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What are the Health Consequences of Living in a House With Poor Air Quality?

Posted by | Blog, Home Air Quality, Indoor air quality testing | 2 Comments

What are the Health Consequences of Living in a House With Poor Air Quality?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the air quality inside your home is usually two times to five times worse than it always is outside. Activities including painting, floor removal among other things make the air inside your house more polluted. The reason behind this is because of the off-gassing of the volatile organic compounds that are used in manufacturing paint, adhesives as well as other objects in your home.

Exposure to poor indoor air quality can bring about short term eye infections, throat and nose irritations, headaches dizziness as well as fatigue. It can as well exacerbate the effects of asthma especially in children. Exposure to poor air quality can bring about respiratory conditions, cancer including even cancer.

There are numerous consequences that can affect you and your family if you are living in a house with poor air quality. Among those mentioned above, the following are some additional sources that can lead to poor air quality in your home:

  1. Deteriorating or damaged insulation as well as fireproofing is a good source of asbestos indoors. Asbestos are known to cause cancer. After long periods of inhaling these fibers you are at risk of getting cancer and Mesothelioma- a deadly cancer that affects the thin lining between the lungs and other organ.
  2. Bacteria and viruses are living organisms that can bring about a disease called influenza. Without proper ventilation this bacteria and viruses will be packed in your house traveling through the air and constantly infecting you and your family with common cold.
  3. New construction or remodeling products are a source of fumes as well as dust that can endanger health. Older building materials are also a source of pollutants when exposed to any disturbance of any kind. These dust and fumes can cause allergic reactions as well as asthma.
  4. Carbon monoxide gas is a colorless, odorless but very dangerous gas. This gas has numerous sources that are found within your house including burning fuel, gasoline natural gas, wood or charcoal. Proper ventilation will prevent you from inhaling high doses of CO which can cause Anxiety or depression, confusion, vomiting, impaired vision, sleepiness, Nausea, Disorientation and Death.
  5. Cleaning supplies are essential in protecting our health but pose as health hazards especially in a house with poor or no HVAC system. Some of these chemicals are corrosive and flammable. Aerosol sprays, chlorine bleach, rug and upholstery cleaners are some of the sources of irritants which leads to respiratory conditions as well as house fires in the case of the flammable substances.
  6. Second hand smoke is the main health hazard that leads to more than 41,000 deaths every year. It has damaging health effects in children as well as adults. This pollutant causes lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Poor air conditioning and ventilation can accumulate this pollutant in your house thus posing more challenges for your family.
  7. Mold and dampness is common in every indoor space. Moisture accumulation in your home will nurture growth of molds. Spore from the mold are the common indoor pollutants. Exposure to these spores can trigger allergic reactions as well as asthma attacks. You can as well be affected by lower and upper respiratory problems including irritation of eyes, nose, skin, throat and the lungs.
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Formaldehyde – What is it and how does it affect you?

Posted by | Blog, formaldehyde, Indoor air quality testing | 2 Comments

formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colourless gas that is emitted from many household building materials. Lower levels of formaldehyde in indoor air are actually very common. Formaldehyde found at higher levels in air can be detected by a sharp smell. High Levels can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and can worsen asthma symptoms.

Lumber Liquidators was recently caught to have sold laminate flooring with high levels of toxic formaldehyde. Click here to learn more about this.

Dangers of FormaldehydeFormaldehyde health risks

At very high concentrations, formaldehyde can cause cancer of the nasal cavity. It has been linked to this rare type of cancer in industry workers who are regularly exposed to high levels of formaldehyde. The risk of developing cancer from formaldehyde exposure at concentrations found in most Canadian homes is very low.

Long-term exposure to moderate formaldehyde concentrations (at levels lower than those causing irritation) may also be linked to respiratory symptoms and allergic sensitivity, especially in children.

Level of formaldehyde

Low – below 50 μg/m3 (40ppb) No adverse effects should be noticed.

Moderate – above 50 μg/m3 (40ppb) Long-term exposure may result in respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing, and allergic sensitivity, especially in children.

