Fathers Day Reflections

With Father’s Day approaching, I have been reflecting on the last few years I had with my Father. I don’t typically share personal stories but this may hit home for some people that really need to hear it.
My Father passed away 6 years ago from a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. 15 years ago, the life expectancy of someone with myeloma was less than 6 months. Thanks to advances in medicine, we were able to get an extra 5 years with him. Those were not 5 cancer free years but we had 3 years quality time with him. I am going to talk about the last 2 years, and why I am writing this.
They call it a fight with cancer for a reason. Every day that someone with cancer is alive, their bodies are in a fight for survival. Dad had a stem cell transplant to try to kill off the cancer and regrow healthy bone marrow. This left him immune compromised and susceptible to many diseases that he would normally have fought off easily. Things that he had been vaccinated for as a child, he was no longer immune to. In the last 2 years of his life he came down with Chicken Pox, Shingles, Clostridium difficile(C-Diff), and several “fungal” infections. It wasn’t until I started working at gotmold, that I understood where the fungal infection came from. It’s called Aspergillosis. It comes from a very common source of mold; however, it is immune compromised and weakened people who are susceptible to the infections.
At the time, we were bewildered as to where he would have picked up a fungal infection. We certainly didn’t have a moldy house! Looking back now however, there were several water claims in my parent’s home that would have certainly left mold behind if not properly taken care of. Knowing what I know now, I would have had the restoration/insurance company working on my parent’s claim do air sampling to ensure that they had removed any and all affected materials, sprayed an anti-microbial agent and encapsulated any materials that could not be removed. These are the proper steps to ensure a safe, healthy living environment following a water loss, or mold abatement.
I understand that this wouldn’t have cured my father’s cancer, but anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer knows that the most important part about the time you have left with them is the quality of life. Every time my father had an infection, he spent a week or more in the hospital. He hated the hospital more than anything. If I could have given my father more quality time to spend with his kids and especially his grand kids, I would have done everything in my power to make it happen. Ensuring he lived in a healthy living environment should have been the easy first step, if only I had known there were people out there to test the air in their home.

My Father and I six months before he passed away. Happy Fathers Day Dad.

Do you work for a company that renovates buildings built prior to 1990?

Do you work for a company that renovates buildings built prior to 1990?

We had a successful first year at the Homestyle’s show with many contractors and home & building owners coming to our booth with questions about mold, asbestos and radon.

I was prompted to write this article after one particular visitor came to our trade show booth for some answers and explained his concerns of his employer not testing for asbestos on their job sites. This gentleman told me that since the downturn in the economy the well known Saskatoon company he works for has moved from constructing new buildings to demolition and renovation work, just as many other builders have done in an effort to keep their businesses afloat.

The story is that they are running into vermiculite and other questionable building materials that most likely contain asbestos and when it has been brought up by himself or other employees, they are told that the materials most likely don’t contain asbestos. They are also told that in order to have the materials tested and analyzed, it would take a couple weeks for results and that they would have no work for employees in this case. The truth is samples can be analyzed within 24 hours of testing. To me this is a very sad and scary situation to think that an employer is so desperate for work that they would be negligent and put their employees and customers life at risk just to keep busy. WorkSafe BC has stated in this youtube video that “Since the year 2000, more workers have died from asbestos disease than any other workplace injury”.

If you work for a contractor that does demolition and renovation work in buildings built prior to 1990 without first having a hazardous building materials survey/audit performed, you must speak to your OH&S committee and state your concerns. If the company does not have an OH&S committee, you may want to consider finding a different job or go directly to OH&S. Here is the Saskatchewan asbestos abatement manual & regulations, your employer and all employees should be familiar with this manual.

Key lessons to be learned from this story are as follows:

1. Before starting a renovation project, your employer must hire a professional consultant to determine whether the building has materials that contain asbestos.

2. Determine whether or not the project will potentially disturb the asbestos.

3. Determine if the materials are friable or non friable which will help determine if the project requires low, moderate or high risk abatement.

