EnviroFocus Resources For You

Understanding about the various contaminants that can exists in the air, on surfaces or in the drinking water of your home or business is very important. If left unacknowledged, these substances can cause adverse health affects, in the short-term or long-term.

Review the information below about these various contaminants. If you have further concerns, our experienced personnel can assist you in answering questions and addressing any issues.

To reach us by phone, please call 1-888-881-8067.


Mold is part of a diverse group of single-celled organisms called fungi that includes mushrooms, molds, mildews, smuts, rusts, and yeasts.

When the ideal environment is present: moisture, oxygen, favorable temperatures and the right amount of nutrients; mold can begin to grow. Mold can obtain moisture from standing or pooling water, condensation or straight from the air. Mold feeds off of organic matter, which many household items and building materials are made from, such as wood, paint, drywall, wallpaper, hardwood flooring, insulation, carpet and carpet pad, baseboard, fabrics, clothing, food and the many other items containing organic matter.

Mold has different appearances depending on the species, stage of growth and what it’s growing on (it’s nutrient source). Mold often has a wooly, fuzzy appearance and can be a range of colors from black to green to gray and white.

There are thousands of different types of mold. The most common types are typically grouped into one of following three categories depending on human response to exposure: Allergenic Molds, Pathogenic Molds or Toxigenic Molds. The affects of mold can vary from person to person, so these classifications are only applicable to a majority of situations, but not all.

Mold grows in colonies (seen as clusters). On the outer surface of the colony small portions of mold called spores can become detached and become airborne. This spreading of spores into the air can also occur when the colony dies from lack of moisture or nutrients. Airborne spores can spread throughout an area when there is any movement of air or circulation, or when direct contact is made and they’re carried to a new location. Carriers for mold can include human skin or clothing, animals, furniture and other household items that are in contact with the growth. Once airborne, they can either reach a new location and settle, reach a new location with nutrients and moisture and start a new colony or become inhaled or ingested by humans or animals.

Exposure through inhalation is the most direct contact of exposure, next to eating or drinking contaminated items or skin contact. Inhalation of mold spores can bring about health concerns for many individuals who are sensitive to mold or have allergies, who have been exposed to mold for a long period of time or those who have come into contact with toxigenic mold that can release harmful mycotoxins into the air.

For those with sensitivities or allergies to mold, the reaction to exposure can be mild to severe, depending on the person’s age, health status, concentration of mold being exposed to and the type of mold they’re being exposed to. For many, the symptoms are similar to that which they experience with allergies:

Sinus/nasal congestion
Runny nose
Scratchy or itchy throat
Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
Wheezing and coughing
Itchy or watery eyes
Sensitive or itchy skin; skin rash
Sinus infection
Often constant or prolonged exposure can lead to an uncomfortable living situation and the potential for further health complications.

For those with health conditions where their immune system is compromised, there is a great risk of exposure. These are individuals with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy or dialysis, HIV-AIDS or other conditions that weaken the body’s resilience to infection.

It is still speculated and being studied that long-term exposure or exposure to concentrated forms of mold can lead to such conditions as lung infection and cancer.

Radon Gas

Radon is an invisible and odorless radioactive gas that is produced from the decay of uranium that is found naturally in nearly all rock and soils. Radon is a form of ionizing radiation and a proven carcinogen. Radon is commonly found in the outdoor air and in the indoor air of all types of buildings. While some areas of the country have higher levels of radon gas in their air than others due to increased uranium deposits, the gas can be found everywhere in the United States and other parts of the world.

Radon can intrude any type, size or age of building and result in an elevated indoor radon level. Radon typically enters a home or building through the ground to the air above. It enters a property through cracks or other holes in the foundation. Radon can also enter a home through well water. Radon that enters a building is often trapped inside, where it gradually builds up in concentration.

The affects of radon exposure usually occur over a long period of time. Radon is the number one cause of lung-cancer for those who don’t smoke. Smokers or those with pre-existing respiratory conditions are at a much higher risk of complications from radon exposure.

Symptoms of long-term and/or elevated exposure to radon resemble that of lung cancer and similar respiratory conditions. These can include:

Persistent coughing that doesn’t get better and is does not get better with medicinal treatments
Persistent wheezing
Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
Chest pain
Recurring respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis
Coughing up blood.
Health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Surgeon General , the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, and others agree that we know enough now to recommend radon testing and to encourage public action when there are elevated levels inside their property.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products and building materials. Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in everyday items. VOCs are also emitted by vehicles, machinery, manufacturing facilities, refineries and other locations that create, use or process VOC-containing substances. These VOC emissions can affect both the indoor and outdoor air.

VOCs are often confused with “smells” or fumes from chemicals. While these odors or fumes may be VOCs, not all VOCs have a detectable odor or scent. Most are odorless, invisible and are only noticed through testing or when health problems arise.

Some of the most common products containing VOCs include:

Paints and lacquers/paint strippers
Pesticides and herbicides
Glues and adhesives
Permanent marker and other inks
Degreasing solutions and cleaning chemicals
Photographic solutions
Copier and printer inks and toners
Hobby products
VOCs can exist in your indoor environment and could be adversely affecting your health or the health of those around you. The health affects of VOC exposure can occur in the short- or long-term, depending on the chemicals present, the concentration of the chemicals in the air and environment, and the type and condition of the individuals who are exposed to them. A person exposed to higher concentrations of VOCs could be experiencing certain adverse health affects without fully realizing it.

Some of the potential health affects of exposure include the following (these can occur in an immediate and noticeable fashion, or after a long period of exposure):

Loss of coordination/dizziness
Eye, nose or throat irritation
Memory loss
Behavior and learning problems
Slow or stunted growth by a child
Allergic skin reaction
Damage to the liver or kidneys
Damage to the central nervous system

Water Quality Testing

Over 90% of the United States gets it water from publicly managed water systems (municipalities) that are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A majority of the remaining population get their water from smaller systems that are often managed by local governments. In some places, privately owned water systems or wells provide the water for individual households or neighborhoods.

While the EPA regulates drinking water, there have been a variety of situations where drinking water has become polluted due to human error, natural disaster or poor planning. The EPA is responsible for regulating around 170,000 public water systems. These systems range in size from large cities to area campgrounds.

Some figures about the public water systems in the United States:

In 2009, it was reported that approximately 20% of the nation’s public water systems had violated drinking water regulations. In some areas, drinking water contained highly elevated levels of arsenic, radon and bacteria.
In 2004, the EPA randomly tested drinking water on airlines around the country and found that 15% of the aircraft had water that tested positive for the coliform bacteria at a level that could adversely affect human health.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that each year 19.5 million people in the United States become ill as a result of contaminated drinking water.
Enforcement is difficult so it is up to the consumer to ensure that the water they’re drinking is safe. Failure to do this can expose you and your family to the risk of microbial conditions such as intestinal disease and bacterial infection or chemically-induced conditions such as poisoning or bodily degradation from long-term exposure.

There are various contaminants that can affect our drinking water. Common contaminants that in higher levels can cause harm include:

Bacteria / Coliform
E. coli