High – above 123 μg/m3 (100 ppb) the risk of irritation or burning sensation in eyes, nose and throat from short-term exposure grows with increasing concentration. There is also an increased likelihood of respiratory symptoms from long-term exposure.

Health Canada has developed an indoor air quality guideline for formaldehyde in residences. The guideline sets recommended maximum formaldehyde levels for two types of exposure:

  • The short-term exposure limit protects against health problems that may arise from exposure to high levels over a short time period (e.g. one hour). This type of exposure could occur, for example, when working with paint or varnish containing formaldehyde.
  • The long-term exposure limit protects against health problems that may be caused by repeated exposure to lower levels of formaldehyde over a long period (days, weeks, months, etc.). Since formaldehyde levels change over time, with occasional peaks and valleys, long-term exposure levels are best measured by sampling indoor air over a longer period (8 hours or more).

To avoid possible eye, nose and throat irritation from short-term exposure, indoor air levels of formaldehyde should be below 123 μg/m3 (100 ppb). This is actually lower than the formaldehyde level that has been shown to cause irritation in scientific studies. The lower value was chosen to be more protective of health, as people may differ in their sensitivity to formaldehyde.

To prevent respiratory problems from long-term exposure, i.e. over days, months or years, indoor air levels should be kept below 50 μg/m3 (or 40 ppb). As formaldehyde levels increase above this level, the risk of having respiratory problems or allergic sensitivity also increases, especially for children.

Formaldehyde levels in the air are usually measured in micrograms (μg) of formaldehyde per metre cubed (m3) of air. A microgram is a very small amount equal to 1 millionth of a gram, while a metre cubed is the amount of air in a box that is 1 metre high by 1 metre long by 1 metre wide. Formaldehyde levels are also sometimes expressed as parts per billion (ppb). For example, a level of 1 ppb of formaldehyde means there is 1 part of formaldehyde in a billion parts of air.

Formaldehyde levels in Canada

Health Canada has measured formaldehyde in a large number of homes in different cities across Canada – Charlottetown, Ottawa, Quebec City, Regina – as part of an ongoing study on the quality of indoor air. All houses had at least some formaldehyde in indoor air. On average, formaldehyde levels measured over a day in Canadian homes were 20-40 μg/m3 (16-32.5 ppb). Daily levels as high as 95 μg/m3 (77 ppb), however, have been recorded.

Formaldehyde levels indoors will depend on the number of formaldehyde sources in the home. Ventilation is also a factor, as fresh air brought in from outdoors will dilute and reduce indoor formaldehyde levels. Higher temperature and humidity will also increase the release of formaldehyde through off-gassing from some products.

How to Reduce Exposure to Formaldehyde

The best way to control formaldehyde in the air is to reduce or eliminate as many sources as possible, and prevent it from getting into the air in the first place.

Some actions you can take to reduce formaldehyde levels in your home include:

  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke inside.
  • Make sure fireplaces and woodstoves are in good working condition to prevent smoke from getting into your living environment. Keep your chimney clean and clear of obstructions.
  • Don’t idle cars or other gas powered equipment in attached garages or near doors or windows. Engine exhaust contains a number of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde.
  • For some building and household products, there may be no or low formaldehyde options available, ask retailers or manufacturers for details.
  • To keep emissions low from pressed wood furniture or cabinets, purchase items with a plastic laminate or coating on all sides, or seal them yourself when you get them home.
  • Make sure there is plenty of ventilation during major painting or varnishing projects, or when installing wall-to-wall carpets using glues or adhesives.
  • Allow products that contain formaldehyde to “air out” before bringing them into your home.

Formaldehyde concentrations are higher indoors than they are outdoors, so you can significantly decrease indoor formaldehyde levels by letting in dry, fresh air. Also, high relative humidity increases formaldehyde emissions. Therefore, it is recommended to measure your indoor humidity level with a Next link will take you to another Web site hygrometer and keep the humidity at around 50% in the summer, and 30% in the winter. If necessary, you can use a dehumidifier to reduce the relative humidity.

