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!

Three reasons to get a summer mold inspection

summer humidity, summer mold

Summer heat can cause mold growth from the rising temperatures causing internal humidity to your home


Three Reasons To Have a Summer Mold Inspection
Summer is almost over, soon temperatures will begin to drop, it is the perfect opportunity for mold to start growing in your home. Here are three reasons to have a professional mold inspection:
1. Prevent Mold Spores From Getting In Your HVAC System
In most homes, the furnace is located in the basement, usually in the storage area. The basement is also one of the most common areas for mold to thrive and grow because it is a dark, moist area. You will know you have mold issues if you smell a musty, earthy odour. This past spring, many homes were flooded and if they were not dried properly, the prevalence of mold issues is highly likely.
If mold is prevalent in the basement, one of the major concerns is to prevent air borne spores from spreading throughout the rest of the home. In other words, turning on your air conditioning and central air units when there is mold in the basement could spread the spores throughout the home contaminating more areas.
The number one reason to get a summer mold inspection is to prevent the spread of mold into other areas of your home when you turn on your furnace for the colder days. If the mold inspector finds mold in the basement, then potential cross contamination can be prevented with a remediation plan.
2. 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 leaving the house.
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.
If you experience these symptoms soon after turning on your furnace or air flow systems, then you likely have mold spores circulating in your home.
To verify that you have mold issues, you can check the furnace or air units for black, gray-brown, gray-green, or white-and-orange spots. The insulation, condensers, cooling coils, and drip pans of furnaces and air conditioners, as well as the ducts are all potential areas where mold growth can occur. If you get mold in your HVAC system, you can get your ducts cleaned by a professional. Duct cleaning is only recommended, however, if the core problem causing the mold issues and the primary source of the mold contamination is properly cleaned.
3. 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 done.
Bottom line, if you suspect that you have any mold concerns, particularly in your basement, 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.
If you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.

When heavy rain hits, keep an eye on your basement and crawl spaces

basement-flood

When your basement or crawl space starts to have water seepage, act fast!

When heavy rain hits, keep an eye on your basement and crawl spaces 

Saskatchewan and Alberta residents got what they asked for… heavy rain to assist in the forest fire situations. Although it may have been what we wanted to help with our local farmers crops, water our lawns, our gardens and plants.. there are many things to keep an eye out for when we get so much in such a little time.

The Southern Saskatchewan & Alberta areas got around 3-7 inches of rain in just under 24 hours. The first thing to understand is that standard eavestroughs can sometimes overflow even when they’re installed correctly and kept perfectly clean. The size and shape of what’s commonly installed is not always sufficient to handle really large rains of the sort we’ve been getting the last couple days, especially if your roof is wide and gathers a lot of water. We hear about this design deficiency cause trouble all the time, and it can cause water damage to your roof, and seep into the windows and sometimes the siding of your home. Although wide, large-capacity gutters and downspouts are made for industrial buildings, it’s expensive and troublesome to have these put onto your home. But why should we have to build outside the box in order to enjoy eavestrough systems that can reliably handle heavy rains? You might consider adding another downspout. Downspouts are often a limiting factor when it comes to drainage capacity, so adding a second unit can offer relief.

Downspouts are usually vertical and usually extend down to ground level. The water is directed away from the building’s foundation, to protect the foundations from water damage. The water is usually piped to a sewer, or let into the ground through seepage. Keep an eye on the downspout that it doesn’t flow directly into your home and have a way for the water to build up and eventually seep into your basement windows or crawlspaces. The water should always be directed in a position in which the water can flow away from the home, if your home is built on a level surface you may wish to consider getting a longer downspout to assist in directing it further away from your home.

Most builders would agree that water leaking into the basement is a common issue. Homeowners and builders are continually looking for ways to utilize every square inch of potential living space. As a result, basements are frequently being converted into useable space. Thus, designing to keep basements dry is more important than ever. Most homeowners know the basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to what they should do when mother nature isn’t being as cooperative as we would like. But, even the most advanced homeowner can have isseus when we get down pours like we have seen recently. Sometimes you don’t have time to prepare for a flash flood, and rains that can cause heavy extensive damage to your homes.  This is why it is very important to check regularly on your roof, basement or crawl space for moisture, water leakage and if your home has a sump pump in it. Make sure it is doing what it needs to do on a regular basis if you can so that when you need it, it’s working! 

