Because the average person takes between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths of air each day and spends 90 percent of their time indoors, it’s essential to know what the heck you and your loved ones are breathing in daily. You and your family (even your pets) could be breathing in high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like cancer-causing xylene, benzene, and formaldehyde as well as asthma irritants, dangerous fumes like radon, smog, and smoke, phthalates, plasticizers, phenols, flame retardants, carbon monoxide, asbestos, lead or mold spores.
In this episode, our guest, Tim Swackhammer, the Founder, and CEO of Mold Medics and Mold Medics Franchising, is clearing the air.
- How to know if you have mold growing in your home
- What is black mold?
- The difference between mold remediation and mold removal
- Should perform your own mold remediation
- Tips to prevent mold growth
- What is radon and how does it get into our homes?
- How to know if you have elevated levels of radon in your home
- Radon exposure symptoms
- What is radon mitigation?
This episode of Healthy Home Hacks is brought to you by Boiron, world leader in homeopathic medicines. Is stress overload causing you some sleepless nights? Do you want to rest easier by supporting your body with a better way to feel better? For 90 years, Boiron has been dedicated to providing your family with the purest medicines made from the earth’s best resources. Boiron’s SleepCalm for adults and kids are melatonin-free sleep aids with no next-day grogginess. The meltaway tablets for adults and individual liquid doses for kids are non-habit forming and have no known drug interactions. From stress to sleep, pain relief, allergies and more, Boiron has got you and your family covered with affordable homeopathic remedies that are easy to find online and in natural product stores nationwide. Help your body the natural way with gentle, worry-free formulas for even the littlest ones in your family! Visit BoironUSA.com to find the nearest retailer or buy direct using code RL20OFF to save 20% off your entire purchase.
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How would you like to improve your health and keep your family safe? You're listening to the Healthy Home Hacks podcast where we firmly believe in joining optimal health shouldn't be a luxury. Healthy Home authorities and husband and wife team Ron and Lisa will help you create a home environment that will level up your health. It's time to hear from the experts. Listen in on honest conversations and gain the best tips and advice. If you're ready to dive in and improve your well-being and increase your energy, you're in the right place. All right, here are your hosts, Building Biologists, authors, media darlings, vicarious vegans and avocado aficionados, Ron and Lisa Beres.
This episode of healthy home Hacks is brought to you by Boiron - world leader in homeopathic medicines. Is stress overload causing you some sleepless nights? Do you want to rest easier by supporting your body with a better way to feel better? For 90 years Boiron has been dedicated to providing your family with the purest medicines made from the Earth's best resources. Born SleepCalm for adults and kids are melatonin free sleep aids with no next day grogginess. The meltaway tablets for adults and individual liquid doses for kids are non-habit forming and have no known drug interactions. From stress to sleep, pain relief, allergies and more. Boiron get you and your family covered with affordable homeopathic remedies that are easy to find online and unnatural product stores nationwide. Help your body the natural way with gentle worry-free formulas for even the littlest ones in your family. Visit www.BoironUSA.com That's Boiron.com to find the nearest retailer or by direct using code RL20OFF that's RL20. Off to save 20% off your entire purchase.
Ron Beres 02:00
The American people have a right to air the day and their children can breathe without fear. Lyndon B. Johnson. What are you breathing in clean air in your own home? Let me ask you this. Do you currently suffer from any of these symptoms? Headaches, fatigue, sore eyes, allergies, respiratory issues, flu like symptoms, asthma, compromised immunity or even cancer?
Lisa Beres 02:30
If so, your home's indoor air could be to blame. But are you just treating the symptoms? Or are you focusing on identifying and addressing the root cause of your illness? Considering that the average person takes between 17 and 23,000 breaths of air each day and spends 90% of their time indoors? It's essential to know what the heck you and your loved ones are breathing in daily. Indoor air quality or IAQ consists of temperature, humidity, ventilation, and chemical or biological contaminants that can affect your overall health, you and your family. And yes, even your beloved pet could be breathing in high levels of volatile organic compounds like cancer causing xylene benzene and formaldehyde as well as asthma irritants, dangerous fumes like radon, smog and smoke, valid plasticizers, phenols, flame retardants and carbon monoxide, asbestos lead or mold spores.
Ron Beres 03:29
Today, we're going to dive deep undercover to find out what's really lurking in your home's air. Every day we hear about a possible hidden danger lurking in and around our homes. The list of potential dangers and risks is over whelming and may have you reaching for the nearest gas mask or hazmat suit. If you're not friends. Our guest today is going to clear the air.
Lisa Beres 03:57
Tim Swackhammer is the founder and CEO of Mold Medics and Mold Medics Franchise and Mold Medics is dedicated to helping people improve the environmental quality of their homes through mold remediation, air duct cleaning, radon mitigation and other environmental services. They offer franchise opportunities as well across the US.
Ron Beres 04:18
Welcome to the show.
Tim Swackhammer 04:20
Thank you, guys, very much for having me on.