Here is a good video by CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/what-to-do-if-you-suspect-formaldehyde-in-your-flooring/

Urea formaldehyde-based foam insulation (UFFI)

Urea formaldehyde-based thermal insulation, which is foamed in place and used to insulate buildings, has been banned in Canada under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) since December 1980. UFFI was prohibited due to the high levels of formaldehyde that were given off during the installation process, as well as the continued off-gassing of formaldehyde from poorly installed insulation.

The amount of formaldehyde released by UFFI was highest when first installed and decreased over time. As a result, UFFI installed before 1980 would have little effect on indoor formaldehyde levels today. If UFFI gets wet, however, it could begin to break down and may release more formaldehyde. Wet or deteriorating UFFI should be removed by a specialist and the source of the moisture problem should be repaired.

RetrofoamRetroFoam

RetroFoam, a foamed in-place thermal insulation product, was installed in between 800 and 900 homes in Ontario between 2007 and early 2009. Health Canada has confirmed the product contains urea formaldehyde, and is therefore prohibited under the Hazardous Products Act. Once Health Canada became aware the Hazardous Products Act had been contravened, the department took prompt compliance and enforcement action. As a result, RetroFoam is no longer available for sale or installation in Canada.

Like the earlier UFFI, the amount of formaldehyde released from RetroFoam would have been highest at installation and should decrease over time. While it may take a few months or even years, RetroFoam will eventually stop releasing formaldehyde.

Health Canada offered homeowners with RetroFoam the opportunity to test their indoor formaldehyde levels. The results of that testing are available here.

Advice to homeowners

It is the responsibility of any vendor to ensure that the product they sell, advertise and/or import meets the requirements of Canadian laws.

Before installing any insulation in your home, ask your contractor or retailer whether their product meets applicable laws. Specifically, you can ask them to demonstrate that their insulation product is free of urea formaldehyde. Ask to see the Material Safety Data Sheet or a copy of the chemical formulation for the insulation and make sure the words “urea formaldehyde” do not appear.

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Guidelines for mold remediation with Mold Growth Caused by Clean Water

Posted by | Blog, home mold, Mold Removal | No Comments

Guidelines for mold remediation with Mold Growth Caused by Clean Water

Guidelines_for_mold_remediation_with_mold_growth_caused_by_clean_water

 

Use professional judgment to determine prudent levels of Personal Protective Equipment and containment for each situation, particularly as the remediation site size increases and the potential for exposure and health effects rises. Assess the need for increased Personal Protective Equipment, if, during the remediation, more extensive contamination is encountered than was expected.

These guidelines are for damage caused by clean water. If you know or suspect that the water source is contaminated with sewage, or chemical or biological pollutants, then the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires PPE and containment. An experienced remediation professional should be consulted immediately.

Select method most appropriate to your situation. Since molds gradually decompose the organic materials they feed on, if mold growth is not addressed promptly, some items may be damaged such that cleaning will not restore their original appearance. If mold growth is heavy and items are valuable or important, you may wish to consult with us or another restoration/water damage/remediation expert. Please note that these are guidelines; other cleaning methods may be preferred by some professionals.

Cleanup Methods

Method 1: Wet vacuum (in the case of porous materials, some mold spores/fragments will remain in the material but will not grow if the material is completely dried). Steam cleaning may be an alternative for carpets and some upholstered furniture.

Method 2: Damp-wipe surfaces with plain water or with water and detergent solution (except wood—use wood floor cleaner); scrub as needed.

Method 3: High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum after the material has been thoroughly dried. Dispose of the contents of the HEPA vacuum in well-sealed plastic bags.

