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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
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AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
BARK SIDE UP on DECKS & STEPS
BASEMENT WALKOUTS & COVERS
BEST CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES GUIDE
BRICK FOUNDATIONS & WALLS
BRICK WALL DRAINAGE WEEP HOLES
BUCKLED FOUNDATIONS due to INSULATION?
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
COLUMNS & POSTS, DEFECTS
Cracks, Checking or Splitting Beams & Log Homes
DECK & PORCH CONSTRUCTION
DECK COLLAPSE Case Study
DECK FLASHING LEAKS, ROT Case Study
DEBRIS STAINING on ROOFS
DEW POINT CALCULATION for WALLS
DEW POINT TABLE - CONDENSATION POINT GUIDE
DISASTER BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
EIFS & STUCCO EXTERIORS
ENGINEERED WOOD Flooring
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOR, ENGINEERED WOOD & LAMINATES
FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS
HOUSE PARTS, DEFINITIONS
HOUSEWRAP INSTALLATION DETAILS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
LOG HOME GUIDE
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MILDEW in BUILDINGS ?
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT MOLD
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MOLD or INDOOR AIR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
MOTHS, MOTHBALL ODORS
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
OSB - Oriented Strand Board
PLASTER BULGES & PILLOWS
PLYWOOD Roof, Wall, Floor Decks & Sheathing
Preservative-Treated Framing Lumber
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
ROT, FUNGUS, INSECT DAMAGE
ROT RESISTANT LUMBER
ROT, TIMBER FRAME
ROT, TIMBER ASSESSMENT
SIDING TYPES, INSTALLATION, DEFECTS
SPLITS & CRACKS in STRUCTURAL WOOD BEAMS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING
STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in buildings
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALL CONSTRUCTION BARRIER vs CAVITY
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
WINDOWS & DOORS, Age, Types
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD STRUCTURE ASSESSMENT
Indoor pesticide exposure: here we describe the detection of and risks of exposure to pesticides applied indoors in buildings. We discuss methods to reduce indoor pesticide exposure as a step in improving health and indoor air quality in homes. Our page top photo shows an abandoned pesticide bottle found during a home inspection. When we find old pesticide containers indoors we caution home buyers that a previous owner may have been applying chemicals without proper expertise. Read the label and use pesticides as directed.
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Watch out: OPINION: don't panic about insects or bugs that you may see on or around your home.
A single bug like the one shown at left (clambering around on our garage door) does not merit a declaration of chemical warfare. Most insects seen on or around homes are harmless and should not be attacked.
The health risks to humans from overdoing chemical sprays and treatments applied in a panic can be significant.
Worse, misapplication of pesticides inside the home can lead to serious indoor health hazards for the building's human or pet occupants.
On the other hand, as our photo at left (termite mud tubes) illustrates, even with care to avoid or fix building leaks (a key attractant to classes of termites, carpenter ants, and other wood destroying insects), is not always enough. Sometimes it may be necessary to consult with a professional pest inspector or pesticide applicator. See INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE for details about preventing or correcting problems from wood destroying insects.
As stated in Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction:
Studies indicate that up to 80% of most people’s exposure to pesticides occurs indoors and that measurable levels of up to a dozen pesticides have been found in the air inside homes. Because of its widespread use for over 30 years, more than 80 percent of Americans already have traces of Dursban in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another study found Dursban in the carpet dust of 67 percent of homes surveyed.
Also, remember that a pesticide found “safe” to use today may be determined to be unsafe tomorrow. Chlordane, the most widely use termiticide for decades, was banned in 1988 because of its toxicity to humans and its persistence in the environment. It was largely replaced by Dursban (chlorpyrifos), an organophosphate. Dursban became the most widely used pesticide in the United States until it was phased out starting in 2000, along with the popular pesticide diazinon, because of the risks they posed to humans, especially to the growth and nervous system development of children.
Our photo (left) shows drill marks we found in the rim joist of an older home in the Hudson Valley of New York. As we explain in detail at INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE, this was evidence of an amateur attempt at pesticide application: the location, irregularity, angle, and other details of these drill marks made us nervous. We tested a sliver of this wood and found that it was still contaminated with Chlordane - misapplied on the building interior.
There are nearly 900 pesticides registered for use in the United States.
Nearly all are at least moderately toxic to humans and pets and many are highly toxic.
Symptoms of overexposure to pesticides include irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, blurred vision, nausea, loss of coordination, muscular weakness, and damage to the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys. Every registered pesticide has a “signal” word on the label, ranking the level of toxicity to humans, as follows:
When possible, the best approach is to find non chemical approaches to pests. When chemicals must be used, choose the least toxic option, and use it outdoors, if possible, and away from areas used by pets and children who will track it back into the house.
-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Pesticide Exposure Hazards, Chemicals, Uses, Detection, Avoidance
Question: How can we get rid of an annoying mothball odor in our Condo?
We moved into a condo, which is a concrete block structure 3 months ago. Shortly after the move we began to smell moth balls. After following the smell we were able to find out that the unit above us displaced several moth balls throughout there unit, tightly sealed the unit up without air conditioning on(we live in Florida) and left for the summer.
As the smell increased in our unit we begged parties involved to rid the unit of the moth balls and air it out.
Finally this was done, however even though the smell appears to be gone sometimes, other times we can still smell a bad odor, sometimes now the odor is less mothball smell and just simply a bad odor. We have tried everything and are desperate to solve the problem. Is it possible to get rid of this toxic odor? Any help would be greatly appreciated. - B.P. 9/22/2012
Reply: How to get rid of mothball odors in buildings, contents, clothing, furnishings
Indeed the odor from moth repellent products (paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene) penetrates many materials including even drywall and furnishings.
It can take quite a while for the smell to diminish.
At MOTHBALL ODORS we have included your question again in the FAQs section where we also have provided a detailed list of suggestions for getting rid of mothball odors, starting with ventilating the source area but adding other steps as well.
Please take a look at that article and let us know if questions remain.
The photo at left, though a white moth-like insect, is not a clothing-attacking moth, as you'll read at our mothball odor article.
More about odor sources, hazards, & solutions is at ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE.
Questions & answers or comments about pesticide exposure in buildings: detection, testing, hazard reduction.
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