Further Research Linking Mold With Asthma

Further Research Linking Mold With Asthma
Yet another study has been published that links the presence of mold with asthma.
The study by Dr. Richard Sharpe of the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK, found that increased levels of the fungal species Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium can pose a significant health risk to people with asthma. The study further concludes that these fungi will worsen symptoms in children and adults.
Cladosporium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, and Penicillium species were found to be present in higher concentrations in homes of asthmatic participants. Exposure to Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium species were found to be associated with increased risk of reporting asthma symptoms by a limited number of studies. The presence of Cladosporium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, and Penicillium species increased the exacerbation of current asthma symptoms by 36% to 48% compared with those exposed to lower concentrations of these fungi, as shown by using random-effect estimates. Studies were of medium quality and showed medium-high heterogeneity, but evidence concerning the specific role of fungal species was limited. (Indoor fungal diversity and asthma: A meta-analysis and systematic review of risk factors)
These conclusions were based on findings gathered by systematically reviewing 17 studies that were done in 8 different countries.
During an interview by Dr. Marie Benz of www.medicalresearch.com, Dr. Sharpe emphasizes the following:
1. Dampness and fungal contamination in the home has been consistently shown to increase the risk of asthma and the severity of its symptoms.
2. Majority of the evidence reviewed focuses on the exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and few assess their role in the development of asthma.
3. So far Aspergillus and Penicillium species have already been linked to an increase in the risk of asthma development in children, but we know little about the effects of the other species we considered.
4. Dampness is one of the major factors affecting the growth of mold inside homes – a problem which has been on the rise as aging houses are sealed and retrofitted with new energy efficient technology. We currently know very little about how people’s living habits can contribute to indoor air quality, and ultimately affect their health. This study highlights the need for homes to have adequate heating, ventilation and home maintenance – all factors that will help to reduce the presence of mold and its effects on asthma symptoms.
If you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.

Asthma In School Children Caused By Mold!

Asthma In School Children Caused By Mold!
In about 30 days, summer holidays will be over and our children will be back in school. One of the questions we have been researching is the impact that poor air quality has on the health of children. In fact, February, 2012, Got Mold? posed the question: Should Canadian School Boards be Concerned About Mold?. This question stemmed from the fact that earlier that year, CNN reported that one-third of American schools had poor air quality.
One of the most common health concerns for children is asthma. What causes asthma?
One study based on a survey of more than 10,000 university students, cited that there was a strong correlation between mold and asthma.
Another study of 300 children found a strong correlation that three species of mold–Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis and Penicillium variabile–caused asthma in children. The studies author went on to conclude that: “It’s proof of common sense that you want to take care of mold in the home. It’s just proving that if you don’t do that, your kids are more likely to develop asthma.
December, 2013 the New York City Housing Authority was forced to recognize mold as a health threat and specifically that one of the core causes of asthma was moisture and mold.
It would appear that more research is pointing to the fact that the prevalent and core cause of asthma in children is, indeed, mold.
Research out of Taiwan, provides even more proof that mold causes asthma.
The researchers studied school children aged 6 to 15 years old in 44 schools and concluded that:
Classroom Aspergillus/Penicillium and basidiospores are significantly associated with childhood asthma and asthma with symptoms reduced on holidays or weekends (ASROH). Government health policy should explore environmental interventions for the elimination of fungal spores in classrooms to reduce the prevalence of childhood asthma.
Based on this conclusion, it is fairly clear that parents, teachers, school trustees, and the government needs to take the issue of mold in schools seriously. It is no longer a theory that poor air quality affects the health of school children, it is fairly clear that it does. It is also fair to conclude that the prevalent cause of childhood asthma is mold.
If we want to reduce the number of children with asthma, then the obvious solution is to address the issue of poor air quality in schools. Will this happen? I am hopeful, but in an age of constant government cutbacks and tight budgets, the likelihood of this happening is not very high. The driving force for change in schools will ultimately have to be the parents whose children are impacted by poor air quality.
As a parent, the only way you can determine if your child’s school is causing sickness is to monitor their health during the summer when they are away from school and monitor their health when they are in school.
Here are some questions you may want to consider when your child is back in school.
How do I know if my child is getting sick at school from mold?
Some children are more sensitive than others. But watch out for symptoms that seem to appear only at school – for example, wheezing, hoarseness, cough, runny nose, acid reflux, digestive issues, headache and irritated eyes.
What should I do if I suspect my child is getting sick because of school?
Visit your children’s classrooms and other parts of their schools. Do you see or smell mold or mildew? Are there signs of water leaks on walls, around windows or on the ceiling?
Musty and earthy odors are always an indication that a mold problem is present. Dirty carpet and water damage might also mean mold and bad air quality. Mold grows where there’s moisture.
How do I know if it’s mold?
If you see fuzzy, slimy, or discolored surfaces — especially in damp or wet areas — it’s probably mold. Molds can be green, black, gray, purple or even orange.
What if I see a problem?
Alert your principal or a School Board member. A lot of times, it will take more than one call or e-mail to get a response. Although calls might be quicker, your letters will provide a paper trail. Also, be sure to log all your calls, letters and observations. Inform other parents of the problem.
How can I protect my child?
Educate yourself. Talk to school officials about what they’re doing to control humidity and how quickly they’re fixing leaky roofs and windows. Ask to see copies of investigative reports and work orders for repairs and mold removal. Finally, ensure that your child is maintaining a healthy diet so their immune system is strong.
If you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.