Ron Beres 04:22
Oh, by the way, I love your last name. Swackhammer - That is the most unique name in the world. I know we talked about this earlier. It's a German name, right? Yep. Yep. So, I cannot appreciate Swackhammer. National swag. Swag.
Lisa Beres 04:36
Welcome Tim Swackhammer. We are so thrilled to have you with us today.
Tim Swackhammer 04:40
Thank you, guys, very much for having me on.
Lisa Beres 04:41
Yeah, it's great. We love this topic. And to be honest, we really haven't dived this deep into some of the things we're going to discuss today. So, let's get started. Now Tim, for someone listening who sees or suspects mold in their home and I know you listeners out there, there's a lot of you. How do they know if they truly do have a mold issue?
Tim Swackhammer 05:00
So, this is one of the questions we get literally multiple times a day, seven days a week is just, they think they have a problem, they suspect there may be an issue, how do they really know what's going on? How can they determine what the issue is? And then it goes into what can they do about it. So, there's really a couple of different things that you can do to identify if you have a mold issue. The first thing it's going to tell you more than anything, right out of the gate is the smell, use your nose, we've all been there.
Ron Beres 05:30
Your nose knows.
Tim Swackhammer 05:32
All but in the situations where we smell just that musty type odor, whenever we walk into a place, in most cases, that's going to be indicative of some sort of underlying issue going on. So that's generally going to be your first indication that you got a mold issue. And really what you're smelling there is you're smelling some of the spores, you're smelling just the stale air that comes with that lack of proper ventilation, lack of proper air movement, and just that growth that can occur over time. So, identifying that just with your nose can be really essential. And that's generally going to be one of the first indicators that people get that there may be a mold problem.
Ron Beres 06:06
Hey, Tim, have you noticed a lot of your customers that have noticed what might be an odd smell or something? Generally, are the women of the home? The man is pretty oblivious?
Tim Swackhammer 06:16
Yes, yeah. There's always one party that's definitely way more sensitive than the other. And I would say 80% of the time, it's going to be the woman in the household that's going to notice these things.
Ron Beres 06:28
You're being very diplomatic, it's probably 99.
Tim Swackhammer 06:34
Yeah. And there's the crazy thing with mold, too. There are different levels of sensitivity. So, every individual is going to react in a little bit different of a way. And there are some people that are just going to be a lot more sensitive. And they're going to notice those things very, very quickly, when they walk into a property. And others, you can just naturally be more oblivious to it. They're not affected. They don't they don't react in the same way. So yeah, most of the time, it's definitely going to be the wife. But occasionally, we do get husbands that react very quickly, and wives that just seem to be a little bit more resilient there.
Lisa Beres 07:06
Yeah, depending on your toxic load, your immune system and all of that. Now, you could also not smell anything, right? I mean, you could actually not see or smell and have problem. Yeah, I think that's really important for listeners to know, because that's common to that maybe you don't maybe it's hidden, the mold is hidden. And so, you might not actually see any sign of water damage or anything like that.
Tim Swackhammer 07:28
Yeah. So, I mean, that's the visual component is going to be the big one. Because obviously, if you go and then you see what looks like mold growth, I mean, it could be a couple other things. But most likely, especially if you see some water component, you're probably looking at a mold issue, you're probably not looking at the complete mold issue. And there's definitely likely to be some other issues there that aren't immediately apparent. But the visual components can give you a big red flag that you got something going on. But to your point, some people react just physically, they don't necessarily have the smell per se, but they can feel it in their eyes, their sinuses, and can immediately start having that reaction. Again, it all depends on your individual environment, your history, your biology. Yeah,
Ron Beres 08:10
I think it's important to point out to you that if one person is feeling ill by their home, right, just one person, there can be a problem there, right? Because like we all have different thresholds of basically withstanding what might be an irritant in the air or in the environment. And it still can be what is quote, unquote, a sick building, your home can be a sick building, right? And that might be the canary in the house. Right? So. So do you encounter that a lot, too. There might be one member in the family, and everyone else seems fine, but one is really suffering.
Tim Swackhammer 08:37
Yep. Yep. We see that quite a bit. And we also see a similar situation where people are moving into a home. And there might have been a family living there before maybe just a couple husband, wife, but the prior occupants had no symptoms, no issues, nothing. Yeah. And then somebody new moves into that house, and they've got a different system, and they notice it immediately.
Ron Beres 08:58
Interesting. So, is it safe to live in a house with mold? Party? That's a test question, Tim.
Tim Swackhammer 09:07
So, there's a couple of components to that, that I think are really important for people understand that. This is kind of a loaded question. It seems obvious at first glance, like is it safe to live in a sick house with multiple. No, but every single house has some level of mold in it, what just every bit of outside air you breathe has some level of mold in it. Anytime you open the windows, open the doors, you're going to be getting some of that in there. The key thing is identifying when it gets to that problematic level. And then what do we do about that? As molds naturally occurring, it's going to be in nature it does an important job of breaking down dead plant materials. So, all that leaves the trees outside, all that kind of stuff, molds there to break that down. The problem is we build our houses out of dead plant material. So, it will also start working on the inside and then that's where we can start to have negative reactions.
