Improving Air Quality In Your Apartment

Achieving healthy indoor air quality has become a priority for many homeowners across the country, especially those afflicted by allergies and asthma. People that reside in apartments and condos often assume they have less control over the quality of their indoor air because they share a ventilation system with other people that live in their building. While there may be some factors affecting overall air quality outside of an apartment dwellers control, there are measures that can be taken to improve home air quality.

Here are a couple quick tips for cleaner air:

Tip #1 Always turn on your hood vent when cooking and open a window if possible.

Many apartments and condos have a smaller square footage than an average home. This means that fumes from cooking can build up indoors to severe levels quite quickly. The fumes from normal cooking contain both tars and high amounts of chemical compounds called aldehydes. Both of these indoor air pollutants are known carcinogens. Turn on your exhaust hood before you start cooking and leave it on for at least fifteen minutes after you have finished. Consider replacing an older ventilation hood with a newer more efficient model.

Tip #2 Use exhaust fans in bathrooms.

When taking a bath or a shower, always turn on your bathroom vent. This will help protect your bathroom from humidity levels that encourage mold growth. Should you detect a musty odor in your apartment or condo, contact building management to alert them to this problem. Have leaky pipes, water leaks around windows and ceilings, and any other signs of condensation build-up investigated by a licensed professional. Building management should have ventilation systems cleaned and inspected regularly in an effort to prevent mold growth.

Tip #3 Limit use of household products containing chemical ingredients.

Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners and products containing fragrances. Opt for cleaning solutions composed of natural ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda. Avoid buying furniture and flooring that can emit formaldehyde fumes. In a smaller space, the chemical fumes from these products can quickly reach dangerous levels that are harmful to your health.



Home air check.  web blog post; Tips on Improving Indoor Air Quality for Apartment and Condo Residents. 31 Aug. 2016



A Flood Can Affect Your Health.

While a flood event can be dangerous and destructive, the moisture left behind can be harmful, as well. For this reason, it’s important to contact a water restoration company right away if you need emergency. Its not only harmful for your house but for your own health.

Bacterial Infections

When water floods your home, it is essential for you to realize that the water is not sterile and is likely to contain harmful bacterial organisms. For this reason, if you have any cuts and scratches, then it is important to protect them from contact with the flood water. To avoid becoming infected with any of a range of bacterial infections that can be acquired from flood water, immediately clean and disinfect any wound that you sustain in a flooded area, and seek medical attention if you develop a fever or if the wound becomes painful and swollen.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Following a flood, the moisture left behind often creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. These blood-sucking insects can infect people with a number of diseases, so controlling their population is important in these situations. Walk around your property and dump out any containers that hold even a few ounces of water. Also, speak with your neighbors and encourage them to do the same.

Mold Growth

Finally, one of the most common problems seen by water cleanup companies following a house flood is mold. Like most types of fungi, mold thrives in environments that have little airflow and abundant moisture. Because of this, a few mold spores can quickly grow into a significant problem if you have home or basement water damage. When left untreated, mold can affect the value of your home and damage your belongings. More importantly, mold can have a significant impact on the health of your family and lead to wheezing, eye irritation, coughing, or more severe symptoms. For this reason, removing any excess moisture from your home after a flood should be considered essential for protecting the health of your family.


“Mold After Flooding Could Pose Health Risk, Cause Respiratory Symptoms” web blog post. Healthy Living. The Huffington post, 30 Oct. 2012

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Mold Allergies.

Mold has well-known associations with human disease. People can develop fungal infections of various types, especially those with poorly functioning immune systems. Fungi are also known to produce toxins, which have been blamed for causing various diseases.

Molds can also cause severe immune reactions as a result of colonizing (living in, but not causing an actual infection) the lungs (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) and the sinuses.
There are thousands of types of mold, however, only a few of these are currently available for allergy testing. The following are the most likely causes of allergic disease based on the types of mold spores collected in the air:




  • Alternaria. A common outdoor mold; allergy to this mold can be associated with severe asthma.
  • Cladosporium. The most common airborne outdoor mold.
  • Aspergillus. A common indoor and outdoor mold; also associated with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
  • Penicillium. A common indoor mold; allergy to which is not associated with antibiotic allergy.
  • Helminthosporum. More commonly found in warmer climates.
  • Epicoccum. Found in grassland and agricultural areas.
  • Fusarium. Commonly found on rotting plants.
  • Aureobasidium. Common outdoor mold, commonly found on paper, lumber and painted surfaces.
  • Phoma. An outdoor mold, especially common during wet periods.
  • Smuts. Abundantly found in areas of agriculture.
  • Rhizopus and Mucor. Commonly found on decaying leaves and damp indoor areas. Airborne forms of these molds are less common.
  • Yeasts. Commonly found in the air during wet periods in agricultural areas. Allergic disease to Candida albicans is controversial, despite some people having positive allergy testing to this type of mold.

