a small amount of household mold. Flooding, Nor’easters, and other natural disasters can cause the dangerous growth that she hypothesizes it would take in order to have the same effects on humans.

That being said, there are people out there who have suffered damage from natural or man-caused disasters and have not had their homes inspected or repaired. If you fall into this category, after reading this article, we hope that you realize how important it is to have a mold inspection on your home. Do not delay this any longer for your safety as well as the safety of your family.

30Oct 2013

Advanced Mold Diagnostics, LLC is an environmental consulting company located in Broomall, Pennsylvania.

Mold, as unsavory as it is, is a substance that can be found in at least some quantities in most homes. But, mold is never just mold. There are 100,000 and counting different species of mold that occur naturally and many of these can also be found in your home. Some mold varieties are not very trying on our bodies, while others can cause very serious health issues. Here are just a few of the most common types of mold that might be found in your home after a mold inspection.

Penicillium: There are over three hundred different species of Penicillium that you might find in your home.  Most people have been exposed to at least one species of this mold in one way or another, as it is a major component of many common foods and medications. This mold is an allergenic mold, and despite its medical claims to fame, can cause many diseases in humans. This type of mold often grows on building materials when they get wet or the humidity is elevated as well as in soil or on food. It is sometimes found in dust too.

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Cladosporium: This mold is one of the most common molds on the planet. This type of mold is a black or green powdery substance. It is often found on food, dead plants or things that are made out of dead organic materials, (like modern day houses), paint and in fiberglass air ducts. It can cause many issues in humans including skin rashes, pulmonary conditions, asthma, and even nail fungus.

Memnoniella: This is one of the most common types of mold found in homes seeing that it grows on materials that we all have and use in our daily lives. This type grows on cotton, paper, and wood products. It can also develop toxins that are unsafe for both humans and animals.

Stachybotrys: This is a much discussed and misunderstood mold type, which is more commonly known by the name of toxic black mold. This species is what is defined as an indicator species. Knowing that it requires very high water activity in order to grow suggests that there is flooding or a leak in the home that is sustaining it. As you might already know, it is slimy and blackish in color, and is often found within the structure of the home. It grows on walls and ceilings, most often behind them, so it goes unseen and it has been known to cause asthma, headaches, and in extreme cases, cancer.

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Mucor: This mold type can be seen in homes and is most often found in animal waste as well as soil and common household dust. If you have a weak immune system, it is easy to develop a lung infection if you are exposed to this type of mold.

Alternaria: This type of mold is also an allergenic mold. It is usually found outside in soil and on plants. Inhaling this type of mold can cause serious asthmatic reactions as well as hay fever and other allergy related problems.

The only way to know for sure what type of mold is growing in your home is to have your home mold tested. Getting a professional mold inspection will ensure that you know exactly what is going on in your home in regards to mold growth and will guide you on to what the next steps are to remove it. Regardless of what type of mold is growing in your home, it is important that you get it removed so that the health effects, regardless of severity do not affect you or your loved ones.

23Oct 2013

Last week, we discussed five of the most common indoor air pollutants that can affect your home. This week, we are going to give you five more really common products and materials that can affect your indoor air quality. Here they are.

6) Formaldehyde – This is a chemical that we are all generally familiar with. Formaldehyde is used to preserve things, so it can be found in pressed wood products, and general household materials. Formaldehyde once exposed gives off an unpleasant odor. Try to avoid buying chemical cleaners or premade, cheap furniture that may use this in the wood to try to keep it preserved.

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7) Pesticides – Pesticides are often a necessary evil. Because we do not want bugs or other creatures lurking in our homes, we are often forced to use chemicals to keep them away. Make sure that when using them, or when you hire someone to use them that you read the labels on the products and properly ventilate your home to avoid headaches and sickness. And if you can use non-chemical pest control, make sure to do that as well.

8) Asbestos – Asbestos is a material that gets a lot of media attention.  You have probably heard of all the lawsuits regarding people’s health relating to this material. It is no secret that it is not something that you want to work around or live around, and if you are, you should call in a certified asbestos inspector to take a look at the materials in your home that used asbestos and can also safely remove them.

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9) Lead – Lead is often found in our homes because older paints were manufactured with it. Lead paint can often be identified by texture, and will begin peeling and chipping over time. Lead can be harmful both to breathe in as well as to ingest, which can be a non-deliberate action if paint is peeling off or has been touched. Lead poisoning is serious and must be dealt with right away, or it can cause major health concerns. Getting the paint removed is one way to prevent the pollution of your indoor air. Another is to make sure that you keep those areas very clean.

10) Carpet – Believe it or not, carpet can be a major cause of indoor air quality issues.  First of all, carpet often has a terrible odor when it is new and rolled up. Carpet is often petroleum based and the odor is off gassing VOC’s.  The adhesives that are often used will also emit chemicals and an odor. When getting carpet installed in your home make sure that your installer follows the proper guidelines that are set by the Carpet and Rug Institute. Make sure that you ask your installer or retailer to unroll the carpet in a well-ventilated area before installing it. Also, make sure that after installation, you let the carpet properly ventilate as well.

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As you can see, it is clear that most of the materials that affect your indoor air quality are very common, and often products that you not only want in your home, but need. When considering indoor air quality, especially when you think that you might have a pollutant problem, it is important to call in a professional to find out what your problem is and to tell you how to fix it.

15Oct 2013

Indoor Air Quality: Top Ten Home Air Pollutants (Part One) – Advanced Mold Diagnostics

Our homes are a place of comfort and safety, or at least they should be. One of the things that often goes unnoticed however when keeping our homes safe and sound is the air that we are breathing in. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of substances that affect the indoor air quality of our homes, and many of them can cause us discomfort or even worse, serious health issues. Here are a few of the most common indoor air pollutants that we find in homes.

1)      Radon – Radon is a radioactive gas that has been proven to cause cancer, and according to the Surgeon General, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It is also impossible to detect via taste, smell, or sight – meaning that the only way to find out if you have it is to test for it. It is a naturally occurring gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the rocks and soil under our homes, and can also be found in well water. How do you get rid of it? You must call a certified radon litigator to do the job.

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2)      Environmental Tobacco Smoke – If you smoke in or around your home, or if you have guests who do, chances are you are polluting the air in your home. Tobacco smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer and can negatively affect not only your breathing and quality of life but that of those around you. How do you prevent this? There are machines that will help you remove the smoke from your air, of course, once you stop smoking.

3)      Biological Contaminates – Just as the name implies, these air contaminants are natural substances that make their way into our homes. Dander, pollen, and mold are all possible in home air pollutants and should be removed if at all possible. There are air filtration machines that can assist in the removal of these common allergens, but in the case of mold, you should call a professional to take a look at your home to determine the source of the problem.

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4)      Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces and Chimneys – These sources are often gas powered, meaning that excess gas is getting into your air. Some gas is fine and normal, but if you have a lot, there might be something wrong with your system. Have these areas checked out by a professional to ensure that everything is working properly.

5)      Household Products – These products include different cleaning products and paints. Make sure that you read the labels on these products so that you do not use them improperly. Try to avoid the chemicals benzene, methylene chloride, and perchloroethylene if at all possible, and dispose of empty or old, not used containers.

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The pollutants here are just a few of the things that might be lurking in your home. Stay tuned for part two of our list to find out the final five most common things that effect your home indoor air quality.

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