Lisa Beres 09:59
Yeah, I've never heard, first of all mold needs a food source, right? Mold needs a food source, which is our organic materials like drywall. What other things would it eat?
Tim Swackhammer 10:08
Yeah. So, I mean, most of the components that we use to build homes can be some sort of food for molds. So, you figure that paper on the drywall. Yeah, any wooden products or manufactured wood products. So, whether it be actual
Lisa Beres 10:23
formaldehyde, they like that formaldehyde laden.
Ron Beres 10:28
Tim Swackhammer 10:29
They love the glue. Wow. Okay, a big component. And also, it's allowed to, if you think about like, at an actual, if you've got a solid piece of lumber in your home, and you do have a significant mold problem, it gets water damage, that kind of thing. Typically, what you're going to see is you'll see the water start to penetrate from the cut end first, because it's able to get into the pores of the wood there. But it's generally you might get some surface growth on like the side, but you're not going to get a lot of penetration into the woods on that end. But then whenever we move to a lot of these manufactured products that we have now you're MDF, particleboard plywood, these are all basically various scraps of wood that are then glued together, right, but the problem is water is able to move straight through them. MDF, for instance, acts like a sponge, as soon as it gets wet, it's just going to have swelling up, and then the mold is able to penetrate through the entire substrate, which is the how much more problematic.
Lisa Beres 11:26
Yeah, right, they move as fast. Okay, so the million-dollar question everybody wants to know, what is black mold?
Tim Swackhammer 11:33
So black mold, Stachybotrys is the technical name for it. And it is a certain type of mold that has been associated with the most severe health effects of any of the molds that are out there. That's not to say that any molds are good to have in your home. And some of the most common can be allergenic for people that the molds in the Aspergillus and Penicillium family, for instance, are really, really common. And they can cause pretty significant health impacts. But black mold in particular, people are very aware of at least on the outside, they've seen it. They've heard of it. It does.
Lisa Beres 12:08
Dateline episode or two? Yes, absolutely.
Tim Swackhammer 12:11
And what makes black mold a bit unique is it takes a long time to grow through significant water intrusion. So, this is something that's going to generally be from basement flooding, it's going to occur from leaks. Probably the most common horror story that we see is leaks inside a wall that people don't notice. Yeah, we've seen that. Yep, a perfect one. And this actually happened with one of our neighbors, we helped resolve the issue. But the previous homeowner installed a set of speakers in the basement. And they didn't know whenever they installed them. They put a screw right through a drink. Oh, wow.
Ron Beres 12:50
That's great, Tim, really?
Lisa Beres 12:53
That seems like something that could easily happen. Hmm.
Tim Swackhammer 12:55
It can It can? Oh, yeah. I mean, typically, they're, they're supposed to be recessed far enough in the wall, that it's not going to be an issue. And whenever they're moving through stud through code, they're supposed to put nail plates in place to keep those things from happening. But the problem is, you get a lot of DIY situations people using, in this case, way longer screws than they needed to actually hang that guy. And all of a sudden, it's going deeper than it shouldn't. You're not careful, you don't know what to look for. It's going into that. And the problem there is they would have done that, say in a pressurized water line. Like when that's going up to provide your hot or cold water for the home. Most likely, you would notice it pretty quick. Yes, it's generally going to rupture and water is going to start squirting out. And it'll be fairly apparent in a drain line, though it's not pressurized or anything. So, it's only whenever they're using whatever fixture that's supporting, right, it's not a constant thing. So, it's just coming through kind of occasionally, and then it starts to grow on the backside of that drywall and starts at the bottom and works its way up. Yeah. And typically, a homeowner won't notice that until it seats all the way through the drywall. And what do you have at the bottom of your wall? We've got baseboard, so it has to go up above the baseboard before you actually begin to get any visual. Yeah. Notice on the side.
Lisa Beres 14:10
Houston, you've got a problem at that point.
Tim Swackhammer 14:13
That's the key situation where we open up the wall and it's way worse.
Lisa Beres 14:19
nightmare every homeowner�s nightmare. Yeah, sure is that then you're talking like, a lot of money to remediate.
Tim Swackhammer 14:25
It definitely gets to be a lot more significant. Yeah.
Ron Beres 14:27
This is a very common question we get too. So especially in regards to you just mentioned that mold problem with the screw going into the pipe. What is mold remediation? And how is it different from mold removal?
