Saskatchewan and Alberta Air Quality Advisory: 2015

Fire Danger

Top areas affected by more than 100 wildfires across Canada

 

Saskatchewan and Alberta Air Quality Advisory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOLD IN APARTMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Recognizes Mold As A Health Threat

New York Recognizes Mold As A Health Threat
Christmas has come early for residents of public housing in New York City.
Facing a law suit, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has agreed to remove mold in public housing more quickly and more thoroughly.
In the past, NYCHA just painted over mold, a band aid solution leading to recurring mold problems.
This agreement, which will impact 400,000 plus residents of public housing, specifically forces NYCHA to AGREE to the following:
1. Address moisture as the root cause of mold.
2. Respond to complaints promptly.
3. Recognize mold and moisture as a health threat.
4. Recognize asthma as a disability and to make accommodations for tenants with the condition.
For victims of mold sickness, who live in public housing or rent from private real estate companies, this should hopefully set a precedent for future action.
Finally a state housing authority has recognized mold and moisture as a health threat and will be held accountable for fixing the root cause of the mold problem: moisture.
This is a historic agreement which hopefully will prompt action and recognition of the health threats caused by mold in other states, provinces, and countries.

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

What Should I Do If I Have Mold In My Apartment?
This is a commonly asked question by tenants who face mold issues in their apartments or rental homes.
Recently, New York recognized mold as a heath threat. Facing a law suit, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) agreed to remove mold in public housing more quickly and more thoroughly.
This is a historic agreement because it recognizes mold and moisture as a health threat and most importantly recognizes asthma as a disability, creating future liability concerns for landlords who do not address moisture and mold problems in their buildings.
This agreement should set a precedent throughout North America forcing landlords to take proper measures to reduce tenant exposure to mold, which has clearly been linked to childhood asthma as reported in this NBC Dateline documentary.
As a tenant, there are actions you can take to try to resolve your mold issues. Landlord-Tenant relationships are under the jurisdiction of the State or Province that you may live in. With this in mind, here are some links that may help you:
Mold in Rentals: Landlord Liability, Responsibility, and Prevention: This article provides US citizens with a general overview of landlord liability issues pertaining to mold and your rights as a tenant. There are some great links in this article written by a legal expert.
Tenant Rights to Withold Rent by State: This is an excellent resource for US citizens who want to know what their rights are in the State they live in. This page also has two additional sections: “Tenant Rights to Repairs and Maintenance” and “Getting Your Landlord to Make Repairs.”
Landlord and tenant information by province/territory: This is a useful link for Canadians because it provides links to each province in Canada.
Generally speaking, as a tenant and regardless of what state or province you live in, you have the right to live in a clean and habitable housing environment. This means the landlord is responsible for offering you a safe environment to live in and must repair issues such as leaky pipes, roofs, and windows. If you encounter a situation where you have a leaky pipe or ceiling, then you should bring this to the attention of your landlord immediately. The key is to document every occurrence where you encounter moisture that could lead to mold. Documentaion is important to your defence if the landlord fails to address your concerns. If you encounter mold, it is very important that you take pictures as well.
If you have an ethical and smart landlord, your issues will be dealt with. However, if your complaints are not addressed to your satisfaction, you can pursue your case further by contacting your local health department, the Rentalsman in your State or Province that arbitrate landlord-tenant disputes, your local media to create some media hype and pressure, a local mold remediation expert to verify the extent of the mold problem, and/or contact a local attorney to represent you should you choose to sue your landlord for damages to personal property and your health.
If you are currently renting and are dealing with mold issues, then the information and links above provide you with lots of information to help you address the situation with your landlord. However, if you are currently planning to rent an apartment and are concerned about mold, then Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation advises that you should consider these factors in your search:
1. Avoid basement apartments which tend to be damp and prone to mould-growth;
2. Avoid upper-floor apartments in buildings that have wet basements, since mould spores can circulate throughout the entire building;
3. Avoid apartments that do not have working kitchen or bathroom fans;
4. Avoid apartments with old carpets, or ask the landlord to change them before you move in; and
5. Avoid buildings that have a history of roof or plumbing leaks.