Method 4: Discard – remove water-damaged materials and seal in plastic bags while inside of containment, if present. Dispose of as normal waste. HEPA vacuum area after it is dried.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

Minimum: Gloves, N-95 respirator, goggles/eye protection

Limited: Gloves, P-100 respirator or half-face respirator with HEPA filter, disposable overalls, goggles/eye protection

Full: Gloves, disposable full body clothing, head gear, foot coverings, full-face powered respirator with HEPA filter

Containment

Limited: Use6mil  polyethylene sheeting ceiling to floor around affected area with a slit entry and covering flap; we prefer double that with zippers but you must maintain area under negative pressure with HEPA-filtered fan unit. Block supply and return air vents within containment area.

Full: Use two layers of fire-retardant polyethylene sheeting with one airlock chamber. Maintain area under negative pressure with HEPA-filtered fan exhausted outside of building. Block supply and return air vents within containment area.

A variety of mold cleanup methods are available for remediating damage to building materials and furnishings caused by moisture control problems and mold growth. The specific method or group of methods used will depend on the type of material affected, as presented in Table 2. Please note that professional remediation may use some methods not covered in these guidelines; absence of a method in the mold remediation guidelines does not necessarily mean that it is not useful

Method 1: Wet Vacuum

Wet vacuums are vacuum designed to collect water. They can be used to remove water from floors, carpets, and hard surfaces where water has accumulated. They should not be used to vacuum porous materials such as gypsum board. They should be used only when materials are still wet—wet vacuums may spread spores if sufficient liquid is not present. The tanks, hoses, and attachments of these vacuums should be thoroughly cleaned and dried after use since mold and mold spores may stick to the surfaces.

Method 2: Old fashion Damp Wipe

Whether dead or alive, mold is allergenic, and some molds may be toxic. Mold can generally be removed from non-porous (hard) surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with water, or water and detergent. It is important to dry these surfaces quickly and thoroughly to discourage further mold growth. Instructions for cleaning surfaces, as listed on product labels, should always be read and followed. Porous materials that are wet and have mold growing on them may have to be discarded. Since molds will infiltrate porous substances and grow on or fill in empty spaces or crevices, the mold can be difficult or impossible to remove completely.

Method 3: By HEPA Vacuum

HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuums are recommended for final cleanup of remediation areas after materials have been thoroughly dried and contaminated materials removed. HEPA vacuums are also recommended for cleanup of dust that may have settled on surfaces outside the remediation area. Care must be taken to ensure that the filter is properly seated in the vacuum so that all the air must pass through the filter. When changing the vacuum filter, remediators should wear PPE to prevent exposure to the mold that has been captured. The filter and contents of the HEPA vacuum must be disposed of in well-sealed plastic bags.

Method 4: Discard – Remove Damaged Materials and Seal in Plastic Bags

Building materials and furnishings that are contaminated with mold growth and are not salvageable should be double-bagged using 6-mil polyethylene sheeting. These materials can then usually be discarded as ordinary construction waste. It is important to package mold-contaminated materials in sealed bags before removal from the containment area to minimize the dispersion of mold spores throughout the building. Large items that have heavy mold growth should be covered with polyethylene sheeting and sealed with duct tape before they are removed from the containment area.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The remediation work will disturb mold and mold spores become airborne, then the risk of respiratory exposure goes up. Actions like that will stir up mold include: breakup of moldy porous materials such as drywall; invasive procedures used to examine or remediate mold growth in a wall cavity; actively stripping or peeling wallpaper to remove it; and using fans to dry items.

The primary function of Personal Protective Equipment is to avoid inhaling mold and mold spores and to avoid mold contact especially with the skin or eyes. The following discuss the different types of PPE that can be used during remediation activities. Please note that all individuals using certain PPE equipment, such as half-face or full-face respirators, must be trained, must have medical clearance, and must be fit-tested by a trained professional. In addition, the use of respirators must follow a complete respiratory protection program as specified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Disposable Protective Clothing

Disposable clothing is recommended during a medium or large remediation project to prevent the transfer and spread of mold to clothing and to eliminate skin contact with mold.

Limited: Disposable overalls can be used.

Full: Mold-impervious disposable head and foot coverings, and a body suit made of a breathable material, such as TYVEK®, should be used. All gaps, such as those around ankles and wrists, should be sealed with duct tape.

