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.

National Dog Day – Thank you to the Mold Dogs!

National Dog Day – Thank you to the Mold Dogs!

Air sampling and related mould inspection techniques are expensive and laboratory analysis of the samples can take up to three weeks (depending on the particular test) before the results are known.

Traditional air sampling cannot pinpoint the source of mould; it merely confirms the presence of mould in the overall space where the sample was taken. The dog, on the other hand, is trained to alert to the exact location of the mold. In situations involving isolated contamination sites the Mold Dog is most often accurate within 1-2 metres of the actual source of contamination.

This means that costly air sampling can be limited to the contaminated areas and at the same time samples can be taken at the suspected contaminated site thus ensuring a higher degree of accuracy in the air samples themselves. If destructive (bulk) sampling is preferred, then the Mold Dog provides assurance that destructive testing will not be a ‘hit-or-miss’ proposition.

Another important benefit of pinpointing mould sources is that the cost of remediation (repairs) can be reduced dramatically by repairing only those areas which are actually contaminated.

(As a rough rule of thumb, a dog can inspect an average 2 storey house (2000 sq. ft.) in approximately 2 hours.)

Dogs have been used for years by military and law enforcement agencies to detect bombs and drugs, among other things. In Europe, dogs have been used to detect mold for over 20 years.

Mold frequently grows in hidden places, inside wall cavities, underneath floors and in inaccessible areas and is often not visible until the problem is more advanced. When moisture builds up from leaky pipes, roofs, basements or high humidity, conditions are ideal for mould growth. Moulds are easily disturbed and their spores can become airborne causing a possible threat to the building or the health of the occupants. Exposure to some types of molds can cause serious health effects such as respiratory infection, asthma attacks, skin rashes, eye infections, ear infections, nosebleeds and headaches. In rare cases toxic mould can cause cancer and even death.

Certified Mold Dogs detect and pinpoint exact areas of mold, which leads to lower remediation costs for homeowners and insurers.

A mold dog can get to places faster than people, and can detect mold in places that people can’t reach. Human inspectors might be in a building for four hours performing Indoor Air Quality tests and sampling and even using thermal imaging cameras before finding the mold where as a mold dog can sniff it out and represents the newest tool for consumers in North America to detect and more importantly, pinpoint mold in structures, thus lowering remediation costs.

We’ve been asked many times if its safe to expose dogs to such environments, but its been proven by vets that dogs don’t react quite as badly as humans do when being exposed to mold and spores. The reality of it is, it’s about as safe as using the dogs for bomb sniffing. Dogs are trained to be cautious and aware of the surroundings. They can identify the areas and notify the humans faster then getting test results, resulting in a faster response time. The only thing they can’t do is supply you the quote for the work.

Back to school – be aware of your childrens surroundings

Back to school – be aware of your childrens surroundings

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 70% of all American & Canadian schools have a mold problem.  With their flat roofs and lack of maintenance this number is not farfetched. With budgeting for public schools constantly being discussed and adjusted, all too many schools fail to be properly maintained. Budget cuts in funding too often leave schools in disrepair. A common site in too many schools is a leaking window, ceiling or water pipe. According to every credible source on the subject, including the EPA, if building materials are not dried out within 24-48 hours mold will begin to grow.

If these conditions are not corrected it can lead to a serious mold problem within the school’s breathing environment for faculty and students. It does not even need to be visibly growing on the surfaces of the windows, walls or ceilings of the school in order to affect the health of it’s occupants. It can be growing inside the walls, where a pipe broke or above the ceiling, without being visible. Many of the structural molds are toxic. They produce mycotoxins to kill off their microbial competitors. Mycotoxins can damage the brain and central nervous system. This is why it is important to keep a close eye on your children and what they are surrounded by each day.

Mold is not the only concern that you should keep an eye on unfortunately, One area of concern for parents and teachers is the finding of asbestos in school buildings. If a school was built before the 1980s, it’s likely that it contains some form of asbestos. About half of all schools in the U.S. and Canada were built from 1950 to 1969, when asbestos materials were highly prevalent in construction.