4. If the consultant finds that the renovation project could release asbestos fibres into the air, then your employer must have an abatement plan in place by working with a professional abatement contractor.

Test for Radon, now is the Best time of year to test your home or office!

Saskatchewan & Alberta are known hotspots in Canada for radon gas, with pockets all over the place. Have your home or office tested now as it is the best time of year for this service.

Radon is a colourless, odourless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soils and rocks. Once this radioactive gas becomes airborne, it attaches itself to particles in the air and can then be inhaled.

Radon can enter your home or office building through foundation cracks and other unsealed openings in basement walls and floors. Radon levels are generally highest in cellars, crawl spaces and basements because these areas are nearest to the source and are typically poorly ventilated.

Although you will experience no immediate symptoms, the gas can damage lungs at the DNA level, potentially leading to cancer, when inhaled at high levels over many years. As a matter of fact Health Canada states that on average, 16% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to radon exposure in Canada. In 2006, an estimated 1,900 lung cancer deaths in Canada were due to radon exposure. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. The Lung Association states the same facts and has been very active in promoting awareness.

Health Canada’s new guideline was developed in partnership with the provinces and territories. It is now 200 becquerels (“bec‐ krells”) per cubic metre, much reduced from 800 becquerels per cubic metre in recent years.

Health Canada’s guideline for radon has always been based on the best available scientific evidence of health risk and two recent, independent scientific studies in Europe and North America have shown that the lung cancer risks extend to levels of radon found in some homes.

The only way to determine the actual concentration levels of radon in a home is by a direct measurement. got mold?™ can assist in properly setting up a test for your building. The tests take three to six months to complete. The best time to test is between September and April, when your windows and doors are closed.

Radon can enter any home, new or old. However, remediation options available to you may differ, depending on the type of foundation you have. If building a new home, speak to your builder about construction options that may reduce your risk. Every new home should be tested for radon by the homeowner after occupancy.

What if I get an unacceptably high reading? Radon concentrations in a home can usually be lowered by: reducing the emission from the ground into the building (for example, sealing cracks in cement foundations), and increasing the ventilation in basements and other enclosed areas where radon accumulates. We provide full service radon mitigation and look forward to serving you.

Typically the cost to mitigate radon concerns range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the amount and type of work required in order to effectively mitigate. Please note that radon ‐ reduction techniques may also result in energy savings and lower your utility bills.

Radon levels vary not only from one geographic area to another, but from house to house and building to building. A survey conducted by Health Canada in the 1970s showed that radon levels in certain Canadian cities were higher than in others. However, these same studies showed that it is impossible to predict whether any one house or building will have a high level of radon. Your home or office may have very little radon gas, while your neighbour’s house or office has significant levels.

Based on past experience, multi‐story apartment buildings are much less likely to have radon problems.

How safe are public facilities (hospitals and schools)? Government and Certain jurisdictions are currently testing for radon, for example they are testing school divisions that wish to have their facilities tested. Initial testing has been completed. In the case of health care facilities, officials from Saskatchewan Health will work with Regional Health Authorities and other stakeholder groups to ensure that owners/operators of these facilities have the necessary information to determine the safety of their facilities, and collectively determine if strategies to address radon need to be developed to maintain safe facilities.

Fill out the form to the right to test your home of office for Radon or call 1-888-909-6653

Is Mold in Your House or Office Making You Sick?

Indoor mold growth is a fact of life for almost all indoor environments. While it is almost impossible to eliminate mold completely from your home or office, you can control it by manipulating conditions that support mold growth.

How to control Indoor mold Growth

By providing adequate ventilation and maintaining indoor humidity levels at between 30-60%, mold growth can controlled. Usually, mold becomes a problem if materials that are subject to mold attack remain wet or damp for more than 48 hours.

Is Mold In Your House Making You Sick?

Is mold making you sick?Indoor mold growth poses health risks. As mold grows, it produces and releases spores and/or chemical compounds into the air. The health effects associated with inhalation of these spores and chemicals may include runny nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion, aggravation of asthma, headaches, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, and other allergic reactions. Individuals with severely weakened immune systems may also get infected by molds such as Aspergillus fumigatus as a result of exposure.

