Even Minor Tornado Damage can Result in Indoor Environmental Hazards
The Texas building science professionals at Indoor Environmental Consultants (IEC) help to identify indoor hazards commonly encountered following tornado damage.
It’s important to consider potential hazards that may be present due to old building materials containing lead and asbestos or because of microbial hazards that resulted from water damage.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in an average year Texas has 137 tornadoes, more than any other state in the country. Less than two months into spring and Texas has already been hit with a number of powerful tornadoes that have caused damage to homes and buildings in many regions of the state.
In a typical year in the United States, tornadoes cause over $1 billion dollars in property damage. Although many properties hit by a tornado may experience complete destruction, others survive the storm with anywhere from minor to major damage. They may be left with damage due to strong winds, hail, heavy rain and even flooding when roofs, walls, windows and plumbing are destroyed or damaged. Many of these properties can be rebuilt, but there are hazards aside from live electrical wires and leaking gas lines that people need to be aware. They include the following:
- Mold can begin to grow in as short as 24 to 48 hours on many types of building materials and household belongings. It is important to begin drying materials as soon as it is safe to do so. Some nonporous materials can be cleaned and salvaged, but the majority of porous materials should be discarded if mold growth is present.
- Water damage and flooding caused by a tornado can bring not only rainwater into a property, but also viruses, bacteria and chemical contaminants This may result from sewage from broken plumbing that has leaked or from damaged chemical containers stored on the property.
- Many materials found in older homes contain asbestos. When removing debris, these asbestos fibers can become aerosolized. Inhaled asbestos fibers can cause respiratory disease, lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.
- Lead is a concern because it is a highly toxic metal. The disturbance or removal of materials containing lead-based paints from properties may result in elevated concentrations of lead dust in the air and on surfaces.
“When a home or building is damaged by a tornado, indoor environmental hazards may be the last thing on a property owner’s mind,” said Hollis L. Horner, President, Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. “However, it’s important to consider potential hazards that may be present due to old building materials containing lead and asbestos or because of microbial hazards that resulted from water damage. This needs to be a consideration before beginning repair or demolition activities to protect the health of workers and future building occupants.”
The professionals at IEC offer testing, inspection and consulting services to identify a wide range of indoor hazards following tornado damage. To learn more about this or other indoor air quality (IAQ) testing and consulting services, please visit www.iecinc.net, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (877) 432-8378.
About Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc.
IEC began operations in 2001 with some of the nation’s most seasoned professional indoor air quality consultants who already had over 70 years of combined experience. The indoor environmental quality firm specializes in field investigations and assessments of commercial, institutional and residential buildings. Their services, related to fungal (mold), chemical, bacterial, asbestos and particulate pollutants, are offered throughout Texas, the Gulf Coast and the Southwest. IEC is licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a mold assessment company (ACO0114) and an asbestos consultant agency (100329).
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