Common Air Pollutants & How To Improve Indoor Air Quality In Your Home Or Office

Common Air Pollutants & How To Improve Indoor Air Quality In Your Home Or Office
We spend most of our time indoors. We think we’re safe inside, but poor indoor air quality can put us at risk for health problems such as sore eyes, burning in the nose and throat, headaches or fatigue. Indoor air pollutants can cause or worsen allergies, respiratory illnesses (i.e. asthma), heart disease, cancer and other serious chronic conditions.
Some pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, can cause death! Take the time to learn about indoor air pollutants and you may be saving the health of yourself and others.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants

Radon
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from soil. It can enter the indoors through cracks and openings in the floors and walls. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in general.
Secondhand Smoke
Created by burning tobacco products, secondhand smoke can cause cancer and other respiratory illnesses. In children, secondhand smoke can cause or worsen asthma symptoms and has been shown to be linked to increased risk of ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Combustion Pollutants
These are pollutants that come from burning materials, such as are generated from improperly vented or unvented fuel-burning appliances (space heaters, woodstoves, gas stoves, water heaters, dryers and fireplaces).
Common combustible pollutants are:
Carbon monoxide (CO) – CO is colourless and odourless gas. It can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea and death.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – NO2 is a colourless and odourless gas. It can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, and
  increase the risk of respiratory infection.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOCs are chemicals that evaporate from paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, varnishes and waxes, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment, moth repellents, air fresheners and dry-cleaned clothing. VOCs irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and can cause headaches, nausea, organ damage, and sometimes cancer.
Asthma Triggers
Commonly found in homes, schools and offices, asthma triggers include mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke and pet dander. Mold can grow on shower curtains, dust mites can live in pillows, blankets or stuffed animals, secondhand smoke could pollute the air, and pet hair could litter the carpet or floors.
Asthma triggers cause coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and breathing problems. They can even trigger an asthma attack, which can be life threatening. Asthma triggers can be easily reduced by professional cleaning and air quality expert service.
Molds
Molds produce spores that float through the air and find damp surfaces upon which they grow. Inhaling or touching molds can cause hay fever-type symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash.
Protect yourself and your family from indoor pollutants by contacting our office to schedule an indoor air quality test.
You can improve indoor air quality at your home or business by performing these simple steps:
1. Have an Indoor Air Quality Inspection
    One cannot control indoor pollutants if they are unknown. An indoor air quality
    inspection can identify the presence and potential sources for many pollutants.
    Give us a call to schedule a free inspection at your home or business.
2. Control the Sources of Pollution
    Ventilate the area by increasing the amount of fresh air and therefore reducing the
    concentration of indoor air pollutants.
3. Change Filters Regularly
    Change the filters in your central heaters and air conditioners. They serve to trap
    dust and other pollutants in the air.
4. Adjust the Humidity
    High humidity can increase the likelihood of mold growth. Keep indoor humidity
    30-50% by using a moisture or humidity gauge, which are available at
    most hardware stores.

If you are interested in an indoor air quality test call today for peace of mind! Serving all of Saskatchewan & Alberta.

 

Mold Awareness Month Part 4 of 4

As the month is coming to an end and the leaves begin to change as well, we remind ourselves of all the things to prepare for with the upcoming months ahead. Having a fall inspection done should be one of the first things to consider as the winter months will make you eventually turn on your furnace possible blowing up any airborne particles that could be in the basement. You may want to start looking at the foundation of your home as well to make sure water can not enter once the upcoming snow begins to melt. Here are some helpful tips to prepare for the upcoming winter months.

Three Reasons To Have a Fall Mold Inspection
Fall is here, soon temperatures will begin to drop and you will need to turn on your furnace. 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 summer, 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 furnace when there is mold in the basement could spread the spores throughout the home contaminating more areas.
The number one reason to get a Fall mold inspection is to prevent the spread of mold into other areas of your home when you turn on your furnace. 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, sinusinfection, 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, then you likely have mold spores circulating in your home.
To verify that you have mold issues, you can check the furnace 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.

Another thing to watch for in the upcoming months, once freezing starts you will want to watch for Ice Damming on the sides of your home, this is a very common occurrence once the weather starts to change it begins to freeze and then thaw and then freeze again causing many hazards for your walk-ways, driveway and other areas depending on where your eavestroughs are pointing. Keeping them clear of ice can potentially keep your home safe from water leaking in the side of the home.