In colder climates, molds can be found in the outdoor air starting in the late winter, and peaking in the late summer to early fall months (July to October). In warmer climates, mold spores may be found throughout the year, with the highest levels found in the late summer to early fall months. While indoor molds can occur year round and are dependent on moisture levels in the home, indoor mold levels are higher when outdoor mold levels are higher. Therefore, a common source of indoor mold is from the outside environment, although can also be from indoor mold contamination.

Here are some ways to help prevent mold growth:

  • Prevent outdoor molds from entering the home by keeping doors and windows closed and using air conditioning equipped with allergen-grade air filters
  • Control indoor moisture with the use of dehumidifiers
  • Fix water leaks in bathrooms, kitchens and basements
  • Ensure adequate ventilation of moist areas
  • Clean (or replace) contaminated surfaces with diluted a chlorine bleach solution (one part household bleach in 9 parts water), while using proper protective gear (mask and goggles)
  • Utilize HEPA-filters on vacuums or as a stand-alone air filter
  • Limit indoor houseplants, and ensure those that are present are free of mold on leaves and in potting soil.
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Daniel More, MD. “Which Molds Are Known To Cause Allergies?” Web blog post. Allergies, Asthma and lung Allergies. Very Well, 7 Sep. 2016

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Why You Should Never Use Bleach On Mold.

Usually, when most homeowners notice mold, they get out the bottle of bleach thinking a few sprays will solve the problem.

Image result for don't use bleach on mold

It’s no wonder.

One of the most popular blogs, The Huffington Post, continues to perpetuate the myth that spraying bleach will take care of your mold problem. Even information on The Center For Disease Control (CDC) website still suggests using bleach to kill mold.

The truth is, using chlorine bleach to kill mold is probably one of the worst things you can do. On porous surfaces like drywall or hardwood floors, it won’t work to kill mold or keep it from coming back. Why? Because mold spreads its roots (called mycelia and hyphae) deep into porous surfaces.Image result for mold on wall

Simply spraying a bleach solution on the surface won’t kill mold spores at their roots. It will actually feed their roots.

  • Bleach encourages toxic mold growth on porous surfaces because it provides excess moisture. Bleach contains about 90% water. When you apply bleach to a surface, the chlorine quickly evaporates leaving behind a lot of water. Then, when the water soaks into porous surfaces like wood, it encourages mold growth. So, bleach can actually make your mold problem worse. Bleach only removes the color from mold. After you spray bleach, only the surface appears clean. But the problem is, the mold’s roots, or hyphae, continue to grow.
  • Chlorine bleach is extremely harmful to surfaces. For example, when you use bleach is on wood, it starts to weaken it by breaking the fibers. When you spray bleach on metal, it starts to corrode it almost immediately. Thus, using bleach to kill mold creates problems with the structural integrity of a home.
  • Bleach is extremely corrosive. When you spray bleach and it evaporates, it releases chlorine gas. It irritates and eventually causes damage to the skin, lungs, and eyes.
  • The corrosive nature of bleach is even worse when it’s mixed. Bleach should never be mixed with acids, because it causes dangerous fumes.Remember: Mixing cleaning compounds containing ammonia with bleach and ammonia produces deadly gasses that can kill with just a few breaths.



Kristine Allcroft, PhD. “9 Reasons You DON’T Want to Use Bleach to Kill Mold” Web Blog post. PuroClean, 3 Sep. 2016

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Hidden Places You Might Find Mold.

Information about how hidden mold in our homes can make us sick has been well documented by the media and contractors who make a living removing mold from buildings. We all expect that mold might be lurking in the moist and dark places in our homes, such as in basements or crawl spaces. But there are many other places mold could be growing in your house that you might never find out about unless you do a little exploration. Let’s take a look at some of the places mold spores can thrive so you know what to look for.


1. Window Sills

We don’t often spend a lot of time examining our window sills, but they are a prime place for mold to start and spread. Window sills are frequently exposed to moisture from condensation, and they only get decent air flow during the summer months if the windows are open.

2. Refrigerator Drip Pans

The pans used to collect condensation for our refrigerators are rarely seen, so they are easy to forget about. There is not a lot of air circulation under the fridge in most homes, and what is out of sight usually is out of mind. Sometimes, food from spills collects in there as well. This creates a perfect breeding ground for mold spores.

