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!

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.

Flooding hits Chestermere and Langdon Alberta

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.

Flooding hits Chestermere and Langdon Alberta

Parts of Chestermere & Langdon were under water Sunday. Residents in some areas of the city just east of Calgary awoke to water pooling in basements, streets and parks.

Alberta Emergency Management Agency advised Chestermere residents not to travel if possible.

Chestermere city staff are responding to reports of flooding and remain on “high alert” Tuesday afternoon after a thunder, lightning, hail and rain storm. The city said it had been monitoring water levels after a thunderstorm warning issued Tuesday, two days after flash flooding damaged over 300 homes.

The mayor also urged people to reduce their water usage until the city dries out, and stay out of intersections that are flooded.

The city said earlier on Tuesday it had applied to the provincial government to receive flooding assistance for residents affected by Sunday’s storm.

“City Council and Staff have been in contact with the Provincial Government in order to bring the flood situation to their attention and request funding help for our residents in what is a very difficult time for many people,” said Mayor Patricia Matthews in a statement.

In addition, the city is offering one free basement inspection per affected home for electrical, gas/plumbing and building to any resident affected by the flooding. Power had been restored to Chestermere and all roads were open as of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The city said tap water was safe to use, but urged people to scale back to “slow the flow to sewers.”

got mold? encourages people to get inspections done at the earliest that you can! Mold growth starts to occur within 24 hours, since it has already been 72 hours an environmental assessment must be performed, before you start moving out wet building material such as drywall and flooring a proper containment and negative air unit must be set up to avoid contamination of mold spores spreading through your home or office.

Trina Mitchell in Langdon: “So much water, it’s knee deep, so we brought out the kayaks.”

Trina Mitchell in Langdon: “So much water, it’s knee deep, so we brought out the kayaks.”

After flooding residents should:

  • Call your insurance company to report damaged property
    Take pictures of damaged property during/after flooding for insurance purposes
    If you are concerned about your insurance coverage, the City is applying to the Provincial Government for flooding assistance for those affected. It may take some time to hear back from the Provincial Government but the City will post any information we receive on our website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts once we hear anything.
  • CUI will be placing bins around the City for discarding damaged items. Visit www.cuinc.ca for locations
  • The City will be offering one FREE basement inspection per affected home for electrical, gas/plumbing, and building to anyone that needs it. Call them at 403-207-7075 to book an inspection. Homeowners may need to call other professionals for different types of inspections
  • Ensure power, gas, and water supplies/systems are checked by a professional before further use.

 

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.