Containment

The purpose of containment during remediation activities is to limit release of mold into the air and surroundings, in order to minimize the exposure of occupants to mold. Mold and moldy debris should not be allowed to spread to areas in the building beyond the contaminated site.

The two types of containment recommended in above are limited and full. The larger the area of affected materials , the greater the possibility of human exposure and the greater the need for containment. In general, the size of the area helps determine the level of containment. However, a heavy growth of mold in a relatively small area could release more spores than a lighter growth of mold in a relatively large area. Choice of containment

How Do You Know When You Have Finished Remediation/Cleanup?

  1. You must have completely fixed the water or moisture problem.
  2. You should have completed the mold removal process. Use professional judgment to determine if the cleanup is sufficient. Visible mold, mold-damaged materials, and moldy odors should not be present.
  3. If you have sampled, the kinds and concentrations of mold and mold spores in the building should be similar to those found outside, once cleanup activities have been completed.
  4. You should revisit the site shortly after remediation, and it should show no signs of water damage or mold growth.
  5. People should be able to occupy or re-occupy the space without health complaints or physical symptoms.
  6. There is no easy answer however it should be all resolved, all items and moisture issues solved and air quality testing results should indicate a successful mold remediation.

If you require any additional information or guidance you can call toll free 1-800-520-7443 and we will be happy to send you the information you need for your mold remediation

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Are you allergic to mold?

Posted by | allergies, Blog, home mold, Indoor air quality testing | No Comments

Are you Allergic to Mold?

mold allergies 1Our 25 years of experience in investigating, providing assessments and indoor air quality testing when mold is suspected has shown us that many people are unaware if they are highly allergic to mold or not.

The reason for this is simple – it takes years of exposure to become sensitized, so while you may not be allergic to mold now, you may be a few years down the line if your home or office has mold growing.

While everyone is concerned with the indoor air quality of their homes and offices, we do not associate the invisible connection until exposure is violent enough to almost pin point the exact location.

While you can become sensitized with inhalation of large amounts of toxic spores at one time, most often it’s the small systemic exposure that will cause symptoms that are often not associated with mold exposure.

mold itchy eyes nose

Mold is present in our environments, whether it’s inside or outside our home/office. Did you know though that some of the more toxic spores to us are generally not found in the air outside?

Stachybotrys – a Prime Example

stachybotrys mold on wallIn a clean home, mold, such as Stachybotrys, should not be detected in an indoor air quality test if all is well. Even small amounts found by indoor air quality testing indicate a mold problem within the area which could pose a potential future health risk.

Stachybotrys is found on water damaged building materials rich in carbon such as ceiling tiles, gypsum board, insulation paper backing, drywall and wallpaper. Stachybotrys requires a lot of moisture to appear (70% or more) most often associated with Type 1 hay fever, asthma symptoms reported and is known as one of the most toxigenic species of mold.

The presence of this fungus can be significant due to its ability to produce mycotoxins. Exposure to the toxins can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin exposure. Human toxicosis has been described; by dermatitis, cough, and rhinitis, itching or burning sensation in mouth, throat, nasal passages and eyes to name just a few. Additionally, Stachybotrys is associated with the development of sick building syndrome.

Most often we find it in previous leaks on drywall where the homeowner did not remove the affected porous wet materials and just let it dry or painted over without understanding the consequences. Small amounts over a long time of exposure could lead in to sensitivity and allergic reactions.

mold - wall leaks

A sign that there may be mold behind the drywall

mold - behind walls

Mold was indeed found behind – lots of it!

Fortunately there are ways we can find out if we are allergic or are becoming allergic to it.

mold itchy eyes noseMost people’s immune system removes the toxins in their blood on a daily basis, for some however will take a long time and continuous exposure will aggravate symptoms.

A comparison would be when two friends go out drinking and both have a great time and drink the same amount; unfortunately one of the two does not recover in time to go to work and stay in bed with the consequences and their reaction to it while the other one is ready at 6 am with no symptoms.

