Indoor Air Quality and health as the days get colder.

Indoor Air Quality and health as the days get colder.

September is already more than half gone, the leaves are changing colour, the cool fall nights are upon us.  We want to remind our followers of what to prepare for with the upcoming months ahead. As the leaves around your home or office building fall, they tend to land in the eaves troughs and clog up the flow. Once the leaves have all fallen, make sure to clean out your eaves to allow proper water flow for the fall rains and of course the snow melting during and after winter. Make sure that all downspouts are at least six feet away from the house, and that they are not clogged.

Now is a great time to have your attic inspected to make sure you have enough insulation and that it is spread evenly with adequate ventilation. Having proper insulation and air flow in your attic will help to prevent ice damming.

Our busiest time of year for mold inquiries is always the last quarter as people start spending more time in their home with the windows closed and the furnace blowing warm air around. All mold needs water to grow however, some mold is water loving and needs lots of water to stay healthy and some mold is non water loving and needs very little water to be healthy.

Some types of mold produce an odour typically described as musty, earthy, urine like and most commonly, like Grandmas old basement. As the rain stops falling and the basement or other affected area starts to dry out the water loving mold begins to starve and releases spores into the air in an effort to find better living conditions. When certain water loving mold types are starving they not only release spores into the air but also a microbial volatile organic compound (MVOC), which excretes an odour. This also works vice versa, when a non water loving mold is fed too much moisture, it will also produce MVOC’s along with an odour.

Having a fall mould inspection performed should be one of the first things to consider as the cold winter months will require you turn on your furnace and potentially cause cross contamination of blowing up mold spores that could be in the basement or other areas of the home.

Better Health

Unfortunately, when Fall and Winter arrive, many blame health issues on colds and the flu. However, what most people do not realize is that mold spores can cause many of the symptoms we experience when we think we have a cold or flu:

  1. The sudden onset of allergic symptoms involving the respiratory system such as cough, congestion, sinus infection, asthma, and bronchitis.
  2. Unexplained headaches, decrease in attention span or memory, difficulty concentrating, or dizziness.
  3. Other physical symptoms of mold could include skin rash, itchy eyes, fatigue, and a general unwell feeling that disappears when you have been out of the house for periods of time.

Many of the symptoms above would be diagnosed as cold or flu symptoms by a Doctor. As our toxic mold survivor interviews show, this is a common occurrence simply because most Doctors are not trained to identify sickness caused by mold.

In the 1990s the Mayo Clinic published findings from a study that suggests that NEARLY ALL chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the membranes of your nose and sinus cavities) is caused by mold, but blamed on bacteria—then mistreated using antibiotics. In fact, according to their study, 96% of the people who suffer from chronic sinusitis are “fungal sensitized,” which means that they have an immune response that is triggered by inhaling fungal organisms.

The incidence of chronic sinusitis has been increasing because most physicians still believe that bacteria and not mold is the cause. As a result, Doctors prescribe antibiotics which do not provide long term relief.

If you suffer from a chronic sinus infection, you may want to have your home inspected for mold, which is probably the root cause of the problem.

If you experience these symptoms soon after turning on your furnace, then you likely have mold spores circulating in your home.

Peace of Mind

Trained mold inspectors follow a step by step protocol to determine if there is a mold problem. They will do visual inspections; ask questions to get a better idea of the building history to find out about leaks, floods, etc. any indication of past moisture issues; measure the moisture levels; and may recommend that tape, swab, or air quality tests be done to determine the type of mold and the spore count in the home.

The relative cost of a mold inspection compared to the potential health issues and eventual structural issues that mold can cause in a property is minor and should give you a significant amount of peace of mind knowing that you have had a professional inspection performed.

Bottom line, if you suspect that you have any mold concerns, we strongly recommend that you have a professional examine the problem so that you can prevent the spread of the mold throughout your home when you turn on your furnace.

 

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.