When maintenance work disturbs these materials, or they start to deteriorate over time, asbestos dust can enter the air and be inhaled. Exposure to the dust puts teachers and students at increased risk for mesothelioma, lung cancer and other serious lung conditions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos-containing materials reside in many of the approximately 132,000 primary and secondary schools in the nation. These schools serve more than 55 million children, and are the worksites for more than 7 million teachers, administrators and support staff.

As long as asbestos building materials remain in good condition, the EPA insists they pose minimal health risks and recommends schools leave them in place. But if negligent maintenance work or improper abatement procedures occur, otherwise harmless asbestos products can cause serious exposures.

For more information on mold and asbestos in public schools please follow us on our social media channels, we often share stories to these topics!

Stats on Mold in Schools

Stats on Mold in Schools
My son started school this week. Since I have devoted more than 2 years researching and writing about mold and its health effects, it has created some anxiety for me because I do wonder how safe is the air quality of the school my son attends.
We have been tracking stories on mold since 2012. Out of curiosity, I decided to spread sheet all the stories pertaining to mold in the schools. Here are my findings.
Since the beginning of this year, we have posted 39 Mold in the News blogs. In total, there have been 627 stories documented. On average, there are about 78 stories about mold that are reported in the news each and every month.
Since the beginning of January, there have been 105 stories published about mold in schools.
The percentage of stories involving schools based on what we have published is about 20%, meaning that for every 10 stories we report on, an average of 2 pertain to mold in schools.
The big question, of course, is how many incidences of mold in schools are not being reported? What do you think?
We look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Thinking of Buying A Home, Look For These Moldy Clues

Thinking of Buying A Home, Look For These Moldy Clues
The busiest time in real estate sales tends to be during the spring and summer. If you are in the market for a new home, you should be aware of mold. Since mold remediation is costly, it is much better to thoroughly investigate a home before buying and inheriting a moldy mess.
Here are three clues that you should look for when you are investigating a home purchase.
WHAT’S THAT SMELL?
A bad musty smell is not a good sign because it could indicate mold growth.
Earthy, musty, mildew and even urine like smells are often an indicator of Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOC). Which are gaseous by-products produced during fungal metabolism. MVOC’S are an indicator of active and past mold growth.
WHAT’S GROWING ON THE WALLS?
If you see signs of growth on the walls, ceilings, corners of the basement, then you should be concerned. A small mold growth can easily turn into a large mold growth. It is probably a good idea to find out if the home has had any past moisture issues and if, in fact, they have been fixed.
WHY AM I SNEEZING AND WHEEZING?
Our founder, James C. Watson, is particularly susceptible to mold and in some cases can even sense that there is a mold problem when he walks into a home or office building because he begins to wheeze and can also have difficulty breathing. Keep in mind Watson’s sensitivities can sometimes be caused by smoke and or chemicals, etc. The only way to verify a mold problem is through proper inspection and testing. If you know that you are susceptible to mold and have respiratory problems when you do a walk-through, then there is a good chance that there are mold issues.
These are just three clues you should look for. However, keep in mind, just because you do not find evidence of any of the above does not mean that there is not mold present.
The basic problem with mold is that it can be hidden. Home inspectors are not mold remediation specialists and do not have the expertise required to identify potential mold issues. Home buyers are well advised to invest in both a home inspection and mold inspection before purchasing a home, particularly if there is any indication that there are potential moisture issues. (Buyer Beware! How Reliable is Your Home Inspection?)
Since a home purchase is such a life changing event, once you have narrowed down the potential homes you are considering, it is a wise decision to invest in a mold inspection because home inspectors lack mold expertise.
Since extensive mold in a home can make it virtually unlivable, paying for a specialized mold inspection will save you thousands of dollars and your health.
The cost of a professional mold inspection is negligible when you consider the potential price you have to pay if the mold is unabated. When you are buying a home, it’s always better to be safe than sorry with your money and your health. To learn more about our mold inspection service or if you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below and we will get back to you within 24 hours.