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.

got mold?™ At the Homestyle’s Home Show in Saskatoon

got mold?™ At the Homestyle’s Home Show in Saskatoon

We invite you to come join us at Homestyle’s in Saskatoon at Prairie Land Park, 503 Ruth Street West this weekend. You can enter both of our draws, one for a free Radon test kit, and another for a mold and asbestos assessment/survey with a detailed report.

We are in row 500, directly across from Boryski Butcher Block Ltd., so you can grab some sausage, jerky or a tub of meat and cheese to snack on and don’t forget to take some home. Right beside us is Power roofing Systems and GT Showers & Doors.

There are several other great exhibitors such as J&H Builders with their featured tiny RTM homes, True North Log Homes and many more.

You can also come down and donate to the Children’s Hospital Foundation and purchase tickets from Gary Viden at Team Diabetes for your chance to win a trip for two to anywhere West Jet flies.

Wether you are renovating, thinking of renovating, looking for a tiny home (J&H Builders), need a brand new home, are in need of a new roof, new cookware (Treasure Chest Distributors), cutlery (Cutco) or anything else home related, this trade show is for you.

There’s plenty of candy, balloons and other treats for the kids, come out and show your support for local trusted contractors.

Show times for the weekend:

Saturday, March 11 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday, March 12 10 am – 5 pm

Tickets Cost:

Your ticket includes Main Stage and Bistro programming. Seating may be limited. See schedules for complete details.

Adults: $12.50
Seniors: $10.00 (55+over $8.00 on Thursday)
Children 12 & under: Free

Get your tickets at the door (CASH ONLY)

Parking:

Prairieland Park offers an abundance of free parking.

Speakers:

This year we’ve brought in HGTV stars, along with our local experts. Click HERE to see the schedule.

For more information visit the Homestyle’s web site.

We look forward to seeing you at the show. Keep posted on the winners of our two draws by checking our blog after the show.

Air Sampling Methods for Airborne Mold

Chaetomium and other mold spores

Nonviable Air Sample

Exposure to indoor airborne mold spores and toxins commonly occurs, and can cause allergic, toxic, and irritant symptoms and diseases. It is known that mold spores and hyphal fragments are normal components of both indoor and outdoor air. The difference between healthy and unhealthy environment is determined by the amount of mold, the types of mold spores present, and a persons sensitivity or susceptibility to mold. To determine whether the air is contaminated with elevated levels of mold spores and their composition, air samples are collected and sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis.

Air Sampling Methods

Culturable Air Sample

Culturable Air Sample

There are two methods for sampling air for airborne mold. Each method has it’s advantages and disadvantages. The method selected depends on the objective of the investigation. At times both methods may have to be used. The most commonly used method is to impact air on an inert clear sticky substance. Airborne particulates including mold spores, pollen, insect parts, skin cells, and others are trapped onto the sticky surface and can be visualized under a microscope in the laboratory. Samples collected using this method are often referred to as nonviable or non-culturable samples. The terms “nonviable” or “non-culturable” are rather misleading but they are supposed to mean that the samples are not cultured in the lab. Nonviable samples are collected using cassettes such as Air-O-cell, Allergenco D, Micro 5, and many other similar cassettes. The second method for airborne mold sampling involves impacting air on some growth media. These samples are normally referred to as culturable or viable samples. Once sent to the lab, these samples are incubated for mold to grow for identification. It is important to know when to collect nonviable or viable air samples. Sometimes you may need to collect both types of samples depending on the data needed which in turn depends on the purpose of investigation.

Airborne Mold Samples Results Interpretation

Interpretation of airborne mold samples results is not easy. The large number of mold species and strains that can occur in indoor environment and the large inter-individual variability in human response to mold exposure make it difficult to set exposure limits. Therefore, the determination of whether or not a building is contaminated is often based on a comparison of the mold spore concentrations and composition in the indoor air with outdoor air. The types of mold present can tell us a lot about the building condition. For example, presence of Chaetomium or Stachybotrys is an indication of existing or previous moisture damage.

Real Estate transaction goes bad due to improper cleanup.

Real Estate transaction goes bad due to improper cleanup & costs more in the long run…

This week, we have another story from out in the field, but this time from our Yorkton Saskatchewan operations. Several weeks ago we received a call from a home owner in Yorkton who was selling his house but the potential buyer was planning some reservations that would disturb the vermiculite in the attic. The vermiculite was analyzed by an accredited trusted lab and came back as asbestos containing.

An agreement was made on the purchase of the home with one condition, the vermiculite must be removed and paid for by the seller.

The seller contacted got mold?™ for a quote on the costs to remove the asbestos containing materials. Our Yorkton area manager Jason Forwood went out to take a look at the property to determine how best we could set up containment, temporary shower, find out if other materials such as batt insulation were present and to get a good understanding of the clearance our workers would have in the attic space.

We provided the seller with our quote and sent it via email with the following information in the body of the email.

This is a high risk asbestos abatement that will require OH&S notice of project which is 14 days minimum notice before project can commence. Included in the quote is third party consultant to provide containment pre inspection, equipment DOP testing, background testing, final visual clearance sampling, final air clearance sampling and final report as required by OH&S for High risk asbestos abatement.

3 stage containment with temporary shower including HEPA negative air filtration would be set up to prevent any cross contamination during abatement. All vermiculite and insulation would be double bagged in yellow asbestos bags, washed and removed through shower/chambers. After all ACM vermiculite is removed, the entire containment will undergo a thorough final cleaning, HEPA vacuuming/wet wiping followed by visual inspection by third party consultant. Once visual is approved the entire containment will be sprayed down with fibre lock asbestos glue down before final air clearance testing commences and containment is fully cleared for demobilizing.

The seller decided to take it into his own hands and hire a local company to come in with an insulation truck and suck out the vermiculite without reporting to OH&S, they did not set up containment, decontamination chamber, shower and did not involve a third party consultant to verify that the work was completed satisfactorily.

The buyer contacted an electrical company to have them come in and start replace the wiring as it is currently old knob and tube. The electrician that was contacted knew that vermiculite was previously in the attic and demanded to see a report stating that the work had been completed to satisfaction and that the air quality within the built environment was safe.

The buyer went to the house to start moving in and noticed that their was some debris laying on the carpet. The buyer then contacted got mold?™ for advice and asked if we could have the air tested in the home to make sure it was safe. We proceeded with having the air tested and analyzed by an accredited and trusted lab. Test results came back and fibre counts on one of three floors of the home were above the acceptable threshold of .01 and another was borderline.

Our consultant wrote up a scope of work and provided us with direction as to what procedures must be followed. Following the detailed scope of work, our quote to now re-clean the attic and clean the two floors affected amounted to $3,000 more than the original quote due to the fact that the two floors must now be cleaned as well as the attic, furnace and duct work.

We are not sure what the final outcome of this will be but we felt it would be a great story to write in order to help increase awareness and ultimately stop this from happening to you and others.