What is Category 3 Water and Why Should I be Concerned? (Part Two)

What is Category 3 Water and Why Should I be Concerned? (Part Two)
Part One of this article explained what Category 3 Water is. This final installment will explain why you should be concerned and how to minimize the risks.
WHAT POTENTIAL BACTERIA AND VIRUSES ARE CARRIED BY CATEGORY 3 WATER
The most common bacteria found in sewage are:
1. E. Coli;
2. Acanthamoeba;
3. Salmonella;
4. Helicobacter pylori;
5. Leptospira;
6. Cryptosporidium;
7. Giardia;
8. Hepatitis A Virus;
9. Clostridium Tetani; and
10. Adenoviridae
WHAT SICKNESSES AND DISEASES ARE CAUSED BY THESE BACTERIA AND VIRUSES
According to the National Resources Defense Council nearly 2 million cases of illnesses are caused by sewage contamination each year.
Exposure to sewage or its products may result in a number of illnesses including:
1. Gastroenteritis, characterised by cramping stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting caused by e.coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. Exposure to Helicobacter pylori is also linked to other stomach ailments including ulcers.
2. Weil’s disease also known as Leptospirosis which is a flu-like illness with persistent and severe headache, vomitting, and muscle aches. This disease is commonly caused by exposure to water contaminated with animal urine. Complications from this disease include damage to the liver, kidneys, and blood meaning this condition can cause death.
3. Hepatitis caused by the hepatitis A virus and is characterised by inflammation of the liver, and jaundice.
4. Acute respiratory illnesses caused by the adenoviruses, resulting in attacks of breathlessness, chest tightness, wheezing, pneumonia, croup and bronchitis.
5. Infections of skin, eyes, nose, throat and ears.
6. Tetanus, a medical condition that affects the nervous system and is characterised by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibres; caused by a clostridium tetani. This is the reason we get tetanus shots.
HOW CAN YOU MINIMIZE YOUR RISKS OF GETTING SICK?
First, it is important to understand how the micro-organisms enter the body: direct contact, ie touching your mouth with contaminated hands and/or breathing in contaminated dust and air and/or exposing your skin, particularly if you have open cuts.
For this reason, it is imperative that you wear protective clothing, rubber boots, gloves, and use eye and respiratory protection.
You do not want to expose your skin, particularly if you have wounds or cuts.
It is also critical that you do not inadvertently touch your mouth, eyes, or nose with contaminated hands or gloves.
With this understanding of the risks and the precautions you need to take, when you are in a flood situation, it is important to realize that disaster restoration companies have specialized equipment and experience to deal with clean up. Hire professionals to do the clean up as opposed to doing it yourself to save yourself from potential sickness and long term health issues.
As stated by the IICRC:
Most household microorganisms (fungi, bacteria) typically require five conditions for germination, growth, amplification and dissemination. Generally, they include:
• organic food source, especially cellulose (e.g., paper, wood), which are found in abundance in construction materials
• moisture, even high humidity (67% RH plus)
• moderate temperature – 68-86°F/20-30°C
• stagnant air
• time – several hours to several days
Anything that can be done to control or minimize these optimum conditions will prolong the time required for microbial growth.
In short, when your property is flooded, time is critical to minimizing the magnitude of the concerns caused by Category 3 Water.
Once your property is professionally cleaned, will the risks caused by Category 3 Water still be an issue?
The answer, of course, is YES!
The only way to be completely sure if your property has been remediated properly is to hire a Third Party Environmental consultant who performs a Post-Remediation Verification to determine whether or not the air quality is at normal, healthy levels.
In addition, it is also important that the consultant takes swab samples of the flooded areas that can be sent to a lab to test for levels of bacteria caused by sewage.
The only way to have true piece of mind after your home is remediated is to make sure that this Third Party Verification and Sewage Swab Sampling is done. Unless this is done, you will not have any certainty that the restoration company you hired has completely mitigated the health concerns caused by Category 3 Water.
If you have any questions about Category 3 Water or have concerns about a recently remediated property, Got Mold? recommends that you contact an IICRC accredited restoration company who understands the risks. We are IICRC accredited and here to help, so don’t hesitate to contact us!