Homeowners often finish their basements to create more living space for a bedroom, family room, hobbies like the sewing room and more. That’s when you really start to focus on keeping your basement dry although it’s important for everyone, even if your basement isn’t finished. That’s why you want to learn how to keep your home and basement dry.

For every inch of rain, the average roof sheds 1,000 gallons of water. You can imagine how much standing water will pool around your foundation and find ways to get into your home. Gutters are key to catching and directing this water away from your home. There are many other things that help keep your basement dry.

Keeping Your Home and Basement Dry

Don’t look at this list and think you can pick one or 2 items. If you don’t have basement windows below ground, then you don’t need window wells. Otherwise you need to implement all of these solutions as they work together to minimize the chances of water entering your basement from above. For water that gets through your foundation wall because the water table rises above the floor of your basement, see the Building Requirements for New Construction below.

  • Gutters – direct water to downspouts which direct water to the ground, and ideally away from the house. If your ground doesn’t slope enough, use a diverter or consider adding below ground drainage pipes.
  • Grading – the area around the house so it slopes away from your foundation. You need at least a 6 inch drop over 10 feet for good drainage.
  • Foundation cracks – in masonry walls can be repaired using hydraulic cement.
  • Window wells – need gravel for good drainage and/or covers to divert excess water away.
  • Driveways/walkways – should always slope away from the house
  • Landscaping – should be designed to allow water near the foundation to evaporate.

When Water Gets Inside Your Home

When water gets inside, you want to remove it quickly to minimize the risk of mold, mildew, termites and other unhealthy side effects. Many of the following projects are fairly easy to implement:

  • Dehumidifiers – remove water from hot, humid air. Save time by installing the unit on a wall near the utility sink so it can drain continuously.
  • Insulation – should be wrapped around cold-water tanks, water pipes and cold air ducts to reduce water condensation.
  • Waterproofing – can be accomplished by painting concrete walls and floors with 2 coats of a water-locking, masonry paint like Drylok. There are lots of color choices but make sure you get right product, i.e. walls and floors have different requirements.

Keeping Your Basement Dry

When you find inches of water in your basement, a sump pump can remove the water quickly. A portable pump works well if this happens rarely, i.e. when the hot water heater breaks. If you get water every few years, a sump pump provides cost effective peace of mind. All pumps use some type of float activated switch that turns the pump on when the water reaches a certain height. They should also have a check valve to insure water doesn’t flow backwards from the water outlet pipe.

  • Selection – permanent pump choices include upright or submersible, plastic or cast iron and electric powered versus water powered (sometimes installed as a backup system). Pick one based on the frequency and volume of water you anticipate – a 1/3 horsepower pump is satisfactory for most homes. For more details
  • Installation – requires a sump pit (roughly 2 feet square and 2 feet deep) in the  basement floor, a discharge pipe (into a dry well or storm drain at least 20 feet away from the house), an electrical outlet with GFI. A sump pump cover helps eliminate odors and keep debris from falling on top of the pump.
  • Maintenance – should start with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically you want to test the pump every 2 to 3 months, or right before each rainy season. Make sure the float is not restricted, that the pump is discharging water and clean all screens/openings. Listen for any strange noises from the motor.

Building Requirements for New Construction (and Serious Water Problems)

These techniques are best implemented during new construction or when remodeling. Existing homes with significant water problems will need a specialty contractor to add one/more of these solutions to an existing home.

  • Footing drain – is a 4 inch diameter perforated drainpipe embedded in gravel. The pipe needs to sit on top or alongside the footings and below the basement slab
  • Foundations – should be waterproofed below ground level which is easily done before the site is backfilled
  • Perimeter/interior drains – involve perforated drainpipe, installed over gravel, around the foundation. Water collected should be directed to the sump pump for removal.