Tim Swackhammer 14:39
Yeah, so we get this one a lot too. It's really comes down to traditionally there's unfortunately not a real clear definition. But generally, whenever we're talking about mold removal, it's typically going to be referred to as more of a DIY process. So, it's going to be people actually going in and removing whatever the contaminated issue is. But really whenever we get into mold remediation, this is where we get into industry definitions. The IICRC s 520 identifies the specific protocols that need to be followed. And really with mold remediation, it is a multi-step process to make sure that it's done correctly. We're not just going in and oh, that's black. So, let's just tear it out and be on our way. We're setting up proper containment, we're testing, we are making sure that the air is not contaminating other areas of the home. We're going through, we're using specialized equipment like HEPA vacuums to clean all the surfaces, making sure that any contaminated materials are being properly contained before we get them out of the space. So unfortunately, a DIY Mold Removal Project, can a lot of times cause much bigger issues, because just open something up, you start up, at least if you have an issue going on, like that example before where it's mostly contained inside that wall cavity. It's contained there for the most part, I mean, obviously, you are going to get some that's going to filter into the rest of the house. But once you open that up, and you stir that up, yeah, now you can really take a small problem and make it a really big one if you're not careful.
Lisa Beres 16:05
Yeah, right. We see that a lot. I'm sure you must see this all the time. You know, people, they want to save a couple bucks, and they think they can do it themselves. And on the surface, they might actually think they handled the problem, right, everything looks fine. But in a fresh coat of paint and back to business. Little do they know their mold still growing in the background. And they haven't gotten rid of the source of the problem, right? I mean, that's a big thing is get to the source of the water intrusion. Yes. Okay. So, homeowners, is this true, you need the mold to be 10 square feet or more before you really bring in the pros, if it's under 10.
Tim Swackhammer 16:37
So that's the general EPA guidance. And there's a variety of reasons that that is the way that it is, it really is very, very situational. And the trouble comes down to a lot of times whenever we get these kinds of questions, they're from people who are mold sensitive, or from people who have a history of exposure to mold. And we've got a history of other similar issues like chronic inflammatory response syndrome, where they tend to react very strongly to different issues, which is why they're more concerned and they want to make sure it's done right. And the knee jerk reaction, and I get it myself is going to do anything, right. Do it yourself.
Lisa Beres 17:14
The problem here is we have to do heart surgery on yourself. So, there's some things you don't do yourself.
Tim Swackhammer 17:21
Absolutely. And I get it because unfortunately, in a lot of areas, mold remediation can be the Wild West, there's not a lot of state regulation, depending on where you are. There's not a lot of federal regulation, if any, in some cases, you don't need any sort of certification or anything to be able to. Oh, really? Mold Remediation.
Lisa Beres 17:39
Yeah. Did not know that. Wow. Yeah. China scary. So yeah, you need to look for those certifications when they come and referrals and how long have they been? Experienced?
Tim Swackhammer 17:49
Yep. Yeah. Yep. Make sure that they are registered contractors, all those kinds of things.
Ron Beres 17:53
Yeah. Okay. So, I'm, you're in the trenches. Do you have any war stories you can share with us? Like one story in particular of like, a horror story of mold in a home that might be fun?
Lisa Beres 18:02
told us his neighbor?
Ron Beres 18:05
That was close to home? Yeah, the interview. Okay.
Tim Swackhammer 18:09
I mean, we definitely have some others. There's some that we've gone into that have been absolutely horrific. And most of them are ones that we ended up not even really doing a lot of cases that ends up with the home being torn down.
Lisa Beres 18:21
I was going to say, does that happen? Too bad that you had theirs?
Tim Swackhammer 18:24
Yeah. I mean, there's one, whenever you said horror story that's permanently engraved in my memory. They had some sort of severe roof leak. I can't remember the exact circumstances, but they had a massive amount of water going into this property that was vacant for about a year. And so, they had no idea was going on. And you walked in there, and every single surface was covered in thick green mold. Oh, I mean, it was brutal. The image that's permanently in my brain is they had a taxidermy deer in there, that was just completely.
Lisa Beres 19:01
Yeah. It was a rough one, to say the least. Oh, my God, what kind of mold was that?
Tim Swackhammer 19:10
To be honest, we did not do testing on it. I don't have we had we got San Francisco and it was one of those. We got contacted by I believe was somebody who inherited the property and we think we got a mold problem. Like you walk into that, yeah.
Lisa Beres 19:22
Oh my God!
Ron Beres 19:24
Test kits, particularly if there was
Lisa Beres 19:26
like, wow, in that case, was it repairable or did they have to tear down that house?
Tim Swackhammer 19:31
No. So that that one, they ended up deciding to tear down.
Lisa Beres 19:35
Tim Swackhammer 19:36
And I think they sold off the land independently.
Lisa Beres 19:38
Ron Beres 19:39
Interesting. Well, you know, people don't want to get to this point where their house becomes infested so much that they're the head of their deer�s covered in mold. First of all, big deer, right. I'm offended by. This kind of a segue. So, what tips do you have for someone listening? Who wants to prevent mold growth in their home?
