We are in an era of focusing on clean, green energy efficiency and ways we can help improve our world. Insulation is a necessary material to help keep your home comfortable, energy-efficient, and safe all year round. But is insulation a biological hazard? Homeowners may be concerned about its health risk, especially since it provides an additional barrier between the inside and outside of your home. Let’s dive in and talk about it!
When properly taken care of, insulation is not a biological hazard. If neglected, it can turn into a bio-hazard quickly and should be treated as soon as possible.
What is a Biological Hazard?
A biological hazard is any substance that could cause harm or illness if ingested by humans or animals. It may also be considered a human carcinogen. This includes dust mites, mold spores, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. These organisms can grow in areas where there is moisture, warmth, and humidity. They thrive in dark, damp places like basements, attics, crawl spaces, and walls.
Biological Hazard Effects on People
The effects of biological hazards vary from person to person. Some people experience nothing more than mild irritation, while others develop allergies, asthma, or even worse. The severity of these conditions depends on how much you’re exposed to over time. They can cause illnesses such as food poisoning, tetanus, respiratory infections, or parasite infection.
If you suspect you have been exposed, it’s important to get treated and ensure your home is safe. Having an expert come out and inspect your home’s insulation and structure could save you and your families health.
Is Insulation a Biological Hazard?
Insulation is made from fibrous materials or polyurethane that trap air and prevent heat transfer and is a very common type of building material. It is used as a protective layer for walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, pipes, ducts, and other areas where insulation is needed. Insulation itself is not considered to be a biological hazard. Although, if not taken care of or neglected, it could bread biological hazards.
Any time insulation is wet or damaged, it should be promptly removed and replaced. Removing damaged insulation could save your family’s health and helps keep your home clean and safe. Damaged insulation can lead to mold growth, which can cause serious health problems. Mold can also spread through the air and settle on surfaces throughout your home and cause infectious diseases.
What are the 5 Biological Hazards?
If insulation is not properly taken care of, it can turn into a biological hazard and should be promptly taken care it. Here are some of the top 5 biological hazards homeowners may have heard of, which can pose carcinogenic risks.
- Mold: Mold is a fungus that grows on damp surfaces like wood, paper, wallpaper, drywall, plaster, concrete, tile, and many more. There are two main types of mold – black mold and white mold. Black mold is usually associated with water damage, while white mold is generally associated with food spoilage. Both types of mold produce mycotoxins, toxic substances that can affect human health. Mycotoxins are also known as secondary metabolites produced by fungi. They are often present in foods such as grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and dairy products.
- Dust mites: These tiny creatures feed on dead skin cells, hair, dander, and saliva. They are very small (about 1/16 inch long) but can make up half of the total dust in homes. Their feces can contaminate bedding, carpets, clothing, furniture, and even food. Dust mite allergens are found in house dust, so regular cleaning helps reduce their presence.
- Bacteria: Bacteria are single-cell organisms that can harm humans. They are everywhere and can multiply in moist environments.
- Viruses: Viruses are microscopic parasites that infect living things. They reproduce inside host cells and use them to spread throughout the body. Most viruses do not cause symptoms in healthy individuals, but they can cause illness in those who are immunocompromised.
- Other Microorganisms: These are all other kinds of microorganisms that may be harmful to humans. Examples include Legionella, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Norovirus.
What are examples of Biological Hazards?
Here are a few common examples of biological hazards:
- The flu virus is an example of a virus.
- Anthrax spores are an example of a bacterium.
- MRSA is an example of a fungus.
- Molds are an example of a type of fungus.
- Other Common bacteria include E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Clostridium, Pseudomonas, and Bacillus.
What is an example of a Biological Hazard, Norovirus?
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, nausea, fever, headache, and muscle aches. The disease is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Noroviruses are highly contagious and can survive for days outside of the body.
How to Prevent Biological Hazards
As a homeowner, keeping these types of hazards at bay is essential. Here are some ways to be proactive:
- When insulation is damaged, have it removed and replaced as soon as possible.
- Use weatherstripping on all openings to prevent air from escaping or entering your home.
- Repair loose shingles to prevent water damage during rains.
- Install flashing over roof vents.
- Seal cracks around windows and doors with caulk.
- Keep rodents out by sealing up holes that they might use to enter your house.
- Make sure your home is well ventilated, especially in areas of your home that tend to be damp such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces.
How do I Know if My Insulation Needs to be Replaced?
There will be signs you can see and smell, which will let you know it’s time to replace your insulation. These include things such as a musty smell in your home, mold spores appearing on your walls, or seeing moisture spots on your ceiling. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to call our professionals and install new insulation. We are the experts in insulation and will ensure your home is safe and energy efficient. Give us a call to schedule an appointment with a technician today.