If water has been sitting in your basement or crawlspace for over 24 hours that’s when mold growth begins to occur. After more than 72 hours an environmental assessment must be performed to make sure the air in your home isn’t contaminated. contact us. In addition, if you recently had your home remediated for mold and/or abated for asbestos and want to ensure that the contractor you hired did a proper job, contact us for Post-Remediation Verification, to ensure that the work was done right.

Air Contamination Becomes Growing Concern in Chestermere

chestermere flooding

Severe thunderstorms cut power to traffic lights and homes while heavy rains inundated neighbourhoods Sunday morning, slamming Langdon and Chestermere with overland flooding.

Air Contamination Becomes Growing Concern in Chestermere, Alberta
As more and more concerns begin to surface in terms of how safe remediation processes really are, one big concern that is coming into play is air contamination. After the recent devastation, homes that were left for long periods of time sitting in stagnant water are now at risk of mold contamination, which can also lead to serious air contamination.
Recently, in the news you may have seen the devastation of the flash flooding that took place in Chestermere. Two flash floods in less then a week.
Basically what happens is when people go into the basements of course they want to get everything out right away,…but they’re not taking any precautions as to whether there is asbestos or mold contamination….If there was a large mold contamination and it’s been disturbed, that mold will give off a mycotoxin. That’s when you run into musty odour, earthy urine-like odours….[With respect to asbestos] it is a very tiny fibre that has a fish hook resemblance, so when it gets into the lung, it locks itself in and doesn’t come out then causes an infection and the next thing you know cancers start to grow. With asbestos, we all know that it’s lethal, and usually takes around 20 years to set in before someone actually gets sick from it.
Before re-occupying a home after clean up and to avoid potential health complications from poor air quality caused by mold and asbestos, got mold? recommends air quality tests be done:
When reoccupying the home, what people should be doing is contacting a professional company to come out and do an assessment to test the air for mold and asbestos fibres then send that off to a lab and get that information.
An air quality test will determine if there are asbestos or mold concerns. This is important because if mold spores or asbestos fibres have been disturbed, they will settle in other parts of the home. As stated by Watson:
(In the future) every time someone starts the vacuum or walk across the carpet the spores go back into the air, then you’re breathing it in, and the problem is you can’t see the spores that can cause future problems.
Air quality tests for mold are important because they will compare the spore count inside of the house with the spore count outside of the house. For instance, when one house was tested, outdoor mold spore contamination was at a level of roughly 3,800 spores/m3, and in comparison, indoor levels of the contaminated home reached roughly 107,500 spores/m3. Such a high spore count is not healthy.
With respect to asbestos, any home built before 1990 should be tested for air borne asbestos fibres. Friable fibres in the air are a serious hazard to one’s health. To learn more about why asbestos is hazardous, watch the video below prepared by WorkSafe BC.
According to President James C. Watson founder of got mold? Disaster Recovery Services, the results of the air quality test will give the property owner the right information to determine if it is safe to re-occupy the house. If the results prove there is evidence of mold or asbestos, then Watson recommends that professionals be hired to abate the issues because reputable restoration companies use specific procedures to prevent cross contamination and specialized equipment to clean the air.
In addition, Watson believes that the key to preventing future mold issues is to ensure that the home is completely dried out before any reconstruction begins. This is vitally important because if moisture is trapped between insulation and drywall, mold will grow again. In the words of Watson, “drywall is a buffet for mold.” Not only will future mold growth causes health concerns, but it will also impact the structural integrity of the property.
We just want to make sure that the air quality is safe when reoccupying the home. And if it has already been reoccupied, then lets put that stamp of approval on it
Well stated Mr. Watson. If you are planning to re-occupy your home or are currently staying in your home after a flood and want to ensure that the air quality is safe, contact us. In addition, if you recently had your home remediated for mold and/or abated for asbestos and want to ensure that the contractor you hired did a proper job, contact us for Post-Remediation Verification, to ensure that the work was done right.