3. Wallpaper

Unless you are removing paper from your walls, you are unlikely to know if mold spores are growing behind it. If the paper is older or has peeling edges, it’s possible mold has begun spreading where you can’t see. If you suspect you might have a mold problem, it’s best to just get the paper removed and replaced. If you know for a fact that there is a great deal of mold behind the paper, don’t remove it yourself. Instead, hire a trained professional to get rid of it and sterilize the area.

4. Air Conditioners

Again, condensation is the culprit here. In addition, the air that AC units suck in from the outside contains dirt and pollen–attractive materials for mold. Machines that sit without use for long periods are likely to contain mold spores.

5. Washing Machines

The popular new front-load washing machines may be great for high efficiency, but they are notorious for off odors as a result of mold growth. The gasket around the door is wet all the time when the washer is running and doesn’t get to dry out because the door is usually closed when the machine is not in use. This creates a perfect atmosphere for mold to grow.

6. Carpets and Pads

Moisture from concrete floors or wet crawl spaces can easily make its way into your carpet pad and, eventually, the carpet. If you have pets who occasionally have accidents on the carpet, this can increase the potential for mold spores to grow there. If your carpet starts to smell odd or seems damp, unfortunately it might be too late–mold is probably already growing.


Allergy & Air. “Top 8 Hidden Places You Might Find Mold” Web Blog Post. Indoor Air Quality. Allergy and Air. 27 July 2015

Dealing With Mold In Winter.

Mold can grow at any time of the year. Although, it you might think it can grow more during summer days mold can still grow in the winter.

The climate and activity changes during colder months can actually increase the likelihood for mold growth in winter. Our indoor and outdoor environments can create conditions that foster increased spore activity. We tend to close up our homes once it starts getting colder; and with all of the latest energy efficiencies we have today, our homes become too tightly sealed. This can trap moisture and raise humidity levels. Mold growth in winter and fall seasons can be commonly found on the exterior of drywall, sheet rock and other surfaces of rooms located in ceilings and corners of the home. Due to corner rooms being exposed to significantly colder air than their adjoining rooms, they have higher relative humidity levels.

Turning up our thermostats creates warmer air that is often unable to escape; and if your home’s indoor environment is too tightly insulated, the likelihood of mold or mildew growth in winter months dramatically climbs. Additionally, warm condensation and trapped moisture from humidity levels tends to dwell in homes for longer periods of time.

The fall and winter outdoor environment provides the ability for mold spore activity to be higher. Mold’s job in nature is to break down dead plant matter. When leaves fall and plants die, the decaying plant matter releases mold spores in the air.

The easiest way to prevent mold growth is to reduce or eliminate moisture that may accumulate in your home. Here are some solutions to common moisture problems.

Here are some helpful tips on what you can do to prevent mold growth and damage in the winter months:

  • If you notice a musty odor when you first turn on the heat in the winter, you might have mold in your heating ducts. If you smell that musty odor, we recommend having a certified mold tester come out to check your home for mold as soon as possible, since mold in heating ducts can quickly spread to other areas of the home, especially when the heat is turned on. The warm air blowing through the heating ducts blows mold spores into all the rooms in your home.
  • If you have a crawl space under your house, cover the ground in the crawl space with a waterproof tarp. This helps keep out excessive moisture.
  • Make sure windows close securely and do not leak. Watch for condensation around windows, which can lead to the development of mold.
  • Cold air outside and warm air inside often lead to condensation on walls, especially in attics and basements. Good insulation helps prevent this, but you can also install a dehumidifier to help reduce the amount of moisture in the air.
  • Placing a dehumidifier in the room can lower moisture enough to prevent mold growth. Keep the humidity of your home below 60%. It should be between 35-45% if possible.
  • Set ceiling fans in reverse. Running them at night will help increase air circulation near windows. This helps to prevent moist air from becoming stagnant and condensing on your windows.
  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris, so rainwater will flow away from your foundation and your roof. Extend your downspouts if necessary. Make sure the ground slopes away from your home.


“Winter Tips to Prevent Mold in the Home” Web Blog Post. Black mold Guide. 


Kitchen Fire Safety.

Cooking has long been and continues to be the most common cause of home structure fires and home fire-related injuries. Whether preparing for a family dinner or a quick snack, practicing safe cooking behaviors can help keep you and your family safe.