HOW IS AN ICE DAM CAUSED?
According to the Ice Dam Company ice dams result from the escape of heat into the attic which eventually builds up and melts snow on the roof. The ice dam is the ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof which prevents melting snow from draining as it should. The water that backs up behind the ice dam can leak into the home and cause damage to walls, floors, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. This graphic, courtesy of the Ice Dam Company, provides you with visual warning signs to look for.
Pictured below is an image of a house we inspected. Apparently this home was just renovated, but the builder failed to insulate the attic properly and the end result was a significant ice dam, which ultimately will cause problems for this homeowner. Ice dams are preventable!

icedam

WHY DO ICE DAMS CAUSE MOLD?
The key problem caused by ice dams is the water and moisture that leaks into the home. Mold thrives on moisture and grows because it feeds on the materials that most homes are made of: wood, drywall, wallpaper, carpet, ceiling tiles, etc. The final component required for mold growth is a temperature of 5 degrees to 38 degrees. As long as these three ingredients are present, mold will form and continue to grow provided it has food to feed on. This is the reason that the structural integrity of a home is compromised–mold is essentially feeding on the home.
As mentioned earlier, ice dams are caused by heat escaping into the attic. Temperature, as you know, is one of the key ingredients required for mold growth. Heat in the attic, which leads to ice dams is caused by everyday activities in the household, such as cooking, laundry, showering, washing dishes, etc. Normally, these activities should not cause problems, ie. excessive condensation and heat in the attic. However, problems will occur if the attic is not properly insulated. One of the major causes of condensation in the attic is the lack of proper ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom required to vent vapour out of the home. Another major reason excess heat may build up in the attic is a direct result of builder negligence that vent bathroom and dryer vents into attics, crawl spaces, or over hangs, and not onto the roof. This poor building practice will cause problems because moisture and heat will build up in the attic. The Ice Dam Company provides an excellent visual of why black mold begins forming in an attic…click here to view.
Here are some general tips to prevent ice dams.
1. Make sure you have proper ventilation in the attic. Keep your soffit vent clear and open. Have a roofing professional check your roof and calculate the proper ventilation requirements. A well ventilated cold roof prevents ice dams.
2. If you have gutters on the house – keep them clean and free from leaf debris.
3. Ensure that your bathroom exhaust is vented through the roof and insulated if necessary.
4. Ductwork in the attic should be well insulated and sealed from leaks.
5. Air bypass – where warm air leaks through small cracks and openings – should be sealed. Check attic access ports in closets and can lights in the ceiling as potential areas of concern.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE CONDENSATION ISSUES IN MY ATTIC?
In addition to the visual external clues of ice dams, here are some tips to help you determine if you have condensation issues.
1. Check your attic for visual mold.
2. Check all penetrations in your ceilings such as light fixtures and make sure there is no excessive gaps between the fixtures and ceiling.
3. Make certain all drywall is finished properly with no gaps or cracks for moisture to migrate through.
4. Look for visible stains such as mold on the surfaces of the ceiling, walls of the living areas, floors, carpets, attic plywood sheathing, attic sidewalls, floor joist, wet insulation.
5. Check for moisture or high relative humidity over 65% and higher.
6. Smelling unusual musty or moldy odors is an indication that you may have a problem. High relative humidity or moisture may be the culprit.
If you are concerned that you may have ice damming issues, we recommend that you hire a professional to assess the situation
We are here to help, so please do not hesitate to contact us. A mold inspection is a cost effective solution to determining if you have to worry about ice damming, and the potential moisture and mold issues it causes. Peace of Mind, just a phone call away! Toll Free: 1-888-909-MOLD (6653)

Are airborne particles linked to sleep insomnia?

Are airborne particles linked to sleep insomnia?

They say the most intelligent people have the hardest time falling asleep at night because they have lots of things on their minds. Many things go through your mind a million times a minute once your head hits the pillow, in many cases this is the time of day when you can actually think clearer about the decisions and things that happened during the day. But, for many the thoughts don’t stop and things seem to pile up and this is when people begin to become more anxious and sometimes even depressing thoughts start to kick in.

Recent studies have shown a connection between hay fever and insomnia. In the North America alone, some 50 million people suffer from allergies as a result of changing seasons.

Research indicates that hay fever victims suffer from insomnia twice as much as people without allergies. Experts say people with allergic rhinitis on average take a longer time to get to sleep and they wake up more easily during the night. They also have to take more naps during the day and they get tired more easily.