How much peanut butter do you have to ingest for a reaction if you allergic to it? How many cigarettes does it take to affect you?

These are some of the reasons that there are no exposure limits on mold; we just don’t have the scientific data and studies yet.

We recommend a visit to your doctor or allergist and ask to get a blood test for the detection of toxin levels; basically you just want to find out the level of toxins in your blood stream high or low.

High toxin count will indicate your immune system just can’t get rid of it that fast and the internal inflammation from the response of your immune system to the foreign substance will cause different reactions in different people.

allergens

Alternatively there are these tests online like the one from Claudia S Miller-MD, MS, is an allergist/immunologist and tenure professor at the University of Texas School of medicine in San Antonio. She researches the environmental causes of disease and teaches the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of environmentally – induced or exacerbated illness.  Her work led to the development of QEESI http://drclaudiamiller.com/QEESItest/

Or Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker MD, Ritchie Shoemaker, M. D., is a recognized leader in patient care, research and education pioneer in the field of biotoxin related illness. While illness acquired following exposure to the interior environment of water-damaged buildings and his online Visual Contrast Screening Test (VCS) http://www.survivingmold.com/

Of course there is no better way to ensure you do not have a problem on your home or office visible or not visible with our expert indoor air quality testing assessments, testing and investigations. http://cleanfirst.ca/indoor-air-quality-testing/

mold protection

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Simple Steps for Preventing and Removing Mould in Your Home

Posted by | Blog, home mold, Mold Removal, mould growth | One Comment

Simple Steps for Preventing and Removing Mould in Your Home

Health Canada produced a video not long ago with several simple steps on preventing and removing mould in your home.

We often get calls from customers who notice small amounts of mould in their home and aren’t sure what to do, so if that’s you, then check out this video.

Video

 

Written Transcript

Mould naturally grows in everyones home. This can affect the air quality, and for people who are sensitive to mould can consequently suffer from breathing problems, including asthma allergies and cold-like symptoms.

We’ll often find mould in areas of excessive moisture. One of the most common areas is the basement, because water drips down and settles there from flooding. The bathrooms and kitchens are also very common mould prone zones because of the exposure to leaky pipes and moisture. Finally, exterior walls and the roof can be problematic if not maintained properly.

Prevention

To prevent the issue, make sure to clear areas of water damage as quickly as possible.

Keep an eye on the humidity of your home – it should be kept at no more than 50% in the summer. 30-40% in the winter.no more than 50% in the summer. In the winter, it should be no more than 30-40%.no more than 30-40%.

You should also check to ensure that fans vent outside rather than into other rooms of your home.

Removal

Small areas of mold on non porous surfaces can be cleaned with dishsoap and water. You don’t need to use bleach, and in fact, this can stain your walls besides harming you.

For larger areas that have been exposed to significant water damage, you may need the help of a professional.

If you want more detailed steps, take a look at our mould inspection checklist.

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Is indoor air quality testing really necessary?

Posted by | Blog, Home Air Quality, Indoor air quality testing | No Comments

 

 

picture of indoor air polution

Does Indoor Air Quality matter?

We all know by now that the quality of the air we breathe is a major factor on our health and environment.
Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma. In addition, it can cause headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue. People who already have immune compromised conditions are at greater risk.
indoor-air-pollution-danger-levels-chart
The first step of defense against indoor air pollution is finding ways to keep the pollutants out of the air inside of our homes in the first place. This is sometimes referred to as source control.
The lack of adequate ventilation, which results in a buildup of contaminants from sources within the home, affects the indoor air quality in a negative way. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health identified inadequate ventilation as the primary problem in more than half the workplace indoor air investigations it has conducted. Investigations conducted in homes by the Illinois Department of Public Health have found the same to be true. These investigations revealed that proper ventilation is important in maintaining good indoor air quality. Appropriate ventilation with clean fresh air can reduce the levels of indoor air pollutants. Most residential heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems recirculate indoor air to conserve energy. The current trend in the construction of new homes is to reduce air leakage through cracks and other openings in walls, floors, and roofs. The combination of these construction practices and the recirculation of indoor air have led to an increase in indoor air problems. Finally, while air cleaning devices can be useful, they are no substitute for preventing the indoor air from getting dirty in the first place.