Tim Swackhammer 20:03
Yeah, so this is a great one. And this is something that in our educational pieces we really try to hammer on. Because as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, we would much rather prevent an issue from coming up in the first place, it's going to be easier, it's been less expensive. It's going to be better for everybody in the long run. So, the first and kind of biggest thing is keep a clean home. Yeah, and I know that sounds kind of basic, but you'd be shocked at the number of issues that we see that there's just a lot of stuff, there's a lot of people have clutter, they've got a lot of clutter, they've got one of the biggest things we see we've got a lot of basements around here, people will have all kinds of things stored in cardboard boxes in their basement. And it's right up against the foundation wall. If you have a subterranean basement, chances are it's going to get a little damp at times. And those boxes just create a sponge. Mold absolutely loves it, because it's an organic material. So, it's going to grow on it very, very quickly. And there's no air movement behind them because they've got them packed tight up against the wall, because they want them out of the way. Yeah. And you've created a situation now where you can have a significant mold problem going on? That, again, you're completely unaware of. And wow, if you would have done some basic stuff like using plastic bins instead and putting them on storage racks where they've got an air gap. So, there's air to move through. Right, chances are you're not going to have that
Lisa Beres 21:25
issue. That is a great tip. I know because a lot of people think a clean house is you know, oh, it's a type A person that needs to keep their house tidy. No, it's actually so good for your health. Absolutely, yeah, a clean home is a healthy home. If you're using nontoxic cleaners, that is a side note there. But yeah, you can have dust is very toxic. When you have a lot of clutter, you're going to accumulate this. And then there's the energy aspect to which is a whole other show we've done on the energy of clutter is very, very toxic to your stress and your emotional well-being. But I do want yeah, I want to pivot to something very important. And listeners, do you know what the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the second leading among smokers is, it's invisible but deadly, and is a known human carcinogen that poses a very serious health danger to those who are exposed to it. If you guessed radon, you'd be correct. Nearly 1 in 15 homes in the US has a radon levels that should be reduced. So, Tim, explain to our listeners what Radon is and how it gets into our homes.
Tim Swackhammer 22:30
Yeah, so Radon is a gas that comes from the soil underneath our homes. So, it comes up from the Earth's crust as part of the radioactive decay of uranium that exists in the soil. So as that goes through the decay cycle, if you go back to your chemistry classes and stuff in high school, eventually Radon is one of the products that uranium will break down into. And the problem with radon, it's a gas it is radioactive, it's going to continue to decay. And when it does that, it emits these alpha particles that can cause radiation damage. And this now alpha particles, they don't travel very far very deep through tissue. But what happens we breathe it in and are very sensitive lung tissue gets damaged by these alpha particles through the radon. And that's what over time can cause cancer. And especially if you're a smoker, it's going to make your lungs a lot weaker, it's going to contribute to that and cause lung cancer a lot sooner than otherwise. So, it's a big issue. And it's something that, unfortunately, not a lot of people are aware of, though. Right? It doesn't get a lot of attention. And you don't hear you'll hear people say oh, you know, my aunt or someone who was just diagnosed with lung cancer. And the first question people say is, oh, was she a smoker? And then sometimes you heard no, I always know radon. It's that'd be radon. Right? Because it isn't visible, like a lot of these hazards we talked about on the show EMFs are these invisible VOCs and radon, you don't see them. So, it's really easy to say out of sight out of mind, oh, gosh, what could have caused that I have no idea. People don't connect their environment, which is, like I said at the top where we spend 90% of our time, so it's so important to pay attention to all of these things. So how do we know if we have radon? How can we avoid it? In our home? Yeah so as you mentioned, it's colorless, it's odorless, you can't see it, you can't smell it, you can't taste it, you can't feel it. You have no way of really knowing through your natural olfactory senses whatsoever. So unlike mold, where you can have some indications right on something that simply you have to test here to have to test that's the only way to...
Lisa Beres 24:29
When you buy a new home or you when you buy a home period. Is that legal that they have to test for that? Or is that something you have to pay out of pocket for extra?
Tim Swackhammer 24:38
Check your local listings that varies much varies greatly state by state. Some areas have pretty strict requirements on it. Some have none whatsoever. Oh, wow. Okay, everywhere in between.
Lisa Beres 24:49
Yeah, and I know radon has been found in every state across the US, but it's more prevalent right and the north and the east.
Tim Swackhammer 24:56
So Northeast is a pretty big area if you go online that EPA has a variety of different maps that will show you different state by state what the relative risk level is for radon, as well as a lot of the departments of environmental protection. For instance, here in Pennsylvania, you can go on to the PADEP website. And you can see county by county and zip code by zip code, what the highest recorded reading was what the lowest reading was. Not last but average. So, you can get a pretty good indication, that big warning I would put out there with that is radon levels in homes are very, very, very situational to the individual home. So, a lot of it comes down to how the home is built, and what the geology is underneath that home. Which just because something we hear very frequently is, oh, well, I heard about radon, but my neighbor tested a year or two ago and they were fine. So, we're right. And for them, it's Yeah. And because we see these maps, and we see that, okay, regionally, some are worse than others. It's natural to assume Okay, well, if my neighbor is good, I'm probably good. Yeah, we did a study on this in just my actual neighborhood. And these are all homes that were built at the same time, same builders and construction methods. It was a really good example. And what we found was over five homes that are all basically next to each other across the street, the lowest radon level was 3.8. The curious per liter and the highest was almost 18. Oh gosh, massive disparity mass and the Yeah, the EPA action level is four picocuries per liter,
Lisa Beres 26:31
Right. So yeah, so if you have four picocuries per liter of air, you need to bring in a professional or test. Or I'm sorry, get a professional because at that point, it needs to be remediated. Can you kind of explain what's involved with that if you do have?
