Healthy Homes 5: Indoor Air Pollutants and Toxic Materials Course

This thread is dedicated exclusively for those students currently enrolled in InterNACHI’s free, online Healthy Homes 5: Indoor Air Pollutants and Toxic Materials Course.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to: identify causes and sources of indoor air pollution; identify types and causes of allergies; identify causes of mold and health effects of exposure; identify types of chemical pollutants; identify other types and sources of toxic materials; understand how to manage and reduce the presence of these pollutants in the home.

Students are free to pose questions and comments here and join in the conversation with other students. The thread will be monitored by the course instructor.

Contact: Chief Academic Officer, Ben Gromicko ben@internachi.org

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Mold is a very serious issue and home inspectors need to be aware of the problems of mold and how to observe possible mold issues within a residence. The picture with mold on the ceiling is an obvious mold issue, however there are many instances where mold is present and is not as obvious. Looking for signs of moisture intrusion and areas where moisture is present can often be clues to mold problem areas.

Research & Writing Assignment:

When inspecting a home looking for safety issues is critical. Considering the possibility that an elderly person may use the home or visit the home requires the inspector to look for safety areas specifically geared towards the elderly. Problems with stairs, railings, trip hazards, lighting issues, and accessibility are issues that should be mentioned in inspection reports.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Radon was initially discovered by a German scientist that were identifying radioactive elements emitted by thorium. In 1900 radon was discovered to have been byproduct of radium. As a residential threat, it was discovered in 1984 while workers were building a nuclear plant.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I reviewed the article on bump keys. As the article states, bump keys are widely available, in particular from online distributors. There are many videos on the internet that give very detailed instructions on their use.

Most locksmiths will not produce for or provide a consumer with bump keys.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Pets provide a tremendous amount of companionship and comfort to families nationwide. With pets comes responsibility, which includes proper hygiene. Dogs and cats contract fleas which can and will be transferred to their owners if not properly cleaned and treated for not only fleas, but other contaminants they come in contact with which could be transferred to members of the family. Recommend using caution when adopting pets and all that comes with them to avoid unwanted illnesses and contagions in the home.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Pet Borne Diseases in the home identifies specific diseases that can be contracted from house pets. While fish appear to be the safest, they too can spread disease with contaminated water. Cats primarily spread disease through their food or cat-scratch disease. Dogs are primarily responsible for the transmission of rabies or salmonella. Regardless of your choice of pet, it is recommended to maintain quality hygiene and food storage. Watch your pets closely and enjoy.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Several drop down ceiling tiles in the finished basement showed evidence of water staining and microbial growth. Biological pollutants in the home such as mold are a health hazard which can cause illnesses in adults and more significantly in children through inhalation. Conducive environments for fungi such as mold exist where there is excessive moisture conditions. It is recommended a licensed contractor remove damaged ceiling tiles, identify the source of any and all leaks and make necessary repairs including replacing the damaged tiles.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The Lead Facts for Inspectors article discusses the areas around homes where lead can be found. Noting that home inspectors are not trained in lead detection, but can be knowledgeable in lead sources, it provides guidance on advice that can be given to clients. Knowing that pre-1978 construction homes typically were painted using lead-based paints which may remain under several layers of newer paint, or how to spot lead pipes by color and softness, can help the client with awareness of lead exposure hazards and how to mitigate them.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

This photo is of the cedar siding on an older house I inspected. This house is over 60 years old and has several layers of paint on the exterior. Over the years I am seeing more painters doing minimal scraping, possibly only pressure washing old paint in an effort to avoid creating dust from lead based paint. Many homeowners are having to live with a paint job that is less than perfect.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I read an article on Acid Rain and buildings. Acid rain is formed when Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are in the air and mix with rain. Acid rain often happens when industries are burning fuels. I remember inspecting a house in a nearby town that has multiple lumber mills and a charcoal factory in the town. A contractor told me how he notices composite roofing shingles wearing abnormally fast near the industrial sites due to the acid rain as his daughter was buying a house. I am glad I don’t live near those sites!

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The photo is of a Whitfield pellet burning stove insert.The glass on the left hand side of the stove is broken and will allow poisonous carbon monoxide(co) gas to escape into the living area of the home.The home owner was informed that this problem should repaired before the stove is used and the repair should only be done by a licensed pellet stove repairman.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The article “Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Detectors” points out that carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas that is a leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. One of the easiest ways to protect your family from harm or potential gas poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially if the home has a fireplace or gas appliances.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

This wall in a garage laundry area had a water supply leak in the wall. The warm environment in the garage is the perfect place to grow mold. This wall turned green just a few days after noticing the leak.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Asbestos siding was used on many homes from after 1907 until it was banned in the 1970s. The siding was made from asbestos fibers mixed in Portland cement and formed into sheets. The benefit of using asbestos siding is fire resistant and safe if not cut, sanded, chipped or otherwise disturbed.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

the damaged drain pipe underneath the kitchen sink is a very good source of excess moisture. The excess moisture could lead to mold growth. The area in the image should be tested for mold and the problem remedied to reduce the chance of future occurrence.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The image selected is that of attic condensation. Most modern attics are heavily insulated and older attics often have insulation upgrades performed. It is important that these attics be well ventilated as well as ensuring a moisture free environment. If these two important factors are overlooked, the moisture intrusion and lack of adequate ventilation could lead to mold growth. This in turn could lead to poor indoor air quality inside the home.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The accumulation of elevated moisture (water) in and around the home is normally the precursor of many of mold, pests, Wood Destroying Organisms, such as termites, and other agents of poor indoor air quality. preventing moisture intrusion by keeping low-lying areas clean and dry will greatly lower your risk of disease, but also help maintain the homes ascetic appearance.

Research & Writing Assignment:

With the onset of a cockroach infestation, many people have always associated their presence with low income or extremely poor hygiene. Though "good housekeeping and removing food waste is always a good practice. Water management is and remains the number one deterrent.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The Healthy Homes, Part 5: Indoor Air Pollutants and Toxic Materials Course, indicated that dust mites can be controlled by avoiding natural down and feathers, cleaning bedding weekly, using cottons and acrylics instead of wool materials, minimizing fabric wall hangings and loose weave long strand carpets, and wiping down often with a damp hot cloth.