 

Health effects of common air pollutants and ways we can control their sources:

IndoorAirQuality

 

Organic Pollutants

Mold, bacteria, viruses, pollen, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches and other possible insects or animals excrements. These may cause infections, provoke allergic symptoms or trigger asthma attacks. They are a major cause of lost days from work and school. Means of control include washing bedding frequently, keeping pests out, frequent cleaning and sanitization of all surfaces, keeping indoor dust to minimum and controlling moisture that promotes mold growth.

Tobacco Smoke

We all know Smoke is a major indoor air pollutant. It contains some 200 known chemicals, such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, and at least 60 are known to cause cancer. According to the American Lung cancer Association every year it causes an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths and up to 50,000 heart disease deaths. In children, especially infants, it is responsible for pneumonia, lower respiratory tract infections and ear infections. It causes asthma to develop, causes asthma attacks, and makes attacks worse. Source control: No one should smoke.

Combustion Pollutants

Combustion Pollutants come from sources such as fireplaces, furnaces, fuel burning stoves, heaters, and water heaters, using gas, oil, coal, wood, and other fuel source appliances. The most dangerous are both colorless and odorless gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Carbon Monoxide interferes with the delivery of oxygen to the body and can produce fatigue, headache, confusion, nausea, and dizziness. Very high levels can cause death. Nitrogen dioxide irritates the mucous membranes in the eye, nose and throat and can cause shortness of breath and promote infections.  Source control: The best way to control these pollutants is to make sure combustion appliances properly used are installed and maintained by reliable professionals and have monitors/leak detectors installed.

Radon

Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that forms in the soil, most often can enter the home through the cracks in foundation floor, drains, and other sources. Indoor radon exposure is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in North America responsible for at least 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Steps to control radon include testing your home to ensure no radon is present and following recommendations for further testing and repairs if necessary.
howradonentersahouse

Asbestos

A non-flammable mineral that can release microscopic fibers, that when inhaled into the lungs can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and another cancer called mesothelioma. Many asbestos products are found in homes build before 1986, including roofing, flooring materials, and insulation for ceilings, walls, plumbing and heating equipment. Source control: if your house was built before 1986 get a designated substance report before any renovation or repair. 

Formaldehyde

A chemical, found primarily in adhesives, bonding agents for many materials found inside of our houses and offices, including carpets, upholstery, particle board, and plywood paneling. The release of formaldehyde into the air can cause health problems, such as: headaches, coughing, eye, nose, and throat irritation; skin rashes, and dizziness. Source control: avoid using products that emit formaldehyde.

 

VOC’s or Volatile organic compounds

Thousands of potentially harmful chemicals are emitted by household cleaning agents, personal care products, pesticides, paints, hobby products, and solvents. They can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, eye, skin, respiratory tract irritation, and cancer. Minimize your use of such sources of dangerous chemicals, and be sure to follow manufacturer’s directions, including using protective equipment and adequate ventilation. Source control: find greener safer substitutes.

Consider the Facts:

Over 3 million Canadians cope with one of five serious respiratory diseases – asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, tuberculosis (TB), and cystic fibrosis. These and other respiratory diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, respiratory distress syndrome and sleep apnea affect individuals of all ages, cultures and backgrounds – from children to parents to grandparents.

In 2013, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.
Cancer-Deaths-Youth-30-Years

25,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer. This represents 14% of all new cancer cases
• 20,200 Canadians will die from lung cancer. This represents 27% of all cancer deaths in 2013.
• 13,300 men will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 10,700 will die from it.
• 12,200 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 9,500 will die from it.
• On average, 70 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every day.
• On average, 55 Canadians will die from lung cancer every day.