Tim Swackhammer 26:45
Absolutely. So, for one thing, whenever it comes to radon, it's actually mitigation, not remediation. And that's a common misunderstanding. Because with mitigation, we're never going to remove the radon from the environment, right, never going to be false. So, what we're doing is we're trying to mitigate it, we want to avoid it damaging people in the home. So basically, that's done by a most common method is a sub slab depressurization system, which is basically a PVC pipe goes through the slab of the home, and then that gets run up and out and above the roof. So
Lisa Beres 27:20
So now your neighbors can have that you can send it to your neighbors.
Tim Swackhammer 27:26
Also, it used to be the case that they would actually just run them up and you put a there's a radon fan that's put in line. So basically, what it does is puts underneath your foundation under a suction. So, any of those soil gases go up through that pipe instead of coming up through the cracks in your basement. Yeah. And it used to be the case that they would just run outside right at ground level. And you still see this in some states where there's regulation on it. You open a window right above that, and you're just sucking all that right back in.
Lisa Beres 27:51
Oh, wow. I mean, is it safe once it gets to a certain height? Or does it just dissipate so much?
Tim Swackhammer 27:57
At that point, it's been diluted to the point where if it were able to make its way back down, it's going to come with so much fresh air that you're not really going to notice?
Lisa Beres 28:04
Tim Swackhammer 28:05
The problem is in our homes, they're subject to what's called the stack effect. They basically act like big chimneys. So, there's a lot of suction that takes place that basically pulls in the soil gases through cracks in the foundation and everything. And that's where we basically trapped ourselves in an airtight box.
Lisa Beres 28:20
Yeah. So okay, we like to make sure buildings are tight and energy efficient. And then we get all these kinds of indoor air problems, which is why we're doing this show today, guys.
Ron Beres 28:30
Sure. So, I know radon itself is invisible for us to detect if it's there, right, unless we get testing. But I know people can probably wondering what are the symptoms of radon exposure?
Tim Swackhammer 28:41
Yeah, so the symptoms for radon exposure are going to be the same symptoms that you'd have from basically any significant lung damage. So, it's going to be wheezing, breathing, respiratory problems, you can start to can start to be some sinus issues, potentially, a really, most of it's going to revolve around lung damage. The problem here is the only symptom you're going to notice is the actual damage itself. So, it takes a long time. With most environmental issues, the concern is not okay, I was in a place that had a high radon level once and then your damage from it, it's almost always going to be exposure over time. So that chronic explained probably.
Lisa Beres 29:17
We all been right. We've probably all been in places and unknowingly whether it is a neighbor or even a commercial space, right, potentially, where we had exposure and just didn't know it.
Tim Swackhammer 29:26
Yeah, but whenever you look at homes, and that's why the big concern is homes, you're spending long periods of time over many, many years in that space and being subjected to that's really where the damage is just going to begin to accumulate.
Lisa Beres 29:39
Right. Wow, this is such an important topic, because nobody talks about radon right. I mean, you just really don't care about it. So, I'm a homeowner, I'm listening to this call today. And I'm like, you know, I think I'm going to check it. Do I order a test through my state? Or should I hire someone to come out and test it? Yeah, so
Tim Swackhammer 29:56
there's a couple of different testing methods available. There are the DIY kits, there's professional testing. Unfortunately, the most common type of testing is the worst. And that's going to be short term tests. Short term tests are going to be anything that's two to seven days that can be done through a charcoal canister like you can get through your state or Lowe's, Home Depot. And same thing, continuous radon monitors, which are what we use as professionals commonly, where it's going to give you like an hour by hour reading of your radon levels. The problem with these short-term tests is they're short term, it's just a window. It's only telling you these were the radon levels during these days. And over the course of the year, the radon levels can vary greatly, because sometimes the weather outside can impact it the difference in pressures between the inside of the home and outside of the home. How much are your windows open? Are you running your HVAC system? How much pressure are you ventilating all those things can really have a big impact on your radon levels. So, the problem with the short-term test, you can test during a time that's unnaturally low for your home and think that it's not a problem. And then eventually you get it retested maybe during a more normal time, and realize that that was a problem. And chances are it has been for that whole time.
Lisa Beres 30:16
Tim Swackhammer 30:38
So how do you test it then said you have to test it like three times a year or?
Lisa Beres 31:14
So, there's, you're having breathing issues, right? If you're having respiratory issues, you really should look at this, look into this.