What is Category 3 Water and Why Should I be Concerned? (Part One)

What is Category 3 Water and Why Should I be Concerned? (Part One)
According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), Category 3 Water is:
That which is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans. Examples: sewage, rising flood water from rivers and streams, ground surface water flowing horizontally into homes.
In layman’s terms, Category 3 Water is water contaminated by sewage and fecal matter.
During our years of business, Got Mold? has encountered Category 3 Water on numerous occasions.
Recently, we mitigated the risks from Category 3 Water in Calgary and High River, two areas of Alberta that experienced significant damages from the flood.

Calgary 2013 Pump Trucks

In Calgary, we worked on two large scale projects that had extensive issues with Category 3 Water. During my short stay in Calgary, I had the opportunity to visit the projects and it was clear, just from the smell in the air, that the area was saturated with pathogens and fecal matter.

High River Volunteers

The devastation in High River we witnessed was even more extensive particularly because whole sections of the town were cordoned off from residents for safety reasons. Category 3 Water was just one of the concerns we encountered.

Hidden Valley 10

Just recently, Got Mold? was asked to perform sewage sampling in Hidden Valley, Alberta, and the subsequent lab results have proven positive for contamination. In particular, the lab results proved positive for Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Enterococci (a subgroup of Streptococci) are commonly used as indicator bacteria for fecal/sewage contamination. These test results will hopefully help these residents in their insurance claims to recover some of the costs from the damage.
What potential bacteria and viruses are carried by Category 3 Water?
What sicknesses and diseases are caused by these bacteria and viruses?
How can you minimize your risks of getting sick?
Part Two will answer these questions…stay tuned!

Don’t Spray Mold!

Don’t Spray Mold!
There seems to be lots of mis-information on the Internet recommending that you spray chemicals on mold. This article explains why spraying mold will in fact make the situation worse.
WHAT IS MOLD?
Molds are a type of fungi and are neither plant nor animal. There are over 100,000 types of mold with at least 1,000 types found in North America and live in colonies growing on food, fabric, bathroom walls, construction materials, and soil. Mold proliferates through the release of spores into the air we breathe and are not visible to the naked eye.
Indoor molds cause two key problems.
1. They destroy the material that they feed on, including bathroom walls, carpets, insulation, and ceilings.
2. Exposure to high concentrations of certain types of mold creates health problems. For this reason, materials that are infected with mold need to be removed. In fact, mold is like a cancer, unless it is dealt with and removed, it will continue to grow. The only way to deal with mold is to eradicate it.
HOW DOES MOLD GROW?
Most homes and buildings have mold because they offer the three ingredients mold needs to grow:
1. Food, which includes materials high in cellulose content such as paper and wood. Drywall, wallpaper, carpet, ceiling tiles, dust, and dirt, are also food sources for mold.
2. Temperatures of 5 degrees to 38 degrees present the perfect environment for mold.
3. Finally, water is the key ingredient. Mold can not grow without moisture. Where there is moisture, you will find mold. This is one of the reasons that leaking pipes, roofs and ceiling, sewer backups, floods, and condensation end up causing mold issues.
Mold is a growing concern because we spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors, creating a situation ripe for health issues.
KILLING MOLD IS NOT THE ANSWER!
Getting rid of mold by applying bleach or chemicals is NOT the answer to the problem because dead mold spores are just as harmful to the human lung as live spores. You may have read or heard about the myth of the “Mummy’s Curse” in which all of the Archaeologists that discovered King Tutankhamen’s Tomb eventually died. They, in fact, died from dead aspergillus mold spores that laid dormant for centuries!
In addition, mold spores like Aspergillus and Stachybotrys (black mold) are toxic in both a live form and a dead form. The key to proper mold removal is to remove all of the mold spores.
Mold is toxic and can cause many health issues. In fact, mold produces mycotoxins that are pathogenic to animals and humans. In 2011 we posted an article on the uses of mold as a biological weapon to illustrate just how toxic mold is.
In the words of our founder and President, James C. Watson:

“There is no chemical that should be sprayed on mold as the dead mold spores are just as harmful as the living mold spores. All standards and reference guides including the IICRC mold removal guideline frown upon spraying mold. It is all abut removal, air filtration and proper cleaning. When you spray stuff on mold it will release its spores into the air and the air is the last place you want a large contamination of mold spores“.
Well stated James! 🙂