Kitchen Fire Safety Must-Haves

Every kitchen should have the following safety essentials on hand:

Fire Extinguisher: An ABC Dry Chemical fire extinguisher is the best option since it won’t accelerate grease fires. Read the instructions, and know how to operate it.

Smoke Detector: A smoke detector with a pause button is best in case of false alarms. Neighboring rooms to the kitchen should also have smoke detectors.

Oven Mitts: Protect those hands with a thick, durable pair.

Safe Home Cooking

Be a safe chef in your home by remembering these safety practices, and prevent a fire from ever starting:

Don’t leave your cooking unattended. Checking your email or watching TV can wait until you’ve switched off the burner.

Keep cooking area clean to prevent grease buildup.

Have nothing flammable near the stove. Keep curtains, potholders, dishtowels, food packaging, and Mom’s recipe cards away from the stove.

Roll up your sleeves, tuck in your shirt, and pin back long hair.

Heat cooking oil slowly. Be patient with those French fries; heating oil too quickly can easily start a fire.

Cooking Safe With Your Little Chefs

It may be unavoidable for kids to resist the pleasant smells wafting from the kitchen. Kids often want to help cook, so bear in mind the following tips:

Enforce a kid-free zone. Young children should be kept at least 3 feet away from the stove while older family members are cooking to avoid accidents and spills.

Use the back burners, and turn pot handles toward the center of the range. This will keep hot items out of a child’s reach and reduce the risk of spills.

Teach children that hot things can burn.

Never hold a child while cooking.

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If A Cooking Fire Starts:

Water and grease don’t mix. In the event of a grease fire, NEVER POUR WATER ON IT. It will spread. Use a fire extinguisher, or when in doubt, get out and call for help.

Put a lid on it. If a pan catches fire, slide a lid over the pan and turn off the stove burner. Leave the lid on until it is completely cool.

Keep the oven or microwave door shut if fire starts. Turn off the heat. If the flames do not go out immediately, get out and call for help.

Stop, drop, and roll. If your clothes catch fire, smother them on the kitchen floor before getting out of the house.


By Staff writer State Farm™ Employee. “Kitchen Fire Safety” Web blog post. Safety. State Farm. 7 Feb 2011

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Unknown Water Leaks Can Be Costly

American residents use about 100 gallons of water per day. Watch your water bill for unusual usage then check your meter by turning water off for at least 2 hours and check to see if there is an increase. Fix leaks and drips by changing hoses and gasket at the first sign of wear.  A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers!   Ten percent of homes have leaks.  According to the EPA fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills. Check your toilet by adding drop of food coloring to tank if it stays for 15 minutes or less there could be a leak. A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day.

An excess of water in an area can create added humidity causing the possibility of mold and other damage to your home.  There is more fresh water in the atmosphere than in all of the rivers on the planet combined. Mold can start to grow within 24 hours as long as there is a food supply,  (anything organic) and ample moisture.  An area with a humidity over 60% can grow mold. Dehumidifiers reduce humidity in enclosed structural environments by removing water vapor from the air. Dehumidifiers can help dry wet materials like carpet, carpet pads, floors, walls, building contents and more. Using dehumidifiers may also prevent secondary damage caused by high humidity It can get into wallpaper, books and even into carpets.


According to the Institute of Inspection and Cleaning Restoration Certification (IICRC), most carpet manufactured today are made of plastic face yarns, not organic materials. Because of this, mold typically cannot grow on the carpet itself.  The padding underneath the rug also needs to be checked for mold especially if there are signs mold is present. If you can not see any mold but there is  a “mildewy” odor present

Mold on rug

However, if organic materials remain in the carpet after cleaning and the cleaned carpet take longer than 24 hours to dry, the possibility of mold growth increases significantly. This is why IICRC recommends that carpet should be dry in six to eight hours or less.

Most homeowners insurance do not cover water, mold or mildew damage if it is considered to be caused by neglect by the home owner who has had  water leaking for an extended period of time.  Most homeowners insurance do not cover water, mold or mildew damage if it is considered to be caused by neglect by home owner who has was water leaking for an extended period of time. It is estimated that mold damage costs insurers more than $2.5 billion annually.

PRS of Tampa Bay provides complete disaster restoration services for both residential and commercial losses.  Because we hold a General Contractor’s license, we can complete all the necessary renovations once the damage has been remediated. We handle fire, water, and mold damage.


Dealing with Water Damage [Infographic]. Web blog post. Water. American Restoration Disaster Specialist.

Carpet mold, damp carpets and how to deal with it. Web blog post. Carpet Care. Cleanfax, 2 May 2014.


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Mold and Allergies.