All statistics are estimates from: Canadian Cancer Society’s Steering Committee: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013. Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society, 2013
picture of health effects of poor indoor air quality

 

Protect yourself and your family; know what you are breathing with an assessment of your indoor air quality. Call the experts at 1-800-520-7443


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Mold in your Home – Causes, Prevention and Cleanup

Posted by | Blog, home mold, Mold Removal | No Comments

Mold in your Home – Causes, Prevention and Cleanup

This excellent video demonstrates in simple terms how every homeowner can protect themselves against mold. It gives a great explanation on the causes and how you can clean up a mold growth situation in your home if it ever occurs.
Take a few minutes to check out this video by the Northwest Clean Air Agency.

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Common Mold Removal Questions

Posted by | Blog, Mold Removal | No Comments

More and more often, we are seeing customers with these kind of questions so we decided to put together some answers here.

Are some molds more hazardous than others?

Some types of molds can produce mycotoxins. These molds are common, and are sometimes referred to as black toxic mold. There are a few reports that toxic molds inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions and of course it also depends on exposure and your immunity to it. If you think you have a mold problem in your home, you do not need to find out what type of mold you may have.

All molds should be treated the same way when it comes to health risks and removal.

All indoor mold growth should be removed promptly, no matter what type of mold is present, or whether or not it can produce mycotoxins. All Health and responsible organizations agree on the fact there is no need to find out the type of mold since they all must be removed.

Here is some food for thought: Do you need to test your moldy bread to find out if it’s OK for you?.

What is black mold or Stachybotrys ?

Stachybotrys chartarum or atra is a greenish-black mold that can grow on materials such as drywall or sheetrock, when they become moist or water damaged.  It requires quite a bit of moisture that’s  why is associated with wet building syndrome (70% or higher on materials). Not all greenish-black molds are Stachybotrys chartarum however.

Some strains of Stachybotrys chartarum can produce mycotoxins.Whether a mold produces mycotoxins depends on what the mold is growing on and conditions such as humidity , temperature or other factors. When mycotoxins are present, they occur in both living and dead mold spores, and may be present in materials that have become contaminated with mold.

While Stachybotrys is growing, usually a wet slime layer covers its spores, preventing them from becoming airborne. When the mold dies and dries up, hvac disburtion or physical handling can cause spores to become airborne exacerbating the problem.

So if everyone agrees on removing all molds regardless, how can I do it safely?

Mold should be cleaned as soon as it appears. Persons who clean the mold should be free of immune compromised symptoms and allergies. Small areas of mold can be cleaned using a fungicide. We now know and tested that bleach or vinegar do not kill fungus in fact they just discolor it; and disinfectant just makes it to safe levels for human and do not completely eliminate it, you need a “cide” ( complete kill). Personal protection should be worn during the cleaning process. The cleaned area should then be dried quickly.

If the mold returns, it could mean you have an underlying problem, such as a water leak. Any water intrusions must first be fixed when solving mold problems. If there is a lot of mold growth don’t take a chance on spreading it all over your house and give us a call. The best thing to do is to use saran wrap or plastic and isolate it or cover until a professional can inspect the area

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The Ultimate Mold Inspection Checklist

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MoldInspectionChecklist-Banner_smallThe Ultimate Mold Inspection Checklist

Mold growth can be a serious issue in your home if it’s not handled properly. Recovering from such damages can cost anywhere from $1500 for a small remediation project, to tens of thousands of dollars for widespread mold issues. This is definitely something every homeowner wants to have checked out before committing to any purchase.

Having a mold inspector come in and check every house you visit can be costly and impractical. For that reason, we’ve created a list of items that every home buyer or renter can examine for themselves. This checklist covers:

  1. Introduction – Mold Growth facts and statistics
  2. Home Exterior examination
  3. Home Interior examination

The checklist can also be found in PDF format so it can be quickly pulled up on your Mobile device for quick reference.

Take a look at the checklist here to see if your house is affected.

P.S. If you enjoyed this, please share it with your friends!

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