One of the difficulties of diagnosing a mold related sickness is that reactions are so variable from one person to another. Whether one reacts to mold exposure or not may also depend on their health status and the type and amount of mold present. Another problem is that symptoms usually attributed to mold exposure can also be caused by other indoor pollutants.

If you suffer from allergic reactions or respiratory problems that seem to disappear when you are out of your home or office for a prolonged length of time, the cause could be in the air that you breathe in these places. As mentioned earlier other indoor pollutants could cause symptoms similar to those caused by mold. The only way to determine if mold is a possible cause of your sickness is to perform a mold test.

While not all molds are harmful, to be safe it is better to treat all molds as potentially harmful and get rid of them from your home or office. The color of the mold does not determine whether it is harmful or not. Therefore black mold is not necessarily the cause of your illness. Monitor mold growth by looking for water stains or discoloration on the ceiling, walls, floors, and window sills.

Other Reasons To Be Concerned About Mold

  • Legal Issues. Those responsible for building maintenance or health and safety of the building occupants may be legally liable for mold related sickness of the building occupants.
  • Material damage and impairment of processes. Mold, if allowed to grow, can impair the functioning of many processes from air conditioning units to electrical circuits. Surfaces of materials on which mold is growing get stained or discolored and may disintegrate over time. Wood-rotting molds are capable of weakening wooden structures.
  • Indoor mold contamination can affect businesses. Mold growth in the work place can affect the productivity of employees either directly or indirectly. A business affected by microbial contamination problems can soon see its market share fall and incur huge costs in liabilities. For example in food processing plants such as bakeries, bread can develop mold even before it leaves for the market.

Use Caution If Using Sprays to Remove Mold

 

Use Caution If Using Sprays to Remove Mold

Don’t misinterpret the mass of information available to consumers regarding mold and how to get rid of it. Mold awareness and its potential impact on indoor air quality has given rise to a growing increasing list of so-called mold remedies and mold remediation strategies.  In the last few years for example, anti-microbial sprays such as Concrobium have received attention as a good way to kill mold. The reality is, there will always be various options and opinions on what product to use and where to use it, but what is not disputed is that visible mold growth occupying an area larger than 10 square feet needs to be dealt with by either a professional or at the very least by someone following the advice of a professional. Proper remediation of mold may have less to do with the product than the technique used in conjunction with the product.
But don’t be mislead, mistakes can be made by selecting the wrong product as well. For example, when consulted about proper product and technique in a large crawlspace, Dr. Jackson Kung’u, a well respected Microbiologist had this to say:

“For removal of extensive mold growth from floor joists in the crawlspace, I would personally recommend dry ice blasting for the following reasons:

  1. Unlike use of biocides, dry ice blasting does not add moisture to the wood and it’s non-toxic and therefore poses no health risks to the operators and the occupants.
  2. Dry ice blasting does not damage the wood at all, but it removes and kills the mold at the same time.
  3. Blasting does not stain the wood.”
When consulted about proper technique in a smaller area, Dr. Kung’u said:
“If the mold growth is not extensive and deeply embedded into the wood, you may spray an anti-microbial and let it set for a few hours. After the antimicrobial kills the mold then you physically go back with HEPA vacuums, and rags, and brushes, and wipe the wood. This is a more tedious process if cleaning big areas … and may not be cost effective.”
Interestingly, even “less toxic” bio sprays need to be used with full safety considerations.  Appropriate personal protective equipment is required for application of antimicrobials, including a chemical- resistant suit, heavy gloves and full-face respirator with OVR cartridges.  Moreover, the area in which the mold is being treated requires a complete industry standard protocol of containment, air management, removal process, cleaning process, drying process and finally, post remediation, lab verified clearance testing to make sure the job was actually completed with the results intended.

Read More:
http://www.gotmold.ca/2012/09/dont-spray-mold/