Mold and newborns – bring your new bundle of joy home to a safe environment

Mold and newborns – bring your new bundle of joy home to a safe environment

As a parent, you want to make sure that your kids are always safe and healthy. That is always the first concern when it comes to raising your children. From the day they are born you sleep with one eye open, you start planning for the future and you always thrive for the best.

Even while pregnant you begin to focus on the environment that your child will be brought up in, if the home you are living in is safe for the future baby, if the baby will have have health issues passed on by genetics, and if your child will have any allergies that you need to be aware of in advance. All of these are a very common thing to think about when pregnant. Older homes are more susceptible to asbestos being present, water seepage from ice dams, basement flooding, all in which can cause mold growth if it is not taken care of in a timely matter and are concerns many pregnant woman think about.

There are minimal human studies looking at exposure to mold during pregnancy. Studies in animals have shown that the substances that mold produce can increase the risk of birth defects when consumed by mouth. Currently, however, there aren’t many proven risks to a pregnancy from exposure to airborne mold. It would be medically irresponsible to intentionally expose pregnant women to mold, then stand back and see what happens.  Studies have been done on the health hazards of mold to non-pregnant people and mold has been linked to allergies, asthma, sinus infection and rashes and once in a while, more severe reactions. Every person reacts different much like one person is allergic to peanuts and some have mild reactions to them.

If you are pregnant and you have found mold in your home, you should have it removed as soon as possible. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any illness that you think could be from mold exposure.

There are many studies done about exposure to mold to infants. This is also a major concern and a reason to get your home tested before the new little bundle of joy comes home from the hospital.

In December 1994 and January 1997, articles in MMWR described a cluster of 10* infants from Cleveland, Ohio, with acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage, also referred to as pulmonary hemosiderosis (1,2). The children resided in seven contiguous postal tracts and had had one or more hemorrhagic episodes, resulting in one death, during January 1993-December 1994. Preliminary results of a CDC case-control study (2) indicated that hemorrhage was associated with 1) major household water damage during the 6 months before illness and 2) increased levels of measurable household fungi, including the toxin-producing mold S. chartarum (syn. S. atra).

Mold illnesses, including pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding in the lungs) and other serious respiratory disorders, can cause severe illness and even become life-threatening in some cases. Of course, most people exposed to household mold don’t develop life-threatening illnesses. Less serious health problems are fairly common, however, and more serious conditions can develop in some people. The elderly, the very young, and those with pre-existing respiratory disorders and immune system disorders are at greatest risk for serious problems.

What Is Pulmonary Hemorrhage?

Bleeding in the lungs is most common in infants, and in fact, it’s particularly common in premature infants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists bleeding in the lungs of infants as a potential complication of exposure to certain types of mold. It’s often accompanied by pulmonary edema, or swelling in the lungs, and can be fatal. It’s not a common complication of mold exposure, but it can and does happen. This is why getting your home tested is very important and can ease the pregnancy brain that the pregnant lady in your life may be having.

Lung Problems Caused by Mold

Respiratory disorders are the most common of all mold illnesses. That’s because tiny mold spores easily become airborne and then can be inhaled by anyone in the vicinity. Some of the lung problems caused by mold, other than pulmonary hemorrhage, include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Respiratory infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a lung disease similar to bacterial pneumonia)
  • Worsening of symptoms in people with asthma
  • Development of asthma-like symptoms in people not previously diagnosed with the condition

Other Mold Illnesses

Other health problems sometimes caused by exposure to household mold include:

  • Headaches, migraines
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Allergic reactions
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or stuffed up nose
  • Red, itchy, watery eyes
  • Skin rashes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression

If you or a family member begins to experience symptoms of lung problems or other illness that might be related to mold, see your doctor. Let your doctor know if your symptoms might be related to mold exposure.

How Can You Protect Yourself from Mold-Related Illnesses?

The best way to protect yourself from mold-related illnesses, including pulmonary hemorrhage and other lung problems, is to avoid exposure to mold. You can help prevent the growth of mold in your home by preventing the conditions that encourage mold growth. Mold grows in damp places, so you can help prevent mold growth by repairing any leaks in your roof, fixing any leaky pipes, making sure rain doesn’t leak in around any windows, using an exhaust fan in the bathroom when you shower to cut down on moisture in the room, and using a dehumidifier in the basement if it’s damp down there.

If you’ve had a leak, or any kind of flooding in the home, you need to check carefully for mold and any mold you find needs to be thoroughly removed. If you have any symptoms of mold-related illnesses, you should hire a professional to inspect your home for mold.