Tim Swackhammer 31:21
Absolutely, yeah, so you can do multiple short-term tests. But what's actually preferred is long term testing. So, these are tests that are generally going to be 30 days up to a year. And historically, they've been not very common. But we're starting to see more and more. It's actually one of the big evolutions in smart home devices. And we are seeing more of those that are doing Radon Testing as well.
Lisa Beres 31:43
Yes, you're right. I think Airthings I know, they�re one of the big ones. Yeah, okay, are things and I saw that on your site. And we've actually worked with them, too. So that's a home care monitor, which is really great. It will alert you via your app on your phone. Right.
Tim Swackhammer 31:57
Those are they've got some really good ones. EcoSense is another one. The great thing with these is these have been moving down in price significantly. Yeah, we've done some tests against our professional testing devices. And they're pretty darn close, least close enough to let you know, do we have a significant issue or not?
Lisa Beres 32:14
I mean, I think this is going to be standard in homes eventually, where we have air monitoring devices for everything. I know we work with IQ air; I don't know if you're familiar with. Okay, yeah, they're amazing, incredible air purifiers. Guys, if you're listening and you're looking for the mack daddy, as we call it, they have an air monitoring device, too. And I just feel like between you know, all these chemicals, because of the problem today is that we have so many more chemicals than we've ever had in existence. And we have so many unregulated chemicals. And we're bringing these chemicals into our home through our cleaning products, or pesticides or furnishings, or carpeting or surfaces or building materials, insulation, the list goes on. And like you said, we're in these tightly sealed buildings today, because of energy efficiency. Our bills are going down, but the toxic exposure or toxic load is going up.
Ron Beres 33:03
They were going down.
Lisa Beres 33:11
Tim Swackhammer 33:12
You're right. And we're spending more time indoors than we were before.
Lisa Beres 33:16
Right. Especially less than less common. Yeah, after COVID. It's like everyone got used to being at home. And now nobody wants to go back to work. Or they definitely want to work from home. Yeah, those investments are investments in your health. And I know sometimes people know that out of sight out of mind. I don't want to spend money on that. But we're talking like your long-term health and longevity, especially your children and even pets, pets get affected by all of these chemicals, and allergens and toxicity. Allergies are on the rise right now. Asthma is on the rise. And maybe just maybe it's your environment. Maybe it's not genetics, you know, which is chances are it's probably your environment.
Ron Beres 33:52
So, before we go, I was just curious, what's the typical price point of this long-term analysis?
Lisa Beres 33:57
Continuous Radon Testing? Yeah. How much would someone pay for that?
Tim Swackhammer 34:00
Yeah, so I mean, the air things, the least expensive monitor, I got one of them to play around with and had good results from it. Those are available for about 100 bucks.
Lisa Beres 34:09
Tim Swackhammer 34:11
on Amazon, okay, there are long term tests that are available as well, that are just a set period of time, they had a great place in the market before a lot of these can work continuous monitors were available. But at this point, I would probably go that route. If you're just a general homeowner who's concerned once you identify, that's probably the place I would start it's going to be pretty inexpensive. That's going to give you a good indication of if it's working, or what the levels are in your home. And then also, once you have a mitigation system installed, you do want to continue to monitor the levels. Because yeah, now we've installed a mechanical system and that has potential for failure. fans don't last forever. Yeah. Could have a power surge where one of the breakers trips, and I read on fans not operating. Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah. And I will continue to monitor those is important. Yeah.
Lisa Beres 34:58
Yeah, you know, changing I just show About to changing those filters, whether it's your air purifier, filter, your HVAC filter your water filter, and how about our air ducts? Tim? I mean, air duct cleaning in the past kind of got a bad rap. So, explain to our listeners why and should we be doing this air duct cleaning? And if so, how often? Yeah, so Oh, I'm sorry.
Tim Swackhammer 35:17
it's definitely something that can be important for improvement of your indoor air quality for sure. The rest of the question really comes down to individual situation. So, it's something that generally organizations like NADCA, national air duct cleaning Association, they're going to recommend that you have at least an inspection every two years. Now that and from there, it's really going to depend on your individual situation. For instance, unfortunately, up until recently, Unfortunately, he passed away over the weekend, I had a long-coated Shepherd. Thank you. Yeah. And the amount of dander and hair that he produced on a consistent basis was staggering. And especially in our main living space, where he spent most of his time, we had four registers. So, it would just accumulate in there very, very quickly. I obviously have kind of an in on there to cleaning side. So, I would do mine at least once a year. And we would get good amounts of stuff out of there. But if you're generally keeping a clean home every two years plus at least get a look at and identify if a cleaning is going to be necessary.
Lisa Beres 36:19
Okay, so they'll come out and tell you if you have a need it.
Tim Swackhammer 36:22
Yeah, good companies will and unfortunately, air duct cleaning did get a bad rap and still has it because there is a plethora of scams out there. Yeah, there's a variety. I mean, we've done a couple blog posts on it. And videos on it where probably seen these if you're on Facebook, they have all kinds of scams going out where they advertise Small Business special and some ridiculous low price for Duct Cleaning Services. And they're either bait and switch where they'll come out and then tell you Oh, yeah, by the way, it's actually going to be instead of 199. It's going to be $1,500. Oh, yeah. Because you've got whatever going on. Yeah, well, yeah. Oh, come out and pretend that they're doing something. And really, they see.