During springtime our immune systems work to repel tree pollen from oak, elm, ash, birch, hickory, maple, cypress, walnut…and the list goes on. As a result, you will sneeze, cough, drip and blow and wipe your nose until it’s red as a stop sign!

In summer, you can look forward to spores coming from weeds, grasses and outdoor mold.

Come fall, there’s ragweed, sagebrush, and thistle to clog your nose.

During winter, you figure you’ll be indoors most of the time, so no worries, right? Wrong! Welcome to dust mites, animal dander and indoor molds. Now, you can add colossal headaches to your nasal congestion. Also, if you weren’t keeping an eye on your nooks and crannies you may even have mice living in your home causing a whole other issue with respiratory issues.

All of these particles build up in your nasal passages and your lungs causing your body to react differently, everyone reacts differently to different particles they breath in from their indoor environment. So, this is why it is so hard to prove if the link between mold and insomnia is a fact, other then most patients that came into contact with mold and other indoor airborne particles lived in homes that have flooded and were not properly remediated, or still have water damage in them.

If you believe that your home may be the reason you are sleep deprived, don’t wait until it starts effecting you! There are some beginning steps you can take to give you some peace of mind.

  1. Get an Inspection done. Either a visual inspection with an environmental professional who is trained to assist people and assess the building envelope and surroundings or, if you visually see that your home has water damage in it or can see mold. Get some samples taken!
  2. Ask your professional if they they believe it could be covered under insurance.
  3. After your tests come back from sampling (if needed) or after your evaluation with a professional, book with a trusted company that’s track record proves they do the job the right way the first time! Look at customer reviews, read testimonials, and above all else make sure they are educated!
  4. Enjoy a good night sleep knowing you did the right thing and hired the right company!

 

For more information please call 1-888-909-6653

 

Mold Prevention & Information

Mold Prevention & Information

Mold is an important part of nature. It’s almost impossible to not be around mold at least once in your lifetime as mold surrounds us in our homes, offices, and outdoor environment. Outdoor mold is responsible for breaking down dead organic matter, such as fallen leaves and tree branches. However the difference is, you never want mold to grow inside your home. Keeping that in mind, every house has mold regardless of how new, how old or how clean you keep it. It’s virtually impossible to have a mold free home, even if you live in a plastic bubble there is probably a chance that a spore got in there!

There are many types of mold, but none of them can grow without moisture. One of the objectives of mold remediation professionals is to determine what type of mold is present in a property. This is important because it will help the professional and the property owner determine the relative health risk that the mold poses and how best to remediate it. Unfortunately, not all molds are the same, in fact there are over 1.5 millions species of mold in the world. However, only about 100,000 have been identified.

Mold is a fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast, and has a biologicial function as nature’s recycler consuming dead organic matter. Understanding it’s biological importance is essential to understanding why it poses health hazards. For the purposes of mold inspections and remediation, one of our goals is to identify whether or not the mold is allergenic, pathogenic, or toxigenic.

Toxic molds produce mycotoxins that will make anyone sick. Possible reactions include immune suppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which can be inhaled, ingested, or touched. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.

In order to determine the exact species of mold, mold inspectors will usually recommend that a tape or swab sample is taken. Sometimes, air quality tests may also be recommend because air borne mold spores are not visible to the eye; such a test will enable the inspector to report back on the concentration of indoor spores. Samples are then sent to accredited laboratories who analyze them to determine the exact species. Over the years, we have received many lab reports that have identified these five most common indoor molds.

In fact, tiny mold spores are floating through the air around you right now; you just can’t see them. The spores are harmless until they land on a damp surface and begin to grow. That’s when mold colonies form and expand, damaging your indoor air quality and causing your asthma and allergies to flare up.

Use these mold prevention tips to keep that fuzzy, slimy stuff at bay.