If you find mold in your home, we recommend calling in a professional to clean it up. It’s especially important to have a professional handle the mold removal if you have any symptoms of mold-related illness or any type of respiratory disorder, because the mold removal process stirs up mold spores and your symptoms can get much worse.

Where is the water coming from?

Where is the water coming from?

Mold is caused when moisture affects the walls and other surfaces in your home or office. To permanently get rid of mould you have to first find and fix the moisture source.

Water can enter a building in all sorts of strange and mysterious ways, and may result in hidden moisture in walls and ceilings.  Moisture, whether you can see it or not, can result in mould growth and this mould growth can affect the health of the people living or working in the building. You could start taking apart your rooms one by one, or you could call got mold? Disaster Recovery Services for more information on how we can help.

Using our thermal imaging equipment and moisture meters we can map the moisture in your walls, find the missing insulation in your ceiling and track that leaky underfloor pipe – quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, without creating holes in your walls and ceilings.  

If you are concerned about hidden moisture in walls and ceilings in your home or office, or have areas of mould growth that you can’t explain it may be time to take action and get the answers you need to prevent mold growth before it happens! 

Today’s energy-efficient homes are built tightly to seal out the cold weather in winter and keep in the air conditioning in summer. Because of this, it is possible that a new home can be severely damaged by lack of ventilation or by excess moisture.

It is important to remember that moisture damage caused by improper or inadequate use of your ventilation system, is not covered by the new home warranty.

What causes moisture damage?

Your home can be damaged if weather-related water is allowed to enter and remain in the structure. Water from leaking pipes or fixtures that is not immediately cleaned up, and indoor humidity levels that are not properly controlled, can have serious consequences. Sometimes this damage is easily seen, at other times the damage is hidden inside wall and roof spaces. Regardless of where it occurs, moisture damage can lead to serious problems, such as rot, mould, and even structural failure.​

How can I control moisture?

Always use your home ventilation system to control moisture. In a typical home, over 20 litres of water are added to the indoor environment every day. That’s 7,300 litres in a year, enough to fill a medium-sized swimming pool. Bathroom fans, kitchen range hoods and packaged ventilators such as heat-recovery ventilators are specifically installed in your home to help you control moisture and contaminants. Regular use of your home ventilation system will exhaust excess airborne moisture caused by bathing, showering, doing laundry and cooking.​

What else can I do to control moisture?

Here are some extra tips you can follow to help prevent moisture damage to your home.

Outside the home

  • Keep flowerbeds or landscaping at least six inches or 150 mm away from the top of the foundation. Placing soil near or above the top of the foundation allows moisture to come into direct contact with the structure of the building.
  • Ensure that land adjacent to the foundation slopes away from the home so that rainwater and snow melt will run away from the foundation.
  • Clear eavestroughs of debris regularly and extend downspouts so that water is directed away from the building. Water flow can erode the ground near the foundation and create depressions where water collects. Standing water near the foundation can force its way into the basement.
  • Fix the caulking around windows and doors and on the roof if it becomes cracked or separated.
  • Have your roof inspected regularly to ensure shingles, flashing and chimney caps are in place and sealed properly

Inside the home

  • In the winter, keep the relative humidity in your home in the range of 30-45%. Lower humidity levels may affect your health and cause things made of wood to shrink. Excess humidity can cause condensation on windows and damage the surrounding wall. When using a humidifier, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • In the summer, dehumidify the basement to avoid condensation buildup on the cool foundation walls. Relative humidity levels should not exceed 60%.
  • Repair leaky pipes and fixtures immediately. Clean and completely dry any areas that are dampened or wet within 48 hours.
  • Store organic materials such as newspapers and clothes away from cool, damp areas. Keep storage areas tidy so that air circulates freely.
  • If you are adding a hot tub to your home, or have a large collection of plants, consider the amount of moisture they will add to your indoor air and ventilate accordingly.
  • Never vent your clothes dryer inside your home. If you have a gas- or propane-fired dryer you may also be venting carbon monoxide inside your home!
  • Investigate and identify any musty smells and odours. They are often an indicator that there is a hidden moisture problem.​

 

For more information check out these helpful articles!
For basement and crawlspace maintenance
For bathroom condensation tips 
For Carpets

For more information on preventing mold and hidden moisture please contact us today!

Commercial cooling systems could be contaminated with mold

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Commercial Cooling systems could be contaminated with mold

A lot of people don’t consider the factors related to the cleaning of commercial ice machines and cooling systems that are used in most fast food restaurants, hotels and even convenient stores. Staff are regularly required to maintain the equipment by cleaning the machines, although the down-time of the equipment may be inconvenient that makes the cleaning schedule change quite often and sometimes not as often as you would think.