Lisa Beres 37:01
Right. vetting, vetting. I mean, this could be the theme of our show is because we talked about certifications with products and personal care, you have to bet everything nowadays, you have to, you know, everyone's business owner, we have so many entrepreneurs today, and small businesses that have more people in the marketplace, it's betting becomes more and more important. So, what are the tests that you would say, like everybody listening right now should be doing in their home? Whether it's air? And at what point? Do they do it or hire someone like you to do that?
Tim Swackhammer 37:32
Sure. So, I mean, assuming you're not aware of and don't suspect a problem, you're not having health implications from it, or anything, I would recommend always still Radon Testing, again, until the damage is done, you don't really know that it's there. Yeah. Or if you've tested, so definitely Radon Testing through one of the methods that we talked about, I would strongly recommend that the other big one I would recommend is not testing as much as monitoring. And that's going to be monitoring your indoor humidity levels. That's probably one of the biggest preventable ones that we see people especially like around here over the summer, they will go away for vacation, and they'll shut down their HVAC system because they want to save on the expense and humidity levels just Rise, Rise, Rise, Rise, Rise, and they come back.
Lisa Beres 38:16
Oh, yeah, wet carpet.
Tim Swackhammer 38:18
Yeah. And it'll start to get the humidity will start to gather on certain surfaces throughout the home and it'll cause a problem a few years ago, there was a number of schools that basically did that over the summer shutdown HVAC system, and then we had a particularly damp and humid summer, and I can had some pretty significant mold issues.
Ron Beres 38:38
Right. Yeah. In the Pittsburgh area for those are curious. Yep. Right.
Lisa Beres 38:42
Yeah. Wow. Okay. So, and then what else would you say anything?
Tim Swackhammer 38:45
Yeah, so I mean, definitely radon, definitely humidity. From there. I do really like a lot of the smart air monitors. So again, there's a bunch of different companies, but these are going to monitor carbon monoxide levels, they're going to monitor certain VOCs those can be a really good indication. Again, another story. We had a contractor come in whenever we finished our basement, we had to move our hot water tank, so they moved it but whenever they did that, they didn't hook up the exhaust correctly. And I came home from work one day and I noticed in our kitchen, which is right above like our utility room that was felt stuffy it felt humid. And sure enough, I go downstairs and it had disconnected. And all of that humid exhaust air was coming out from our hot water tank was just being exhausted in the basement which can cause significant carbon monoxide issues. So yeah, immediately after that, I should have known better but I wasn't thinking about it. We got carbon monoxide detectors in every single room of the house because that's not something you mess around with.
Lisa Beres 39:47
Yeah, carbon monoxide that can be a faulty installation of gas appliances and your car exhaust even if your garage if you have an attached garage, and they're really inexpensive; those little plug in detectors. I don't know if that's what you use. Okay, because and so, now that you say it, I think we have one and I don't know if it's enough to cover. We probably need should you have one on every floor as a good rule of thumb.
Tim Swackhammer 40:10
I mean, personally, I have one on every floor and I've got one in every bedroom too.
Lisa Beres 40:14
Yeah, bedroom. Yeah, why mess around?
Ron Beres 40:18
I guess we're buying more, Tim.
Lisa Beres 40:19
I guess we're going shopping. But I think the state of California they required attached smoke detector now.
Tim Swackhammer 40:26
Yes. It requires a lot more of that. I'm not sure what their exact regulations.
Lisa Beres 40:30
Yeah. So, we might have a bill. So, we'll find out. All right, guys. Well, this was incredible. Tim, thank you so much. We've covered so much ground. So important guys pay attention. Hopefully, you weekend warriors make this project and you know, just kind of do a checklist around your house and see what you need to add what you might be missing what you should be testing. So, thank you, Tim.
Ron Beres 40:53
Thank you, Jim. Yeah, awesome.
Tim Swackhammer 40:55
Thank you, guys, for having me on. It's really great talking with you.
Lisa Beres 40:58
Oh, yeah, so much. And thank you for being with us. If you'd like to learn more about Tim and Mold Medics visit moldmedics.com, where you can find out more about their franchising and their services in the Pennsylvania area, including mold testing and remediation, air duct cleaning radon services, home and office disinfection, and even locate a functional medicine doctor. This is really important if you're suffering from diseases like chronic inflammatory response syndrome, Lyme disease, or mold sensitivity.
Ron Beres 41:29
You can also learn more about mold and find recommended products such as indoor air quality monitors, if we talked about well, I'll have all the links in the show notes at Ronandlisa.com/podcast didn't get ready to up level your health. See you then!
Lisa Beres 41:46
This rap season three. We're taking a short break and we'll see you at the end of August. Bye, everyone.
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