If you have a mold allergy, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores. This triggers a cascade of reactions that lead to allergic symptoms. Like other allergies, a mold allergy can make you cough, make your eyes itch and cause other symptoms that make you miserable. In some people, mold allergy is linked to asthma and exposure causes restricted breathing and other airway symptoms.

Mold allergy causes the same signs and symptoms that occur in other types of upper respiratory allergies. Mold allergy symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Watery eyes

Molds are very common both inside and outside. There are many types, but only certain kinds of mold cause allergies. Being allergic to one type of mold doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be allergic to another. Some of the most common molds that cause allergies include alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium.

If you have a mold allergy, the best defense is to reduce your exposure to the types of mold that cause your reaction. While it isn’t always possible to avoid mold allergy triggers, medications can help keep mold allergy reactions under control.

To reduce mold growth in your home, consider these tips:

  • Eliminate sources of dampness in basements, such as pipe leaks or groundwater seepage.
  • Use a dehumidifier in any area of your home that smells musty or damp. Keep your humidity levels below 50 percent. Remember to clean the collection bucket and condensation coils regularly.
  • Use an air conditioner, and consider installing central air conditioning with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter attachment. The HEPA filter can trap mold spores from outdoor air before they’re circulated inside your home.
  • Change filters on your furnace and air conditioners regularly. Have forced air heating ducts inspected and if necessary, cleaned.
  • Be sure all bathrooms are properly ventilated, and run the ventilation fan during a shower or bath and immediately after to dry the air. If you don’t have a ventilation fan, open a window or door while you’re showering or bathing.
  • Don’t carpet bathrooms and basements.
  • Promote groundwater drainage away from your house by removing leaves and vegetation from around the foundation and cleaning out rain gutters frequently.
  • Keep organic plant containers clean and dry, such as those made of straw, wicker or hemp.
  • Toss or recycle old books and newspapers. If left in damp places, such as basements, they can quickly become moldy.


Image result for mold spores


Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM. “The Dangers of Mold & Mildew in your Home or Office” Web blog post. Global Healing Center, 27 Feb. 2016.

Images provided by Google.

Mold And Your Health.

Having mold in your home can cause a number of health problems, and mold sickness can be avoided by cleaning the mold up as quickly as possible if a problem occurs. Toxic mold related illness must be treated immediately, because there are many long term health complications that can occur if a person continues to be exposed to mold spores that are present in their environment.

Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions, that do not support normal mold growth.

Types of Indoor Mold:

  1. Cladosporium
  2. Penicillium
  3. Alternaria
  4. Aspergillus

How can these m0lds affect your health?

  • AllergiesOne of the most common forms of mold sickness that occurs is allergies. Most people begin to experience a runny nose, breathing problems, sinusitis, and hay fever. Even though these symptoms may be associated with pollen or other external factors, the symptoms may actually be coming from your own home if there are untreated mold problems.
  • Respiratory IllnessesWhen mold is present in a home, the inhabitants will be breathing in microscopic mycotoxins that are in the mold spores, which can cause respiratory problems and lung problems. These symptoms may be as minor as a stuffy nose, but when left untreated they may lead to more serious problems such as bleeding in the lungs which can actually lead to death.
  • InfectionsToxic mold related illness can present themselves in the form of infections. These infections are caused by pathogens such as fumigatus, aspergillus, and histoplasma.
  • Reproductive ProblemsOne form of mold sickness that most people do not consider is that mold may cause fertility issues in some people. Exposure to mold may cause a disruption in the hormonal balance within the body, which can make it difficult to reproduce or prevent a woman from having a healthy pregnancy.
  • Digestive IllnessesExposure to mold may result in the body having a hard time removing waste, which can cause digestive issues. Some people experience diarrhea, vomiting, and even internal bleeding as a result of these problems. Additional complications can occur when the liver begins to be diseased because it is overworking to remove the toxins that the person has been exposed to.
  • Life Threatening IllnessesThere are various other life threatening illnesses that may occur as a result of mold exposure, such as: fibromyalgia, lupus, sudden infant death syndrome, cancer, and tuberculosis.

Staying in a mold-infested environment for a long period of time can result in these symptoms, which are often the result of not seeing a doctor in time, or choosing to remain in an area with mold, without taking steps to clean it. At this stage, mold sickness may be incurable. These symptoms include blindness, long-term memory loss, bleeding lungs, brain damage, cancer and, in rare cases, death.



“Moisture and Mold Problems: Preventing and Solving Them in Your Home” Web blog post. DIY home health and safety. WebMD. 23 Oct. 2014