Prevent Standing Water

Rooms with standing water are the most likely places for mold to start growing. Use these tips to keep standing water at a minimum:

  • Clean up spills quickly: Wet carpet, upholstery and blankets could harbor mold growth if you don’t act quickly to dry them. In 24 to 48 hours, damp materials become breeding grounds for mold.
  • Fix leaks without delay: If you see mold growing under the sink, behind the toilet or in the attic, it means you have a plumbing or roof leak. Clean up the mold and fix the leak to prevent the mold from coming back. Plumbing and roof leaks can go unnoticed for a very long time, so be sure to check hard-to-reach place regularly.
  • Wipe down the tub or shower: Mold growth is common in the bathroom where standing water abounds. To prevent mold growth on tub and shower tiles, wipe down wet surfaces with your towel after drying yourself. Hang the towel to dry instead of throwing it in the hamper right away to prevent mold growth on the fabric.
  • Check the slope around the home’s foundation: Your property should slope outward so rain water drains away from the foundation, not toward it. If this isn’t the case, water could collect around the foundation or enter the basement and lead to high amounts of mold growth.
  • Watch out for condensation: Condensation is most likely to occur in winter. When cold surfaces “sweat,” they become a potential location for indoor mold to grow. If moisture beads on windows, pipes or walls, act quickly to dry these wet surfaces. Then, find the source of the problem, which is most likely high humidity. Increasing ventilation, covering cold surfaces with insulation and increasing the indoor temperature are specific ways to combat condensation.

Reduce Indoor Relative 

Humidity Mold can grow indoors any time of year if the relative humidity is too high. For better mold prevention, strive to keep indoor relative humidity at around 50 percent in the summer and closer to 30 percent in the winter. To reduce indoor humidity, follow these tips:

  • Run the air conditioner in the summer: As you know, the A/C removes heat from indoor air, but it performs another function as well: removing excess humidity. This is the key to feeling cool and dry rather than cold and clammy when the air conditioner runs. A dedicated dehumidifier also removes moisture from the air. You can run this appliance separately from the air conditioner for a more comfortable, less humid interior on mild summer days.
  • Vent moisture-producing appliances properly: The clothes dryer is the most common moisture-producing appliance found in the average home. Sometimes, the dryer is improperly vented to the attic or crawlspace. Warm, humid air accumulates in these areas and encourages mold growth, which can destroy insulation and compromise your home’s structural integrity. To prevent these situations, simply make sure the dryer vents to the exterior.
  • Use exhaust fans year round: Showering and cooking are two daily activities that produce a lot of humidity. A good mold prevention tip is to run the bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to draw excess humidity outside when performing these tasks.

Mold prevention is very important for maintaining good indoor air quality. If you think you have a mold problem, please got mold? Disaster Recovery Services to learn about our mold clean up and mold remediation services.

Why Should I Have a Spring Mold and Seepage Inspection?

Why Should I Have a Spring Mold and Seepage Inspection?
I can’t stress enough the importance of inspecting your house on a regular basis. Many people live in an unhealthy environment without even knowing they’re endangering not only themselves, but their pets and kids as well. (Robert Bollinger, President of Budget Waterproofing)
Spring has sprung, so to speak, and one of the major concerns at this time of year is seepage which essentially means that moisture and water from outside the home is getting inside the home. The part of the home that is most susceptible to seepage is the basement because it’s underground, and there’s almost always moisture somewhere nearby. Seepage will usually start because the foundation develops cracks allowing moisture in. If you think you already have a seepage issue, don’t hesitate to contact us, the sooner the situation is addressed, the better.
Here are some tips to prevent water intrusion into your home due to heavy rains and the spring melt off:
1. Clean your eaves-troughs and have them inspected yearly;
2. Make sure your down spouts are not clogged with leaves and debris;
3. Have your down spouts directed away from your house and if possible eight feet or more away from the house;
4. Make sure to build up any low areas in order to slope them away from your foundation, allowing water to travel away from your house; and
5. Install a sump pump!
It is also very important that you know where your water main valve is located just in case you spring a leak in your pipes. Your goal is to prevent excess moisture from entering your home which may occur because of rain and flooding and/or busted pipes from dramatic temperature changes.
The primary reason you want to prevent excess moisture and water from getting in your home is to prevent mold growth.
Mold needs four critical ingredients to grow:
1. Mold spores
2. Mold food which is almost any substance that contains carbon atoms, like wood, paper, and organic fibers.
3. The right temperature of 5 degrees to 38 degrees.
4. Finally, moisture.
Spring is a season that promotes mold growth because it provides the ideal environment for Mold’s Favorite Places in Your Home.
Since mold needs warmth, humidity, and organic matter to grow, it is important that you look for these key signs of growth:
1. Fogged windows;
2. Mold stains on windowsills, at roof line, in tile grout, under carpet and behind wallpaper;
3. Mildew or musty odors;
4. Dampness, condensation or rusting;
5. Worsened allergy symptoms or respiratory conditions.
Mold is a growing concern because some molds are toxic and can cause many health issues.