Since the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done a good job of making sure harmful levels of bacterial pathogens are being kept out of the U.S. water supply. It’s only very rare circumstances in which you should be worried about ice water being dirty from the start. However, EPA inspectors don’t live in ice machines to ensure that the once-clean water isn’t being contaminated during the freezing and dispensing process.

A 2011 study that focused on ice dispensers in Las Vegas food establishments found that 33.3 percent of the ice samples “exceeded the EPA limits set for heterotrophic bacteria concentration for drinking water” and 72.2 percent were “positive for presumptive coliform bacteria presence.” Bucknavage also suggested that it wasn’t uncommon for bacteria to accumulate in ice makers, potentially contaminating the ice.

That said, a restaurant that has bacteria issues in its ice probably has bacteria issues everywhere, making it unavoidable. While there may be occasional concerns about the composition of the ice at some establishments. Especially in the heat of the summers where companies rely on having ice-cold beverages available to the customers upon them walking in the door.

Bucknavage suggested that mold may be the biggest culprit of ice contamination. Mold is too often found in the ice machines of local restaurants, but can grow in home freezers as well. The cold temperatures of freezers may make it harder for mold to grow, but the problems start when freezers are regularly turned off or for extended periods of time. Restaurant owners should make sure to clean their machines several times per year, and Bucknavage advised homeowners to do the same:

“If your freezer [or] ice maker has been off for sometime, that ice maker should always be cleaned before using,” he said. “This can be an issue with people who have a summer home where the unit has been off for a number of months. … People can have a reaction after consuming a slug of mold coming from the ice. Knowing this, the average person should put forth effort to keep their ice machine clean. Why take on risk when a regular cleaning will prevent issues?”

Unfortunately this issue is not limited to just ice machines, but pop machines as well collect just as much bacteria if not more with the amount of people using them, the lack of cleaning that is regularly required to maintain the machines and the constant use of them in 24 hour stores and restaurants. The ice build up on the inside of the machines aren’t regularly cleaned as they continually have a flow of moisture inside them. A 2012 survey found that 1 in every 10 businesses clean the machines out only 7 times a year. It only takes 5 days for the mold to grow inside the machine if it isn’t maintained at its regulated temperatures. This is also found in the same statistics as cooled vending machines that store sandwiches, pudding and yogurts. If you encounter an ice machine, vending machine or pop machine that is moldy let the management know ASAP and document your concern with the health board. All to often people leave these concerns until someone gets sick.

Other Reading:

http://consumerist.com/2010/11/05/slime-in-our-ice-machine/

http://www.icemachinecleaning.com/icehealth.htm

http://www.iceomatic.com/uploadedFiles/Shared_Content/Product_Content/Downloads/Service_Manuals/ECP500%20Service%20Manual.pdf

http://www.houstontx.gov/health/Food/slime.htmhttp://www.manitowocice.com/docs/uploaded/mii/service%20manuals/q_model_sm.pdf

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/idaho-knew-chobani-yogurt-mold-recall-fda-article-1.1539860

Saskatchewan and Alberta Air Quality Advisory: 2015

Fire Danger

Top areas affected by more than 100 wildfires across Canada

 

Saskatchewan and Alberta Air Quality Advisory

As many of our readers are aware, there has been high amounts of smoke and wildfires in Northern Saskatchewan & Alberta. The air quality in the outdoor environment has caused some concern for many people with respiratory issues, children & pregnant woman.

The largest fire near Weyakwin is three times the size of Yorkton. The Star Phoenix reports around 1,000 people in Saskatchewan have been forced to take shelter in other communities away from the wildfires, in schools, rec centres and hotels. However, the number of evacuees is likely to be higher, because the province’s social services ministry only tracks those in its care.
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Visibilities have been reduced to less than 2 km in many areas especially in Central and Northern Saskatchewan. Closer to the fires, air quality is poor in many areas due to the smoke,” Environment Canada says. “Smoke near the ground may cause potentially high health risk conditions. The smoke is expected to persist over the next couple of days as winds will remain from the northwest and little to no precipitation is expected to flush out the smoke and haze.”

There have been 510 fires in 2015 to date. There are nearly 50 fires that are larger than 100 hectares burning in Saskatchewan, spreading from one side of the province to the other in the north.

Travel not recommended in the La Ronge area while a fire ban remains in place for all of northern Saskatchewan. Fireworks are also prohibited.

While there is no immediate threat to La Ronge, the communities of Montreal Lake, Wadin Bay, Sucker River, English Bay, Nemeiben and Weyakwin are under evacuation.

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Montreal Lake Councillor Roger Bird said things became pretty intense when the fire came very close to the community, but with some help from provincial fire fighters they were able to save the homes.

In neighbouring Alberta, more than 130,000 hectares have burned as of June 29. Of 125 wildfires currently burning, 37 are out of control, according to a report from Monday.

The Northwest Territories are on their way to another active season, with more than 180,000 hectares burned and 166 fires burned to date. Officials are warning people in the town of Hay River to prepare to evacuation if the situation in that part of the territory worsens.

At this time we would like to remind our readers to take precaution if you need to be outdoors

  • If you have neighbors, friends or relatives that live alone, check periodically to make sure they are OK. Seniors and people with heart or lung conditions may get sick from the smoke. When doors and windows are kept closed to keep the smoke out, houses may also get very hot. This can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Use fans to move air around inside the house
  • Don’t run an air conditioner that needs to draw air in from the outdoors
  • When in your vehicle keep the air on recirculate to avoid sucking the smoke inside.
  • Keep physical activity outdoors to a minimum
  • Try and keep travel to a minimum
  • Patients with asthma or other respiratory conditions should be vigilant about avoiding smoke and continue taking their prescribed medication. These people should alsnot hesitate to take their rescue medication when they need it. People on home oxygen should not make any changes to their oxygen.
  • If you have room air cleaners with HEPA filters, turn them on.
  • If you are at work and begin to feel air quality issues in their work area, please alertyour director and or site leaders. Facilities and maintenance staff are doing what they can to mitigate the issue but it is impossible to make our buildings completely free of the smoke.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your nose and mouth hydrated to keep breathing easy
  • Be alert to Public Service Announcements and updates from the Ministries of Health and Environment and further updates from the Region.

What Should I Do If I Have Mold In My Apartment? Part 2

What Should I Do If I Have Mold In My Apartment? Part 2

MOLD IN APARTMENT

Part #2 of what you should do if you have mold in your apartment

In the past, got mold? has blogged about what you should do if you have mold in your apartment. We have received numerous calls and emails about the issues people have had with landlords and what their experiences have been with the tactics they have tried to use in order to get the work done and up to code for health issues. We understand the concerns people have that live in low income housing and having to deal with landlords that won’t take action and want to help our readers understand that there are options available to you and your loved ones, but you need to act fast and document your concerns and the actions taken in order to get the work completed and to get the work done RIGHT.

Landlords have to maintain rental premises in a good state of repair and fit for habitation.  Tenants must repair damages that they cause through their actions or neglect.  Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you may have to request repairs.  Hopefully, your request is all that is needed to get the work done. That being said, don’t wait to contact your landlord if you have a leak in your ceiling, windows, basement, bathroom or anywhere in your home. Leaving water to sit will not only damage the property but if it sinks into your walls or flooring it becomes more of an issue then you initially started out with, and in certain cases you may be found responsible for those damages due to neglect.

In every province and state you have a landlord tenant act. This is in place for provincial / state regulations as every location has different bylaws and rules that need to be followed by every location. A law in Saskatchewan may not be a law in New York, so make sure you speak to the right directory when putting in your complaint.

Communication solves a lot of problems, when dealing with the issue at hand, it may be best to document the complaint before immediately contacting the landlord and tenant board before even asking your landlord or rentalsman to fix the issue. Dealing with issues with a calm, mature level headed request can go a long way, but when it comes to your health we understand that sometimes it is hard to remain calm while requesting such repairs. Assuming that you have already done this, the next step would be to actually contact the board and always remember to document your complaint and how long it has taken to get the work done.
This agreement should set a precedent throughout North America forcing landlords to take proper measures to reduce tenant exposure to mold, which has clearly been linked to childhood asthma as reported in this NBC Dateline documentary.

Landlords may ask the tenant to repair the problem they have, but please do not result in going to google for the most simple DIY and end up with more issues than you had to begin with.  Read up on some of the things you should know about mold before you begin your project, such as do’s and don’ts. 

Health Canada recommends that all mould, regardless of the species, be cleaned and that the underlying water or humidity problem be dealt with quickly to prevent potential health issues.

If you are currently renting and are dealing with mold issues, then the information and links above provide you with lots of information to help you address the situation with your landlord. However, if you are currently planning to rent an apartment and are concerned about mold, then Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation advises that you should consider these factors in your search:

1. Avoid basement apartments which tend to be damp and prone to mould-growth;
2. Avoid upper-floor apartments in buildings that have wet basements, since mould spores can circulate throughout the entire building;
3. Avoid apartments that do not have working kitchen or bathroom fans;
4. Avoid apartments with old carpets, or ask the landlord to change them before you move in; and
5. Avoid buildings that have a history of roof or plumbing leaks.